InI Logo
InI Needs Your Support!
Subscribe to InI’s Mailing List/Newsletter

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.

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  

19 September 2008

Israeli forces target children and foreigners this week
Palestine News Network 9/19/2008
PNN - Israeli attacks on Palestinians are again bleeding into hits on foreigners and children this week. In the West Bank’s Nal’in Village Israeli forces wounded an Israeli journalist who was covering the Palestinian nonviolent resistance. Just off the Gaza coast in the Mediterranean Sea, Israeli forces opened fire on a Palestinian fishing boat, injuring an Italian solidarity activist on board. And in Bethlehem’s Taqua’ Village Israeli forces fired a single shot to the chest of a 17 year old, killing him instantly. Gaza City’s Palestinian Centre for Human Rights issued its report of Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights for the period of 11 through 17 September. The text follows. Gaza City /PCHR - Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) IOF killed a Palestinian child in Taqqou’ village near Bethlehem.

Teargas injures dozens at weekly Bil’in Protest
Report from Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall, International Solidarity Movement 9/19/2008
Bil’in Village Friday, September 19, 2008 - The residents of Bilin joined by international and Israeli peace activists gathered to demonstrate against the Wall and settlement building. Today is the 26th anniversary of Sabra and Shatel massacre. The protesters raised the Palestinian flag and condemned the massacres against the Palestinian people. The demo left after the Friday prayer and called for an end to the Israeli racist policy and settlement building, closures, kidnappings, and the siege on cities and villages. The protesters marched towards the wall to reach the confiscated land behind it. As a usual procedure, the gate was closed and Israeli soldiers standing behind concrete blocks. When protesters tried to get closer to the gate, the army fired sound grenades and teargas canisters which caused dozens to suffer teargas inhalation.

Settlers torch hundreds of olive trees around Nablus region
International Solidarity Movement 9/18/2008
Nablus Region - Israeli settlers torched olive groves in two arson attacks in villages to the south of Nablus on Thursday 18th September, 2008. Approximately 300 trees belonging to the village of Sarra, and another 30 trees belonging to farmers from villages of Burin, Madema and Assira al Qibliya were burnt in what villagers are describing as a co-ordinated attack. At approximately 10:30am settlers from the Israeli settlement Harvat Gilad reportedly set fire to the land of Sarra, according to communications between Israeli military and Palestinian fire-fighting brigades. Based in Burin, the only fire engine to service 25 villages in south Nablus was called to put out the fire by the Palestinian District Coordination Office (DCO). The firefighters were prevented from reaching the blaze by Israeli police, who detained them for over an hour while the land burnt.

Livni scrambles to keep party united after Mofaz bolts
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/20/2008
TEL AVIV: Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni sought on Friday to restore unity within her governing Kadima Party as new divisions emerged in the wake of her narrow victory in this week’s primary. Livni met top party members in a bid to stress the need to close ranks as the centrist party seeks to form a new coalition government. After the meeting, Livni told journalists that she wanted to form a government "as soon as possible, as long as everybody acts responsibly. " Livni won Wednesday’s vote to replace scandal-plagued Premier Ehud Olmert as party leader, but she may struggle to find enough coalition partners to command a parliamentary majority and avert early elections. She faced her first challenge hours after winning the vote with a lead of just one percentage point over her main rival, Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz.

Tutu: West complicit in Palestinian suffering
Middle East Online 9/19/2008
GENEVA – South African Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu on Thursday accused the West of complicity in Palestinian suffering by its silence, noting that Palestinians are paying the price of the West’s guilt over the Holocaust through its failure to pressure Israel to reach a just and lasting peace. "I think the West, quite rightly, is feeling contrite, penitent for its awful connivance with the Holocaust," the massacre of Europe’s Jews by German Nazis in World War II, Tutu told journalists. He criticised the international community for failing to speak out against the suffering in Gaza, home to 1. 5 million Palestinians, under an Israeli blockade. "Now when you are contrite, when you are penitent, you are then ready to make amends, and we call that penance. The West is penitent, the penance is being paid by the Palestinians," said the South African archbishop who was famed for his anti-apartheid activism.

Israel to construct dump in Nablus, just as archaeological discovery made
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/19/2008
The timing of an Israeli contractor’s approval by the Israeli government to construct a dump for Israeli garbage on Palestinian land in Nablus coincides with a major archaeological discovery in the area. The Israeli government did not respond to questions about its approval of the 20-year permit on the same day that an announcement was made of an important Roman-era archaeological discovery in the area. The archaeological discovery consists of a large water cistern, which connects to a tunnel to the Roman city of Neapolis. In the middle of the cistern is a set of spiral stairs. Palestinian archaeologists say that the find dates from the Roman era, at least 2,000 years ago. The cistern and tunnel may be connected to other, unknown ruins from that era under the city of Nablus. But while Palestinian archaeologists rush to uncover the latest discovery, an Israeli contractor. . .

200,000 pray at Al-Aqsa despite tightened restrctions
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Two hundred thousand Palestinians performed their Friday prayers in the Al-Aqsa mosque in the third week of the holy month of Ramadan. According to the Al-Aqsa foundation for Waqf (Muslim heritage sites) most of the worshipers were residents of East Jerusalem and the surrounding villages, or other Palestinian communities inside Israel, owing to the restrictions placed on West Bank and Gazan Muslims that prohibit travel into Jerusalem. Despite the heavy restrictions imposed on movement to and around the Old City of Jerusalem, said the foundation, Palestinian Muslims flocked to the mosque from the early hours of Friday morning. The streets of Jerusalem are overcrowded with people who were heading to the holy compound for prayers. Sheikh Yousef Abu Sneineh, who delivered the Friday sermon at the mosque, congratulated the worshipers on making the journey. . .

ISM Rafah: Israeli navy continues to harass Gazan fishermen
International Solidarity Movement 9/19/2008
Reports Gaza RegionGaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine, 18th September 2008 - On Thursday 18th September, at least 7 Palestinian fishingboats left Gaza City port to trawl in Gazan Territorial waters. The Israeli Navy continued it’s daily attacks and harassments on Palestinian fishermen and their boats. Today the Navy boat with the water cannon was not seen, so no damage to any fishing boats and nobody was injured from high powered water spray. However, the Israeli soldiers ontwoIsraeli Navy gunboats that were patrolling today were exceptionally aggressive and arrogant. One of the gunboats drove by all of the fishing boats and fired at them,going from boat to boat. On a second gunboat, the Israeli soldiers were harrassing the fishermen, yelling out to them in Hebrew and in Arabic that it was prohibited for them to fish pastsix miles.

Hamas receives Israeli approved prisoner release list via Egypt
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel has handed over a list of prisoners it has approved for release in return for the safe return of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The list was handed to head of Egyptian intelligence Omer Suleiman who handed it over to Hamas leaders in Gaza, and included the names of 450 Palestinian prisoners. Hamas leaders told the Egyptian daily Ash-Sharq Al- Awsatthat Hamas is unwilling to budge on its set conditions for the release of Shalit. This means that the names handed to Israel are the names expected to be on the list of those approved for the swap deal. According to Hamas officials this list includes all the women and child prisoners, Hamas and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council captured after Shalit was taken in July 2006. Other conditions, he said, would be a promise to comply with the truce agreement and opening the crossings to allow goods into Gaza permanently.

Hamas lays out three conditions for the release of Gilad Shalit
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
Hamas will not renew negotiations for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit unless Israel meets its preconditions, the London-based newspaper Asharq Alawsat quoted a senior official of the Islamist group as saying Friday. According to the report, Hamas laid out three conditions for the renewal of negotiations with Israel: release of all Palestinian prisoners whose names appear on the list that had been given to Israel via Egyptian mediation; implementation of all Israeli commitments in the framework of the ceasefire agreement, including the reopening of Gaza Strip crossings for the passage of goods; the opening of the Rafah crossing. The newspaper further states that Ofer Dekel, Israel’s chief negotiator for securing the release of Shalit, has transferred an Egyptian-brokered list to Hamas of the 450 Palestinian. . .

Jewish terrorists rampage through Arab village
Palestinian Information Center 9/14/2008
From Khalid Amayreh in the West BankIsraeli occupation troops and paramilitary Jewish settlers on Saturday rampaged through several Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, killing at least one Palestinian civilian and injuring several others, including three people suffering critical gunshot wounds. The most serious incident took place at the village of Asira al Qibliyeh, south of Nablus, when heavily armed Jewish settler terrorists  rampaged through the village, shooting indiscriminately on Palestinians and vandalizing their  homes and property. According to the head of the local village council, dozens of armed settlers took part in the rampage which lasted for several hours. Hosni Sharaf said the settlers carried out their aggression in broad daylight  as Israeli soldiers were watching passively.

Outpost evacuated, settlers riot on Palestinian land
Nadav Shragai Yuval Azoulay and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
Settlers vandalized Palestinian property in several locations yesterday after the Israel Defense Forces evacuated the outpost of Yad Yair in the northern West Bank. The evacuation itself was not violent, but incidences of settler violence elsewhere in the West Bank were apparently a response to the evacuation. "If the police haven’t yet gotten it, then they will - there’s a price to be paid for hitting settlements and outposts," a settler activist told Haaretz. In one incident, a field north of Yitzhar was set ablaze. Two Yitzhar residents were detained for questioning. Palestinians charged that settlers also set fire to olive groves in the villages of Madameh, Burin and Asira al-Kabaliya, south of Nablus. In addition, they said, stones were thrown at Palestinian cars in the area between Ramallah and Nablus.

Israeli settler and soldier attacks on Nablus: I awoke to the sound of heavy gunfire
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 9/19/2008
Nablus -- Israeli settlers and settlements exist in contravention to international law, yet they remain and expand in the West Bank. As the Israeli government attempted to evacuate a small Ramallah area settlement, attacks rose. Palestinians were the prime target, but even an Israeli military checkpoint, used to restrict Palestinian freedom of movement and not affecting settlers in the slightest, was the target of a stoning by Israeli settlers. The crimes of settlers against Palestinians and their property are normally carried out in full view of the Israeli military, with soldiers actively participating at times. During the past week attacks were on the rise. On Saturday morning dozens of settlers from the Yitzhar Settlement hit the southern Nablus town of Asira. Soldiers occupying the West Bank accompanied the settlers in order to protect them as they attacked the Palestinian town.

Settlers burn Palestinian olive groves, crops in several West Bank areas
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/19/2008
According to Israeli sources, a number of incidents of violence by Israeli settlers took place in different parts of the West Bank on Wednesday after the removal of some settlers from the outpost of Yad Yair. Israeli settlers, living illegally on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank, burned a number of olive groves belonging to Palestinian families in the villages of Madameh, Burin and Asira al-Kabaliya. In addition, settlers burned a field of crops near the Israeli settlement of Yitzhar, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. According to Palestinian sources, the Israeli military prevented fire trucks from arriving in a timely manner - but the Israeli military retorted that it was the Civil Administration of the Palestinian Authority that was to blame for the delayOne Israeli settler told the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz, " If the police haven’t yet. . .

Egypt promises to open Gaza border this weekend for patients and pilgrims
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/19/2008
According to a spokesman for the Hamas party, currently in power in the Gaza Strip, Egyptian authorities have announced that they will open their side of the Rafah border crossing on Saturday and Sunday for Palestinian medical patients, and those making the pilgrimage to Mecca. Ministry Spokesman, Ihab Al Ghussein, announced Thursday that Egyptian officials plan to open the crossing this weekend,In addition, at the end of September, the Egyptians will open the crossing after Eid Al Fitr, the feast commemorating the end of the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan. Previously, Egyptian officials had implied that the border crossing would not be allowed to be opened until Palestinian resistance groups released the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, that has been held in their custody since 2006. Israeli authorities have demanded the release of Shalit, and have pushed their Egyptian. . .

Withheld Gazan passports arrive from Egypt, some pilgrims will travel to Mecca
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Passports of Palestinian pilgrims held by Egyptian officials were returned on Friday, according to the de facto minister of Awqaf, Taleb Abu Sha’er. Earlier this month it was revealed that Gazans who had applied for permission to make the “Small pilgrimage” to Mecca for the last Friday during the holy month of Ramadan were subject to passport verifications. The passports were sent to the offices of Palestinian representatives, according to Egyptian officials in charge of organizing tours to Mecca, but were held in an unknown location. The Minster expressed his thanks to President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Intelligence Minister Omer Suleiman for their instructions to release the passports. Egypt has said that they will open Rafah crossing for two days during the month of Ramada, to allow Gazan pilgrims to travel to Saudi Arabia.

Gaza Interior Ministry: Rafah will open for Saturday, Sunday travel
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry of the de facto Hamas government, Ihab Al-Ghussein, said Thursday that the Rafah crossing will be opened on Saturday and Sunday. He specified that on Saturday the crossing will be opened only for pilgrims, the ill and foreign passport holders. On Sunday, students will be given permission to cross. Al-Ghussein said in a statement received by Ma’an that the Egypt will reopen the crossing after Eid al-Fitr. “I am confused about why some Palestinian sources reported the crossing wouldn’t open until the end the Shalit crisis,” he said. Al-Ghussein said that the Interior Ministry had made “all the arrangements with the Egyptians to open the crossing. ”He also said that opening the Rafah crossing is “to alleviate the crisis and resolve all outstanding issues.

15 Gazans return after seeking treatment in Egypt; Rafah to open Saturday and Sunday
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Fifteen Gazan patients returned to Palestine from Egypt with an escort via the Rafah crossing on Friday after being treated in Egyptian hospitals for two weeks. Egypt opened the Rafah border two weeks ago to allow students, patients and Egyptians stuck in Gaza through to Egypt so they could continue for treatment of studies abroad. The spokesman for the de facto government’s interior ministry Ihab Al-Ghussein said that the Rafah crossing will be open on Saturday and Sunday to let more Egyptians and Palestinians pass through. Saturday will be reserved for the passage of pilgrims headed to Mecca, the sick and holders of foreign passports, while Sunday is for students still wishing to travel to schools abroad.

Harassment of Palestinian woman by Israeli soldiers goes unpunished
International Solidarity Movement 9/19/2008
Hebron Region - On Tuesday 16th September, two Israeli soldiers insulted a Palestinian woman in Susiya. The insult, of a sexual nature, is incredibly offensive in Palestinian culture. When confronted with their acts, the soldiers refused to apologize and called their supervising officer to attend. The officer denied any wrong doing of his soldiers. Soldiers are permanently stationed on a hill overlooking Susiya. This is yet another example of the structural harassment of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers and settlers that continuously goes unpunished. The Palestinian refugee community in Susiya has endured many hardships since the flightfrom their homes during the Nakba in 1948. Orginally fleeing from the violence of the 1948 war, they took refuge in caves located just a few miles from their homes. Since then, they’ve been denied their inalienable Right of Return by Israel.

Teargas injures dozens at weekly Bil’in protest; new route for wall rejected
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Protesters at the popular resistance demonstration in Bil’in on Friday were hosed with water mixed with tear gas this week, as Israeli soldiers tried again to halt the procession of demonstrators as they made their way towards the construction site of the separation wall. The weekly protest marked the 26th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres, which saw the death of thousands of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. The camps were then under Israeli control, since the army had invaded Lebanon as part of an ongoing war. It is alleged that Israeli troops coordinated or at least allowed Lebanese Phalangistforces into the camps, knowing they were about to carry out a massacre. Carrying banners and chanting slogans lamenting the Israeli actions against Palestinians in the past and present, demonstrators tried to access village lands confiscated by the separation wall.

Ni’lin: 7 protesters 4 soldiers injured in anti-wall march
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Ni’lin – Ma’an – Six Palestinians and an international peace activist were shot by live Israeli ammunition and dozens others choked on tear gas during a protest in the village of Ni’lin on Friday afternoon. Sheikh Murad A’meera delivered the Friday sermon to locals and demonstrators before the march, in which he called for unity among Palestinians in the name of resistance to occupation. He congratulated those who participated in the event, and called for more actions to continue the struggle against the wall and settlements. The non violent protest began after the Friday prayers, and saw demonstrators march from the village center to the lands confiscated by the construction of the separation wall. The Israeli army had placed barbed wire around the lands confiscated for construction of the wall, and prevented protesters from reaching the area by firing live bullets and tear gas at protesters.

Israeli soldiers spray protestors with blue liquid in Bil’in
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 9/19/2008
The residents of Bil’in joined by international and Israeli peace activists organized a protest against the building of the Wall, and settlements on Palestinian land. The protest today was also in commemoration of 26th year since the massacre of the refugees of Sabra and Shatela refugees’ camp in Lebanon. The protest started after the Friday prayer. It called for an end to the Israeli policy of settlements’ building, closures, kidnappings and the siege on Palestinian areas. The protesters marched towards the wall to reach the confiscated land behind it, and as usual the gate was closed with Israeli soldiers positioned behind concrete blocks. As protestors tried to get closer to the gate, the army fired concussion grenades and C. S. canisters, causing dozens to suffer gas inhalation. Protestors said that troops sprayed them with blue water mixed with some kind of gas.

Six Palestinians, three Israeli soldiers wounded in anti-wall protest in Ni’lin
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 9/19/2008
In the nearby village of Ni’lin, the villagers also organized an anti-wall protest following the Friday prayer. Israeli troops blocked the road with razor wire to prevent the protestors from reaching the land. As they arrived near the razor wire, troops showered them with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Dozens were treated for gas inhalation while six people were directly hit by the steel bullets. Some young protestors responded to the gas and steel bullets with stones, they managed to jump over the razor wire and get a little closer to the Israeli soldiers, who in return fired more tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at them. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that three Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded.

Israeli police detain woman with ’large bag’ near Natanyah
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A woman with a "suspiciously large" bag was detained by Isreali police near Natanyah on Friday, according to Israeli sources. Reports have the women telling her parents early Friday that she would soon appear in "the headline of a big story,” and it appears that the parents alerted Israeli police shortly after she left the house. The woman was arrested Friday afternoon, carrying an oversized bag, in Natanyah in northern Israel. She was taken to an investigation center where police questioned the woman and analyzed the contents of her bag. Later Friday afternoon Israeli police said that the contents of the bag contained no suspicious substances. She is still in police custody.

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory 11 - 17 Sep 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - PCHR, ReliefWeb 9/17/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)- IOF killed a Palestinian child in Taqqou’ village near Bethlehem. - 22 Palestinian civilians, including four children, were wounded by the IOF gunfire. - An Israeli journalist and an Italian solidarity activist were wounded in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip respectively. - IOF continued to use a foul smelling liquid against demonstrators in Bal’ein and Ne’lin villages near Ramallah. - IOF conducted 47 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. - IOF arrested 39 Palestinian civilians, including five children. - IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world. - IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli. . .

OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report 10 - 16 Sep 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 9/16/2008
Military activities affecting civilians: A 16- year-old boy killed while throwing stones This week, the IDF killed two Palestinians (including a 16-year-old child) and injured 20 others (including four children) during military operations in the West Bank. The killing of the child and the injury of one male occurred when the IDF opened fire at Palestinian stone throwers in Tuqu’ village (Bethlehem); this took place in the aftermath of multiple search operations throughout Bethlehem governorate, during which the IDF raided the house of the headmaster of Tuqu’ Boys School and reportedly threatened that the school would be demolished if students do not stop throwing stones at the IDF from the school. In another raid on Ni’lin village (Ramallah), the IDF injured two children and four adults, conducted a search operation and arrested four children and five adults.

Car explodes near Israeli settlement east of Qalqilia
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Qalqilia - Ma’an - Eyewitnesses said a car exploded on the main street leading to the Israeli settlement of Qarnieh Shomron east of Qalqilia on Thursday night. According to Israeli sources, the blast was an accident. They say it exploded as a result of a problem with the fuel tank, adding that no one was injured. Israeli forces still closed the road linking the areas of Qalqilia and Nablus, near to where the explosion occurred. Sources also reported that Israeli vehicles were showered with stones and Molotov cocktails by Palestinian youth near Qalqilia. [end]

This Week in Palestine Week 38 2008
IMEMC News - Audio Deot, International Middle East Media Center News 9/19/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 11 m 0s || 10. 00 MB || This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for September 13 through 19, 2008. Internal unrest in the Gaza Strip escalates this week despite of rapprochement attempts in Cairo, as Israeli military assaults in the West Bank continues. In Israel ruling Kadima party elects a new chief, these stories and more are coming up, stay tuned. Non-Violence We begin our weekly report with the anti-wall nonviolent actions in the villages of Bil’in and Ni’lin near Ramallah. Bil’in The residents of Bil’in joined by international and Israeli peace activists organized a protest against the building of the Wall, and settlements on Palestinian land. The protest today was also in commemoration of 26th year since the massacre of the refugees of Sabra and Shatela refugees’ camp in Lebanon.

OPT: OCHA Closure Update - Main Findings and Analysis 30 April – 11 September 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 9/11/2008
1. During the reporting period, the Government of Israel took more steps aimed at easing internal movement for Palestinians in the West Bank than it had during the prior reporting period. These steps included the removal of one staffed checkpoint and the easing of movement through four routes in the northern West Bank and in Hebron. It also announced the removal of another 100 obstacles, of which only 25 were significant and counted by OCHA. These actions are positive and welcomed yet the impact is limited geographically. Overall, the freedom of movement of Palestinians within the West Bank and East Jerusalem remained highly constrained and neither territorial contiguity nor the pre-2000 status quo was restored. 2. In its latest survey of the West Bank and East Jerusalem on September 2008, OCHA observed 630 obstacles blocking Palestinian movement, including 93 staffed checkpoints and 537 unstaffed obstacles (earthmounds, roadblocks, barriers, etc).

Talab Al-Sane’ demands reversal of IOA order to demolish Negev mosque
Palestinian Information Center 9/17/2008
NAZARETH, (PIC)-- Talab Al-Sane’, the Arab member of the Israeli parliament, has asked Israeli interior minister Meir Shitreet to revoke his ministry’s decision to demolish a mosque in Wadi Ni’am village in the Negev. The MP strongly criticized the "arbitrary" decision and the rabid campaign launched by the ministry against Arab homes in the Negev. He appealed to the minister to personally intervene in the issue and to allow the citizens to pray in the mosque that was built of mud and straw on temporary basis. The lawmaker warned that flattening the mosque would create waves of anger in the Negev, and added that the citizens would defend it with all legal means available. Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces at dawn Wednesday stormed the city of Nablus and kidnapped a citizen. Local sources said that the IOA troops kidnapped 17 Palestinians in various West Bank areas.

Head of Arab monitoring committee resigns
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 9/19/2008
Senior leader cites motivation to leave as ’the change in the way Israeli establishment is treating Arab sector’ -After eight years as chairman of the Supreme Arab Monitoring Committee and twenty years as the head of the Ifieh local council, Shauki Hatib announced his resignation in response to the "change in the way the Israeli establishment has been treating the Arab sector. " Prior to Hatib’s formal announcement, many in the community hoped to be able to prevent his resignation. "People were very persistent in trying to persuade me (to stay)," he said. "Local residents and people across the state. ""I explained to everyone that I respect them and ask that they respect my decision. Every leader needs to reassess himself and, in my opinion, it’s time for me to leave. "Hatib, originally a structural engineer, began his career in politics at 32 serving on his local council.

IOA releases former minister Abu Arafa after 27 months in jail
Palestinian Information Center 9/17/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM- The IOA released at noon Tuesday Khaled Abu Arafa, the former minister for Jerusalem in the tenth PA government, after spending 27 months in the Israeli Eshel prison in Beer Sheba. Lawyer Fadi Al-Qawasmi stated that the Israeli military prosecution decided to cancel two indictments filed against Abu Arafa after it failed during two years to prove anything against him. Qawasmi added that the only charge that was proved against Abu Arafa was serving as minister for three months in the Palestinian government formed by the Hamas change and reform parliamentary bloc, adding that after two years of follow-up, he managed to refute all charges leveled against Abu Arafa. He opined that the kidnapping and prosecution of Abu Arafah were because of his active role in defense of Jerusalem at the social and political levels.

10 Palestinian children suffer food poisoning in Israeli prison
Palestinian Information Center 9/18/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Mandela institute for human rights and political prisoners reported that 10 Palestinian minors imprisoned in the Israeli Telmond prison have suffered food poisoning after they were served sardine meals. In a report issued following a field visit to the prison, the institute said that cases of poisoning happened among children in section 14, adding that the prison administration transferred 15 of them to the internal clinic where it was discovered that 10 minors had severe food poisoning. In another development, Palestinian prisoner Ra’ed Drabiya told the lawyer of the prisoner club who visited him that the Israeli doctors inside the prison treat him like a "guinea pig". Drabiya explained that he is suffering from a disease in his back and the prison doctors failed to diagnose it, pointing that he underwent three surgeries but to no avail.

Israeli occupation renews administrative detention of Hamas spokesman
Palestinian Information Center 9/19/2008
JENIN, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authorities have renewed on Thursday the administrative detention of Hamas spokesman in Jenin sheikh Khaled al-Haj ten minutes before he was due to be released. The family of  Haj say that the administration of the Negev desert prison, where their son is languishing after being moved between several prisons, handed him the detention renewal notice extending his administrative detention by 4 more months minutes before his due release, this renewal is the fourth in a row. The Occupation authorities extended the administrative detention of Haj despite the fact that there are no charges levelled against him. The Israel high court rejected a request by his lawyer that Haj be released. IOF troops kidnapped Haj from his home in Jenin on 11 January 2007 and subjected him to 70 days of harsh interrogation, then given 11 months prison sentence and 2000 Shekels on charges of owning a pistol.

IOF tight measures on visits to captives increase during Ramadan
Palestinian Information Center 9/19/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Relatives of the Palestinian captives in Israeli jails have complained that the IOF troops were humiliating them before they could be allowed to see their relatives in the Israeli jail in flagrant violation to human rights conventions and prisoners’ rights. They added that the IOF troops were deliberately delaying them for several hours under the heat of the sun, especially during the month of Ramadan knowing that they are fasting. "The Israeli occupation imposes on us many restrictions, which are not as alleged by the occupation for security reason, but merely to humiliate and to increase the burden on the captives’ relatives", said a sister of Palestinian captive Khaled Mohammed of Nablus city. The 55 year-old mother of Palestinian captive Hassan Al-Masri, who is detained in the Negev desert prison, pointed out that the IOF troops forced her to wait for long hours in a very hot hall before they allowed her to see her son.

OPT: Israel and Palestine differ on Tutu’s report on Beit Hanoun
United Nations Radio, ReliefWeb 9/18/2008
Listen to the News - Archbishop Desmond Tutu says he was appalled by the failure of the international community to bring to an end the suffering of the people of Gaza. Presenting to the UN Human Rights Council a report of the Beit Hanoun fact finding mission, Archbishop Tutu said the silence of the international community to what was happening in Gaza offends and begets complicity. Archbishop Tutu was tasked by the Human rights council to investigate the November 2006 bombing of Beit Hanoun by Israel in which 19 civilians were killed. In his report Archbishop Tutu says Israeli authorities including the military were yet to provide a verifiable explanation, conduct an independent, impartial and transparent investigation or bring anyone into account. He says a secret military investigation into the incident was unacceptable from both legal and moral points of view.

Desmund Tutu to the United Nations: Palestinians paying for the holocaust
Palestine News Network 9/19/2008
PNN -- The proposal submitted by Nobel Peace laureate and South African Bishop Desmund Tutu to the United Nations was met with wide spread support and Israeli criticism. He is calling to charge Israel with war crimes for killing 19 Palestinians in Beit Hanoun in November 2006. Most were sleeping in their beds at the time. The internal Israeli investigation into the attack was not made available to the public or Tutu. Tutu led a fact-finding mission in May to write his own report, and expressed shock at the situation in the Gaza Strip suffering under Israeli siege. Mohammad Abu Koash, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, said that Tutu’s report based on his May findings should be brought before the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. Speaking in Geneva before the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday Tutu said, "The response of a largely secret. . .

Tutu urges Israel ’war crime’ probe
Al Jazeera 9/19/2008
Desmond Tutu, the South African archbishop, has said that Israel may have committed a war crime when it attacked the town of Beit Hanoun in Gaza two years ago, killing 19 people. He told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday: "The response of a largely secret internal [Israeli] military investigation is absolutely unacceptable from both legal and moral points of view. "Faced with this absence of a well-founded explanation from the Israeli military. . . the mission has to conclude that there is a possibility that the shelling of Beit Hanoun constituted a war crime. "The UN rights council on Thursday debated Tutu’s report, based on a fact-finding mission last May, which called for an independent investigation into the deadly strike on the town in November 2006. The Israeli military said in February, after its own investigation into the shelling of Beit Hanoun, that it had directed artillery fire at the town after receiving reports that "militants" were planning rocket attacks.

World Bank: Growth weak, aid dependency rising
Report, Electronic Intifada 9/19/2008
JERUSALEM (IRIN) - Economic progress has been insufficient to stimulate growth in the Occupied Palestinian Territories because of the restrictions on movement, while dependency on aid was increasing, the World Bank said on 17 September. In a report released ahead of a donors’ meeting on 22 September, the bank praised the reform efforts of the Palestinian Authority, saying appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had managed to significantly reduce expenditure, cut down on government employment and begin reforming the security forces. The international community helped the government with about $1. 2 billion in budget support as of August, though $1. 85 billion would be needed by year’s end. "Assistance since the Paris Conference has been ad hoc and unpredictable," the report stated, adding that the PA was unable to plan more than two months ahead.

European campaign decides to bring Gaza siege to EU parliament
Palestinian Information Center 9/18/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- A delegation from the European campaign to end the siege on Gaza has decided on Wednesday to bring the issue of the unjust Israeli siege on the Palestinian people to the EU parliament with the aim to put an end to that repressive blockade. Chairman of the campaign Dr. Arafat Madi revealed in a statement he issued, and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC, that the delegation would meet the EU parliament speaker and other officials and lawmakers on Friday purposely to put the official bureaus in the European Union before their duties and responsibilities, and to rally for strong support in the EU parliament for the lifting of the unjust Israeli siege on Gaza. "We should put the EU presidency in the picture of the adverse repercussions that the Israeli economic siege had inflicted on the 1. 5 million Palestinian individuals in Gaza Strip, especially the sharp increase. . .

Gulf News: Embassy in Tel Aviv sparks protest
International Solidarity Movement 9/19/2008
Tel Aviv: The chosen location for the new UK embassy in Tel Aviv has proven controversial, with human rights activists arguing that it contravenes the country’s policy towards Jewish colonies on Palestinian land. Palestinian rights activists in the UK, Israel and beyond have been pressuring the British Foreign Office to revoke its decision to rent the embassy venue from diamond mogul and notorious Jewish colony builder Lev Leviev. Abe Hayeem, founder of the UK-based Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine, wrote in The Guardian earlier this month that renting from a Leviev owned company sends Israel "the wrong message". "Rewarding Leviev with the contract for our new embassy shows that Her Majesty’s government is not serious about stopping Israeli settlements.

Campaign against Gaza siege visit European parliament, urge swift action
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Nablus– Ma’an – A high level delegation from Gaza and Europe met with the President of the Parliament of the European Union on Friday to demand swift action to halt the suffering of one and a half million Gazans under blockade for the third year in a row. The European campaign to lift the siege of the Gaza Strip and a delegation from the Palestinian Markaz Al-A’wda (Return Center) went to Brussels where they discussed the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, and explained to European officials the latest developments in the area. Dr Araf Madi head of the European campaign said in a statement that the delegation cautioned the European presidency saying, “if Europe does not play its expected role in the region in a effective and unbiased way vis-a-vis Israel, the possibility exists that other global forces like Russian or China may play that role.

Keeping the Sea-Lane to Gaza Open
Stuart Littlewood, Middle East Online 9/19/2008
Not a lot of people know this, but the success of the ’Free Gaza’ boats in breaking the siege, and their safe arrival and departure, was due to the intervention and good offices of the British Foreign Office. Seriously. I have it on good authority. Before the peace activists set sail, the British government was asked about “action to ensure the freedom boats’ safe and uninterrupted passage to Gaza considering these are international waters and Palestinian territorial waters”. Any attempt to stop the boats would surely infringe the right to freedom of movement to and from Gaza, and seriously breach the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Israel is a party. The minister in charge of Middle East affairs Kim Howells - a strong supporter of the Iraq war - has now revealed that "FCO officials spoke to Israeli officials in advance of the trip and Israel allowed the boats peacefully into Gaza.

Panel of experts to probe al-Dura video Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/19/2008
The head of the state-owned France 2 television station has agreed to a demand from a Jewish community leader to establish a panel of experts to probe the controversial "Muhammad al-Dura broadcast," the European Jewish Press reported Friday. In September 2000, a France 2 broadcast showed the "killing" of Muhammad al-Dura,12,during an exchange of gunfire between IDF soldiers and Palestinian gunmen. The report was based on footage taken by the station’s Gaza-based Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahma, and accused the troops of killing the boy as he and his father tried to find cover. The images shocked the world and caused outcry over Israel’s policies in the Gaza Strip. But Philippe Karsenty, head of French media watchdog Media-Ratings, raised questions on the report’s authenticity. Karsenty argued that Dura’s death was staged, and accused France 2’s Jerusalem then-correspondent Charles Enderlin of doctoring the footage.

Former Israeli military and intelligence officials active in Arab countries
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/19/2008
The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported on Thursday that dozens of former Israeli military officers and a large number of Mosad (Israeli Intelligence) and Shabak (Israeli secret service) members are active in cooperation with the Israeli Security devices in several Arab countries in the Gulf. The countries in question have outstanding relations with the United States, and the Israeli security services are active there through specialized foreign security agencies. The Haaretz report added that the security officials are carrying wide range of security activities in the Arab Gulf and are spending tens of millions of US Dollars. There activities include training Arab security personnel on operating advanced weaponry, intelligence equipment, border protection techniques, techniques to counter kidnapping attempts, coups, and attempts to occupy strategic facilities such as Oil refineries.

Security and Defense: Sushi-infested waters
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 9/18/2008
OC Air Force Maj. -Gen. Ido Nehushtan likes to compare Israel to a shark and its enemies to sushi. In a talk he gave at an academic conference earlier this year - during which he surveyed the country’s strategic standing in the Middle East -Nehushtan concluded his remarks with a story: The Japanese, he said, wracked their brains to come up with a way to keep fish caught at sea fresh until it reached the mainland, so that it could be used for sushi. The solution was to keep the fish alive in large containers of seawateron board the fishing boats. This didn’t work, however, since the fish were inert when placed in the containers, and inactivity damaged their quality. Not giving up, the Japanese decided to place a shark in each container, to ensure activity on the part of the fish until they reached the shore to be turned into sushi.

Abbas welcomes Livni’s Kadima victory
Jerusalem Post 9/18/2008
Palestinian Authority officials on Thursday welcomed the election of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as chairwoman of Kadima and said they were looking forward to working with her to advance the peace process. The officials said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was satisfied with Livni’s victory because he believed that she is dedicated to the peace process. They said that as head of the Israeli negotiating team, Livni had much more experience in conducting the talks with the Palestinians than any other senior Israeli government official. "President Abbas is looking forward to working with Livni after she succeeds [Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert," said one official. "We believe that Livni will do her utmost to achieve a breakthrough in the negotiations. " Another PA official pointed out that there had been tremendous concern among the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah over. . .

Hamas: We do not pin any hope on Israeli election result to restore rights
Palestinian Information Center 9/18/2008
GAZA, (PIC)- The Hamas Movement stated Thursday that the rivalry within the Zionist establishment is only between extremists and racists, adding that it does not pin any hope on Israeli election results to return the Palestinian people’s usurped rights.  In a statement received by the PIC, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said the Israeli unanimity on the destruction of the Palestinian people, the liquidation of their cause and the "establishment of an extremist and a racist Jewish state" confirm that there is no hope that election results will return any Palestinian rights. The statement called for adhering to the option of resistance as a strategy for defending the Palestinian rights and constants. For his part, premier Ismail Haneyya voiced unconcern about the internal election of Kadima party, saying all leaders of Israel deny the Palestinian rights especially the establishment. . .

Abbas: Lasting peace can be reached
Ynetnews, YNetNews 9/19/2008
In Wall Street Journal op-ed, PA president expresses commitment to peace process, but warns of ’shifting parameters of debate’; says Israelis must stop settlement activity - Despite the changing political scenery, and with the imminent departures of George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert from office, Palestinian PresidentMahmoud Abbas still believes that Palestinians and Israelis "can achieve a lasting peace, with the Israeli and Palestinian peoples living as neighbors in two independent states. " Abbas stated that "we must resolve our differences at the negotiating table rather than on the battlefield" and acknowledged the "hardships faced by our Israeli neighbors. " However, he warned in an opinion editorial published on Friday, that "if we do not succeed, and succeed soon, the parameters of the debate are apt to shift dramatically.

Erekat: when Israel is ready for peace the path is clear, regardless of leadership
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Jericho – Ma’an – Israeli Kadima primaries, coalition governments and Prime Ministers are not a Palestinian concern, Saib Erekat the head of the negotiating team for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) told a room full of Ambassadors on Friday. When decision making departments “find they have a need and an interest in a peace agreement with the PLO” said Erekat, they need only look to the bases of a peace agreement already established by international laws and UN resolutions. The comments were laid out in a statement following several meetings between Erekat and the ambassadors to the Palestinian Authority (PA) from Japan, Russia, Portugal, and Romania. The statement reported Erekat telling each of the foreign dignitaries that when Israel is ready for peace all it must do is:“Withdrawal to the boundaries of June 1967, recognize an independent Palestinian state with. . .

Bardawil: Livni’s remarks on Jerusalem reflect Zionist racist mentality
Palestinian Information Center 9/19/2008
Gaza, (PIC)-- Dr. Salah al-Badaweel, spokesman for the Hamas parliamentary block, said on Thursday that remarks made by Tzipi Livni, the new Kadima party leader, regarding Jerusalem being the eternal capital of Israel reflect the extremism of Zionist thought that does not believe in peace, but rather in hegemony and usurpation of land and holy places. Bardawil further said that such statements reflect what has been taking place in the futile negotiations and proves that such negotiations could never bear fruit simply because the Zionists are not interested in peace, but rather want the futile negotiations with the Palestinians to drag on forever. He said that the Arab and Islamic countries should rise to the challenge and stand by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation and restoration of their rights.

Hamas: No difference between Livni and Mofaz, both agree on killing Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 9/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated that there is no difference between Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni and transport minister Shaul Mofaz who compete for the presidency of Kadima party, highlighting that all Zionists agree on killing and displacing the Palestinian people, and sustaining their "Jewish state". Commenting on the election of Kadima party leader that is taking place Wednesday, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, underlined that there are parameters agreed upon by all forces of criminality in Israel, which are, sustaining the racist Jewish state, destroying the Palestinian people, seizing their land and making them live in bantustans as was the case during the apartheid system in South Africa. Barhoum said that over long years, "the Israeli governments have been testing on us all their destructive and terrorist programs and we are still suffering from the repercussions".

Nearly one year after Annapolis, Middle East peace process still at crossroads
United Nations Security Council, ReliefWeb 9/18/2008
Ten months after negotiations were relaunched at Annapolis, the Middle East peace process was still at a crossroads, Robert Serry, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, said during this month’s regular briefing to the Security Council on the Middle East. "The important period ahead must see decisive advances toward peace", Mr. Serry said, noting that just over three months remained until the end of the year, the deadline set by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to end the enduring conflict. However, no agreement had been reached on core issues, although there had been substantive discussions between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, he said. With yesterday’s election of Tzipi Livni as the new leader of Israel’s Kadima party, he looked forward. . .

Editor’s Notes: Misreading Abbas
David Horovitz, Jerusalem Post 9/18/2008
As Bill Clinton’s special Middle East coordinator, Dennis Ross was centrally placed to observe the failure of that president to culminate years of concerted commitment to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal with an accord at Camp David in 2000. Indeed, Ross exhaustively documented the failure of those talks, day by frustrating day, in his 2004 doorstop volume The Missing Peace. Ross’s US government involvement predated the Clinton administration - he had served as director of Near East and South Asian Affairs on the National Security Council staff during the Reagan era and as head of the State Department’s Policy Planning Office under George H. W. Bush. And his involvement might postdate the Clinton years, too, since he now acts as an unpaid foreign policy and Middle East adviser to the Obama campaign; when the Democratic nominee visited Israel in July, for instance, Ross was with him.

Haneyya: Olmert conceded defeat of the Israeli occupation
Palestinian Information Center 9/18/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the caretaker government, stated on Wednesday that Israeli premier Ehud Olmert admitted the failure of the Zionist project and the occupation of Palestine when he said that the dream of establishing greater Israel had vanished. In a ceremony held to honor memorizers of the holy Qur’an, Haneyya underlined that Olmert’s statement reflects the defeat of the Zionist project before the fortitude of the Palestinian people and their resistance. The Israeli premier had said on Sunday during the weekly cabinet meeting that the idea of "Israel’s whole land" was gone and whoever thought otherwise was delusional. During his visit to the village of Israeli university students in the Kibbutz Ashlim settlement on Wednesday, Olmert acknowledged that Israel’s expenditure on building settlements for 40 years was in vain because the West Bank would not be its territory.

Dr. Barghouthi: the question of Palestine is one for the world’s conscience
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/19/2008
Nablus -- Palestinian Legislative Council member, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, says that he cannot talk about peace without a real Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. He was speaking at the European Social Forum in Malmo, Sweden. Also the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Barghouthi told the European social movements and solidarity organizations that the issue of Palestine is one for the world’s conscience. "It is the first issue of struggle for peace and justice. "He explained to the forum developments in the Palestinian arena, the risks and the Israeli violations particularly in regard to settlement activity, construction of the Wall, the blockade, assassinations and arrests. "All of these violations are being committed under the cover of negotiations. " Dr. Barghouthi also talked about the pressing need to activate the solidarity movement with the Palestinian people on an international level.

Dikhter calls for wiping out Palestinian factions in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 9/17/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israeli internal security minister Avi Dikhter called for exterminating all Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip, saying that Israel cannot allow a hostile authority to exist in the Strip. "We must eliminate the Palestinian factions in Gaza when the (Israeli) army declares that it is ready for the mission," Dikhter said. For his part, Dr. Ahmed Shweideh, the PA minister of prisoners’ affairs in Gaza, called on the international criminal court in the Hague to issue an arrest warrant against Dikhter, who is in charge of Israeli jails, and director of prison authority Benny Keniak for committing war crimes against 11,000 Palestinian prisoners. In a press statement received by the PIC, Dr. Shweideh pointed out that this call on the international criminal court came in its capacity as a body competent to try perpetrators of serious crimes and genocide.

Global panic hits Tel Aviv as investors switch to bank accounts
Nathan Lipson, Yuval Maoz and Eti Aflalo, TheMarker Correspondents, and, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
The global hysteria has reached Tel Aviv. As Morgan Stanley scrambles for a buyer and the credit markets freeze up, redemptions from savings vehicles in Israel have soared. From Tuesday, the public has withdrawn NIS 4. 9 billion from savings funds. "They’re in a panic. People want their money. They’re hysterical," said the manager of a big mutual fund Thursday. "They’re breaking savings funds. They’ve lost their faith in the financial system. "Thursday Israel’s mutual funds sector alone saw NIS 1 billion taken out, on top of NIS 2. 5 billion in redemptions on Wednesday. Nor are investors showing the love for other avenues. Provident fund managers estimate that a quarter billion shekels were taken out each day this week. The withdrawals aren’t as strong at pension funds, if only because the money in them isn’t accessible without paying a hefty penalty: tax of 35%.

Panicked public withdraws NIS 5b from funds
TheMarker Staff, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
Tel Aviv shares narrowed their losses yesterday, showing resilience among stock-market investors, but the general public lost its nerve. As the international news channels ceaselessly covered the meltdown on Wall Street, frightened depositors here redeemed money from long-term savings instruments and stashed it in their checking accounts. Over two days, the public withdrew almost NIS 5 billion from savings funds, market sources say. "They’re in a panic. People want their money," said the manager of a big mutual fund in Tel Aviv. Central banks around the world joined hands yesterday to stave off the panic. Stock markets clawed back ground after central banks poured some $180 billion into global money markets to ease the dollar funding crunch triggered by the upheaval on Wall Street. But analysts said the move was more of an aspirin, not a cure, and noted that the markets’. . .

Market report / Bank Hapoalim lost 25% of its value this week
Yuval Maoz, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
Tel Aviv stocks ended yesterday’s session mixed with a negative bias on enormous turnover. World stock markets also clawed back ground as central banks teamed up to bolster the money markets with a roughly $180 billion liquidity injection. But yesterday was still a choppy, unhappy end to a dreadful week and it brought no succor to the banks. Hapoalim stock sank 2. 2%, bringing its loss for the week to 25%. The TA-25 index lost 0. 6% to 842 points after starting with a 3% loss and swinging to a 1. 2% gain that could not be sustained. Its loss for the week was 11%. The TA-100 index lost 1. 2% to 758 points, bringing its loss for the week to 12%, and the TelTech-15 index retreated by 2. 7%. The Tel Bond-20 index, consisting of the 20 weightiest bonds, tumbled by 3. 7%. Total turnover was enormous at NIS 4.

Banks rethink rates on loans as risks rise
Sharon Shpurer, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
The global crisis is about to slam into Israel’s property market: Now that there is a whole new appreciation of risk, Israel’s banks are thinking of raising interest rates on mortgages. Bank Leumi this week cut maximal funding to homebuyers to 70% of the asset price. Until now, buyers could borrow as much as 85% to 90% of the home’s price. A spokesman for Leumi confirmed that the bank is also thinking of raising interest rates on new mortgage loans. First International Bank is also considering hiking rates applicable to new loans to home buyers. Mizrahi-Tefahot has gone one better: It has already raised rates on fixed-interest and linked mortgages by 0. 15% to 0. 3%, depending on the loan’s lifetime.

In God we trust
Meirav Arlosoroff, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
The tidal wave of withdrawals began after the market learned that Reserve Primary had been investing money in Lehman Brothers bonds, just $780 million to be precise. But the public suddenly realized that what looks like cash (money market funds are an alternative to cash deposits at banks) and quacks like cash may not actually be cash. As the system crashes, some will crow that nothing is as safe as bank deposits. Indeed, there’s no question that the American capital market failed, but it’s an open question as to whether the banks have failed too. Don’t forget that the sixth biggest bank in America, Washington Mutual, is begging for a Federal lifeline too. There had been no warning sign of the coming collapse - until this year. No going-concern warnings, no proper disclosure, no outlook warnings from the credit rating agencies.

Fatah delegation heading to Cairo to discuss unity
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A delegation of Fatah members from the Gaza Strip will leave for Cairo Friday morning to meet with Egyptian officials on Sunday morning to continue unity talks. The group will exit Gaza through the northern Erez Crossing and pass into Israel, from where they will enter the West Bank, and then pass into Jordan. The delegation will fly from Amman airport to Cairo, according to their statement, released Friday. While in Cairo, the group will meet with Dr Nabil Sha’ath, member of the Central Committee of Fatah movement and head of the delegation and Abdullah Abu Samhadana,a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council who are currently in Cairo. The delegation included Dr. Zakaria Al-Agha, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and chairman of its leadership in the Gaza Strip, as well as Ibrahim Abu An-Naja, a member of the Revolutionary Council and member of the senior leadership of Fatah.

Islamic Jihad leader calls dialogue a ''Palestinian life preserver''
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Dialogue between factions is the life preserver for Palestinians, their leadership, the government and the Palestinian Authority (PA), according to senior leader of Islamic Jihad Mohammad Al – Hindi. Al-Hindi said in a statement released on Friday that without dialogue, all the Palestinians would be losers, and harmed by any inability to put aside anger in order to work out a solution. He said there was a clear opportunity to reach an understanding between Fatah and Hamas over the holding of elections. Elections would be a first step towards rebuilding the security departments, and allow the two sides flexibility which would end the state of division. Al-Hindi also indicated that the issue of the prisoners exchange could be achieved as long as Israel does not harden its position. Concerning the question of who is going to rule after president Abbas finishes. . .

Zahhar: we will only go ahead with national dialogue to achieve tangible change
Palestinian Information Center 9/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahhar, a prominent Hamas leader, said that the movement will participate in the dialogue between the Palestinian national forces to achieve tangible changes on the ground. He confirmed, in a statement to PIC on Friday, that a Hamas delegation will travel to Cairo on 7th October to meet with Egyptian officials and make the position of the movement clear about the proposed inter-Palestinian dialogue. He added that the Egyptian official invitation included three questions to the Hamas movements mainly to know whether the movement is interested in the proposed dialogue or not. He also said that the Hamas delegation members have not been chosen yet, but they will include people from the Gaza Strip and exile. Asked about how optimistic he was with regard to the dialogue, he said that we have to distinguish between the dialogue and the aims behind it;. . .

No legal basis for postponing presidential elections to coincide with legislative elections
Palestine News Network 9/19/2008
PNN -- Former Palestinian Minister of Justice for the Government of National Unity and President of the Palestinian Constitution Drafting Committee, Ahmed Al Khalidi says that the controversy surrounding the possible extension of President Abbas’ terms is primarily political, not legal. The President’s term is slated to end in January 2009, but Abbas supporters wish to extend the term to 2010 when the Legislative Council term is up in order to hold simultaneous elections between the Palestinian Authority and PLC. Al Khalidi told Al Jazeera today that the there are no legal provisions to postpone presidential elections to coincide with legislative elections. If the presidential elections are postponed to coincide with legislative elections the consequences could be dire, Al Khalidi warned. Hamas announced that the party will not recognize Abbas as president after January 2009.

Hamas to Ma’an: we are pushing for a national coalition government
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas is pushing for a national coalition government that will be able to protect Palestinians and defend their interests, said Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum on Friday. The comments came in response to recent reports that Hamas rejected the idea of forming a “technocrat government” that would restore the political situation in the Gaza Strip to what it was in June 2007. Barhum added in an interview with Ma’an that “when we talk about a national dialogue which will handle all of the files including the issue of the government, we must first have dialogue. ”“It is too early to talk about the form of the government,” he continued, which “should be about a national coalition government that would be able to take care of the Palestinians and their important issues. ”He added that “everything should be presented in the dialogue.

Abbas’ committee working to release all political detainees close to dissolving
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The committee for the release of all political prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza may have to shut down operations after facing total non-cooperation from security forces. Khaleel Abu Shamalah who heads the committee as well as the local Ad- Dameer Human rights organization, said in an interview with Ma’an, “the committee has not been able to fulfill its expected role,” despite clear instructions from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the contrary. According to Abu Shamalah the committee will have to dissolve if no progress is made soon. “Foot dragging,” he told Ma’an, is endemic. From the first visit, “security forces did not cooperate with us,” and the “head of the department refused to inform the members of the committee of the prisoners detained in the department. He did not admit to apprehending political prisoners.

Fateh taking turn at pre-national dialogue consultations in Cairo
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/19/2008
Gaza -- The Fateh delegation left the Gaza Strip for Cairo Friday morning. The Egyptian sponsored factional consultations began a month ago with Islamic Jihad. The leftists have taken their turns and Hamas is still to come. The comprehensive national dialogue should begin after Eid Al Fitr when all concerned parties have had a chance to meet individually with Egyptian mediators to discuss their concerns. The Fateh delegation coming from the Gaza Strip included Dr. Zakaria Agha, member of the Fateh Central Committee and chairman of the leadership in the Gaza Strip. Fateh Revolutionary Council member Ibrahim Abu Naja left with him through the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun and into Israel boundaries. They travelled to Amman, Jordan and will fly to Cairo. A press release issued by Fateh today read in part, "Dr.

Hamas: PA security forces arrest 10 supporters in the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Nablus – Ma’an –Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces arrested ten Hamas supporters in the West Bank on Thursday, according to a Hamas statement released on Friday. Those arrested were: in Hebron district Jawad Abu Husein , brothers A’wad and Yousef Warasnah, Jalal Al-Ra’ee, Tha’er Shalaldah, I’zza t Shalalda and Abed-Al Hadi Abu Khalaf. In the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank, Hamas said Mohammad Al- Sauasa was arrested, and from Qalqiliya Wa’el Al –Houtari. [end]

Hamas: Ramallah authority foils national efforts to end political detention
Palestinian Information Center 9/18/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas held the PA authority in Ramallah fully responsible for the failure of the national committee formed to end the issue of political detention through refusing to release any of those detained in its jails. MP Mushir Al-Masri, the secretary of Hamas’s parliamentary bloc, said in a press statement on Wednesday that Ramallah authority continued its detention of Hamas cadres and supporters despite the fact that Hamas-controlled government in Gaza had released a number of Fatah cadres as a goodwill gesture. He said that the PA caretaker government in Gaza had positively dealt with the committee’s endeavor and responded favorably to its suggestions. The MP noted that the Ramallah government’s reaction was negative as it continued to detain more Hamas supporters and activists that amounted to 300 detainees other than continuing security coordination with the Israeli occupation.

QB calls on fighters to defend themselves against PA security forces in West Bank
Palestinian Information Center 9/18/2008
GAZA / RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The military wing of Hamas Movement, the Qassam Brigades, has called on its fighters in the West Bank on Wednesday to defend themselves against any attempt to arrest them either from the IOF troops or from the PA security forces. The QB warned the PA security apparatuses that pursuing their "treacherous" acts by stabbing the Palestinian resistance in the back would speed up the collapse of those apparatuses at the hands of the Palestinian people. "The security coordination [of the PA security forces] with the occupation became clear and in public, and leaders of the PA security forces were announcing such cooperation in public without any sense of shame, and bragging about their success in arresting a group affiliated with the Qassam Brigades", the QB asserted in a statement it issued and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC.

Crescents monitoring project confirms that Eid Al Fitr begins the first of October
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/19/2008
Jerusalem - The National Institute for Astronomical Research of Egypt announced that Eid Al Fitr, the short holiday after the month of Ramadan, will begin on 1 October. For countries that began Ramadan on 2 September, such as Morrocco, India, Pakistan and Iran, Eid will begin on 2 October. It is possible to announce the date based on astronomical calculations, but most countries require a sighting. The UAE-based project to monitor the Islamic crescents for a large number of Islamic countries confirmed the news. "The states which started the fast on the first of September should be completed by 30 days of Ramadan. The month of Shawwal will begin on the first Wednesday of October. "The countries which began fasting on the second of September, Tuesday the 30th will be the 29th day of Ramadan. The sighting of the moon should be possible in some parts of the Islamic world, but. . .

Deir Al-Ghousoun dedicates Ramadan night to Darwish
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – The Deir Al-Ghousoun Municipality north of Tulkarem organized a Ramadan festival to commemorate 40 days since the death of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. The head of the municipality, Ahed Zanabit, praised Darwish’s works. "The municipality will establish a cultural center and it will be named after Darwish," he said. Palestinian poets will present original poems at the festival. [end]

Israel loses battle with Palestinians in 1948-occupied land
Palestinian Information Center 9/19/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Since the Israeli occupation government seized 78% of the Palestinian land in 1948, it had relentlessly strived hard to Israelize the Palestinian community but to no avail, the Israeli intellectual Amos Keinan acknowledged. According to Keinan, the clear features of adherence of the Palestinian people in the 1948-occupied lands to the teachings of Islam, including fasting the holy month of Ramadan and giving out Zakat (obligatory alms) among other teachings indicates that the Israeli occupation government had indeed lost its battle in Israelizing them. He also added that the Israeli occupation government used to consider the Palestinian abandoning of Islamic teachings as a barometer for its success in Israelizing them, yet, he underlined, the increasing awareness of the Palestinians about Islam’s teachings was a clear sign of Israel’s absolute failure in this regard.

UN schools in Syria serve thousands of Palestinian refugees
Monica Awad, United Nations Children''s Fund - UNICEF, ReliefWeb 9/17/2008
DAMASCUS, Syria, 2008 – Palestinian children residing in Husseiniyeh camp here are suffering from overcrowded classrooms and double-shift schools. Faced with staggering challenges outside the classroom, children are now in danger of losing their right to a quality education. Almost 80 per cent of the 81,000 Palestinian students attend elementary schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), while the remaining 20 per cent attend either government or private schools. Due to the large number of students attending UNRWA schools and limited school facilities, schools operate in double shifts that are just under five hours long. This schedule, coupled with overcrowded schools, makes it difficult for students to concentrate and learn in class. "I have around 600 students attending Al Aqsa School for boys covering grades seven to nine," said the Damascus school’s principal, Moh’d Qassem.

Human Rights Council starts general debate on follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
United Nations Human Rights Council, ReliefWeb 9/18/2008
Concludes Discussion on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories and on the Universal Periodic Review - The Human Rights Council this afternoon started its general debate on the follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action after concluding its discussion on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories and on the Universal Periodic Review. Speakers said the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action were considered a landmark occasion that had given impetus to efforts aimed at strengthening the protection of all human rights. They had provided a frame of reference for overcoming the obstacles to the promotion and universal protection of human rights. They were particularly supportive of universality, transparency, impartiality,. . .

Shalit talks: Hamas receives Israel’s list of prisoners slated for release
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 9/19/2008
Senior Islamist group figure says Egypt relayed list of Palestinian prisoners Jerusalem willing to free in exchange for captive soldier. Adds: Calls to resume IDF activity against Hamas won’t deter us -Hamas has received a list of 450 Palestinian prisoners Israel is willing to release in exchange for captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Friday. A senior Hamas figure told the paper that the list was handed to Egyptian mediator Omar Suleiman on Wednesday by Israeli emissary Ofer Dekel and was then relayed to the Islamist group in Gaza. The figure said Hamas refuses to resume the negotiations for Shalit’s release until all its demands are met. According to him, Hamas is insisting that Israel free all of the prisoners that appeared on the original list drafted by the organization.

Hamas leader: We’ll ask for more prisoners
Ali Waked, YNetNews 9/19/2008
Al-Zahar accuses Israel of reneging on elements of Shalit deal, threatens to return to ’square one’ and demand more Palestinian prisoners in exchange for kidnapped soldier - Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, blamed Israel of reneging on previously agreed upon clauses in the negotiation for the return of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and warned that continued back-pedaling could have dire consequences. In this capacity, he threatened that his organization might cease the current negotiations altogether and "return to square one. " In an interview to the Palestinian Ramatan News Agency, he said that Israel is "withdrawing" from its previous positions. "If Israel wants to start from scratch under new terms, no problem," he told the agency. "But our terms will also be different than before.

Nazzal: No intention to move Hamas offices from Syria to Jordan
Palestinian Information Center 9/18/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Mohammed Nazzal, political bureau member of the Hamas Movement, told Quds Press that his Movement had no intention to move its offices from Syria back to Jordan in the light of the recent developments. He said such press speculations were not true, adding that reports claiming presence of security problems in Syria were baseless. Nazzal denied that Hamas had adopted any new security measures to protect its leaders, adding that the same security precautions were being adopted and had nothing to do with the escalation of Israeli threats against Hamas leaders. In another question, he said that his Movement did not start steps to shift the mediation bid in the prisoners’ swap deal from Egypt to another country, and added that Hamas had nothing do with the delay in this question.

Livni: Olmert must fulfill his promise to quit after primary
Barak Ravid , and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/20/2008
Fresh off her primary victory on Thursday, new Kadima chair Tzipi Livni told faction MKs on Friday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ought to stick to his pledge to resign as soon as the party selected a new leader. During the faction meeting in Petah Tikva on Friday, Livni also addressed Olmert’s recent announcement that he would resign as soon as a new Kadima head is elected, and said "I told him I appreciated the manner in which he has decided to end his term. " "As of now, there is a country to run and we must act quickly. We don’t have time to fuss around with politics," she added. Livni convened the party’s first faction meeting since her election in the primary. Livni announced her intention to try and forge a coalition, but declared "If I don’t succeed in forming a government, I will go to general elections and win.

Meretz chief says Livni offers party a place in coalition
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 9/20/2008
The chairman of the left-wing Meretz party on Friday said Foreign Minister and new head of the Kadima party Tzipi Livni offered Meretz to join the new coalition government she is attempting to form. Oron said he was given the offer during a meeting with Livni where he says he told her Meretz is "interested in the formation of a stable, long-term government", adding that he hopes Livni’s offer is genuine and not merely a short-term political maneuver. He also said he and Livni spent a good deal of time discussing the political issues facing Israel including the peace process with the Palestinians. Head of the Likud faction in the Knesset Gideon Sa’ar said the meeting between Livni and Oron showed the Kadima head’s "desire to form a left-wing government that will continue and radicalize the failed diplomacy of the Olmert government.

Livni faces coalition demands after slim win
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 9/19/2008
Tzipi Livni, the newly elected leader of Israel’s ruling Kadima party, last night began the daunting task of trying to assemble a workable coalition government as her narrowly defeated rival unexpectedly announced he was taking a "break" from politics. The potentially pivotal ultra-orthodox party Shas immediately laid down tough financial and political terms for remaining in a government led by Ms Livni. She defeated the former military chief of staff Shaul Mofaz for the party leadership by just 431 votes. While making it clear to Ms Livni he accepted the result of Wednesday’s contest, Mr Mofaz confounded claims that he would seek a senior post in her government by saying that he did not want a ministerial or parliamentary post. He would instead find "additional ways to contribute to the state of Israel and my family.

Livni says Shas-free coalition possible Staff, Gil Hoffman And Ap, Jerusalem Post 9/17/2008
New Kadima leader Tzipi Livni began her efforts to form a new government and become prime minister on Thursday by threatening Shas Chairman Eli Yishai that she could form a coalition without his party. The Kadima primaries breakdown Livni invited Yishai to her home in north Tel Aviv where they discussed possible political scenarios following the expected resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on October 2, the day after Rosh Hashana. Livni told Yishai that she wanted to maintain the same coalition factions and guidelines, but that she had other options. One scenario that has been discussed among Livni’s associates is a coalition of Kadima, Labor, the two pensioners’ parties, United Torah Judaism and Meretz. MKs in both Meretz and UTJ are eager to join the coalition. "I am against sticking to our seats in the opposition for no reason," UTJ MK Avraham Ravitz said.

Sa’ar: Livni wants ’leftist’ government
Gil Hoffman And Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/19/2008
Likud faction head Gideon Sa’ar decried on Friday Kadima leader Tzipi Livni’s invitation to Meretz to join the coalition. Livni’s overture to Meretz, Sa’ar said, was essentially a declaration of her intent to pursue - and even intensify - outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s policies of peace talks with the Syrians and Palestinians, and shows she means to establish a "leftist" government. The new Kadima Party leader knows these policies don’t have the support of the majority of the public, and therefore she won’t put her positions to the test of general elections, Sa’ar asserted. Livni kicked off a series of meetings Friday aimed at holding together and bolstering the coalition, and won the support of the GIL Pensioners Party.

Diplomacy: The people - 0.54% of them - have spoken
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 9/18/2008
The country didn’t elect a leader Wednesday, former Ariel Sharon spokesman Ra’anan Gissin quipped, after Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni barely eked out a victory over Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz by a 431-vote margin. "The PTA voted in a new chairman. " Indeed, the raw numbers from the Kadima primaries present a staggering picture of the degree to which this high-stakes drama was played on a minuscule stage. In a country of some 7. 3 million people, 39,331 went to the polls and gave Livni 431 votes more than her main rival (16,936 - 16,505). With this slim margin, Livni lost critical momentum even before holding her first coalition-building session with Labor chairman Ehud Barak or Shas head Eli Yishai. Mofaz’s "I’m taking a time out" bombshell, softly dropped at a press conference on Thursday afternoon, hurt her further still.

Livni reaches out to Meretz
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 9/19/2008
In meeting with party chairman Oron, states desire for long-term government that includes far-left party - New Kadima chairman, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, cast her net wide in an attempt to secure a coalition for herself. Not only did she approach representatives from existing coalition members such as the Pensioner’s party, but she also met Friday with chairman of the far-left Meretz party, Chaim Oron. During her meeting with Oron, the foreign minister expressed her desire to "establish a long-term government and to include Meretz in that government. "She added that holding general elections in a few months would be the "worst possible option. " Livni stated that she is "committed to negotiations, both with the Palestinians and with the Syrians," noting that she is "not willing to pay the price of ceasing negotiations with the Palestinians.

Khamenei weighs in on rift over ’friendship’ with Israelis
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/20/2008
TEHRAN: Iran’s supreme leader on Friday denounced Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, the aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who said Iran was a friend of the Israeli people, but also urged an end to a war of words that has erupted over the matter. "Someone made a statement about people who live in Israel. It was an inaccurate statement," supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a sermon at Friday prayers in Tehran. "To say that we are friends of the Israeli people like all the other people of the world is not a fair comment, it is an illogical comment," Khamenei said in the sermon, broadcast live on state television. "Someone said something false and there were reactions. These should end," the leader added, calling on opponents of the government to end debate "on this minor question. "Khamenei pointed out that Israelis have "usurped the houses, land, fields and businesses" of Palestinians.

Iran’s Ayatollah says ’Illogical’ for Iranians to call Israelis friends
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
Iran’s supreme leader said Friday it was illogical to say Iranians are friends with the Israeli people, seeking to end a controversy over Tehran’s stance toward the Jewish state - it’s biggest enemy in theregion. The controversy was sparked in mid-July when Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashai said Iranians were friends of all people in the world - even Israelis. That raised anger from some hard-line lawmakers who said Israelis were not friends and Mashai’s comments did not reflect government policy. They also lashed out at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his decision not to dismiss the vice president, a close ally. On Thursday, Ahmadinejad stood by Mashai again, saying Iran is not against Israelis, though he stopped short of calling them friends.

Iran plays the mediator
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times 9/20/2008
Contradicting the United States’ negative image of Iran as a rogue state threatening its neighbors, its foreign policy machinery is churning out proactive initiatives aimed at de-escalating tensions in the region, with particular focus on the Caucuses and Central Asia. Tehran’s role as a mediator is taking shape as President Mahmud Ahmadinejad prepares for his visit to New York to attend next week’s annual United Nations gathering. But a hostile reception is guaranteed there as demonstrations planned against him will be bolstered by the presence of Republican vice presidential hopeful Senator Sarah Palin. Palin should be aware of the importance of courting Iran at this critical hour, rather than strengthening the caricature of Iran painted by simplistic anti-Tehran voices in the US. The nation’s recent diplomatic interventions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Russia and Georgia, are

US chief: Iran diplomatic solution imperative
Kim Sengupta, The Independent 9/19/2008
An Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear installations would destabilise the entire region and open a new battlefront which could have a damaging effect on Iraq and Afghanistan, a senior American army commander said today. In a highly unusual statement on the issue from the US Defence establishment the officer, who requested anonymity, stressed that a diplomatic solution was imperative to solve the crisis. The commander, in the heart of US military policy-making, said that there was "a lot of rhetoric" over Israel’s repeated threats to carry out air-strikes to stop Iran developing a nuclear arsenal. However, he said, that an exercise by over 100 Israeli war planes in the skies above the Mediterranean in June showed the Israelis were practising for a possible offensive. "But it would not be the right thing to do, it will open up another front and this is not going. . .

Peres on Iran: War must not be an option
Greer Fay Cashman, Jerusalem Post 9/19/2008
The world should hit Iran where it hurts - in its economy - much harder than it does now, and Israel will push the United Nations to that effect when the General Assembly convenes next week, President Shimon Peres told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. Peres, who will represent Israel at the General Assembly session, said he would not advocate a diplomatic initiative to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program, because that wouldn’t work, but he would not support military action either. "War should never be an option, or even the first option. We must first try every other option," he told the Post. Rather, he said, "We have to go to the most sensitive area," which was Teheran’s economy. Peres said that when he addressed the General Assembly, he would say that Iran’s nuclear program presented a threat not only to Israel and the region but to the world at large.

EU: Concerned by Iran’s behavior
DPA, YNetNews 9/19/2008
European Union stands behind IAEA, expresses concern over Islamic Republic’s refusal to cooperate with nuclear inspectors - The European Union on Friday threw its diplomatic weight behind the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), saying that it was gravely concerned by Iran’s refusal to cooperate with IAEA inspectors of its nuclear program. The EU "deplores" the fact that Iran has refused to suspend nuclear activities and shares the "grave concern" of IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradei that Iran "is not answering questions relating to possible activities linked to the design and building of nuclear weapons," a statement on behalf of the 27-member bloc said. On Monday El Baradei reported that Iran is continuing to expand its uranium enrichment program while obfuscating UN efforts to verify the nature of the country’s nuclear ambitions.

Dyncorp: Firm training ISF has had trouble elsewhere
Special to The Daily Star, Daily Star 9/20/2008
BEIRUT: US government-funded training for Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) is being provided by Dyncorp, a private military contractor whose conduct during similar missions in Iraq and Afghanistan has been heavily criticized, The Daily Star has learned. Dyncorp describes itself as "highly successful provider of critical support to military and civilian government institutions. "But the company has been at the center of several controversies in recent years, mainly focused on its activities in Iraq. Documents obtained by The Daily Star show that Dyncorp began recruiting for the ISF training program a year ago, targeting retired police officers in the United States for deployment to Lebanon. Minutes from a meeting of the Houston Police Retired Officer Association in September 2007 show that a Dyncorp official asked members to apply for jobs at the ISF training academy in Beirut.

Berri says new election law will go to full Parliament by end of this month
Daily Star correspondent, Daily Star 9/20/2008
BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri said Friday that he would call for a parliamentary session to ratify the new electoral law "before the end of September. "He added that head of the Parliament’s Administration and Justice Committee, MP Robert Ghanem, had promised to hand in the draft electoral law on September 23. Berri said the next dialogue session had been delayed until November 5 in order "to allow for reconciliation efforts to reach their full scope. " "Here we are facing sporadic clashes again," Berri said following a meeting with President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace, adding that handling the security situation in Beirut "is currently the most pressing issue. ""I am ready to do what is required of me because I support all reconciliation [efforts] in Lebanon," he added. Asked whether he endorsed increasing the number of participants in future dialogue sessions, the speaker. . .

BOOK REVIEW: ’We blew her to pieces’
Reviewed by Dahr Jamail, Asia Times 9/20/2008
Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan by Aaron Glantz - Aside from the Iraqi people, nobody knows what the United States military is doing in Iraq better than the soldiers themselves. A new book gives readers vivid and detailed accounts of the devastation the US occupation has brought to Iraq, in the soldiers’ own words. Winter Soldier Iraq and Afghanistan is a gut-wrenching, historic chronicle of what the US military has done to Iraq, as well as its own soldiers. Authored by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and journalist Aaron Glantz, the book is a reader for hearings that took place in Silver Spring, Maryland, between March 13-16, 2008, at the National Labor College. " I remember one woman walking by," said Jason Washburn, a corporal in the US Marines who served three tours in Iraq. "She was carrying a huge bag, and she looked like she was heading toward us, so we lit her up with

US raid ’kills Iraqi family’
Al Jazeera 9/19/2008
A US air raid has killed eight members of the same family near Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, the executed Iraqi president, according to police and witnesses said. The pre-dawn helicopter raid on Friday occurred in the village of Al-Dawr where Saddam was captured by US forces in December 2003. "Eight people, including five men and three women, were killed by a US air strike targeting their home. They are all members of the same family," Firaz al-Duri, first lieutenant of Al-Dawr police said. The US military confirmed that it hit a house near Tikrit but said the target was an al-Qaeda operative. It said seven people, including a suspected bomb expert, were killed in the raid. "A suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) terrorist, alleged to lead improvised explosive device facilitation. . .

Iraq Kurds blamed for delay in oil law
Middle East Online 9/19/2008
BAGHDAD - A series of contracts awarded by Kurdish leaders is blocking the passage of a national oil law, prompting Baghdad to use Saddam Hussein era rules for new deals, Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said. Shahristani said a majority of parliament’s 275 members were hesitating to pass the new oil law after the northern Kurdish administration signed contracts ahead of the national law. "The KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) has gone ahead and signed even production sharing agreements. This has created concern among parliamentary blocs," said the former nuclear physicist. Shahristani said some MPs want the new law to be modified in order to "ban production sharing contracts. " "Others are questioning the usefulness of the new law. They say if the KRG is not abiding by the new law in spite of participating in negotiations during the framing of the bill, why have a new law? " the minister said.

Anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish sentiments up in Europe
Middle East Online 9/19/2008
WASHINGTON - Anti-Semitism has risen in Europe and attitudes towards Muslims have become more negative in recent years, according to a US think-tank study released here. Anti-Jewish sentiment was up in six European countries surveyed for the Washington-based Pew Research Center’s 2008 Global Attitudes Project. Of those, Spain was found to be the least tolerant toward Jews and Muslims. More than a third of Poles and Russians were anti-Semitic, as were one in four Germans and one in five French. Britain stood out as the only European country where there has not been a substantial rise in anti-Semitism. Only nine percent of Britons saying they viewed Jews unfavorably, largely unchanged from recent years, according to Pew. In all the other European countries surveyed, anti-Semitism was up, with the rise "particularly dramatic in Spain, where unfavorable views have more. . .

French Justice Minister, nicknamed ’Sarkozette’, to arrive in Israel
Avirama Golan, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
The French have been avidly following the story of Justice Minister Rachida Dati, affectionately called Sarkozette (after President Nicolas Sarkozy, who appointed her), who recently confirmed she was pregnant, but refused to name the father. Dati will arrive in Israel Friday morning. Her first official visit will be to Ramallah, after her meetings with Palestinian officials, initially planned for Monday, were switched to Saturday because Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath. Until 16 months ago, the French Justice Ministry was a bastion of the old establishment. In her huge, elaborately adorned office, the 42-year-old minister looks like a slim girl in her first months of pregnancy. But when she begins talking, she fills the space with her presence. She is sharp, resolute and eloquent, conveying a sense of power, energy and openness.

Mofaz ''takes a break'' from politics
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/19/2008
After the election of former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as the interim Prime Minister of Israel, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who ran against her for Prime Minister, has announced that he is stepping from his position. Mofaz has been one of the most outspoken proponents of Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian land, and of the expansion of Israeli settlements. He did not publicly blame Livni, but the campaign he ran against her was largely negative, and his advisors have told the media that he criticized Livni privately. He also told confidants that he was hurt by the tenor of Livni’s campaign against him, in which he says he was portrayed as "a political wheeler dealer, a stupid, depraved man" during the campaign. Mofaz was scheduled to meet with Livni on Friday to assist her with the formation of a coalition government, but cancelled the meeting in advance of his public announcement that he was stepping down.

The surprise candidate
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 9/19/2008
Zohir Hamdan from east Jerusalem throws his hat into the mayoral race for Jerusalem. His message to voters is one of hope, but he says if elected he won’t allow gays to march through capital - Even though the election is a few months away, the race for the position of mayor of Jerusalem is becoming more and more interesting. In addition to the two main candidates, Nir Barkat and Meir Porush, a new, some would say surprising, face has entered - a Palestinian candidate by the name of Zohir Hamdan. Hamdan, 53, the mukhtar (head) of the east Jerusalem village of Tzur Baher who is married to three wives and is the proud father of 18, announced his candidacy on Wednesday. In an interview to Ynet he says: "I was married to a Jewish woman from Tel Aviv, but we divorced about three years ago". His name has been mentioned before as a possible mayoral candidate, but according to Hamdan, those were just speculations; this time, its official.

Livni triumphs in TA
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
The Dan region gave Tzipi Livni 7,300 votes yesterday to Shaul Mofaz’s 5,700, a gap of 29 percent, and Livni won in 16 communities to Mofaz’s 9. Livni may enjoy greater support in this area, or vote contractors may be stronger in outlying communities. Both suppositions may be true. Livni’s advantage was focused on Tel Aviv and the northern part of the region, where the gap in her favor was 58 percent. In Tel Aviv she got 80 percent to Mofaz 13. In Herzliya the figures were 74 percent to 11. Livni’s campaign was proud of making inroads into strong Mofaz territory in Rishon Letzion and Ramat Gan, by means of relatively minor vote contractors and volunteers. In Rishon Letzion, whose mayor, Meir Nitzan, is a Mofaz man, Livni got over 1,000 votes to Mofaz’s 1,160. Livni’s biggest defeat was in Haifa, the bayside (Krayot) suburbs and in Acre, where Mofaz had a 78-percent advantage.

Deri to appeal moral turpitude clause
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 9/19/2008
Following encouraging legal findings, disgraced former minister to attempt a return to political life - Ynet has learned that former Shas leader, Aryeh Deri, who was found guilty on several charges of bribery in 2000, is expected to file an appeal with the Jerusalem District Court in an attempt to expunge the moral turpitude clause on his criminal record, so as to be able to enter the race for mayor of Jerusalem. Associates of Deri said that the former minister of interior plans to approach the District Court of Jerusalem - which also doubles as the Court of Administrative Affairs - early next week regarding the matter. They said that Deri recently held meetings with several legal experts whose "findings were very encouraging. " Zohir HamdanThe surprise candidate / Ronen Medzini Zohir Hamdan from east Jerusalem throws his hat into the mayoral race for Jerusalem.

Great expectations
Petra Marquardt-Bigman, The Guardian 9/19/2008
All comments ( Petra Marquardt-Bigmanguardian. co. uk Friday September 19 2008 12:20 BSTIt is much too early to tell whether Tzipi Livni made history when she wonthe Kadima primaries on Wednesday, but there is no doubt that she will lead the party, and perhaps Israel, into a very different direction than her rival Shaul Mofaz would have, if he had prevailed. And he almost did: while the polls had predicted that Livni would win comfortably with a margin of some 10%, in the end she won by just over 1% - a difference of less than 500 votes. In a surprise move, Mofaz announced on Thursday that he intended to "take a break" from political life and quit the cabinet and the KnessetIt remains to be seen if he means what he says, because Mofaz has demonstrated repeatedly how quickly he can change his mind: On the eve of the Kadima primary, he pledged that if. . .

Fire at Kadima’s Eilat office; arson suspected
Ezra Arbeli, YNetNews 9/19/2008
Blaze erupts at deputy mayor’s office, which also serves as ruling party’s headquarters in southern city. Activists suspect arson because of deputy mayor’s support for Livni during primaries - A fire erupted late Thursday night at the office of Eilat Deputy Mayor Yehuda Moradi, which also serves as the Kadima party headquarters. Several party activists have speculated that arson may be the case. At around 2 am police received reports that the office, which also served as a polling station during this week’s Kadima primaries, was burning. ’War room’ after the fire. (Photo: )Based on evidence found at the scene, local Kadima activists speculated that the office was set on fire deliberately, because a room in the back of the office, which acted as a "war room" and held all relative information about the primaries, had burned first.

Livni prefers to take on coalition talks by herself
Yair Ettinger and Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
Kadima’s new leader, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, has decided not to appoint teams to carry out the coalition negotiations. She reportedly prefers to conduct all the talks herself in order to preserve the present agreement or to make small changes only. Livni campaign advisors Reuven Adler and Eyal Arad, who previously advised Ariel Sharon, have been conducting unofficial talks over the past few weeks with Shas and Labor. They are expected to continue advising Livni. Livni began a series of meetings yesterday within and outside of Kadima. She met with ministers Avi Dichter and Meir Sheetrit, telling them she wanted to use their skills in the new government. She also met with Shas chairman Minister Eli Yishai, who said yesterday that his party would be in no hurry to "crown" Livni as long it was unclear whether she could form a coalition.

Kadima divided after Livni’s victory, Mofaz exit
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
On the eve of the Kadima primary, Shaul Mofaz was asked about threats by Tzipi Livni and Roni Bar-On to quit Kadima if he won. "Livni is not a loyal person," he said angrily. "Kadima is holding democratic elections for the first time and MKs will refuse to accept the results? " He pledged that if he lost, he would stay and help the elected leader. Thursday, after Livni won the primary, Mofaz quit. His confidants said he was deeply hurt. For weeks the media portrayed him as a wheeler-dealer, a functionary, a politician of the "old" sort versus the fresh, new, "other" politician. He had swallowed his pride, but last night he felt he had fallen into an ambush set up by the media and academia. Keeping the polling stations open longer, while broadcasting the erroneous exit polls on three channels 15 minutes before the polls’ closing broke him.

Ramon: Olmert’s immediate resignation tactical mistake
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 9/19/2008
Vice premier urges Livni to ask PM to stay on until new government assembled ’so as not to lose control of the process’. MK Hanegbi: Only the Olmert’s immediate resignation will advance process -While Kadima is going to great lengths present a united front following this week’s election of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as its new leader, a major dispute surfaced during the faction’s first meeting under her leadership regardingPrime Minister Ehud Olmert’s expected resignation. Livni urged Olmert to step down immediately, saying "from this moment on we must act fast - we have a country t run"; however, Vice Premier Haim Ramon, Olmert’s confidante, said the chairwoman should ask the PM to stay on until she assembles a new coalition "so as not to lose control of the process (of establishing a new government).

After debacle, Dachaf will no longer conduct primary election polls
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
Israel’s pollsters have admitted their failure to correctly predict Wednesday’s Kadima primary results. The polls made public ahead of the vote promised a resounding victory to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, by a margin of over 10 percent, but her actual win was extremely narrow. Livni secured 43. 1 percent of the vote while Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz fetched 42 percent - a difference of only 1. 1 percent. Pollsters tried to offer explanations for their insistence on a landslide victory for Livni. Channel 2 pollster Mina Tzemach told Haaretz her polling company, Dachaf, will no longer conduct polls for primary elections. "After yesterday, polling primary elections is no longer possible and I believe we won’t be doing that any more," she said. Several pollsters described their erroneous predictions as frustrating.

ANALYSIS / Livni’s victory is a big crack in the glass ceiling
Ruth Sinai, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
If Tzipi Livni forms a cabinet, Israel will be the only country in the world with women heading all three branches of government - the executive, legislature and judiciary. However, feminists agree this would be a historic accident, as both Livni and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik were elected despite, not because, they are women. Neither did the election of Justice Dorit Beinisch as Supreme Court president have anything to do with her views on women’s issues. "This is amazing, especially because women’s representation in Israeli politics is meager and dwindling," says MK Gideon Saar (Likud), who served as chairman of the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women. Israel is graded 82nd in the world in women’s political representation - 15 percent of Knesset members are women, and only 1 percent of local government heads.

Livni in talks to form government
Al Jazeera 9/19/2008
The new leader of Israel’s ruling Kadima party has begun talks on forming a new coalition government. Hours after winning a hotly contested vote, Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, was in talks on Thursday with the right wing Shas party to try to cobble a coalition together and fulfil her ambition of becoming the country’s next prime minister. But a deal with Shas may make it difficult for her to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians because the party opposes any compromise on the future of Jerusalem. Livni has 42 days to form a new government if she hopes to avert snap elections that opinion polls say she would lose to the right-wing Likud party led by Benjamin Netanyahu, a former prime minister. She was declared the winner in an election to replace Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, as. . .

Livni’s call for party unity backfires
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 9/19/2008
New Kadima leader Tzipi Livni made an effort to unify the ranks in Kadima behind her by convening the faction on Friday at the party’s Petah Tikva headquarters, but the meeting was marred by boycotts and protests by Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz’s camp in Kadima. Mofaz, who announced Thursday that he was quitting politics, refused Livni’s request to meet with her and did not attend the meeting, which was also boycotted by Mofaz supporter MK Ze’ev Elkin. "This is not the proper time for a victory party or a fake display of unity," Elkin said. "There are many people who feel very uncomfortable with this false presentation of unity. There is no legitimacy to her victory unless the results of the race are properly checked. Until then, she hasn’t brought the different kind of politics she promised.

TAU prof. to replace Mofaz as Knesset Member
Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
Dan Ben-David, an economist, will replace Shaul Mofaz as Knesset Member if Mofaz turns his "time-out" from politics into a full exit. Ben-David, an economist from Tel Aviv University, is currently number 34 on the Kadima list. Ben-David, 51, received his PhD from the University of Chicago. He specializes in macroeconomics, economic growth, international trade, and the link between education and the economy. He is considered an expert on welfare issues and was part of the drafting team for Kadima’s socioeconomic platform for the 2006 elections. [end]

Tulkarem police and public intelligence seize 2.5 tones of expired dates
Ma’an News Agency 9/19/2008
Tulkarem- Ma’an – Two and a half tones of expired dates were confiscated on Friday by the consumer protection department of the Ministry of the Economy in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem. Kamal Ghanem , head of the office of the ministry of economy in Tulkarem told Ma’an that the confiscation came after the ministry received information from the local intelligence unit, which lead to the expired dates. The dates were a product of one of the nearby illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and Ghanem urged citizens to cooperate fully with consumer protection police who are “doing their best to protect them from expired foods. ”[end]

Sarah Palin blames ’Democrat partisans’ for withdrawn invitation to anti-Iran rally
Natasha Mozgovaya, and Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/20/2008
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin told supporters Friday that Democrat partisans had pressured organizers of an anti-Iran rally in New York next week to withdraw an invitation for her to appear. "This should be an issue that unites all Americans. Iran should not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period," Palin said. "Unfortunately, some Democrat partisans put politics first and now no elected official can appear. This should not be a matter of partisan politics. " Republican presidential candidate John McCain accused organizers on Thursday of withdrawing Palin’s invitation under pressure from her Democratic rivals, a charge that Barack Obama’s campaign vehemently denies. Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor batted away the suggestion, saying they had planned to send Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler to attend the rally on the campaign’s behalf and did nothing to discourage Palin’s attendance.

Obama campaign cries foul after Republicans block Iran divestment bill
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 9/20/2008
Barack Obama’s presidential campaign on Friday criticized Republican resistance to the Iran divestment provision authored by the Illinois senator, saying it would have been able to significantly set back the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons program, and blaming partisan politics for the bill’s failure. "Once again, Senator McCain and his Republican allies put partisanship ahead of our national security and the security of our ally Israel," the Obama campaign said, after the bill was voted down by Senate Republicans on Friday. Some predicted the Republicans would scuttle the passage of the bill, in order to prevent Obama from achieving a prominent legislative victory while he and McCain are locked in a close presidential race. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) held a conference call interview later on Friday, saying "Senator Obama’s commitment. . .

Ahmadinejad ready to debate Obama, McCain
Middle East Online 9/19/2008
TEHRAN - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday he was ready to debate the men running for US president when he visits New York for the UN General Assembly, and dismissed threats of more sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear drive. The outspoken president said: "I am ready for a debate with the US presidential candidates over global issues in the presence of the media at the UN headquarters. "I have no plans in my schedule to meet with US politicians," he told a press conference. "Last year, I said I was ready to meet with (President George W. ) Bush. But now he is at the end of his term and (a meeting) will not impact our relations and future. " The campaign of Republican candidate John McCain has castigated Democrat rival Barack Obama for offering to negotiate with the leaders of US foes like Iran and Syria if he is elected, and has adopted a hawkish foreign policy.

Seal, Warren Beatty and other celebrities attend Israel anniversary event in Hollywood
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/19/2008
Seal, Warren Beatty, Annette Bening and other celebrities gathered to toast movie producer Arnon Milchan during a Hollywood event at Paramount Studios that celebrated the 60th anniversary of Israel. News Corp. President Peter Chernin presented Milchan with a lifetime achievement award from the Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel, a nonprofit that promotes democracy and civic involvement. "At first, I said about a hundred times no because I’m shy," Milchan, the Israeli-born businessman who helped produce such films as "Pretty Woman" and "L. A. Confidential," toldon the red carpet before the Thursday night ceremony. "Then, I realized for Israel, you can’t say no. "During his acceptance speech, Milchan brought tennis star Serena Williams on stage to share the limelight during the soiree.


Twilight Zone / Dead on Arrival
Gideon Levy, Palestine Think Tank 9/19/2008
      Nothing helped. Not the pleas, not the cries of the woman in labor, not the father’s explanations in excellent Hebrew, nor the blood that flowed in the car. The commander of the checkpoint, a fine Israeli who had completed an officers’ course, heard the cries, saw the women writhing in pain in the back seat of the car, listened to the father’s heartrending pleas and was unmoved. The heart of the Israeli officer was indifferent and cruel. For over an hour, he would not let the car with the young woman in labor pass through the Hawara checkpoint on the way to the hospital in Nablus. Not to Tel Aviv; but to Nablus; not for shopping, not for work; but to get to the hospital in an emergency. Nothing helped.
     Nahil Abu-Rada is not the first woman to lose her baby this way because of the occupation, and she won’t be the last. At least a half-dozen checkpoint births that ended in death have been documented here over the years, and nothing has changed. No punishments, no lessons, not even a request for forgiveness from parents who lose their children because of the coldheartedness of soldiers.

UN office: Palestinian children’s rights being violated

Mel Frykberg, Electronic Intifada 9/19/2008
      RAMALLAH, West Bank (IPS) - Palestinian children continue to be victims of disproportionate and indiscriminate violence from the both the Israeli occupation and internal Palestinian infighting in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its August report expressed concern for the inadequate protection afforded Palestinian children.
     "In one of the gravest incidents in July, a 10-year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmad Husam Yousef Mosa, was shot in the head with live ammunition and killed by the Israeli border police following an anti-barrier demonstration in Nilin village in the central West Bank," the report says.
     The following day, 15-year-old Yousef Ahmad Amira was declared brain dead after he too was shot in the head at close range with several rubber-coated metal bullets, also by Israel’s paramilitary border police.
     "Another 44 children were injured this month, all but one in the West Bank. Two children were killed and seven injured in Palestinian internal fighting in the Gaza Strip in July."

Dutch bank must disinvest from rights abuses

Jeff Handmaker - The Electronic Intifada, International Middle East Media Center News 9/19/2008
      On 26 August 2008, a group including representatives of the Amsterdam-based group A Different Jewish Voice and a prominent Dutch development organization attended a meeting at the offices of SNS Asset Management in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The group also included two international law specialists, including myself.
     We were there to urge the bank -- a full subsidiary of SNS Bank, one of the top five banks in the Netherlands -- to withdraw its investments in the French Veolia Corporation because of Veolia’s direct and indirect involvement in Israel’s violations of international law in occupied East Jerusalem.
     Our group was concerned over Veolia’s involvement in the City Pass consortium to construct a light rail line on occupied and annexed Palestinian land in East Jerusalem. The first phase of the light rail project begins in the settlement of Pisgat Zeev, where illegal construction of houses and infrastructure first began under Israeli military oversight in 1982. The light rail is planned to run through other settlements, including Neve Yaakov. It will pass over a showcase bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava, a prominent Spanish architect, and eventually terminate at Mount Herzl in West Jerusalem.

A refugee’s open letter to Mahmoud Abbas

Abdelfattah Abusrour, Electronic Intifada 9/19/2008
      Dear Mr. President:
     My name is Abdelfattah Abdelkarim Hasan Ibrahim Mohamad Ahmed Mostafa Ibrahim Srour Abusrour. I was born in the Aida Refugee camp, on rented land from Palestinian owners from Bethlehem. My two eldest brothers as well as my father and his father and all those who were born before them, originate form Beit Nateef village destroyed on 21 October 1948. My mother was born in Zakareya village, also destroyed in 1948 by the Zionist bandits.
     I grew up in the Aida refugee camp. When I was four years old, I remember most of the people in the camp hiding in a cave behind our house. I remember the old people talking about the war. I remember the sky full of planes, and all of the young children covered by black blankets, and cherished by their mothers.
     I remember the first curfew after the Israeli occupation in Aida camp in 1968. I remember the first Israeli soldier, who was an old Iraqi Jew of about 60 years old. I remember the day my second brother was invited for an interview by the military occupation administration in 1972, and never returning back to the house. I remember that he was exiled six months later, without any confession, without any judgment or court sentence.

The Joke of Palestinian ''democracy'' under Fatah, Israel

Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine, Palestine Think Tank 9/19/2008
      Jockeying for an advantageous public posture vis-à-vis Hamas, the Fatah movement has been calling for the organization of presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
     The proposal is being touted as the only way to resolve the enduring crisis between Fatah and Hamas, following the latter’s counter-coup in Gaza in June of last year.
     The proposal, however, seems to be more of a propagandist gambit than a sincere effort aimed at achieving inter-Palestinian reconciliation.
     And it doesn’t suggest that Fatah, now solidly backed and financed by the United States, has undergone a true democratic transformation.
     Indeed, Fatah today remains the same Fatah that only reluctantly and under American pressure agreed to allow general elections to take place in 2006- and only because Fatah leaders seemed then certain they would win.

Abu Mazen: don’t mess with the right of return

Khalid Amayreh, Palestinian Information Center 9/14/2008
      In recent days, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas made two extremely worrying pronouncements  with regard to the paramount issue of the Right of Return.
     Last week,  he  told Al-Arabiya TV that he couldn’t demand that all Palestinian  refugees be allowed to return to their homes and towns from which they were uprooted when Israel was created in Palestine more than sixty years ago.
     This week,  the PA President  uttered even more daring remarks in an interview with the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, published Sunday, 14 September.
     He suggested that Israel was justified in refusing to allow the repatriation of the refugees.
     "We understand that if we demand of you that all the five million refugees be allowed to return to Israel, the State of Israel would be destroyed. But we must talk about compromise and see what numbers you can accept," Abbas was quoted as saying.

Palestinian Unity: Goal or Mantra?

Ramzy Baroud, Middle East Online 9/19/2008
      Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa used exceptionally tough language during a Cairo news conference 9 September, when he lashed out at Palestinian factionalism, saying that the League is going as far as studying the possibility of imposing sanctions on quarrelling Palestinians.
     "I am extremely angry with the Palestinian organisations... We are studying the measures to be taken in the face of the current Palestinian chaos," he said, after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers. He added, "the sanctions would not be against anyone in particular. They would be against the party which obstructs reconciliation and maybe against everyone or against the organisation which obstructs Egyptian efforts."
     Considering Moussa’s devoted efforts in the past aimed at solidifying a Palestinian front and generating a semblance of a Arab unity in its support, one can only sympathise with the head of the League’s frustration and indeed "extreme anger".