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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
For those interested in keeping up with events in Palestine/Israel, there is no better digest than VTJP.

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20 September 2008

14-year-old boy killed near Nablus by Israeli gunfire
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 9/20/2008
Israeli security guards killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy on Saturday morning near the Israeli settlement of Yitzhar as he came near the settlement, Palestine News Network (PNN) reported. The boy later was identified as Suheib Saleh from the village of Asseera Al-Qibliyeh, near the West Bank city of Nablus. Eyewitnesses said the boy died immediately as he received a fatal bullet. Suheib’s brother was killed in the same place in 2002. The sources said that the boy was only 100 meters away from his home, but the settlement was built on land that belongs to the villagers, so it is adjacent to the villagers houses. Israeli sources claimed that the boy was in procession of a Molotov cocktail and a knife and he kept walking ignoring orders by the soldiers to stop, which had them to open fire on him and kill him. This claim was strongly rejected by the head of the village council Hosni Sharif.

Protest against Israeli construction under Moroccan Gate
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 9/20/2008
Jerusalem -- Heavy equipment arrived in East Jerusalem’s Silwan via the Elad Settlement for construction under Bab al Magarbi, Moroccan Gate. Residents began protesting yesterday morning and took their case to the Israeli police station at the top of Salah al-Din Street. They demanded to view the work permit which the Israeli police denied them saying they were not entitled access. The heavy machinery began working around noon under police protection. A group of settlers came from the Elad Settlement and began threatening protesters. The construction is sponsored by the Elad Settlement Assembly. Hatem Abdel Khater told PNN, "Israel is waging war on Jerusalem," while Bishop Atallah Hanna is demanding national, religious and human rights in the occupied city.

Mayor of Jenin suffers from medical neglect in Shatta prison
Palestinian Information Center 9/20/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Mayor of Jenin Hatem Jarrar, who is imprisoned in the Israeli Shatta jail, said in a letter through the lawyer of Mandela institute that his health condition deteriorated as a result of the policy of medical neglect exercised by the prison administration. Jarrar explained that he suffers from diabetes, hypertension, and kidney problems, adding that he suffered from severe pains after undergoing a surgery to repair a hernia because of the inappropriate incarceration conditions and the lack of medical follow-up. In another related context, prisoner Mohamed Al-Kaddoumi, who was sentenced to 19 years in jails, told the prisoner club’s lawyer that the Israeli doctors in the prison misdiagnosed his medical case where they told him that the cause of his ongoing unbearable stomachache was the existence of stones in his kidney and thus prescribed him kidney medicines.

Diplomats: No evidence Syria site bombed by IAF was nuclear reactor
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
Diplomats say partial results of samples from a Syrian site bombed by Israel last September show nothing to back up U. S. assertions that the target was a secret nuclear reactor. The diplomats cautioned that the results from the probe conducted by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, are preliminary because findings of more detailed environmental tests are still outstanding. Still, two of the three who spoke to The Associated Press said that IAEA officials did not expect the results from the samples still being tested to strongly contradict the first results. All three diplomats were informed of the status of the IAEA probe but demanded anonymity because their information was confidential. Washington says that the Al Kibar site that the Israel Air Force destroyed last year was a near-finished plutonium-producing. . .

PA chief of staff: We must be ready to use force against Hamas
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
RAMALLAH - The Palestinian Authority must be ready to use force against Hamas in Gaza "to reunify the homeland," said the head of PA forces in the West Bank, Gen. Dhiab al-Ali (Abu al-Fatah), considered the Palestinian chief of staff. "If Gaza remains mutinous, the Palestinian Authority will have no choice but to use force against it," Ali said in a recent interview with Haaretz at his Ramallah offices. Ali said the PA has not ruled out using force if the territory remains in Hamas’ hands. "There haven’t yet been consultations with the Israelis on the issue," Ali said. "We hope we won’t need that option - for us it’s the last choice for unifying the homeland - but we must be prepared to implement it. If you want to transport forces [to Gaza] you need different weapons and different capabilities [than those currently available].

Ultra-Orthodox party emerging as Israel kingmaker
Middle East Online 9/20/2008
TEL AVIV - An ultra-Orthodox Jewish party run by an octogenarian rabbi who has said Hurricane Katrina was divine punishment emerged Thursday as the kingmaker in forming the next Israeli government. Having won a fight to be leader of the ruling Kadima Party, Tzipi Livni now will likely need Shas as a partner to become prime minister. But Shas opposes any compromise on occupied Jerusalem, and including it in a coalition could tie her hands in peace talks with the Palestinians. Livni’s narrow victory in a party primary Wednesday to replace corruption-tainted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as Kadima’s chairman means she can become prime minister if she can put together a coalition government of her own. Livni, now the foreign minister, has said she would like to keep the current four-party coalition intact. Two of Kadima’s partners, Labor and the Pensioners, aren’t expected to balk.

Gaza-Egypt crossing opens for pilgrims
Middle East Online 9/20/2008
GAZA CITY - The Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was opened on Saturday to allow hundreds of Muslim pilgrims to leave the besieged territory, Palestinian officials said. The Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza said around 650 people would depart on their way to Saudi Arabia for the omra or minor pilgrimage, along with an unspecified number of patients, students, and holders of foreign passports. The crossing was to remain open for two full days. Israel has tightened its blockade of the impoverished Palestinian in June 2007, when the democratically elected Hamas movement seized power there, although a ‘lighter’ siege had already existed before. The Israeli move was dubbed by international human rights groups as “collective punishment”. A group of Arab international lawyers and human rights activists had accused Israel on of committing "genocide" through its crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli army kills 1 of 3 fleeing Israel for Egypt
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli army fired at three people while trying to cross the Egyptian-Israeli border on Saturday night. One of men was killed, and the two other individuals managed to escape towards Egypt. [end]

IOA confiscates Palestinian lands in Jordan Valley
Palestinian Information Center 9/20/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority has confiscated dozens of dunums of Palestinian lands in the village of Bardala, Tobas district, for settlement purposes. Locals in the village said that Israeli occupation forces stormed agricultural lands and handed farmers notifications of the decision to seize their fields. They added that the decision stipulated the confiscation of 140 dunums of the lands located in the northern Jordan Valley in the Tobas district. The targeted area is near to the 1948 occupied lands, the farmers noted, adding that the decision aims at forcing the migration of the Jordan Valley inhabitants out of their lands. The IOA has already confiscated vast areas in the Jordan Valley this year for settlement purposes.

Abbas: Failure to reach peace will ’change parameters of debate’
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Friday that if Israel and the Palestinians fail to reach a peace accord soon, "the parameters of the debate are apt to shift dramatically. "In an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal, Abbas said he agrees with Israeli leaders who insist that Jerusalem cannot be physically divided. He does believe, however, that "the city itself can be shared as the capital of two states - east for Palestine and west for Israel. " Abbas is to visit U. S. President George W. Bush next Thursday, the White House announced Friday. As Bush enters his last four months in office, his administration is pushing to bring about the plan that has been mapped out by the quartet - Russia, the U. S. , the European Union and the United Nations - for peace in the Middle East.

’We’ve made no progress with Livni yet’
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 9/20/2008
Palestinian foreign affairs minister slams Israel’s refusal to set timetable for peace talks as cause for stagnation - VIRGINIA – Despite the near daily rhetoric byAmerican, Israeli and Palestinian leaders affirming the feasibility of seeing a peace accord signed by the end of US President George W. Bush’s term in 2009, one of those involved in the proceedings is less than optimistic regarding the prospects of a 2008 deal - the Palestinian Authority’s foreign affairs minister, Riyad al-Maliki. Speaking at the Wienberg Founders Conference hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, al-Maliki accused Israel of the stagnation in the ongoing peace negotiations. "We have been meeting with Tzipi Livni since the Annapolis summit, and nothing has happened yet," said al-Maliki. "Israel continues to build settlements, refuses to set a timetable, is unwilling to discuss Jerusalem,

Fury over British embassy link to Jewish settlement-builder
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 9/20/2008
The British Government’s plan to rent new premises in a Tel Aviv skyscraper hasrun into trouble after a wave of protests that their prospective landlord is a major participant in Jewish settlement-building in the occupied West Bank. The British embassy has been in negotiations to lease three floors in Kirya Tower from Africa Israel Investments, a company controlled by Lev Leviev, a London-based property and diamonds billionaire with substantial business interests in Israel. Pro-Palestinian organisations are urging the Foreign Office to cancel the plans, arguing that one of the company’s subsidiaries is prominent in settlement building and that Mr Leviev is a big contributor to the Land Redemption fund, which acquires Palestinian land for Jewish settlements. Daniel Machover, of the UK-based Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, says in a letter to The Independent. . .

Al-Aqsa Brigades: Israel must halt West Bank aggression or we reconsider truce
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Al-Aqsa Brigades, Hamas’ armed military wing, will “reconsider” their adherence to the truce agreement with Israel if the latter does not halt attacks, detentions and assassination attempts across the West Bank, a spokesperson said Saturday. “We cannot bear it anymore,” said the statement Ma’an received from Brigades spokesperson Abu Al-Yasser, who lamented that Israel did not respect the Hamas commitment to the truce. We showed our commitment to truce, and are ready to show our commitment to resistance if Israel does not begin acting in good faith, said Abu Al-Yasser. The statement added that recent information alleging the use of Hamas weapons against Palestinian national forces is false, and aimed at poisoning the image of Hamas. “We only use weapons to oppose our enemies,” he concluded.

Detained Jerusalem deputies in Israel criticize absence of Palestinian leaders
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – A letter from detained members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) sent a letter to Palestinians that was read during the sermon at Al-Aqsa mosque on Friday, calling for leadership from the Jerusalemite community. “Where is the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas? Where is Salam Fayyad? Where are the members of the executive committee? ” asked the letter, and wondered, “do they just come to Jerusalem to meet with Olmert and Livni? ” rather than to pray or lead the Palestinian people? The PLC members, writing from the Ayalon prison near Ramle in central Israel, said more leadership for Jerusalem and Jersalemites would be a positive influence in the strengthening of Arab-Islamic relations with Palestinian leaders. “Our nation faces many troubles,” continued the statement, “while Palestinians wait at the checkpoints to reach Jerusalem our leaders. . .

UN-GA chief calls for adopting resolution 181 which calls for partitioning Palestine
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/20/2008
President of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, urged on Thursday the United Nations to act in order to implement UN resolution number 181 in which in the year 1947 called for partitioning Palestine into two states; a Jewish and an Arab. The statements of Brockmann came during a speech at the general Assembly auditorium in honor of his election as the head of the 63rd session of the UN-General Assembly. He said that the UN should act immediately and fulfill its obligations in creating an independent Palestinian state. He added that a biggest case of failure of the United Nations history is failing to create a Palestinian state, and added that Article number 22 of the covenant of the League of Nations pledged the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the Palestinian territories that were part of the Ottoman Empire.

Free Gaza activist injured by Israeli naval water canon while accompanying fishing boat
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Free Gaza activist who remained in Gaza to monitor the actions of the Israeli Navy was injured on Wednesday after being shot by the Israeli Navy with a high powered water cannon while accompanying Gazan fishermen 8 miles off the Gaza coast. The activist, Italian Vittorio Arrigoni, was taken to hospital where he was treated for multiple lacerations to the back as the result of the glass windshield of the boat being shattered by the cannon blast, according to reports from the International Solidarity Movement. A handful of Free Gaza activists, who sailed into the area from Cyprus and symbolically broke the siege on the Gaza Strip, have been working to monitor the sea border of the area, and ensure Israeli non-intervention. The group has reported, however, that Israeli naval ships have prevented fishermen from heading into waters even 3 nautical miles off the coast.

ISM Rafah: Report from fishing action in Gaza
International Solidarity Movement 9/20/2008
Gaza Region - Report by Donna Wallach - ISM and Free Gaza Movement volunteer reporting on fishing boat actions from Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine - On the morning of Friday19th September and the 19th day of Ramadan, about 5 Palestinian fishing boats left Gaza City port for another day of trawling off the coast of Gaza Strip. It was a very clear day and I could easily see the coast the entire day. When the boat I was on reached 7 miles out, an Israeli Naval gunboat speedily approached and fired at the fishing boat. One of the soldiers called for the captain of the boat and yelled at him to stop the boat. Continuing in a derogatory tone of voice, the Israeli soldier told the captain to only sail up and down the coast and not to go further out into the sea. The captain told the soldier that he needed to go out 10 miles to trawl for fish. I also spoke to the gunboat and reiterated that the fishermen needed to go out ten miles.

Israel arrested 200 Palestinian workers during Ramadan
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/20/2008
Haidar Ibrahim, secretary-general of the General Union of Palestinian workers, reported on Friday that Israeli forces kidnapped more than 200 Palestinian workers in Israel since the beginning of the Holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Dozens of workers were abused and were let go later on. Ibrahim stated that while Israel claims implementing measures to ease the restrictions on movement the army is acting in a totally opposite way which makes the Israeli claims pure propaganda for media consumption and a delusion to the International Community. He added that the Palestinian workers are not granted work permits in Israel and are being chased and harassed while trying to work and feed their families. During the ongoing month of Ramadan, the army arrested 200 workers, including several women, and the Israeli courts imposed high fines on them.

Palestine Workers Union: 20 Palestinian laborers with work permits beaten inside Israeli boundaries
Ali Samoudi, Palestine News Network 9/20/2008
Jenin -- Secretary General of the Palestine Workers Union, Haidar Ibrahim announced on Saturday that arrests and attacks are up inside the Green Line. Since the beginning of Ramadan, Israeli police and border guards have arrested 200 Palestinians laborers working within Israeli boundaries. Ibrahim said that while the Israeli government claims to take action to facilitate life and movement for Palestinian workers, the actual procedures are nothing less than racist and allegations to the contrary are only intended for media consumption to mislead the public. Palestinians are routinely denied access to their places of work, are not granted permits, and are subject to a policy of persecution, lists the Palestine Workers Union. Ibrahim said on Saturday, "The Israeli occupation government launches campaigns to deprive workers from successful employment and earning a living for their families.

Hamas: P.A security forces arrested 10 Hamas supporters
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 9/20/2008
Hamas media sources reported on Friday that Palestinian security forces loyal to Fateh movement arrested 10 Hamas members and supporters in several parts of the West Bank. In Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Jawad Abu Hussein, Awaad Warasna, his brother Yousef Warasna, Jalal Al Ra’ey, Thaer Shalalda, Abdullah Shalalda, Izzat Shalalda, and Abdul-Hadi Abu Khalaf. In Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Mohammad Al Sousa. In Qalqilia, also in the northern part of the West Bank, the forces arrested Wael Al Hotary. Also, Hamas said that the security forces are still detaining Abdullah Adawy who was arrested more than three weeks ago.

Hamas says PA security arrested 16 loyalists
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hamas released a statement on Saturday saying that Palestinian Authority (PA) police have 16 Hamas affiliates in northern West Bank districts. The statement identified detainees as follows: In Tubas district in the northern West Bank, PA security detained Muhammad Daraghmah, Sheikh Muhammad Bani Matar, Muhammad Bsharat, a university student, Tawfiq Al-Kharraz, Salah Abu Arrah and Riziq Bani Udah. In Nablus, PA security detained Rabia Shishtari, Ibrahim Shahadah, Yousif Shahadah, Shakir Sabah and Ayman Khalil. In Qalqilia in the northern West Bank, Mahir Matar was arrested. Meanwhile in Tulkarem district, also in the northern West Bank, PA security services detained Abdul-Fattah Al-Qaddoumi and Yazid Khadir

Palestinian and French ministers of justice sign cooperation agreement
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – A new Judicial training program will see cooperation between the French and Palestinian legal systems, after Palestinian Minister of Justice Dr Ali Al-Khashan signed an agreement with his French counterpart in Ramallah on Saturday. The agreement will see extensive training and cooperation between French and Palestinian judges and law makers, including exchanges to observe legal systems in action, and literature on the process of establishing a constitutional court. After signing the agreement, Dr Al-Khashan said, “This agreement is the first of its kind and we hope it will be implemented soon. ”For her part, the French minister of Justice Rachida Dati said, “This agreement laid the ground for the training of Palestinian personnel and sending French experts to support a Palestinian judicial system. "

Hamas: training, arming Abbas’s security aims at quelling resistance
Palestinian Information Center 9/20/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Saturday charged that the training and arming of PA security apparatuses in the West Bank fell in line with American and Israeli orders to quell Palestinian resistance and to protect occupation. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press release that at the same time the siege on Gaza is retained due to American and Israeli orders. He said that financing those apparatuses only bolsters one party against the other in the Palestinian arena, and added that money sent by the Arab countries should reach all Palestinians especially the needy and not those who quell the Palestinian people and work on destroying its resistance and protecting the occupiers. For his part, Abu Obaida, the spokesman of the Qassam Brigades the armed wing of the Hamas Movement, on Friday told Qassam website that security coordination between PA chief Mahmoud. . .

Hamas condemns PA forces non-cooperation with political prisoners committee
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Responding to news that the committee for the release of all political detainees appointed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is ready to dissolve in the face of near total non-cooperation from Palestinian Authority security officials, Hamas has condemned the actions and urged compliance. Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement Saturday, “ the non-response of the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank … not serve the state of national agreement among Palestinians and does not create an atmosphere for the success of the Egyptian efforts made towards national dialogue. ”The foot-dragging described by the head of the committee and leader of the Ad- Dameer Human Rights organization on behalf of the PA security forces, and readiness to cooperate on the part of de facto Hamas police, said Barhoum, indicates who is ready for cooperation and who is not.

Fatah: Detention of Khan Younis governor shows Hamas ''coup philosophy''
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The continued political detention of Khan Younis governor Usama Al-Farra by Hamas de facto police proves that the party continues to operate within the “coup philosophy,” Fatah spokesperson Fahmi Za’arir said on Friday. Al-Farra was supposed to be on his way to Cairo as a member of the Fatah delegation to participate in unity talks this week, and Za’arir accused Hamas of attempting to thwart the Cairo talks. Fatah, said Za’arir, “has endeavored to make the Cairo talks and the Egyptian efforts result in a fruitful conclusion, yet continuation of political detentions by Hamas, especially detention of members of Fatah delegation to Cairo is a new strike by Hamas to Cairo talks. ”Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar announced earlier this week that Hamas would not release Al-Farra in time for the talks.

Palestinian representative to Egypt praises latter’s efforts in bilateral talks
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Egypt is making huge efforts with regards to the series of bilateral talks set up between Egyptian officials and Palestinian factional leaders, said Nabil Amer, Palestine’s ambassador to Egypt during a meeting with senior Fatah figures in Hebron district. Amer held a press conference after his meeting with senior Fatah officials, where he told the public, “there is a Palestinian interest to find a way out of this crisis. ” He explained, saying “the world held us accountable for the tragic events recently, and we as Fatah are determined to succeed with this dialogue, and are ready to accept the Arab and Egyptian judgments. ”Concerning Gaza siege Amer affirmed that “we warned Hamas before the coupe and shortly after the Mecca agreement that the world will not be merciful to them and they will face a tightened blockade.

Hamas says favors national unity government with Fatah
DPA, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
The Islamic movement Hamas said Saturday it wants the formation of a national unity government to settle the political crisis which has divided Palestinians. "Hamas favors a national coalition that can defend the Palestinian people and their rights," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom in Gaza. Barhoom’s remarks indicate Hamas is opposed to the idea of a government made up of technocrats that do not include members of the two largest Palestinian groups - Hamas and the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The proposal for a technocrat government was made during a series of meetings between Egypt and representatives of the Palestinian factions that oppose the feud between Hamas and Fatah. Last year, Hamas fought pro-Abbas forces and took over control of Gaza Strip by force.

Palestinian PM Haniya: no return to the situation prior to June 2007
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 9/20/2008
Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya of Hamas, stressed on Saturday that Gaza won’t return to the situation prior to June14,2007. " We would like to say to all people that there will be no return to the situation prior to the June14, 2007. That period is now a part of history and our Palestinian people can never reverse history", premier Haniya was quoted as saying during a meeting with police officers in Gaza city. Haniya had a breakfast, after a fasting day of Ramadan, jointly with his interior minister, Said Siyam, justice minister, Ahmad Shwaideh, transportation minister, Yousef Almansi as well as several police ranks at the police headquarters in Gaza city. A part of his visit to the police compound, the Islamist prime minister, led a special Ramadan prayer ’ Taraweeh’ and delivered a speech before worshipers and security personnel, a press release, received by IMEMC, read.

Israeli soldiers kill boy in southern Nablus
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 9/20/2008
Nablus -- Israeli soldiers guarding Yitzhar Settlement killed a Palestinian boy in southern Nablus Saturday morning. Settlers from Yitzhar have escalated attacks against residents and their property for over a week, including an assault on Asira Village and burning olive groves. The guards say the youth, later identified as 14 year old Yasser Saleh from Asira Village , intended to attack the settlement. The head of the Asira Village Council, Hosni Sharif, told PNN that the Israeli claim is untrue. "The boy was 100 meters from his home. "The Israeli settlement was built on southern Nablus land leading all residents to be "near the settlement. "Sharif continued to tell PNN Saturday, "The boy was not armed at all. The killing comes in a series of deliberate attacks on our houses and people. " Eyewitnesses report that soldiers opened fire causing him immediate death.

IDF, Border Guard thwart attack near Yitzhar
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 9/20/2008
Troops open fire at Palestinian spotted advancing towards West Bank settlement with Molotov cocktail, find knife concealed on his person. Police investigating possible connection to stabbing of nine-year-old boy last week - IDF and Border Guard police forces thwarted a terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar on Saturday morning. Soldiers manning an observation post spotted a Palestinian advancing towards the settlement, located south of Nablus, at around 6:00 am. Border Police and Golani Brigade infantry troops stationed in the area tracked the man down, opening fire at him after he lit the Molotov cocktail he had been carrying. A subsequent search of his body revealed a knife and other tools concealed on his person, which defense officials say were meant to aid him in breaking into the settlement.

Youth with firebomb killed near Yitzhar
Yaakov Katz And Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 9/20/2008
Exactly one week after a terror attack in Yitzhar sparked a settler rampage through a nearby Palestinian village, border policemen thwarted an infiltration into the settlement Saturday when they shot and killed a 14-year-old Palestinian carrying a firebomb. Policemen manning an IDF observation post spotted the youth approaching the settlement armed with a Molotov cocktail at around 6 a. m. Troops opened fire after the Palestinian youth lit the device, the IDF said. A knife was discovered on his body. Security officials said it appeared that he planned to enter Yitzhar - which is not surrounded by a fence - to perpetrate an attack. RELATEDRise in settler violence feared The youth was identified as Suhayeb Saleh, from the village of Assira al-Kubliyeh near Yitzhar.

IOF troops kill Palestinian near settlement
Palestinian Information Center 9/20/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces on Saturday shot down a Palestinian youth near the Yitzhar settlement at the pretext he was planning to toss a Molotov cocktail at the settlement. Eyewitnesses said that soldiers guarding the settlement fired at the young man, whose identity was not known yet, at an early morning hour when he approached the settlement. The IOF command, for its part, claimed that soldiers guarding the settlement detected the youth with a firebomb in his hand, and added that he was preparing to throw the bomb when the soldiers fired and killed him. It claimed that a knife was found on his body, "which he intended to use inside the settlement". Israeli police said that its forensic experts were investigating whether he was the same youth who started fire in. . .

IDF releases ''video'' of thwarted Yitzhar attack
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 9/20/2008
(Note: Video not functioning on this page at time of posting) Army video shows Palestinian hurling Molotov cocktail near Yitzhar before being killed - The IDF released Saturday evening a video of the thwarted terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar earlier in the day. The video show a Palestinian approaching the community and at one point lighting up the Molotov cocktail he was holding. Seconds later, the Palestinian hurled the Molotov cocktail, which apparently exploded not too far from him. Video: IDF Spokesman’s Office The video was shot using a thermal camera and does not feature the actual killing of the Palestinian youth who threw it. Saturday morning, soldiers manning an observation post in the area spotted a Palestinian advancing towards the settlement, located south of Nablus, at around 6 am. Border Guard forces and Golani Brigade infantry troops stationed in the area subsequently killed him.

''VIDEO'' / IDF thwarts terror attack near Yitzhar settlement
Yuval Azoulay, and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
[Note: No video found on this page at time of posting] Israel Defense Forces and Border Police troops on Saturday killed a Palestinian teenager trying to infiltrate the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar while carrying a Molotov cocktail and a knife. He was later identified by his parents, who said he was 14. The Palestinian approached the area by car. He then got out of the car and advanced toward Yitzhar by foot, intending to throw a Molotov cocktail at the West Bank settlement. Soldiers manning an IDF observation post saw him in action and directed ground troops to the area. When the Palestinian noticed the Israeli forces he lit the Molotov cocktail and aimed it at them. In response, the soldiers shot and killed him. A subsequent search of his body revealed a knife. The boy, Suhayeb Saleh, was from the village of Assira al-Kubliyeh, near Yitzhar. His parents identified his body at a nearby hospital. An IDF spokesman said it did not know how far the boy was from the soldiers or the settlement.

Israeli troops shoot boy
Associated Press, The Observer, The Guardian 9/21/2008
Israeli soldiers in Nablus on the West Bank shot and killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy who was holding a firebomb with a lit fuse about 30 metres from them. The boy, identified as Suhayeb Saleh, was close to the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar when he was shot dead, the military said. The boy was from the village of Assira al-Kubliyeh, near Yitzhar, said his parents. They said that his older brother was killed by Israeli troops in 2002, after he opened fire on an army patrol. [end]

Tony Blair’s sister-in-law leaves Gaza after being stranded in Strip for nearly a month
The Associated Press and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s sister-in-law has crossed into Egypt from the Gaza Strip, after she was stranded there since she came with another 45 pro-Palestinian activists who sailed into Gaza waters on Aug. 23 to draw attention to Israel’s blockade of the coastal territory. Booth has been trying to leave Gaza since last month but was turned away at Israeli and Egyptian crossings. An Associated Press reporter saw Lauren Booth getting her passport stamped Saturday while inside the Egyptian side of the Rafah border terminal. Police prevented reporters from talking with her. Egypt has opened it border on several occasions for humanitarian cases. It plans to keep the crossing open through Sunday. Palestinian officials say a terminal on the Gaza-Egypt border is operating temporarily to allow the passage of. . .

Lauren Booth leaves besieged Gaza
Middle East Online 9/20/2008
GAZA CITY - Lauren Booth, the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair, left the Gaza Strip on Saturday nearly a month after sailing in to protest an Israeli blockade of the territory. "Lauren Booth was able to leave Gaza today through the Rafah crossing with Egypt," said Jamal al-Khodari, the head of the Popular Committee to Break the Siege. Other activists close to Booth confirmed she had left. Booth had arrived in Gaza on August 23 with 43 other activists in two small fishing boats in a demonstration intended to highlight Israel’s blockade of the territory. Although Israel controls Gaza’s waters and airspace, it allowed the two boats to enter without incident in order to avoid a public standoff at sea. Israeli authorities have rejected Booth’s request to leave Gaza, arguing she did not enter the Strip “legally”.

Al-Khudari praises opening of Rafah crossing for pilgrims, patients, students
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Gaza –Ma’an – Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and head of the Popular Campaign Against the Siege praised on Saturday the opening of the Rafah crossing by the Egyptian authorities. Jamal Al-Khudari affirmed in statement that the second opening of the crossing, this time for pilgrims, patients and students during a thirty-day period, and the passing of thousands of residents through the borders without any obstacles give the Palestinians under siege in the Gaza Strip hope of a nearing solution. Egypt announced that the Rafah crossing would be open for two days, to allow students, pilgrims and the ill to pass through the border. [end]

Crossings director to PNN: Saturday dedicated to pilgrims and the ill
Fadi Yacoub, Palestine News Network 9/20/2008
PNN - Mohammed Adwan, the Director of the General Administration of Crossings in the Gaza Strip told PNN that upwards of 300 Palestinians in need of outside medical treatment have left the Strip today. The Saturday and Sunday opening of the Rafah -- Egypt border crossing is being met with praise. Palestinian Legislative Council member and head of the People’s Committee against the Siege, Jamal Al Khudari. He said this is an important move in breaking the siege. Adwan said that the opening is lessening the burden on students and patients, and on people stuck on either side wishing to move during the month of Ramadan. He told PNN that the crossing began operations at 8:00 am with pilgrims heading to Mecca pre-approved in addition to medical patients. The advance preparation was done in order to facilitate the largest number of people possible.

OPT: Egypt opens Rafah crossing for two days before stranded Gazans
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 9/20/2008
GAZA, Sep 20, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Egypt opens its border with Gaza Strip on Saturday and Sunday to allow passage of stranded Palestinians who want to perform minor pilgrimage to Mecca (Omra) and the patients who want to take medical treatment, Palestinian security sources said. The Hamas-controlled interior ministry in Gaza said Rafah border crossing will remain partially open until late Sunday. During the opening days, Palestinians stranded at the Egyptian side will be able to cross into Gaza. Egypt maintained the closure of Rafah crossing since Hamas took over control of Gaza Strip by force last year after routing the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) regular forces. But it used to open it occasionally before humanitarian cases. The last time Egypt coordinated a similar opening of Rafah crossing with Hamas was in last August.

Rafah terminal temporarily opened
Ali Waked, YNetNews 9/20/2008
Crossing between Gaza, Egypt opens for two days to allow passage of students, patients, some 650 devout Muslim en route to pilgrimage - The Rafah crossing between the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and Egypt was opened on Saturday to allow hundreds of Muslim pilgrims to leave the besieged territory, Palestinian officials said. Hamas’ Interior Ministry said that 3,000 Gazans have applied for passage into Egypt. Those who have been granted permits are currently confined to a building near Rafah. Gaza police have set up roadblocks to prevent unauthorized citizens from storming the crossing. Hamas wants to see the crossing open regularly, even for those without special permits. However Egypt is adamant about tying Rafah’s status to the negotiations to free Israeli solider Gilad Shalit. The Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza said around 650 people would depart on their. . .

European campaign urges EU to pressure Israel to end its siege
Palestinian Information Center 9/20/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The European campaign to break the siege on Friday called on the EU to urgently move to save one and a half million people besieged in the Gaza Strip for the third consecutive year and to pressure Israel to end its siege and open the crossings. This came during a visit paid by a high-level delegation from the European campaign and Al-Awda center to the European parliament, where the delegates briefed the European lawmakers on the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the latest developments in the besieged Strip. Dr. Arafat Abu Madi, the head of European campaign, said that the delegation told the presidency of the European parliament that if Europe did not assume its role in the region effectively and without being biased in favor of Israel’s policies, there would be a strong possibility that other international powers could take this role such as Russia and China.

Hamas: Israel reneging on its promises for Shalit
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza, on Friday accused Israel of reneging on offers made in the negotiations for the return of Gilad Shalit. In an interview with the Palestinian Ramattan News Agency, Zahar claimed Israel had offered to free 450 Palestinian prisoners once Shalit was returned to Israel and an additional 550 prisoners two months later. He said Israel was now offering to release only 450 prisoners and warned that such back-pedaling could lead to the negotiations being scrapped altogether. Another senior Hamas official was quoted on Friday as saying the group would not renew negotiations for Shalit’s release unless Israel met its preconditions, the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported. According to the report, Hamas laid out three conditions for the renewal of negotiations: the release of all Palestinian prisoners on the list given to Israel via. . .

Hamas warns Israel over Schalit deal
Jerusalem Post 9/20/2008
Hamas would reject every existing agreement on a prisoner trade for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit if Israel tried to change the terms of the deal, senior Hamas leader in Gaza Mahmoud Al-Zahar has threatened. Zahar, who made his comments during an interview with the Ramatan news agency on Friday evening, insisted that if Israel continued what he called its policy of withdrawing from arrangements, Hamas would cancel all of the arrangements made and would demand a new number as well as a new list of prisoners’ names the group wished to release. "In this case, we will also go back on our word. . . We will open a new page, begin anew and demand greater numbers," Zahar warned. Zahar’s declaration came in response to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s announcement that Israel has already agreed to free 450 Palestinian prisoners before Schalit is transferred. . .

Hamas delegation ends official visit to Bahrain
Palestinian Information Center 9/20/2008
MANAMA, (PIC)-- A delegation of the Hamas Movement, headed by its leader Khaled Mishaal, concluded a visit to Bahrain Friday night during which its members met with a number of officials topped by King of Bahrain Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa. The Hamas team grouped political bureau members Mohammed Nazzal, Ezzet Al-Resheq and Mohammed Nasr, a Hamas statement said, adding that they met with Bahraini foreign minister Sheikh Khaled Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa and parliament speaker Khalifa Al-Dhahrani. The meeting with the speaker was attended by the chairmen of the main parliamentary blocs or their representatives including the deputy speaker in addition to the chairman of the committee for the support of the Palestinian people. The statement said that the discussions during those meetings focused on issues of concern to the Palestine cause topped by the oppressive siege on the Gaza Strip.

Zionist committee threatens Palestinians with exile if they refuse Zionist state
Palestinian Information Center 9/20/2008
NAZARETH, (PIC)-- A Zionist committee issued during a conference held in the 1948 occupied lands racist statements against the Palestinians where it threatened that the 1948 Palestinians would be exiled to Arab countries if they refused to accept the existence of a purely Zionist state. "Only citizens and residents who accept and recognize the nature of the (Israeli) state and its Zionist message will live in Israel, but those who wish to live in an Arab environment and atmospheres with all its privileges have the opportunity to realize this dream in one of the Arab countries," the "Zionist committee to follow up implementation of Zionist values in the land of Israel" said in a statement during the conference. The conference organizers also expressed their belief that boundaries of the "Zionist entity" stretches from the Mediterranean sea to the Jordan river and pointed out that those political beliefs prevail among the "Zionist masses".

PA to deliver 1,000 NIS aid packages to 46,000 families from EU program
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an – Forty-six thousand families are registered to receive 1,000 shekels (284 US dollars) this month as part of the EU sponsored PEGASE program, which overseas much of the aid promised at the Paris conference last spring. Minister of Social Affairs in the caretaker Mahmoud Al-Habash announced the aid package on Saturday. He indicated that the aid would be distributed to the most needy families in the West Bank and Gaza, and that the Palestinian Authority and local agencies worked together to determine which families would receive aid. The initiative is part of a larger PEGASE project to reduce poverty and improve quality of life for Palestinians, and will be administered through the ministry of social affairs. Families registered to receive payments will have special cards delivered to them, which they must present at their local bank along with personal identification between 22 September and 30 October 2008.

Jordan to send aid to Palestinians
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 9/20/2008
AMMAN, Sep 20, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Jordan will send a convoy of aids to Palestinians on Monday, official news agency Petra reported on Saturday. The convoy includes ten trucks laden with 200 tons of food and humanitarian aid that will be distributed to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and another ten trucks that will be sent to the West Bank, Secretary General of the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO) Mohammad Majid Aitan said. The aid, donated by the Jordan River Foundation and Russia, is designed to help the Palestinians overcome the difficult economic conditions caused by the severe shortage in consumer items, Aitan added. [end]

Jordan, Russia deliver food supplies to West Bank and Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A caravan of loaded trucks with 200 tones of food and humanitarian supplies will leave Amman Sunday en route to Gaza. Jordan and Russia have cooperated in the supply and transfer of goods into Palestinian areas. A second caravan will leave Amman Monday with goods en route to The West Bank. [end]

World Bank: Israeli siege is strangling Palestinian economy
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/20/2008
A new report released by the World Bank Thursday revealed that the Palestinian economy is in a precipitous decline, due completely to the Israeli closure and occupation of all Palestinian land. The report stated that in the Palestinian territories, "With a growing population and a shrinking economy, real per capita GDP is now 30 percent below its height in 1999", with 70 - 79% unemployment. In addition, the report calculated an increase in official poverty rates from 51. 8 percent in Gaza and 19. 1 percent in the West Bank soar to 79. 4 percent and 45. 7 percent respectively (if remittances and food aid are excluded and the rates are based on household income only). " As the Palestinian economy declines, it is becoming increasingly dependent on foreign aid," said the World Bank report, pointing the finger directly at Israeli military rule in the territories as the cause of the decline.

Mahmoud Darwish Ramadan memorial
PNN / Yousef Shayeb, Palestine News Network 9/20/2008
Ramallah -- Children walked with lamps to beginning the Ramadan evening in Ramallah. In memorial of the death of poet Mahmoud Darwish the Ramallah Cultural Palace hosted an evening of art organized by the Ramallah and Al Bireh Governorate. Darwish’s "The Dice Player" was performed as a theatre piece with dancing and music inspired by the poem. Tango, traditional Debkah and jazz were part of the Ramadan evening directed by Fuad Fino along with music composed by Basil Zayed. Young men and women "impressed" and "fascinated" the audience, as was described, while mixing music and silence with their dancing. The Governor of Ramallah and Al Bireh, Dr. Said Abu Ali, told the public that the Ramadan evening performances are "spiritual, social and cultural. "He also said of this evening, "We take the opportunity to thank this remarkable artist, Mahmoud Darwish, for his major efforts for our country Palestine.

A metaphor for dispossession that works
Daily Star 9/20/2008
Review - BEIRUT: It’s not hard to approach a show called "Return of the Soul" with some skepticism. The world-weary will be rewarded when they glance over the profile of this exhibition, presently up on the main stage of Tayyouneh’s Dawar al-SHAM’s cultural center. The "souls" in question are Palestinian. The destination to which they are meant to "return" is Palestine. The exhibition, as the copious program notes explain, was first mounted in Palestine and its world tour will halt there, in order to insure and emphasize the Palestinians’ natural right to return. You don’t have to be a committed Zionist to be leery of this sort of thing. Over the years, the commodification of "Palestine" and "the Palestinians" has made it a great commercial asset for some, artists and non-artists alike, while doing little to relieve the predicament of the Palestinians themselves.

Speaking volumes about underclass life in Lebanon and Palestine
Rima Abushakra, Daily Star 9/18/2008
Agence France Presse - BEIRUT: Teenage rappers Yassim Kassem and Mohammed Turek have no qualms about upsetting politicians or clerics when they sing of inter-Palestinian violence and the daily hardship of life in the refugee camps. They call themselves I-Voice (Invincible Voice) and are among a number of rap groups to have emerged from impoverished Palestinian camps in Lebanon and from the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. Turek, 18, and Kassem, 19, really shook the hornets’ nest with a song called "Inkilab" ("Revolution") which addressed inter-Palestinian fighting and divisions and how the various factions are handling the Palestinian cause. "We got told by many [political parties] to stop and sort of got threatened about singing one song in particular," said Kassem about "Inkilab. ""We just said ’yes’ and kept on singing it.

Comptroller mulls corruption probe of Kadima primary
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 9/20/2008
Officials in State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s office will meet with Kadima activists loyal to defeated party leadership contender Shaul Mofaz, to determine whether the comptroller should investigate alleged illegalities in last Wednesday’s primary. The activists spoke to attorney Meir Gilboa, who heads the anti-corruption department in Lindenstrauss’s office, and asked for time to present their evidence that crimes were committed that allowed Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to be declared the winner in the race. MK Ronit Tirosh, who supported Transportation Minister Mofaz, alleged on Saturday that the primary was riddled with irregularities that bordered on criminal. She said no police complaints were filed because Mofaz had announced he was taking time off from politics shortly after the results were published.

Tirosh challenges legality of primaries
Jerusalem Post 9/20/2008
The Kadima Party primary elections in which Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni defeated Shaul Mofaz were riddled with irregular activities that bordered on crime, MK Ronit Tirosh, one of Mofaz’s key supporters, alleged on Saturday morning. During an interview with Israel Radio, Tirosh challenged the legality of the results of the elections, which gave Livni only a 1. 1 percent lead over her main opponent, Mofaz. Furthermore, she claimed that certain MKs were present during the vote counting process on Wednesday night. Tirosh also accused Election Committee Chairman Dan Arbel of refusing to acknowledge complaints that were filed with the committee. Tirosh explained that no complaints were filed with police because Mofaz had announced his planned temporary departure from politics shortly after the results were published.

We don’t have time for political games, Livni says
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 9/20/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will announce his resignation in Sunday’s cabinet meeting and will formally submit his resignation letter to President Shimon Peres as early as Sunday, sources close to Olmert said Saturday night. Olmert’s associates said the timetable for submitting the letter would be finalized in coordination with Beit Hanassi on Sunday. They said the two most likely options were submitting the letter on Sunday or waiting until October 2, after Peres’s return from the United Nations General Assembly in New York and the Rosh Hashana holiday. Once Peres receives the letter, he will meet with the heads of the 13 Knesset factions to consult with them about whom he should appoint to form a new coalition before formally appointing new Kadima leader Tzipi Livni. She will then have 42 days to form a coalition - but her goal is to present a new government to the Knesset when it returns for its winter session on October 27.

Barak, Netanyahu discuss ’recent political turn of events’
Mazal Mualem and Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with Likud chairman and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Tel Aviv Saturday evening, to discuss what Barak’s office described as the "recent political turn of events. " The meeting came three days after Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was elected chairwoman of the ruling Kadima Party, to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is expected to formally announce his resignation to the cabinet at is weekly meeting on Sunday. Barak and Netanyahu are Livni’s rivals in a race for the premiership if early elections are called. Barak has stressed over recent days that he supports the establishment of an emergency national unity government, while Netanyahu, whose Likud party is expected to win if general elections are held, is interested in early elections which he says will result in a stable government.

Barak, Bibi meet; Livni’s associates upset
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 9/21/2008
Defense minister, opposition chairman meet in wake of Livni win; Barak to meet newly elected Kadima chairman Sunday. Meanwhile, her associates slam Bibi-Barak meeting as ’chauvinistic’ - Tensions rising:Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu met Saturday evening with Labor Chairman Ehud Barak at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. The two were expected to discuss recent political developments in the wake of Tzipi Livni’s win in the Kadima primaries. Barak said he is interested in the formation of an emergency national unity government, yet Netanyahu rejected this option thus far. Later Saturday, the offices of both figures said Bibi and Barak spoke for more than an hour and half and discussed the security situation, the diplomatic process, and economic issues on the agenda. Meanwhile, Barak spoke with Livni and agreed to meet with her Sunday.

Palestinians Put Little Hope In Livni [September14 – September 20]
MIFTAH, MIFTAH 9/20/2008
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni won the Kadima primaries on September 17, thus taking the position over from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Livni, who was expected to win the elections over her closest rival, Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, will now have to either form a coalition for her new government or, if she is unable, go to early elections. Olmert is officially to announce his resignation on September 21. Palestinian reactions to Livni’s victory ranged from cautiously optimistic to indifferent. President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated Livni on her electoral win a day later, adding that the leadership would "negotiate with whoever Israel chooses. "Livni is already the head of Israel’s negotiating team, which means she is well versed in the obstacles that face any real progress to a peace agreement between the two sides.

Olmert to resign Sunday
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – A senior Israeli political source in Jerusalem affirmed Saturday that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will resign on Sunday. When this occurs the Israeli President Shimon Peres will have a day and a half to consult Israeli cabinet members and ministers who will be expected to make up the next coalition government. Mark Regev, the spokesperson of Olmert told AFP, “the prime minister will announce his resignation during the cabinet meeting then he will present a letter of resignation to President Peres in accordance with the law. ”Peres will head to New York on Monday to represent Israel in the new session of the UN General Assembly and will return to Israel on next Sunday.

Abbas says ’no’ to Olmert
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
In diplomatic life, tension is always present between leaders’ public statements and their privately expressed positions. Experience in the Israeli-Arab peace process teaches that what is said "outside" is more important. Politicians and diplomats can share a secret and be flexible when the door is closed, but the position that obligates them is the one they present to the TV cameras and in response to reporters’ questions. The article by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in The Wall Street Journal, published Friday, before what is possibly his last meeting with President George W. Bush, should be taken with the utmost seriousness. That is his latest platform, and it can be understood as a "no" to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposals. Abbas does not mention Olmert in the article, but it is clear whom he means: "Partial peace, as proposed again by my current interlocutors, is not the way forward.

Abbas: Time running out for two-states
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 9/21/2008
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hinted in an op-ed piece in Friday’s Wall Street Journal that time was running out on a two-state solution, even as he was readying for a meeting Thursday with US President George W. Bush in which that solution will be at the top of the agenda. "I continue to believe that we can achieve a lasting peace, with the Israeli and Palestinian peoples living as neighbors in two independent states," Abbas wrote. "But if we do not succeed, and succeed soon, the parameters of the debate are apt to shift dramatically. Israel’s continued settlement expansion and land confiscation in the West Bank makes physical separation of our two peoples increasingly impossible. " Abbas’s op-ed piece appeared just prior to his visit to New York this week for the UN General Assembly, which will also include a trip to Washington where he will meet with Bush.

Will she be a real leader?
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
Like customers whose bank has collapsed, a number of Arab leaders are waiting outside the Prime Minister’s Office holding notes and permits. Mahmoud Abbas, a long-time customer with privileges, wants to know who, if anyone, will be continuing the talks. Bashar Assad, who has recently joined the Israeli account, is inquiring if anything remains of the deposit he left with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah, foreign clients whose hands rest nervously on the phone and wonder when to call and congratulate the new prime minister, do not know if there is a new Israeli policy and where it is going: Will it adopt Olmert’s list of prisoners to be released for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit? Are two states, Israel and Palestine, the solution acceptable to Tzipi Livni, or will she choose Israel and Jordan as a solution for the two peoples? . . .

Haneyya: Israel has no future on our land
Palestinian Information Center 9/20/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government stated Friday that the Israeli occupation has no future on the Palestinian land, pointing out the latest statements of Israeli premier Ehud Olmert about the demise of greater Israel bear out that the Zionist project has started to collapse. During an evening gathering held in Rafah in presence of a number of dignitaries, Haneyya underlined that Olmert would be "doomed to hell", while the Palestinian cause, resistance and the Hamas Movement would remain vibrant and alive. The premier added that the progress would be for the Palestinian people who would establish their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. He finally called on the Palestinian people to unite their ranks, to be adherent to the Palestinian rights and constants, and to remain loyal to resistance until the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation.

Haniyeh: Olmert will go to hell; the Palestinian question will remain alive
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – “Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will go to hell, and the government in Gaza, Hamas, the resistance and the Palestinian question will remain alive,” said de facto Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Friday. Haniyeh described “the Zionist project” as being in a stage of collapse and abatement. “The Zionist entity has no future on the Palestinian land,” he said “and the Palestinian people will continue on the path of establishing an independent Palestinian state with complete sovereignty and with Jerusalem as its capital. Palestinian refugees who were displaced in 1948 will also return to their homeland. ”Haniyeh’s comments came during a Ramadan evening meal in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. He called on all Palestinian sectors to close ranks in the interest of the struggle against Israel.

Conference on Promised Land gives new view to church leaders on Israel-Palestine
World Council of Churches - WCC, International Middle East Media Center News 9/20/2008
A conference on "Promised Land" that aired different theological approaches to this key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has given church leaders and theologians new views to take home to their churches. Some participants said their outlook had been changed by the "constructive confrontation" at the World Council of Churches (WCC) event. A key result of the conference is a better understanding of the question of land in the Bible, in theology and in the conflict. The conferees said decades of violence in Israel-Palestine challenge Christian theologians to work out "life-affirming" responses to the conflict. The Bible "must not be utilized to justify oppression or supply simplistic commentary on contemporary events", the final document said.

Syria state-run paper: If Livni wants peace, she will achieve it
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
"If Livni desires peace - she will achieve it," an editorial in the official Syrian state-run newspaper Tishreen proclaimed Saturday, in what is the first Syrian reaction since Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was elected chair of the ruling Kadima party. Issam Dari, the editor-in-chief of Tishreen, suggested in his editorial that Livni’s family background as daughter of a Jewish pre-State underground member makes her ill-equipped to denounce Palestinian terror. "Livni should bear this in mind: If your house is made of glass, don’t go hurling stones on others," the editorial warned. "We hope you won’t be quick in accusing Palestinians and Arabs of terror, because with your record - you can’t blame others for doing what you have done all your life. "Livni’s father Eitan Livni, and her mother Sara Rosenberg were both well-known members of the pre-state militant organization the Irgun.

’If Livni wants peace, she’ll have it’
Jerusalem Post 9/20/2008
If Tzipi Livni shows a true desire for peace, she will reap its fruits, Syria’s state-run Tishreen newspaper asserted in an opinion piece published Saturday. In the article, titled "Tzipi - Israel’s new bird" (a play on the Kadima leader’s name, which comes from the Hebrew word for ’bird’), the paper’s editor-in-chief Issam Dari states that while Livni’s history is "rooted in terror," she will be given a chance to prove her intentions and achieve "complete and just peace" in the region. "The ambitious Tzipi has worked hard to reach the Israeli throne and to become the new ’iron lady,’ who will be making decisions on war, peace and the future of the region," Dari writes. Livni comes from a Polish family rooted in terrorism, Dari writes, with her father being a member of "the gang that carried out terror attacks in Palestine, before it was stolen"¦against the Palestinians and the British.

Syria praises ’Mossad beauty’ Livni
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 9/20/2008
Damascus newspaper lavishes praise on Kadima chairwoman-elect in editorial, asserting Livni possesses all the qualities boasted by past Israeli prime ministers, from Ben-Gurion to Ehud Olmert - Unexpected praise for Livni: "Mossad beauty Tzipi Livni is the leading political figure in Israel and the frontrunner to enter the prime ministers’ club," Syrian state newspaper Tishrin said in its Saturday morning editorial, dedicated to Israel’s foreign minister. The editorial, titled "Tzipi - Israel’s new bird," noted that "the ambitious Tzipi is now embarking on a busy path in order to reach the helm in Israel and turn into the new ’Iron Lady,’ who will be charged with taking decisions pertaining to war, peace, and the region’s future. " The paper, which reflects the Syrian regime’s views, said Livni possesses all the skills required of a prime minister.

Diplomats: Initial tests show Syrian site hit by Israel not a nuke reactor
News agencies, YNetNews 9/20/2008
Diplomats says preliminary International Atomic Energy Agency probe of Syrian site destroyed by Israel reveals no evidence of nuclear activity, contrary to previous claims by US; results of more detailed environmental tests still outstanding -Diplomats say partial results of samples from a Syrian site bombed by Israel show nothing to back up US assertions that the target was a secret nuclear reactor. The diplomats caution that the results from the International Atomic Energy Agency probe are preliminary. They say results of more detailed environmental tests are still outstanding. Still, several have told the AP that agency officials do not expect those tests to strongly contradict the first results. The three diplomats spoke to The AP on Saturday. They demanded anonymity because their information was confidential.

Candidly Speaking: Canadian Israel advocacy in turmoil
Jerusalem Post 9/20/2008
Canadian Jews can take pride in the remarkable infrastructure of educational, religious and cultural institutions they have created. The fact that assimilation and intermarriage in Canada are far less advanced than in the United States is largely attributable to their magnificent network of Jewish day schools. Canadian Jews also have a splendid record of support for Israel and their donors are among the most generous contributors to projects in the Jewish state. Regrettably, in recent years the community’s public advocacy on behalf of Israel has dramatically declined. This paralleled a major upsurge in "anti-Semitism" and "demonization of Israel" as a consequence of Muslim immigration and intensified hostility from the Canadian left. The downturn had its genesis in 2004 when the principal communal fund-raisers, concerned about increased anti-Semitism and hostility to Israel,. . .

’Tutu must consider Arab fanaticism’
Jerusalem Post 9/20/2008
Archbishop Desmond Tutu must recognize and denounce Arab inflexibility and extremism, which prevent the Middle East from attaining peace, the Simon Wiesenthal Center insists. The center’s founder and dean, Rabbi Marvin Hier, spoke out over the weekend against Tutu’s latest remarks concerning Israel, in which he said that the West had muted criticism of Israel because of guilt over the Holocaust. Tutu’s comments were made in Geneva on Thursday, while speaking to the UNHRC over his findings of an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip. "It is not the criticism of Israel that’s been muted. It is the absence of any criticism directed at the Arab world that has been muted," said Hier in a statement released Friday. "If Bishop Tutu is looking for bias, let him direct his attention at the United Nations, where 57 Muslim countries have paralyzed the General Assembly, preventing. . .

Palestine a central issue for European solidarity movements
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 9/20/2008
19/09/2008 - Malmö, Sweden. The 5th European Social Forum is bringing together activists and social movements from all over Europe in Malmö, Sweden. Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, MP, Secretary General of the , opened the Forum with a speech calling for solidarity with Palestine. "The struggle for the liberation of Palestine will not succeed without a strong and effective international solidarity movement," he said. "We especially need the support of international delegations and solidarity missions visiting Palestine. Their presence is essential to strengthen the Palestinian popular non-violent resistance". Solidarity with Palestine is now well established as the central issue for European solidarity movements. The Social Forum hosts numerous seminars, exhibitions and films denouncing the Israeli occupation and the Apartheid system now enforced in the occupied territories,. . .

Palestinian foreign minister lectures at Washington Institute for Near East Studies
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad Al-Maliki gave a lecture about the ‘Palestinian question” and political developments at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies in Washington D. C. on Friday. Al-Maliki is currently visiting the United States in preparation for his participation in the UN General Assembly meetings in New York from 23 September to 1 October. During his lecture at the Institute Al-Maliki tackled all issues related to the peace process, especially hardships impeding that process. He blamed Israel for the failure to reach a peace agreement. He highlighted that Israel has been abstaining from commitment to the peace requirements, since they have not even implemented the first stage of the Road Map, and are still haggling over a timetable that could lead to a final agreement.

Are mosque loudspeakers too loud?
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 9/20/2008
MK’s call for turning down volume of mosque loudspeakers sparks debate among Arabs - Knesset Member Esterina Tartman likely did not intend to spark an intense debate among Arabs, but her call to turn down the volume of mosque loudspeakers did just that. Recently, Tartman turned to Environment Minister Gideon Ezra and demanded that he order the mosque in the Palestinian village next to her hometown to turn down the volume of Muezzin loudspeakers. The sensitive request, which was made in the midst of the holy month of Ramadan, became the talk of the day on many Arabic-language websites. Soon, Arab talkbackers were engaging in a fierce debate regarding Tartman’s request. As could be expected, most respondents slammed Tartman and defended their right to maintain loud calls for prayer. " If it annoys you, go back to the place you came from, and stay away. . . "

Sectarian unity ’makes a desert bloom’
Special to The Daily Star, Daily Star 9/20/2008
MCHAYTIEH: A little over a decade ago, the picturesque village of Mchaytieh, nestled in the mountains overlooking the Bekaa Valley, was dying a long, slow death. Its inhabitants were leaving, heading for the relative economic prosperity of the cities or boarding planes to search for a better life outside Lebanon. The problem was easy to identify but difficult to solve: Mchaytieh had no water. The dry mountain slopes, scorched a dull brown by the summer sun, were barren and the villagers had had enough. But thanks to a European Union initiative aimed at helping farmers in Lebanon, the tiny village has been given a new lease of life. The idea was simple. In partnership with the Agriculture Ministry, the EU agreed to front 40 percent of the cash needed for business projects suggested by groups of local farmers. The projects needed to be sustainable and the EU money could only be spent on equipment - not salaries or insurance.

Hizbullah has a chance to put its money where its mouth is
Editorial, The Daily Star, Daily Star 9/20/2008
Since its emergence into the public sphere in 1985, Hizbullah has frequently been subjected to hostile media coverage that has effectively branded the group as a "terrorist," "Islamo-fascist," "anti-Semitic" entity. The party’s repeated attempts to dispel these misperceptions have had limited effect, largely because the debate boils down to Hizbullah’s word against that of the vast majority of the Western media. But the party is currently facing an opportunity to back some of its oft-repeated words with action - and thereby help repair its image both in Lebanon and abroad. Many Hizbullah officials have tried, especially in recent years, to stress that although the resistance arm of the party is at war with Israel, the group does not have any animosity toward Judaism or members of the Jewish faith. But because the Jewish community in Lebanon has dwindled to such small numbers, rarely does

Iran to take center stage at UN assembly
Allison Hoffman, New York, Jerusalem Post 9/21/2008
Israeli officials and American Jewish leaders pressing for tougher sanctions against Iran at the United Nations’ annual General Assembly opening this week will be competing with the distractions posed by the US financial meltdown and the diplomatic crisis in Georgia. Publicly, however, the Iran issue will be squarely in front of hundreds of world leaders passing in and out of UN headquarters. A large rally calling for immediate action against Iran’s nuclear program is planned for Monday across the street in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, and activists will stage other protests, from sidewalk demonstrations and e-mail petitions to public art exhibitions, throughout the week as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes his way through Manhattan. Inside the building, Iran will almost certainly feature in formal addresses delivered by US President George Bush on Tuesday and President Shimon Peres on Wednesday.

Khamenei: Iranians have no problem with Jews
Middle East Online 9/20/2008
TEHRAN - Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israelis have "usurped the houses, land, fields and businesses" of Palestinians. "It is Israeli people who inhabit the settlements. . . and which the puppet Zionist government arms against the Palestinians," he said. "The Islamic republic’s position is very clear. . . We have no problem with Jews, Christians or the faithful of other religions, but we have a problem with the usurpers of the land of Palestine," he said. A few hours later Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a vice president in charge of the tourist board, issued a statement saying he fully respected the Khamenei’s policies. "I act within the framework of the policies defined by the supreme leader," said his statement as carried by the official IRNA news agency. Mashaie had sparked a minor controversy in Tehran when he said Iran was a friend of the Israeli people, without elaborating.

Russia opposes new Iran sanctions for now
Associated Press, YNetNews 9/20/2008
Stressing need for ’constructive dialogue,’ Moscow speaks out against initiative to impose more sanctions on Tehran at meeting of the five permanent UN Security Council members - Russia made clear Saturday that it opposes a Western push for new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Russia spoke out against a fourth round of UN sanctions against Tehran at a meeting of the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany in Washington on Friday, the Foreign Ministry said. Russia stressed the need to draw Tehran into ’’constructive dialogue,’’ the ministry statement said. ’’In this context we spoke out against the development at this time of new measures along UN Security Council lines. ’’The US and other nations suspect Iran is seeking nuclear weapons under the guise of an atomic energy program.

Russia rejects new measures against Iran
Middle East Online 9/20/2008
MOSCOW - Russia is against new UN Security Council measures targeting Iran, the foreign ministry said in a statement Saturday after the White House warned of a new round of sanctions. At a meeting with senior diplomats from the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany on Friday, Russia "said it was against the development at this stage of additional measures in the UN Security Council," the statement said. "The Russian side underlined the necessity of continuing efforts to restore constructive dialogue with Tehran with the aim of moving forward the negotiation process," the statement said. The White House on Monday warned Iran that it faced possible new sanctions over its suspect nuclear program, but said poor relations with Russia -- a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council -- could complicate matters.

Researcher: Despite gov’t claims, female civil servants paid less than men
Tzipi Sa''ar, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
The Finance Ministry has told a researcher investigating wage gaps that men and women in the public sector receive the same pay - in contrast to the treasury’s own records. "There is no discrimination in the salaries paid to men and women in the public sector," Yossi Cohen, deputy director of wages in the Finance Ministry, told former Knesset member Dr. Anat Maor when she queried him on the subject. "Men and women in the same position are paid the same. "But according to a 2006 report by Cohen’s office, women’s pay in the public sector is 20 percent lower than men’s. With retired workers, the pension gap is even higher, at 26 percent. Though at higher levels there is greater equality, most women on the payroll are employed at low levels with low salaries. "The differences in wages are determined by the level of the position and the actual work done," Cohen said.

Police list reveals Abergil family assets
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
Dozens of vehicles, 37 companies and 48 apartments are some of the assets in the possession of the Abergil family, which police believe to be a crime cartel. The list, which Haaretz recently obtained, was compiled by police in 2004. At the time, one head of the Abergil clan, Yitzhak, was in the U. S. , where authorities believe he partook in murder, money laundering and drug smuggling. He was arrested in Israel last month with his brother, Meir. U. S, authorities have requested that both men be extradited to face charges for their alleged crimes. . . . . The companies listed as owned by the Abergils and people believed to be their associates include human resources agencies, investment firms, tobacco import offices, a car repair shop and a car rental agency. Apartments owned by the Abragils include real estate in Arad, Rehovot, Kfar Truman, Rishon Letzion and Lod.

The Lehmans? They’ve moved on. Sad? A little
Marissa Brostoff, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
If there’s anyone unaffected by the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank, it may be the Lehman family. The descendants of Mayer and Emanuel Lehman, two of the German Jewish brothers who lent the firm its name in the 1850s, remain a tightly-knit clan ensconced in New York’s upper crust. But they have not been actively involved in the company since 1969, and family members say that they and their relatives are not even shareholders. . . . . " We had everybody at this reunion, from Wendy Vanderbilt to Matthew and Adam Bronfman, both of whom have become very religious," Loeb said, suggesting the religious spectrum that the Lehman clan now spans. Once strictly Reform Jewish, family members are now related by marriage to WASP-ish families such as the Vanderbilts and strongly affiliated Jewish families like the Bronfmans.

An island of relative stability
Rotem Starkman, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
Last week was one of the most dramatic weeks in world economic history. What started as a local issue of problematic American borrowers paying back mortgages blew up in the heart of the capital of world finance. Banks and huge investment firms founded 150 years ago closed their doors, were sold or nationalized at a breathtaking pace - and trillions of dollars disappeared along with hundreds of thousands of jobs. The crisis that struck Wall Street will drag Main Street down with it. Many more companies will go bust, millions more will be fired - and the entire world will suffer a serious recession. We will also suffer here in Israel. Our exports will suffer, companies will close, the job market will weaken, the state’s tax revenues will fall, and our pension savings will take a tough hit.

Iscar buying Japanese competitor for $1b
Ora Coren, Ha’aretz 9/21/2008
Taking advantage of the crisis in world markets, Iscar recently bought a Japanese competitor in the cutting-tools market, Tungaloy, for almost $1 billion. It purchased about 95% of the company’s shares from Japanese investment bank Nomura in the first takeover of a large Japanese company by an Israeli outfit. Tungaloy is considered the leading firm in the Japanese market, both in sales as well as technology and innovation. The deal will enable Iscar to establish itself in the Far East, where it has factories in South Korea and China. Tungaloy has 2,700 employees and annual revenues of $450 million, $300 million from Japan. Its annual operating profits are estimated at $60 million. The sale of a Japanese company to any overseas investor is uncommon. The deal may be viewed as part of the Japanese government’s plan to increase cooperation. . .

Peace in Iraq IS an option - sign the Le Feyt Declaration!
Palestine Think Tank 9/20/2008
The undersigned, friends of Iraq from France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the United States of America, Egypt, Sweden and Iraq, organized in the International Anti-Occupation Network (IAON) and gathered in Le Feyt, France, from 25 to 27 August 2008, have adopted the following position and declaration reflecting our commitment to a true end to the occupation and to a lasting, sustainable peace in Iraq. The US occupation of Iraq is illegal and cannot be made legal. All that has derived from the occupation is illegal and illegitimate and cannot gain legitimacy. These facts are incontrovertible. What are their consequences? Peace, stability and democracy in Iraq are impossible under occupation. Foreign occupation is opposed by nature to the interests of the occupied people, as proven by the six million Iraqis displaced both inside and outside Iraq, the planned. . .

Iraq media union boss survives bomb attack
Middle East Online 9/20/2008
BAGHDAD - The head of the main journalists’ union in Iraq survived an assassination attempt on Saturday when a bomb exploded outside his office in the capital Baghdad, his colleague said. Muayad al-Lami, the chief of the Iraqi Journalists’ Union, was rushed to hospital after he was wounded in the blast at the gates of the union building in the Waziriyah neighbourhood. "He was seeing off three guests when an IED (improvised explosive device) exploded in front of the gate," colleague Hassan al-Abudi said. "He was wounded and taken to hospital along with his guests who were also wounded. " There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Lami’s predecessor, Shihab al-Timimi, died four days after being shot in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad in February. In 2007, US troops had raided the offices of the Iraqi Journalists Union in central Baghdad and arrested armed 10 guards, prompting criticism from Timimi.

London exhibition shows Iraqi artists persevering
Middle East Online 9/20/2008
LONDON - Iraq’s artists give proof of their resilience despite the ongoing conflict in an exhibition that opened in London this week. "Riding on Fire: Iraqi Art Under Occupation" at the Artiquea Gallery in south-west London is showing 42 works produced by 21 Iraqi artists since the 2003 invasion of the country, including paintings, bronzes, sculptures and ceramics. The exhibition saluted the courage of the artists, who were forced to establish "a secret web to overcome threats posed by occupation forces, vicious militia groups, corrupt police and criminals". "The idea of this exhibition started six months ago," said Haifa Zangana, the exhibition’s coordinator. "I know some of the artists and I have been in touch with them since I arrived in London in the mid-1970s. " In a marked contrast to the often grim realities of Iraq, the majority of the works on display are colourful,. . .

Narcotics seized in Qalqiliya, 2 arrested
Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
Qalqiliya – Ma’an - The media office of the Qalqiliya police department said Saturday that police confiscated an amount of narcotics from two Palestinians, later arrested, as they attempted to smuggle them into the city, said Omar Al- Hindi head of the drug squad in the Qalqilia police department. Omar Al- Bzur, head of the district police department said that “police forces will chase those who seek to import narcotics into the area with the full force of the law. ”[end]


The Killing of Count Folke Bernadotte
Stanley Heller, International Middle East Media Center News 9/20/2008
      September is a month of memorials. Back in 1982 from September 15th to 18th Lebanese fascists militia supported by Israel massacred at least 1,300 people in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Chatilla. The 28th of September in 2000 saw the start of the al-Aksa intifdada, a mass uprising of Palestinians in the occupied territories that was sparked by the “visit” of Ariel Sharon guarded by 1,000 soldiers to the Muslim holy site, the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. It was Sharon as Defense Minister in 1982 who directed the fascists Lebanese militia to enter the camps. Later he claimed he was “shocked, shocked” that they would massacre the Palestinians there.
     This year September 17th is the 60th anniversary of the anniversary of the assassination of Swedish Count Folk Bernadotte. He was the Vice-President of the Swedish Red Cross during World War II. He saved some 15,000 people from German concentration camps including approximately 8000 Danes and Norwegians and 7000 women of French, Polish, Czech, British, American, Argentinian and Chinese nationalities. He brought them out in buses painted white all over except for the Red Cross. It was dangerous work. The drove on the roads while Allied bombers pummeled Nazi targets with the un-surgical precision of those days.
     In 1944 when Sweden was making serious attempts to rescue Hungarian Jews, the Swedish representative of the U.S. War Refugee Board got a group of Swedish Jews together and asked them to recommend someone to go to Hungary to lead the effort. Their choice was Bernadotte. However, the Hungarian government wouldn’t allow him in and the legendary Raul Wallenberg was sent in his place.

Jewish ’ultras’ defend morals with menace

Toni O''Loughlin, The Observer, The Guardian 9/21/2008
      Four months ago in the middle of the night, six men dressed in wide-brimmed black hats, black coats, white shirts and black trousers burst into the Jerusalem apartment of a young Jewish woman and taught her a lesson.
     Mikhail, who is reluctant to give her full name, had scandalised members of her ultra-orthodox Jewish community by leaving her husband and embracing a secular lifestyle. The men, all members of the theologically conservative Haredi branch of Judaism, tackled her to the ground, slammed her head against the floor and tied a rag around her mouth. One assailant sat on her head as the others kicked her while demanding to know the names of the men she was seeing.
     They also threatened to kill her if she did not leave the neighbourhood, which contains many secular as well as religious residents. ’A woman is only OK if she has a family, kids and a husband,’ said Mikhail with a sigh.
     Welcome to the new, increasingly orthodox, Jerusalem. The attack on Mikhail, although exceptionally brutal, was only the latest in a string of assaults over the past two years against Jewish women accused of immoral behaviour in the city.

The Jewish State of Irony

Tirzah Firestone, Middle East Online 9/20/2008
      What a bitter irony it is for a people who have lived as the homeless ‘other’ for centuries to find itself in the position of forgetfulness now. Choking with grief, all I can manage to utter is: I am so sorry. Please believe me, this is not Judaism! Says Rabbi.
     BOULDER, Colorado – Last week I was stopped in my tracks by a letter from Mira. The four-story apartment building next door to her home in East Jerusalem, home to seven families in the Beit Hanina neighbourhood, was demolished before her eyes. Mira described watching border police, ambulances, fire trucks and police cars close off her street and surround Abu Eisheh’s house. They pulled out neighbours by force, beating those who refused to move and taking them to the hospital.
     Home demolitions occur by the hundreds in East Jerusalem, and I have witnessed them with my own eyes. As a rabbi, appalled by Israel’s policy of managing Jerusalem’s demographics by destroying the homes of its unwanted residents, I have felt it was my duty to visit victims in the aftermath of their loss, paying condolence calls, as it were, to the bereaved. People like Abu Eisheh and scores like him are, of course, neither terrorists nor schemers, but simple people who have “built illegally” in a city looking to limit its Arab population.

Ramadan under siege in Gaza

Eiman Mohammed in Gaza, Ma’an News Agency 9/20/2008
      Gaza’s sunsets this Ramadan are not greeted by the glittering of lantern light that traditionally illuminate the darkness during this month of difficult fasting. This year, as the night sets in and the Muslim’s call to prayer grows louder, the ambient noise of the Gaza streets disappears and sidewalks empty. The difference, however, between day and night is not like it used to be.
     These days there is not much action in Gaza’s shops during the day, when people usually set out to buy vegetables and sweets for the fast-breaking meal, or new clothes in preparation for the end of Ramadan feast. This year the lack of food supplies means we don’t get our basic daily foods, let alone special fruits or pastries for Ramadan.As a result of the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza strip, shoppers can’t get what they really need for Ramadan provisions.
     And that is just a nutshell description of Gaza this Ramadan, where the odd light-up crescent moon hung from a window does little to cheer up the frustrated population.

Four crises are blocking a resolution in Jerusalem

Mahdi Abdul Hadi, Daily Star 9/19/2008
      There are varying conceptions in reading, understanding and presenting the question of Jerusalem by the concerned parties in the Middle East. These have led to a number of crises in negotiating Jerusalem. The first crisis is the differing views over what Jerusalem we are talking about. The logical and reasonable approach is to talk about Jerusalem according to the partition plan of United Nations Security Council Resolution 181 of 1947. Resolution 181 provides for the city to be a corpus separatum under international trusteeship and a center for two states, an open city or joint capital embracing a variety of identities and citizenships, Israeli, Palestinian as well as international.
     With the Oslo Accords of 1993, however, the terms of reference changed to the two-state-solution based on UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967, which foresaw a division of the city along the pre-June 1967 armistice line. As the leading Palestinian negotiator, now and in Oslo, Ahmed Qorei, has put it: "Palestinians agreed to give up West Jerusalem in Oslo and they cannot afford to share East Jerusalem.

Enough of the Jerusalem Mantra

Daniel Seidemann, Middle East Online 9/20/2008
      JERUSALEM – I was born American. Thirty-five years ago, I chose to become Israeli. My choice in no way reflects a lack of affection for the United States. But patriotism is monogamous: I am an Israeli patriot, and a platonic friend of the land of my birth. I have never voted in a US election and I belong to no US political party. I see myself as an observer of, rather than a participant in, American presidential election politics.
     But as a Jerusalemite, I do have a stake in the 2008 Presidential race, like it or not.
     Because like in past elections, the candidates and their surrogates are trying to use me – my life, my city—to score points with voters, bolster their pro-Israel credentials, and attack their opponent.
     Because both parties are mindlessly clinging to what I call "the Jerusalem mantra": swearing fealty to the view of Jerusalem as "the-eternal-undivided-capital-of-Israel-that-will-never-be-redivided". Just take a look at the 2008 Democratic and Republican national platforms: "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths." (Democrats); and "...Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital of Israel." (Republicans).

Messing with Israel’s Zohan

Gilad Atzmon – LONDON, Middle East Online 9/19/2008
      “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” is a new American comedy film. It tells the story of Zohan Dvir (Adam Sandler), the IDF’s Number 1 counter-terrorism killing machine who has simply grown tired of his military murderous engagement. At a certain stage, he fakes his own death while in action in order to pursue his real dream: that of becoming a hairstylist in NYC.
     The film was anything but praised by the critics. The Sun gave the film one star and wrote: “the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine isn’t exactly the obvious choice of topic for a comedy – which is perhaps why this film is about as funny as a suicide bombing.”
     “By the end,” wrote Christopher Tookey of the Daily Mail, “I felt as though I had been carpet-bombed by comedy’s answer to Vladimir Putin. But, on second thought, Putin is funnier.”
     These are pretty harsh words for critics to write about a film. However, unlike the devastated critic, who didn’t hold back from putting the film down, I regard the film as an important document and another step towards a comprehensive understanding of the Jewish identity.

Corrupt analogy

Khalid Amayreh, Palestinian Information Center 9/16/2008
      “The ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Israel was not an unintended consequence, or fortuitous occurrence, or even a ‘miracle’, as Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann later proclaimed; it was the result of long and meticulous planning,” Ilan Pappe, Professor of Political Science at Haifa University, in his book ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’.
     This week, the outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sought to rewrite history by equating the violent uprooting and dispersal across the four winds of the native Palestinian community at the hands of Zionist Jews with the ideologically-motivated immigration of Jews from the Middle East to Palestine.
     Speaking during a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on 13 September, Olmert was quoted as saying that he felt sorry for the plight of both Palestinian and Jewish refugees.
     “I join in expressing sorrow for what happened to the Palestinians and also for what happened to the Jews who were expelled from Arab states.”
     Olmert’s largely facetious remarks coincided with highly controversial statements made by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on the sensitive subject of the right of return for Palestinian refugees uprooted from their country more than sixty years ago.

Tzipi Livni Needs Three Things

Nadia Hijab, Middle East Online 9/19/2008
      Here’s one major difference between Tzipi Livni, the new leader of Israel’s Kadima party, and her rivals for leadership: There are no war crime charges against her.
     In what must be a relief for some in Israel, Livni doesn’t have to look over her shoulder in case she gets arrested when she gets off a plane overseas. Kadima leadership contenders Shaul Mofaz and Avi Dichter are among several Israeli generals that face this possibility due to civil suits brought against them for war crimes. Dichter canceled a trip to Britain in 2007 to avoid arrest.
     So Livni can travel. But can she deliver peace with the Palestinians? She has on occasion expressed more sympathy towards the Palestinians than others and has led Israel’s negotiating team since Annapolis. Her Palestinian counterparts have welcomed her victory.
     If Livni can cobble together an Israeli cabinet, she is likely to continue the peace process. But Israeli-Palestinian peace is more elusive today than at any time since the first Oslo agreement was signed in 1993.

30 years of peace talks: some lessons

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 9/20/2008
      This week is noteworthy in Arab-Israeli history, because it commemorates two historic events: the Camp David Accords of September 1978 and the Oslo Accords of September 1993. Exactly 30 and 15 years ago, these two agreements were painstakingly negotiated between Arab parties and Israelis, with external assistance. Both held out the promise of breakthroughs for permanent Arab-Israeli peace and coexistence.
     History has turned out to be more complex than the promises of what happened those two Septembers past. Arab-Israeli peace turned out to be much more erratic and cold than many had hoped. Terrible conflicts, characterized by mutual brutality have persisted, with new actors joining the fray every few years. Not surprisingly, Palestinians, Syrians, Israelis and others continue to probe for possible routes to permanent peace agreements, without much success.
     The peacemaking legacy of Camp David and Oslo remains thin, but real. It is certain that Arabs and Israelis, with assorted and eternal mediators, will try again to negotiate permanent peace agreements, perhaps starting as early as next spring. If so, it seems worthwhile trying to identify the lessons of the Camp David and Oslo experiences. Here is my list of key lessons learned.