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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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22 September 2008

Palestinian driver killed after hitting 19 on edge of Old City
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/23/2008
Jerusalem - Ultra-Orthodox Jews chased Palestinians through the streets of East Jerusalem on Monday night, beating several. The random attacks began just after 11:00 pm when a black BMW hit a crowd of Israeli soldiers on the edge of the Old City, injuring 19. A soldier shot and killed the driver of the car registered to a resident of East Jerusalem’s Jabal Mukabar Village. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak referred to the driver of the car as a "terrorist" and called for the demolition of his family home. Initial reports indicated that this was a traffic accident. Two of the injured Israelis are reported in serious condition while four were moderately injured. Thirteen were lightly injured. The Israeli press is making note that this is the third time a Palestinian vehicle has hit Israelis in Jerusalem during the summer, referring to the two bulldozer incidents of July.

Three Palestinian residents wounded by Israeli army fire at a Nablus checkpoint
International Middle East Media Center News 9/22/2008
Three Palestinian residents including a woman were reportedly shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers on Monday at the Israeli checkpoint of Huwwara on Nablus land, Palestinian sources reported. Sources said that the Israeli shooting came right after an Israeli soldier was exposed to chemical substances thrown by a young Palestinian woman at the checkpoint. Medical sources reported that the Israeli army shot and wounded a lady in her right leg and that one of the wounded youths sustained a bullet to his kidney; the other was shot in his left leg. All wounded were evacuated to the local hospital of Rafedia, medics confirmed. Witnesses told media outlets that Israeli soldiers closed the Huwwara checkpoint following the incident and that people were denied entry in and out of Nablus. The assailant girl, in her twenties and wearing a long dress and a head-covering, was detained by the Israeli army.

Peres tasks Livni with forming government
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 9/22/2008
President chooses newly-elected Kadima chairwoman as nominee he believes is most able to establish solid coalition. Speaking in Jerusalem after formally accepting the appointment, Livni calls for unity government, reaches out to Likud’s Netanyahu - President Shimon Peres has chosen Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni to form the new government. Peres telephoned the newly-elected Kadima chairwoman on Monday evening - and she later arrived at his Jerusalem residence to accept the appointment in person. "I agree to take upon myself the role of forming a government," Livni said, adding that it was a task she would approach solemnly. Earlier in the evening Peres called Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik to inform her of his decision. "I believe that Israel needs stability, and a guiding hand," Livni said in a televised address alongside Peres.

Witnesses: Rafah tunnel collapses as Palestinians bring food into Gaza Strip
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/22/2008
Gaza - Palestinian eyewitnesses at the Rafah -- Egypt border in the southern Gaza Strip said that a tunnel collapsed yesterday afternoon killing two people inside. Witnessed on the scene report, "Ambulances and civil defense came quickly to work to get them out of the tunnel, but they had already died. "They pointed out that "the collapsed tunnel is located near the Salah Addin Gate at the southern Gaza border with Egypt where Israeli forces destroyed a large number of houses before their withdrawal in the summer of 2005. "In recent months about 40 Palestinians have died in the town of Rafah during their work in the tunnels. Palestinians are using these tunnels to import food, fuel and other necessities from the Egyptian side during the Israeli economic blockade on the Gaza Strip and its 1. 6 million residents.

Islamic Jihad’s Secretary General: PLO exists to fight Israel
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 9/22/2008
Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, who is based in Damascus, stressed on Sunday that the Palestine Liberation Organisation was not created to recognize Israel but rather to fight it. Shallah, whose group rejects any peace with Israel, told supporters during a breakfast of a ’holy Ramadan’ day in Damascus yesterday, "It is called the ’Palestine Liberation Organization,’ not the ’Israel Recognition Organisation’ or the ’Peaceful Solutions Organisation. ’ The organization was established to liberate Palestine - all of Palestine, either that of 1948 or that of 1967. Also, he was quoted as saying, "No one now knows exactly what the current Palestinian rights are. Some people believe that Gaza and the West Bank are their territories, others see Gaza only as their country, while a third group considers Ramallah as their Palestine. . . "

Israeli doctors conduct surgery on Palestinian prisoner without his consent
Palestinian Information Center 9/22/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- A Palestinian prisoner called Muhannad Awda reported that he was forcibly taken by the prison administrant to the Soroka hospital despite the fact that he was not suffering from any disease, adding that Israeli doctors drugged him and conducted an open heart surgery on him. Awda explained to the lawyer of the Mandela institute that he was not suffering from any heart disease, pointing out that he was medically tested before sending him to prison and proved free of any disease. The prisoner added that in the hospital, he was asked to sign papers authorizing doctors to conduct a surgery on him and to take his organs, but he refused, noting that before he was taken to the operating room, he asked to be allowed to contact his family or permit them to visit him, but was refused. The prisoner elaborated that during the surgical operation, he woke up suddenly and saw. . .

Ni’lin: day after Israeli soldier stoned, 2 arrested, others sent to interrogation
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Bethlehem/Ramallah – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained brothers from the central West Bank village of Ni’lin during a raid on the village Monday morning. Those detained are named as Hussein Nafi and Saddam Nafi. A number of warrants were handed to young men of the village, summoning them to Israeli intelligence offices for interrogation. The invading soldiers fired incendiary bombs (designed to start fires) and tear gas canisters at the Ar-Rafati mosque in the village burning carpets on the floor. Earlier on Monday Israeli sources reported that one of their soldiers was lightly injured Sunday evening after his patrol car was pelted with stones as it drove through the village ofNi’lin. The soldier was transferred to hospital for medical treatment. Sources added that Israeli army apprehended what they called “wanted activists” from Ni’lin suspected of incitement. . .

IOA confiscates 22 dunums of Al-Khalil lands
Palestinian Information Center 9/22/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority on Sunday issued military orders confiscating around 22 dunums of Yatta village lands, Al-Khalil district, public committee to defend lands in the district reported. It said that the IOA informed Mohammed Mahmoud Abu Qabta that 22 dunums of his lands would be seized while tens of other dunums in the district were converted into closed military zones by a similar military order. Meanwhile, Jewish settlers in Al-Khalil assaulted two Palestinian minors and wounded them in Tal Al-Rumaida suburb, locals reported. [end]

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

Palestinian female captive decides to go on hunger strike due to medical neglect
Palestinian Information Center 9/22/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The ministry of prisoners and ex-prisoners’ affairs in Gaza city expressed anxiety over the deteriorated health of Palestinian female captive Amal Fayez Juma of Nablus city who suffers of womb cancer in an Israeli jail. According to Reyadh Al-Ashkar, the information officer in the ministry, Juma’s health was seriously deteriorating due to the deliberate medical neglect on the part of the Israeli prison authority (IPA), adding that Juma decided to go on hunger strike to end her ordeal. He added that the captive must be immediately released to receive proper medical treatment abroad before her illness reaches advanced levels that couldn’t be cured. "Juma had suffered internal bleeding and severe stomach pain long time ago, but the IPA refused to attend to her medical needs that made her health condition deteriorate further as they refused to heed recommendations from. . .

Israeli soldiers injure mentally disabled Palestinian near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A mentally disabled Palestinian child was injured Monday morning by Israeli gunfire near Bethlehem, according to Palestinian sources. The 10-year-old Muhammad Abu Dayyah from Beit Ummar, a village between Bethlehem and Hebron, sustained wounds after Israeli soldiers opened fire on him. He was in the area around Safa, a village south of Bethlehem, near the illegal Israeli settlement Kefar Etzion. No further details about his injury have been released. [end]

Khudari: New Free-Gaza voayage delayed due to logistical reasons
Palestinian Information Center 9/22/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege , said that the new Free-Gaza voyage’s departure from Cyprus to Gaza delayed its sail Strip  for a few days due to logistical reasons. He said in a press statement on Monday that the foreign activists, who started to arrive in Cyprus to board the vessel, were European MPs, international figures, doctors and journalists. The boat was scheduled to arrive in Gaza today in a fresh attempt to break the Israeli siege on the Strip after success of the first experience. Khudari said that the doctors on board the new boat would remain in Gaza to operate on Palestinian patients in need of surgeries, adding that the boat would take back with it nine of the stranded activists along with a number of Palestinians. He called on the Arab and Islamic countries to act practically and to invent new methods to break the siege, which they had declared their rejection of.

Free Gaza II, carrying doctors, surgeions; postpones voyage
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The second siege breaking voyage organized by the Free Gaza movement has been delayed for “logistical reasons. ” The ships were scheduled to dock in the Gaza port on Monday, and have not set a new date of arrival. Chairman of the People’s committee against the blockade and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Jamal Al-Khudari, said that the doctors, journalists, parliamentarians and activists set as the ship’s crew have begun to arrive in Cyprus. The People’s committee against the blockade has called for more voyages like the Free Gaza I, which landed on 23 August, and broke the years long blockade of the area. The committee announced recently that a ship would set sail from Yemen, to follow the example of the European initiative. The Free Gaza II, which should land before the end of September, will carry physicians and suregions who intend to stay in the area to perform medical services for Gazans.

Al Khudari: new round of boats to break siege on Gaza delayed
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/22/2008
Gaza -- Palestinian Legislative Council member and head of the People’s Committee against the Siege, Jamal Al Khudari, said on Monday that the next boat coming to break the siege has been delayed due to logistical reasons. After two boats came with international and Palestinian activists last month, the Free Gaza movement intended to make a "quick turn around," in Cyprus as their members indicated, while within the last two weeks a boat from Yemen announced that it too would be coming. Three boats are expected from Cyprus carrying members of European Parliament, United Nations figures, doctors and journalists, Al Khudari said today. The passengers are arriving in Cyprus but the new date to set sail to Gaza is unknown. The boats were slated to arrive on 22 September in a new bid to break the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip in keeping with the success of the first run.

Bethlehem Water Authority to PNN: summer water crisis ongoing in southern West Bank
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/22/2008
Hiba Lama -- Bethlehem continues to suffer under the water crisis with residents going without the critical agent for weeks, and months, at a time. Water is gathered from random sources, bought from stores and trucks, but not from taps inside homes. Palestinians complain that not only are they going without water, their own government is not heeding their cries for assistance. The General Director for the Water Authority in Bethlehem, Dr. Simon Al Araj told PNN on Monday that the Water Authority does not receive enough water to meet the needs of southern West Bank residents, particularly in Bethlehem and Hebron. "People are going at least two weeks to 20 days without water depending on the water, and they still don’t have any because the Water Authority receives only limited quantities of water. " The Palestinian Water Authority suffers, as Al Araj told PNN, "from technical. . . "

’Polluted West Bank streams pose threat to a third of Israel’s drinking water’
Ehud Zion Waldoks, Jerusalem Post 9/22/2008
The vast majority of wastewater in the West Bank goes untreated and presents a significant threat to groundwater, Ariel Cohen of the Nature and Parks Authority Environmental Unit revealed Monday during a press conference at the Afek national park. Instead of being processed, sewage from Israeli settlements and Palestinian towns and villages is released into streams, and therefore all nine of the major streams in Judea and Samaria are polluted, he continued. This is particularly worrying because the mountain aquifer extends below the West Bank and the cesspits and sewage streams are leaking into it, he explained. While the aquifer can absorb some sewage, there is a distinct risk to the aquifer unless the situation is rectified, Cohen said. Many more wastewater treatment plants need to be built to bring the situation under control, a report authored by Cohen and his team on the West Bank’s streams concluded.

A Palestinian security official accuses Hamas of buying weapons in the West Bank
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 9/23/2008
Raji Al Najmi, a Palestinian major-general and the security affairs assistant of the Interior Minister, accused Hamas movement of using its civil institutions to finance buying weapons in the west Bank. The official also accused Hamas of being responsible of 90% of the expired medications exposed by the security forces in the West Bank. The Middle East Newspaper quoted Al Najmi stating that "the institutions of Hamas are financing the purchasing of weapons and are paying the salaries of the outlawed Executive Force of Hamas". "What does a society that finances the education of children have to do with buying weapons", he said, "We license societies that help people, and then we find out that these societies are paying the salaries of the executive force and are buying weapons". Al Najmi also accused Hamas of being responsible for 90% of the expired medications that were caught. . .

PA security forces raid West Bank office of Hamas legislator
Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Abbas has recently stepped up a campaign against Hamas Islamists in the West Bank city, arresting some 15 activists and closing down four organizations which Hamas said were purely charitable. Pro-Abbas Fatah forces hold sway in the West Bank, but they lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas last year, deepening the split in Palestinian ranks as Abbas seeks a comprehensive peace accord with Israel, which Hamas opposes. Egyptian efforts to reconcile the two Palestinian factions have so far shown no sign of progress. [end]

''Angry'' Fatah affiliates threaten to establish new leadership in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – “Angry” Fatah affiliates released a statement on Monday announcing that they will create and foster new leaders in the Gaza Strip, since current Fatah leadership has responded so poorly to the current situation in the area. The group of Fatah members in Gaza said in their statement, “everybody agrees that the recent threats against the Palestinian people, homeland and question have peaked. Israeli aggression and the occupation’s stubbornness are still going on as well as the negative repercussions of the black coup in our steadfast Strip. ”The statement accused those in the “political echelon” of not taking “one step to block tyranny, poverty and oppression caused by those who were responsible for damaging all means of steadfastness and all pillars of the Palestinian national project. ”The Fatah leadership’s failure to respond appropriately both in Gaza. . .

Hamas: PA threats of using force to return to Gaza aims to ruin dialog efforts
Palestinian Information Center 9/22/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly denounced some PA security officials for threatening to use force against it to restore control over the Gaza Strip, charging that those threats aim to thwart the Egyptian dialog efforts and a return to the policy of seeking foreign support against the Movement. Commenting on remarks made by PA officer Diyab Al-Ali in this regard published in the Israeli Haaretz newspaper, Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, the spokesman for the Hamas parliamentary bloc, said that this language is trying to derail the Palestinian national work and turn the weapons against the Palestinians instead of the Israeli occupation. Dr. Bardawil added that the PA is trying to portray Hamas as the strategic enemy and that the liberation of the West Bank and occupied Palestinian lands is achieved through invading Gaza despite the fact that occupied Jerusalem is nearer to them than Gaza.

Abbas’s forces threaten ''invasion of Gaza''
Palestinian Information Center 9/22/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Head of the Ramallah-based National Security Forces lieutenant Deyab Al-Ali has stated on saturday  that the PA security forces in the West Bank could resort to force to control the Gaza Strip if Israel, Jordan, and Egypt approve the plan. In an interview with the Hebrew daily Haaretz newspaper which was published on Sunday, Ali didn’t rule out the option of resorting to force to "occupy" the Gaza Strip, and to "liberate" it from Hamas, asserting that his men in the West Bank must prepare themselves for that option. But Ali acknowledged that the invasion plan needs the approval of the Israeli occupation government, Jordan, and Egypt. He also shrugged off Israeli remarks on Hamas’s strength in the West Bank, opining that Hamas doesn’t pose any threat to Fatah’s authority in the West Bank because, he said, the Movement has no force in the West Bank anymore.

Fatah delegation reaches Cairo for unity talks
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Fatah delegation headed by Nabil Sha’ath will meet with Director of Egyptian intelligence Omar Suleiman on Monday in Cairo to begin reconciliation. The delegation arrived in Cairo Monday morning from Jordan. The meeting is one of the last in a string of bilateral meetings Egypt has held with different Palestinian factions in preparation for a comprehensive meeting with all factions in the second half of October. The delegation left the Gaza Strip on Friday 19 September, travelling to Jordan through the West Bank. There has been no comment as to why the group took this circuitous route, rather than heading south from Gaza into Egypt via the Rafah crossing. The delegation in comprised of Nabil Sha’ath, member of the Fatah central committee, Dr Zakariyya Al-Agha, head of the central committee in Gaza, Ibrahim Abu An-Naja, member of Fatah revolutionary. . .

Hamas: PA security forces detain 9 loyalists
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Nablus – Ma’an –Palestinian Authority (PA) security services detained 9 Hamas affiliates in the northern West Bank, according to a Hamas statement on Monday. Those detained were named as Abdullah Abu Samra, who was recently released from Israeli jail, Abdul-Jalil Ishtayyah, Amr Ishtayya, Talib Ishtayya and Salah Sharida from the northern West Bank town of Salem near Nablus. In Tulkarem in the north western West Bank, Hamas reported Islambouli Budeir, Basil Abu Hajar and Abdur-Rahman Al-Jitawi as detained, as well as Ashraf Hamami from Tubas. [end]

DFLP calls on Russia and China to support Palestinian-Egyptian talks
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – During his meeting with Russian and Chinese ambassadors to Palestine Nayef Hawatmah Secretary General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) called on the representatives to rally their countries stand by Palestinian-Egyptian talks in preparation for comprehensive national dialogue in Cairo. The political leaders spoke about the process of establishing national dialogue in Cairo, as well as the international peace meeting that is scheduled in Moscow. The Moscow meeting is set for November, and will tackle issues around the Arab/Palestinian and Israeli conflict in addition to the change in the global situation after the collapse of the American and international capitalist system. Hawatmah confirmed in a statement on Monday the importance of holding the comprehensive international meeting in Moscow one year after the Annapolis meetings to follow up on progress that has been made.

PFLP legislator: ''No legislative, presidential elections without ending internal divisions''
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/23/2008
Khalida Jarrar, Palestinian legislator of the Abu Ali Mustafa Bloc which belongs to the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said that it is unlikely that there will be legislative and presidential elections in Palestine as long as the ongoing internal divisions and unrest continue. Jarrar told the Al Ayyam Daily newspaper that the divisions and political maneuvers that are aimed at dragging the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) into this internal unrest did not only stop its legislative role but also paralyzed it, its sessions and its activities. She also said that Hamas formed alternative committees in Gaza and added that these committees are illegal and unconstitutional. The ongoing conflict between Hamas and Fateh, the two biggest factions in Palestine, is now at its worst level in spite of talks in Cairo and attempts to resolve it.

Abbas’s officers and their Israeli counterparts classify Hamas as common foe
Palestinian Information Center 9/22/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- An Israeli journalist revealed Sunday that a meeting took place between Fatah-affiliated PA security officers and their Israeli counterparts during which the two sides agreed on waging a fierce war on the Hamas Movement as the common enemy.   Journalist Nahum Barnea, a senior commentator in the Yediot Ahronot, said that he was the only journalist who was allowed to attend the meeting held last week at the IOF headquarters in the Beit Eil settlement near Ramallah. Barnea underlined that the talk was briefly about a violent confrontation between Hamas and Fatah that is expected to take place in January to control the West Bank. "On the ninth of January, Mahmoud Abbas’s term of office will expire; he is determined to stay in office until January 2010. The possibility of declaring Gaza a rebel region must not be ruled out," a PA officer was quoted as saying.

Hundreds of Palestinians stuck at the Rafah crossing after closure
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/22/2008
Gaza -- After the Saturday and Sunday opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, hundreds of Palestinians remained stranded late last night. Before all of the travelers could be processed, the Egyptian authorities closed the crossing. Hundreds of students had been waiting for hours and did not make it through, sources on the Palestinian side report. The two-day opening was intended primarily to facilitate pilgrims, medical patients and students seeking to leave the Gaza Strip. According to Palestinian sources the number of buses was low transporting passengers to the Egyptian side. The Director of Security at the Rafah Border Crossing in the Gaza government said that the Egyptian authorities allowed only a paltry number of students to cross into Egypt. On Saturday hundreds of pilgrims on their way to Mecca crossed along with 300 patients seeking outside medical treatment.

Haneyya: Gaza continues to face a big conspiracy
Palestinian Information Center 9/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, has said that Gaza was targeted with a big conspiracy that was backed by the Americans, some Europeans, some Arabs and even Palestinians other than the "Zionist enemy". He told an evening gathering on Saturday in Gaza, "We are making a new history in Gaza" and conditions would never return to the previous security chaos. Haneyya noted that ever since the general elections Hamas was targeted by various parties but was backed by the Palestinian people and the Islamic masses in general. The premier pointed out that his government overcame many difficulties despite the fact that Americans, Israelis and even some Arabs and Palestinians were working against it. "Yet, this government achieved many accomplishments especially in preserving the citizens’ security, safety and stability in addition to spreading justice,. . .

Khudari: Opening Rafah crossing important step toward breaking the siege
Palestinian Information Center 9/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the anti siege committee, has hailed the Egyptian step of opening the Rafah crossing for the second time in less than a month before the Gaza inhabitants. Khudari in a press statement on Saturday described the measure as an "important step toward breaking the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip" He appreciated Cairo’s approval to open the crossing to allow access for students, patients and Palestinians wishing to offer Omra (minor pilgrimage) in Saudi Arabia. The ideal arrangements in the travel procedures on both sides of the borders give a ray of hope for the besieged Palestinians the Strip that the terminal’s crisis would be soon over and that the crossing would be opened on permanent basis. The Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border terminal for two days starting on Saturday.

Hamas: Egyptian border guards ''shameful'' acceptance of bribes must be investigated
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas called on the Egyptian President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak to investigate the “shameful” treatment of Palestinians at the hands of Egyptian border guards during Saturday and Sunday’s crossings at Rafah. According to Hamas the Egyptian officials “selectively” allowed Gazans to pass through the crossing, despite de facto government efforts to ensure that all those waiting to cross had proper papers at hand. Egypt announced that Rafah crossing would be opened for two days during Ramadan, and later set the dates as 20 and 21 September. However, after a successful Saturday, Egyptian officials suddenly closed the border after allowing eight busses of students waiting to study abroad, to pass through. The students had been cleared by Egypt the day before, but did not pass into Egypt on account of delays.

Israeli forces open fire in both directions at Huwara Checkpoint, arrest girl throwing acid
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 9/22/2008
Nablus -- Eyewitnesses report that Israeli soldiers at southern Nablus’ Huwara Checkpoint opened random fire on awaiting Palestinians Monday morning. Hundreds of people were attempting to pass the barrier between Nablus City and surrounding villages in the northern West Bank. Palestinian medical and security sources confirmed that Israeli soldiers opened fire on both sides of the checkpoint after a young woman attempted to throw acid in the face of one of the soldiers. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers caught the 25 year old woman and arrested her while other soldiers began shooting wounding at least three people including a nurse, Ayed Hussein. The woman and a man were both shot in the leg and another man was shot in the back. All are being treated at Nablus’ Rafidiya Hospital. According to witnesses soldiers closed the checkpoint and began searching the area, taking some people waiting in the queue for questioning.

Palestinian woman pours acid on soldier
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 9/22/2008
IDF soldier manning Nablus checkpoint loses sight after Palestinian woman hurls acidic substance into his eyes. Army slams ’cynical use’ of humanitarian aid at crossings - An IDF soldier has lost sight in one of his eyes after a Palestinian woman attacked him with acid at the Hawara checkpoint on Monday afternoon. The checkpoint is located south of the West Bank city of Nablus. Troops managed to apprehend the woman, who is believed to have carried out a similar attack several weeks ago at the same crossing. She was arrested and taken for questioning. The soldier was evacuated to the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva for treatment. In the previous incident, the woman arrived at the Hawara checkpoint and attempted to cross through the humanitarian aid lane, which is meant for medical emergencies and therefore has limited security.

Israeli army open fire on civilians at Huwarra checkpoint
International Solidarity Movement 9/22/2008
Nablus Region - Photos - Israeli soldiers opened fire on civilians at Huwarra checkpoint at 8am on Monday 22nd September. The gunfire followed an alleged attempt by a Palestinian woman to pour acid on Israeli soldiers, echoing an attack that took place at the checkpoint two weeks ago. There are mixed reports as to whether any soldiers were injured in the attempt, with some eyewitnesses claiming that most of the unknown substance was thrown on the ground, some inadvertantly splashing a nearby Palestinian man. Photo by Nasser ShtayahThe young woman reportedly ran into the crowd, who were passing through the checkpoint, and was chased by Israeli soldiers. Soldiers then opened fire on the crowd of innocent civilians, using live ammunition. Four people were reportedly injured by the gunfire, with two requiring hospitalisation.

Soldier attacked with acid may lose eye
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 9/22/2008
An IDF soldier may lose sight in one eye after a Palestinian woman threw acid in his face on Monday as she tried crossing the Hawara checkpoint outside Nablus. The soldier was hospitalized with light-to-moderate wounds and doctors said there was a chance that he would lose the sight in one of his eyes. The woman, identified as a 19-year-old resident of Nablus, was behind a similar attack earlier in the month when she threw acid in the face of an officer at the checkpoint but succeeded in fleeing back into Nablus. On Monday she was captured and taken into police custody. Lt. Avihai Weitzman, commander of the soldier’s platoon, said that the wounded soldier was scheduled to undergo surgery on his eye on Tuesday. He said that the IDF would probe the incident and possibly change its deployment at the checkpoint.

IDF soldier blinded in one eye after Palestinian woman throws acid in his face
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
A soldier was lightly to moderately wounded on Monday, when a Palestinian woman threw acid in his face at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus. The terrorist was arrested by security forces, and the soldier was rushed into surgery because doctors fear he may have lost vision in one eye as a result of the attack. IDF troops in the area have been on high alert since last week’s infiltration of Yitzhar by a Palestinian militant, an incident which sparked a settler rampage in the nearby Palestinian village of Assira al-Kubliyeh. During the infiltration last Saturday, a 9-year-old boy was lightly wounded when he was stabbed in the hand. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared after the incident last week that Israel’s government will not allow settlers to carry out "pogroms against non-Jews in the State of Israel.

Injuries in Jerusalem car attack
Al Jazeera 9/23/2008
About 15 people have been hurt at a busy Jerusalem intersection after a driver steered his car into a group of pedestrians, Israeli rescue services said. Describing the incident as a "terrorist attack", police said the driver was shot and killed after the incident late on Monday. Israel Radio reported that two of the wounded were in serious condition. The injured reportedly included Israeli soldiers. The intersection is near the invisible line between the Jewish and Arab sections of Jerusalem, near the Old City. "A man in a vehicle struck a number of people in Kikar Tzahal," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. "We can confirm it was a terror attack. The man was shot and killed. " The incident took place just before 11pm (2000 GMT). Vehicles as weapons - Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Jerusalem, said: "The incident took place in West Jerusalem, near Jaffa street, not so far from the Old City, and close to the scene of recent attacks involving tractors.

''Terror'' attack in Jerusalem, 17 wounded
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 9/23/2008
At least 17 reported wounded as "terrorist" runs private car into pedestrian crowd at busy intersection in central Jerusalem. Paramedics say two in serious condition. "Terrorist" reportedly shot dead by IDF officer - A "terrorist" driving a black BMW ran his car into a crowd of pedestrians at a busy intersection in central Jerusalem near the Old City on Monday evening. At least 17 people were confirmed wounded at Zahal Square, most in light-to-moderate condition. Magen David Adom paramedics evacuated those wounded to the Hadassah Ein Karem and Shaare Zedek hospitals for treatment. Most of those wounded are reportedly soldiers belonging to the Artillery Corps who were on a ’Selichot Tour’ in Jerusalem. Selichot are Jewish penitential prayers said during the High Holidays. The terrorist, a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, was shot dead by an IDF officer holding the rank of lieutenant who was with the soldiers.

''Terrorist'' in car rams 19 in J’lem
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Nineteen people, most of them Israel Defense Forces soldiers, were wounded in a "terrorist" attack in downtown Jerusalem last night, when a Palestinian driving a black BMW drove up on the sidewalk and ran over a group of soldiers. The attack took place at Tzahal (IDF) Square, at the corner of Shivtei Yisrael St. Two of the victims were seriously injured. The driver was killed by an officer of the stricken platoon. He realized it was a "terror" attack and shot the attacker after the car had stopped. A previously unknown group claimed responsibility for the attack, which was perpetrated by an Arab resident of East Jerusalem. After the driver was killed, police sappers and rescue workers checked to make sure the car was not booby-trapped and that it contained no weapons or explosives. "A man in a vehicle struck a number of people in Tzahal Square," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

19 injured after Palestinian from East Jerusalem crashes car into crowd of soldiers
Ma’an News Agency 9/23/2008
Jerusalem - Ma’an - Palestinian Qasam Salah Al-Mughrabi was the driver of a black compact that drove into a group of Israeli soldiers visiting Jerusalem. The 19-year-old from the Al-Faruq area on Mount Scopus was shot and killed by an Israeli lieutenant on the scene, according to local sources. Israeli medical sources say 19 Israelis were injured, ten of which are in serious condition, nine sustained moderate wounds, and at least eight of the injured are Israeli soldiers. Al-Mughrabi’s car veered off the road and hit the group near the Jaffa Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday night. A phone call to Ma’an a group calling themselves Nisour Al-Jalil claimed responsibility for the incident. The incident follows two similar attacks where bulldozers from Jerusalem construction sites were driven into traffic this summer, causing tens of injuries and two deaths.

19 hurt as ''terrorist'' plows car into Jerusalem crowd
Jonathan Lis and Amos Harel , and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
At least 19 people were wounded at around 11 P. M. Monday night when a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem drove his car into a crowd of Israel Defense Forces soldiers at a busy intersection in the capital. Two of wounded were in serious condition, four were moderately hurt and the rest were lightly wounded, the Magen David Adom rescue service said. Most of the wounded were IDF troops on their way to the Western Wall to mark the upcoming Jewish New Year when the attack at the Tzahal intersection, close to the Old City, took place. Jerusalem Police Commander Ilan Franco said the driver of the black BMW was shot and killed by an IDF officer who was among the crowd targeted in the attack. Franco said the driver was apparently acting alone. "A man in a vehicle struck a number of people in Tzahal Square," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

IOA to open big synagogue near Aqsa Mosque
Palestinian Information Center 9/22/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage revealed Sunday that the IOA will open soon a large synagogue 50 meters away from the Aqsa Mosque built on Islamically-endowed (Waqf) land in the Hammam Al-Ein area and near the Buraq wall. The foundation said the IOA and Zionist institutions such as the Itoret Kuhanim organization intends to open the synagogue in the area soon, where the final building works are continuing throughout day and night hours.  According to the foundation, there will be two main gates for this synagogue, one is located at entrances leading to Jerusalimite houses belonging to the families of Al-Zarba and Awadallah at the expense of Islamically-endowed land and the other is a rear door located within the borders of Awadallah houses. The Israeli police also threatened the Jerusalemite families with arrest and detention if they interfered in the building works going on in their real estate.

Salah reveals Zionist scheme to terminate Palestinian presence in Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 9/21/2008
UM AL-FAHAM, (PIC)-- Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 areas, has revealed a Zionist scheme aimed at terminating Palestinian presence in occupied eastern Jerusalem by the year 2020. Sheikh Salah in an interview with Quds Press said that another Zionist scheme targets terminating Palestinian presence in all of Jerusalem by the year 2050, pointing to the Israeli occupation authority’s measures such as confiscating IDs, expulsion of Jerusalemites, demolition of houses and confiscation of lands. He explained that all those measures fall in this direction. He spoke about he IOA’s effort to judaize Jerusalem through seizing its real-estate and institutions, and added that the IOA ethnic cleansing was taking a new shape. The Islamic leader further charged that the IOA was planning the gradual demolition of the holy Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem to realize their dream of building their alleged temple on its ruins.

15 wounded in ''terror'' attack at busy Jerusalem intersection
Etgar Lefkovits, Shelly Paz And Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/22/2008
An Arab resident of east Jerusalem rammed his vehicle into a group of soldiers at a central Jerusalem thoroughfare late Monday night, wounding fifteen people, before being shot dead by an off-duty IDF officer, police and rescue officials said. It was the third such attack in the city in as many months. The attack took place at the city’s Kikar Tzahal near Jaffa Gate. Two of the casualties were in moderate condition, the rest were lightly hurt. The assailant, who was driving a BMW, crashed into a group of off-duty soldiers on the sidewalk, where his car came to a grinding halt. Jerusalem police chief Aharon Franco said that the attacker was shot dead "within seconds" by an off-duty IDF officer who was touring the city with his unit. He added that there was no intelligence information ahead of the attack, but noted that Jerusalem was under heavy security alert due to Ramadan.

Police: Dead teen carried out Yitzhar stabbing
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
The 14-year-old Palestinian who was killed on Saturday in an attempt to attack the settlement of Yitzhar was the same terrorist who had infiltrated the settlement the week before and stabbed a child, police said yesterday. Following an investigation and a forensic examination, the Judea and Samaria District police determined that the Palestinian, who was shot and killed by a Border Police force while attempting to throw a Molotov cocktail at the settlement, had stabbed the 9-year-old boy and set fire to a house in Shalhevet, an outlying neighborhood of Yitzhar. The Associated Press reported that according to Palestinian sources the 14-year-old was Suheib Salah of Asira al-Kabaliya, a village close to Yitzhar. The IDF said the terrorist had approached the southern part of Yitzhar in a car, and upon exiting the vehicle, had planned to light and throw the Molotov cocktail.

Police: Palestinian teen killed in Yitzhar Saturday had infiltrated before
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Samaria and Judea District Police on Monday announced that the Palestinian teen killed while trying to perpetrate an attack in Yitzhar on Saturday had infiltrated the settlement one week before. Police made the discovery using forensic evidence while conducting their investigation. In the previous incident, the Palestinian youth stabbed a 9-year-old boy and set fire to one of the homes in the West Bank settlement. In the wake of that attack, Yitzhar settlers went on a rampage in the nearby Palestinian village of Assira al-Kabaliya, burning olive groves and injuring at least eight Palestinians. Border Policemen thwarted the second attack on Saturday, after seeing the youth get out of a car and advance toward Yitzhar by foot, intending to throw a Molotov cocktail at the settlement.

Israeli troops detain three brothers in Ni’lin
George Rishmawi & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/22/2008
Three brothers from the Ni’lin were taken prisoner early this morning when Israeli forces invaded the village at 1am. Sufiyan, 19, Sadam, 21 and Nafar Nafar, 31 were kidnapped from their homes before Israeli forces left the village at 3am and were taken to an undisclosed location. Eyewitnesses reported that over 70 soldiers and border police entered the village on foot from the surrounding hills, backed by at least 6 military vehicles. Soldiers fired a number gas bombs and concussion grenades in the village causing panic, especially among children. International solidarity activists in the area were out in the village attempting to reach the home of a member of the village’s Popular Committee because they have been repeatedly targeted by the Israeli army and police, who attempt to kidnap them. According to an International Solidarity Movement report, Israeli soldiers declared the area a closed military zone.

Israeli forces detain two near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli forces took two Palestinians the northern West bank village of Far’un into custody take into custody, after they were summoned to Israeli District Coordinating Offices on Monday morning. Yazan Zandiq and his cousin Walid Zandiq were identified as those detained, according to Ma’an’s correspondent. [end]

Palestine Today 092208
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 9/22/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 3 m 30s || 3. 20 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Monday September 22, 2008. Three Palestinians civilians including a young woman were wounded by the Israeli soldiers’ fire at an Israeli military checkpoint. Efforts are underway at the internal and political levels. These stories and more are coming up, please stay tuned. Israeli soldiers, manning the Huwwara checkpoint at the entrance of the West Bank city of Nablus, wounded three Palestinian residents, while lining up at the checkpoint, on Monday morning. It is believed that the shooting came in retaliation to a Palestinian woman attack with acid at an Israeli soldier at the same checkpoint. Israeli media sources said the soldier may be blinded in one eye.

A window on the massacre
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
For Arnon and the Jewish comtmunity of Hebron, this is additional documentation of the horror that forms part of the right to restore the city’s Jewish community. - Twenty years ago, a Jew around the age of 70 entered the home of Gershon Gera, a researcher of the Land of Israel and its photos, and placed a package of pictures wrapped in old brown paper on the table. "You’ll know what to do with these," said the man, who refused to identify himself or explain where the photos came from. He rushed out of the house. When Gera opened the package, he was shocked. Insidewere 111 photos of corpses, victims of the 1929 massacre in Hebron, a short time after their murder, as well as photos of the injured. On the back of each photo was the name of the victim, age and where he or she was hospitalized (if that was the case), alongside other details. Gera set this material aside. As a serious researcher, his wife Shulamit explained a few days ago, he was unable to publish material whose origin was unknown.

Mastermind of Rehavam Ze’evi murder sentenced to life
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 9/22/2008
The Jerusalem District Court on Monday sentenced Majdi Rimawi, the mastermind behind the assassination of former Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi, to life in prison, plus an additional 80 years. Rimawi, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was found responsible for planning Ze’evi’s murder and recruiting the operatives who carried out the 2001 attack. The charges against him included murder, membership in a terrorist organization, weapons charges and involvement in various terror attacks in Israel in 2001, which injured at least 18 people. The court ruled that "the accused in front of us initiated and planned a long line of attacks, placed explosive devices and car bombs in various locations in Israel during 2001 with the clear intent to kill people and cause damage.

Ze’evi murder mastermind gets 105 years in prison
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 9/22/2008
Jerusalem District Court sentences Majdi Rahima Rimawi, believed to be handler of gunmen who shot tourism minister in 2001, to consecutive life imprisonment, additional 80 years in jail -The Jerusalem District Court on Monday sentenced Majdi Rahima Rimawi to life imprisonment and an additional 80 years, to be served consecutively, for his part in the 2001 assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi at the Jerusalem Hyatt Hotel. Rahima, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), is believed to be the mastermind behind the assassination, and the two gunmen, Basel al-Asmar and Hamdi Quran’s, direct handler; supplying them with a photo of Ze’evi, a fake Israeli ID and details about the layout of the hotel. Palmach Ze’evi:’Arabs look at Israel as weak’ / Roi Mandel Assassin of Minister Rehavam Zeevi sentenced to 125 years imprisonment.

Israel sentences assassin of an Israeli minister
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/22/2008
The Israeli Central Court sentenced on Monday Majdy Alrimawi, who has been convicted with assassinating Israeli tourism minister Ra’b’aam Zeaivi in the occupied east Jerusalem in 2001. Alrimawi, member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was sentenced to life-imprisonment plus 80 years, Palestinian media sources reported. According to Ramattan News Agency, Alrimawi and his lawyer defied the Israeli court’s ruling by saying that the assassination took place in east Jerusalem, which is an occupied Palestinian territory, so the ruling was invalid. Israel detained Alrimawi and four of his comrades including PFLP’s leader hmad Sa’adaat in March 2006, when Israeli troops cordoned off the Palestinian Authority prison of Jericho.

European Union and Palestinian Authority provide social allowances to 46,000 families
Palestine News Network 9/22/2008
Haifa Siam, Press and Information Officer, European Commission and Khaled Al Barghouthi, Deputy General Director to Combat Poverty, Ministry of Social Affairs - The European Union and the Palestinian Authority have today launched the payment of social allowances to over 46,000 vulnerable Palestinian families across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The assistance takes the form of an allowance of NIS 1,000 (around €200) per household, which is being channelled through the European mechanism, PEGASE. The 46,025 families who will receive this assistance have been identified in cooperation with the Ministries of Finance and Social Affairs, through the latter’s "Social Hardship Cases" Programme. The Palestinian Minister for Social Affairs, Mahmoud Habbash, said today of the programme: "The contribution of the European Union has helped us to meet our obligations towards those who most need our support.

Abbas’ Aide tells Europe: step up aid to help Palestinians counter occupation
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Italy – Ma’an –Aide for Jerusalem affairs to the Palestinian President’s office Hatim Abd Al-Qadir called on European civil society organizations to increase the support they offer the Palestinian people to help them counter Israeli occupation. Speaking to a room of European organizations in Pisa, Italy, Abd Al-Qadir said the disastrous situations in the Palestinian territories were the worst amongst the peoples of the world. He explained that Israel was trying to force the Palestinian people to surrender their rights, and expressed little hope for a resolution through the current peace negotiations. Israeli leaders, explained Abd Al-Qadir, have not matured enough to make the historic agreement necessary that will treat justly the Palestinian people. They don’t have any vision or plan for a solution or an agreement with the Palestinian people, he added, and negotiations seem. . .

Islamic Jihad: PLO must be rebuilt to represent all Palestinians
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) should be restructured as a collective frame for the Palestinian people, said Ramadan Shallah Secretary General of Islamic Jihad. Shallah said in Damascus on Sunday that the PLO was an entity and a legal and moral homeland for Palestinian people. “Palestinian people wanted this organization it to be a liberation organization for their land and not to a body who approves recognition of an Israeli state,” he said. “We don’t need multiple flags,” Shallah continued, “we want one flag that brings us all together and we want one leadership. The PLO is capable of that role if it is reconstructed well. ” But he warned, “before rebuilding it we need to rebuild our cause. ”

President Abbas says a two-state solution is the only option
Rami Almeghari Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 9/22/2008
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinians have no option but to achieve a two-state solution. The president was quoted as saying during a joint press briefing with Irish the foreign minister in Dublin: "We are well aware that the situation is delicate enough for the time being because of the difference between the two American administrations. We are all convinced of continuing the peace process with both administrations. " The president told reporters that Palestinians are still hoping to reach a solution for the Palestine question soon and that the choices are limited to achieving a two-state solution. Abbas’s visit to Dublin came a as stop before he heads for New York for attending next week’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly annual conference.

Palestinian delagates to French freedom festival return home to occupation; displacement
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an /Fuad Al-Lahham – Unlike the majority of participants, most of the Palestinian delegation to the French freedom festival "Féte de l’Humanité" in Paris two weeks ago, got their only taste of freedom in the city of light. When the festival finished, delegates returned to the occupied West Bank and others to their Diaspora lives in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. The delegation to the Féte was made up of representatives from “twinned cities. ” Each was from a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan or Palestine, who met up with their counterparts from French towns like Evry, in the Parisian suburbs, or Montitueir. Representatives go to Paris to meet with their partner delegations in France, take part in the Féte, and tell the story of the Palestinian people. At the Féte, each country there set up a tent, or booth, to exhibit their history, culture and current politics.

Secretary-General, in remarks to Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, calls for genuine Israeli settlement freeze to reciprocate Palestinian measures
United Nations Secretary-General, ReliefWeb 9/22/2008
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks to the meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) in New York, today, 22 September: Welcome to United Nations Headquarters for this meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. I particularly welcome Prime Minister [Salam] Fayyad, whose leadership of the Palestinian Authority for over a year now has driven a far-reaching effort in Palestinian reform and self-empowerment, despite conditions of great adversity. I also thank Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Aharon Abramovitch for attending, and for Israel’s continued commitment to this process. And I am glad that there are so many representatives here today to underline their resolve to succeed in reaching our common goal -– building an independent, viable and democratic Palestinian State, to live side-by-side in peace and security with Israel.

Abbas from Ireland: we will continue peace process with new leaders
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Peace negotiations with Israeli and American administrations will continue, despite leadership changes, said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Dublin on Monday. On a visit with Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin, Abbas updated Irish officials on negotiations and the peace process since Annapolis, as well as the internal Palestinian situation. They spoke at length about the achievements of the Paris peace conference, and Abbas thanked Martin for the generous support his country showed through the EU aid package, said WAFA, the official PA news station. When asked about how he plans to deal with the Israeli and American administrations chances, Abbas replied, “we know it is a sensitive stage but we believe that we will continue peace process with both new administrations. ” He continued, saying “we still hope to achieve a solution for our cause since we have no other choice but a solution of two states.

Mubarak and Abdullah to discuss latest developments
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/22/2008
Egyptian president Husni Mobarak and Jordanian Monarch, Abdullah II will holdl a meeting Tuesday in Cairo in which they are supposed to discuss the latest regional developments, including the Palestinian situation, Middle East News Agency reported. The agency quoted a top Jordanian court official as saying, "the King will visit Cairo for a while, where His Majesty will be discussing the latest developments of the peace process with Mr. President Husni Mubarak. " The bilateral summit meeting will also deal with the Egyptian efforts for conciliation among the rival Palestinian factions, the agency added. Meanwhile, the Jordanian News Agency Petra, reported on Monday that King Abdullah II phoned President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the Palestinian President’s expected visit to Washington on Thursday.

PFLP official denies Jordanian newspaper report on souring of Syrian relations
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Member of the politburo of the popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Mahir At-Tahir denied a news report by the Jordan-based daily newspaper Al-Haqiqa Ad-Duwaliyya (international reality) published on Monday. The newspaper quoted a source within the PFLP, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying that Syria has asked six Palestinian opposition factions based in Damascus to close their offices. “The news is fake and far from being true,” At-Tahir explained, “it aims at achieving mean goals to harm the historic Syrian-Palestinian relationships. ”He asserted that Syria is dedicated to the support of Palestinians and their struggle to gain national rights.

Abu Marzouk: Abbas’s statements on refugees ''irresponsible''
Palestinian Information Center 9/21/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy political bureau chairman of Hamas, has described PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s statements concerning the Palestinian refugees as "irresponsible". He told a group of journalists invited to an Iftar (breaking the fast at sunset during Ramadan) banquet in Damascus on Friday evening that all Palestinian factions should reject those statements because they do not represent the Palestinian people. Abbas had said that he was ready to negotiate a deal with Israel on the issue of refugees that would not include the return of all five million Palestinian refugees to their original hometowns in Palestine. Abu Marzouk also declared his absolute rejection of the idea of exchanging lands, adding that it would sidestep all Arab and international resolutions in this regard. He said that Palestinians were unanimous on the establishment of a Palestinian state on the entire land of the West Bank including Jerusalem.

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.

Company plans big W. Bank investments
The Media Line Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/22/2008
Leading private Palestinian company PADICO said on Monday it was planning to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, beginning in the coming months. Projects ranged from an electricity power-generation plant in the West Bank city of Kalkilya to a multi-purpose hall next to the Israeli Justice Ministry in ’Salah A-Din Street in the center of Arab-dominated east Jerusalem. PADICO was planning on unveiling these projects during an investment conference the Palestinian Authority was scheduled to hold on November 8 or 22 in the West Bank city of Nablus. Four-hundred and fifty Palestinian and Arab businesspeople, 100 of whom are Palestinian businesspeople living in Arab and Western countries, are expected to participate in the conference. RELATED The Media Line News Agency. . .

ISRAEL-OPT: Sderot enjoying calm as ceasefire holds
Tamar Dressler/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 9/22/2008
SDEROT, 22 September 2008 (IRIN) - Sderot is enjoying a period of relative calm thanks to a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas reached in June but residents are worried that fighting will resume. While there are still sporadic rocket and mortar attacks on the town, just 800m from the northern border of the Gaza Strip, residents say the calm "makes a difference of night and day". Only one rocket has landed on the city since the school year began this month. Last year, the conflict prevented many children from going to school. "I am really enjoying the calm," said Ruti, who runs a cafe in the town of 20,000 people. "Not having to run for shelter, it’s very good," she added. Before the lull, residents would regularly hear the "red alert", letting them know a rocket had been launched from Gaza. The rockets have killed 12 people over the last seven years and residents. . .

Waqf offends Muslim official visiting Israel
Itamar Eichner, YNetNews 9/22/2008
Ivory Coast minister seeking to pray on Temple Mount asked to recite verses from Koran to prove he is indeed Muslim - Diplomatic incident on Temple Mount:A Muslim minister from Ivory Coast, on an official visit to Israel as a guest of the Foreign Ministry, was required by the Supreme Muslim Council (Waqf) of Jerusalem to recite verses from the Koran before entering the al-Aqsa Mosque in order to prove that he is Muslim. The insulted minister left the Mount immediately. Minister Moussa Dosso is in charge of professional training and technical education in the Ivory Coast government. His visit to Israel was part of the Jewish state’s efforts to tighten its cooperation with African countries. During the trip, which was deemed a success, Dosso visited welfare institutes and institutes for youth rehabilitation and professional and technical training in tours organized by the Foreign Ministry’s Africa department.

ISM Rafah: Israeli navy use live ammunition and water cannon against Gazan fishermen
International Solidarity Movement 9/22/2008
Gaza Region - Gaza, 20th September 2008 - Members of ISM in the Gaza Strip accompanied Palestinian fishermen from the port of Gaza. When they were approximately four nautical miles offshore the fishing vessel was approached by an Israeli gunboat which proceeded to circle it continuously for a while. Shortly after the gunboat withdrew, a larger naval vessel approached from the north-east and began to spray the fishing boat with high-pressure water from a cannon mounted on its bow. Fortunately no-one was injured during the attack and no damage was done to the boat, largely because the fishermen had taken measures to protect it such as boarding-up the windows. The same boat suffered a similar assault again later in the day. A second fishing vessel in the vicinity was observed also being attacked by water cannon. In the afternoon an Israeli gunboat closed in on the fishing boat carrying ISM members and fired live ammunition in very close proximity to the boat.

Doubts over Syria ’nuclear’ claim
Al Jazeera 9/21/2008
Partial analysis of samples from a Syrian site bombed by Israel do not back up US claims that the target was a secret nuclear facility, diplomats have said. While the results of tests carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are preliminary, two diplomats have said that the agency does not expect other samples to contradict initial results. Washington has said that the Al Kibar site, which Israel destroyed last September, was a near-complete plutonium-producing reactor built with the assistance of North Korea. Syria denies claims by the Bush administration that it is seeking to develop a covert weapons programme. Complicated survey - A team of investigators from the IAEA visited the bombed site earlier this year, but Damascus has rejected subsequent requests from the inspectorate to revisit the country.

US Fulbrighter promotes peace through music with Palestinian-Israeli band
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Jerusalem -Ma’an/Agencies – To cap off his year as a Fulbright-MTV scholar, Aaron Shneyer presided over a special concert at Jerusalem’s International YMCA on 21 September, International Peace Day. The concert brought together Israeli and Palestinian musicians who participated in Mr. Shneyer’s “Heartbeat Project,” conducted with support from the US government’s Fulbright program. Under the “Heartbeat Project,” Mr Shneyer reached out to young Palestinian and Israeli musicians to invite them to joint jam sessions on a weekly basis over the course of many months in order to form a joint Israeli-Palestinian band. Mr Shneyer described the sessions as an opportunity to “come together each week to experience and explore music’s power to bring people together and create meaningful social change. ”He said the young musicians “have taught each other makamat and blues scales, they have written. . .

Peres asks Livni to form new government
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/23/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli President Shimon Peres asked Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Monday to form a new government, a day after scandal-plagued Prime Minister Ehud Olmert officially stepped down. Livni, 50, a former Mossad spy who replaced Olmert as head of the centrist Kadima party in a leadership vote on Wednesday, is hoping to become Israel’s second woman prime minister after Golda Meir, who served between 1969 and 1974. "After consultations with the political parties, the president has asked Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni to form a government," public radio quoted an official statement as saying. Livni now has 42 days to form a governing coalition in order to avert snap elections that polls indicate would bring the right-wing Likud party of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power. Livni called on Netanyahu to join her in a government of national unity, although. . .

Kadima MK seeks to void outcome of primary
Jack Khoury Fadi Eyadat, Tomer Zarchin and Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
MK Zeev Elkin (Kadima) yesterday appealed the results of last Wednesday’s Kadima primary to the internal Kadima Party tribunal, asking it to void the results or to order a repeat vote at those polling locations where there were "significant irregularities," in his words. "The election results do not actually reflect the will of the voters," said Elkin. At the same time Elkin’s lawyer, Zion Amir, asked President Shimon Peres not to ask Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who won the primary, to form the next government. Peres refused the request. Elkin claimed that voting irregularities meant that hundreds of votes were effectively not counted, rendering the election invalid. In the end, Livni beat her rival, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, by only 431 votes. The Kadima Party issued the following statement in response to Elkin’s claims: "An examination of the polling station. . .

Barak inching closer to joining government
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 9/23/2008
Sources estimate Livni will be able to form government soon; earlier, Barak called the newly-elected Kadima chairwoman to congratulate her, touted her decision to call for national unity government - After initially flexing his muscles, Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak is showing greater willingness to consider the formation of a new government, to be headed by Kadima’s Tzipi Livni. Earlier Monday, Barak called to congratulate the foreign minister, after President Shimon Peres tasked her with forming a government. Sources close to Barak estimated that the chances of a new government being formed have grown in the wake of Livni’s call. According to the sources, the process is expected to take about two more weeks. During this period, Barak is expected to make an effort to secure as many achievements as possible, particularly on socioeconomic issues, among other things.

Justices torpedo new judges appointment
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
The Judicial Appointments Committee was forced to adjourn yesterday after the three Supreme Court justices who serve on the panel said it no longer has the authority to select new judges, since the current administration is only a transition government. The committee had been expected to select three new Supreme Court justices. But since a new law requires Supreme Court appointments to be approved by seven of the panel’s nine members, the three justices’ refusal to cooperate was enough to torpedo any chance of a vote. Ayala Procaccia, one of the three justices on the committee, said that in light of a December 2005 High Court of Justice ruling barring a transition government from appointing a religious council in Kiryat Ono, she is unconvinced that the panel is entitled to appoint justices following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s resignation.

Labor lays out demands for joining Livni coalition
Mazal Mualem Barak Ravid and Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
The Labor Party will demand that all Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann’s reforms be scrapped as a condition for staying in a Tzipi Livni government, and any change in the court system would be done by consent, senior Labor sources say. But if Livni agrees there will be no need to replace Friedmann "because he will resign on his own accord," a source said. Labor and Kadima are expected to begin coalition talks in the next few days, following President Shimon Peres’ formal invitation to Foreign Minister Livni to form a government. Labor will also demand that the state budget be amended. The tension between Livni and Labor chief Ehud Barak seemed to have easedsomewhat Monday. The two met privately in Livni’s Tel Aviv office. Livni’s aides will try to set another meeting with Barak Tuesday.

Netanyahu associates: Livni’s pathetic
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 9/23/2008
Likud rejects newly elected Kadima chairman’s call for unity government, pushes for elections - Likud blasts Livni: Likud officials Monday night dismissed Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s call to form a national unity government in the wake of her Kadima primaries win. A statement issued by the party urged Livni to "allow Israel’s citizens to decide who should lead them, and in what way. " However, Likud officials did not make do with rejecting Livni’s call and proceeded to launch a scathing attack on the newly elected Kadima chairman. "Livni’s call on Likud to join an emergency government was a desperate attempt to portray Netanyahu as someone who only cares about his own interests," a close associate of the Likud chairman said. "This attempt is pathetic. "

Obama pays tribute to Olmert, looks forward to working with successor
Natasha Mozgovoya, Haaretz U.S. Correspondent, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama paid tribute Sunday to outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert, and welcomed the chance to work with his successor. Olmert, who is at the center of a series of corruption scandals, formally resigned Sunday. He has been replaced as leader of the ruling Kadima party by his foreign minister, Tzipi Livni. Livni is expected to be asked by President Shimon Peres to form, and head, a new government coalition. Olmert will remain in power until a new prime minister is officially appointed. "I wish Prime Minister Olmert well and have told him how much I admire his pursuit of peace and his staunch defense of Israel’s security," Obama said. "I look forward to working closely with Israel’s next prime minister to strengthen the U.

Right-wing parties demand elections
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 9/22/2008
Yisrael Beiteinu, National Union-NRP faction members meet with Peres, call for early elections. President expected to complete round of consultations with Knesset factions before leaving for NY Monday night, task FM Livni with forming new government - President Shimon Peres is expected to complete his round of consultations with representatives of all the Knesset factions before leaving for New York on Monday night to attend the United Nations General Assembly. Before leaving, Peres will task one of the Knesset members with the mission of forming a new government, following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s resignation. Newly elected Kadima ChairwomanTizpi Livni, who heads the largest Knesset faction, will most likely be named by the president as the person to establish a new coalition. Political ArenaShas’ Yishai warns Barak against rocking boat / Attila. . .

Livni has 42 days to form government
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 9/22/2008
President Shimon Peres is expected to give Kadima Party chairwoman Tzipi Livni the task. The countdown starts. Beginning tonight, Kadima Party chairwoman Tzipi Livni has 42 days to form a government. Although only three of the thirteen factions in the Knesset recommended to President Shimon Peres that Livni should try to form the next government, he is expected to give her the go-ahead tonight. He will summon her to the President’s Residence at 7:30 pm to announce his decision. Peres will afterwards immediately leave for New York to attend the UN General Assembly meeting. Livni has 28 days to complete her task, and Peres has the right to give her a 14-day extension, if necessary. If she fails to form a government, elections will held within 90 days. Livni’s aides say that she has no intention of needing the full period to form a government, and that she believes that a decision. . .

Mazuz: No grounds to file charges against Metzger
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 9/22/2008
Senior aide to attorney general says State Prosecutor’s Office found no evidence to support pursuing criminal case against chief rabbi - Attorney Raz Nezri, senior aide to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, said Monday that there were no grounds to pursue a criminal case against Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger, citing lack of evidence. Nezri’s statement came in response to a demand made by the Ometz Association, which champions proper public administration. Ometz called on Mazuz to file charges against Metzger for allegedly receiving illicit benefits in return for marrying couples deem disqualified to marry under Jewish Law; "making inappropriate sexual advances" at a photographer and having various private groups fund trips aboard for him and his family. On the matter of marrying disqualified couples - an offense construed by the statute as. . .

Livni to try and form government; Palestinians see no change on horizon
Ma’an News Agency 9/22/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – Leader of the Israeli Kadima Tzipi Livni has accepted Israeli President Shimon Peres’ request that she form a coalition government. In a televised speech Livni said "I believe that Israel needs stability, and a guiding hand. ” She reiterated that she is following the will of the Knesset, which voted to replace the Kadima party leader, rather than dissolve the house, thus ensuring some degree of continuity and stability while current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is investigated for fraud. Once Livni was elected as head of the Kadima party on 18 September, Peres needed to hear from Knesset members (MKs), who have to formally ask Peres, as President, to charge Livni with the task of making a new government. On Monday Livni called Palestinian MK Ahmad Tibi, chairman of the United Arab List, to ask him for support in her quest to form a government.

Arab MK Al-Sana: Collaboration between our party and Livni possible
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Arab MK Talab Al-Sana on Monday said that a possibility exists for cooperation between his party (United Arab List-Ta? al) and a government headed by newly elected Kadima chief, Tzipi Livni. Sana made his comments prior to meeting with President Shimon Peres, who has been consulting with various faction heads before announcing the preferred candidate to form a new government. "We are not with her or against her," said Sana regarding Livni. "If we get the impression in the future that she is serious about achieving peace, I will not rule out the possibility of collaborating with her. "Sana added that his party cooperated with former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s government because he showed such a commitment to peace. Livni is likely to be tapped by Peres Monday evening as his selection to form a new government, in which case she will have 42 days to forge a coalition.

Religious Zionists could gain historic foothold in rabbinate
Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Some 150 rabbis and public figures will meet today to choose new members of the Chief Rabbinate Council (Moetzet Harabbanut Harashit), against a background of political deals and intrigues and ideological battles. The council is the rabbinate’s highest governing body. It sets policy for the rabbinate and all its institutions, in particular on matters of kashrut and the appointment of municipal or neighborhood rabbis and religious court judges. The council has seven permanent members: the two chief rabbis; the municipal rabbis of the four largest cities - Tel Aviv, Haifa, Be’er Sheva and Jerusalem (though the post of chief rabbi of Jerusalem is currently vacant); and the Israel Defense Forces’ chief rabbi, who has observer status. In addition, 10 other rabbis serve on the council, half Ashkenazi and half Sephardi.

JTS chancellor: Zionism must find room for Arabs
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 9/21/2008
Zionism needs to do more to integrate Israeli Arabs in the Jewish state, Arnold Eisen, the chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan, has told The Jerusalem Post. "The time has come for Israel to imagine a role in the Jewish state not only for Jews, but for non-Jews as well," Eisen said in a telephone interview from New York. "I want a Zionism that does not depend on negation of the Diaspora, that is not messianic, that imagines a place for non-Jews in the Jewish state. "Zionist theoreticians spoke mainly about Jews and I think that it is time to go beyond that in the name of a Jewish state, and create a role for minorities in the Jewish state," he said. Eisen spoke a day after the JTS, the flagship educational institutional organization of the Conservative Movement,. . .

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

Iraqi lawmaker may face death for visiting Israel, supporting peace
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
An Iraqi lawmaker who visited Israel one week ago to attend a counterterrorism conference may face prosecution and possibly the death penalty. The reason for Mithal al-Alusi’s troubles? Visiting Israel and advocating peace with the Jewish state - something Iraq’s leaders refuse to consider. The Iraqi is at the center of a political storm after his fellow lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to strip him of his immunity and allow his prosecution for visiting Israel - a crime punishable by death under a 1950s-era law. Such a fate is unlikely for al-Alusi, though he may lose his party’s sole seat in parliament. Because he had visited Israel, many Iraqis assume the maverick legislator was the real target of the assassins who killed his sons in a 2005 attack while he escaped unharmed.

Iraq may execute MP for Israel visit
Ap And Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 9/22/2008
First his two sons were murdered. Now he faces prosecution. The reason for Mithal al-Alusi’s troubles? Visiting Israel and advocating peace with the Jewish state - something Iraq’s leaders refuse to consider. The Iraqi is at the center of a political storm after his fellow lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to strip him of his immunity and allow his prosecution for visiting Israel - a crime punishable by death under a 1950s-era law. Such a fate is unlikely for al-Alusi, though he may lose his party’s sole seat in parliament. Because he had visited Israel, many Iraqis assume the maverick legislator was the real target of the assassins who killed his sons in 2005 while he escaped unharmed. Now he is in trouble for again visiting Israel and attending a conference a week ago at the International Institute for Counterterrorism.

Hizbullah ’not gearing up for war’ - Israeli
Compiled by, Daily Star 9/23/2008
Iran is halfway to a nuclear bomb, and Hizbullah, Hamas and Syria are using the status quo to rearm, the head of the Israeli military intelligence research division said, according to Israeli media reports. "Iran is developing a command of uranium-enrichment technology and is galloping toward a nuclear bomb," Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz told the Israeli cabinet on Sunday. "The time when they will have crossed the nuclear point-of-no-return is fast approaching," he said. In addition to their nuclear efforts, the Iranians were increasing their influence in the region through cooperation with Syria and "Palestinian terrorist organizations," Baidatz reportedly told the Israeli cabinet. Tehran is also the main arms supplier to Hizbullah and a source of constant attacks on American troops in Iraq, the Israeli brigadier general added.

Ministers to discuss threatened attacks on Israelis abroad
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
The security cabinet will meet tomorrow to discuss a recent increase in warnings of planned attacks on Israelis abroad, and especially reports of cooperation between Hezbollah and Palestinian groups in Gaza that seek to kidnap tourists on beaches in Sinai. The ministers will also discuss Hezbollah’s efforts to avenge the assassination of its operations chief, Imad Mughniyeh. Officials from the Counter-Terrorism Bureau of the Prime Minister’s Office, who are in charge of issuing travel advisories, will lead tomorrow’s discussion. The bureau has issued several advisories in recent weeks, culminating in last week’s call to Israelis to leave the Sinai Peninsula immediately. That warning was based on intelligence indicating that Palestinian terrorists, with Hezbollah’s help, were out to kidnap Israelis and hold them in the Gaza Strip.

Lebanon’s last Jews
Bloomberg, Jerusalem Post 9/22/2008
In 1983, Isaac Arazi and his wife were caught in sectarian fighting during Lebanon’s 15-year civil war. A Shi’ite militiaman helped the couple escape. Arazi, a leader of Lebanon’s tiny Jewish community, sees the incident as a lesson in the Arab country’s tradition of tolerance. Now he is trying to make use of that tradition, along with the global diaspora of Lebanese Jews, in a drive to rebuild Beirut’s only synagogue, damaged during the war. "Those who don’t have a past don’t have a future," Arazi said to explain his push to rebuild the synagogue. Beirut’s Maghen Abraham Synagogue opened in 1926 in Wadi Abou Jmil, the city’s Jewish quarter, located on the edge of West Beirut near the Grand Serai palace, where the government meets, and within walking distance of parliament. Last Jews of Calcutta have one last guardian Lebanon. . .

LAF officer plays down massing of 10,000 Syrian troops on border
Daily Star 9/23/2008
BEIRUT: Thousands of Syrian troops have amassed along the Lebanese border in what Damascus says is an effort to combat smuggling, Lebanese military sources said on Monday, stoking speculation and concern in Lebanon. A source in the Lebanese Army confirmed that Syrian forces had deployed in the northern region of Abbudiya, but he told The Daily Star, "There is no need to worry. " "The troop deployment on the northern border relates to Syrian internal affairs," he said, adding that the Lebanese Army has been "watching the border closely for some time now. "The army source said that the troops were deployed to thwart smuggling across the Syrian-Lebanese border, and that Damascus had informed Lebanon before the operation. A separate military source told The Daily Star that the troop build-up was nothing more than an "ordinary Syrian military maneuver. "

Lebanon reports Syrian troop build-up on border
Middle East Online 9/22/2008
BEIRUT - The Lebanese army said on Monday that Syria has boosted troop numbers along the border but that Damascus has stressed the move is linked to a crackdown against smugglers. "Nearly 10,000 Syrian special forces have been deployed in the Abbudiya region along the border between Lebanon and Syria," an army spokesman said. "We asked Damascus for clarification and we were told that the measures were strictly internal and on Syrian territory, and that they were in no way directed against Lebanon," he added. The spokesman said the Syrian authorities have assured the Lebanese army that the build-up is aimed at cracking down on smuggling and other crime along the border. The strengthened deployment is visible from the Lebanese side of the border. Existing positions have been reinforced by military vehicles and tents have also been put up, a media correspondent in the area said.

Aoun warns he may pull out of dialogue with ’corrupt people’
Daily Star correspondent, Daily Star 9/23/2008
BEIRUT: Reform and Changebloc leader MP Michel Aoun said Monday that he might walk out of the national dialogue because he could no longer deal with "corrupt people. "At a news conference following his bloc’s weekly meeting, Aoun said that a conspiracy was being waged against the Lebanese "to buy their votes. " Aoun added that the March 14 Forces’ suggestion to have mayors resign six months rather than 24 months prior to running for parliamentary elections constituted "a serious breach of the Constitution. ""A mayor who resigns six months before running for elections can still make use of municipal funds to sponsor their electoral campaigns," Aoun said. Aoun also reacted to Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea’s speech on Sunday in which the LF leader apologized for "mistakes" committed by his militia during the 1975-1990 Civil War.

’Fight terrorists, don’t talk to them’ Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/22/2008
"One does not talk to terrorists, one fights them," French Justice Minister Rachida Dati said Monday. Speaking at Herzliya’s Interdisciplinary Center, Dati stressed that France would never allow negotiations on Israel’s security and existence. "When it comes to terrorists’ activity that threatens Israel’s security, our stand is very clear: ­one does not talk to terrorists and to the ones that call for the destruction of Israel, one fights them," she said. Dati added that "France supports Israel’s security. I also said it to the Palestinians yesterday. The Palestinian people are entitled to have their own country but that goes hand in hand with keeping the security of the state of Israel. " The French justice minister also called for open dialogue and for leaving past disagreements behind, like the French and Germans did after the Second World War.

Stocks, corporate bonds fall hard
Rotem Sella, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Tel Aviv stocks and corporate bonds tumbled yesterday after an extreme rally the day before. Total turnover was normal at NIS 2 billion but the session was marked by violent swings - between steep and mild losses, never above the flatline. Despite the $700 billion package that the Bush administration is touting, over in Tel Aviv the TA-25 index tumbled 3. 5% to 881 points, and the TA-100 index fell 4. 4%, breaking through the 800-point mark on the downside to close at 799 points. The Banks-5 index lost more than 5% after soaring 18. 5% on Sunday, but the worst-hit sector yesterday was real estate, which tumbled 14. 3%. Milomor stood out even on this bad day with a 29% dive after admitting that it lost at least NIS 50 million in the second quarter. Its report for that quarter isn’t actually ready yet.

Ban on short-selling Elbit Imaging
With The Associated Press, by Sharon Shpurer, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Among the 799 companies that the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission has banned speculators from betting against is one Israeli representative: Moti Zisser’s med-tech and real estate company Elbit Imaging. In a bid to shore up investor confidence in the face of the spiraling market crisis, the Securities and Exchange Commission temporarily banned all short-selling in the shares of 799 companies. The ban took effect Friday and extends through October 2. The SEC said it might extend the ban, to as many as 30 calendar days in total, if it deems that necessary. Short-selling is a bet that a stock will drop. Most of the 799 are finance-sector firms, so the presence of Elbit Imaging is a tad surprising. Bank of America is there, Citigroup is there, the Bank of Carolina Berkshire Bancorp is there, and Elbit Imaging.

Survey: Alarmed Israelis plan to tighten belts
Barr Hayoun, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Retailers may be reporting roaring pre-holiday sales but most Israelis suspect that the financial turmoil in the United States will hit Israel, and nearly half of respondents to a recent survey claim they plan to slash their spending in the next six months. The market research firm Meida Shivuki CI found that 91% of Israelis are aware of the events unfolding on Wall Street, based on a survey of 502 adults aged 18 and over who have a bank account. The most keenly aware were of the U. S. financial crisis were those who described themselves as over 50, not religiously observant and with average or above-average income. Over 95% of people in this group reported being aware of the crisis. Of the crisis-aware people, 82% believe the trouble will reach Israel and a majority predict that it will hit hard.

Credit crisis hits Dorad power plant
Avi Bar-Eli, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
The shockwaves reverberating through international financial markets, and their repercussions on credit policy, are rippling into the local infrastructure sector: Bank Hapoalim is reportedly hinting to Dorad Energy that it will have to pay higher interest on loans for its planned private power station. Bank Hapoalim has agreed to provide about NIS 300 million, financing roughly 85% of the initial construction costs. Hapoalim representatives reportedly announced that they would seek to raise the interest rate from the bank’s original offer of 1. 7%-1. 9% to the current market rate for institutional loans, which has risen to 3. 5% in the past few days. Sources in the energy sector say that given the upheavals in the banking sector in in recent weeks and months the rate hike had to be expected.

Worried watchdog demands funds disclose exposure to real estate
Eti Aflalo and Sharon Shpurer, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Israel’s institutional investors will have to disclose their exposure to the real-estate sector, after years of gorging on debt issued by big (and not so big) real-estate companies. Yesterday Yadin Antebi, the commissioner of capital markets and savings, ordered provident and mutual funds to disclose their holdings in companies owned by the big real-estate companies, citing firms owned by property barons Nochi Dankner, Lev Leviev and Yitzhak Tshuva specifically. Trading in real-estate stocks has been especially volatile. Yesterday the Real Estate-15 index tumbled by nearly 15%, after a sharp upswing Sunday. From the year’s start the index has lost 58%, hence Antebi’s concern. Last week Antebi demanded that the institutionals reveal their precise degree of exposure to overseas investments.

Voice of the poor
Rachel Shabi, The Guardian 9/22/2008
It looked like just another dry, activist meeting in a dreary outreach centre, but something potentially much bigger was afoot. Members of a new party competing in Jerusalem’s local elections were talking funds. And the T-shirts worn by several of this group carry an immediate and unequivocal resonance in Israel - the raised fist and block lettering proclaiming the organisation’s identity: "Black Panthers". The Israeli Black Panthers were a radical social group of the 1970s, rising up from Jerusalem’s slum streets to co-ordinate large scale, nationwide protest at what by then was obvious ethnic discrimination. Such was the experience of "Mizrahis" - Jews who came to Israel from Arab countries; the Panther name was a deliberate reference to the civil rights movement in the United States and a conscious claiming of the label "Blacks" - spoken as an insult by some of their European-Jewish co-nationalists in Israel.

Police raid Tel Aviv municipality in new corruption affair
Noam Sharvit, Globes Online 9/22/2008
Several municipal officials, businessmen and real estate developers are arrested on alleged bribery, fraud, and other charges. The Israel Police raided the Tel Aviv municipality yesterday and today and detained for questioning several senior officials, as well as businessmen and real estate developers in a new corruption affair. Hopes that the parking lot corruption scandal at the municipality was a one-off affair appear to have dashed. The suspects are alleged to have taken and received bribes, aggravated fraudulent receiving, fraud, breach of trust, money laundering, and tax evasion. Yesterday, the police arrested businessman Yair Zabari, who is a candidate for the Tel Aviv municipal council in the upcoming local authority elections on the People of the City list, which he founded. The People of the City’s candidate for Tel Aviv mayor is IDF Maj.

Leumi opens Bulgarian branch
Eran Peer, Globes Online 9/22/2008
Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU on January 1, 2007, and both countries have a very active Israeli business community. Bank Leumi(TASE: LUMI) has opened a branch in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia through Bank Leumi Romania SA. "Globes" first revealed Bank Leumi’s plan to expand the activity of Bank Leumi Romania, which will serve as the anchor for business in central Europe. Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU on January 1, 2007, and both countries have a very active Israeli business community. The Sofia branch will mainly serve business customers, including the financing of real estate projects and providing services to Israeli customers operating in the country. Bank Leumi’s strategy calls for expanding its international business. Its target is for a third of its assets to come from abroad within a few years.

Safed deputy mayor arrested for art thefts from city hall
Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Safed Deputy Mayor Reuven Sade was arrested yesterday on suspicion of stealing six paintings by the artist Emmanuel Mane-Katz from city hall in the past three years. Tamir Greenberg of Jerusalem and Freddy Yaakobi of Ra’anana were also arrested yesterday, on suspicion of trafficking in stolen paintings. Six paintings that were donated by the artist to the city about 50 years ago were stolen from the municipality building in three separate break-ins over the past three years. According to Noa Tarshish, director and curator of the Mane-Katz Museum in Haifa, one of the stolen paintings is worth about $100,000. The burglar left no signs, broke no doors or windows and seemed to be familiar with the building, according to police. After the last burglary the remaining two paintings by Mane-Katz in city hall were moved to the Mane-Katz Museum in Haifa, for fear they too would be stolen.

U.S. rescue plan weakens dollar
Yuval Maoz, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
The investment community is fiercely debating the merits of the Bush administration’s $700 billion bailout package, but one effect is unarguable: The dollar weakened in world markets yesterday. "The trend is anti-dollar," said Tal Avda, Chief Knowledge Officer at Clal Forex. "People are fleeing to gold and oil. " The problem with the plan to rescue the financial system by having the U. S. government assume the toxic debt is that ultimately the U. S. government will have to pay for it by raising taxes, explains Michal Rotlevi, fixed-income trading manager at Bank Hapoalim. She added that some of the usual forex players have fled the arena and others are having difficulty finding trading partners. "There is nobody associated with buying dollars other than the Bank of Israel," Rotlevi said.

BoI keeps Israeli interest unchanged
Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Finally something happened exactly as expected: The Bank of Israel yesterday left Israeli interest rates for October unchanged at 4. 25%. Also as expected, the decision was met by applause from some quarters and howls of protest from others. Excellence chief economist Shlomo Maoz, for one, suggested that the central bank was being inconsistent. The decision by Governor Stanley Fischer follows four consecutive months of rate increases, each time by 0. 25%. The Bank of Israel said its decision is consistent with the goal of restoring price stability within a year. The central bank also factored in the spiraling uncertainty in global financial markets and local developments - namely signs that economic activity is slowing, and lowered expectations about Israel’s economic growth this year and next.

Never mind markets, Bronfman wants to talk about Limmud
Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Matthew Bronfman is not only confident that Israel’s financial markets are not endangered by the recent worldwide financial turmoil, he is so calm about it that this week, he is allowing himself to devote much of his attention to entirely nonfinancial endeavors. While many of his colleagues are busy panicking, Bronfman is concentrating on the first local Limmud Conference for Jews from the former Soviet Union, which will take place on September 25 and 26 in Ashkelon. Bronfman chairs Limmud FSU and will participate in three sessions during the conference, including one titled "Why do I invest in Israel? "More than 1,500 Russian speakers from all over the country are expected to attend the event, which will feature 170 lecturers leading 150 sessions on various aspects of Jewish identity, culture and history. Limmud was founded 25 years ago in the U.

Israeli ex-general: war with Iran may be ’inevitable’
Middle East Online 9/22/2008
TEL AVIV - A former top Israeli general said on Sunday that if economic and political sanctions fail against Iran, conflict would be "inevitable. " "Today, we in the West are facing the same situation, the lack of decisiveness towards a threat that is no less severe than that which Hitler posed in 1939," former army chief Moshe Yaalon told army radio. "We can still stop Iran with political and economic measures but if we do not, then a military confrontation is inevitable. " Israel has long considered Iran its main strategic threat because of its accelerating nuclear programme and because of Tehran’s criticism of Israel’s brutal occupations and bloody wars. Iran says its programme is civilian, and aims to generate electricity to its growing population. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that actually has nuclear weapons, and fears that Iran could have them too.

IAEA chief: Iran could be hiding nukes
Herb Keinon And Ap, Jerusalem Post 9/22/2008
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency warned Monday that he cannot determine whether Iran is hiding some nuclear activities, comments that appeared to reflect a high level of frustration with stonewalling of his investigators. IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran’s stonewalling of his agency was a "serious concern. " "Iran needs to give the agency substantive information" to clear up suspicions, he said at the start of a 35-nation, semi-annual IAEA board meeting, in comments made available to reporters. Diplomats at the gathering described ElBaradei’s comments as unusually blunt. [end]

Obama, McCain: Military option in Iran relevant
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 9/22/2008
US presidential hopefuls address Iranian nuclear threat in two separate interviews. Democratic candidate says will consider strike in extreme case, McCain says will attack before being attacked - WASHINGTON - The two United States presidential hopefuls, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, firmly addressed the Iranian nuclear threat in two different interviews aired Sunday night on CBS’s "60 Minutes. " Democratic candidate Obama promised to examine every option, "including military, to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon," while his Republican rival McCain spoke about the possibility of a preemptive war against Iran. [end]

UN protestors: Stop Iran
Dana Zimmerman, YNetNews 9/22/2008
Thousands demonstrate in New York against visit by Iranian President Ahmadinejad at rally ahead of UN General Assembly; keynote speaker Elie Wiesel: ’Go home, and stay home’ - NEW YORK -Thousands of demonstrators gathered in east Manhattan Monday to protest Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s participation in the United Nations General Assembly. The rally, organized by several North American Jewish organizations, was attended by Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, Natan Sharnasky, and Elie Wiesel, among others. In his speech, Wiesel advised the Iranian leader to "go home and stay home," saying that his place was not at the UN, but rather, at the international war crimes tribunal, where he should be tried for crimes against humanity. Wiesel slammed Ahmadinejad for repeatedly calling for Israel’s extermination and for preaching hatred and nuclear destruction.

IAEA meets to discuss Iran nuclear stalemate
AFP, YNetNews 9/22/2008
UN atomic watchdog begins traditional September board meeting in Vienna to discuss current standstill in long-running investigation into Tehran’s controversial atomic drive. Attendees also expected to hear update on state of probe into Syrian facility - The UN atomic watchdog began its traditional September board meeting in Vienna on Monday to discuss the current stalemate in its long-running investigation into Iran’s controversial atomic drive. The meeting, which is slated to run all week but could be wrapped up as early as Wednesday, according to some diplomats, is also expected to hear an update on state of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s probe into Syria. Syria - which the US alleges had been building a secret nuclear facility until it was destroyed in a bombing raid by Israel - is not officially on the agenda.

The speech Palin never gave: Ahmadinejad dreams of Final Solution
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
In the speech which Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was to have delivered at a Monday rally protesting the UN appearance of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, she was to have said that the Iranian president "dreams of being an agent in a ’Final Solution’ - the elimination of the Jewish people. "Her appearance in the rally in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza was cancelled in a flap between protest organizers and Hillary Clinton, who had also been scheduled to speak. Clinton aides were quoted as saying that they had been "blindsided" by the decision to invite Palin, which they called a partisan move. In the ensuing controversy, Clinton withdrew her participation, and Palin’s invitation was rescinded. The text of the speech follows: I am honored to be with you and with leaders from across this great country - leaders from different faiths and political parties united in a single voice of outrage.

Thousands attend anti-Iran rally organized by Jewish groups in New York
Shlomo Shamir , and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Nobel Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel joined thousands of protesters in New York Monday to condemn Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s planned address to the United Nations General Assembly, which opens Tuesday. Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and former minister Natan Sharansky also spoke at the gathering, organized by a coalition of American Jewish groups. Wiesel said "We urge all the UN delegations across the street to leave the hall when [Ahmadinejad] appears on the stage. " "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, go home and stay there, we don’t want you here. America doesn’t want you here. Nobody wants you," Wiesel called out. The event sparked further controversy over the weekend when Republican vice presidential hopefulSarah Palin’s appearance in the anti-Iran rally in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza was cancelled in a flap between protest organizers and Hillary Clinton, who had also been scheduled to speak.

New realities in the Strait of Hormuz
David Isenberg, Asia Times 9/23/2008
WASHINGTON - For decades, one of the reliable nightmare scenarios for the world has been the closure of the Strait of Hormuz. In the Cold War era those charged with coming up with worst-case scenarios would conjure up a southward push by the Soviet Union to seize control of Persian Gulf oil fields and restrict the export of oil through the Gulf. In more recent years that threat was transferred to Iraq and Iran. Such scenarios caused president Jimmy Carter to famously announce the Carter Doctrine on January 23, 1980, "Let our position be absolutely clear: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force. " The conventional wisdom is that either country would do so by mining the strait, something that happened in the war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s.

Kuwait dismisses ’rumor’ of Iranian spy rings
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/23/2008
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s defense minister has dismissed as "mere rumor" a claim that Iranian spy rings are embedded in the emirate. Countering assertions by an Iranian defector that the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has spies lurking in all Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah said told As-Siyassah newspaper: "Reports about the presence of spy networks from neighboring countries in Kuwait are mere rumors. . . We have good relations with our neighbors. "Adel al-Assadi, who was Iranian consul general in Dubai before defecting in 2001, said last week that the IRGC was running sleeper cells in the six Arab monarchies of the Gulf. Iranian Defense Minister Mustafa Mohammad Najjar last week blasted the claims as "lies and provocative remarks from enemy Western media. "While downplaying the purported threat from Iran, however, Jaber expressed concern about US arms sales to former occupier Iraq.

IAEA presses Iran to answer outstanding questions on nuclear program
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/23/2008
VIENNA: The United Nations’ atomic watchdog pressed Iran on Monday to disprove allegations of past nuclear weapons work, saying Tehran should not be concerned about divulging sensitive information because the process is confidential. Iran cannot simply dismiss all the charges as "fabricated," the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, told a meeting of the body’s 35-member board. Tehran must "clarify the extent to which the documentation is factually correct and where, as it asserts, such information may have been fabricated or relates to non-nuclear purposes," ElBaradei said on the first day of a week-long board meeting. Nor could the Islamic Republic hide behind the argument that in order to respond to the accusations, it would have to divulge information pertinent to its national security, the IAEA chief said.

Book Review: The Secret War with Iran
Jim Miles, Palestine Chronicle 9/22/2008
’Having the U. S. attack Iran would save Israel a lot of men and equipment. ’The Secret War With Iran. Ronen Bergman. Free Press (Simon & Schuster), New York, 2008. If one knew little about the Middle East and its many strands of religious, political, military, and strategic interests, this seemingly well written work would have the reader believing that Israel is the altruistic good guy -- although making tactical mistakes in its counter terrorist endeavours -- and the Iranians are the cause of all the atrocities in the Middle East. In the epilogue Ronen Bergman indicates that he "began researching this book in order to uncover and make sense of" the "secret war" that has been ongoing between Israel and Iran, and "to place the events’in their historical context. " If that is what he intended to do, then this work fails completely.

Thousands attend NYC anti-Iran rally
Allison Hoffman, Jerusalem Post Correspondent In New York, Jerusalem Post 9/22/2008
Efforts by the Jewish organizers of a New York City rally against Iran Monday to keep the event free of politics failed to stop protesters from voicing their avid support for the Republican presidential ticket of Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin. Interspersed with Israeli flags and placards calling for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to "take your hate back to hell" were a fluttering of blue McCain-Palin campaign signs, along with more strident handmade ones sticking out above the crowd, including one that read: "Prevent a nuclear Iranian Holocaust on Israel, vote McCaine-Palin [sic]. " The event, organized by Jewish groups including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the United Jewish Communities, the UJA-Federation New York and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, drew several thousand cheering students and activists. . .

Whose side are they on?
Mark Gold, Jerusalem Post 9/21/2008
Many large, long-established mainstream American Jewish organizations have outlived their usefulness. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, United Jewish Communities, UJA-Federation of New York, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs commendably sponsored a "Rally to Stop Iran. "But after Republican vice-presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin accepted an invitation to speak at the event, they disinvited her. This followed Sen. Hillary Clinton cancelling her planned appearance upon learning of Palin’s planned appearance. The event organizers claimed they did not want political figures to appear at the rally - despite the fact that they touted such appearances in the past, and logically so, as high-profile personalities lend weight to the cause.

Business in Brief
Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
The Wall Street meltdown looks likely to take a toll on Israeli high tech. Hercules Technology, which extends venture-capital loans and invests in life sciences and information-technology startups, seems to be forgoing investment in Israel until further notice. Two sources in Israel’s VC market say Hercules has canceled four investment term sheets in Israeli startups, though another source says it has only pulled out of one. Hercules’ credit line from an American investment bank wasn’t renewed, and its deal with an alternative credit source stipulated that it confine investment to the United States, the source said. (Guy Grimland) Inflation ran above 6% in September - for the poor, says Shlomo Maoz, chief economist at Excellence Nessuah. Commenting on the central bank’s decision to leave its lending rates unchanged in October, Maoz accused the bank of following the fashion in global circles.

Can an Israeli-U.S. company save the world’s dying bees?
Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
It is a real-life nightmare scenario that makes any horror movie pale by comparison. The honeybees are in trouble and, by extension, so is the human race. Last winter, over 36 percent of the U. S. bee colonies collapsed, affecting honey production, but more significantly, affecting the one-third of all food production that requires pollination - from fruits and nuts, to the dairy and beef cows that feed on alfalfa. Now, an Israeli-U. S. company Beeologics is taking rapid measures to bring to market a proprietary anti-viral agent that promises to alleviate the effects of the virus strongly associated with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), with full-scale FDA trials commencing next month. So far 60,000 hives are committed and Beeologics aims to have 100,000 hives enlisted in the trial which will run in several locations in the U.

Apple opens first Israeli store
Tzahi Hoffman, Globes Online 9/22/2008
And what about the iPhone? "It will be here sooner than people think. " One product is missing from the flagship store just opened by iDigital Ltd. , the Israeli importer of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) products - the third generation iPhone. Accessories for the company’s mobile handset, on the other hand, are available. "We’re doing all we can to bring the iPhone to Israel, and it will be here sooner than you think," says iDigital CEO Eran Tor. However, he declined to give a date. The new 300 square meter store in the Ramat Aviv mall in Tel Aviv is exceptional for its design, which is radically different from that of other computer retail chains in Israel. The Apple flagship store in Israel is almost identical in design to the stores spread across the US and Europe, the only difference being in size, since the chain’s stores overseas are still much larger than the newly opened Israeli branch.

Shekel-dollar rate falls heavily
Yael Gruntman, Globes Online 9/22/2008
The Bank of Israel is expected to leave the interest rate unchanged this evening. Foreign currency trading got off to a mixed start this morning, with the shekel-dollar rate falling 1. 44% to 3. 481/$. The shekel-euro rate, on the other hand, rose 0. 5% to 5. 05/€. The trend was similar on markets overseas, with the euro gaining against the dollar but weakening against the Japanese yen. The rescue plan announced by the US government and Federal Reserve at the end of last week appears to have weakened the dollar since investors expect that the astronomical cost of the plan will result in an increase in the US’s fiscal deficit, which will in turn weaken the US currency further. Traders on the local market are awaiting today’s announcement by the Bank of Israel of the interest rate for October, with Governor Israel Stanley Fischer widely expected to leave the interest rate on hold at 4.

High-tech salaries fall
Yael Gross-Englander, Globes Online 9/22/2008
The average monthly salary was NIS 16,189 in the second quarter, 3% less than in the corresponding quarter. The average high-tech gross salary was NIS 16,189 per month during the second quarter of 2008, 3% less than during the corresponding quarter of 2007, says Manufacturers Association of Israel Economic Research Department director Daphna Aviram-Nitzan. The report is based on analysis by the Economics Division. The analysis found that salaries fell in real terms across most high-tech sectors. The average monthly gross salary in the electronics and equipment components sector fell by 6% from the corresponding quarter to NIS 11, 352 during the second quarter. The average monthly salary in the electronics communications sector fell by 3% to NIS 20,169 during the second quarter. The average monthly salary in the control and medical equipment sector fell by 1% to NIS 18,364. . .

Analysts see crisis lasting another year
Efrat Peretz-Harpaz, Globes Online 9/22/2008
54% of analysts believe that the financial crisis will only end during the second half of 2009. A survey of Israeli capital market analysts found that 89. 2% of them do not expect the financial crisis to result in the collapse of a large Israeli financial company. The survey covered 90 analysts at 50 investment houses. The survey was conducted during yesterday’s Analysts Forum, which was managed by its chairwoman, Discount Bank VP Linda Ben-Shoshan, and Gelbart Kahana Investor Relations Ltd. The survey found that 47. 7% of the analysts believe that the likelihood of collapse of a large Israeli financial company is low and 41. 5% believe that it is zero. 50. 8% of analysts believe that real estate will be the industry taking the worst hit from the crisis, and 47. 7% believe that the banking and financial industry will take the hit.

Peres taps Livni to build new government
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
President Shimon Peres on Monday evening formally invited Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to form a new government, making the expected announcement after consulting with all of Israel’s political factions. If she is successful in recruiting the required majority of 61 MKs, she will become Israel’s first female premier since 1974. Even before President Shimon Peres gave her the official title of prime minister-designate on Monday evening, Livni was already conducting intensive talks with party leaders over their terms to join a coalition. After Peres handed her the folder with the official appointment, she said, I agree to take upon myself the role of forming a government, but only when Peres prompted her that she needed to accept the task. In the minute-long ceremony at the president’s residence, Livni, dressed formally in black. . .

Gimmick, counter-gimmick
Yair Sheleg, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Attorney Yossi Fox of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, which represented settlers evacuated from Gaza during discussions of the evacuation-compensation law, has been working for the past few months on a counterproposal to a bill by Vice Premier Haim Ramon and MK Avshalom Vilan that would finance voluntary evacuations from settlements east of the separation fence. Fox is suggesting that settlement supporters outbid the state for any house offered for evacuation. He says a few hundred people have already expressed interest in the initiative, and a few dozen have given him commitments to buy at least one such house. The buyers do not even have to be driven by ideological considerations: Fox proposes that they buy the houses as rental properties for the "masses of young couples seeking to live in the West Bank who cannot find housing.

A repellent political culture
Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Yesterday, President Shimon Peres assigned Kadima Party chairwoman Tzipi Livni the task of trying to form a new government. This happened at record speed, which should be welcomed, and perhaps this will set the pace of the ensuing negotiations. Livni must try to establish a government within a month and spare the country an early election. If the politicians were sensitive to the public’s feelings, perhaps they would hasten to crystallize into a coalition and an opposition, thereby enabling that governmental stability they so often praise. It seems, however, that the temptation to conduct prolonged negotiations, which take place for the most part on radio and television talk shows, is too great. Since the Kadima primary ended, it seems there is hardly any maneuver that has not been attempted, either in reality or as a trial balloon.

ANALYSIS / How far is Livni willing to go to build a coalition?
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
Twenty-four hours after Ehud Olmert sneaked under cover of darkness and bodyguards to the President’s Residence to tender his resignation, his heiress Tzipi Livni arrived to be named prime minister designate. What a difference a day makes: Despite live broadcasts on all the channels, it was not a festive occasion. Rather, a melancholy gloom prevailed, perhaps because of Livni’s black outfit, perhaps because she wasn’t smiling. Maybe because one could imagine Shimon Peres thinking to himself: If I hadn’t retired, I would be named prime minister designate today, not this girl. There is no doubt that Tzipi Livni has learned something in the last few days. Her speech on Sunday made up for a few of the mistakes she made in her first days as Kadima leader, like pushing Olmert aside and openly settling scores with Labor.

This is not the way to build a partnership
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 9/23/2008
The way the new Kadima chairwoman, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, is treating her political partners in the coalition negotiations is reminiscent of her attitude toward her Palestinian partners in the final status negotiations. Does Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas want to reach an agreement? Let him give up the right of return and part of the West Bank and Jerusalem and we’ll sign. Does Ehud Barak want to remain defense minister? Let him give his blessing to the outcome of Kadima’s primary and we’ll sign. The platform, after all, remains the same platform, the interests are the same interests and the challenges are the same challenges. All that has happened is that a few thousand Kadima members have replaced a boss who is suspected of corruption with a boss whose hands are clean.

Livni meets early hurdles in bid to form new Israeli government
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 9/23/2008
The Israeli president, Shimon Peres, last night formally gave Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, 42 days to form a coalition government after the resignation on Sunday of the scandal-hit prime minister Ehud Olmert. The announcement was made with a brief ceremony and a handshake at the president’s official residence in Jerusalem. "I agree to take upon myself the role of forming a government," Livni said. Livni, 50, who became leader of the ruling Kadima party last week in a narrow internal election victory, has spent the five days since then meeting leaders of political factions she will need to form her government. If she fails to form a coalition in the next six weeks, a general election will probably be held by early next year. Livni has already run into difficulties.

Analysis: Livni’s chore of building a coalition: tough, not impossible
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 9/22/2008
If Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni thought that it was difficult - together with Defense Minister Ehud Barak - maneuvering Prime Minister Ehud Olmert out of his seat, if she thought it was tough beating Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz in the Kadima primary, she hasn’t seen anything yet. Maneuvering Olmert to the side and winning the Kadima vote were efforts that took cunning, determination and hard work, attributes she will need in abundance if she is to overcome the next hurdle in her march to the premiership: building a coalition. On the face of it, Livni’s task looks extremely difficult. Sure, Labor and Shas are both currently in the government, but they joined a government under Olmert. Barak, who has made it abundantly clear he does not have a lot of confidence in Livni’s capabilities, will have difficulty taking his marching orders from the woman he disparagingly referred to by her full name, Tziporah.

Israel’s scandal-hit PM Olmert resigns
Middle East Online 9/22/2008
TEL AVIV - Israel’s scandal-tainted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigned on Sunday, setting the stage for weeks of more political turmoil as the horse-trading begins to form a new government. Olmert, who is battling a swathe of corruption allegations, handed a brief letter to President Shimon Peres announcing that "in line with his commitments, he is submitting his resignation," the president’s office said. Peres, who now has a week to designate a party leader to form the next government, paid tribute to Olmert for his work during his 32 months in power "for the people and the state of Israel. " Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who replaced Olmert as head of the centrist Kadima party in a leadership vote on Wednesday, is hoping to become only the second woman prime minister in the nation’s history. Olmert’s move initiates what could be a months-long process to form a new government,. . .

Peres entrusts Livni with forming gov’t
Gil Hoffman And Greer Fay Cashman, Jerusalem Post 9/22/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will begin efforts to form a new government on Tuesday via direct and indirect negotiations with potential coalition partners following President Shimon Peres’s formal appointment of her to compose a new coalition Monday night. Livni was inspired by Peres, who met with the 13 faction heads in less than 24 hours. While she doesn’t intend to go at the same pace, she pledged in her acceptance speech at Beit Hanassi to form a government as soon as possible. "We need to work as fast as possible to end the uncertainty that has stretched on for way too long," Livni said. "We have more in common than what divides us. Such a government can make needed reforms and return people’s faith in their elected officials. " Livni called on all the political parties represented in the Knesset to put. . .

Livni asked to form government
Al Jazeera 9/22/2008
Tzipi Livni, the leader of the ruling Kadima party, has accepted an offer by Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, to form a new government, opening the way for the foreign minister to become the second woman prime minister in Israel’s history. Livni, 50, succeeded scandal-hit Ehud Olmert as Kadima chairman in an internal ballot last week. "I bestow upon you the task of forming a new government," Peres told Livni before television cameras at the president’s official residence on Monday. Earlier, Peres sounded out parliamentary faction leaders on their preferences for prime minister or whether they wanted an early election ahead of a national ballot due in 2010. ’’I agree to take upon myself the role of forming a government,’’ Livni said, immediately after which she urged. . .

Iraqi forces find mass graves in Diyala Province
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/23/2008
BAGHDAD: The Iraqi government said on Monday its forces have uncovered dozens of bodies buried in three mass graves in the restive province of Diyala. The graves were found in the village of Khani Beni Saad, near the provincial capital of Baquba, after an "arrested terrorist gave information," a government statement said. A security official from the region said the bodies were being dug out from the graves but did not specify how many corpses were there. The bodies were believed to be those of people were killed by Al-Qaeda fighters, he said without giving further details. [end]

Kuwait concerned over US arms sales to Iraq
Middle East Online 9/22/2008
KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait has told the United States it is concerned over proposed arms sales to former occupier Iraq, the Gulf state’s defence minister said in comments published on Monday. "We have informed the United States of our fears over this issue and that. . . (Iraqi) forces should be defensive in nature," Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah told Al-Seyassah newspaper. The Pentagon announced last month it had notified Congress of proposed military sales to Iraq valued at more than nine billion dollars, including helicopters, tanks and armoured vehicles. "In the short term, there is no danger for Kuwait, but in the long term, there could be some fears from these arms sales," said Sheikh Jaber, who is also acting prime minister. Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah is in Washington and held talks with President George W.

IRAQ: Awash in ''Missing'' Weapons
Pratap Chatterjee, Inter Press Service 9/22/2008
SAN FRANCISCO, Sep 22(IPS) - Clandestine gun suppliers, funded by the U. S. and Iraqi governments, have flooded Iraq with a million weapons since 2003, charges a new Amnesty International investigation. Because of faulty or non-existent government tracking systems, many of those guns have gone missing, and some have turned up in the hands of insurgents. Contracts with one of these companies, Taos Industries, account for almost half of the 217 million dollars Baghdad and Washington have officially spent to arm the Iraqi army, police and security forces employed by various Iraqi ministries. Amnesty’s new report "Blood at the Crossroads: Making the Case for a Global Arms Trade Treaty" shines a light on the catastrophic human rights consequences of the kind of unrestrained arms trading that forms much of Taos’s business.


She stood firm defending her home, and, like an Olive tree, died standing
Maisa Abu Ghazala, Palestine News Network, Translated by Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/22/2008
      The daughter of Mariam Ayyad, 60, tells the story of her mother’s last moments -- she describes an argument that ensued when Israeli soldiers broke into her home in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, and repeatedly hit the 60-year old woman and threw her on the ground until she dropped dead in front of her children and grandchildren.
     Mariam died on Saturday evening after a lengthy argument with Israeli soldiers and border policemen who invaded Abu Dis. The argument ended with the soldiers beating her and throwing her to the ground, killing her.
     Her daughter, Hiba, 21, was standing next to her when she died. She could not express her feelings in words and with her eyes filled with tears she said, “Yesterday my mother became a martyr, as she died at the hands of the occupiers. And it wasn’t enough for them to kill her in cold blood! They also barred the ambulance from reaching our home!&rdquo.

West Bank Settler Riot: What the Media Left out

Kim Bullimore, Palestine Chronicle 9/22/2008
      ’Unprovoked attacks by the Yitzhar settlers have increased substantially.’
     On September 13, in response to a 9-year-old Israeli settler child living in the ’wildcat’ outpost of Shalhevet, about half a kilometre from the illegal Israeli colony of Yitzhar, being stabbed by a lone Palestinian, hundreds of illegal settlers rioted en-mass and terrorised several thousand villagers in the Palestinian township of Asira al Qibliya. In the course of the riot at least 8 Palestinians were seriously injured, six by live ammunition fired by the illegal settlers, who also vandalised residential homes and beat unarmed children and adults, while members of the fourth strongest army on earth stood by and let the settlers riot [1].
     While much has been made by the illegal settlers and some of the Israeli and international press of the stabbing and "terrorist" attack on Yitzhar, little was said -- if anything at all -- about the fact that for the past decade the heavily armed settlers of Yitzhar and other nearby illegal Israeli settlements have been violently terrorising the unarmed Palestinian villages around them. Neither was it mentioned that in the last twelve months, such unprovoked attacks by the Yitzhar settlers have increased substantially. Nor was it mentioned that there had also been an increase in similar attacks by other illegal settlers against Palestinian villages in the Qaliqilya and Hebron region of the Occupied Paletinian Territories (OPT).

Forgotten at the Gaza-Egypt Border

Eva Bartlett, MIFTAH 9/22/2008
      "His father died this morning," a hotel guest explained, gesturing to Raed, slumped and silent in his chair, face long.
     It was Wednesday, 20 August in Sinai’s al-Arish, a town about 50 kilometers west of the Gaza-Egypt border. Two days earlier, the approximately 450 Palestinians who had been waiting to enter Gaza were finally supposed to be permitted entry. Days before, the announcement had been made that the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza would open to allow passage into and out of Gaza. Many of the Palestinians at al-Arish had been waiting since the beginning of June for the border to open. Others had been exiled for over a year, outside of Gaza when Egypt sealed the border shut following Hamas’ taking control of Gaza in June 2007.
     Silenced and out of the international spotlight, the Palestinians waiting in al-Arish said that their plight at the closed crossing is either ignored or politicized. Many were running out of money, while others had completely run out, having waited for the opening of Rafah for weeks without earning an income. Approximately 200 of the Palestinians who waited to re-enter Gaza were in dire financial circumstances, many borrowing money, others begging, some sleeping in the streets.

Remembering Edward Said Five Years On

Stephen Lendman – Chicago, Palestine Chronicle 9/22/2008
      Edward Said. ’He stood for everything that is virtuous.’
     Said was passionately against Palestine being turned into an isolated prison wherein Israel repeatedly attacked mostly defenseless civilians with tanks and F-16s.Born in West Jerusalem in 1935. Exiled in December 1947. Said was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 1991, a malignant cancer of the bone marrow and blood. At 6:45AM on September 25, 2003, he succumbed (at age 67) after a painful courageous 12 year struggle. Tributes followed and resumed a year later. In a testimony to his teacher, Professor Moustafa Bayoumi called him "indefatigable, incorruptible, a humanist and devastatingly charming....leav(ing behind) legions of followers and fans in every corner of the world. I am lost without him....I miss him so."
     Chomsky called his death an "incalculable loss." A year later, Ilan Pappe said "his absence seems to me still incomprehensible. What would have happened if we still had Edward with us in this last year....another terrible (one) for the values (he) represented and causes he defended." Tariq Ali referred to his "indomitable spirit as a fighter, his will to live, (my) long-standing friend and comrade," and described his ordeal.

The Forgotten Story in Gaza, the Slaughter of Innocents

Sameh Habeeb, Palestine Think Tank 9/22/2008
      [Al Shj’aya, East Gaza City, September 22, 2008] The faulty Israeli policy of collective punishment has had a great effect on civilians lives in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Those people are being punished for no reason but being part of the area they live in. In the Gaza Strip, the siege imposed since more year ago still going on. The West Bank is still under complete control of Israeli army and settlements swallow more Palestinian lands. In the Gaza Strip where I live there are many hidden stories for those punished people!
     I knew lately a story of people who were severely harmed by the Israeli army. I made all efforts, collected all data, hold up my Camera and then visited the house! In the house I was shocked with facts I saw; innocent people with no legs but sad and terrified hearts!
     "The morning of that day was cloudy, scary and vague. My heart was leaping up so fast and my 7-month fetus was quarreling inside of me. The more minutes advanced, the more my heart strongly and horribly was beating until the decisive moment happened. I saw amputated legs and hot blood covered my face."

Turning the Palestinian Cause into Medusa

Sherri Muzher - Michigan, Palestine Chronicle 9/22/2008
      (Medusa, by Swiss painter Arnold Bocklin) In Greek mythology, there is a famous story about the beautiful Medusa who was turned into a horrific monster with hair of serpents. The transformation came about as "punishment" by the goddess Athena after the sea god Poseidon raped Medusa at Athena’s sacred temple. The story goes on to say that anyone who looked at Medusa afterward turned into stone.
     Like Medusa, the Palestinian Cause began as a lovely maiden; innocent and irresistible to anyone who loved justice. But she has been raped repeatedly by despotic Arab and Islamic regimes, as well as extremist groups either to increase their base of support or to divert the public’s anger at impotent policies. The Palestinian Cause has truly proven to be a great rallying cry, however insincere.
     But most bothersome has been the rape of the Palestinian Cause by the groups Fateh and Hamas.
     Both Fateh and Hamas have been seduced by their own self-importance and insatiable love for power. The internal strife led by these two groups is turning genuine supporters of Palestinian justice into stone.

Palestinian politics on the road to nowhere

Mel Frykberg, Electronic Intifada 9/22/2008
      RAMALLAH, West Bank (IPS) Israeli-Palestinian peace talks appear to have hit a dead end, while efforts to bridge the yawning chasm which divides Hamas and Fatah politically and ideologically appear to be going nowhere.
     The two main streams of Palestinian politics are already locking horns over when the next legislative and presidential elections will be held, and whether Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, or Abu Mazen as he is better known, is legally entitled to stay in power beyond January 2009.
     Abbas said earlier that presidential elections would be held in January 2009 and legislative elections in January 2010. But he has now stated categorically that he would not step down until 2010. "I think that the elections for parliament and the presidency should take place together, in January 2010," he said last week.
     Abbas further said that any future unity government would have to respect agreements signed with Israel.
     The more militant factions in Hamas have stated they will not recognize Israel. But there are more moderate and pragmatic factions within the resistance movement who have hinted that some kind of future accommodation with Israel is possible.

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

Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine, Palestinian Information Center 9/20/2008
      Jockeying for an advantageous public posture vis-à-vis Hamas, the Fatah movement has been calling for the organization of presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
     The  proposal is being touted as the only way to resolve the enduring crisis between Fatah and Hamas, following the latter’s counter-coup in Gaza in June of last year.
     The proposal, however, seems to be  more of a  propagandist gambit  than a  sincere effort aimed at achieving inter-Palestinian reconciliation.
     And it doesn’t suggest that Fatah, now solidly backed and financed by the United States, has undergone a true democratic transformation.
     Indeed, Fatah today remains the same Fatah that only reluctantly and under American pressure agreed to allow general elections to take place in 2006- and only because Fatah leaders seemed then certain they would win.

Remembering Sabra and Shatila Massacres

Mahmoud El-Yousseph, MIFTAH 9/22/2008
      Sabra and Shatila are two Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon where over two thousand Palestinians were massacred during three days in September 1982 by hundreds of Lebanese Phalange and Haddad militiamen with the aid and support of the Israeli Defense Forces.
     During the1982 Israeli invasion into Lebanon and siege of Beirut, U.S. Envoy Phillip Habib managed to have a written agreement whereby Palestinian fighters would leave Lebanon, providing a U.S. guarantee to the safety of Palestinian refugees left behind in the camps.
     After Palestinian fighters evacuated Lebanon, the Israeli army sealed off Sabra and Shatila refugee camps and established a command post at the Kuwaiti embassy, a seven-story building over looking both camps.
     Present at the command post were the primary architects of the atrocity: Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and Chief of Lebanese Forces Intelligence Elie Hobeika, along with high-ranking Israeli army officials.

Fly, Tzipora, Fly!

Uri Avnery, Palestine Chronicle 9/22/2008
      ’Will Tzipora the bird reach these heights? The heart hopes. The brain has its doubts.’
     The polls were wrong, as usual. And in a big way. As usual.
     Instead of winning by a huge margin, as predicted until the very last moment by all the polls, she just squeaked through. Of the 72 thousand or so registered Kadima members, only 39,331 troubled themselves to go to the polls, and among these she defeated Shaul Mofaz by just 431 votes.
     But a majority is a majority. Tzipi Livni was duly installed as Kadima chairperson.
     What does that say about the Israeli public?
     First of all: this is the victory of a person without a military background over someone with almost nothing apart from a military background.
     On the advice of his right-wing American political strategist, Stanley Greenberg, Mofaz emphasized the word "security" on every occasion, almost in every sentence. A popular talk-show turned this into a parody: Security, security, security, security.
     Well, it did not work. T-h-e general, the chief of Staff, the Defense Minister, was beaten by a mere woman devoid of any military experience (even if she did serve for 15 years in the Mossad.)

Overcoming Shame in Postville

Rabbi Jonathan Perlman, The Jerusalem Report, Jerusalem Post 9/15/2008
      Since the 1990s, I had read scathing reports about the owners of the plant, the Rubashkin family, and their bad rapport with the town’s residents, about the unnecessary pain caused to animals through sloppy slaughtering practices and the "enslavement" of foreign workers and abuse through poor wages, beatings, child labor and 17-hour work days.
     I had come along with hundreds of others from Minnesota and Chicago to protest the federal raid and imprisonment of 381 undocumented workers from Agriprocessors in May. It was the largest raid of any single site in the history of the U.S. Now fathers and mothers are separated from families, facing five months imprisonment and eventual deportment.
     ....As I entered St. Bridget’s Church in Postville for an interfaith service conducted in English, Spanish, and Hebrew, I felt a deep need to do my own teshuva, to ask God to forgive me for not having acted sooner, for continuing to eat Rubashkin meat, for being entertained by the stories coming out of Postville about greed, power and the corruption that comes with it. In Israel, the Agriprocessors story would have been reported as just another one of the endless scandals that divide religious from secular or politicians from law-abiding citizens, stuff that fuels the fires of inter-family gossip, but in the quiet of the American Midwest, the crisis of Postville has been a festering sore, a gaping wound in Jewish-Christian relations.