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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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24 September 2008

Bethlehem boy shot and arrested during invasion of refugee camp
Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 9/24/2008
Bethlehem -- Seventeen year old Ahmed Khalil Jaafari was shot in the foot after midnight. Israeli soldiers injured the boy while invading Bethlehem’s Deheisheh Refugee Camp early Wednesday. Israeli forces hit the camp from several axes and surrounded the Jaafari father’s home. Dozens of soldiers were involved in the raid during which they told the family that they intended to arrest the teenager. According to an army spokesperson Jaafari tried to escape detention and was shot. The family says that the soldiers were violent and erratic. During the invasion of Deheisheh Camp Israeli forces raided several other houses, conducted invasive searches and tampered with personal contents. Families were forced into the narrow streets of the refugee camp where they waited for hours. The Israeli military also tore through nearby Al Doha and Al Khader villages, arresting three teenagers.

Shin Bet: Separation fence fueling attacks by East Jerusalem Arabs
Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
The West Bank separation barrier is fueling attacks by East Jerusalem Arabs who feel isolated from fellow Palestinians and are increasingly likely to lash out independently, the Shin Bet security service said on Wednesday, two days after an East Jerusalem resident plowed his car into a crowd in Jerusalem, wounding 17. The findings by the Shin Bet, which has usually championed tough tactics against a Palestinian uprising that erupted in 2000, appeared to dovetail with Palestinian arguments that a peaceful resolution of Jerusalem’s status is key to addressing the causes of political violence in the city. Citing a need to keep out suicide bombers, Israel has been erecting a network offences and barricades in the West Bank which loop around Jerusalem. Palestinians see it as a de facto border designed to cut their political ties to East Jerusalem.

Haniyya says road to Palestinian dialogue looks ’impassable’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/25/2008
GAZA CITY: Deposed Palestinian Premier Ismail Haniyya cast doubt Wednesday on Egyptian-brokered Palestinian unity talks between his Hamas movement and President Mahmoud Abbas’ rival Fatah party. "What is happening on the ground in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank indicates that the road to dialogue is impassable and faces major obstacles," Haniyya, who now heads a rump government in the Gaza strip, said in a statement. "There is one hand asking for dialogue and another hand holding a knife behind its back," he added. The two main Palestinian movements have been bitterly divided since Hamas won democratic elections and formed a government in 2006. A power struggle ensued as Israel and its Western allies tried to force Hamas out of office, eventually descending into street battles in June 2007. The divisions deepened when Hamas fighters routed their Fatah rivals in Gaza, prompting Abbas. . .

UN: farmers forced to obtain ''visitor'' permits to reach land behind Wall, most denied
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 9/24/2008
Nablus -- The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports from its September 2008 study of the West Bank and East Jerusalem that Israeli forces maintain 630 barriers hampering the movement of Palestinians. This figure represents a 3. 3 percent increase from the previous report from 29 April 2008 but does not include the 69 barriers in the H-2 section of the city of Hebron which is under total Israeli control. During the reporting period the Israeli government said it would take steps to ease restrictions on movement within the West Bank, but any measures have had a geographically limited impact. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that the Israeli government announced the removal of 25 major barriers. However, this is yet to be seen on the ground.

Police chief: Corruption is the biggest threat to Israel
Ari Shavit, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
Police Commissioner David Cohen says "government corruption is the greatest strategic threat to Israel. We have found in recent years that government corruption has spread everywhere. " In his first interview since entering office in May 2007, Cohen speaks of his feelings when the Talansky portfolio - a case that led to the police recommendation to indict Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - was laid on his desk at the beginning of the year. "This time it wasn’t some pile of documents from the state comptroller, which you have to sort through with paper and pencil. This time it was a living, breathing person who gave evidence. . . . It is a living case. To the best of my knowledge, we did not have a living case of this kind before. "There was a kind of feeling of ’How could something like this happen? ’ I remember the same shock and the same jolt in the story of [former finance minister Avraham] Hirchson.

ISRAEL-OPT: Main aquifer endangered by untreated sewage
ICRC, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 9/25/2008
JERUSALEM, 24 September 2008 (IRIN) - An important water source for both Israelis and Palestinians is in danger due to pollution from sewage, a new Israeli governmental report stated. About 2. 8 million people, including Palestinians and Israeli settlers, live in the West Bank, but "due to conflicts and economic problems, the effluents of more than two million people do not go through efficient pollution treatment", the report by the Israeli Ministry of Environment, the Civil Administration in the West Bank and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA), stated. "The most important thing here is the damage to the water resources, which are the resources of both sides, the Israelis and Palestinians," Omri Gal, a spokesman for INPA, told IRIN. The sewage has penetrated the soil, polluting groundwater and springs.

Arab foreign ministers urge UN to convene session on Israeli settlements
Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
Arab foreign ministers on Wednesday said that they will ask for an urgent UN Security Council session to discuss Israeli settlement activity on land the Palestinians want for a future state. "There will be an Arab request for a Security Council meeting to discuss the issue of settlements. . . as soon as possible, hopefully this week," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters. Aboul Gheit was speaking after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Palestinian negotiators have said Jewish settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank is undermining U. S. -sponsored efforts to achieve a peace accord. Israel has said it plans to keep building in large settlement blocs it intends to keep under any future peace deal.

IDF: 4 Palestinians arrested after trying to run over soldier
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
The Israel Defense Forces yesterday arrested four Palestinians who allegedly tried to run over a soldier at a roadblock just north of Ramallah. According to soldiers on duty, two vehicles were spotted approaching at high speed, and their drivers ignored signals to slow down. The soldiers responded by closing the roadblock entirely, at which point the driver of one of the vehicles allegedly tried to run over a soldier. The troops managed to stop the car and arrest the driver. Army interrogators later said the incident, which resembled three recent attacks in which Palestinians from East Jerusalem ran over Jewish pedestrians with vehicles, was apparently not premeditated. Last Monday, Qassem al-Mughrabi of East Jerusalem plowed his car into a crowd of pedestrians at a busy intersection in Jerusalem.

IOF troops round up 16 Palestinians including one after wounding him
Palestinian Information Center 9/24/2008
BETHLEHEM, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces at dawn Wednesday rounded up 16 Palestinians in various West Bank areas including one near Bethlehem who was wounded during the IOF incursion, locals reported. A local source in Doheisha refugee camp south of Bethlehem said that a large IOF unit stormed the camp at dawn and broke into many homes while firing rubber-coated bullets at the civilian homes. He added that Ahmed Al-Ja’bari was wounded in the shooting but was taken in custody despite his injury. The remaining Palestinians were rounded up in Al-Khalil, Bethlehem and Tulkarem districts. Two of those were university students in Bal’a village, Tulkarem district, who were deported from Jordan at the pretext that they were Hamas supporters. Local sources said that the IOF soldiers wreaked havoc in both homes of the students before taking them away.

Four Palestinians arrested at checkpoint
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
Four Palestinians were arrested Wednesday afternoon after they allegedly tried running through a roadblock near the settlement of Ma’ale Levona north of Ramallah. No one was wounded in the incident. The IDF said that the Palestinians tried driving through an earth barrier near the settlement in three vehicles - two cars and a bulldozer. While initial reports claimed that it was a terror attack, defense officials said it was possible that the incident was criminally-motivated. The soldiers shot in the air and at the bulldozer and captured the assailants who were then transferred into police custody. The incident came two days after on Monday night 19-year-old Kassem Mughrabi from east Jerusalem rammed his BMW into a group of soldiers at a central Jerusalem thoroughfare, wounding fifteen people before being shot dead by an off-duty IDF officer.

Israeli troops wound a young man in Bethlehem, rampage continues elsewhere
International Middle East Media Center News 9/24/2008
The Israeli occupation troops wounded and arrested two youth from the West Bank city of Bethlehem, as the Israeli army rampage against Palestinians continued elsewhere. Early on Wednesday, Israeli troops broke into the Dehaisha refugee camp to the south of Bethlehem city, wounding and detaining 18-year-old Ahmad Alja’fary. Witnesses said that the soldiers stormed the Aja’afary house under a barrage of fire, causing the injury to Ahmad. Also in Bethlehem, mainly in the Alkhader neighborhood, the Israeli soldiers detained Salem Esa Salah, 22, after breaking into and ransacking his house. In the West Bank city of Tulkarem, Israeli troops arrested five residents including a girl. Palestinian security sources reported that at least 15 military jeeps swept the Bal’a village and detained Emad Wasef Alhaj, 22, and Osama Mohammad Shahrour, 22.

2 attacks against soldiers thwarted
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 9/24/2008
Palestinian attempts to stab soldier at Hawara checkpoint; troops gain control of terrorist, arrest him. Earlier, four Palestinians driving two cars, a bulldozer, break through IDF roadblock north of Ramallah, try to run over soldiers. Troops open fire, foil attack; suspects apprehended - West Bank terror attack thwarted:A Palestinian arrived Wednesday afternoon at the Hawara checkpoint, south of the city of Nablus, and attempted to stab a soldier. The 16-year-old Palestinian arrived at the checkpoint at around 5 pm, approached a soldier and pulled out a 10-centimeter (4-inch) knife. The soldier cocked his weapon, and the terrorist let go of the knife. The other troops stationed at the checkpoint gained control of the terrorists and took him in for questioning. There were no reports of injuries.

Israeli forces detain five Palestinians in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli forces on Wednesday apprehended five Palestinians, including a young woman, in the Dhinnaba neighborhood of Tulkarem and the town of Bal’a east of Tulkarem. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that a large Israeli force stormed Dhinnaba and ransacked the home of Raghib Tabbal. Forces detained his 23-year-old daughter, Rima and his 19-year-old son, Islam. Israeli soldiers also seized 28-year-old Farouq Abu Sarris. Sources added that Israeli forces raided Bal’a and seized 22-year-old Imad Al-Hajj and 22-year-old Osama Shahrour. Soldiers also ransacked the Al-Ihsan and Al-Khadr mosques in the Dhinnaba. [end]

Israeli soldiers detain Palestinian boy at Nablus checkpoint
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained a boy with a knife Wednesday afternoon at the Huwara checkpoint south of Nablus. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers jumped on the 15-year-old boy, Ahmad Younis Mustafa Khdeir, before detaining him. He is from the village of Beita. Witnesses added that soldiers closed the checkpoint and refused to allow people to exit through the crossing from Nablus. [end]

Israel seizes 16 Palestinians in late-night raids across West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel seized 16 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank Tuesday night, Israeli press reported Wednesday. Israel forces did not release the names of the detained Wednesday, but sources said the Palestinians were taken for questioning. [end]

6 dunums confiscated in Ramin for checkpoint expansion
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 9/22/2008
On the morning of 21 September, Occupation forces issued a military order requiring the confiscation of 6 dunums of agricultural land from the village of Ramin, southeast of Tulkarm. The confiscated land will be used for the expansion of the Enav military checkpoint. The residents of the village were informed that the military order would result in the in the bulldozing of 11 olive trees. However, villagers have reported that three times as many will be lost, as there are close to 30 olive trees found on the threatened land. This is not the first time village land has been confiscated; during the beginning of the second intifada, Occupation forces annexed 450 dunums of agricultural land for use in the nearby Enav settlement. Farmers were barred from reaching the area and harvesting from isolated trees. Those that tried to enter were exposed to mistreatment and attacks from soldiers, who consider the area a closed zone.

Palestinian cell charged over killing two Israeli border policemen, Israel says
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/25/2008
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported on Wednesday that three Palestinians of East Jerusalem were arrested and charged with planning two recent attacks in Jerusalem in which one Israeli border policeman was killed. The police lifted a gag order on the issue on Wednesday. The Israeli prosecution filed its indictment ten days ago to the District Court in Jerusalem. The indictment states that the cell is responsible for the killing of Border Policeman Rami Zuari, in a shooting attack which was carried out in January of this year in Shu’fat refugee camp in east Jerusalem. Another border policeman was wounded in the attack. The arrestees are also accused of carrying another shooting attack in July at the Lion’s Gate at the entrance of the Old City of Jerusalem. Haaretz reported that after these attacks were carried out, the Shin Bet security services and the Jerusalem police launched. . .

’J’lem cell suspected of killing cops’
Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
Three Arab residents of east Jerusalem have been charged with the murders of two Border Police officers in separate shootings in the city this year, police announced Wednesday. Coming on the heels of Monday night’s vehicle "terror" attack near Jerusalem’s Old City, the announcement served to highlight the growing phenomenon of Jerusalem Arabs who are linked to terrorism. The three suspects, who were arrested last month, have confessed to the killings and reenacted them, Jerusalem Police chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco said at a police briefing. The three men are suspected of killing officer Rami Zuari on January 24 near the city’s Shuafat refugee camp, and officer David Shriki on July 11, near the Lions Gate. Two other border policemen were wounded in the shooting attacks.

Historian Ze’ev Sternhell lightly wounded in ’ideological’ attack Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
A small pipe bomb was left outside the home of historian and Israel Prize winner Professor Ze’ev Sternhell, a resident of Jerusalem, Army Radio reported late Wednesday night. Sternhell was lightly wounded and evacuated to Haddasah Ein Karem Hospital in the city. Police speculate that the incident was "ideologically" motivated. The professor, who spent the last few months overseas, had been harassed over the phone. [end]

IDF soldiers foil attempted attack at West Bank roadblock
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
Israel Defense Forces troops foiled a terror attack on Wednesday, stopping a convoy of Palestinian vehicles as it attempted to run them over after having burst through a West Bank roadblock. Soldiers positioned near the Palestinian village of Singil, north of Ramallah, fired warning shots into the air after noticing the three vehicles, including a tractor, speeding toward them. The troops, who were IDF reservists, succeeded in detaining four Palestinians who have been handed over to police for interrogation. Troops also confiscated the tractor. No IDF soldiers were wounded in the incident, nor was any property damage caused. The attempted attack came after a Palestinian plowed his car into pedestrians at a busyJerusalem intersection on Monday, wounding more than a dozen soldiers.

Three E. J’lemites indicted for two terror killings
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
Three East Jerusalem residents believed to have belonged to a terror cell have been indicted for killing two security forces members in Jerusalem, it emerged yesterday. The three were indicted for the murders 10 days ago, it was revealed after the Jerusalem District Court lifted a gag order on the arrests yesterday. The suspects are Mohammed Khalil Adnan Abu-Sneina, 21, of Beit Hanina; Mohammed Julani, 21, of Shuafat and Louis Abu Najama, 23, also of Shuafat. According to the charge sheet, Julani and Abu-Sneina purchased a gun and planned to abduct a soldier near the Shuafat refugee camp 10 months ago, and on the night of January 24 they approached a roadblock manned by police officers Rami Zuari and Shoshana Samindev. Abu-Sneina pulled out the concealed weapon, shot Zuari in the head from close range and wounded Samindev before fleeing with Zuari’s short-barreled M-16 rifle.

Shin Bet: Change law to prevent attacks by east J’lem Arabs
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
In face of a growing terror threat originating in east Jerusalem, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has recommended legislative changes to permit financial sanctions on the families of terrorists as well as the indictment of suspects caught in the early stages of planning attacks. The recommendations were revealed on Wednesday by senior Shin Bet officials. Since the beginning of the year, the agency said, close to 250 east Jerusalem Arabs had been arrested for terror-related offenses, compared to 37 in 2007 and just nine in 2005. The recent incidents includes two bulldozer attacks, which killed three Israelis, and the car that rammed into a group of soldiers late Monday night near the Old City. The Shin Bet said Wednesday that it was in favor of demolishing the homes of terrorists as well as imposing financial sanctions on their families, for example canceling National Insurance Institute benefits.

VIDEO - Security forces uncover east Jerusalem terror cell
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 9/24/2008
(Video) Shin Bet, police apprehend terror cell suspected of murdering Border Guard officers David Shriki, Rami Zuari, plotting to assassinate Shas minister. Security officials say rise in east Jerusalem terror due to increased Hamas activity - VIDEO - Cleared for publication: The Shin Bet and Israel Police have recently uncovered a terror cell operating out of east Jerusalem. The cell, consisting of seven Arabs, six of them east Jerusalem residnets, carried out two attacks in the past year in which two Border Guard officers were killed and two others were injured, it was cleared for publication on Wednesday. Ten days ago, the Jerusalem District Prosecution filed indictments against the terrorists for murder, attempted murder, illegal possession of firearms and weapons trafficking.

ANALYSIS / New generation of East Jerusalem terrorists inspired by TV, internet
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
The timing of the joint announcement by the Shin Bet security service and the police, according to which they have found the terror cell that killed two policemen in Jerusalem in the past year, was unusual. Indictments were submitted ten days ago but the news was kept under wraps by a gag order that was only lifted Wednesday. Could it be that security forces are trying to show us that despite Monday’s attack in which a Palestinian ran over a group of Jews they are still in control? Wednesday’s disclosures showed two things: that the Shin Bet has scored some successes in preventing attacks by East Jerusalem residents, but also that the challenge to stop further attacks continues and is very complex. Shin Bet insists that the four recent attacks carried out by men from East Jerusalem (the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva shooting and the three incidents. . .

Haneyya’s gov’t: Israeli measures in Jerusalem won’t abolish Palestinian rights
Palestinian Information Center 9/24/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The constitutional PA caretaker government of premier Ismael Haneyya has strongly condemned Tuesday the Israeli measures in the occupied city of Jerusalem, asserting that those measures won’t succeed in abolishing the Palestinian right to the holy city. In a statement it issued after its weekly meeting, and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC, the PA caretaker government accused the Israeli occupation government of expanding settlements construction, pressuring and forcing Palestinian Jerusalemite families out of Jerusalem city, and building more synagogues in it in addition to the daily aggressions against the Palestinian people there. "Those Israeli measures [in Jerusalem] won’t succeed in abolishing our legal rights in the holy city, and they won’t succeed in forcing our people to leave the city", the caretaker government underlined, hailing the "exemplary" steadfastness of the Palestinian Jerusalemites in the city.

Quartet ’creating power vacuum’ in Middle East
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 9/25/2008
The international community is "losing its grip" on the Middle East peace process and failing to improve the appalling living conditions for Palestinians, a group of leading NGOs charges today. The international Quartet -- consisting of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia -- is accused of creating a "vacuum of leadership" as the aid agencies complain that "visible progress" in the Middle East has "failed to materialise". The report says that despite the Quartet saying in June that such progress was vital to building confidence in the negotiating process, it has failed to press home its own calls on Israel for a freeze on settlement building, an improvement in the movement of Palestinian people and goods, and a revival of the collapsed economy in Gaza. On settlements it says there has been a "marked failure to hold the Israeli authorities. . .

Abbas at UN where Ban Ki-moon calls on Israel to stop take over of Jerusalem
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/24/2008
New York - President Mahmoud Abbas is in the United States at the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly where General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon has called on Israel to stop taking unilateral steps in Israel. President Abbas is doing most of his work on the sidelines, having received in his US offices a number of heads of state and participating delegations. He briefed several on the Palestinian situation and efforts made to advance the ’peace process. ’He received the President of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Dr. Haris Silajdzic, President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni and Quartet envoy Tony Blair. The first General Assembly speeches included the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations Miguel d’Escoto, US President George W.

Left-wing rights group B’Tselem to establish U.S. representation
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
It appears that the Jewish left is bolstering its position in the U. S. - after the introduction of the new J Street lobby, aimed at countering the powerful Jewish lobby AIPAC, B’Tselem, a left-wing human rights organization based in Israel, has sent two official staffers to Washington and New York for the first time. "Recognizing the central role of the United States both in terms of its historic alliance with Israel and its efforts to facilitate a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, B’Tselem is establishing a presence in the United States to inform the political and public discourse in this country and to ensure that human rights are a centerpiece of the bilateral relationship and all diplomatic efforts", read the organization’s invitation to the Capitol Hill reception.

New York activists protest Leviev fundraiser
Press release, Adalah-NY, Electronic Intifada 9/24/2008
Manhattan’s elite were aghast to be greeted yesterday evening by 25 chanting protesters when they exited their SUVs and limos to attend a glitzy fundraiser sponsored by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev for the Museum of the City of New York. Leviev has been criticized for his businesses’ human rights violations and unethical practices in Palestine, Angola, Namibia and New York City. The Director of the Museum of the City of New York had failed to respond to phone calls and a 16 September letter from the New York rights coalition Adalah-NY, that is promoting a boycott of Leviev’s businesses. Adalah-NY’s letter informed the museum of the inconsistency of Leviev’s business practices with the museum’s mission, and with non-profit ethical standards. Alex Stern of Adalah-NY explained, "I’ve been going to the Museum of the City of New York all my life to see exhibits about New York’s diversity and about local communities battling against poverty.

Naalin commander admits wrongdoing, but disputes criminal charges
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 9/24/2008
Lt. -col. dismissed from position due to shooting incident involving bound Palestinian protestor contests petition filed by rights activists demanding more serious charges, claims his motives were not criminal -Lt. Colonel Omri Burberg, a Naalin regiment commander who was indicted following an incident in which a bound Palestinian was shot in the foot during an anti-fence protest in the West Bank village, contested a petition submitted by human rights organizations asking to charge him with more serious offenses. Burberg was dismissed after the incident. His attorneys said Wednesday that "the inquiry into the regiment commander’s behavior has led to the conclusion that this is not a case in which a mark of disgrace should be planted on his forehead, warning the public against him. " The response submitted to the High Court of Justice claimed that the commander’s behavior was indeed flawed, but his motive was not criminal.

Human Rights Council concludes ninth regular session
United Nations Human Rights Council, ReliefWeb 9/24/2008
Adopts 24 Texts, Appoints Four New Special Procedure Mandate Holders and Extends Mandates of Seven Special ProceduresThe Human Rights Council closed its ninth regular session this afternoon, adopting 24 texts on a wide range of issues, appointing four new Special Procedure mandate holders and extending the mandates of seven Special Procedures. The Council also adopted texts on the assault on Beit Hanoun, human rights and international solidarity, the right to development, human rights and unilateral coercive measures, human rights of migrants, the right to food, human rights and indigenous peoples, the protection of the human rights of civilians in armed conflict and the right to the truth. At this session, the Council heard a number of high profile reports and held interactive dialogues with the Special Procedures presenting them, including. . .

Balad legislator to be first Israeli MK violating ban on travel to Gaza
Yoav Stern , and Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) plans to sail to the Gaza Strip Wednesday on a ship organized by the left-wing Free Gaza group, marking the first violation by an Israeli MK of the ban on Israeli travel to Gaza. However, Zahalka will not be the first Israeli citizen to sail on a Free Gaza ship. Jeff Halper, head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, was on the first Free Gaza boat, which sailed last month. Speaking by telephone from Cyprus, from where the ship will depart Wednesday, Zahalka said he considers his plans to be permissible political activity covered by his parliamentary immunity, rather than a violation of the law. "The siege of the Gaza Strip is a crime against hundreds of thousands of residents, and I’m here to fight this crime," he said.

Doctors and medical supplies sailing to break siege on Gaza delayed
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/24/2008
Brussels -- The ’European campaign to lift the siege on Gaza,’ declared Wednesday’s launch of the new boats en route from Cyprus to Gaza, however the campaign director announced that the voyage has again been delayed. Due to logistical reasons and climatic conditions the ships will set sail Thursday morning and arrive at the Gaza port within two days. After the success of two Free Gaza movement boats last month, an additional boat is being included. On board are medical specialists and supplies, Palestinian Legislative Council member Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, and a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset. The European campaign and the Free Gaza movement are working in partnership to break the two-year Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip by bringing attention to the situation of the 1. 6 million residents and also by providing material support.

Jamal Al Khudari: we are prepared to receive the SS Hope
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/24/2008
Gaza -- Jamal Al Khudari said on Wednesday afternoon that the SS Hope should arrive in the Gaza port on Friday morning. After several delays the boat to ’break the siege on Gaza’ is expected to get underway on Thursday morning at 10:00. Head of the People’s Committee against the Siege and Palestinian Legislative Council member Al Khudari issued a statement today indicating that Gaza is prepared for the arrival of the passengers. He phoned Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset Jamal Zahalka who will be sailing on the SS Hope along with Palestinian Legislative Council member and Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi. Al Khudari thanked them both for their participation in promoting "the unity of the homeland" in addition to bringing attention to the Gaza plight.

Students still trapped in the Gaza Strip
Gisha, ReliefWeb 9/24/2008
Instead of Beginning his Studies Today at the University of Northern Virginia, Wesam is still Trapped in the Gaza Strip - The brief opening of Rafah Crossing allowed a few dozens to leave Gaza for study abroad, but hundreds of others remain trapped. "This morning I was supposed to begin my Master’s studies at the University of Northern Virginia. But the closure of Gaza is preventing me from even reaching the U. S. consulate for an interview to request a student visa, without which I cannot enter the United States. "This is the story of Wesam Kuhail, 27, an MBA student trapped in Gaza. The weekend’s brief opening of the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt was of no help to Mr. Kuhail, because Israel refuses to allow him to travel to the U. S. Consulate in east Jerusalem to undergo a visa interview.

ISM Rafah: Fishing under occupation
Report written by Donna Wallach, ISM volunteer in Gaza City, International Solidarity Movement 9/24/2008
Gaza Region - Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine, 21st September, 2008. On Sunday 21st September, about 5 fishing boats trawled the coast from the Gaza City port. I was on a boat that had been water cannoned the previous day and many of their nets had been damaged as a result. The crew spent most of the morning repairing the nets and at 11:40am we finally left the port for a full day of trawling. At 12:30pmin the distance we saw two Israeli Naval gunboats, one was very large and was equipped with the water cannon. The regular sized gunboat started patrolling between three fishing boats that were in the same area. At 12:55pm that gunboat started harassing and shooting at one of the fishing boats headed south. I don’t know how far it was offshore, but it definitely wasn’t beyond six miles. At 1:10pm that same gunboat shot at the boat I was on and a soldier yelled "Go south".

Latest Gaza-bound ship to depart Cyprus ’within hours’
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Mustafa Barghouthi confirmed reports that the latest Gaza siege-breaking voyage was scheduled to depart from Cyprus on Wednesday. Barghouthi said that crew aboard “Hope,” the third ship in as many weeks to attempt the voyage, had “completed all preparations” to leave Cyprus for Gaza. Barghouthi told Ma’an that “solidarity activists” from Europe, Canada and the United States had arrived for the trip, and that the vessel would carry medical supplies. He also said that Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, a Noble Peace Prize winner from Ireland, was on board the ship, as well. She has also taken part in anti-wall demonstrations in the West Bank. Member of the Israeli Knesset Jamal Zahalka is aboard, as well. His travel to Gaza presumably violates Israeli law, which states that Israelis are not permitted to enter Palestinian territory.

VIDEO - Gazan baby born in Israel to mother who remains brain dead after 3 months
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for September 24, 2008. Both celebration and tragedy were evident on Tuesday at an unlikely birth in the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. A Caesarian section was performed on a woman from Gaza who had spent the last three months of her pregnancy in vegetative state, brain dead after a stroke. She was transferred to Israel when Gaza doctors said they feared they would be unable to care for her. Mohammed has spent the last three months at his wife Vania’s bedside. He and Vania, who married after meeting in Bulgaria, raised two sons together in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Together, they chose the name Daniel for their unborn son. Related articles: Gazan gives birth in Israel at height of violenceWHO: Israel turning away sick Gazans, who die in ’avoidable. . .

PPS lawyers meet several detainees in a number of Israeli detention facilities
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/25/2008
Lawyers of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) visited a number of detainees in a several Israeli prisons and detention centers. The detainees complained of mistreatment, abuse and lack of medical attention. In Hasharon prison, one of the PPS lawyers met with detainee Reema Daraghma, from Tubas, who informed him of her very bad health condition. Daraghma told the lawyer that she was examined by the prison doctor and that he prescribed medications for her but the prison administration insists that she does not need those medications and refused to provide her any needed meds. She was barred from her visitation rights since more than nine months without being informed about the reason behind this act. The lawyer also met detainee Sanaa’ Shihada, from Qalandia refugee camp in Ramallah, who also complained of bad treatment against her and the other detainees.

Funds for Nahr al-Bared refugees nearly depleted
Daily Star 9/25/2008
BEIRUT: Palestinians who fled fighting at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp last summer could be left without "vital" food and shelter subsidies due to a funding crisis at the UN agency tasked with their assistance. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) provides humanitarian aid to more than 30,000 people who fled the camp last year during a 14-week battle between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam, a militant Islamist group. More than 400 people were killed in fierce fighting, which devastated the camp’s infrastructure, rendering it totally uninhabitable. In the past UNRWA has conducted several appeals for "emergency relief" aid for the displaced people, which have always attracted the necessary funding. But the agency’s most recent appeal, launched earlier this month, has failed to secure the donations needed to continue their work, leaving them facing a $38 million shortfall in its emergency aid program.

Khalifa Bin Zayed al-Nahyan Charitable Foundation provides Ramadan relief to refugees
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 9/23/2008
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is distributing food baskets to 1167 vulnerable Palestine refugee families in Syria as part of a regional donation of the Khalifa Bin Zayed al-Nahyan Charitable Foundation. Each gift basket includes essential food stuffs that are traditionally consumed during the holy month, such as rice, sugar, sunflower oil, butter, packed cheese, macaroni, noodles, tea and dates, all of which are Syrian-produced. In addition, each family will receive US$ 20 for the purchase of meat and/or chicken. Baskets will be distributed to refugee families in Damascus, Dera’a, Hama, Homs, and Lattakia. In Damascus, the refugees will receive the baskets from a tent at the UNRWA community development centre marked with the Foundation’s insignia. Targeted families are typically large in size, with no breadwinner, or are households similarly in need such as those headed by women, widows, orphans, elderly, and disabled.

Supreme Court demands response from army, police on settler violence
Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
Supreme Court Justice Hanan Meltzer on Wednesday demanded to know why settlers who have intimidated Palestinian farmers and trespassed on their land have not been arrested or had other measures taken against them. Meltzer is one of a panel of three justices, including Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Esther Hayut, who are hearing petition filed by Rabbis for Human Rights and 12 farmers from Yatta village in the Hebron hills. They have accused settlers from Sussiya and the illegal outpost of Mitzpeh Ya’ir of violating a military order declaring a 40-dunam area of private land belonging to the Palestinian farmers off limits. The petition was filed on August 1, 2007. However, last month, the petitioners asked for an urgent hearing, charging that settlers had violated the order 16 times since it was issued and that they had perpetrated a concentrated number of attacks. . .

Israeli nuclear whistleblower’s jail term reduced
Middle East Online 9/24/2008
TEL AVIV - An Israeli court on Tuesday halved a six-month sentence against nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who spent 18 years in jail for divulging Israeli nuclear secrets. "Considering his ailing health and the absence of indications that his actions put the country’s security at risk, we believe his sentence should be reduced," the judges said. Vanunu, 54, had been sentenced to six months for violating bans on travel and contact with foreign media in 2007, three years after he was released from jail for disclosing the inner workings of Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant to Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper. The Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court had found him guilty of having contacts with foreign reporters and trying to leave occupied Jerusalem to visit Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The 2007 sentence had been suspended pending appeals.

Hollywood gave to Livni, Iranian Jews backed Mofaz in Kadima primary
Guy Leshem and Lior Dattel, TheMarker Correspondents, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
Hollywood producers, East Coast property barons and a Swiss banker were among the main supporters of Tzipi Livni in her race to lead the Kadima Party. Shaul Mofaz found support among the wealthy business barons of the Iranian-American Jewish community, according to the campaign contribution lists that the two handed over to the state comptroller. Transport Minister Mofaz collected NIS 2. 1 million from donors over the two years before the race, which Livni won by a whisker - just 1% above her rival. Foreign Minister Livni, meanwhile, who only started raising money in July of this year, managed to collect NIS 1. 97 million. As usual the state comptroller will look at the legality of the donations and the candidates’ spending. The lists are long; the following is a sample of the most intriguing names, a who’s who of the foreign support behind the two Israeli politicians.

Labor sources: Barak to demand lead role in Syria talks from Livni
Yossi Verter Mazal Mualem and Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
Defense minister and Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak will demand from prime minister-designate Tzipi Livni that he conduct the negotiations with Syria if she forms a government. Labor sources also say Barak will demand to be fully involved in all aspects of the talks with the Palestinians. Labor’s Knesset faction will meet Thursday morning to formulate its demands in the coalition negotiations with Kadima, which are expected to start after the Rosh Hashanah holiday next week. Barak will present the faction members with the main points from his meeting Wednesday with Foreign Minister Livni. She promised Barak a full and sincere long-term partnership in "managing the affairs of state" and retaining Labor’s position as a senior partner in the government. Meanwhile, two of Livni’s most trusted advisers, attorney Yoram Raved and. . .

Shas attempts to form haredi bloc
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Party Chairman Yishai meets with United Torah Judaism’s Litzman in bid to form coalition of 18 Knesset members in negotiations for joining Livni-led government. ’A joint bloc means greater power,’ says Yishai associate - Haredi cooperation? Shas Chairman Eli Yishai met Wednesday with Knesset Member Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) in a bid to form a united ultra-Orthodox bloc in the negotiations with newly elected Kadima ChairwomanTzipi Livni. The two discussed the possibility of joining a new Livni-led government together. A source close to Minister Yishai said following the meeting that "he has been working to form a bloc with UTJ in terms of the child allowances, which are the key issue for both parties. "Yishai is also working to build a join haredi bloc which will enter the government.

Israel’s pious Jewish press shuns images of Livni
Reuters, YNetNews 9/24/2008
’Haredi media are never going to change the no-photograph policy, so it comes down to arranging face-time for her with leading religious figures who can spread the word,’ strategic consultant to newly elected Kadima chairman says -The Syrian state press has described her as a "Mossad beauty. "A Palestinian cartoonist compared her to the Mona Lisa. One Canadian report called her "naturally blonde with eyes as blue as the Mediterranean. "Yet Tzipi Livni, asked by Israel’s president on Monday to form a government following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s resignation, remains largely faceless when it comes to her country’s powerful ultra-Orthodox Jews, or haredim. Citing concerns for feminine modesty, the ultra-Orthodox refuse to publish images of women in their newspapers - a core source of information as the reclusive community generally shuns the television, Internet and most radio stations.

Netanyahu: Israeli blood wasn’t spilt so Hamas could move into Jerusalem
Mazal Mualem , and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
Likud chairman and opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu told Army Radio on Wednesday that he has no intention of joining a national unity coalition led by Tzipi Livni that would "relinquish the Golan Heights and divide Jerusalem. ""I don’t want to build an Iranian base in the Golan Heights or in the heart of Jerusalem," Netanyahu told Army Radio. "This will be a government that will relinquish the Golan Heights and will divide Jerusalem. This is not a government with our (the Likud’s) guidelines. " The Likud chair blasted the Kadima chairwoman for pledging to continue negotiations for a final settlement with the Palestinian Authority. "We know what we are dealing with on the other (Palestinian) side," Netanyahu said. "Today, there is no partner. There is a partner to talks but not to deeds.

Livni, Barak aides: ’Good progress’ in coalition talks
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
Kadima leader and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with Labor Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak at her office in Jerusalem for a second time on Wednesday if efforts to negotiate Labor’s participation in a new government under Livni’s leadership. Associates of both Barak and Livni reported "good progress" in their efforts to achieve an agreement. The Labor Party was set to convene on Thursday to discuss the details of the meeting. Barak has insisted that he welcomes general elections, which would be held if Livni fails to recruit a majority of 61 MKs to join her coalition. However, it appeared Tuesday that he was willing to negotiate joining Livni’s government. During a Rosh Hashanah event at the Labor Party headquarters in Tel Aviv, senior party officials all spoke in favor of joining the coalition, given it was a stable, long term one.

Mazuz: Rabbinical courts can’t nullify Druckman conversions
Dan Izenberg And Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has called on the High Court of Justice to accept a petition by a Danish-born convert to Judaism demanding that it overrule rabbinical court decisions nullifying the conversions, including hers, made by special courts headed by Rabbi Haim Druckman. The call to cancel the conversions was made by Dayan (religious court judge) Avraham Attia, a member of the Ashdod District Rabbinical Court, and in a ruling by Dayan Avraham Sherman of the Supreme Rabbinical Court. The petition against the cancellations was filed by the Danish-born woman whose Judaism was rejected by Attia 15 years after she converted, her three children and a long list of women’s organizations, including the Center for Women’s Justice. In his response to the petition, which was filed on June 5, Mazuz argued that Attia’s decision should have been rejected because of procedural. . .

Leading candidate for director of Arabic-language television draws fire
Gili Izikowich, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
The Lada’at association and the Tadmit Center, which work to oversee the media, have appealed to the State Comptroller’s office concerning the Israel Broadcast Authority’s (IBA) tender for the position of director of Arabic-language television. The organizations are seeking to disqualify Dr. Khalil Rinawi from participating in the tender for the post. According to these organizations, Rinawi’s candidacy could ostensibly be seen as tailoring the tender and creating a job specifically for him. Rinawi, a doctor of communications, served on the IBA’s management committee until about six months ago, and as chairman of the Arabic-language broadcasts committee. In the management committee, Rinawi was considered the spirit behind efforts to change public Arabic-language broadcasts. For example, the attempt to appoint a designated director of Arabic television - even though it was not completed during his tenure - is associated with him.

Biden: McCain has no answer to threat of Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah
Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz U.S. Correspondent, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
"Under the policies George Bush has pursued and John McCain would continue, Iran, not freedom, has been on the march. Iran is much closer to the [nuclear] bomb; its influence in Iraq is expanding; its terrorist proxy Hezbollah is ascendant in Lebanon; its ally, Hamas controls Gaza and launches rockets at Israel. Beyond bluster, what would John McCain actually do about these dangers? He doesn’t say. "Biden cited Obama’s long-held opposition to the war in Iraq, which he branded "one of the most disastrous decisions in the history of American foreign policy. " Unlike under a McCain administration, the Delaware senator said, Obama as president would "take out high-level terrorist targets like [Osama] bin Laden if we have them in our sights," regardless of whether they were in Pakistan or not. "We will not tolerate a terrorist sanctuary in Pakistan," Biden added, saying that McCain had ruled out such a move as "bombing our ally.

Retrial of Hamas Financing Case Begins in Dallas
Paul J. Weber, MIFTAH 9/24/2008
Federal prosecutors Monday started a second attempt to convict leaders of a Muslim charity on charges of financing terrorism after the first trial last year ended with a mistrial on most of the allegations. The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development is accused of funneling more than $12 million dollars to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which the U. S. government considers a terrorist organization. Five members of Holy Land, the largest Muslim charity in the U. S. before it was shut down in 2001, face charges ranging from conspiracy to supporting a foreign terrorist organization. Each has pleaded not guilty. " The defendants know that the money they were giving to these organizations were going into the hands of Hamas," Assistant U. S. Attorney Elizabeth Shapiro said. Shapiro said Holy Land existed to support Hamas, raising money to support schools and community organizations run by or on behalf of the Palestinian movement.

Biden works to assure Jewish activists of Barack Obama’s pro-Israel stance
Hilary Leila Krieger, Washington, Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
Appearing before leading Jewish Democratic activists here Tuesday night, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden began by recalling an incident involving the Yeshiva University rowing team. The team, for some reason, was always getting walloped by the Harvard squad, so the YU coach sent a rower to spy on Harvard to learn their trick. As soon as he caught a glimpse of his rival’s practice, he called his coach with the answer. "The secret is they’ve got eight guys rowing and only one yelling," Biden related to laughter from the audience at the National Jewish Democratic Council annual conference. But while Biden’s delivery might have been humorous, his point was serious. "The truth is, that’s what we’ve got to do this election," he said, stressing the need to come together following a divisive primary race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Labour for Palestine contingent march in solidarity with Palestinian workers
Stop The Wall 9/20/2008
Canada: Earlier this month, union activists from the Labour for Palestinian network marched in the Toronto Labour Day parade. The network brings together rank and file union activists who promote the BDS campaign within their respective unions. Marching as part of the Canadian Union of Public Employeesunder the banner of ‘Free Palestine – Boycott Israeli Apartheid’, activists set up a float with an 8-foot high Handala structure and large photographs of Palestinianworkers with attached explanations of their plight under the Occupation’s apartheid regime. Activists also distributed three thousand leaflets explaining the BDS campaign and urging trade unionists to become positively involved in the Palestinian struggle. The Palestine float received strong support at the event, with workers from other contingents marching alongside it.

Hamas: After 9 January, Abbas is ’secretary general of Fatah’
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A leader within the Hamas movement said on Wednesday that Hamas will not recognize the legitimacy of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when his term of office ends in January 2009. A leader within the movement, Isma’il Radwan, told Ma’an that Hamas will consider Abbas “illegitimate” if his term continues without first achieving internal reconciliation and if Palestinian presidential elections do not take place on time in accordance with Palestinian law. Sources close to Hamas also said that the movement is “currently studying a number of descriptions” for the president should he not step down. De facto Interior Minister Sa’id Siyam will consider Abbas “secretary general of Fatah or former president” after 9 January 2009, he said.

Hamas-led government to pay salaries Wednesday
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Palestinian de facto government in the Gaza Strip will begin paying salaries to civil servants on Wednesday at 9:00 am, according to the head of a civil servants union. Ala’ Al-Battah called on employees to go to postal banks in their neighborhoods to receive September salaries. Al-Battah applauded the de facto government’s decision to pay salaries ahead of ‘Eid Al-Fitr, though he requested a timetable to determine accumulative dues. The de facto government in Gaza paid salaries for military employees on Monday. [end]

Hamas says PA detained six affiliates across West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Hamas said Palestinian Authority (PA) security services arrested six Hamas supporters in the West Bank on Wednesday. In a statement received by Ma’an, Hamas said PA security forces arrested Shadi Soboh in Nablus after storming his home. Later, the PA arrested Sheikh Farag Akram Rawajbeh, an Imam from the town of Rojib. In Tubas, forces seized Bilal Bsharat. In Jenin, Nader Abu Zaina, Aktham Abu Obeid and Yousif Abu Ar-Rabb were detained after being called for interviews. [end]

General Intelligence Service raids Hebron office of PLC member Samira al-Halaiqa
Palestine News Network 9/24/2008
PCHR - On Monday 22 September, members of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service (GIS) raided the office of Samira al-Halaiqa (45), a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for the Hamas Change and Reform Bloc, in Hebron. The GIS members confiscated the contents of her office. According to an initial investigation carried out by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), plus a statement from Samira al-Halaiqa, at approximately 3:30 pm on 22 September, members of the GIS raided the office of Samira al-Halaiqa, in the Zalum building in Ein Sara neighborhood north of Hebron city. The GIS members destroyed the lock of the main door of the office and entered without a permit, or an order, from the Attorney General or the speaker of the PLC. At the time of the raid, neither Samira al-Halaiqa, nor the office employees, were present.

Abu Zuhri: Qurie’s remarks on confrontation reflect Fatah’s ill intentions
Palestinian Information Center 9/24/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has strongly condemned Tuesday statements uttered by Fatah’s senior official Ahmad Qurie on the possibility of resorting to force in confronting Hamas. Qurie, who is the head of the recruitment and organization department in Fatah faction, was quoted as saying that the inter-Palestinian division was an abnormal condition and that it is perilous to the future of the Palestinian issue, stressing that the division condition would be resolved either through dialogue or through armed confrontation with Hamas. Hamas speedily rejected the statements, considering them an attempt on the part of Fatah faction to pressure Hamas prior to the start of the national talks in Cairo next month. "I regret to hear such statements from high ranking official in Fatah faction although we believe it was meant to pressure Hamas into accepting Fatah’s conditions for the. . .

Hamas: ''P.A forces arrested 6 members in the West Bank''
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 9/24/2008
Media sources loyal to Hamas movement stated that Palestinian security forces, loyal to Fateh movement, arrested six members and supporters of Hamas in the West Bank. The sources stated that the security forces arrested Shadi Sabboah, after breaking into his home in Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank. Also, the forces arrested Sheikh Faraj Akram Rawajba, the Imam of Rojeeb village mosque, near Nablus. In the central West Bank city of Tubas, the forces arrested Bilal Bsharaat, from Tammoun village. Bsharaat is a student at the Al Najah University in Nablus. In Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank, the security forces arrested Nader Abu Zeina, Aktham Abu Obeid and Yousef Abu Al Rob. The security forces are still holding captive Mohammad Souqiyya and Ghassan Jamal who were arrested more than nine month ago and are being held in Jericho Central Prison.

Israel releases Ahmad Hillis to Palestinian security in Jericho
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Jericho – Ma’an – The national security commander for Jericho and the Jordan Valley confirmed that Israeli forces released Fatah leader Ahmad Hillis to the West Bank on Wednesday afternoon. Commander Juma’a Abu Moussa told Ma’an that Israeli forces gave Hillis a temporary permit to enter the Jericho area. He will remain at the Public Intelligence Administration headquarters for as long as 17 days, Moussa said. Moussa said he hoped Hillis’s visit would be “temporary” so that he would be able to return to his family in the Gaza Strip. Israel arrested Ahmad Hillis as he was fleeing the Gaza Strip with dozens of his family members after police forces loyal to the de facto Gaza government stormed the Shuja’iyya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City in a massive arrest raid on 2 August 2008. Hillis was wounded by two bullets fired by Israeli forces near the border.

Fateh delegates meet Egypt’s Intelligence Chief
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/24/2008
Palestinian delegates of the Fateh movement met in Cairo on Tuesday with the Egyptian Intelligence Chief, Omar Suleiman. The meeting comes as part of the preparations for an upcoming internal Palestinian talks supervised by Egypt. The delegates, headed by Nabil Shaath, presented a proposal which outlines Fateh’s vision towards reconciliation with Hamas. Shaath informed reporters that Cairo will call for a comprehensive national dialogue which aims at ending the internal Palestinian crisis, and added that these talks would be held on the first week of November this year. Shaath added that Fateh listened to a detailed explanation from Suleiman on the Egyptian position regarding reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas and on the Egyptian position regarding unifying the Palestinian people and ending the divisions that are negatively affecting the Palestinian cause.

De facto Gaza government to prosecute Ramallah-based Palestine TV
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Police affiliated to the de facto government in Gaza announced on Wednesday that they will prosecute Palestine TV, the Palestinian satellite channel that broadcasts from Ramallah and is controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA). The de facto government claimed that the satellite channel broadcast scenes from Iraq and alleged that they took place in the Gaza Strip. Footage broadcast by Palestine TV on Tuesday showing a man being thrown from a high building was actually shot in Iraq, not the Gaza Strip, and did not involve police forces in Gaza as claimed in the program, the de facto police said in a statement to Ma’an. The de facto Gaza government argued that these allegations broadcast by Palestine TV are part of a campaign aiming to falsify the truth and distort the image of the de facto police and their actions in the Gaza Strip.

In a letter, Haniya reiterates commitment to the Mecca deal
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 9/24/2008
In a letter, to King Abdullah Ben Abdelaziz of Saudi Arabia, Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya of Hamas, reiterated his commitment to the Mecca deal of Palestinian national unity, signed in Mecca of Saudi Arabia in Feb2007. Haniya’s letter to the Saudi monarch came on the eighty-seven anniversary of Saudi national day, a press release, received Tuesday by the IMEMC , read. " We would like to reiterate our commitment to the Mecca deal as a basis for solution and Palestinian steadfastness, as we also would like to express our great interest in strong ties with your country", Haniya wrote. The Prime Minister also hinted that " this great anniversary comes in the holy month of Ramadan and in a time your country enjoys strength and dignity" Haniya’s reiteration comes on the heels of underway Palestinian national unity talks in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, for talks. . .

Few Palestinians Expect to Form Own State
Angus Reid Global Monitor, MIFTAH 9/24/2008
Few people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip expect to see the creation of a Palestinian state within the next five years, according to a poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. 27. 5 per cent of respondents believe the chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state next to Israel are medium to high, while 69. 2 per cent are more skeptical. The former British mandate of Palestine was instituted at the end of World War I, to oversee a territory in the Middle East that formerly belonged to the Ottoman Empire. After the end of World War II and the Nazi holocaust, the Zionist movement succeeded in establishing an internationally recognized homeland. In November 1947, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the formation of a Jewish state. In 1948, the British government withdrew from the mandate and the state of Israel

Hayya: We are keen on success of dialog
Palestinian Information Center 9/24/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas is insistent on restoring national unity and is keen on success of the imminent national dialog in Egypt, Dr. Khalil Al-Hayya, a prominent Hamas leader, said on Tuesday evening. Hayya addressing an Iftar (a ramadan meal at sunset to break the fast) banquet organized by his Movement in Gaza city said that he hoped that none would put obstacles before success of the dialog. Hamas realizes that the only way out of the current difficult conditions is a "responsible dialog in which all files are tabled for discussion", he emphasized. "Our people are capable of achieving unity if good intentions prevail", he said, adding that Hamas would go to the dialog with "open heart and mind". Hayya stressed that the Palestinian institutions topped by the PLO should be restructured on stable and sound basis.

Haniyeh to Saudi King: Mecca Agreement still valid
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto government’s Prime Minister Isma’il Haniyeh affirmed his government’s adherence to the Mecca Agreement, which King Abdullah Ibn Abdel Aziz Al-Saud signed with Hamas and Fatah in 2007. Haniyeh sent a letter to King Abdullah, in part to greet him on the commemoration of the 78th National Day for the Kingdom. The letter also added that the Hamas-led government in Gaza “still confirms out adherence to the Mecca Agreement as a basis for the Palestinian solution and steadfastness. ”“We still hope to preserve our relations with your government,” it said. Haniyeh also wrote that the de facto Palestinian government “deeply appreciates [Saudi Arabia’s] support for the Palestinian people. ”Haniyeh also sent a similar letter to Crown Prince Sultan Ibn Abdel Aziz Al Saud.

PA, Hamas divided on ’Eid Al-Fitr start date
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and the de facto government in Gaza cannot agree on when the Islamic ‘Eid Al-Fitr holiday begins, as the two authorities announced separate start dates for the Ramadan conclusion. The West Bank government announced Tuesday that the holiday would begin the next week, on 30 September. The Gaza-based Hamas-led de facto government determined that 25 September marked the beginning of ‘Eid. The conflicting reports mark the latest disagreement between the two entities that are set to begin talks to reunite the Palestinian government at an Egyptian-sponsored summit in Cairo. [end]

Palestine Today 092408
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 9/24/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 4m 0s || 3. 66 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Wednesday 24, 2008 Israeli troops shot and wounded a Palestinian young man in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, as rampage continued elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Hamas leadership in Gaza reaffirmed commitment to previously-signed national unity deals. These stories and more are coming up,, Stay tuned. The News Cast Early on Wednesday morning in the Al-Khader village on the outskirts of Bethlehem city, Israeli soldiers, ransacked the home of a young Palestinian man and wounded him, as they were randomly shooting. Also in Bethlehem - the soldiers detained another man after searching his home in the Deheisha refugee camp to the south of the city.

Relatives of tunnels’ victims accuse Egyptian security of executing five citizen
Palestinian Information Center 9/24/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Relatives of victims of the tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip have accused the Egyptian security forces of deliberately blasting a tunnel on Tuesday while knowing that Palestinians were inside it. The relatives said in a statement on Wednesday that the explosion, which they said fell in line with the "savage war on the besieged Gaza people", killed five citizens. The statement said that it was ironic that those Egyptian forces started looking for bodies after blasting the tunnel. It noted that the number of tunnels’ victims thus rose to 45 citizens since the start of 2008, and charged that the Egyptian security was obviously doing all what it could to win Israel’s satisfaction. The relatives vowed that they would not remain idle towards such developments and would act on the Arab and international levels to expose those "crimes", describing what happened (the tunnel explosion) as a "stab in the back".

5 Palestinians killed as Gaza-Egypt tunnel collapses
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
The bodies of five Palestinian smugglers have been pulled from a tunnel that collapsed along the Gaza-Egypt border, Gaza security officials said Wednesday. The five were bringing contraband goods from Egypt into Gaza when there was an explosion and the tunnel collapsed, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the information had not been cleared for publication. Two bodies were located shortly after the explosion Tuesday, and the rest were removed early Wednesday. Three smugglers survived and emerged on the Egyptian side, where police arrested them, according to an Egyptian security official. The three told police they were smuggling fuel. Residents of the Gaza border town of Rafah had said Tuesday that the tunnel had been blown up by the Egyptians, who have been cracking down on the thriving underground smuggling trade along the border.

Israel denounces Iran ’fanaticism’
Al Jazeera 9/25/2008
The Israeli president has accused Iran of being at the centre of violence and fanaticism, warning that Tehran continued to develop enriched uranium and long range missiles. In an address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Shimon Peres said: "Tehran combines long range missiles and short range minds. It is pregnant with tragedies. Peres said that the Iranian people were not enemies of Israel, but "Their fanatic leadership is their problem and the world’s concern. " In his own address to the Assembly on Tuesday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, lashed out at Israel and its chief ally the United States, saying "the Zionist regime is on a definite slope to collapse and there is no way for it to get out of the cesspoolcreated by itself and its supporters.

Peres at UN: Iran working to thwart Mideast peace
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
President Shimon Peres on Wednesday told the United Nations General Assembly that Iran was responsible for undermining efforts for peace in the Middle East. He said that while Israel had made concessions in its desire to live in harmony with its neighbors, Iran’s "quest for religious hegemony and regional dominance divides the Middle East and holds back chances for peace. " "Iranian support for Hezbollah divided Lebanon," Peres said. "Its support for Hamas split the Palestinians and postpones the establishment of the Palestinian State. "Peres also hit back at a speech by his Iranian counterpart to the same United Nations forum a day earlier, branding it "the darkest anti-Semitic libel. " Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was absent from Peres’ speech, said in his own address Tuesday that "a small but deceitful number of people called. . .

Livni: Iran’s request to join UNSC is absurd
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
Foreign Minister and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni took the United Nations to task Wednesday for giving a platform to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose speech to the General Assembly the day before dripped with anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel. ’Iran’s request to join UNSC is absurd’ "Ahmadinejad’s speech at the UN demonstrates the absurd state of affairs of the organization whose founding motto was ’Never Again,’" Livni said, in a statement issued by her office. Livni said that what was even worse than Ahmadinejad being given a stage at the UN was for Iran to be seeking admission to the Security Council, something Teheran has indicated it was interested in doing. "Iran is now asking to be included as a member of the UN Security Council," she said. "This is like allowing a criminal to be his own judge and jury.

Iran plays up its peacemaker role
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times 9/25/2008
NEW YORK - On Tuesday, in his brief meeting with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon asked for Iran’s assistance with the political process in Iraq and expressed appreciation for Tehran’s mediating role in the Caucasus. Basking in the glory of Iran’s improving image as a conflict mediator, Iranian officials visiting the UN headquarters for the annual meeting of the General Assembly are intent on taking this one step further by seeking the formation of a new global alliance for peace, together with other developing nations. This idea, initially raised by Ahmadinejad in his speech before the UN last September, is now on the verge of being fleshed out in more detail as a result of a new sense of urgency felt by many (developing) nations that new and concrete initiatives are needed to avoid the scourge of wars and conflicts and to bolster the UN’s peace efforts.

U.S.: Bipartisan Group Urges Deeper Diplomacy with Muslim World
Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service 9/25/2008
WASHINGTON, Sep 24(IPS) - In an implicit indictment of President George W. Bush’s "global war on terror" and the hawkish pronouncements by Republican candidate John McCain, a bipartisan group of nearly three dozen U. S. leaders called here Wednesday for Bush’s successor to place much greater emphasis on high-level diplomacy -- including direct engagement with Iran and Syria -- in dealing with the Middle East and the Muslim world. In a 152-page report, the group, which included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Bush’s former Deputy Secretary of State and McCain adviser Richard Armitage, also called for any new administration to work "intensively for immediate de-escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a viable path to a two-state solution. " "U. S. leadership in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is critical not only for Israelis and Palestinians, but also for U.

Peres uses UN address to brand Iran ’danger to the entire world’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/25/2008
UNITED NATIONS: Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday blasted Iran, accusing the Islamic Republic of being "at the center of violence and fanaticism," during an address to the UN General Assembly. "At the center of this violence and fanaticism stands Iran," he said. "It built a danger to the entire world. Its quest for religious hegemony and regional dominance divides the Middle East and holds back chances for peace, while undermining human rights. " The Zionist state, which has occupied Arab land for more than 60 years, complains that Iran supports resistance groups. Warning that Tehran "continues to develop enriched uranium and long-range missiles," Peres said the UN "General Assembly and the Security Council bear responsibility to prevent agonies before they take place. " Israel, which holds a monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East and has the means to deliver them. . .

West ratchets up pressure on Tehran at IAEA meeting
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/25/2008
VIENNA: Western countries hit out at Iran here on Wednesday over its refusal to disprove allegations of past nuclear weapons work and for pursuing uranium enrichment in defiance of UN demands. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) latest report on its six-year investigation into Tehran’s nuclear program "presents a decidedly bleak picture," German Ambassador Ruediger Luedeking told a closed-door session of the IAEA’s 35-member board. "Iran continues to defy the requests of the international community. It continues to disregard its legally binding obligations under the relevant Security Council resolutions as well as the requirements placed upon it by the board of governors," Luedeking said, speaking on behalf of the so-called EU-3 of France, Germany and Britain. The UN Security Council has slapped three rounds of sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment,. . .

EU: Iran moving closer to making nuclear warhead
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
VIENNA, Austria - Iran is moving closer to the point of being able to arm a warhead with a nuclear core even if it insists its atomic activities are peaceful, the European Union warned Wednesday. In comments prepared for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35 board members, the EU also asserted that Iran appeared to have had a past nuclear arms program despite denials from Tehran. The statement was made available to reporters as the agency’s board turned its attention Wednesday to Iran’s nuclear defiance. The group is concerned about Tehran’s refusal to freeze uranium enrichment despite sets of three United Nations Security Council sanctions and its stonewalling of IAEA attempts to follow up on intelligence suggesting it was developing a nuclear arms program up until several years ago.

Ahmadinejad: I’ll meet US presidential candidates
Allison Hoffman, Jerusalem Post Correspondent In New York, Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday night he was "ready" to meet publicly with both US presidential candidates while he is in New York. Speaking at an hour-long press conference held after his formal address to the United Nations General Assembly, Ahmadinejad repeatedly blamed the US for breaking off ties with his country and said he thought the UN was a good forum for a meeting. "The podium given to us by the UN is a great opportunity," Ahmadinejad said. "Far better than threats, political pressures, when words come out that are sometimes baseless. " Such a meeting was unlikely this week. After Ahmadinejad’s speech, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said in a statement that he condemned the Iranian leader’s "outrageous" remarks and said he was "disappointed" that the UN had provided such a public platform for "hateful and anti-Semitic views.

’Russia’s move to pull out of Iran talks spells end of sanctions’
Allison Hoffman And Herb Keinon In New York, Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
Objections from Moscow, angered by Washington’s criticism of its invasion of Georgia, have forced the cancellation of high-level talks on Iran that were scheduled for Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, endangering a fourth round of Security Council sanctions against Iran. "We do not see any sort of ’fire’ that requires us to toss everything aside and meet to discuss Iran’s nuclear program in the middle of a packed week at the United Nations General Assembly," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement. "On the contrary, there are more urgent questions - for example, the situation in Afghanistan and along the Afghan-Pakistan border - but our Western partners for some reason aren’t rushing to discuss these," he said. One senior American diplomat said on Wednesday that "there clearly is spillover of the difficulties. . .

Germany: Russia may shun Iran talks
Associated Press, YNetNews 9/24/2008
Berlin’s foreign minister says Moscow angered over US criticism of its invasion of Georgia, therefore may absent itself from six-nation talks on Tehran’s nuclear program -Germany’s foreign minister said Wednesday that recent tensions between Washington and Moscow could mean Russia will not take part in six-nation talks on Iran’s nuclear program for the "medium term. " The group includes Germany and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - and was to have met Thursday in New York. But Russia, angered by Washington’s criticism of its invasion of Georgia, said Tuesday that it would not take part in the discussions this week. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier suggested, however, that he believed Russia might also stay away from the talks for longer.

Ahmadinejad and Hitler exhibit banned
Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
A decision by Toronto’s city council to ban an exhibit comparing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with those of Adolf Hitler has drawn fire from Canadian Jewish groups. The traveling four-part exhibit, of which the Ahmadinejad presentation makes up one part, has been banned by an ad-hoc committee within the council for being too controversial and inflammatory. "The exhibit talks about the Holocaust cartoon contest and [Holocaust denial] conferences [Ahmadinejad] has held and his statements against the Jewish people," explained Avi Benlolo, president of the Toronto-based Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies. "If this was Toronto in 1933 and we had an exhibit on Hitler and his danger to the Jews, that exhibit would be denied" based on the city’s criteria, Benlolo believes.

Abbas, Bush to take stock of Mideast peace efforts
Middle East Online 9/24/2008
NEW YORK - US President George W. Bush and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas meet Thursday to assess Middle East peace efforts that are not expected to yield a hoped-for breakthrough by year’s end. Bush, the first sitting US president to call for the creation of a Palestinian state, now seems unlikely to achieve that high-priority before leaving office in January, and even major progress seems doubtful. Political upheaval in Israel, where Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has resigned in the face of corruption scandal, has cast further uncertainty over what can be done in just four months. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, tasked by Israeli President Shimon Peres to form a new government, is locked in political talks that appear to have pushed peace talks on the back burner. Abbas, in New York for the UN General Assembly, has openly acknowledged that he has little hope of an imminent. . .

Middle East peace talks could be completed within a year, Israel tells UN debate
United Nations News Service, ReliefWeb 9/24/2008
The current track of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations can still be completed within the next year, leading to two States living side by side in peace, security and mutual respect, Israeli President Shimon Peres told world leaders gathered at the General Assembly today. Speaking at the Assembly’s annual high-level debate in New York, Mr. Peres said the so-called Annapolis process – named after the United States city where the negotiations began late last year – will not be successfully wrapped up by its initial planned deadline. "We tried to conclude the negotiations this year, [but] it will take longer," he said. "But I believe it can be accomplished within the next year. I know that our Prime Minister [Ehud Olmert] is more than ready to conclude an agreement. Knowing [Palestinian] President [Mahmoud] Abbas, he will not miss this opportunity.

DFLP meets with British, German ambassadors
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The secretary general of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine met with ambassadors from the United Kingdom and Germany on Wednesday to discuss Palestinian unity. Secretary General Nayef Hawatmeh discussed with leaders the Egyptian initiative to unite competing Palestinian factions, as well as negotiations with Israel and the role of the International Quartet. Hawatmeh said that the Arab League’s sponsorship of the Egyptian Initiative was an opportunity “to end the division and rebuild the institutions” of the Palestinian National Authority. He called for the European Union to take a more active role in supporting national dialogue. Both Ambassadors stressed on their commitment to international resolutions where they emphasized that the message will arrive immediately to London and Berlin.

McCartney Israel gig sparks controversy
Toni O''Loughlin in Jerusalem and Ian Black, The Guardian 9/25/2008
· Ambassador claims visit is diplomatic and PR success - Paul McCartney visited Christ’s birthplace in the West Bank town of Bethlehem yesterday while Israel claimed that a visit he also made there, including a concert in Tel Aviv, was a political victory for the Jewish state. Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UK, described McCartney’s tour as a "diplomatic success of great import". "When one of the most admired musicians in the world not only expresses his willingness to visit Tel Aviv, but also publicly talks about the positive things he’s heard about Israel, this is an Israeli diplomatic and PR success of the first order," Prosor wrote in the local daily Ma’ariv. Several Palestinian groups urged McCartney to cancel his trip while an Islamist militant told a British paper that the 66-year-old rock star risked being the target of a suicide bombing attack if he visited Israel.

Peres: Israel isn’t willing to give Syria land in exchange for rocket fire
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
President Shimon Peres on Wednesday told his Turkish counterpart President Abdullah Gul that Israel "is not willing to take painful steps and return territories in exchange for rocket fire," referring to peace negotiations between Israel and Syria. The two heads of state met on the sidelines of the opening of the 63rdl United Nations General Assembly in New York. Turkey has been acting as a mediator in the recently relaunched indirect talks between Israel and Syria. Peres reiterated to Gul that "the Israeli public wants to see with its own eyes that Syria has changed. " During their meeting, the two also discussed the possibility of expanding the peace talks between Israel and Syria, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the Iranian threat.

Turkish president says Syria serious about peace talks
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 9/24/2008
President Peres meets with Turkish counterpart in New York, tells him ’Israel is unwilling to cede territories and get missile fire in return. ’ Gul says, ’As the negotiations progress, the doubts on the Israeli side will grow smaller’ - President Shimon Peres met Tuesday night with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, in New York. One of the issues the two discussed was the unofficial peace talks between Israel andSyria. Peres said during the meeting, "Israel will not be willing to take painful steps and cede territories, and get missile fire in return. " Gul told Peres that "Syria is serious about striking a peace deal with Israel, and as the negotiations progress the doubts on the Israeli side will grow smaller. " The Turkish president added that his country "believes and hopes that immediately after a government is formed in Israel, both sides will return to the negotiations table.

Syrian daily doubts Livni will advance peace
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 9/24/2008
"˜Tishrin’ changes its tone, unmercifully painting picture of Kadima chairwoman as peace rejecter, Palestinian-killing agent - After terming newly elected Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni as, "the pretty woman from the Mossad," the official government Syrian daily "Tishrin" has begun to change its tone. Issam Dari, the paper’s editor-in-chief on Wednesday expressed his doubts that Livni will take the peace path. Under the title, "The escape from peace," he wrote, "Are we supposed to expect good things from a person who came from a family who carried out eliminations and murder and worked in the "˜profession’ of murder? " "In the past few days there were those who have tried to improve the image of Tzipi Livni, the person chosen for the task of forming the Israeli government, by describing her as, "˜moderate’ and someone who will advance the. . .

Israel’s population at New Year’s eve - 7.3 million
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 9/24/2008
The proportion of single young Jews continues to grow. Israel’s population at Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year’s) 5769 is 7,337,000, of whom 5. 54 million are Jews, 1. 48 million are Arabs (20. 1%), and 318,000 (4. 3%) are non-Arab others, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported today. At the end of 2007, Israel’s population was 7,243,600, of whom 5. 48 million were Jews (75. 6%), 1. 45 million were Arabs, and 315,400 (4. 4%) were others, mostly immigrants and their families who are not registered as Jews. Israel has 978 men per 1,000 women. Up to the age of 36, men outnumber women, after which the ratio reverses. At 75, there are 672 men per 1,000 women. The proportion of single Jews is continuing to grow, especially among the young. In 2006, 76% of Jewish men aged 20-29 were single, up from 73% in 2000, and 60% of women in this age bracket were single, up from 54% in 2000.

Treasury slashes growth forecast
Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
As the capital market battles stormy weather and sensational news is the order of every new day, real economic developments are moving at an equally frenetic pace. Just last month the government approved the state budget for 2009. But treasury captains realize that some of its basic assumptions are no longer valid. The budget for 2009 was based on the treasury’s assumption that Israeli GDP would grow 3. 5% next year. The Bank of Israel predicted growth of ’just’ 3. 1%. In recent discussions between the finance ministry and central bank officials, the Bank of Israel is sticking to its earlier forecast. But the treasury has adjusted its outlook: now some (not all) of its officials think growth in 2009 may be less than 2%. In other words, that economic growth is significantly slowing down.

More Arab women work, fewer babies born
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 9/24/2008
Experts say main reasons for drop in birth rate among Arab sector are economic situation, disbandment of clan, State’s failure to help and growing number of working women - The Arab sector was not surprised by data released Wednesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), which pointed to a drop in the number of babies born to Arab women in Israel. Dr. Nihaya Daoud, a researcher at the Braum School for Public Health at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, believes that this trend began a decade ago and will continue in the near future. "This situation is the result of a combination between several factors, including the growing awareness among Arab women," she explained. According to the CBS data, 2007 saw a rise in the average number of children born to Jewish mothers, from 2.

Inward investment falls
Globes correspondent, Globes Online 9/24/2008
Direct foreign investment in Israel fell 30% in 2007, according to the annual report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Direct foreign investment in Israel fell 30% to $10 billion in 2007 from a record $14 billion in 2006, according to the annual report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on financial investment and global acquisitions. According to a forecast by the international financing department at the College of Management business administration school, 2008 is likely to see a further contraction in direct foreign investment to $6 billion only. However direct financial investment worldwide reached an unprecedented level in 2007, rising 30% over 2006 to $1. 83 trillion. The UNCTAD report for 2007 also looks for the first time at infrastructure, with details of international investment in infrastructure in each company.

Police conduct massive raid against Umm el-Fahm crime family
Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
As part of ongoing efforts to tackle a recent flare-up of mob-related violence in Netanya and other locales, over 100 police officers staged a raid against the Hariri crime family in Umm el-Fahm on Wednesday morning. The police searched three buildings owned by the infamous clan, known for their involvement in protection rackets and arms dealing, police said. "This is directly linked to the upswing in criminal activity in Netanya, and we believe that some members of the Hariri crime family have been helping the Netanya mobsters in their ongoing feuds," Sharon District Police spokesman Yitzhak Shemer said. Shemer said he was not at liberty to discuss what was uncovered in the raid, but said it was successful. Taking on the Hariri family in Umm el-Fahm, however, is no easy task. The Israeli Arab clan, which police sources have described as a "strong, family-based organization,". . .

Hard look / Succor for real estate won’t come from the banks
Eti Aflalo, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
Israeli companies will apparently need to recycle tens of billions of shekels in loans in the next 12 months, including principal and interest. Yet their recycling needs unhappily coincide with a period in which it is well nigh impossible to borrow through the local capital market. Provident funds face billions of shekels in redemptions, at the very time they stand exposed to corporate debt equivalent to 40% of their managed assets. They aren’t going to bring succor to the companies. Even if capital market investors were willing to buy bonds, they’re currently demanding double-digit interest, even from blue-chip companies. In practice the capital market as an alternative venue for companies to borrow has vanished. Advertisement Relief is supposed to come from the banks.

Hapoalim board to review Russian bank purchase
Eran Peer, Globes Online 9/24/2008
The Bank of Israel is dissatisfied with Bank Hapoalim’s decision-making in its acquisition of SDM. Bank Hapoalim (TASE:POLI ; LSE:80OA) chairman Dan Dankner and the board of directors will again discuss in a few weeks the acquisition of Russian bank SDM. The discussion will be part of the bank’s formulation of the next stage of its international expansion strategy. The board will review the bank’s current activities and foreign acquisitions, and it will decide on new directions for development and the amounts to be invested for implementing the strategy. Some Bank Hapoalim officers are calling for the cancellation of the SDM acquisition because of the drastic change in the macroeconomic climate in recent months, including the worsening of the global financial crisis, and the worsening economic and geopolitical situation in Russia since its attack on Georgia last month.

As Israelis head to Sinai, Barak nixes idea to close border
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
The security cabinet on Wednesday discussed terrorism threats facing Israelis abroad and their refusal to heed travel warnings, as thousands of Israelis are expected to go to Sinai over the upcoming holidays. While some have called recently for the government to do more to prevent Israelis from going to Sinai, perhaps even making it illegal to do so, Defense Minister Ehud Barak reportedly said that such a move would harm Israel’s strategic relationship with Egypt. It is one thing, one diplomatic official said, to advise Israelis not to go to Sinai, and yet another to close the border. Such an act would surely be interpreted as hostile by the Egyptians, and not a move befitting two countries at peace. Israel Radio reported on Wednesday that some 7,000 Israelis were expected to travel to Sinai over the Rosh Hashana holiday.

Olmert: Israelis must take foreign terror threats seriously
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/24/2008
The security cabinet announced at the end of its meeting Wednesday that Israelis planning to holiday abroad must stay alert for warnings from the Counter Terrorism Bureau, and take the necessary precautions in light of the threat of terror attacks, specifically abductions. Outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert said during the cabinet deliberations that events of recent years had enhanced the motivation of terror organizations, primarily Hezbollah, to harm Israelis. "The government is making an effort to publicize warnings, but it is first and foremost the responsibility of every citizen leaving the country to keep away from dangerous areas and take the necessary precautions. Israeli citizens and governmental bodies must take these threats very seriously", said Olmert.

Zaki calls for unity in Ain al-Hilweh
Daily Star 9/25/2008
BEIRUT: Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) representative in Lebanon Abbas Zaki said on Wednesday that an explosion in Ain al-Hilweh a day earlier was "intended to undermine stability in the refugee camp after the efforts of the Palestinian security forces and the heightened awareness of the camp’s residents. " One man was killed when a bomb exploded in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of the Lebanese port city of Sidon on Tuesday. "One person was killed and four others were wounded," said Munir Maqdah, the camp’s Fatah commander who heads a multi-factional security committee. The attack was the latest in a spate of violence in Ain al-Hilweh, the most populous of Lebanon’s dozen Palestinian refugee camps with more than 45,000 residents. Zaki said that Palestinians would not be dragged into strife, adding that they would respond to violence by strengthening. . .

Sleiman: Lebanon fully committed to 1701
Daily Star 9/25/2008
BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman said Tuesday that Lebanon was fully committed to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and added that the international community should urge Israel to stop its threats against Lebanon. "Lebanon reiterates its full commitment to Resolution 1701," Sleiman said in a speech before the 63rd UN General Assembly session in New York. Sleiman met on Wednesday with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. "Lebanon is facing a series of dangers and challenges which require the international community to compel Israel to implement Resolution 1701. . . and stop its dangerous threats to launch a new war on Lebanon," the president said. UN Security Council Resolution 1701 put an end to Israel’s 34-day war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006. He said the international community should help Lebanon recover its occupied land and ask Israel to stop its. . .

Iraqi army says violence up in Baghdad
Middle East Online 9/24/2008
BAGHDAD - The Iraqi army said on Wednesday that violence in Baghdad had spiked in the past two weeks, forcing the authorities to spread troops across the capital. "The violence has increased in the capital during the past two weeks and the decision was taken to spread the army in all the districts," Major General Qassim Atta told a press conference. Atta’s comment comes at a time when violence across the country is at a four-year low, according to US and Iraqi officials. Without offering details on whether extra troops would be deployed in Baghdad, Atta said insurgents "had raised the level of violence (in Baghdad) by planting bombs (and) carrying out assassinations using guns with silencers. " He said people have been warned to check their vehicles to thwart any such bids. Insurgents have managed to carry out attacks in Baghdad and in the dangerous province of Diyala, north of Baghdad.

Iraq passes provincial election law
Al Jazeera 9/24/2008
Iraq’s parliament has passed a law allowing provincial elections to go ahead after months of wrangling over how the poll should be conducted and the future of the northern city of Kirkuk, according to MPs. The law will now be sent to Iraq’s three-member presidency council, headed by Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s president, for approval. Talabani rejected an earlier version of the law after it was passed at parliamentary session in July, which had been boycotted by Kurdish parties and some Shia MPs. Salim al-Jubouri, a senior member from the Sunni Arab Accordance Front, said the law had been passed unanimously after a number of concessions were made over the Kirkuk issue. He said there would be a separate law for dealing with elections in Kirkuk as well as a power sharing formula for the city’s administration.

Israel’s population on eve of Rosh Hashanah: 7.3 million, 76% Jewish
Moti Bassok TheMarker, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
On the eve of Rosh Hashanah 5769, Israel’s population stands at 7,337,000 people, including 5,542,000 Jewish Israelis (75. 5 percent) and 1,477,000 Israeli Arabs (20. 1 percent). The figures, published Wednesday in the Central Bureau of Statistics annual report, also include another 318,000 Israelis listed under the category of "others," in which some 200,000 foreign workers were counted. The report stated that the population has grown by 1. 8 percent since last year. The report also says that Israel’s population is relatively young compared to western nations. In 2007, 28. 4 percent of Israelis were below the age of 14, as opposed to only 17 percent in western countries. Likewise, 9. 8 percent of Israel’s population was aged 65 and over, as opposed to 15 percent of western nations’ populations.

Ancient lost capital of the Jewish Khazar kingdom found
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/24/2008
Russian archaeologists said Wednesday they had found the long-lost capital of the Khazar kingdom in southern Russia, a breakthrough for research on the ancient Jewish state. "This is a hugely important discovery," expedition organiser Dmitry Vasilyev told AFP by telephone from Astrakhan State University after returning from excavations near the village of Samosdelka, just north of the Caspian Sea. "We can now shed light on one of the most intriguing mysteries of that period -- how the Khazars actually lived. We know very little about the Khazars -- about their traditions, their funerary rites, their culture," he said. The city was the capital of the Khazars, a semi-nomadic Turkic peoples who adopted Judaism as a state religion, from between the 8th and the 10th centuries, when it was captured and sacked by the rulers of ancient Russia.

El Al flight from Paris lands safely in Israel after bomb scare
Zohar Blumenkrantz , and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
El Al flight 324 from Paris to Tel Aviv was escorted to Israel by air force fighter planes before its 8 P. M. landing Wednesday night due to suspicions a bomb had been placed onboard. The event proved a false alarm. After landing, the Boeing 767 carrying 237 passengers parked far from the terminal, and passengers were bused to the main terminal and went through a security check. El Al technical staff, meanwhile, examined the plane for a bomb. "We saw fighter planes from the windows. The captain explained to us what was happening," said a passenger. A few days ago, Israeli security authorities received a warning that a bomb might be placed on the flight, and alerted their French counterparts. Strict security measures were taken even before the plane took off from Charles de Gaulle Airport, and French warplanes escorted the plane until it left French airspace.

Emirates plan canal to bypass Iran
The Media Line Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
Iranian threats to close down the Hormuz Strait in the Gulf in case of a military attack are being taken seriously by the neighboring United Arab Emirates (UAE). Strategically located in the Gulf between Iran and the UAE, the Hormuz Strait is the only sea passage to the open ocean for oil-rich exporters such as Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and the UAE. "Our oil revenues will be jeopardized if we don’t find an alternative to using the Hormuz Strait for exporting oil," Dubai Chief of Police Lt. -Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim said earlier this week, according to the Emirati daily Gulf News. Tamim suggested that a plan, which had already been considered in the 1980s, to create a land canal at the northern end of the UAE, just south of the Hormuz Strait, would enable the country to relieve itself of the Iranian threat.

Bethlehem welcomes a quarter of the band ’bigger than Jesus’
Donald Macintyre in Bethlehem, The Independent 9/25/2008
The young John Lennon may have once irreverently boasted that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus. But not, it seems, in Jesus’s birthplace and among some Palestinians at least. Before Sir Paul McCartney turned up genuinely unannounced at the Church of the Nativity hereyesterday, a bemused policeman, Mohammed Itmazi, 26, confessed that he hadn’t heard either of him or of the band that made him world famous. Yes, there had been many famous people coming through, such as Nicolas Sarkozy and, he added, prompted by a companion, Gordon Brown. But Sir Paul, well no, he was not sure who he was. But the Church of the Nativity isalso a place of pilgrims and it was not long before the identity ofthe new arrival at the holy site, dressed in pink open-necked shirt, grey chinos and grey and white trainers, began to dawn on the relatively modest crowd of early evening visitors.

McCartney in West Bank: I’m carrying a message of peace
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
Musical legend Paul McCartney says he’s carrying a message of peace for Israel and the Palestinians. He visited the West Bank town of Bethlehem a day before his concert in Tel Aviv. McCartney toured the Church of the Nativity, built over the traditional birthplace of Jesus. He took pictures with a small camera and lit two candles. He said they were for peace. The Beatles legend ducked into the fourth-century church through its low, narrow entrance, taking pictures with a small camera on a strap around his neck. He lit two long, tapered white candles in different parts of the church, saying each time that they were for peace. After posing for pictures with fans of all ages outside the fortress-like church, McCartney was asked to respond to criticism from some Palestinians that his visit to Israel supports its occupation of the West Bank.

McCartney visits Church of Nativity
David Brinn, Staff And Ap, Jerusalem Post 9/23/2008
Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney said Wednesday he’s carrying a message of peace for Israel and the Palestinians, rejecting criticism of his planned concert in Tel Aviv. McCartney toured the Bethlehem, visiting the Church of the Nativity, built over the traditional birthplace of Jesus. The Beatles legend ducked into the fourth-century church through its low, narrow entrance, taking pictures with a small camera on a strap around his neck. He lit two long, tapered white candles in different parts of the church, saying each time that they were "for peace. " After posing for pictures with fans of all ages outside the fortress-like church, McCartney was asked to respond to criticism from some Palestinians that his visit to Israel supports its occupation of the West Bank.

EU, PA give allowances to ’vulnerable’ Palestinian families
Ma’an News Agency 9/24/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – The European Union (EU) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) launched a joint initiative Wednesday to pay "social allowances" to vulnerable Palestinian families, according to a release. More than 46,000 families will receive an allowance of NIS 1,000 per household, which will be channeled through the EU. The families were identified in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and Social Affairs, through the latter’s Social Hardship Cases Program. Palestinian Minister for Social Affairs Mahmoud Habbash said that the program "helped [the PA] meet obligations toward those who most need out support. " European Commission Representative John Kjaer said that the EU "will not let the Palestinians down," especially "during the holy month of Ramadan. " The payment is the third under the EU’s new program for delivering aid.

Several killed in Iraq ambush
Al Jazeera 9/24/2008
Gunmen have ambushed and killed at least 20 people in a village northeast of Baghdad. The deaths on Wednesday in al-Dulaimat in Diyala province included 12 policemen and members of the US-backed Sunni patrol groups, police said. The attack occurred at about 3. 30 pm (1230GMT) when the victims gathered for a raid in the Sunni village, which is surrounded by an al-Qaeda stronghold. The assailants had apparently been tipped off about the raid and were waiting for the forces to arrive. Ahmed Faud, a doctor at the main hospital in Baquba, the provincial capital, confirmed he had received 20 dead bodies. "The bodies are riddled with bullets. "he said. He said that the dead policemen included three officers - a colonel, a lieutenant colonel and a captain.

Iraqi artists display work - and persistence - in London
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/23/2008
LONDON: Iraq’s artists give proof of their resilience despite the ongoing conflict in an exhibition that opened in London this week. "Riding on Fire: Iraqi Art Under Occupation" at the Artiquea Gallery in southwest London is showing 42 works produced by 21 Iraqi artists since the 2003 invasion of the country, including paintings, bronzes, sculptures and ceramics. The exhibition saluted the courage of the artists, who were forced to establish "a secret web to overcome threats posed by occupation forces, vicious militia groups, corrupt police and criminals. ""The idea of this exhibition started six months ago," said exhibition coordinator Haifa Zangana. "I know some of the artists and I have been in touch with them since I arrived in London in the mid-1970s. " In a marked contrast to the often grim realities of Iraq, the majority of the works on display are colorful, which gallery. . .


Palestine: From bad to wretched
Ramzy Baroud, Asia Times 9/25/2008
      The numbers are grim, whether in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian economy is in one of its most wretched states, and the disaster is mostly, if not entirely, man-made, thus reversible.
     The World Bank made no secret of the fact that Israeli restrictions are largely to blame, as poverty rates in the Gaza Strip have soared to 79.4% and in the West Bank to 45.7%. It concluded that "with a growing population and a shrinking economy, real per capita GDP is now 30% below its height in 1999 ... With due regard to Israel’s security concerns, there is consensus on the paralytic effect of the current physical obstacles placed on the Palestinian economy."
     With a declining economy, lack of developmental projects and Israeli restrictions, Palestinians are increasingly reliant on foreign aid, which is largely controlled by political interests. For example, the US proved more generous than ever in supporting the Ramallah-based government of Mahmoud Abbas as it led an international regime of sanctions and embargo against the Gaza-based Hamas government. Such funds are often conditioned on such murky concepts as "cracking down on the terrorist infrastructure", which is duly understood as fighting those who challenge Israel and Palestinian Authority rule in the West Bank.

Why We Should Never Forget

Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 9/24/2008
      September 16 and 17 mark a very difficult anniversary for the Palestinians. Twenty-six years ago, approximately 2,000 Palestinian men, women and children were massacred in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla in Lebanon by Israeli-aligned Phalangist troops under the chief of the Lebanese Intelligence Forces Elie Hobeika and Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.
     Unarguably some of the darkest days of Palestinian history, the Sabra and Shatilla massacres are now a reminder of a cause we as Palestinians should never allow ourselves to forget. The plight of Palestinian refugees has remained unresolved since its creation in 1948, with atrocities such as Sabra and Shatilla painful reminders of why a just resolution to it must be found.
     Israel’s part in the massacre should also not be forgotten. In 1982, Beirut was under siege by the Israelis. The Palestinian resistance was to quit Beirut under an American-brokered deal but only after the PLO was given guarantees by the US that the Palestinian civil population would be immune from attack. Days after Palestinian troops had evacuated, Israel occupied West Beirut and encircled the Sabra and Shatilla camps. It then allowed the Phalangists in. Israel provided them with weapons, protection and most importantly, a green light, to enter the two camps – now devoid of armed Palestinian fighters – and carry out one of the most gruesome massacres in history. Thousands of Palestinians were killed, women raped and slaughtered, men lined up on walls and shot down and babies killed alongside their horror-stricken mothers.

Neo-cons, ex-Israeli diplomats push Islamophobic video

Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, Electronic Intifada 9/24/2008
      WASHINGTON (IPS) - A group of hard-line United States neo-conservatives and former Israeli diplomats, among others, are behind the mass distribution, ahead of the November US presidential election, of a controversial DVD that critics have denounced as Islamophobic.
     The group, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), is working with another organization called the Clarion Fund, which produced the 60-minute video and is itself tied closely to an Israeli organization called Aish Hatorah.
     The Fund is currently distributing some 28 million copies of the DVD through newspaper inserts in key electoral "swing" states -- states like Michigan, Ohio, and Florida that, according to recent polling, could go either way in November’s presidential election.
     According to Delaware incorporation papers, the Clarion Fund is based at the same New York address as Aish Hatorah, a self-described "apolitical" group dedicated to educating Jews about their heritage.
     The Clarion Fund’s street address as listed on the group’s website and a DVD mailer for the film is apparently not a physical address, but rather a "virtual address" that goes to a post office box in New York City.

''Incoherent'' agreement spells the way forward

Mona Alami, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 9/24/2008
      Lebanese President Michel Suleiman leads a divided government struggling to achieve unity. ( Matthew Cassel BEIRUT (IPS) - The Lebanese unity government has finally came to terms with its ministerial declaration after weeks of political haggling. What promises and threats does the incoherent declaration hold for Lebanon in a polarized local and regional context?
     "The ministerial declaration is an impossible document that carries many contradictions," says Oussama Safa, director of the Lebanese Center for Political Studies, a local Lebanese think tank.
     The declaration, which was passed by parliament on 12 August, underlined the program of the newly formed cabinet in the wake of the 21 May Doha Accord. The agreement put an end to a week-long war between the pro-Western and Arab parliamentary majority -- comprised of the Christian Kataeb and Lebanese Forces, the Sunni Future movement and the Progressive Socialist Party -- and the pro-Syrian and Iranian opposition, which includes the Shia Hizballah and Amal parties as well as the Christian Free Patriotic Movement.

Time and negotiations

Daoud Kuttab, Jerusalem Post 9/24/2008
      The issue of time has always played a major role in most negotiations. Whether they be labor negotiations or political ones, each side of any conflict waits literally till the very last minute before revealing its true position. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have been quoted as saying that they wish they had just a little more time to reach a solution.
     Time and again we have seen the Palestinian-Israeli conflict reach a potential breakthrough point only for the hopes of both peoples to be dashed because of the failure to reach a resolution. After six years of the Palestinian nakba and the creation of the State of Israel and following more than 40 years of the military occupation of the rest of Palestine, it is a joke for negotiators to wish they had just a little more time.

’The Secret’: Coming soon to a bookstore near you

Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
      The eternal question, "Who gave the order?" to operate the espionage network in Egypt 54 years ago will soon get a new twist. It will happen if a book by former Military Intelligence head Binyamin Gibli, who died last month, is finally published. In a recent conversation with Haaretz, Gibli’s widow, Elisheva, confirmed that she has decided to to do so, "and then there will be some surprises."
     It is not yet clear, however, who owns the rights to the manuscript. They, like the other substantial assets left by Gibli, who was also a successful businessman for 45 years, are in dispute between Elisheva and Gibli’s first wife, Esther Pinhasi, her daughter Tami and Tami’s three granddaughters. Tami is married to former journalist and businessman Eitan Lifshitz, who told Haaretz yesterday that to the best of his knowledge Gibli’s will does not mention the manuscript, even though it is in Elisheva’s possession. According to Lifshitz the absence of the manuscript from the will makes it unclear who should inherit it.
     For close to 40 years Gibli swore himself to silence and refused to comment on the Egyptian espionage affair. Then in 1992, Shabtai Tevet, an author who is the official biographer of David Ben-Gurion, published "Kalban" (the Hebrew acronym for "Banana Skin") - two volumes of details on the scandalous Lavon affair, known throughout the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s as the Esek Bish ("the rotten business") due to the military censor’s restrictions.

Culture criminals

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 9/25/2008
      A program on a remote television channel brought back memories from the past. Channel 33 recently broadcast a rerun of "The Way It Was" with Yaron London. We once had a different kind of television. It consisted of intelligent, challenging, inoffensive language and conversation, sometimes even subversive. That’s what Israelis used to watch - and loved. Today there isn’t one show whose ratings can match those once reached by the weekly political interview program "Moked," "The Third Hour" and "Boomerang."
     Indeed, that’s the way it was and is no more - nothing remains. The sea is the same sea, the nation is the same nation and only television is different. Someone is responsible for that; someone must be made to answer. The managers of commercial TV - Keshet CEO Avi Nir, Reshet CEO Yohanan Zangan, and Modi Friedman, Channel 10’s outgoing general manager - these are our culture criminals, cynically dumbing down an entire society for profit. And not a word is raised in protest. Everyone blames parents, but nobody is calling these garbage-peddlers to account. One day it will dawn on us that the only spiritual food fed to generations has been the reality show and the game show, with even news twisted into entertainment. Then, let us remember who did this to us.

Israel has made all the wrong choices if it wants to be accepted

Editorial, The Daily Star, Daily Star 9/25/2008
      Israeli officials have long warned about the dire threat posed to their country by the Islamic Republic of Iran, as President Shimon Peres did during his address on Wednesday to the United Nations General Assembly. Peres and his colleagues are right in their assessment that Iran’s current behavior poses a strategic challenge, not just to Israel but to the entire Middle East region. However, the Israelis are facing a far greater danger that might eventually bring about the demise of the Jewish state: themselves.
     In order to appease a tiny, radical segment of their society, Israeli leaders have turned down the Arab Peace Initiative, which represents a historic opportunity to reach a comprehensive peace agreement with all Arab states and to firmly cement Israel’s place within the community of Middle East nations. Instead, they have deliberately chosen to delay peace and maintain Israel’s illegal settlements and occupation, as well as the Jewish state’s status as a tiny country surrounded by hostile neighbors. But time is not on the side of the state of Israel. Already Palestinians who have grown frustrated with the pace of peace negotiations are talking about changing strategies and pursuing the cause of a binational state that would spell the end of the "Jewish homeland." Others have given up entirely on the very notion of peace and have joined the swelling ranks of Islamic resistance movements. Moreover, the decision to remain in conflict has exacerbated the brain drain that results from the flight of an increasing number of educated Israelis who have no interest in raising their children in a war zone.

Will Livni be another horror show?

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 9/24/2008
      In Israel today, the curtain opens on the new political performance of Tzipi Livni, who last week was elected leader of the Kadima Party. It is not clear if Livni will dazzle or disappoint; if she will generate historic change or just another hour of horror. I am chromosomally optimistic about the world, so I hope for the best. I have immense, interminable faith in the goodness of the human spirit, among Israelis and Arabs alike, which is only slightly and momentarily tempered by the gross incompetence and occasional criminality of Arab and Israeli political leaders. Arab leaderships and strategic policies rarely change, and transitions are usually from father to son, or great leader to trusted cousin, or one colonel or security chief to another. More frequent leadership changes in Israel are often accompanied by choruses of expectations and exhortations.
     Livni will try to forge a ruling coalition, and if she fails the country will hold general elections, which the Likud Party, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, is expected to win. Many in the Arab world argue that there is no difference between any of the Israeli parties insofar as peacemaking and coexistence with the Arabs are concerned. Indeed, Labor, Likud, Kadima and coalitions of all of them with many smaller Israeli parties have all perpetuated much the same policies for four decades now.