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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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25 September 2008

Quartet "failing" in Middle East
Al Jazeera 9/25/2008
A coalition of aid organisations has charged the so-called Quartet of Middle East negotiators with failing to make significant progress towards peace in the region. The 21 agencies issued their report on Thursday saying the EU, Russia, the US and the UN had not delivered on half of their goals, and that in some instances, the situation had become worse since the much-hyped Annapolis conference last year. The report cited accelerated expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, despite at least 18 calls for the contrary by the Quartet, as one of the points of deterioration. Additionally, it says Israeli restrictions on movement in the occupied West Bank continue, and that an Israeli-led blockade of the Gaza Strip has not been eased, despite a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas rejects Israel's prisoners offer, suspends Shalit talks
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Bethlehem — Ma’an — The committee tasked with negotiating the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on Thursday submitted the names of 450 Palestinian prisoners Israel will free in exchange for the soldier. The Ramon Committee gave Prime Minister Ehud Olmert the list, which includes half of the prisoners Hamas wanted back. The committee abandoned its original declaration that it would release no prisoner "with blood on their hands" in an effort to speed up negotiations. The Israeli intelligence service Shin Bet opposed the decision. Regardless, Hamas ceased negotiations with Egypt on Thursday when it discovered that half of its prisoners were excluded from the list, saying that the Israelis are "not serious. ""What the Israelis have approved cannot be called "progress,"" spokesman Faqzi Barhoum told members of the Israeli press.

RSF: PA repression of journalists in West Bank increased
Palestinian Information Center 9/25/2008
VIENNA, (PIC)-- Reporters San Frontiers criticised, in a statement on Wednesday, "the continuing press censorship in the Gaza Strip and West Bank" and called for the release of Ossayd Al-Amarneh, the cameraman of the Aqsa satellite TV, who was arrested in Bethlehem on 21 Septemeber. The statement pointed to the fact that this was the fourth time that Amarneh was arrested and that his arrest came only two days after the release of another journalist, Mustafa Sabri, editor of the Falastin newspaper. Sabri was detained on 31 July. It added that the arrest of Amarneh comes only a couple of days after the PA security forces released journalist Mustafa Sabri, who had been arbitrarily detained in the PA intelligence jail for more than two months despite an order from the PA supreme court to immediately and unconditionally release him.

Shihab to PNN: on verge of another outbreak of internal fighting
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/25/2008
Gaza -- The official spokesman of Islamic Jihad, Daoud Shihab, told PNN on Thursday that the Palestinian arena is on the verge of another outbreak of internal fighting if the division remains. "Consensus must be returned before the end of President Abbas" term," Shihab said from Gaza today. "Good intentions regarding the dialogue are not enough. 'should fighting return to the streets many political leaders believe the Palestinian national cause will become entirely fractured. The presidential term of Abbas is slated to end in January 2009, but the Legislative Council term will not reach completion under 2010. The call for simultaneous elections in order to avoid further problems between the Ramallah and Gaza governments is becoming more difficult to realize. Shihab says the issue of the presidential term factors into the deepening internal divide and that whenever Abbas". . .

Livni says attack on leftist professor "intolerable"
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Foreign minister denounces detonation of pipe bomb outside Ze"ev Sternhell's Jerusalem home, says "war on country's borders is not enough if values are not upheld". Bibi: Sickening attack by abominable people -Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni phoned Professor Ze"ev Sternhell's family members Thursday and denounced the placement of the pipe bomb outside his home. Earlier, at a Rosh Hashana toast at the Foreign Ministry, Livni said "the incident cannot be ignored or tolerated; Israel is a country of law and order. "The war on the country's borders is not enough if its values are not upheld. After is it established, the new government, regardless of its (political inclination), must not only condemn such phenomena but also act against them," the newly elected Kadima chairwoman added.

Israel ambassador to UN: General Assembly chief is an Israel hater
Shlomo Shamir, Ha"aretz 9/25/2008
Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Gabriela Shalev on Thursday called the President of the UN General Assembly Miguel d"Escoto Brockmann an "Israel hater" for having hugged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a vocal enemy of Israel. Brockmann has incurred the wrath of the Israeli delegation before, when in his first speech as the president of the international body he said that "the greatest case failure of the United Nations is the lack of a Palestinian state. " Shalev voiced her outrage in an interview on Thursday, condemning Brockmann's gesture at the end of Ahmadinejad's address at the opening of the 63rd General Assembly on Tuesday, which was aggressive and anti-Israel. Brockmann, a 75-year-old Catholic priest, was scheduled to dine alongside Ahmadinejad in a meal marking the end the Ramadan fast, organized by five American religious groups.

UN to hold session on settlements
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
The UN Security Council has agreed to hold a high-level open debate Friday on the ongoing Israeli settlement building in disputed territory. Agreement came Thursday in closed-door consultations of the council, said Libyan UN delegate Mahmoud Gebreel. Saudi Arabia requested the meeting at the ministerial level on behalf of the Arab League. Prime ministers, foreign ministers and other world leaders and senior diplomats are currently in New York attending the annual UN General Assembly. Public speeches are expected from Saudi Arabia and the Arab League, and probably Israel speaking in response, Gebreel and several other diplomats said as they left the private consultation. No council resolution on the matter is expected. UN Mideast envoy Robert Serry warned last week that peace talks were at a crossroad after 10 months and that both sides must step up efforts to reach their goal.

Arrests of leftist youth in Bethlehem on the rise
Najib Farraj, Palestine News Network 9/25/2008
Bethlehem -- A month long campaign against the leftist youth of Bethlehem is ongoing as confirmed Thursday by a source in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Nearly nightly raids are being carried out in Deheisha Refugee Camp and the nearby village of Al Doha where hundreds of people moved when the camp became severely over populated. The Ramadan pre-dawn meal is the prime time that tens of Israeli soldiers raid houses to arrest their targets. The PFLP source confirms the number of arrestees has reached 30 young people this month. The majority are between 16 and 18 years of age with additional 30 to 40 year old PFLP members also being taken. The PFLP makes clear that these invasions include brutal procedures against the targeted Palestinians and their families. The soldiers engage in beating residents, destroying property and inflicting emotional harm in addition to the physical.

Israeli troops detain three Palestinians in the West Bank
International Middle East Media Center News 9/25/2008
The Israeli troops rounded up on Thursday morning three Palestinian youth from the Na"leen village , to the west of Ramallah city in the West Bank. Media sources reported that the Israeli troops invaded the Na"leen village early in the dawn and began opening fire on different directions, as clashes broke out between the village's residents and the Israeli soldiers, resulting in no causalities. Meanwhile, the Israeli troops detained three Palestinian residents, identified as Barahim Serour, 18, Said Attalah Omaira, 20 and Mo'men Khawaja, 17, after having handed them over warrants to meet the Israeli intelligence service in the area. [end]

Israeli forces seize two men, one boy in Ni"lin raid
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Ramallah — Ma’an — Israeli forces detained two young men and a minor on Thursday in the town of Ni"lin west of Ramallah in an early morning raid, which was witnessed by a Ma’an correspondent. Forces reportedly opened fire throughout the village, where several young men clashed with Israeli soldiers. Though Ma’an obtained reports that Israeli military forces fired guns and shells throughout the raid, no injuries were reported on either side. Soldiers detained 18-year-old Ibrahim Mohammad Srour, 20-year-old Sa"id Atallah Amira and 17-year-old Mo'men Abed Khawajah during the incursion. The three were taken to an undisclosed location. [end]

Israeli forces storm Bethlehem, Duheisha Refugee Camp
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Bethlehem — Ma’an — Israeli forces seized a Palestinian teenager at Duheisha Refugee Camp in Bethlehem and stormed a house there early on Thursday morning, security sources said. Ibrahim Munir Arafah was abducted and soldiers searched the home of Ahmad Tawfiq Tayeh. Israeli forces stormed through parts of the city before raiding Duheisha. Meanwhile, Israel released Na"el Aiman Mfarreh and Khader Yousef Da"oud Salah after each had served six months in prison. [end]

IOF soldiers detain 8 Palestinians including a teenager
Palestinian Information Center 9/25/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces at dawn Thursday detained eight Palestinian civilians in different West Bank areas, the Hebrew radio reported. The broadcast said that the detainees were taken for investigation, but would not reveal their affiliations, if any. IOF soldiers manning the Kufrayat roadblock south of Tulkarem detained the 18-year-old teen Dia Shamashne after beating him up, eyewitnesses reported. [end]

Witnesses: Soldiers beat, detained teen at West Bank checkpoint
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Tulkarem — Ma’an — Israeli forces detained a young man from the town of Jayyus at the Jubarah checkpoint south of Tulkarem on Thursday, according to witnesses. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces detained 18-year-old Diya" Fahmi Fakhri Shamasnah after they beat him, before transferring him to undisclosed location. [end]

Israeli army official seeks lawsuit over Jenin documentary
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Bethlehem — Ma’an — Israeli military Brigadier Avihai Mandelblit sought legal action against a Palestinian filmmaker for "defamation" against the Israeli military, Israel Radio reported on Thursday. Mandelblit reportedly asked government legal consultant Meni Mazuz to "take judicial action" against director Mohammad Bakri over alleged falsehoods in his documentary, "Jenin Jenin. "A number of soldiers involved in the Jenin military assault in 2002 proposed the lawsuit as a means for to be "compensated for defamation and libel. "Tel Aviv's central court rejected that there was pretext to sue Bakri "personally," even if content in the film libeled or defamed the military or its soldiers.

Possible" Israeli war crimes report adopted
Middle East Online 9/25/2008
GENEVA - The UN Human Rights Council voted Wednesday to adopt a report of inquiry that says the Israeli shelling of a Palestinian village in which 19 people died could be construed as a war crime. The 24-page report on the November 8, 2006 attack on Beit Hanoun, in the Gaza Strip, was prepared by a high-level fact-finding mission led by South African bishop and Nobel peace prize laureate Desmond Tutu. The report regretted that Israel refused to cooperate with the mission. "In the absence of a well-founded explanation from the Israeli military. . . the mission must conclude that there is a possibility that the shelling of Beit Hanoun constituted a war crime," it said. The report was adopted by a vote of 32 in favour and nine -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia -- against, with five abstentions.

Israeli prisons authority deprives Palestinian prisoner of her medication
Palestinian Information Center 9/25/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The Palestinian prisoner Rima Daraghma, who is suffering from bad health, was denied medicine by the Israeli prisons authority, the Palestinian prisoner's club lawyer said on Wednesday. He said that a doctor, who was allowed into jail to check her, diagnosed her illness and prescribed a medicine but the prison administration refused to give her the medicine, claiming that it was not necessary for her. Daraghma, who hails from Tobas in the West Bank, also complained that she is deprived of family visits for more than nine months and does not know the reason. [end]

McCain campaign says Israel-Palestine peace "not top priority"
Ma’an News Agency 9/26/2008
Bethlehem — Ma’an — United States presidential candidate John McCain will not promote the Middle East peace process if elected in November, two top aides said at an event last weekend near Washington, DC. Israeli news agencies reported that campaign advisors Max Boot and Richard Williamson told reporters that a McCain administration would "discourage" peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, reportedly called President George W. Bush's Annapolis Conference "a mistake" at a retreat organized by the Washington Institute for Middle East Affairs. He said the Republican candidate does not consider such initiatives a "top priority. " But in a May interview with the Washington-based Atlantic Monthly, McCain said he would serve as "chief negotiator" in the peace process if elected.

Palin to Peres: I'm a longtime friend of Israel
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 9/26/2008
Friendly encounter in US between Republican VP nominee, Israeli president - President Shimon Peres met Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin Thursday and the two exchanged some warm words. Peres was on hand to deliver a speech at an international conference organized by former United States President Bill Clinton. Upon meeting the Israeli president Palin told him she has wanted to meet him and get to know him for years. She added that the only flag in her office, aside from the American flag, is the Israeli flag, stressing that she wants Israelis to know that she's been a longtime friend of the Jewish state, and will remain such. Palin meets Peres (Photo: GPO)Peres also took the opportunity to briefly speak to Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, who referred to the Israeli president as a longtime friend.

Abbas, in Washington, thanks Bush for supporting peace
Natasha Mozgovaya and The Associated Press, Ha"aretz 9/25/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with U. S. President George W. Bush on Thursday at the White House in Washington, thanking the American leader for all his support in efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East. "There is no doubt that you have done a great deal, Mr. President, and you have exerted a great deal of efforts aiming at achieving that vision that we will work together to achieve. Your efforts, Mr. President, as well as your vision, both help us and the Israelis to work very hard during the last year," Abbas told Bush. "We will continue to work with you and we will continue to keep the hope alive in order to reach a political solution for our issue and for the Middle East," Abbas concluded. Bush, for his part, said the U. S. administration will continue to work with the Palestinian authorities on security matters and on helping to coordinate international economic assistance.

Abbas, Bush stress need for peace push
Hilary Leila Krieger, Jpost Correspondent In Washington, Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US President George W. Bush stressed the need to continue working for Israeli-Palestinian peace in comments made before a White House meeting Thursday but made no reference to a previous 2008 deadline for an agreement. In what some analysts described as a farewell mission, Abbas visited Washington as part of an American tour coinciding with the opening of UN General Assembly in New York. Earlier this year, there had been indications the US would seek a memorandum of understanding between the Israelis and Palestinians to be presented at this time, or some other outward show of progress between the two parties nearly a year after the Annapolis conference restarted negotiations. But since then Israel has gone through a leadership crisis and talks have dragged on with little sign of outward progress.

Bush, Abbas try to keep peace talks moving
Reuters, YNetNews 9/25/2008
"I'm hopeful that the vision that you and I have worked on can come to pass," US president tells Palestinian leader in Washington. Abbas: We cannot live without hope -US President George W. Bush on Thursday met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to try to keep Middle East negotiations alive, as time wound down on his goal of achieving progress before leaving office. Bush kick-started new peace talks 10 months ago in hopes of clinching a peace agreement before he leaves office in January, but that has been scaled back to focus on a framework for creating a Palestinian state. "I've got four more months left in office and I'm hopeful that the vision that you and I have worked on can come to pass," Bush told Abbas before their meeting. 'my only pledge to you is that I"ll continue to work hard to see that it can come to pass.

Global jihad forum to be established
Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
The government has decided to establish a special forum that will deal with threats to Israelis posed by global jihad organizations, both locally and abroad, Army Radio reported Thursday. The National Security Council's Counterterrorism Bureau chief, Nitzan Nuriel, is expected to head the forum, which will have members from the Mossad, Shin Bet, IDF and other relevant security apparatuses. The forum will convene at least once every two months, according to the scale of the threats, with the goal of assisting the collaboration of all the security forces in the face of the growing terror attack warnings. The Security Cabinet ministers approved the forum's establishment in the hope that institutionalization of the cooperation and coordination between security and intelligence apparatuses would improve Israel's management of the global jihad threat.

Diplomats: US asks IAEA for full Syria report
Associated Press, YNetNews 9/25/2008
US dissatisfied with brief oral report on status of probe into bombed Syrian site - The United States asked the UN nuclear monitoring agency Thursday for a fuller accounting of its probe of Syria's alleged efforts to secretly develop a plutonium-producing facility at a site bombed by Israel. A senior Syrian envoy in turn accused Washington of using "twisted logic" in pressuring his country instead of condemning the Israeli attack. "When you shield the aggressor and when you accuse the victim it is. . . being not only an accessory to the crimes committed, but also encouraging more crimes," Syrian Ambassador Mohammed Badi Khattab told The. He also urged the new US administration taking office next year to play a more active role in Turkish-mediated Syrian-Israeli efforts to reach a peace agreement.

US asks IAEA for full Syria report
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
The US is asking the chief UN nuclear inspector for a full written report on his efforts to probe allegations that Syria had a secret atomic program, diplomats said Thursday. The diplomats suggested Washington's move was prompted by dissatisfaction with a brief oral presentation of the status of the probe at this week's meeting of the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA got involved after Israel reportedly bombed what the US says was a nearly completed nuclear reactor in the Syrian desert last year. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has told the board that the first batch of environmental samples from the site has come up empty. The diplomats asked for anonymity for reporting on the closed meeting.

IAEA chief: Syrian nuke probe figure killed
Associated Press, YNetNews 9/26/2008
Chief UN nuclear inspector says official participating in his agency's probe of an alleged atomic program assassinated, apparently referring to Brig. Gen. Mohammed Suleiman - The chief UN nuclear inspector says a Syrian official participating in his agency's probe of an alleged covert atomic program in the country has been assassinated. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, gave no names or any other details in his comments Thursday. But he appeared to be referring to the killing of Brig. Gen. Mohammed Suleiman last month, which was subsequently confirmed by the Syrian government. Arab media have said Suleiman was killed by a sniper on a yacht at a beach resort in the northern port city of Tartous. The IAEA is trying to follow up on US assertions that a Syrian site bombed last year by Israel was. . .

Dichter: Prof attack takes us back to days of Rabin assassination
Shahar Ilan and Roni Singer-Heruti , and Haaretz Service, Ha"aretz 9/26/2008
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter joined senior political officials on Thursday in condemning a pipe bomb attack on the home of left-wing activist and Haaretz columnist Professor Ze"ev Sternhell, saying that the incident called to mind the days of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Dichter described the event, which left Sternhell lightly wounded, an "assassination attempt" and a "nationalistic terror attack perpetrated, in all likelihood, by Jews, which pushes our society many years backward. " Speaking at a police ceremony in Netanya, Dichter added that "the pipe bomb that was planted yesterday should be viewed as a bomb meant to kill. The law enforcement authorities will not rest until the terrorists are put where they belong ? in prison. "Police suspect Jewish extremists of having carried out the pipe bomb attack earlier in the day.

Wounded professor says attack threatens democracy
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Ze"ev Sternhell, targeted by a pipe bomb at his Jerusalem home, says attacks of this kind undermine pillars of Israeli democracy; professor adds he is not intimidated, but says the fact his family could have been hurt unforgivable - Professor Ze"ev Sternhell, who was lightly wounded after a pipe bomb exploded near his Jerusalem home, said Thursday evening that attacks of this kind could undermine Israel's democracy. "If this act was not perpetrated by a lone madman, but rather, by an element representing a political or public movement, this is the start of the road to dismantling democracy," he told Ynet. According to Sternhell, the very act attests to the "fragility of Israel's democracy and the need to determinedly and decisively enlist to protect democracy. " "On the person level, if the intension was to scare me, it should be clear that they won"t be able to intimidate me," the professor added.

Sternhell "not intimidated" by attack
Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
Lying in his Shaare Zedek Hospital bed on Thursday night, lightly wounded by a pipe-bomb allegedly planted on the doorstep of his Jerusalem home by right-wing extremists, Israel Prize winner Prof. Ze"ev Sternhell said he was not intimidated, and warned in ominous terms of the perils he believes the country faces from within. National Jewish Front refuses to condemn politically motivated pipe bomb attack against renowned Israeli professor Sternhell "If this act was not committed by a lone lunatic, but by elements representing a political persuasion, this is the beginning of the way to the crumbling of democracy," he said. Sternhell, 73, a political scientist well-known for his work on fascism and an ardent critic of the settlement movement, fell victim to one of the worst incidents of political violence in recent years early Thursday morning but defiantly pledged that he would not be deterred.

Leftist Israeli Professor mildly wounded by a pipe bomb
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/25/2008
The Israeli Police reported on Thursday that a leftist Israeli Professor was mildly wounded late on Wednesday at night, after in a pipe bomb attack targeting his home in Jerusalem. The professor, Ze"ev Sternhell, talking from his hospital bed, said that this attack marks the start of democracy's decay in Israel. He added that "If this attack was not carried out by an unbalanced person but by someone who represents a political view, then this is the beginning of the disintegration of democracy in Israel", Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported. The professor is a Haaretz columnist and a left wing activist in Israel. He was moved to Shaarei Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem where we was treated for minor injuries. He said that this attack shows the urgent need to defend the fragile democracy in Israel with determination and resolve, Haaretz reported.

Dichter: ''Attack on Sternhell, Jewish terror'
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/25/2008
Israeli Internal Security Minister, Avi Dichter, said that the pipe bomb attack that targeted Professor Ze"ev Sternhell was apparently carried out by Jewish terrorists and takes Israel back to the time when former Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated by a Jewish terrorist. The statements of Dichter came on Thursday evening at a police ceremony in Netanya, north of Tel Aviv. "We should view these explosives planted at night, as explosives meant to kill", he stated, "We will not rest until we apprehend those terrorists who placed the explosives". On Thursday at night, at least 20 protesters, including lecturers and students of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, gathered in front of the house of professor Sternhell. They said that they came to protest against Fascism and the attempts to silence the Israeli ideological Left.

Israeli academic injured in bomb blast
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 9/25/2008
One of Israel's leading centre-left academics was injured early today when a pipe bomb blew up outside his home in an attack which police suspect was the work of Jewish extreme right-wing extremists. The victim of the attack was Professor Zeev Sternhell, a Holocaust survivor and recent winner of the prestigious Israel prize, who has long opposed Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories. Police said they had found fliers in the area of the attack offering 1. 1m shekels (£173,000) to anyone who kills a member of the long established organisation Peace Now, of which Mr Sternhell is a veteran member. The professor was in hospital tonight with minor shrapnel wounds in one of his legs. Police said that the explosive had been planted on the doorstep of his Jerusalem home and was detonated when he opened the door.

Israeli pro-peace historian injured in bomb attack
Middle East Online 9/25/2008
TEL AVIV - Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell, known for his criticism of Jewish settlements, Israeli occupation and policy toward the Palestinians, was injured Thursday when a bomb exploded at his home, police said. Sternhell suffered light injuries to his right leg when the bomb exploded as he was trying to close the door to his house, and was hospitalised in occupied Jerusalem, according to police. Sternhell is a frequent contributor to the liberal Haaretz newspaper, and writes columns critical of ultra-nationalism in Israel and in favour of a negotiated peace with the Palestinians. He has staunchly opposed the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, calling it both "immoral and ineffective. " "After an initial investigation, police believe he was targeted because of his ideologies," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Dichter: Attack on professor Jewish terror
Raanan Ben-Zur, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Internal Security Minister Dichter says pipe bomb attack on Professor Ze"ev Sternhell takes Israel back to days of Rabin assassination; law enforcement officials will not rest until "terrorists" behind the attack are imprisoned, he says -The attack on Professor Ze"ev Sternhell is a "nationalist terror attack apparently perpetrated by Jews," Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said Thursday evening. " This attack takes us, Israeli and Jewish society, back many years, to the days of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination," Dichter said at a police ceremony held in Netanya, north of Tel Aviv. "We should view the explosive planted last night as one that aimed to kill," he said. ""The law enforcement establishment and police will not rest until those terrorists will be placed where they deserve to be - in prison.

Al Khodary: ''Free Gaza boat delayed for logistic reasons''
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/25/2008
Palestinian Legislator, head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, Jamal Al Khodary, stated on Thursday that the "Hope" ship which was slated to arrive in Gaza on Friday September 26, was delayed due to legalistic reasons. Al Khodary added that he phoned Greta Berlin and Osama Qashoa from the Free Gaza Movement, in charge of the ship,and informed them that the delay is due to weather conditions which will affect Gaza in the coming days. He stated that the Hope Ship will sail again, and was organized after the first successful ship which carried onboard international supporters, physicians, members of parliament, members of human rights groups, Palestinian legislator head of the Palestinian National Initiative Dr, Mustafa Barghouthi, and the Palestinian Author and researcher Dr. Ibrahim Al Hami, in addition to several other peace activists.

With crossings still closed there is little change in Gaza situation
Palestine News Network 9/25/2008
Kristen Ess - Palestinian Centre for Human Rights" Deputy Director, Handi Shakura says the situation in Gaza is not improving despite the "calm" with Israeli forces and the much welcomed solidarity ships, the second wave of which should be leaving Cyprus today. He told PNN, "The human rights situation in Gaza has not witnessed any real change not only since Ramadan but since the period of "calm," brokered by the Egyptian government between Hamas, the government in Gaza, and Israel. " Shakura continued to say, "The crucial issue remains as is: the closure, the siege and the collective punishment imposed on civilians, on 1. 6 million civilians. This is the real suffering in the Gaza Strip as of today. Nothing has changed, there has been no real change in the peoples lives. There is a denial of the right to movement for people. . . "

Khudari: SS Hope to arrive in Gaza Friday morning
Palestinian Information Center 9/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, announced that the ship SS Hope will arrive in the Gaza Strip on Friday morning coming from Cyprus. In a press release received by the PIC, MP Khudari said that the popular committee is getting prepared to receive the ship at sea and on the beach. The lawmaker pointed out that Knesset Arab member Jamal Zahalka and head of national initiative Dr.  Mustafa Al-Barghouthi will be on board, adding that the committee will arrange a meeting between them and Palestinian officials and national figures. He also noted that the ship will be boarded by international and Palestinian activists, doctors, lawmakers and journalists.

Palestine Today 092508
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 9/25/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 30s || 3. 20 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Thursday September 25, 2008. Lead: On Thursday morning, Israeli troops detained three Palestinian residents from the West Bank village of Ni"lin, near Ramallah. Also today an Israeli military court sentenced a Gaza PFLP leader to a12-year-long imprisonment. These stories and more are coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast On Thursday morning, Israeli troops invaded the West Bank village of Ni"lin with a heavy barrage of gunfire. Clashes erupted between the soldiers and the locals, but no casualties were reported; however, three Ni"lin residents were detained. Also on Thursday, an Israeli military court sentenced Ali al-Kafarna, a local leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Gaza to 12-years of imprisonment.

One of settler teen's killers gets life sentence
Ali Waked, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Judges say Bassam Shafik Atiya Ahtiya took Eliyahu Asheri's life in June 2006 "without any remorse or scruples. " PRC spokesman: Sentencing won"t prevent Palestinian organizations from continuing to try and kidnap soldiers -A military court sentenced on Thursday Palestinian security officer Bassam Shafik Atiya Ahtiya to life in prison plus 10 years for his involvement in the June 2006 kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Eliyahu Asheri from the Jewish settlement of Itamar. " He who can take another's life in cold blood is not worthy of walking freely among people in a civilized society," the judges said in their ruling. "Eliyahu Asheri's only 'sin" was that he was Jewish"¦In his act the accused ended the life of a young boy who had his entire future ahead of him, without any remorse or scruples. The defendant is not worthy of any mercy.

An Israeli court sentences a Gaza PFLP leader
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/25/2008
An Israeli military court sentenced on Thursday a Palestinian resident from the northern Gaza Strip city of Beit Hanoun with a 12-year-imprisonment. The Israeli court issued the verdict against Ali Qasem aL-Kafarna, a local leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who was detained by the Israeli troops during an Israeli invasion of Beit Hanoun in 2006. During the first Intifada of 1987, aL-Kafarna used to be wanted for the Israeli occupation authorities. Later on he moved to Syria, until he came back to Gaza in 1995, upon arrival of the Palestinian police forces. [end]

Authorities arrest six Arabs who stole, sold IDF soldiers" guns
Yuval Azoulay, Ha"aretz 9/25/2008
The police and the Shin Bet arrested five Palestinians and an Israeli Arab resident of Taibeh for allegedly stealing assault rifles from two Israel Defense Forces soldiers in Tel Aviv and then selling the guns in the West Bank. Authorities on Thursday afternoon lifted a media gag order on the details of the affair, according to which a Palestinian resident of the West Bank village of Nur el-Shams, Omar Shafai, admitted to investigators that he swiped the guns belonging to two IDF soldiers near the Haganah Bridge in Tel Aviv in two separate incidents. The first theft occurred in late January of this year, when Shafai assaulted a soldier who was standing near the bridge adjacent to the Ayalon Freeway. Shafai wielded a rock against the soldier's head and fled with his weapon.

Border Police arrests top Palestinian fugitive on West Bank bus Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
Border police forces arrested top Palestinian fugitive, Amed Yousef Amur, during a routine check on a Palestinian bus in the West Bank, security officials announced Thursday night. Amur was transferred to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for interrogation. [end]

Palestinian youths throw molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli sources said that Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles south of Nablus Thursday evening. There were no reports on causalities. [end]

Arrests and attacks continue in Ni"lin
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 9/25/2008
Ahad al-Khawaja, coordinator of thein Ni"lin, was injured when a sound grenade fired by Occupation troops struck him in the face. The Occupation military has also increased its campaign of arrests, with 6 youth arrested since last Thursday. On 23 September, Khawaja had been leading the EU delegation on a tour of the threatened areas in Ni"lin, where Occupation forces have confiscated 2,700 dunums of land to build the Wall. Done in coordination with the Ni"lin Popular Committee, the visit aimed to introduce the delegation to the area and to educate them about Occupation policy toward the village as well as the different activities that have been organized to protect the land. During the course of their visit to the threatened land, a group of Occupation soldiers approached the group and ordered them to leave the area.

Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory- 24 Sep. 2008
PCHR, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 9/24/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) --*IOF killed a Palestinian child in Southern "Assira village near Nablus. *IOF troops violently pushed a Palestinian woman, killing her. *15 Palestinian civilians, including three children and a woman, were wounded by IOF gunfire. *11 of the wounded, including two children and a British journalist, were wounded in Ne"lin village near Ramallah. *Three of these civilians were wounded by IOF troops at military checkpoints. *IOF continued to use a foul smelling liquid against demonstrators in Bal"ein and Ne"lin villages near Ramallah. *IOF conducted 30 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

Rafiq Al Husseini: who surrenders Jerusalem surrenders his heart, soul, values, and history
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/25/2008
Jerusalem - At a social gathering held in Jerusalem's Bishop School a major push was given to support Islamic -- Christian unity in the face of Israeli assault on the Palestinian city and residents. President of the Office of the Presidency Dr. Rafiq Al Husseini, Principal of the Bishop School Ali Sader, and Angelical Bishop SuheilDwani spoke of the significance of Islamic -- Christian coexistence and cooperationto deal with occupation. Al Husseini said that the government will not cede any inch of Jerusalem and commended Islamic -- Christian unity saying, "Who surrenders Jerusalem surrenders his heart, soul, values, and history. "He continued, "Who wants to live on in Jerusalem has to accept its diversity; Islamic, Christian, and all other beliefs. We are ready to endure whatever it takes to free Jerusalem to be our independent capital in the near future.

Int'l Quds institution calls for protecting Jerusalem from Zionist danger
Palestinian Information Center 9/25/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- The branch of international Quds institution in Syria on Wednesday expressed its utter rejection of all Zionist attempts aimed at judaizing Jerusalem and obliterating its Arab, Islamic and Christian landmarks, calling on the free people in the world to protect this legacy from the danger of Zionist hatred. In a statement received by the PIC, the institution strongly denounced the IOA for closing Al-Aqsa foundation, one of the most prominent Palestinian institutions which sponsor the holy mosque. It called for supporting Al-Aqsa foundation in its campaign to break the closure decision. The statement also condemned the restrictions imposed by the IOF troops on Palestinian citizens who want to pray in the Aqsa Mosque. The statement hailed the secretary-general of Al-Quds international for appointing Sheikh Ra"ed Salah and father Attallah Hanna as ambassadors. . .

Hamas and Islamic Jihad renew their oath to protect Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 9/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders stated Wednesday that their Movements would never break their oath of adherence to Jerusalem, highlighting that they would be working on liberating it by all means and frustrating the Zio-American project which is aimed to judaize the holy city and make it the capital of a "Jewish state". These statements were made during a gathering held to mark the international day of Jerusalem in presence of Hamas leader Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar and Islamic Jihad leader Nafid Azzam. Dr. Zahhar reiterated his Movement's oath to liberate and restore occupied Jerusalem, stressing that Hamas did not give up resistance but it enhances its resistance and defense means. The Hamas leader urged the Islamic political parties not to wait for their governments to unite their positions, pointing out that the international scene have become bloody, draining the. . .

Israeli secret service: Israeli Wall to blame for recent attacks
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/25/2008
According to the Israeli secret service, Shin Bet, the Israeli Annexation Wall that has been constructed on Palestinian land over the last six years has fueled resentment and anger that brought on the spate of recent attacks by Palestinians in Jerusalem. The announcement by Shin Bet comes just two days after a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem plowed his car into a crowd of Jewish-Israeli pedestrians, mainly soldiers. Two similar attacks using vehicles have occurred in the last three months in Jerusalem. Shin Bet has a reputation for advocating a strong military approach to the Palestinian civilian population, so their recognition of the resentment brought about by the construction of the Wall marks a change in the agency's approach. "In the past, terrorists from East Jerusalem acted mainly as support units for attacks, usually under instruction by outside networks in the Gaza. . .

The demolition reflex
Amos Harel, Ha"aretz 9/25/2008
Monday night's terror attack in Jerusalem, apparently by a driver gone amok, has brought in its wake - as a kind of conditioned reflex - the usual demand to raze the terrorist's house immediately. The fact that this is the immediate reaction, as formulated late at night by newspaper columnists, and also (due to different reasons, of course) vociferously demanded by the extreme right the following morning, need no longer surprise anyone. It is a bit more surprising that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has chosen to put himself at the helm of the camp making this demand. Hardly half an hour had passed between the first report of the attack and the directive issued by Barak's bureau "for a drastic abridgement of the legal procedures" which delay demolition of the homes of East Jerusalem terrorists.

We Need a Better Strategy
Yossi Alpher, MIFTAH 9/25/2008
The next Israeli government would be well advised to take another look at its approach to Hamas. The objective should be to develop a more coherent strategy toward the Palestinian Islamist movement and its stronghold, the Gaza Strip. (The next American government should follow suit; but that is another matter. ) The current strategy--to the extent it has even been formulated as a strategy by the Olmert government--has not worked well. Economic pressures on the Gazan population have failed to weaken or dislodge Hamas. A military option is repeatedly rejected for fear it will prove costly and counterproductive. A prisoner exchange has proven elusive. Only the ceasefire appears to be working, but even that achievement will be jeopardized if, by the end of its agreed six-month duration in December, there is no progress in other spheres of Hamas-Israel interaction.

ISRAEL-OPT: Quartet ''failing'' the Palestinians
Wissam Nassar/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 9/25/2008
JERUSALEM, 25 September 2008 (IRIN) -The international community has failed to fulfil any of the goals it set itself regarding the Middle East peace process and has therefore made little progress in improving the lives and humanitarian situation of Palestinians, aid agencies said in a report on 25 September. On some key issues, such as Israeli settlements in the West Bank, freedom of movement for Palestinians and improvement of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, the report by 21 NGOs said the Middle East Quartet - comprising the US, EU, Russia and UN - had failed altogether. The agencies, including CARE International, Oxfam and Save the Children, said Israeli settlement expansion has continued since the Annapolis peace process was launched last year, with consequences for the Palestinians" humanitarian situation, as they suffer from tighter restrictions on movement and loss of agricultural land.

POLITICS: Mideast Peace-Making Quartet Gets Flunking Grade
Ali Gharib, Inter Press Service 9/25/2008
WASHINGTON, Sep 25(IPS) - A new report from several international aid organisations blasts the Quartet, an international group assembled to facilitate the Middle East peace process, for failing to meet their goals in advancing a lasting peace between Israel and Palestinians. "The Middle East Quartet is failing -- making inadequate progress towards improving the lives of Palestinians nor improving the prospects for peace," said a press release from the involved aid organisations announcing the report. The report, "The Middle East Quartet: A Progress Report", says that none of criteria laid out by the Quartet itself have seen significant improvement, and some have even experienced backsliding. In all of the objectives listed by the report, which are based on the most recent statements of the Quartet, most were graded by the report as failures, with a few achieving the qualified status of "partial success".

Yousef calls on the Quartet committee to change its policies
Palestinian Information Center 9/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Ahmad Yousef, the political advisor of the PA foreign ministry in Gaza, Strip has called on the Quartet Committee on Wednesday to rethink its political stands on the Palestinian-Israeli struggle, urging it to recognize the legitimate government of premier Ismael Haneyya. In an open letter he addressed to members of the quartet committee (UN, EU, USA, and Russia), Yousef asserted that the Committee's political stands have failed in solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and that it is about time for the committee to rethink those stands, and to sincerely work and put pressure on the Israeli occupation government to abide by the international laws if it wants peace to be achieved in the region. "Your committee is meeting today to discuss peace in the Middle east"¦ three years had passed since the PA legislative elections that was described as the most honest and. . .

Quartet losing grip on peace process
Middle East Online 9/25/2008
LONDON - The Mideast Quartet is "losing its grip" on the peace process and must radically revise its approach, a group of prominent aid agencies said Thursday ahead of a meeting of the four powers. The lives of Palestinians has not improved and may have worsened since the Annapolis conference last November, the 21 agencies said as the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States prepared to meet in New York. "The Annapolis process was meant to herald a new dawn for the Middle East peace process," said Christian Aid director Daleep Mukarji, referring to a process which aimed to forge a solution by the end of this year. "Nearly one year on, we are seeing exponential settlement growth, additional check-points and -- because of this -- further economic stagnation. The Quartet is losing its grip on the Middle East peace process.

Hamas: Bush wants Abbas to to keep silent on Israeli crimes
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Gaza — Ma’an — Hamas said on Thursday that the planned meeting with US President George W. Bush is aimed at pressuring Abbas to "keep silent" on Israeli crimes against Palestinians. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a report received by Ma’an that Hamas has no "hopes for the meetings because we consider them a cover for American and Israeli practices against Palestinians. "[end]

Aziz Dweik: PA president should protect legislators
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Hebron — Ma’an — The head of the legislative council on for Israel on Thursday condemned the search of Hamas deputy Samira Halayqa's office in Hebron the day before. Dr. Aziz Dweik called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to protect all legislators by ensuring that Palestinian Authority (PA) security services obey the law. "All people and organizations are in the same rank in this land and all of them should obey the law," Dweik said. [end]

Barhoum: Using dialog as a pressure tool against Hamas won"t succeed
Palestinian Information Center 9/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas on Thursday underlined that attempts to exploit the national dialog as a pressure and blackmailing tool against the Movement in a bid to corner it won"t succeed. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press release that those betting on such an idea would lose because Hamas could never be cornered. He charged that Fatah officials were voicing statements that indicate they were not serious about dialog and were not concerned with its success. "What we want is a responsible, national dialog that would preserve the Palestinian people's rights, respect all legitimacies, democratic option and a dialog that would unite the internal front, respect law and constitution and adopt a professional way in restructuring security apparatuses and the PLO in addition to isolating the agendas that destroyed the Palestinian people's unity and national project and. . .

Qassem: Broadcast of ugly scenes never happened in Gaza is a misleading act
Palestinian Information Center 9/25/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Dr. Abdelsattar Qassem, a Palestinian writer and professor of political science, stated Wednesday that the ugly scenes from Iraq which the PA-affiliated Palestine TV broadcast claiming that they took place in the Gaza Strip are a manipulation of the Palestinian people's feelings and a misleading act. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Dr. Qassem warned that the PA is working on tarnishing the image of Hamas and mobilizing the public opinion against it, adding that the PA in Ramallah deliberately and greatly exaggerates events when it comes to Gaza. The writer underlined that the professional integrity of the PA media outlets is totally absent, pointing out that the PA media had been broadcasting lies and misinformation since their inception. Regarding the broadcast of such scenes while there is anticipation of national dialog, the writer said that talk about. . .

President Abbas: Hamas can never outlaw me
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/25/2008
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, asserted on Thursday that no one can outlaw him and that he is opponent to a militarized Intifida or any armed resistance, yet he never renounces the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. In an interview with the London-based Alhayat Arabic newspaper, published Thursday, the president was quoted as saying " we have never renounced our rights, acknowledged by the international legitimacy". He also believed that the two-state solution is a possible option , to which the Palestinians are still committed. At the internal level, President Abbas confirmed that he is now inclined towards adopting a much more biding conciliation program among the Palestinians, as seen by the Arab states league". Abbas's remarks came after the ruling Hamas party in Gaza hinted at the possibility that President Abbas might be regarded illegitimate leader after January2009, the date for the end of Abba's term in office.

Police holding suspect in attack on Jenin prosecuter
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Nablus — Ma’an — A police spokesperson told Ma’an on Thursday that Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence services arrested the alleged attacker of Jenin prosecutor Mohammad Hanoun four days ago. PA intelligence in Nablus claimed to have arrested and obtained a full confession by the accused shooter within 24 hours of the attack. The statement indicated that the accused man is from a village south of Nablus. Other than his confession, the suspect reportedly refused to provide a motive or discuss anything related to the attack. [end]

Israel: Jerusalem Palestinians receiving PA salaries on top of unemployment benefits
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Bethlehem — Ma’an — The Israeli Ministry of the Interior said that nearly 4,000 Palestinians holding Jerusalem IDs receive salaries from the Palestinian Authority (PA). But the ministry said they also receive unemployment salaries from Israel, Israel Radio reported. The ministry said that Interior Minister Meir Shetreet ordered investigations for "this exploitation of the labor markets phenomenon. " [end]

EU donates millions to pay PA employees" salaries
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Bethlehem — Ma’an — The European Union (EU) on Thursday announced that it donated 20 million in Euros to support the Palestinian Authority (PA)'s efforts to pay September salaries to employees and retirees before the start of "Eid Al-Fitr next Tuesday. An employees union said in a statement that the payment arrived early, and that it included a special contribution of 5 million Euros from Sweden, which brings the total donated by the EU to 400 million Euros in 2008. In a statement, the EU said that its ministry of finance would channel the contribution to pay salary allowances to 78,000 eligible Palestinians. The statement added that the EU prioritized the contribution in order to allow for Muslim Palestinians to be paid before Ramadan feasts begin next week.

Israel presents a list of would-be swapped Palestinian prisoners
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/25/2008
An Israeli ministerial committee, studying the profile of Palestinian prisoners, set the list of would-be Palestinian prisoners, Israel will possibly set free within a prisoner swap deal with the Palestinians. The committee handed over a list of 450 Palestinian prisoners to the outgoing Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, for endorsement. According to the Yediout Ahronot Israeli daily newspaper, the newly-prepared list includes half of the names , the ruling Hamas party in Gaza , which holds Shalit, had earlier presented to Egyptian mediators. Yuval Disken, Israeli internal security chief, rejected the release of whom he called " those with blood on their hands" , saying this would damage the security of Israel. Over the past several months, Egyptian-mediated talks over a prisoner swap deal between Israel and the ruling Hamas, have been stalled due to Israel's intransigence to agree on a list presented by the Islamic group.

Waed Society: ''Israel's decision to release 450 detainees, a success for Palestinian resistance"
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/25/2008
The Waed Society which defends Palestinian detainees and freed detainees, considered the Israeli decision to release 450 Palestinian detainees as a success for the Palestinian Resistance and a clear proof of the justice of the Palestinian demands and cause. The Society demanded that Palestinian factions holding the Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit captive to remain steadfast on their demands for releasing detainees who are sentenced to high terms and were not released after the Oslo agreement more than ten years ago. The Society also welcomed the steadfastness of the Palestinian resistance its demand that the detainees who will be freed should be members of all Palestinian factions without any geographical and political discrimination. It also called on the resistance to start a "new area of abducting Israeli soldiers and trade them with Palestinian detainees" as there are more than. . .

Prominent authors urge Olmert to expedite Shalit talks
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 9/25/2008
'soldiers willing to risk their lives knowing that if they are taken captive or inured in battle, country will not rest until they are returned home," A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz and others say in letter to PM - Some 20 prominent authors and intellectuals sent outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert a letter urging him to expedite the negotiations for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit before his term ends. Olmert wrote in response that the government was making 'supreme efforts" to bring about the soldier's release. " I cannot keep Gilad out of my mind, not even for a second. I have a photo of him on my desk, and his eyes are looking at me every day," the PM wrote. The initiative was led by A. B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz. "Israel's obligation to its soldiers and willingness to make significant sacrifices to bring them home from captivity are far. . .

Committee picks 450 inmates in Schalit swap
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
An interministerial committee presented Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday with a list of 450 names of Palestinian prisoners to be released in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, in a move immediately dismissed by Hamas as insufficient. President Shimon Peres urges international body to do more for the release of Gilad Schalit Half of the list drawn up by the committee, headed by Vice Premier Haim Ramon, included names that were on a list of 350 to 450 security prisoners that Hamas has been demanding for Schalit. Hamas is reportedly asking for some 1,000 men, plus all the minors and women prisoners, in exchange for Schalit, held in the Gaza Strip since June 2006. If Olmert approves the list on Friday, it would be transferred to Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who would pass it on to Hamas.

Israeli authors to Olmert: Save Gilad Shalit now
Jack Khoury, Ha"aretz 9/25/2008
A group of Israeli authors and cultural figures recently wrote a letter to outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert urging him to 'save Gilad Shalit before it is too late. " Shalit, an Israel Defense Forces soldier, was abducted by Gaza militants in June 2006, and efforts under Olmert's leadership have been ongoing to secure his release. In the letter, written by A. B. Yehoshua, David Grossman, Amos Oz, and Agi Mishol, among others, the authors write that they are aware of the fact that securing Shalit's release involves making very difficult decisions, and understand the implications of releasing Palestinian prisoners involved in terror in exchange for his freedom. However, they say, "Israel's commitment to its soldiers, and its willingness to make significant sacrifices for them is worth far more than the price.

Hamas rejects list of 450 Palestinians to be swapped for Shalit
Haaretz Service, Ha"aretz 9/25/2008
Islamist militant group Hamas rejected on Thursday a list of 450 Palestinian prisoners, approved by a ministerial panel on Thursday, that Israel would be willing to release in exchange for the freedom of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. Shalit was abducted by Gaza militants in June 2006. Hamas has demanded the staged release of 1,400 prisoners, including those who have carried out violent attacks against Israelis. The group said new recommendations made by the ministerial panel on Thursday failed to fulfill Hamas demands and therefore the Egyptian-brokered negotiations over Shalit cannot advance. "No breakthrough can be achieved before the Zionist enemy agrees to all the conditions and all the names on the list we have handed over," said senior Hamas official Osama Al-Muzaini.

Egypt proposes Arab peacekeeping force for Gaza, release of Shalit
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Bethlehem — Ma’an — Israeli sources reported Thursday that Egypt will propose a new plan to resolve the siege of the Gaza Strip, and that the deal includes the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hebrew-language newspaper Ma"ariv published that the Egyptian plan would bring Arab peacekeeping forces to the Gaza Strip to reestablish order there, and that it would be overseen by Egyptian and Jordanian soldiers. The newspaper also reported that Israel is not optimistic on the prospects of such a deal. [end]

Ahmadinejad meets with ultra-religious, anti-Zionist Jews
Reuters, Ha"aretz 9/25/2008
A day after being accused of making anti-Semitic comments at the United Nations, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met a fringe group of ultra-religious Jews who seek the dismantling of the state of Israel. "Zionism has greatly weakened and, God willing, it will be destroyed soon and then all Jews, Muslims and Christians can live peacefully with one another," Ahmadinejad told nearly a dozen rabbis from Neturei Karta International on Wednesday. The group is a small anti-Zionist organization that says it adheres strictly to the Torah, the Jewish holy book, which it says forbids the establishment of a Jewish state before the coming of the Messiah. It supports Palestinian sovereignty over the Holy Land and financial restitution for past losses. Its views are considered marginal by mainstream Jews who condemned Ahmadinejad's. . .

"Why did he embrace Ahmadinejad?"
Dana Zimmerman, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Israel's UN envoy upset at General Assembly president's speech, Ahmadinejad hug - NEW YORK- Israel's new United Nations Ambassador, Professor Gabriella Shalev, is fuming. In a talk with Ynet, Shalev blasted UN General Assembly President Miguel d"Escoto Brockmann, who hugged Iranian President Ahmadinejad following his anti-Semitic speech. Brockmann himself delivered an anti-American speech and also harshly criticized Israel. "To my deep regret, in my first session representing Israel I was forced to hear d"Escoto and I found it hard to believe what I was hearing," she said. "In his speech, d"Escoto declared war on the United States and World Bank, and also dedicated a whole paragraph to Israel, saying that the UN's great failure is the fact that a Palestinian State was not established in 1947, as part of the partition plan.

Peres: U.S. has no choice but to save world from Ahmadinejad
Haaretz Service, Ha"aretz 9/25/2008
The United States has no choice but to save the world by stopping Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President Shimon Peres told Israel Radio on Thursday. The president said Ahmadinejad was a passing phenomenon who will disappear "like a gust of wind," Israel Radio reported. Peres added that Ahmadinejad's statements against Israel and the West only serve to unite the entire world against Iran. 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.

Israel asked US for green light to bomb nuclear sites in Iran
Jonathan Steele, The Guardian 9/25/2008
US president told Israeli prime minister he would not back attack on Iran, senior European diplomatic sources tell Guardian - Israel gave serious thought this spring to launching a military strike on Iran's nuclear sites but was told by President George W Bush that he would not support it and did not expect to revise that view for the rest of his presidency, senior European diplomatic sources have told the Guardian. The then prime minister, Ehud Olmert, used the occasion of Bush's trip to Israel for the 60th anniversary of the state's founding to raise the issue in a one-on-one meeting on May 14, the sources said. "He took it [the refusal of a US green light] as where they were at the moment, and that the US position was unlikely to change as long as Bush was in office", they added. [old news ->] -- See also: Iran.html

Study says US textbooks misrepresent Jews and Israel
Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
American elementary and high school textbooks contain many "gross misrepresentations" of Judaism, Christianity and Israel, according to a book-length study released this week by the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research. "It is shocking to discover that history and geography textbooks widely used in America's elementary and secondary classrooms contain some of the very same inaccuracies about Christianity, Judaism and the Middle East as those [used] in Iran," the IJCR said in a summary of the findings of the five-year study. In examining the 28 most widely-used history, geography and social studies textbooks in America, researchers Dr. Gary Tobin and Dennis Ybarra found some 500 instances of "errors, inaccuracies and even propaganda" on these issues. Tens of millions of schoolchildren in all 50 states use the textbooks, according to Tobin.

High stakes for Israel in Austrian election
Benjamin Weinthal, Jpost Correspondent, Berlin, Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
The outcome of Sunday's Austrian national elections will present a litmus test of the new government's ability to resist implementing the largest European gas deal with Iran. In 2007, the partially state-owned Austrian oil company OMV cut a preliminary €22 billion deal with the Islamic Republic to gain access to its South Par gas field. The Austrian state is the controlling shareholder of OMV (31. 5 percent), and has been the subject of intense criticism for its decision to support OMV's agreement with Teheran to develop the gas field. Terrorism and security experts argue that Iran can use profits generated by the OMV-deal to finance its nuclear weapons program and to support Hizbullah and Hamas terrorist activities. In a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post this week, Dan Ashbel, the Israeli ambassador in Vienna, said, "Austria is holding its foot in. . .

Meretz to enter coalition talks with Kadima
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Leftist party expected to demand freeze on settlement construction, more peace talks - The Meretz faction has decided Thursday to recommend that the party's leadership enter coalition talks with Kadima in a bid to join the next government, to be headed by Tzipi Livni. The leftist party is expected present Kadima with several demands, including the continuation of diplomatic talks, a freeze on settlement construction, and the implementation of the "evacuation compensation" law aimed at compensating settlers who leave their West Bank homes. In addition, Meretz will demand that Daniel Friedmann be removed from the post of justice minister. Meretz also demands that the 2009 State budget be boosted by 3% compared to the 2008 budget, in contradiction to the current proposal, which stands at 1. 7%. The leftist party is also interested in creating a social safety net for workers" pension plans.

Lieberman: Shas on road to "political suicide"
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Yisrael Beiteinu leader says religious party losing support among loyal activists due to willingness to join Livni government, adds "their only common denominator is fear of general elections" -As the negotiations on the establishment of a new coalition under the leadership of newly elected Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni are gaining momentum, Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman criticized the religiousShas party for its apparent intent to be a part of the government. "Their (Shas and Kadima) only common denominator is fear of general elections, and they are clinging to their posts," he told Ynet on Thursday, adding that Shas was headed toward "political suicide". Lieberman estimated that should Shas join the coalition, it would lose many mandates in the next elections to the Likud party.

Mofaz hints he's not quitting
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Transportation minister tells supporters his "break from politics" following Kadima primary loss "necessary, legitimate," adds "together we will do great things in this country'shaul Mofaz's self-imposed break from politics may end sooner than expected: The transportation minister, who recently lost the Kadima primaries to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, told supporters who gathered at his home Thursday evening "I do not plan on leaving any one of you. Together we will do great things in this country". "The personal time I am taking off is necessary and I will reach a decision in line with the spirit of my remarks tonight," Mofaz said, "together we will influence the State of Israel. May God give us the strength and courage to make the right decisions and implement them correctly and also bring hope to the people of Israel. "The former IDF chief of staff added "I do not plan to make any announcement today, but I will say this - your mobilization and the fact that you all came here tonight will greatly affect my decision.

Rightist convicted of incitement wins appeal; verdict overturned
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Yekutiel Ben-Yaakov appeals Jerusalem Magistrate's Court decision to find him guilty of indictment, distribution of offensive material. Capital's District Court quashes conviction citing lack of sufficient evidence - Yekutiel Ben-Yaakov, an extreme right-wing activist who was convicted by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court for incitement, won a District Court appeal on Thursday, and his conviction was overturned. According to the case file, Ben-Yaakov stood outside a Jerusalem cemetery in the winter of 2004 and handed out instigative fliers to people attending a memorial service for Rabbi Meir Kahane. "We want to launch a referendum and give every family in Israel the chance to finally speak out"¦ to give the masses supporting the (Rabbi Kahane) preachings the chance to express their belief - that only the expulsion of Arabs from all of Israel will lead this country towards a patulous existence," read the fliers.

Soldiers charged with severe abuse of comrade
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Military prosecutor indicts two soldiers for assault and battery, destroying evidence, witness intimidation; Defendants deny allegations - The Military Advocate General filed grave charges against two soldiers for the alleged severe abuse of a third, Ynet has learned Thursday. The two were charged with several counts of assault and battery, destroying evidence and witness intimidation. The accused, a male soldier and a female soldier who serve in an antiaircraft unit, are suspected of targeting another female soldier and systematically abusing her for several weeks. The indictment against the two details an incident in which the two forced open her shirt - at which point the male soldier groped her chest and then proceeded to bite her; and another incident in which they beat her to the point of needing medical attention.

Netanyahu: We must prepare for a severe slowdown
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 9/25/2008
"We must cut taxes, implement economic reforms, and streamline government work. " "The situation requires us to grow faster, because we"re fairly small. We can move like a smart mammal and grow and take the necessary measures to grow,"opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu told Radio 99 program "Asakim Ba"avir" ("Business on Air"), hosted by "Globes" editor-in-chief Haggai Golan. "We must prepare for a severe slowdown. " Netanyahu added, "In order to create rapid growth and use the crisis to strengthen the Israeli economy, we must cut taxes, implement economic reforms, and streamline government work. If we do this, when the global economy recovers, Israel will be in better shape. "As for the failure that led to the crisis in investment banks, Netanyahu said, "This was not a market failure, or the result of high taxes.

National Insurance official defends poverty statistics
Shay Niv, Globes Online 9/25/2008
"We"d be very pleased to announce a reduction in poverty if there has actually been one. " National Insurance Institute officials today implied that yesterday's critique of the credibility and reliability of its poverty statistics by chief statistician Shlomo Yitzhaki was part of the government's stubborn attempt to claim that poverty in Israel is less severe than depicted by the National Insurance's Poverty Report. The officials also implied that Yitzhaki was embittered that no agreement has yet been reached on the recommendation of the committee he headed for the publication of another index of poverty. National Insurance deputy director general for research Daniel Gotlieb told "Globes", "We"d be very pleased to announce a reduction in poverty if there has actually been one, but it's impossible to accuse the people analyzing the data based on a given situation.

Leviev gets to rename old Times Building sign
Ariel Rosenberg, Globes Online 9/25/2008
Africa-Israel bought the old New York Times building and is renovating it. - "The New York Observer" reports that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has unanimously approved a plan by Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE: AFIL; Pink Sheets: AFIVY) subsidiary AI Holdings (USA) Corporation to put the name of a future tenant in backlit lighting on the old New York Times building at 229 West 43rd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenue. "The New York Observer quoted the Historic Districts Council as saying that the building, which it described as a "neo-Gothic-style skyscraper," would forever be known as "The Times Building. " The council approved the proposal because "its style, size, placement and usage are all reminiscent of the old sign. "Africa-Israel, controlled by chairman Lev Leviev, bought the building for $525 million and is renovating it for $175 million.

Thu: Africa-Israel up despite bond downgrade
Mishel Udi, Globes Online 9/25/2008
The Tel Aviv 25 Index has fallen 16% since last Rosh Hashana. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) rose today. The Tel Aviv 25 Index rose 2. 22% to 896. 99 points, the Tel Aviv 100 Index rose 2. 54% to 812. 77 points, and the Tel-Tech rose 2. 29% to 200. 95 points. Turnover was NIS 2. 75 billion. TASE traders heaved a sigh of relief today after one of the more wild weeks on the market as its follows developments on the Wall Street bailout as Congress refuses to rubber-stamp the US Treasury Department's plan. Meanwhile, US macroeconomic figures indicate that a slowdown or even recession is already underway. Wall Street rose on the opening on the growing assumption that Congress will ultimately approve the bailout. After the expiry of Tel Aviv 25 options, which lasted a mere 22 seconds, during which turnover totaled NIS 740 million, the TASE opened weakly but quickly made a U-turn, with a boost from gains in European markets.

Israeli Internet technology start-ups meet US firms in Atlanta
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 9/25/2008
Georgia Department of Economic Development's Sherwin Pomerantz: This event provides strong testimony of the value of the State of Georgia to Israeli technology companies as a US portal for their innovations. Thirteen Israeli technology companies will meet major US companies in Atlanta this week, as part of a groundbreaking conference focused on harnessing Web 2. 0 applications by businesses. The conference, U. S. - Israel Web 2. 0 Business Exchange: "Empowering the Connected Enterprise," has been organized by the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Region (AICC) and is intended showcase the latest Israeli and American innovations. The event, to be held September 24-25, will allow emerging Web 2. 0 companies from Israel to present themselves, and to have pre-arranged and pre-qualified meetings with large North American firms to foster joint venture R&D, investment, and marketing alliances.

Behind the microphone
Mona Abouissa, Al-Ahram Weekly 9/25/2008
The streets are decorated with traditionally flamboyant lamps, or fawanees. As the long-anticipated sunset begins, the smells of Iftar fill the city, tables are made ready to sate fasters" hunger. The sense of community is at its highest and family gatherings become all-important. This Ramadan, most citizens are saving up to pay record prices for food, due to the recent inflation crisis. On the media level, it's a race for prime time and a moment of glory. Producers, directors, and script-writers all pull their best cards out, making moves they have been preparing for months in advance. Advertisement placement rates doubled in peak Ramadan viewing hours, as the audience is ready to give their senses over to the media. And after years of waning glory, it's time for the grandmother of Egyptian media channels -- radio -- to bring on the nostalgia.

Classic in a modern tone
Rania Khallaf, Al-Ahram Weekly 9/25/2008
Rania Khallaf tunes in to the modern voice of Sayed Darwish - It took only few years for Eskendrella to acquire its fame and an audience. Formed like many other musical groups in Egypt in 2005, the band with its focus on Sayed Darwish and Sheikh Imam Eissa's music immediately clicked with audiences of all ages. My first encounter with the band was just a few months after their first performance at Saqiyat Al-Sawy. Three years is not a long time to allow for assessment, but one could say that the band has truly succeeded in attracting more and more audiences of all walks of life, including foreigners, in Cairo. The name Eskendrella is a mix of " Eskendria ", the colloquial name for Alexandria, and Cinderella. "We find it an attractive and expressive name. "It tells much about us: we are the Cinderella of modern singing and Eskendria is our beloved city, where Sayed Darwish was born," says Shadi Mo"ness, oud player and one of the founders of the band.

Bethlehem all set for McCartney concert
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 is also 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.

'syrian bride" says goodbye
Hagai Einav, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Israeli woman bids her family farewell, crosses border in order to marry Syrian man - Following a festive ceremony Thursday, 24-year-old Nial Safdi crossed the border into Syria in order to meet her future husband, Syrian villager Ravia Safdi. "About a month ago, the Safdi family turned to the Interior Ministry in Israel and asked that their daughter be permitted to marry the man she loves, a Syrian citizen," Red Cross Spokeswoman in Israel Yael Segev Eitan told Ynet. "Today, after filling in the forms and after Nial renounced her Israeli citizenship, the process was completed. 'many relatives arrived at the Safdi family home Thursday, excited and emotional on the occasion of Nial's last day in Israel. The relatives then traveled to the border crossing, where IDF forces and UN troops, as well as Red Cross personnel, were awaiting the family.

40,000 Israelis attend historic Paul McCartney concert in Tel Aviv
The Associated Press, Ha"aretz 9/26/2008
After a 43-year wait, Paul McCartney performed his first concert in Israel on Thursday, kicking it off with the familiar Beatles" song "Hello, Goodbye" to the joy of tens of thousands of cheering fans. McCartney billed the concert Friendship First, saying he is on a mission of peace for Israel and the Palestinians. Singing "Give Peace a Chance," he stopped and let the audience sing the chorus alone. He told his fans, "Here tonight you sang it, you want it. "He dedicated the song to his fellow Beatle, John Lennon, who was killed in New York in 1980. Fireworks lit the sky as he sang "Live and Let Die. "After it was officially announced last month, the concert set off a wave of excitement throughout the country, where visits by A-list celebrities are still a novelty.

Bush lauds Lebanese efforts at reconciliation
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 9/25/2008
US President George W. Bush on Thursday applauded efforts by Lebanon's new president to promote reconciliation in a country the United States considers key to combating extremism in the Middle East. In remarks at the outset of a White House meeting with President Michel Suleiman, Bush said he has watched carefully the public statements that Suleiman has made since taking office in May. "Your statements impressed me and we"re most impressed by the national dialogue that you"re holding in an attempt to seek reconciliation," Bush said as reporters looked on. "The United States is proud to stand by your side. Our mission is your mission: a country that is strong and capable, a country where people can make a peace. " Suleiman, seen as relatively friendly with Syria, was installed as president in a compromise after Hizbullah blocked pro-Western factions from electing a politician who took a harder-line stance against Syria.

Bush praises Lebanese president, offers support
Middle East Online 9/25/2008
WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush welcomed Lebanese President Michel Sleiman for talks Thursday. Lebanese Americans "want Lebanon to be free and sovereign and independent, and so do I, and so do you," Bush told his guest during a brief joint public appearance as they in the Oval Office for the first time. "We are here, also, to reaffirm our right to have a prosperous, Lebanon, a democratic Lebanon, a country that it is diverse in its nature and through its people," Sleiman said through an interpreter. Bush praised Lebanon's ongoing national reconciliation talks, which bring together rival leaders of rival factions in a dialogue that will set the tone for parliamentary elections due next year. "We"re most impressed by the national dialogue that you"re holding in an attempt to seek reconciliation.

LEBANON: Climate change, fuel prices cutting into forests
AFDC, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 9/25/2008
DUBAI, 25 September 2008 (IRIN) - Devastating fires caused by climate change are threatening forests in Lebanon, in turn accelerating the pace of global warming, an environmental activist has warned. "We are witnessing a rise in temperature which leads to the dryness of forest soil and pushes it towards desertification," Sawsan Bou Fakhreddine, director-general of the Association for Forests, Development and Conservation (), a local NGO, told IRIN from Beirut. The country is witnessing forest fires earlier than usual. "We noticed that fires are starting in April, three months earlier than the usual season, which commences in June or July. With the ongoing increase in temperature, the land is losing much of its humidity and trees are becoming drier. This causes severe fires that are difficult to suppress," she added.

Saudi researchers map first ever Arab genome
Reuters, Ha"aretz 9/25/2008
Saudi researchers have mapped the first Arab genome in a project to put the Arab world on the global genetic map and improve healthcare. Geneticists from Saudi Biosciences say unlocking the genetic profile of 100 people from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries will help tackle medical problems in Saudi Arabia and encourage sorely-needed scientific research. The collaboration between the private Saudi company, Danish firm CLC Bio and the Beijing Genomics Institute will make their sequencing of Arab genomes available on a public database. "The advantage of the project is that it studies the differences between peoples, and that will explain the spread of specific illnesses such as diabetes, heart diseases, etc. ," said Saeed al-Turki, Arab Human Genome Project Coordinator.

IRAQ: The Biggest Hospitals Become Sick
Arkan Hamed and Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service 9/25/2008
BAGHDAD, Sep 25(IPS) - Not even the elevators work now at Baghdad Medical City, built once as the centre for some of the best medical care. One of the ten elevators still does, and the priority for this is patients who have lost their legs -- and there are many of them. The rest, the doctors, patients and students at the four specialised teaching hospitals within the building complex, just take the stairs, sometimes to the 18th floor. This is in a city that had been given dreams of great development five years back, around the time of the U. S. -led invasion. And much of the corporate-led media in the U. S. and Europe still insists that the situation in Baghdad has "improved". The improvement that such media sees, no one in Iraq does. As with Baghdad Medical City, so with Baghdad, and so with Iraq. The elevators are just another reminder of a country that's not working.

Contentious clerics
Salama A Salama, Al-Ahram Weekly 9/25/2008
Just as far-right groups in Europe call for an anti- Islamicisation conference with obvious racist overtones, a battle has erupted in our midst, led by Sunni clerics reacting to a perceived Shia threat. The German city of Cologne has turned into a battleground pitting Europe's liberals and leftists against right-wing extremists and xenophobes. The far right is led by "Pro Cologne", a citizen action group that is engaged in a campaign to stop the building of a mosque in the city of Cologne -- not far from one of the best-known Gothic cathedrals in the world. For sometime now, Europe's far right groups have been clamouring to curb Muslim presence in France, Germany, Belgium, and elsewhere. Their efforts have not been without success. According to a poll published recently in The Herald Tribune, resentment of Muslims and Jews has risen significantly in Poland, Spain, Russia, Germany and France. A similar trend is underway in Asia, especially in Japan, South Korea, India and China.

In the mainstream
James Zogby, Al-Ahram Weekly 9/25/2008
Polls show that Arab American attitudes relative to the US presidential race mirror the majority of US voters. Late last week my institute released the results of a poll detailing both how Arab Americans are likely to vote in this year's US presidential contest and the reasons behind their preferences. The polls" headlines were widely reported: "Arab American voters strongly support Barack Obama"; "Arab Americans move away from the Republican Party"; and "Bush Administration gets low grades from Arab Americans". These were the polls" more obvious storylines, but there was another conclusion I found interesting. Much of this poll's data points to the fact, clear to those who know Arab Americans but surprising to those who do not understand this community, that Arab American attitudes in general differ little from the attitudes of the broader electorate.

Paul McCartney visits Bethlehem, says "we need" two-state solution
Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2008
Bethlehem — Ma’an — The 1960s pop icon Paul McCartney visited Bethlehem Wednesday with a 'message of peace" for Palestinians and Israelis a day ahead of his scheduled concert in Tel Aviv. Fans at Manger Square watched as McCartney entered the West Bank city's Church of the Nativity, constructed on the site where Jesus was reputedly born. Inside the church, onlookers said McCartney lit two candles "for peace. "As he left, curious bystanders asked the former Beatle to respond to complaints that his stop in Israel "supports the (Israeli) occupation of the West Bank," which he denied. "I'm here to highlight the situation and to say that what we need is peace in the region," said McCartney, "a two-state solution. "Palestinian activists reportedly pressured McCartney to cancel his trip to Israel, though the singer "refused.

Mazuz: Drukman's conversions stand
Ynet, YNetNews 9/25/2008
AG gives legal opinion in case pertaining to Rabbinical Court's doubting validity of conversions performed by ousted head of Conversions Court; says statement calling for their annulment has no legal standing -Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said Wednesday that the High Rabbinical Court's statement suggesting that the conversions preformed by Rabbi Chaim Drukman, former head of the Conversions Court, should be overturned, has no legal or halachic standing. Thousands of conversions preformed by Rabbi Drukman and Rabbi Chaim Avior have been called into question, after the High Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem decreed they must be disqualified. The controversial statement was made just days before Rabbi Drukman wasousted as chief of the Conversions Court. Changes? Bill: Rabbinical courts will not rule on conversions / Kobi Nahshoni On aftermath of High Rabbinical. . .

New Coup D"Etat Rumblings in Venezuela
Stephen Lendman — Chicago, Palestine Chronicle 9/25/2008
'venezuela has a vibrant and improving participatory democracy. 'since taking office in January 2001, the Bush administration targeted Hugo Chavez for removal. It tried and failed three previous times:-- in April 2002 for two days; aborted by mass street protests and support from many in Venezuela's military, especially from its middle-ranking officer corp; -- the 2002 - 2003 general strike and oil management lockout causing severe economic disruption; and -- the August 2004 national recall referendum in which Chavez resoundingly prevailed with a 59% majority. Other disruptions have occurred since and now may again be ongoing. US intervention is innovative and determined to regain control of Venezuela and its vast hydrocarbon resources, the largest by far in the hemisphere after Canada. Perhaps the world with the US Department of Energy's estimate of 1.

Report: Israelis poorer than Europeans, but more optimistic
Ynet, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Central Bureau of Statistics data show number of Israelis living beneath European poverty line steadily increasing, but 51% of population believes future promising. Report also indicates Israelis less fearful than Europeans of walking alone after dark -The number of Israelis living under the poverty line has steadily increased over the past few years, as have the income gaps in the country, this according to data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on Thursday. Surprisingly, the data indicated that despite being poorer, Israelis are more optimistic than the Europeans. According to the CBS, in 2006 about 30% of Israelis lived under the European poverty line, compared to only 26% in 2001. The data also showed that in 2006, 21% of Israel's Jewish population lived under the European poverty line, while 68% of the country's Arab sector was defined as poor by European standards.

Poll: Who are we willing to forgive?
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 9/25/2008
Survey shows seculars hold rabbis to higher moral standard than political leaders. Gesher Director Shoshi Becker: While we are in month of forgiveness, nation is not quick to forgive its leaders - On the eve of the Chief Rabbinate's Rabbinical Council elections, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz told the government he would not pursue a criminal case against Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger. The statement was made in response to a demand by the Ometz Association (which champions proper public administration) to file charges against Metzger for allegedly receiving illicit benefits in return for marrying couples deemed disqualified to marry under Jewish Law; 'making inappropriate sexual advances" at a photographer and having various private groups fund trips abroad for him and his family.


Gaza's useful mercenaries
Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 9/25/2008
According to Hamas sources, groups supposedly affiliated to Al-Qaeda in Gaza are but paid and protected pro-Fatah criminal cells.
Despite the exhaustion apparent on his face, the young officer made a point of shaking hands with his soldiers and thanking them for their efforts. It had been a long night of clashes and incredibly harsh conditions. For over 11 hours last Tuesday night, this officer and his rapid response soldiers had pursued members of the Daghmash family that lives in Al-Sabra, a southwest neighbourhood of Gaza City. The dismissed Haniyeh government and its security forces announced that the targets of this campaign had been charged with several cases of murder and theft but had refused to hand themselves over to security. The military confrontation resulted in the death of 11, including a policeman, and the injury of dozens. Forty-eight hours following this showdown, the Army of Islam organisation -- one that embraces the programme of Al-Qaeda -- issued a statement claiming that seven of those killed were from its ranks. It further accused the Haniyeh government of targeting the organisation.
At first glance it may seem difficult to reconcile the two statements. The Palestinian police said it was targeting members of the Daghmash family charged with crimes while the Army of Islam organisation said the Haniyeh government and Hamas targeted it due to its affiliation with Al-Qaeda. Yet a closer look at the real source of difference between Hamas and the Army of Islam provides a window onto small Palestinian organisations that emulate Al-Qaeda. Following the development of these organisations provides answers to several questions. Is the environment in Palestine conducive to the development of organisations espousing the thought of Al-Qaeda? What are the real motives for the creation of these organisations? Do they serve the agendas of Palestinian forces that are inimical to Hamas? What is their future?

The Middle East Quartet - A progress report

CARE, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Save the Children Alliance, World Vision, ReliefWeb 9/25/2008
The humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) continues (see "The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion"). Its population of 3.7 million people, 52 per cent of whom are children, struggle for their basic needs. Palestinian women, children, and men are increasingly dependent on aid as their livelihoods are destroyed. The only sustainable solution to the crisis is a comprehensive peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians based on international law. As humanitarian and development agencies, we believe that immediate steps can and must be taken to relieve suffering, as well as to ensure that a peace agreement is eventually reached.
As this report demonstrates, the lack of progress on key goals calls the Quartet's current approach into question. In its Berlin statement, the Quartet expressed the "urgent need for more visible progress on the ground in order to build confidence and support progress in the negotiations launched in Annapolis". This "visible progress" has not materialised. Analysis of the reality on the ground demonstrates that in five of the ten areas in which the Quartet has laid down clear recommendations, there has been either no progress or an actual deterioration in the situation. Clearly, a new approach is warranted. Moreover, the Quartet's capacity to encourage positive developments has been weakest in the three areas where progress is now most urgent: settlements, lifting obstacles to movement and access, and bringing an end to the blockade of Gaza. The Middle East Quartet, comprising Russia, USA, EU, and UN, identified 2008 as a crucial year for the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) and the period in which to realise agreements made at the Annapolis Conference on 22 November 2007. Quartet members committed to assisting parties to meet their specific obligations and to promoting a just, comprehensive, and lasting settlement of the conflict in the Middle East. -- See also: Full_Report (pdf* format - 252.9 Kbytes)

Gaza diary: the Middle East Quartet

Omar, a humanitarian aid worker, in partnership with Oxfam, Al Jazeera 9/25/2008
Tomorrow [Friday, September 26, 2008], some of the world's most powerful leaders are coming together in New York. The EU, US, Russia and the UN (also known as the Quartet) are meeting with the aim of bringing an end to the Middle East conflict.
If I were with you in New York...
As I think about this, I begin conjuring a dream in my mind. In this dream, I have left the Gaza Strip, where I am an aid worker and also a Palestinian suffering the effects of the blockade here.
I close my eyes tighter and I am on a plane flying to New York. After arriving, I am suddenly free, standing in front of these leaders, ready to deliver the most important speech of my life.
Address to the Quartet
"Ladies and gentlemen, honourable members of the Quartet, I come to you today, all the way from a tiny bit of land called the Gaza Strip.
"I come to you to have a frank and honest talk. I come to you dressed in my working clothes, the clothes of a Palestinian humanitarian worker, a water engineer, whose life revolves around providing relief to people in Gaza who continue to suffer..."

Against the current

Nicola Nasser, Al-Ahram Weekly 9/25/2008
Mahmoud Abbas appears alone in still taking peace negotiations with Israel seriously.
For the first time since the US-hosted Annapolis conference in November last year re-launched Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, interrupted by the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 after the collapse of Camp David II, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo 6 September expressed "doubt" on striking a peace deal with Israel by the end of the year "because very little time is left". He reiterated his scepticism 10 September in an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz.
Accordingly, Abbas dispelled US President George W Bush's pledge to reach such a deal before his term ends and at the same time practically announced that peace talks have now been frozen for at least a year by imminent change in Washington and Tel Aviv. Abbas was reportedly scheduled to hold his last meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem 16 September, one day before Kadima, Olmert's ruling party, elected his successor ahead of his scheduled meeting with President Bush at the White House 25 September. It seems all partners to the Annapolis process are trying to strike a last-minute impossible deal or are simply saying goodbye to each other.

The living illusion

Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 9/25/2008
The friendly smile hides a sinister agenda
With Tzipi Livni succeeding Ehud Olmert as Israel's next prime minister following her slim victory over former defense minister Shaul Mofaz on 18 September, most Palestinians are pinning few hopes on the "new" Israeli government's ability to make a real difference in relations.
Initially, Livni's victory generated a modicum of euphoria, especially among observers not well-versed in Israeli politics. However, a more sobre analysis of the political realities in Israel suggests that Livni won"t be able to do much in terms of reaching a final status agreement with the Palestinian Authority without having the backing of a solid majority in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.
One Israeli writer remarked following Livni's victory that "the heart wants to hope, but the brain cannot." Some observers on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides are already predicting that the government Livni is going to form will not last long and that early general elections will have to be held in Israel sooner rather than later.

Damascus fears deviation on peace road

Sami Moubayed, Asia Times 9/26/2008
DAMASCUS - Syria looked on with especial interest as Israeli prime minister-in-waiting Tzipi Livni became the head of the Kadima Party and was asked to form a new cabinet by President Shimon Peres. Damascus has two theories on how Livni, the former foreign minister, will react to the indirect peace talks currently underway between her country and Syria. Optimists are willing to give Livni the benefit of the doubt, claiming she will uphold the talks begun by her predecessor, Ehud Olmert.
Others believe that while trying to form a government, Livni will certainly call off the Syria talks, to get the domestic house in order before returning to the negotiating table. This is despite Livni having sent off several messages to Syria pledging to uphold the talks once elected premier. Livni has just over a month to form a government by winning the support of a majority of the Knesset (parliament).
Syria reacted to Livni's election as Kadima leader at the weekend through a state-run daily, saying, "If she demonstrates a truthful desire to make peace, she will harvest peace. Otherwise, the region will remain in a state of no-war and no-peace and in a tense and unstable climate."

Jerusalem is now

Mustafa Al-Barghouti, Al-Ahram Weekly 9/25/2008
The US and Israel think they can impose on Palestinian negotiators a distorted peace that effaces all Palestinian rights. They cannot.
One doesn't need to be an expert in the so-called "peace process" to know that Israel's aim for the past 40 years has been to deny the Palestinians their rights. Having failed to break the backbone of the Palestinians and end their resolve to resist, Israel resorted to delay tactics. When not postponing urgent issues, it tried to empty from them all meaning. Thus the idea of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state was diluted into that of creating a self-rule entity, shorn of any real authority, over fragmented patches of land.
This is what the Oslo process managed to produce over the past 15 years or so. The number of settlers in the occupied territories has doubled. A wall of racial segregation has been erected. The West Bank has been cut off from Gaza. And Jerusalem is now surrounded on all sides and stranded, with little or no connection to other Palestinian areas. When negotiations resumed, Israel tried to impart legitimacy on its major settlements, refusing to discuss the matter of the refugees and insisting on postponing any decision on Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the Israelis tirelessly tried to change the face of Jerusalem, building settlements inside and around it, altering and Judaising it by the day.

Look beyond Rafah

Galal Nassar, Al-Ahram Weekly 9/25/2008
Hamas needs to set its sights on the good of the Palestinian people, not simply its own self-interest.
Once again, Palestinian factional leaders come to Cairo in search of elusive reconciliation. The deal they once signed in Mecca looked good, but it didn't stick for long. Is anyone keeping track of all the rounds of talks that have been held? Dozens, hundreds perhaps! Some may recall that Fatah and Hamas started talking in the early 1990s in Sudan. Well, they've been talking ever since, in various venues around the region.
A few years back, the positions of the two sides were far apart. Hamas posed as a resistance movement that was not going to compromise, that didn't care about power, that was not about to sell out. And it was fond of portraying Fatah, or the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), as a sell-out. Now, these claims are hard to maintain. Hamas is in government, self-proclaimed and all. It is worried about its own survival, Jerusalem and refugee rights put on the backburner for the moment. And yet Hamas and Fatah are still at loggerheads. Instead of working out their grievances, the list keeps getting longer as time goes by. Fatah is mad at Hamas's so-called coup. Hamas, for its part, is sure that Fatah is going to manipulate Palestinian presidential and legislative elections.

Marathon for Children: Running for the Right to Play

Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle 9/25/2008
Palestinian children "need safety, security, protection and a promise for a better future."
I was ecstatic as I read an email sent by a manager at a Canadian toy company. The company donates a large number of toys each year to inner city kids throughout North America, using various NGOs. A few years ago, they decided to ship several thousand toys to Palestinian children. They asked for my help.
The feeling of joy that I felt that day was unparalleled. Rarely do I experience in my job as a writer, whose main focus is war and conflict, this overpowering sense of elation. I had to tell someone that 11,000 toys would be shipped to Palestinian refugee camps before the Muslim holiday. This will certainly be a memorable Eid for so many children denied the simple pleasure of holding a teddy bear, or watching a toy police car running in circles with blazing sirens. My friend, Mohammed, a reporter from Egypt, however, was not very impressed.
"Toys?" he asked with an irritated tone. "What Palestinian children need is weapons, to defend themselves," he exultantly explained, as various colleagues nodded their head with agreement.

How do you explain to a Palestinian child he must ration his drinking water so an Israeli can swim?

Mitri I. Musleh, Editorial, Palestine News Network 9/25/2008
Over the past 60 years or so the situation in Palestine has reached astronomical dimensions that stretch far beyond what could have been expected.
In the midst of it all, Palestinians past and present have watched their young killed, jailed or exiled, their homes blown up, their fields ravished and their olive trees uprooted, their freedoms ripped away from them and their country depleted by the day.
All of this was done to them by Israel and its supporters in the name of freedom, godly wish and imperialism.
How do you explain to a young Palestinian that his father is being kept in Israeli jail because he was born Palestinian? How do you explain to a young Palestinian that his sibling was shot because he or she wanted to look out of the window? How do you explain to a young Palestinian that he has to ration his drinking water so an Israeli youngster can swim? How do you explain to a young Palestinian that all of the countries in the world are against you because you keep saying no to occupation, corruption and imperialism?

PCHR Position Paper: Controversy over End of Presidential Term in Office

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 9/24/2008
There has recently been widespread national controversy regarding the end of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas" term in office, which ends in January 2009. National media have published and broadcast conflicting statements and positions by Fatah and Hamas officials and politicians, as well as official statements from the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), which remains split between both sides. These have included statements issued by the Acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Dr. Ahmad Bahar, and the President of the Fatwa Legislative Office, Abd El-Karim Abu Salah.
Hamas supporters claim the current Presidential term ends on 8 January, 2009, in accordance with the end of the four-year period since the last Presidential Election was held on 9 January, 2005. They state that, unless new Presidential elections are held at this time, the Presidential post will become vacant. At this point the PLC Speaker would temporarily fill the vacancy for 60 days, during which period new elections would be held in order to elect a new President of the PNA, as stated in the Palestinian Basic Law.
However, Fatah supporters claim that Election Law No. 9 (2005), which was passed by the PLC, extended the President's term in order to allow simultaneous elections for the PLC and the Palestinian Presidency to be held at the end of the PLC term in January 2010.