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

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30 September 2008

UN report: ''More roadblocks in the West Bank''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/30/2008
A report published by the United Nations this week revealed that in spite of Israeli vows to ease restrictions on movement in the West Bank, the Israeli army increased the number of roadblocks and search points. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that the Israeli army installed 19 news barriers since April this year, increasing the number of roadblock to 630, 93 of which are used for a full search. Several countries pressured Israel to ease restrictions on movement in the occupied West Bank because a trip that would normally take only 20 minutes could now take up to several hours and in some cases would be impossible. The UN added that three-quarters of the main roads which lead to the main eighteen Palestinian cities and towns are either sealed or fully controlled by the army.

Pentagon approves sale of F-35 fighter jets to Israel
Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
The US Department of Defense has approved the sale of 25 F-35 stealth-enabled Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) to the Israeli Air Force (IAF), Israel Radio reported Tuesday evening. According to the report, the deal is valued at $15. 2 billion and includes an option to buy 50 additional bombers in the coming years. Each plane is estimated to cost between $70 million and $80m and will be equipped with F-135 or F-136 engines by the IAF. The report quoted a Pentagon official saying that the sale of the stealth jets to Israel was essential to American national interests and was meant to ensure that Israel maintained its qualitative edge over armies of neighboring countries. A department in the Pentagon responsible for cooperation with foreign powers reportedly relayed a message to Congress announcing the approval of the deal, where it is expected to be confirmed within 30 days, before the November 4 US presidential elections.

Israeli settlement sewage contaminating Palestinian water supply
Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 9/30/2008
Bethlehem - The Applied Research Institute, ARIJ, compiled data indicating that Israeli settlements are a major environmental threat to the West Bank as they openly spill wastewater. The Palestinian Ministry of Environmental Protection, along with the Israeli Authority for the Protection of Nature and National Parks and the Israeli Civil Administration are monitoring pollution in the West Bank. Their studies indicate that the main source of contamination of the water supply is wastewater flowing into Palestinian population centers. The Israeli governmental agencies did not openly state that the wastewater is coming from Israeli settlements, but ARIJ did and the fact has already been documented by several other sources, including by the naked eye that can see sewage flowing out of some settlements and into neighboring Palestinian towns and agricultural lands.

Palestinians claim detainee in Jericho prison died from torture
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/30/2008
Shadi Muhammad Shahin died Monday night in the Jericho prison run by the Palestinian Authority. While the circumstances around his death remain unclear, his family claims that he died due to torture by the Palestinian police. According to the Palestinian Information Center, a Hamas-run website, Shahin, who was in his thirties, died Monday after being tortured for some time. The Palestinian police, run by the Fateh-affiliated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, claim that Shahin died of illness, and promised to conduct a full autopsy and investigation of the death. Jericho prison is the main Palestinian Authority-run prison, although Israeli occupying military forces have, in the past, raided the prison to extract men they wish to imprison in Israeli prisons. The most famous raid took place in 2006, when Israeli forces bombed and demolished parts of the prison, killing a number of prisoners.

PA releases political detainees in West Bank, hopes for same in Gaza
PNN exclusive, Palestine News Network 9/30/2008
Bethlehem -- Palestinian Authority security services released 16 members of Hamas from its jail on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr. Palestinian security sources told PNN that the release was not only a good will gesture for Eid but also done as a statement that the PA does not deal with detainees in the same manner that the Gaza government does. These sources said that after this release only a few detainees remain and those who do have charges against them affecting the internal security of Palestinian society. The Palestinian security sources told PNN that non-political arrests in the West Bank are conducted to maintain public security and order. They say the hope is that the security situation does not deteriorate in the northern governorates, stressing the keenness of Palestinian security services to provide security and safety for all sectors of society.

Federal judge upholds right of U.S. terror victims in Israel to sue PLO
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 10/1/2008
The Palestine Liberation Organization cannot win dismissal of a lawsuit by victims of bombings in Israel by claiming the attacks were acts of war rather than terrorism, an American judge ruled Tuesday. District Judge George Daniels said the 2004 lawsuit on behalf of victims and their families can proceed toward trial. It seeks up to $3 billion in damages from attacks between January 2001 and February 2004. The lawsuit alleges that the PLO carried out the attacks to pressure the United States and Israel to submit to its demands and to terrorize, intimidate and coerce the civilian population of Israel into acquiescing to its political goals. Daniels rejected the PLO’s argument that two machine-gun attacks and five bombings were acts of war. The Jerusalem-area incidents killed 33 people and wounded hundreds, including scores of U.

Israel cuts U.S. cluster bombs for homemade self-detonating brand
Reuters, Ha’aretz 10/1/2008
Israel has cut purchases of U. S. -made cluster bombs, defense officials said on Tuesday, stocking up on supplies from a state-owned Israeli company rather than heeding calls for an outright ban. The Israel Defense Forces want to avoid a repeat of civilian casualties from cluster bombs during and after the 2006 Lebanon war, the officials said. More than 100 countries have banned the bombs because they can kill indiscriminately. Cluster bombs have a relatively high failure rate compared to more conventional explosive munitions, but are favored by armies as a way of hitting enemy combatants in areas where no precise targets can be located. The Israel Air Force and artillery showered south Lebanon with cluster shells, each containing dozens or hundreds of grenade-size bomblets, during the 34-day war against Hezbollah guerrillas two years ago.

Mustafa Al-Barghouthi prays at confiscated land in Ni’lin
Ma’an News Agency 9/30/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - The secretary general of the Palestinian Initiative led prayers on land threatened with confiscation on Tuesday. Secretary General Mustafa Al-Barghouthi told worshipers at the Ramallah-area event that "we are here in Ni’lin to assure that we will continue our struggle against the Apartheid Wall and against the confiscation of our lands. " Al-Bargouthi also visited with families of Palestinians killed in clashes with Israel, saying that "people’s blood will not be wasted. " The deputy congratulated Palestinians for ’Eid Al-Fitr, especially those recently released from prisons, including Sa’id Al-Atabeh and Husam Khader. [end]

Palsetine Today 093008
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 9/30/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 4m 0s || 3. 66 MB ||Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Tuesday September 30, 2008. LEDE: Palestinians in Gaza celebrate the holy days of the Eid under siege, and Palestinian Authority releases some Hamas political prisoners, these stories and more are coming up, stay tuned. Palestinian Muslims as well as Muslims in other parts of the world today celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the end of the fasting month Ramadan. Palestinians in Gaza in particular remain under a 16-month old siege that is destroying all aspects of life in the besieged coastal region. One family, similar to many others, is living the Eid days separated from one another, some besieged in Gaza and the rest in Israel. The family of Ramadan al-Hour from al-Nusseirat refugee camp, has been separated. . .

Palestinian territories under full strict siege as Israel celebrates the New Year
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/30/2008
Israeli Authorities announced and implemented a full siege on all of the occupied Palestinian territories as directed by the Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, as Israelis celebrate Jewish New Year and the security devices in Israel claimed to receive 10 warnings of possible Palestinians attacks. Israeli Secret Security Services claimed that the warnings included attempts to abduct Israelis in the West Bank and in areas adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The closure will most likely be lifted on Wednesday night but the final decision remains in the hands of the Security Services. Hundreds of Israeli policemen were deployed in Israel while the army increased its presence on the Green Line separating the Palestinian Territories from Israel. Hundreds of soldiers and policeman were deployed in and around Jerusalem.

Olmert: Israel should quit most occupied land
Reuters, YNetNews 9/30/2008
’We should withdraw from almost all of the territories, including in east Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights,’ PM tells Yedioth Ahronoth in special Rosh Hashana interview. Palestinian FM: We wish we had heard this personal opinion before he resigned -Israel should withdraw from nearly all territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war in return for peace with the Palestinians and Syria, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted on Monday as telling a newspaper. Olmert, in a caretaker role since quitting on September 21, said he was breaking new ground in calling for a broad pullback from the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians hope to establish a state, and in the annexed Golan Heights, which Syria wants back "(I am saying) what no previous Israeli leader has ever said: we should withdraw from almost all of the territories, including in east Jerusalem. . . "

LEBANON: Despair, trauma, discontent among Nahr al-Bared’s impoverished Palestinians
Hugh Macleod/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 10/1/2008
NAHR AL-BARED, 30 September 2008 (IRIN) - They look like cargo crates: long lines of prefabricated steel units, stacked two high, set on the edge of the ruined Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Inside each airless 18 square metre unit there is a toilet, gas burner and tatty mattresses on the bare wooden floor. This is the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen for Palestinian families like Hyat Jundi’s, whose home in Nahr al-Bared was destroyed in last summer’s battle between the army and Islamist militants. "All I do all day is fight with the neighbours above about the water that spills down into our room," said Jundi, 55, as some of her four young children bustle around. "I’m irritable because I have backache from sleeping on the floor. " Jundi’s husband, a bin man for the UN’s Palestinian relief organisation UNRWA, has two other wives with children, so is only able to give her around US$150 a month, she said.

U.S.: Brief Talks with Syria Spur Speculation
Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service 10/1/2008
WASHINGTON, Sep 30(IPS) - A series of meetings between U. S. and Syrian diplomats, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her counterpart, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, at the United Nations over the past week is stirring speculation that Washington may at last be moving toward engaging Damascus. Instead of focusing on specific issues of special interest to the U. S. -- mainly Washington’s demands that Syria crack down hard against the infiltration of Sunni extremists into Iraq and stop supplying Hezbollah in Lebanon -- the discussions also reportedly covered other topics as well, notably Damascus’s appeals for Washington to involve directly itself in a burgeoning peace process between Syria and Israel. Both Damascus and Tel Aviv have called for U. S. engagement as a way of furthering year-old indirect talks that have been mediated by the Turkish government.

Report: Syria FM met with Rice in NY last week
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/30/2008
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem met with U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in New York last weekend, according to an interview with Moualem published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal. According to the report, Moualem and Rice met Friday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, and the Syrian foreign minister had more detailed talks with U. S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch. A State Department official told the Wall Street Journal that the U. S. discussed its support for Israel-Syria peace talks, and also used the meet to air its grievances with Syria, including Damascus’s hand in the security situations in Lebanon, Iraq, as well as the West Bank and Gaza. Moualem is quoted as saying the talks represent "good progress in the American position," and said Syria vows to "continue this dialogue.

’Rice satisfied by Syria-Israel talks’
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/30/2008
In what may be a sign that the recent hardline American position towards Syria is softening, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem met with US Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice last week, and with Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch on Monday to discuss various issues concerning the region, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. According to the report, Rice and Moallem held brief talks on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Moallem then had a more detailed meeting with Welch a few days later. "[Rice] expressed her satisfaction with the situation moving forward in Lebanon, also about the indirect talks between Syria and Israel," the Syrian foreign minister told the paper in an interview on Monday. "She said they support these talks and they are ready to assist.

Syria back on the terror map
Sami Moubayed, Asia Times 10/1/2008
DAMASCUS - A bomb attack on Monday in the Lebanese city of Tripoli and a deadly blast in Damascus over the weekend have been linked to Sunni Islamist extremists, according to analysts and news reports. A remote-controlled car bomb devastated a bus packed with Lebanese soldiers in the northern city Tripoli on Monday, killing at least five and wounding 33, according to news reports. The blast occurred during morning rush hour and also destroyed several cars and shops. Lebanese security officials told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that a bomb explosion in the northern city of Tripoli "was a terrorist attack aimed against security and stability in the country". This is the second attack on the Lebanese army in recent weeks; last month, 14 died in a similar explosion in Tripoli. And earlier, just before 8am on Saturday, a suicide bomber carrying 200 kilograms of explosives in a

Assad: Relations with Iran to continue even if peace with Israel achieved
Ali Waked, YNetNews 9/30/2008
Wall Street Journal reports senior American, Syrian diplomats held series of meetings in New York. Syrian president says relations with Tehran to persist even if peace with Israel achieved. FM Moallem tells daily most important thing is ’to have the political will to achieve peace based on land-for-peace’ -The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that senior American and Syrian diplomats held a series of meetings in New York over the past week, in what the New-York-based daily said was "a sign of a potential thaw between the US and a country that President George W. Bush has alleged is a principal sponsor of international terrorism. " PM’s VisionOlmert: Israel should quit most occupied land/ Reuters ’We should withdraw from almost all of the territories, including in east Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights,’ PM tells Yedioth Ahronoth in special Rosh Hashana interview.

Hariri: Syria poses ‘direct threat’ to Lebanon
Middle East Online 9/30/2008
BEIRUT - Parliament’s majority leader Saad Hariri has lashed out at Syria in the wake of a deadly car bombing targeting the Lebanese army, accusing Damascus of posing "a clear and direct threat" to Lebanon. "The Lebanese will not let Bashar al-Assad’s words go unnoticed," Hariri said late Monday, reacting to comments by the Syrian president. Assad on Sunday told the head of Lebanon’s journalists union, Melhem Karam, that northern Lebanon had become a base for extremists and posed a threat to his country. "His words are a clear and direct threat to the sovereignty of Lebanon and the north in particular," Hariri said. He said Assad’s underlying message was that Lebanon, and the northern region in particular that has been gripped by sectarian fighting, was to blame for insecurity in Syria. Hariri also denounced last week’s deployment of Syrian troops along Lebanon’s northern. . .

Lebanon MPs adopt new election law
Middle East Online 9/30/2008
BEIRUT - The Lebanese parliament adopted a new electoral law overnight in a key move aimed at paving the way for legislative polls due early next year. The move was the final step of a peace deal struck in May between Lebanon’s rival pro- and anti-Syrian factions to end an 18-month political crisis that had brought the country to the brink of civil war. The legislation, which amends one adopted in 1960, calls for several reforms including the redrawing of electoral districts and the holding of elections in one day rather than over several days. Parliament, however, rejected several proposed reforms such as lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, introducing a quota for women in parliament and allowing Lebanese citizens living abroad to cast ballots. Under the new law Lebanese expatriates will be allowed to vote in 2013.

Journalists to Abbas: Release jailed reporters in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 9/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A journalists’ committee on Tuesday called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to release all reporters currently held in Palestinian Authority (PA) jails. The group demanded that Abbas release jailed news officials in West Bank prisons to spend time with their families during ’Eid. Among those detained are Farid Hamad, Khaldun Al-Mathlum, Abdullah Adawi, Asid Al-Amarneh. The committee said that journalists have a right to free speech, though it also admitted that reporters have a responsibility to avoid intensifying the Fatah-Hamas rivalry, according to a statement. [end]

Hamas: Muqata’a authority strives to split Movement
Palestinian Information Center 9/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has publicly accused Monday the PA leadership in Ramallah city of attempting to drive a wedge between the Movement’s leaders in the Gaza Strip and  the West Bank. But Hamas made it clear that such an attempts would end in total failure because "the Movement is solid and united". The remarks of Hamas were made in reaction to media reports suggesting that the PA leadership in Ramallah city was negotiating with the Israeli occupation government for possible release of Hamas’s political leader Dr. Aziz Dwaik, the PLC speaker, who is detained in Israeli jails for more than two years now. According to media reports, the PA leadership in Ramallah wants  to preempt possible appointment of the Gaza-based MP Dr. Ahmad Bahar as an interim PA chief after Abbas’s term in office ends on January 9, 2008.

Hamas, Fatah leaders pledge Palestinian unity bid
Reuters, YNetNews 9/30/2008
Ismail Haniyeh says ’we hope current national dialogue sessions in Cairo will end division caused by party that rejected choice of the people’ -Leaders of the rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan on Tuesday with pledges to seek unity at talks in Cairo in the coming weeks. Healing the deep rift between them is seen as a vital step towards an eventual peace deal with Israel. But there was no evident sign of a change of position on either part signaling that their feud, which climaxed with militant Islamist Hamas fighters forcing Fatah forces out of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, would soon be resolved. "We hope the current national dialogue sessions in Cairo will succeed in ending the division caused by a party that rejected the choice of the people," said top Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh, referring to Fatah.

Islamic Jihad: Extension of Abbas’s term would deepen Palestinian rift
Palestinian Information Center 9/30/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Representative of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Lebanon Abu Emad Al-Refaie has warned on Monday that any attempt to extend the term of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in office would create bigger crises worse than the current one in the Palestinian arena. "We [in the Islamic Jihad] have clear stand on this matter that the PA institutions, and the persons under those institutions must be respected, and that the anticipated inter-Palestinian dialogue in Cairo should serve as a true start to end the Palestinian rift because if the talks failed, the political division in the Palestinian arena is candidate to worsen further", said Refaie in press release. In this regard, Refaie stressed that the only way to avoid further political division in the Palestinian arena and to end the current political impasse was to sit together [for the dialogue] and to have clear and transparent understandings [on all disputes].

President honors Abu Amar and Palestinian people on Eid al-Fitr
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/30/2008
Ramallah - President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that his recent visit to the United States was successful. Speaking from Ramallah’s sister city of Al Bireh after Eid al-Fitr prayers the President said, "The meetings in Washington were clear and frank for the most part. I explained exactly what we have and what is required, and I think that overall we can refer to this visit as a success. "President Abbas was addressing the press outside the Jamal Abdel Nasser Mosque today when he responded to questions about the possibility of Tzipi Livni becoming the Israeli Prime Minister. "We do not get to choose. We have to deal with their choice, whatever it is. " Flanked by several officials, Abbas placed a wreath on the shrine to President Yasser Arafat while a tribute was read aloud. The President also congratulated the Palestinian people and Arab and Islamic nations on. . .

Al-Aqsa delegation greets officials released from Gaza prison
Ma’an News Agency 9/30/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - An Al-Aqsa Brigades delegation on Tuesday visited the movement’s Gaza spokesperson in Gaza following officials’ recent release from a Hamas-run prison. The group affiliated with the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat met with Governor Mohamed Al-Kudwa and Fatah spokesman Dr. Hazem Abu Shanab, checking up on the two following their detentions in Gaza. Abu Yasser headed up the delegation, along with Abu Eyad and a number of media and military personel. Arriving at Governor Al-Kudwa’s house, Eyad said that the group’s "resistance is against Israeli forces--but this internal division is a negative influence. " Fatah spokesperson Abu Shanab called for the release of other detainees in Gaza to encourage national dialogue, adding that Fatah "congratulates all Palestinians on ’Eid and hopes that internal problems can be solved through unity. "

A prisoner dies under torture in Jericho prison on the eve of Eid
Palestinian Information Center 9/30/2008
File picture of political prisoners in Jericho prison RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Palestinian sources revealed that a young man from Ramallah died Monday evening in Jericho jail, which is run by Abbas’s PA, as a result of sever torture meted to him inside the jail. Shadi Muhammad Shahin, a Palestinian in his thirties from the Ramallah district died in Jericho jail, according to the sources. The PA police claimed that Shahin died as a result of illness and not under torture and that an autopsy will be carried out to determine the cause of death. Reasons behind the detention of Shahin are not clear yet, but the PA police say that he was detained pending prosecution in a case brought by the attorney general in Jericho. It is, however, known that the Jericho jail is used mostly for detaining political prisoners and elements of the resistance from various resistance factions.

Fatah affiliate: We will celebrate Eid ’when we are liberated.’
Ma’an News Agency 9/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Al-Mujahedin Brigades, which is affiliated with Fatah, called on Palestinians to work for national unity during ’Eid Al-Fitr. In a statement received by Ma’an, the Brigades said that "resistance is the only way" to oppose Israel. Its statement also added that Palestinians are "in the middle" of ending the occupation, and called on them to celebrate ’Eid "when we are liberated. "

In a lengthy interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, Olmert outlines his ''˜vision’ of the Middle East
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/30/2008
Several hours after he announced his resignation, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave a lengthy interview to the Israeli Newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, in which he said that Israel must withdraw from most of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and compensate the Palestinians for the remainder of the Israeli-occupied land, in addition to trying to achieve a peace agreementwith Syria. Highlights of the statements made by Olmert in the interview:-Syria knows the price of peace; that’s why the nation is ending its relations with Iran. -Iran is a powerful country, the international community must counter its nuclear program. -Israel must withdraw from most of the Palestinian territories, and compensate the Palestinians for remaining lands we will keep. -Any Israeli leader who wants to keep Arab neighborhoods as part of Jerusalem, mustallow the entry of 270.

Olmert: It’s time to withdraw from East Jerusalem, Golan Heights
Ma’an News Agency 9/30/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told members of the Israeli press on Tuesday that withdrawing from East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights would be necessary to achieve peace. In an interview with Hebrew newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth, Olmert said Israel "has no choice" but to "withdraw from the most decisive areas of the territories. " "In exchange for the same territories left in our hands, we will have to give compensation in the form of territories within the State of Israel," he said. The latest comments highlight the outgoing prime minister’s escalating interest in achieving some sort of agreement before he leaves office. Olmert also noted that achieving peace with Syria would almost undoubtedly require giving up the Golan Heights, which Israel has occupied since 1967. "I’d like to see if there is one serious person in the State of Israel. . .

Israel will have to reinstate pre-1967 border for peace deal, Olmert admits
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 9/30/2008
The outgoing Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, has publicly acknowledged for the first time that "almost all" of the territory seized during the Six-Day War in 1967 will have to be given back in return for peace with the Palestinians. In an interview with Israel’s biggest-selling newspaper, Yedhiot Ahronot, in which he underlined the urgent need for an agreement to be reached while the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas remains in office, Mr Olmert warned that the alternative was "the very great danger that there will be a bloody clash, which will thwart any possibility of continuing negotiations". Declaring that "what I am saying. . . has not been said by any Israeli leader before me", Mr Olmert also went further than any member of his government in laying down some of the minimum requirements he believes he, or his successor will need to fulfil if there is to be a deal with Mr Abbas.

MIDEAST: Final Hours Find Newly Conciliatory Olmert
Ali Gharib, Inter Press Service 10/1/2008
WASHINGTON, Sep 29(IPS) - In an interview with a newspaper on the eve of the Jewish holidays, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave a frank assessment of the concessions that Israel would have to give to achieve a lasting peace with its neighbours. Olmert told the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth that Israel would need to end its 41-year occupation of the West Bank and also give up most of its territory in East Jerusalem to the 270,000 Palestinians who live there. The comments come as Olmert is on his way out of office. Olmert resigned just over a week ago facing pressure from an ongoing corruption probe. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was chosen as his successor to lead the centre-right Kadima party. As she attempts to put together a coalition, Olmert remains on as the head of a caretaker government.

Olmert: Israel has to return occupied lands to achieve peace
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 9/30/2008
The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said his country would have to withdraw from "almost all" the land it captured in the 1967 war and divide Jerusalem in order to agree long-awaited peace deals with the Palestinians and Syria. His comments came in a newspaper interview ahead of the Jewish new year but days after his resignation. He remains in his post as a caretaker prime minister, but is thought unlikely to be able to follow through with any of his proposals. In the interview with Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer, two senior political columnists for Yedioth Ahronoth, Olmert talked about peace with the Palestinians and the Syrians, as well as continuing to maintain his innocence over a series of high-profile corruption investigations, which forced him to step down.

US Consul congratulates Palestinian Muslims at start of Eid Al-Fitr
Ma’an News Agency 9/30/2008
Jerusalem - Ma’an - The US Consulate in Jerusalem congratulated Muslims in Palestine on Tuesday, the first day of the annual Eid Al-Fitr celebrations. "I would like to send my warm congratulations to the Palestinian people celebrating Eid Al-Fitr," US Consul General Jacob Walles wrote in an open letter to the Palestinian people on Tuesday. "This is my fourth Ramadan here in Jerusalem among my friends, the Palestinians. The fact is that I feel humbled by their reception and by so many invitations by Palestinian families to share in their Ramadan nights and activities. Their values of humility, reflection and charity - that are the fundamental meaning of Ramadan - are also the universal values that are appreciated and respected by all. " "As millions of American Muslims and non-Muslims across the United States celebrate during the holy month of Ramadan," the consul also sent "the best of wishes for Palestinians celebreating Eid.

Israel to purchase 25 new Lockheed jets
Reuters, YNetNews 9/30/2008
US Government approves $15. 2 billion sale of Joint Strike Fighter aircrafts, with option for 50 more in coming years; pentagon explains deal is vital for US assistance in Israel’s development of ’strong self-defense capability’ -The US Government on Tuesday said it approved the sale to Israel of 25 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft built by Lockheed Martin Corp and an option for 50 more in coming years - a deal valued at up to $15. 2 billion. The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which oversees major arms sales, said the deal is vital to US national security interests to assist Israel as it develops and maintains "a strong and ready self-defense capability. " Israel needs the aircraft to enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground defense, the agency said. The DSCA notified Congress about the proposed arms sale before lawmakers head back to their districts for the November election.

U.S. approves sale to Israel of 25 F-35 fighter jets
Reuters, Ha’aretz 10/1/2008
The U. S. government on Tuesday said it approved the sale to Israel of 25 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft built by Lockheed Martin Corp and an option for 50 more in coming years - a deal valued at up to 15. 2 billion Euros. The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which oversees major arms sales, said the deal is vital to U. S. national security interests to assist Israel as it develops and maintains "a strong and ready self-defense capability. " Israel needs the aircraft to enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground defense, the agency said. The DSCA notified Congress about the proposed arms sale before lawmakers head back to their districts for the November election. Lawmakers now have 30 days to block the sales, but such action is rare, since the agreements are usually carefully vetted beforehand.

IDF to halt use of US cluster bombs
Reuters, YNetNews 9/30/2008
Defense officials say army will switch to local-made M-85 bombs in order to limit civilian casualties such as those caused during and after Second Lebanon War, in which ’we were relying on arsenal of American ordnance likely to produce duds’ -Israel has cut purchases of US-made cluster bombs, defense officials said on Tuesday, stocking up on supplies of M-85 bombs from the state-owned Israeli Military Industries (IMI). The report has not yet been confirmed by the IDF. The officials said Israel wants to avoid a repeat of civilian casualties from cluster bombs during and after the Second Lebanon War, thus assuaging worldwide criticism heaped on the State over the issue. More than 100 countries have banned the bombs because of their impreciseness. According to the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC), 30-40 percent of the cluster bombs fired. . .

Under siege the joy of Eid is missing in Gaza
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/30/2008
Gaza -- The Gaza Strip has seen few manifestations of the joy associated with Eid al-Fitr. After yesterday’s announcement that it was the last day of Ramadan there were scarce resources to expend in preparation for today’s Eid. The Strip’s 1. 6 million residents showed the familiar signs of a land under siege instead of those of the celebration that comes after a month of fasting. Israeli forces continue to keep the border crossings closed after two years and the Egyptian crossings is also closed. Goods are expensive and scarce, as are jobs. Under siege there are few raw materials coming in for production facilities leaving much of the labor sector unemployed. The fuel crisis has wreaked havoc on every facet of life from sewage treatment plants to the medical profession. Smuggling through the Egyptian -- Rafah border has flourished under siege despite the risks which have left 43 people dead this year in tunnel collapses.

Gaza Eid Made in Egypt
Ola Attallah – Gaza City, Palestine Chronicle 9/30/2008
Walking down the market in his Gaza neighborhood, hajj Abu Murad was baffled. A few days ago the market was almost deserted with shelves left empty because of the long-running Israeli blockade. Now the shelves are stuffed and the shops are buzzing with shoppers and buyers. " At first I thought the Israelis have finally opened the crossings," he told IslamOnline. net. " Then I realized they are all Egyptian goods. " This year, Gaza is celebrating `Eid Al-Fitr, which began in the Palestinian territories on Tuesday, September 30, with a deluge of Egyptian goods arriving through tunnels dug across the Gaza-Egypt border. Since Israel sealed off the impoverished coastal strip more than a year ago, smuggling basics through tunnels has become the only way for its besieged 1. 6 million population to survive. " You can get whatever you want through the tunnels," says Iyad, a merchant in a Gaza market.

Placing wreaths in Tulkarem in honor of the dead on Eid
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/30/2008
Tulkarem -- Officials rang in the beginning of Eid al-Fitr in similar fashion throughout the West Bank with Tulkarem being no exception. The governor of the northwestern district, Talal Dweikat, along with several area officials and the local Fateh Secretary, Mustafa Taqatqa, welcomed Eid al-Fitr by visiting cemeteries and thanking the public for the longstanding struggle for peace and justice. While reciting prayers for residents of the northwestern West Bank province who were killed by Israeli forces or who died in sacrificial operations, the officials placed wreaths on the tombs in what was a somber ceremony. Governor Dweikat paid tribute to those who "died for the cause," stressing that the independent Palestinian state will have Jerusalem as capital. Placing his trust in President Mahmoud Abbas the Tulkarem governor said, "I believe we are on the right path.

Ma’an congratulates Muslims on first day of Eid Al-Fitr
Ma’an News Agency 9/30/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Holy Land Sheikh Mohammad Hussein congratulated Muslims worldwide on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr. This year’s celebrations coincide with the eight-year anniversary of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, in which 5,390 Palestinians were killed. Among those lost were the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, as well as Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his companion Abu Ali Mustafa. Marwan Barghouthi and Admed Saadat, along with 40 government ministers and Hamas lawmakers remain imprisoned by Israel today. Over 65,000 detainees are in Israeli prisons this ’Eid. Ma’an News Agency and its affiliates congratulated Muslims in Palestine on Tuesday, as well.

McCain camp: Claim that Palin endorsed Hamas is ’libel’
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/30/2008
"Yeah, well especially in that region, though, we have to protect those who do seek democracy and support those who seek protections for the people who live there. "- A representative of the McCain campaign on Monday accused a blogger on the Atlantic website of ’slander’ in response to a blog on the website entitled "Palin endorses Hamas. "The blog mocked McCain running mate Sarah Palin’s difficulty answering a question from Katie Couric, in which she gave a sweeping endorsement of democracy in the Middle East. Michael Goldfarb of the McCain campaign issued a statement to the Atlantic Monthly on Monday saying "Governor Palin did no such thing, and your title is nothing short of slander. Having read your work for some time I doubt that you believe Hamas qualifies as "those who seek democracy. "That you would put those words in Governor Palin’s mouth is libel. "

McCain’s pander to Jewish voters
Richard Silverstein, The Guardian 9/30/2008
I swear that Howard Kohr, the executive director of Aipac, must have been briefing John McCain for the presidential debate against Barack Obama last week. The pro-Israel lobbying group has been shreying for years about the "existential threat" posed to Israel by Iran. And so McCain seemed to be reading from the Aipac script when he warned: If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it is an existential threat to the state of Israel and to other countries in the region because the other countries in the region will feel [a] compelling requirement to acquire nuclear weapons as well. Now we cannot [allow] a second Holocaust. Let’s just make that very clear. "Existential threat to the state of Israel"? Check. "Second Holocaust"? Double check. He’s following those talking points right down the line. Good boy, John. They’ll be some cheques in the mail come Monday.

ISRAEL: A Second Woman PM On Her Way
Analysis by Peter Hirschberg, Inter Press Service 10/1/2008
JERUSALEM, Sep 30(IPS) - Just a week after Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was charged with forming a new government, it looks as if the new leader of the ruling Kadima party is on the way to cobbling together a new ruling coalition. There will still be a lot of horse-trading in the coming days. But with both the Labour Party and the ultra-Orthodox Shas party in serious negotiations with Livni, who won a party leadership race to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert earlier this month, she seems to be on course to become Israel’s second woman prime minister, after Golda Meir became the first, almost four decades ago. To form a coalition, Livni will have to contend with Shas’s demand that the future of Jerusalem be kept off the table in negotiations with the Palestinians. The foreign minister, who under Olmert has been responsible for talks with the Palestinians, will clearly want to continue on this track if she becomes prime minister.

Chief rabbi: False use of kippa despicable
Neta Sela, YNetNews 9/30/2008
Rabbi Yona Metzger calls on felons to stop wearing traditional Jewish skullcap for sake of appearances when attending court hearings, says phenomenon disrespectful to faith -Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has called on defendants going before the bench to "stop sporting a kippa just for show. " The rabbi made the comment in a Rosh Hashana ceremony in Jerusalem on Thursday and attended by past and present police commissioners, as well as Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter. Metzger spoke of the phenomenon in which newly defendants choose to appear for their court dates wearing the traditional Jewish skullcaps for the sake of appearances. " I cannot judge someone’s heart," said Rabbi Metzger. "If someone has committed a crime and truly wished to repent, it is, by all means, the right thing to do; but this new thing we’re seeing, where killers are. . .

Health officials crack down on expired nuts in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 9/30/2008
Hebron - Ma’an – In a continuation of the clean-up campaign for expired material in Palestinian markets, customs officers seized tons of expired nuts on Tuesday. Chief Customs Officer Wael Al-‘Anati said that such extensive field campaigns are intended to clean Palestinian markets of expired food received by Israeli markets. [end]

Talabani warns against delay in US deal
Middle East Online 9/30/2008
ARBIL - Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani returned home Monday after heart surgery and warned that a delay in an agreement on the presence of US troops in the country beyond 2008 could undermine sovereignty. Talabani, who spent nearly two months in the United States for medical treatment, said, however, that he expected an early conclusion of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Washington and Baghdad. "We hope to reach good results (on the SOFA agreement) because not reaching an agreement means it will lead to a daily violation of the sovereignty of Iraq," he said in Arbil, capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region. SOFA is to put in place a deal for the future of US troops after the UN Security Council mandate for the multinational force expires on December 31. But differences still remain, notably on granting immunity to US soldiers for any violations committed. . .

IRAQ: Is Kurdish-Arab ''Honeymoon'' Over?
Analysis by Mohammed A. Salih, Inter Press Service 10/1/2008
COLUMBIA, Missouri, Sep 30(IPS) - Tensions between Kurds and the Iraqi government over disputed territory have heightened recently, raising fears that they might lead to ethnic clashes between Kurds and Arabs at a time when the war-torn country is slowly recovering from years of sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni Arabs. Last month, the Iraqi Army deployed units to areas under Kurdish control in volatile northern Diyala Province, as part of its "Operation Good Tidings" to expand government authority over the area. The centre of the controversial move was Khanaqin, 140 kilometres northeast of Baghdad. It is a small, largely Kurdish town that has oil reserves and is close to the Iranian border. Kurdish Peshmarga troops left their bases in the nearby districts of Jalawla, Saadiya and Qara Tapa in northern Diyala after receiving warnings from the Iraqi Army.

Pentagon announces 2009 US deployments to Iraq
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
Six Army brigades, a National Guard unit and three military headquarters have been ordered to Iraq next year in a move that would allow the US to keep the number of troops largely steady there through much of 2009. The planned deployments involve about 26,000 troops and would maintain 14 combat brigades in Iraq from about February to early autumn. But the decisions do not rule out potential changes as military leaders assess the security there and eye more troop withdrawals. Even as violence in Iraq has plunged in the past year, cautious Pentagon leaders have resisted insistent public and congressional calls for more rapid and hefty troop pullouts. Instead, top commanders have continued to insist the security situation remains fragile, and the improvements reversible. That assessment was reflected in a report sent to Congress Tuesday in which the Pentagon expressed concern. . .

EGYPT-REFUGEES: Stepping Stones Across the Desert
Aya Batrawy, Inter Press Service 10/1/2008
CAIRO, Sep 30(IPS) - "When I left Darfur, I left the hell of death and entered the hell of life. That is the only difference," said Galoud*, one of the many Darfuri refugees who have escaped to Egypt. Galoud was speaking from his shared, rented apartment in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Cairo. He related the story of how he trekked across the harsh Western Desert that separates his memories of persecution and death in his home of Darfur from his new life as a refugee in Egypt. But he soon found that this new life offered little hope. Galoud is one of an estimated 150,000 refugees in Egypt --the figure includes refugees with official status, asylum seekers and many thousands more whose application for refugee status has been rejected but remain in the country.

ElBaradei: IAEA lacks tools to expose secret work
Reuters, YNetNews 9/30/2008
UN nuclear watchdog chief tells Vienna General Conference that stall in Iran, Syria investigations is a result of lack of authority given to inspectors requesting access to suspicious sites not officially declared nuclear -Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tuesday that the agency’s failure to detect nuclear arms work showed his inspectors lacked authority to pre-empt proliferators. His remark was telling because an investigation of Iran by the agency has stalled over Tehran’s failure to explain allegations of secret nuclear arms research and its refusal to grant inspectors access to military-affiliated sites and officials they deem relevant. ElBaradei said the crux of the problem was that some countries under investigation, the latest being Syria, had failed to ratify an agency protocol permitting short-notice. . .


Articles


The ever-changing Israeli police reports
International Solidarity Movement 9/29/2008
      Nablus Region
     Within 48 hours of Yahya Atta Rayahin Bani Minnah’s death, the official Israeli statement on the cause of death changed considerably. As documented in previous report, the Israeli army physician who was present at the scene of the murder told the mayor of Aqraba, Mr Jabr, directly that the wounds were caused by M16 bullets. This was confirmed in official statements from the Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld, who is reported as saying:
     “The body of a Bedouin youth was found by one of his family members. (Israeli) police have opened an investigation after a forensic examination showed he had been shot,”
     He then went on to say that:
     “We are examining the bullets and type of gun, trying to find out who was behind (the shooting). Everything is open at the moment.”
     On the morning of Monday 29 September, however, Israeli police issued a press release stating that the autopsy carried out by the Abu Kadir Institute – an institution whose reputation has been marred by allegations of organ sales and false reporting – claimed the wounds were the result of a “rifle grenade” explosion.

Israel’s breeding ground for Jewish terrorism

Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada 9/30/2008
      The words "Jewish" and "terrorist" are not easily uttered together by Israelis. But just occasionally, such as last week when one of the country’s leading intellectuals was injured by a pipe bomb placed at the front door of his home, they find themselves with little choice.
     The target of the attack was 73-year-old Zeev Sternhell, a politics professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem specializing in European fascism and a prominent supporter of the left-wing group Peace Now.
     Shortly after the explosion, police found pamphlets nearby offering 1.1 million shekels ($300,000) to anyone assassinating a Peace Now leader. The movement’s most visible activity has been tracking and criticizing the growth of the settlements in the West Bank.
     Sternhell, whose leg was injured in the blast, warned that this attack might mark the "collapse of democracy" in Israel. He has earned the enmity of the religious far-right by justifying the targeting of settlers by Palestinians in their resistance to occupation.

Forgotten at the Gaza-Egypt Border

Eva Bartlett, Palestine Chronicle 9/30/2008
      "His father died this morning," a hotel guest explained, gesturing to Raed, slumped and silent in his chair, face long.
     It was Wednesday, August 20 in Sinai’s al-Arish, a town about 50 kilometers west of the Gaza-Egypt border. Two days earlier, the approximately 450 Palestinians who had been waiting to enter Gaza were finally supposed to be permitted entry. Days before, the announcement had been made that the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza would open to allow passage into and out of Gaza. Many of the Palestinians at al-Arish had been waiting since the beginning of June for the border to open. Others had been exiled for over a year, outside of Gaza when Egypt sealed the border shut following Hamas’ taking control of Gaza in June 2007.
     Silenced and out of the international spotlight, the Palestinians waiting in al-Arish said that their plight at the closed crossing is either ignored or politicized. Many were running out of money, while others had completely run out, having waited for the opening of Rafah for weeks without earning an income. Approximately 200 of the Palestinians who waited to re-enter Gaza were in dire financial circumstances, many borrowing money, others begging, some sleeping in the streets.

Despair, trauma, discontent among Nahr al-Bared’s impoverished Palestinians

Report, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 9/30/2008
      NAHR AL-BARED (IRIN) - They look like cargo crates: long lines of prefabricated steel units, stacked two high, set on the edge of the ruined Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
     Inside each airless 18 square meter unit there is a toilet, gas burner and tatty mattresses on the bare wooden floor. This is the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen for Palestinian families like Hayat Jundi’s, whose home in Nahr al-Bared was destroyed in last summer’s battle between the army and Islamist militants.
     "All I do all day is fight with the neighbors above about the water that spills down into our room," said Jundi, 55, as some of her four young children bustle around. "I’m irritable because I have backache from sleeping on the floor."
     Jundi’s husband, a bin man for the UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, has two other wives with children, so is only able to give her around $150 a month, she said. Food comes from UNRWA handouts and donations from the Lebanese Future Movement of parliamentary leader Saad Hariri.

Canadian media attempt to silence on Israel

Robert Jensen, Electronic Intifada 9/30/2008
      When the bottom line is threatened, corporations typically show little concern for holding the line on political principles such as freedom of expression. In capitalism, freedom is too often just another word for maximizing profits.
     But even when we have no illusions about the predatory nature of modern corporate capitalism, there’s something particularly disheartening when a media corporation abandons free-speech principles. Journalists are supposed to be the good guys on freedom of expression, right? If for no other reason than self-interest, shouldn’t media managers support these principles?
     Yes, but apparently not when ideology gets in the way, as seems to be the case at Canada’s largest media corporation.
     CanWest -- owner of newspaper, television, and online properties, including one of the country’s national dailies and a TV network -- is trying to use trade-mark law to punish political activists’ free speech in a classic SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation).