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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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1 October 2008

Fatah member’s relatives say he was executed in PA jail
Ali Waked, YNetNews 10/1/2008
Tensions high in Ramallah ahead of funeral of man charged with shooting former Palestinian information minister. PA says he died following deterioration in his medical condition, family claims he was tortured by intelligence service - Tensions were high in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday ahead of the funeral of Shadi Shami, a Fatah member in his 30s who died two days ago at a Jericho prison belonging to the Palestinian intelligence service. Shami was arrested in 2002 and was charged with shooting former Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Amr, who now serves as the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s ambassador to Egypt and is considered one of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ close advisers. Shortly after the shooting incident, which left Amr with a serious injury to his leg, Shami was arrested byIsrael.

Settlers engaged in ''price-tag'' campaign
International Solidarity Movement 10/1/2008
Nablus Region - Olive Harvest 2008 - There has been a noticeable surge in attacks by Israeli settlers throughout the West Bank over the past few months, with a large percentage of those attacks coming from the illegal settlements in the Nablus region. Residents of the Palestinian villages in this region have borne the brunt of the recent onslaught, with numerous assaults on people (including numerous murders); livestock; properties; and olive groves. Burin, hedged on the south by Yitzhar settlement and on the north by Bracha, is under constant attack from settlers, who light fires; poison and shoot livestock; cut telephone and power lines; and attack houses. At least 50 percent of Burin’s olive trees have been destroyed by settler fires, which are happening with greater regularity. Ali Eid, mayor of Burin, echoes the confusion voiced by many Palestinians living in these villages.

UN: three-quarters of West Bank roads closed or under Israeli control
Palestine News Network 10/1/2008
PNN -- The United Nations confirms what is clear while attempting to travel within the West Bank for Eid al-Fitr: Israeli forces are imposing further restrictions on the movement of Palestinians. The UN report announced this week that despite pledges to ease travel complications the Israeli government has instead increased the number of roadblocks and checkpoints while marking the Jewish new year. OCHA, or the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the Israeli army imposed 19 more hurdles since April bringing the total to more than 630. Israeli forces have come under international pressure to ease restrictions on travel that turn a 20 minute trip into hours or a virtual impossibility. Freedom of movement is a guarantee under international law which the Israeli government trounces.

Hamas: Fatah rejected ’choice of the people’
Ma’an News Agency 10/1/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Leaders of both Fatah and Hamas called for national unity at the end of the holy month of Ramadan on Tuesday. Leaders said that they hoped unity talks at Cairo would eliminate rifts growing since the last summer’s Hamas takeover of Gaza. But the Hamas movement noted in a statement that many Palestinians will reject peace with Fatah for "the division caused by a party (Fatah) that rejected the choice of the people. " De facto Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told Reuters that Fatah officials "cooperated with the occupation against their people. " Despite the alleged betrayal, the Islamic movement said it was ready for a unity deal at the end of the Egyptian-sponsored talks in Cairo, but that it would "make no concessions," he said. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would be "exerting great efforts for. . .

Palestinian girl arrested for suicide attack threat
Ali Waked, YNetNews 10/1/2008
Shin Bet apprehends 16-year old Jenin girl in Netanya after Palestinian officials allege she disappeared after telling family members she would carry out suicide attack in Israel -Ynet has learned the Shin Bet arrested a 16-year old Palestinian girl Wednesday after she threatened to carry out a suicide bombing. The intelligence reportedly came from Palestinian sources. The girl is currently still being questioned, and investigators are still unsure as to whether she genuinely intended to make good on her threat. Palestinian sources in Jenin told Ynet that the girl was apprehended in Netanya. She reportedly declared her intent to carry out a suicide attack inside Israel to family members, disappearing soon thereafter. Palestinian authorities received word of her disappearance a day after she had gone missing.

IDF West Bank commander: Rightist violence encouraged by settler leaders
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Israel Defense Forces GOC Central Command Major General Gadi Shamni has leveled harsh criticism against extremist West Bank settlers who have attacked Palestinians and IDF soldiers in recent weeks. In an interview with Haaretz over the Rosh Hashanah holiday, Shamni said the radical behavior among rightists has grown in light of encouragement they receive from the settler leadership, rabbis and public. As the officer heading Central Command, Shamni is responsible for the entire West Bank. "There has been a rise in Jewish violence in Judea and Samaria. In the past, only a few dozen individuals took part in such activity, but today that number has grown into the hundreds. That’s a very significant change. These hundreds are engaged in conspiratorial actions against Palestinians and the security forces.

Bahraini FM calls for Mideast forum that includes Israel, Iran
Yoav Stern and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Bahrain’s foreign minister said in an interview published Wednesday that Middle East nations should form a regional organization that includes Israel and Iran to try to resolve their disputes. It was a rare call for Arab countries to create a broad grouping alongside Israel, with which most of them do not have diplomatic relations, and Persian Iran, whose growing influence on the region is a cause of concern for them. "The organization needs to include everyone, beyond differences of religion and race. The Middle East is the cradle of monotheistic religions. . . They should sit together in one organization," Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told the Arab daily Al-Hayat. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab nations that have peace deals with Israel and have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

PM slammed for West Bank, J’lem comments
Jonny Hadi And Ap, Jerusalem Post 9/29/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert drew fire from both right and left for telling Yediot Aharonot that Israel would have to give up nearly all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem if it wants peace with the Palestinians. In the farewell interview, published Monday, Olmert also said Israel would have to leave the Golan Heights to make peace with Syria. In the interview, Olmert said, "We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, one meaning that we will withdraw in practice from nearly all of the territories, if not from all of them," Olmert said. Olmert said Israel would keep "a percentage" of the West Bank but would have to give Palestinians the same amount of Israeli territory in exchange, "because without this there will be no peace. " He also said Israel would have to leave parts of east Jerusalem, saying Israel couldn’t hope. . . -- See also: VIDEO - Erekat skeptical over PM''s statements

Abbas says hopes Olmert’s statements ’deposit’ for next government
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 10/2/2008
Speaking to Muslim clerics at Eid al-Fitr celebration, Palestinian president says that if territorial concessions laid out by Israeli PM in recent interview were to be implemented ’we could have peace in two days time’ - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he hopes the statements made by Prime Minster Ehud Olmert regarding sovereignty over Jerusalem, the territories and the Golan Heights will serve as a "deposit" for the next government. Speaking to religious clerics on Wednesday evening to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Abbas said that if the views expressed by Olmert ahead of Rosh Hashana could be implemented "we could have peace in two days time. " It seems even Abbas was surprised by the candid interview Olmert granted Yedioth Aharonoth on the Jewish New Year as he prepares to leave office.

Israeli blackout over Syrian journalist
The Guardian 9/30/2008
The Israeli authorities refuse to talk about the 14-month imprisonment of Syrian journalist Ata Farahat, according to the press watchdog, Reporters Without Borders. It is not known why Farahat, a correspondent for the daily al-Watan and for Syria’s public television, has been in custody since July last year. The Israeli media has been banned by court order from publishing news about the case, including the nature of the charges. (Via RWB) [end] -- See also: RWB: Authorities remain silent about imprisonment of Syrian journalist Ata Farahat

Egypt to host ’Annapolis 2’ summit in Nov.
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
An international summit is to be held in Egypt in November, with representatives from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the members of the Quartet - the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. According to a senior official in Jerusalem, the Israeli and PA participants will brief the Quartet over progress made in the ongoing peace talks. The gathering is said to be the result of a compromise between the U. S. , Israel and the Palestinians. In recent months U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been urging both sides to draft a document detailing the points of agreement in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. She suggested they compile an "inventory" detailing progress on each of the core issues, such as Jerusalem, borders, refugees’ right of return, security, settlements and water rights.

Israel: ’Illegal outposts’ contaminating West Bank water supplies
Ma’an News Agency 10/1/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - A report published Tuesday by the Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry said West Bank water reservoirs are at risk of contamination from wastewater. In the report, which was also published by the Israeli Civil Administration and the Israeli Nature and Parks Service (NPS), officials asserted that 58 million cubic meters of untreated waste are flowing into Palestinian streams. The report sampled all the streams in the West Bank, for the first time in the country’s history, and tested sewage treatment efficiency nearby, hoping to gauge damage caused to the environment. The report also suggested that the main cause of the contaminated water is that raw wastewater flows from Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin and other villages, without proper treatment. The report blames Israeli settlers for pumping contaminated water into the sewars, not Palestinians.

PA, Hamas mutually release prisoners
Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday ordered the release of 40 Hamas members from PA prisons in the West Bank as a "goodwill gesture" to the Islamic movement on the occasion of the Muslim feast of Id al-Fitr. The decision came two days after Hamas released 30 Fatah members who were being held in its prisons in the Gaza Strip. The Hamas government said that move was also a "goodwill gesture" for the Muslim holiday. The release of the Hamas and Fatah prisoners is likely to pave the way for the resumption of reconciliation talks between the two parties in Cairo early next month. The Egyptians have invited representatives of all Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, to a "national dialogue" meeting in Cairo to end the ongoing crisis on the Palestinian arena. Hamas claims that Abbas’s security forces have arrested over 200 of its supporters and officials in the West Bank in the past few months.

Hamas: Claims that political prisoners have been released from PA jails untrue
Palestinian Information Center 10/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas said on Wednesday that claims by the Ramallah based Palestinian Authority that it has released 38 political prisoners affiliated with the Hamas movement are untrue and that such claims are only made to enhance the image of the PA. Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told PIC these claims have no truth to them, and that this misinformation disseminated by the PA in Ramallah aim to improve the image of the PA in the eyes of the public by telling them that there was a real change of policy towards political detention after the Gaza government took the initiative and released tens of Fatah detainees as a goodwill gesture and in an attempt to end political detention once and for all. He added that the Palestinian people cannot be duped easily by such lies and what is really needed is the immediate release of all political prisoners in PA jails without resorting to cheap misinformation manoeuvres.

Fatah says PA released 38 Hamas affiliates in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 10/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A Fatah official announced that the Palestinian Authority (PA) released 38 Hamas affiliates in the West Bank, according to a statement. Their names are as follows:1. Ahmad Omar Sa’eed Taha; Bedu2. Mohammad Abed-Al-Ghani A’r’r; Surif3. Mahmoud Darwish Mustafa Hasen; Qalqilia4. Belal E’leyan Mohammad As-Sida; Qalqilia5. Khalid Ahmad Abed-Ar-Rahman Saleem; Qalqilia6. Hakam Suleiman Ahmad Saleem; Qalqilia7. Hatem Ibrahim Abed-Ar-Rahman Shreim (Al-Baz); Qalqilia. 8. Jaser Hasen Abdellah Hamada; Balata Refugee Camp, Nablus9. Nash’at Abed-Al-Jabar Ahmad Ash-Shreda; Salem10. Salah Ad-Din Ahmad Abed Al-Jabar Ishhteyah; Salem11. Jalal Ahmad A’tah Ishteyah; Salem12. Feras Kamel Sa’eed Izbeidi; Nablus13. Fadi Sbeih ShafeeqJamous; Nablus14.

Hamas: PA in Ramallah did not release 38 of the movement’s members
George Rishmawi & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 10/1/2008
Hamas dismissed media reports that the Fatah allied Palestinian government in Ramallah has released 38 of its members and leaders in the West Bank. Media reports stated on Monday that the Palestinian Authority will release some Hamas members and leaders as a good will gesture during the Muslim Eid Al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The Islamic movement said in a statement to the press that Fatah is not interested in making internal dialogue a success. In Hebron, Hamas published a press release calling on its leaders not to participate in the Cairo meeting over national unity government talks.

Minister of Justice at the Hamas government dies in Gaza
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 10/1/2008
Hamas movement reported on Wednesday that Dr. Ahmad Shweideh, minister of Justice in Haneyya’s government in Gaza, died on Wednesday at dawn the Al Shifa Hospitals in Gaza after suffering a heart attack. The minister was moved to the hospital on Tuesday at night but died several hours later. The Hamas-run website Palestine-info reported that a government source said that "Dr. Shweideh, who also occupied the post of acting minister of Prisoners and ex-prisoners, fell ill and was taken to the Shifa hospital for treatment, but died after deterioration of his health". The late minister was the dean of the Sharia College and the dean of the Palestinian Scholars league. Hamas movement and its government in Gaza issued a press release stating that "the Palestinians have lost a great figure and scholar who spent his life serving God and Islam".

Haneyya’s government mourns the minister of justice
Palestinian Information Center 10/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA minister of Justice in Haneyya’s government in Gaza, Dr. Ahmad Shweideh, died at dawn on Wednesday at the Shifa hospital in Gaza after a short illness. A government source said that Dr. Shweideh, who also occupied the post of acting minister of Prisoners and ex-prisoners, fell ill and was taken to the Shifa hospital for treatment, but died after deterioration of his health. Dr. Shweideh was mourned by the PA government in Gaza and the Islamic University in Gaza, where he used to head the Fatwa Committee, the dean of its Sahria college and the Palestinian scholars league. The government said in the obituary that the government and the Palestinian people have lost a great scholar who spent his life the service of God and Islam. Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine also mourned Dr.

De facto minister of justice dead of apparent heart attack in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 10/1/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – De facto Minister of Justice Dr. Ahmed Diab Shwaydeh died early Wednesday after suffering a heart attack, Hamas officials announced. Shwaydeh had been taken to a hospital on the eve of Gaza’s ’Eid Al-Fitr celebrations after the heart attack, which occurred hours before his death, according to Hamas officials present at the hospital. A large delegation of Hamas and Palestinian de facto government officials gathered at the hospital preceding his justice minister’s death. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh described his "deep sadness" for the loss of the late Hamas minister. "The loss of this person is really a great loss for our government and the Palestinian people because he dedicated his life for Islam and its laws. " Dr. Ahmed was one of the more prominent scientists and scholars in Palestine.

Hamas says no to government of technocrats
Palestine News Network 10/1/2008
PNN - Palestinian diplomatic sources said today that the Hamas party will reject the proposal to form a professional government, that of technocrats, to handle the situation until legislative and presidential elections are held. The impending Hamas rejection comes in response to a proposal made by some Palestinian parties during the pre-national dialogue factional consultations held in Cairo throughout September. The Hamas position is reported today as being geared toward a "national consensus government in order to ensure transparent and fair elections" such as those on 25 January 2006 in which the party won. A government of technocrats is seen as weak and unable to standup to the Israeli and American pressures that could interfere in the elections.

Haneyya: Our hand is extended for national reconciliation
Palestinian Information Center 10/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haneyya has stressed on Tuesday that the Hamas Movement was going to the Palestinian national dialogue with open heart and mind, and that the hand of Hamas was and still is open for national reconciliation. "We look at the upcoming Palestinian national dialogue in Cairo with open hearts and minds as we hope we could overcome and end the Palestinian internal division, which is the handy work of a certain Palestinian trend attached to the Israeli and US interests and works against the will of the Palestinian people", Haneyya underlined as he addressed tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens gathered for Eid Al-Fitr prayers. He reiterated his government’s stand that the dialogue must be unconditional, and without dictates from foreign parties with the aim to blackmail Hamas, underscoring that the dialogue must be held on healthy basis.

Convoy coming from Egypt to break siege on Gaza
PNN, Palestine News Network 10/1/2008
Gaza -- On Monday a new aid convoy aimed at breaking the siege on the Gaza Strip is expected to enter through the Rafah crossing with Egypt. The People’s Committee against the Siege, led by Palestinian Legislative Council member Jamal Al Khoudari, is working in coordination with the Egyptian Medical Union. Dr. Rizq Abdel Fattah of the Medical Union said that the choice to cross on 6 October is in honor of the "historic victory of Egyptians over the Zionists. "He continued, "The Egyptian army was able to break free from their grip in the past so now we hope that on the sixth of October 2008 the Egyptians can break the siege on the people of Gaza. "This is not to be the last convoy, according to organizers. The People’s Committee is still working with the international groups committed to breaking the siege via sea and others throughout the Arab world.

Palestinian Khateebs call on Arabs and Muslims to break the unjust siege
Palestinian Information Center 10/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian Khateebs (preachers) have called Tuesday on Arab and Muslim countries to immediately mobilize to break the unjust US-Israeli economic blockade on millions of Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, urging Egypt to swiftly open the Rafah crossing point. "There are 1. 5 million Palestinians in Gaza Strip suffering as a result of the repressive siege that inflicted many adverse repercussions on them; yet, no body moves to end the tragedy"¦ we call on the international community, in general, and the Arabs and Muslims, in particular, to immediately work for the end of the blockade", the Khateebs stressed during their Eid Al-Fitr Khutba (sermon). They added that there were thousands of sick Palestinian citizens waiting for medicine and proper medical treatment; but, they added, the Israeli occupation government blocked entry of medicine and basic foodstuff into Gaza. . .

Fateh member dies in a Jericho prison
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 10/1/2008
Palestinian media sources in the West Bank reported on Wednesday that one member of Fateh movement died in vague circumstances at the Jericho Central Prison controlled by Fateh security forces and police in the West Bank city of Jericho. The sources stated that Shady Shaheen, in his thirties, suffered from a sharp deterioration in his health conditions two days ago, but members of his family accused the security forces of torturing and executing him in prison. The family demanded an autopsy to reveal the causes of his head. Shaheen was arrested in 2002 after he was accused of opening fire at Nabil Amro, the then Palestinian Minister of Information. Amro is now the Palestinian Ambassador in Cairo and is one of the close figures to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Amro was wounded in his legs during the period when the late Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat, was surrounded by the Israeli army in his Ramallah headquarters.

Al Shami family says son was tortured
PNN, Palestine News Network 10/1/2008
Ramallah - The family of Shadi Al Shami is accusing the Palestinian Intelligence Service of torturing their son to death after six years in Jericho Prison. He was jailed in 2002 for shooting the former Information Minister and current Palestine Liberation Organization ambassador to Egypt, Nabil Amr. Palestinian Authority security announced Al Shami’s death two days ago. In an official announcement the PA wrote that he died of deteriorating health. Clashes between the Al Shami family and members of the Palestinian security are expected during Wednesday’s funeral service in Ramallah. Shadi Al Shami was a member of the Fateh party imprisoned by Israeli forces. Upon his release from Israeli prison he was taken by the PA.

Police: Shepherd found dead near settlement was victim of accident
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
A shepherd whose body was found at the beginning of the week in the Jordan Valley was killed while playing with an automatic weapon he had found, and not murdered as was initially suspected, police announced over the Rosh Hashana holiday. The family of the shepherd, 18-year-old Yihya Atta Bani Minya of the Bedouin village of Aqrabeh, filed a complaint with the police claiming the man had been killed by settlers. The body was discovered in the early morning hours Monday near the settlement of Gitit, and transferred to the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv. Investigators found pieces of a 40-mm caliber machine gun at the site, and indications that an explosion had occurred there. An autopsy revealed that the man died from blood loss incurred by shrapnel wounds to his jugular vein. Uri Ariel, a Knesset member representing the National Union-National. . .

Boy Abused at Ni’lin Checkpoint
Palestine Monitor 10/1/2008
Monday the 23rd of September, twenty year old Mejdi Ahmad Yusef was abused by Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint on his way to work and is currently in Ramallah hospital receiving medical care. Every day, Mejdi travels between his village called Madia, situated north of Ramallah, and his work in Israel. When Mejdi arrived at the checkpoint of Ni’lin, which is the entrance into Israel, he was denied entry. Soldiers randomly caught him when he was waiting to pass the security check. He was told to return to the entrance of the checkpoint, whilst his ID was taken from him and kept by the soldiers Mejdi, deprived of his ID and thus any freedom of movement, waited from six until ten o’ clock in the morning, whilst being totally ignored by the soldiers. At ten o’ clock he decided to tell the soldiers that he wanted to go home and he asked for his ID.

Palestine Today 100108
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 10/1/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 4 m 0s || 3. 66 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Wednesday October 1, 2008. LEDE: The family of a Palestinian prisoner in a Palestinian jail says their son died of torture, Hamas states that none of its members and leaders were released from PA jails in west Bank,, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast Hamas dismissed media reports that the Fatah-allied Palestinian government in Ramallah has released 38 of its members and leaders in the West Bank. The Islamic movement said in a statement to the press that Fatah is not interested in making the internal dialogue a success. In Hebron, Hamas published a press release calling on its leaders not to participate in the Cairo talks on the national unity government.

VIDEO - IDF securing Golan minefields as hikers flock north for holidays
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 10/1/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for October 1, 2008. With the Jewish holidays entering full swing, Israeli hikers are flocking to north. Alongside them, the Israel Defense Forces has deployed additional troops to the Golan Heights to keep travelers on the trails and off the minefields. Syria and Israel are both responsible for scattering hundreds of thousands of landmines around the Golan, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed in 1981. Despite demining efforts by the United Nations peacekeepers, mines continue to hurt and even kill residents, hikers, and troops. Related articles:Israel to complain to UN after six mines thrown from Syria found in Golan Heights IDF officials: Mines in Lebanon could have been laid by Syria, HezbollahUN troops rescued unharmed from Golan Heights minefield Also on Haaretz.

IDF to end use of US-manufactured cluster bombs
Ma’an News Agency 10/1/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Israeli army declined to purchase US-made cluster bombs in order to avoid civilian deaths, according to official military sources. The Israeli army is also concerned that unwanted media attention could discourage soldiers and officials during operations, such as during the 2006 Lebanon War. "We are cognizant of the civilian deaths in Lebanon and the lessons learnedfrom the cluster-bomb issue received especially close attention," an Israeli official said. Over 100 countries have banned the weapon as it is nearly impossible to identify targets in an urban environment, which leads to unintended deaths. [end]

IDF to buy cluster bombs with self-destruct mechanism
Amos Harel, Reuters, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
The Israel Defense Forces is to purchase Israeli-made cluster bombs with a self-destruct mechanism, Israeli security officials told Reuters Tuesday. The M-85 bomblets, manufactured by Israel Military Industries, explode shortly after they are dispersed on the ground, which can greatly reduce civilian casualties. During the Second Lebanon War Israel made widespread use of cluster bombs, some of which were American-made. Cluster bombs are outlawed in many countries and the U. S. administration has prohibited Israel in the past from using them in populated zones. After it became clear that the IDF had used the bombs during the 2006 war in Lebanon, in violation of an earlier pledge, the U. S. asked Israel for an explanation and an investigation was launched. It culminated with a report submitted to the U. S. but no significant action was taken against the officers involved.

Asad: ''Peace with Israel will not affect relations with Iran''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 10/1/2008
Syrian President Bashar Asad stated on Tuesday that an Israeli-Syrian peace deal will not have any impact on the relations between Syria and Tehran and will not affect the relations between Syria and any other Arab country. Asad added that the American regime is not interested in pushing the Middle East towards peace, and added that the US Middle East policy is based on military might and war instead of on diplomacy. He also said that Europe can help the United States in "taking a more serious position towards peace in the Middle East". The Syrian president stated that the relations between his country and the United States are improving and the Wall Street Journal stated in a Tuesday report that senior US and Syrian officials held a number of meetings. The main meeting was between the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Moallem.

Hezbollah orders its leaders not to visit Syria
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 10/1/2008
Israeli Newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported on Wednesday that after the recent explosions in the Syrian capital, Damascus, Hezbollah party ordered its leaders and prominent members not to visit Syria. The order specifically includes the security leaders of the party and is effective until further notice. These orders were issued after a booby-trapped vehicle exploded in the center of Damascus killing 17 residents, including a senior Syrian military leader. Hezbollah issued similar orders after one of its leaders, Imad Mughaniyya, was assassinated earlier in August this year. The party considers Syria as a place to rest from the strict security measures that its leaders have to take due to Israeli threats to assassinate tem, but recently the Syrian security devices found out that some of the party’s cells are operating in Syria.

Hizbullah orders its men not to visit Syria
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 10/1/2008
Lebanese media report organization has issued ’travel advisory’ to its members following Mugniyah assassination, car bomb explosion in Damascus last Saturday. Senior Hamas members in Syrian capital on high alert as well -Hizbullah has instructed its men, particularly senior members involved in the organization’s security, to refrain completely from visiting Syria until further notice, Lebanese media reported Wednesday. The instruction was issued following the explosion of a car bomb in Damascus last Saturday, which left 17 people dead, including a high-ranking military officer. According to Lebanese media, Hizbullah asked its men to take precaution during their visits to the Syrian capital following the assassination of the organization’s military leader. Imad Mugniyah. Now, following the car bomb, the request was changed to a stark instruction to halt all visits to Syria.

Syrian FM denies Syria is providing weapons to Hezbollah
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 10/2/2008
Walid Al Moallem, the Syrian Foreign Minister, denied on Wednesday Israeli allegation which claims that Syria is providing the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party with weapons and military equipment. The statements of Al Moallem came during an interview with the Al Sharq Al Awsat (Middle East) newspaper. He said that these claims are false and that Hezbollah does not need the Syrian help in arming. The Syrian FM also said that Israel is faking these allegations in order to justify its breaches to the Syrian sovereignty as Israeli war-jets carried repeated over-flights over Lebanon. One of the top Israeli demands to hold direct peace talks with Syria is that Damascus stops its support to Hezbollah. AL Moallem said that Syria cannot do anything to stop the smuggling of arms and ammunition to Hezbollah and stated that it is virtually impossible to seal the borders with Lebanon.

Syria denies supplying arms to Hezbollah
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem yesterday denied the Israeli accusation that his country is arming the Hezbollah. Speaking in an interview published by the al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, Moallem said: "It is not correct that Syria is supplying Hezbollah with weapons and equipment, as is claimed. Hezbollah does not need this. "He argued that Israel was making the accusations merely as an excuse for Israel Air Force overflights of Lebanon. A key Israeli demand in indirect peace negotiations with Syria is that Damascus ceases its support for the Lebanese militant organization. Moallem did say that there was nothing his country could do to halt ongoing smuggling of other supplies to Hezbollah from its territory, saying that it was impossible to hermetically seal the Syria-Lebanon border. "The question of the border between Syria and Lebanon needs two actions: delineation [of the. . .

Hizbullah orders members out of Syria
Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
Hizbullah has ordered its members to refrain from visiting Syria until further notice, a Web site belonging to the Lebanese opposition wrote on Wednesday. The organization was responding to bombing Saturday in Damascus that left 17 people dead. Many Hizbullah members, including senior officials, were recalled to Lebanon after that attack. The Web site also said that since top Hizbullah operative Imad Mughniyeh’s assassination in Damascus in February, the organization’s members were warned to take extra precautions while visiting the Syrian capital, and that the call to avoid the city completely was issued following the recent bombing. "Hizbullah considered Syria a safe haven for its people where they didn’t have to take serious precautions [but] now it has become dangerous," the statement read.

Syria’s unlikely shepherd
Jim Lobe, Asia Times 10/2/2008
WASHINGTON - A series of meetings between United States and Syrian diplomats, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her counterpart, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, at the United Nations over the past week are stirring speculation that Washington may at last be moving toward engaging Damascus. Instead of focusing on specific issues of special interest to the US - 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 US engagement as a way of furthering year-old indirect talks that have been mediated by the Turkish government.

’Israel not interested in real peace’
Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
Israel is uninterested in attaining real peace, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awasat on Wednesday morning. The Syrian official was also quoted by the paper as saying that it was impossible to control the border between his country and Lebanon. Asked how he felt about President Shimon Peres’s latest remarks calling on Syrian President Bashar Assad to follow in the path of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and enter direct negotiations with Israel, Moallem replied that it was a sign that Jerusalem was uninterested in attaining a real peace. He likened the Israeli president’s comments to "putting the cart before the horse. " Moallem told the paper that it would be impossible "to control the common border" between Syria and Lebanon, saying that such a move would require its demarcation as well as a security agreement between the two countries.

Analysis: Making mischief in Damascus
Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
As the days pass since the car bombing in the southern suburbs of Damascus, furious speculation is continuing as to who was responsible. No organization has taken responsibility - leaving the rumor mill free to grind on. The Syrian authorities, following an initial attempt to point the finger at Israel, have now concluded that Sunni jihadists carried out the bombing. The Syrian al-Watan newspaper is claiming that the authorities have located and detained members of the cell responsible for the attack. According to al-Watan, none of the individuals being held are Syrian citizens. The Syrian government may now be expected to cast itself in the role of an ally of the west in the War on Terror. We will be reminded in the coming weeks of the "secular" nature of the Syrian regime. Hafez Assad’s fight with the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s will be recalled.

Khamenei: Iran will stand by Hamas, ’holy warrior’ Haniyeh
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran will stand beside the Hamas government in Gaza and that Israel is weakening and on the path to eventual destruction, state television reported. Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, called Hamas’s prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, a "mujahed", or holy warrior, saying "the Iranian nation will never let you be alone. " Khamenei said Israel "has weakened day by day. . . Today, officials of the Zionist regime acknowledge that they are moving towards weakness, destruction and defeat," according to state television. "Definitely, the world of Islam will see that day and hope the existing generation of the Palestinian people will watch the day Palestine is at the disposal of the Palestinian people, in the hands of the landlords," he said at prayers marking the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday that ends the holy month of Ramadan.

Khamenei: Iran won’t let Palestinians be alone
Associated Press, YNetNews 10/1/2008
Iranian supreme leader foresees collapse of Zionist regime, pledges world of Islam ’will watch the day Palestine is at the disposal of the Palestinian people’ - Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran will stand beside the Hamas government in Gaza and that Israel is weakening and on the path to eventual destruction, state television reported. Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, called Hamas’ prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, a "mujahed", or holy warrior, saying "the Iranian nation will never let you be alone. ""Unity in the world of Islam is the only way to counter enemies’ all-out offensives. Since they feel helpless in the face of huge movement of Islamic awakening, enemies resort to discord through lies and deception," said Khamenei at prayers marking the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday that ends the holy month of Ramadan.

Iran supreme leader: Israel is on a path to destruction
Natasha Mozgovaya and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said his country will stand beside Gaza’s Hamas rulers and that Israel is on the path to eventual destruction. According to Iranian state-run TV, Khamenei called Hamas’ prime minister in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, a "mojahed," or soldier of holy war, saying the Iranian nation will "never let you be alone. "It also quoted him as saying Israel’s Zionist regime is moving toward weakness, destruction and defeat and that the current generation of Palestinians will see "that great day. " Khamenei, who was speaking at prayers marking the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday, has predicted Israel’s downfall in the past, like Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Khamenei has repeatedly called Israel a cancerous tumor that need to be removed from the Middle East.

Khamenei: Iran will never abandon Hamas, Haniyeh
Natasha Mozgovaya and the Associated Press, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Ayatollah Ali KhameneiIran’s supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said yesterday his country will stand beside Gaza’s Hamas rulers and that Israel is on the path to destruction. According to Iranian state-run television, Khamenei called the Hamas’ prime minister in the Gaza Strip, Sheikh Ismail Haniyeh, a "mojahed," or soldier of holy war, saying the Iranian nation will "never let you be alone. "It also quoted him as saying Israel’s Zionist regime is moving toward weakness, destruction and defeat and that the current generation of Palestinians will see "that great day. " Khamenei, who was speaking at prayers marking the Muslim Eid el Fitr holiday, has predicted Israel’s downfall in the past, as has Iran’s hard-line President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Khamenei has repeatedly called Israel a cancerous tumor that need to be removed from the Middle East.

US expert: Iran 2-5 years from nuke bomb
Associated Press, YNetNews 10/2/2008
Former head of American weapons-hunting team in Iraq warns Tehran already 80% of the way to nuclear weapon. ’You’ve got a clear record of country that is damned determined at some point to develop nuclear weapons,’ says David Kay - Iran is two years to five years away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon, the former head of the US weapons-hunting team in Iraq said Wednesday. But David Kay said the US should not consider bombing Iranian nuclear facilities unless the weapon was about to be transferred to a terrorist group. Kay, who led the Iraq Survey Group from 2003 until early 2004, said the US should line up international support to pressure Iran to give up on a nuclear weapon, while also preparing for the strong possibility that effort will fail. Preparations could include offering security guarantees to Iran’s neighbors and shoring up Middle East stability and economic growth.

Ex-U.S. weapons hunter: Iran 2-5 years from bomb
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Iran is two years to five years away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon, the former head of the U. S. weapons-hunting team in Iraq said Wednesday. But David Kay said the U. S. should not consider bombing Iranian nuclear facilities unless the weapon was about to be transferred to a terrorist group. Kay, who led the Iraq Survey Group from 2003 until early 2004, said the U. S. should line up international support to pressure Iran to give up on a nuclear weapon, while also preparing for the strong possibility that effort will fail. Preparations could include offering security guarantees to Iran’s neighbors and shoring up Middle East stability and economic growth. Iran is 80 percent of the way to a nuclear weapon, Kay estimates, but the last 20 percent of development is the most difficult.

Reporter’s Notebook: ’Remember the submarines; don’t mention the war’
Amir Mizroch, Jpost Correspondent In Berlin, Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
Sixty years after World War II and the Holocaust, and according to intelligence sources approximately 18 months until Iran can create a nuclear bomb, the diplomatic relationship between Israel and Germany is moving into high gear as Jerusalem presses Berlin to lead the EU in isolating Teheran. Jerusalem and Berlin agree that Iran is the biggest destabilizing force in the Middle East, but disagree on how to deal with that threat. Israel, working behind the scenes to isolate Iran diplomatically and financially, is frustrated at the continued trade between German industrialists and Iran. Israel wants Germany to sever all trade and diplomatic ties with Iran [Israel is a much bigger trade partner to Germany than Iran is], and would like Berlin to implement sanctions out of the UN Security Council framework as that is being sabotaged by Russia and China.

Compromise near on IAEA Israel dispute
News agencies, YNetNews 10/1/2008
Diplomats at international conference say compromise near on resolution singling out Israel for criticism on nuclear activities; meanwhile Syria, Afghanistan battle for seat on board of UN nuclear watchdog agency - Diplomats at a 145-nation conference say that a compromise is near on a resolution criticizing Israel’s nuclear activities. At issue is an Arab draft resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency conference expressing concern about Israel’s nuclear capabilities. Although Israel has never confirmed it has nuclear weapons, it is widely believed to possess them. With the conference split on the draft resolution, its introduction would likely force a vote. That would heighten tensions between developed nations backing Israel and developing countries supporting the Muslim countries.

Iran’s Khamenei says Hamas will ’never be left alone’
Ma’an News Agency 10/1/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran would "stand by" Gaza’s Hamas leaders, according to the Islamic republic’s state-run television station. Khamenei told viewers that de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh would "never be left alone," and that the leader is a "mujahid," or holy warrior. The agency also quoted the Iranian spiritual leader that Israel’s "Zionist regime is moving toward weakness, destruction and defeat," while Palestinians would soon see "that great day" when Israel is defeated. Khamenei spoke at a prayer service marking ’Eid Al-Fitr, which celebrates the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Israel’s ambassador to the United States issued a statement saying that "not since World War II has the world faced such a dangerous and significant threat.

Yesha’s balance of fear
Yair Sheleg, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
The pipe bomb attack on Prof. Zeev Sternhell does not necessarily herald "an escalation of activity by the radical right" and is not necessarily part of the escalation that has characterized the right since the Gaza disengagement. After all, there have been incidents in the past in which people on the left were attacked without any connection to one withdrawal or another - from the intimidating posters of the "Dov" organization [dikui bogdim, suppressing traitors] in the 1970s, to the murder of Emil Grunzweig in 1983, to the explosives placed outside the apartments of journalists and politicians associated with the left by the Sicarii in the early 1990s. Moreover, if clues are being sought to find the people who placed the pipe bomb, it is less likely they will be found among the "hard ideological core" of settlers, and more likely among. . .

Top Livni adviser resigns
Herb Keinon And Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
Foreign Ministry Director-General Aaron Abramovich, one of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s must trusted advisers and someone who was expected to be a part of her inner circle if she became prime minister, announced Sunday night that he is resigning from public service. The surprise announcement came after a meeting he had with Livni. Abramovich is expected to remain in his post until Livni appoints a new foreign minister - if she forms a government - or until a general election is held and another prime minister fills the foreign minister’s post. Abramovich, who previously served as director-general of the Jewish Agency, became director-general of the Justice Ministry in 2001, and continued in that capacity under Livni when she became justice minister. While in that post he dealt with the myriad of legal issues relating to the disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria in 2005.

Netanyahu vows to expand settlements if elected PM
Jonny Hadi And Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu will increase construction in existing West Bank settlements to keep pace with the population’s natural growth if he is elected prime minister, the Likud leader told the Walla Web site in a pre-Rosh Hashana interview on Sunday. That would be a dramatic shift from the current government, which has approved only a limited number of haredi housing projects in the settlements, as a gesture to Shas. Netanyahu has pledged to allow construction in all existing settlements. His comments garnered criticism from both left- and right-wing MKs. While the Left warned that Netanyahu would outrage the international community and prevent an agreement with the Palestinians, the Right doubted he was telling the truth. "I don’t understand why there can be natural growth in Arab neighborhoods, but not in Jewish neighborhoods," Netanyahu said.

Livni tells Meretz: I won’t dismiss Justice Minister Friedmann
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Prime minister-designate Tzipi Livni on Wednesday rejected demands from the left to remove Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann. She said she would discuss the issue as part of talks to form a new coalition government after her victory in the Kadima primary two weeks ago. "You cannot tell me who to appoint," Livni told representatives of left-wing party Meretz. The Kadima leader added that she did not agree with all of Friedmann’s reforms and that she would be open to discuss his reforms on an individual basis. Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On told Livni that "Friedmannism cannot exist without Friedmann [in office]" and that as long as he was justice minister, he would find ways to push his reforms forward. Meretz has made the removal of Friedmann one of its key demands in entering a new coalition government under Livni while Labor insists that his reforms be put on hold.

A government now
Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Two weeks after prime minister-designate Tzipi Livni’s victory in the Kadima primary, and the outlines of the next government remain unknown. The initial attempt to create a broad government including Likud and perhaps parties to its right failed because opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu hopes Livni will not be able to form a government and that her admission of failure will lead to early elections. So Livni is moving ahead in talks with parties in the current coalition, reinforced perhaps by Meretz and United Torah Judaism. This is the right move to explore without delay under the circumstances, although another month or so remains of the six weeks President Shimon Peres gave Livni. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government was established in the spring of 2006 based on the balance of power elected in the Knesset.

Olmert to face eighth round of police questioning Thursday
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert was to face an eighth round of questioning on Thursday at his official residence in Jerusalem, his first meeting with police investigators since stepping down earlier this month. The questioning, believed to revolve around corruption allegationsin reference to the Investment Center affair, will also be the first confrontation between the outgoing prime minister and police since Olmert lashed out at the police in an interview with Yedioth Aharonot published Monday. The questioning was expected to begin at 10 A. M. , and to focus on allegations that during his term as industry, trade and labor minister, between 2003 and 2006, Olmert granted major state funding to a company represented by his close associate, attorney Uri Messer.

Olmert to undergo eighth interrogation
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 10/1/2008
Outgoing prime minister scheduled for eighth round of questioning on fraud charges including Investment Center scandal, Cremieux Street affair -The police investigation against outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is still underway, despite his having handed in his resignation. After a recess of a couple of weeks, Olmert is scheduled to be interrogated once more on Thursday. For the eighth time investigators from the National Fraud Unit will arrive at Olmert’s official residence in Jerusalem in order to question him on the many fraud charges against him. The interrogation is scheduled to begin at 10 am. The prime minister has allotted two hours to the questioning, although he may be persuaded, as in previous rounds of questioning, to allow for more time. The charges on which Olmert will most probably be questioned include the Investment Center scandal and the Cremieux Street affair.

Olmert to face eighth police probe
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is to be interrogated today for the eighth time in recent months at his official residence in Jerusalem. This will be the first meeting between Olmert and the team of police investigators since the prime minister announced his resignation and his attacks in an interview in Yedioth Ahronoth on the investigators’ conduct. The investigation is expected to begin at 10 A. M. It is believed that the investigators will ask Olmert about the Investment Center affair, in which it is alleged that during his term as industry, trade and labor minister, Olmert granted major state funding to a company represented by his close associate attorney Uri Messer. The investigation of this matter is considered close to completion, but the head of the police Investigations Division, Yohanan Danino, decided to have the team obtain more testimony from Olmert before a recommendation is made on whether to issue an indictment.

Meir Porush scores Haredi support in Jerusalem mayoral contest
Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
While Aryeh Deri waits for the Jerusalem District Court to decide whether he can run in the capital’s mayoral election - a ruling is expected thursday - there have been major developments in the campaign of the other ultra-Orthodox candidate. Senior leaders from Agudath Israel and Degel Hatorah, which together make up United Torah Judaism, met Sunday night and decided to support the former’s candidate, MK Meir Porush, in the November 11 election. Nevertheless, there were contradictory reports after the meeting about whether it was decided that all the Haredi parties would support Porush for mayor, or only whether to support him as the head of the UTJ list for the city council. Since announcing his candidacy two months ago, Porush has had an uphill battle gaining Haredi political support, particularly that of the Lithuanian Degel. . .

State fails to act on clean energy initiative
Ruth Sinai, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has been asked to launch an inquiry into why the state has failed to install solar-powered hot water systems in every public housing building, as required by law. "Data passed on to us portrays a grim image of inaction and wastage of funds [in relation to this project]," Ran Melamed, Deputy Director General of Yadid - the Association for Community Empowerment, wrote to Lindenstrauss last week. To date, energy-efficient solar-powered hot water systems exist in less than 10 percent of public housing apartments. By law, the state is supposed to provide all tenants of public housing with hot water systems. However, public housing companies have often chosen to provide tenants with electric-powered systems because of lower installation costs. In June 2007, the Knesset approved an amendment to the law regulating relations between tenants and. . .

Olmert to undergo eighth round of interrogations over corruption allegations
Ma’an News Agency 10/1/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet with police at his home in Jerusalem for an eighth round of questioning, Israeli press reported Wednesday. Though the session will be his eighth since the investigation into corruption allegations was initiated, it will be his first since announcing his resignation as prime minister. Police will question Olmert on allegations that he broke Israeli financial laws by participating with Israel’s Investment Center while holding office as minister of industry, trade and labor. Police say the investigation is nearly finished, though recent inflammatory remarks by the prime minister in an interview with an Israeli newspaper will likely escalate tensions with investigators, sources said.

Egypt nabs 28 suspected infiltrators en route to Israel
Ma’an News Agency 10/1/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Egyptian security forces announced the detainment of 28 Africans nabbed at the Israel-Egypt border crossing in central Sinai on Tuesday. The accused infiltrators are citizens of Eritrea, Sudan, Chad and Ethiopia, according to security sources. Egyptian police say they detained the suspected infiltrators at Al-Arish Prison in the Sinai town of Al-Arish in northern Sinai, where police notified the suspects’ embassies. [end]

PA in Jenin: ’Normal girl from normal family’ was planning suicide attack
Ma’an News Agency 10/1/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - A 16-year-old Palestinian girl was arrested for threatening to execute a suicide operation on Wednesday, Israeli intelligence sources said Wednesday. Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service told reporters that Palestinian informants contacted the agency over the girl’s alleged threats, according to a Hebrew newspaper. Intelligence officials say they are still holding the girl for questioning, and are unsure how serious she was about carrying out an attack. Other Palestinian sources in Jenin reportedly told Israel’s Yediot Arohonot newspaper that the girl was arrested in Netanya. One source added that she announced the plan to family members before leaving her home, according to the paper. A day after she went missing, Palestinians say her family reported the threats.

Palestinians hurls rocks at cars in West Bank; none wounded Staff, Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
Palestinians threw rocks at cars at Ma’ale Hashomron junction Wednesday night. Magen David Adom teams that were called to the scene reported that rocks hit five cars, but no one was wounded. [end]

Bahrain calls for Mideast organization including Israel
Associated Press, YNetNews 10/1/2008
Foreign Minister al-Khalifa says Middle East nations should form regional organization that includes Israel and Iran to try to resolve their disputes - Bahrain’s foreign minister said in an interview published Wednesday that Middle East nations should form a regional organization that includes Israel and Iran, the Arab countries’ top rivals, to try to resolve their disputes. It was a rare call for Arab countries to create a broad grouping alongside Israel and Iran. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab nations that have peace deals with Israel and have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Other Arab nations have said they won’t establish ties with Israel until it signs peace deals with the Palestinians and Syria. Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheik Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said in the interview with the Arab daily al-Hayat that a regional organization should be formed "even if we don’t recognize each other. "

Bahrain FM calls for grouping of Arabs, Israel
Middle East Online 10/1/2008
DUBAI - The foreign minister of staunch US ally Bahrain has called for the creation of a regional grouping of Arab states with historic foe Israel, as well as Iran and Turkey, a newspaper reported on Wednesday. "Israel, Iran, Turkey and Arab states should sit together in one organisation," Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa was quoted in the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat as saying. "Aren’t we all members of a global organisation called the United Nations? Why not come together on a regional basis? This is the only way to solve our problems. There’s no other way to solve them, now or in 200 years. " Al-Hayat, which interviewed the Bahraini chief diplomat in New York, said he had proposed the establishment of a regional bloc in a speech to the UN General Assembly. The tiny Gulf kingdom is a major ally of the United States and has a free trade agreement with Washington.

Middle East: Bahrain calls for new regional organisation with Israel
Ian Black Middle East editor, The Guardian 10/1/2008
Middle Eastern countries should set up a new regional organisation that includes all Arab states as well as Israel, Iran, and Turkey, the pro-western Gulf state of Bahrain has urged. The highly unusual call "” which is likely to provoke controversy "” came from Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, the country’s foreign minister. "Why don’t we all sit together even if we have differences and even if we don’t recognise each other? " he told the London-based daily newspaper al-Hayat. "Why not become one organisation? "Aren’t we all members of a global organisation called the United Nations? Why not [come together] on a regional basis? This is the only way to solve our problems. There’s no other way to solve them, now or in 200 years. "Asked if that should include Israel, he replied: "With Israel, Turkey, Iran and Arab countries. Let them all sit together in one group. "

Bahraini calls for ME forum with Israel
Herb Keinon And Ap, Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
Israel had no formal reaction Wednesday night to the Bahrain foreign minister’s suggestion that all Middle East nations - including Israel and Iran - form a regional organization. A senior official in Jerusalem said it was an "interesting idea," but one that would almost certainly not get off the ground. Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said in an interview with the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat that a regional organization should be formed "even if we don’t recognize each other," and that the purpose would be to try to resolve disputes. In a speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Sheikh Khaled called for such a Middle East organization to include countries "without exception. " Asked by Al-Hayat if it would include Israel, he replied, "With Israel, Turkey, Iran and Arab countries.

NY judge: PLO can’t disguise terror as war
Associated Press, YNetNews 10/1/2008
US court says Palestinian organization cannot win dismissal of 2004 lawsuits by victims of Jerusalem bombings by claiming attacks were act of war rather than terrorism - 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, a judge ruled Tuesday. US 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.

Palestinian president says Washington trip ’a successful visit’
Ma’an News Agency 10/1/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said that last week’s trip to Washington, DC was "a successful visit. " Abbas told reporters that he and American President George W. Bush included "clear and frank discussions and points. " "We have exactly what is required and I think it was a successful visit," Abbas said. In response to questions on the potential that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni could become prime minister, Abbas said that "we don’t choose their prime minister. " "They are the ones who choose, and we deal with their choice," he said. The Palestinian president offered congratulations to Muslims worldwide who are celebrating ’Eid Al-Fitr. He also said that the new year would see "national unity and an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

’How can the People of the Book be against books?’
Reuters, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
For 15 years Israeli Arab Salah Abassi has traded books between Israel and its Arab neighbors, fostering a rare cultural link. But in August Israeli authorities suddenly refused to renew his trading license because he was trading with enemy states Lebanon and Syria, frustrating both Abassi’s business and the Arab and Israeli readers he has helped interest in each other’s literary traditions. "How can the People of the Book be against books? " Abassi asked, evoking the Jewish Bible as the first monotheistic holy text. "Books are a bridge to peace between cultures. "An Israeli Trade Ministry spokeswoman declined to explain the timing of the ban. But she cited a recent legal opinion that forbade importing goods from four countries Israel views as enemies - Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Month in pictures: Ramadan in Palestine, September 2008
Slideshow, Electronic Intifada 10/1/2008
The above slideshow is a selection of images from the month of September 2008. This year, September coincided with the month-long period of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. This month’s photographs feature Ramadan in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. [end]

Foundation distributes ’Eid gifts to Gaza City’s poor
Ma’an News Agency 10/1/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Ash-Shahid Foundation’s Palestine branch finished distributing gifts to needy families in Gaza City on Wednesday, according to a statement. The foundation provided gifts for about 800 families in Gaza, according to the organization, which added that the costs averaged about US $50 for each family in Gaza City. The institution said that its distribution is in light of the difficult economic situation experienced by the Palestinian people due to the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. "It’s a way to help poor families decrease their suffering and put smiles on the faces of children during this feast," the statement said. [end]

Sinai Egyptians celebrate Eid with Palestinians
Palestine News Network 10/1/2008
PNN -- The Arab Republic of Egypt is celebrating its first day of Eid today, but Egyptians in the Sinai began the four-day holiday in coordination with Palestinians yesterday. Sinai residents attribute their start date to the physical proximity with the Gaza Strip which as opposed to Cairo which is 350 kilometers away. Most Arab countries began the post-Ramadan holiday of Eid al-Fitr yesterday although Egypt’s Mufti declared their official start day as Wednesday. [end]

VIDEO / Israeli, Palestinian women come together to lose weight
Karin Kloosterman, Israel 21c, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Starting after the Muslim Ramadan and the Jewish New Year, a group of Palestinian and Israeli women will be meeting face to face in Jerusalem. Not for political reasons, not to cast blame on who’s right or wrong in the Middle East conflict - these women will be focusing on their waistline, and sharing a simple and common desire to lose weight. "A Slim Peace" is a group founded in 2006 by Yael Luttwak, a 36-year-old American-Israeli filmmaker who grew up in Washington D. C. Struggling with her own weight issues in Israel, she rounded up a group of 14 Israeli and Palestinian women to document their shared experiences, as they met in Jerusalem over a six week period. While Weight Watchers in Israel was one of the first Weight Watchers branches to set up shop outside the U.

Financial crunch hurting farmers
Amiram Cohen, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Israel’s agricultural sector produces NIS 23 billion a year and exports NIS 8 billion. It supports about 100,000 families who are losing sleep as the financial tsunami breaks over the global markets. "All the kibbutz industries are based on exports," says Itzik Bader, chairman of the Granot Coastal Plain corporation. The shekel has been one of the strongest currencies in the world, holding up against the euro, dollar and pound the currencies in which Israel’s produce exporters are paid. "It isn’t that the English won’t buy our persimmons or avocados," Bader says. They will, but the Israeli farmers will earn fewer shekels per fruit. Israel’s produce exporters can’t reduce exposure to the euro, and then comes the state and raises the price of water for farmers, Bader adds. The main problem is with niche products, qualifies Yossi Yishai, Planning Authority manger at the Agriculture Ministry.

Tel Aviv, we have a problem
Sharon Shpurer and Michael Rochvarger, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel Investments owes Israel’s banks more than NIS 14 billion in long-term and short-term liabilities, and the bankers are evidently growing nervous about the huge amount. Within days the two biggest lenders, Hapoalim and Leumi, are expected to receive rights to yet more shares in the Africa Israel parent company to secure the debts. "It’s incredible. It looks like something is going down that we know nothing about," exclaimed a market player on Tuesday, as shares of AFI Development, the Russian operations subsidiary of Africa Israel Investments, plunged 17%. For the second day in a row, that is. Moreover, AFI dived against an uptrend in the markets. Clearly, investors are jittery. Indeed, the entire Lev Leviev group of real estate companies seems shrouded in uncertainty as the credit crisis shakes the financial markets of the world and sends real estate markets. . .

Israeli investment bankers find Wall St. tumble ruins Rosh Hashanah
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
As Avivit Mannet-Kalil sat in her Manhattan office last week, she saw a knot of people down the street. Helicopters and ambulances converged on the spot, and traffic stopped. "I was sure it was the first person committing suicide because of the crisis," said Mannet-Kalil, the co-CEO of the Oppenheimer Israel investment firm. It turned out that no one had committed suicide - a window had fallen from the upper floor of a building. But Mannet-Kalil described the situation as nerve-racking: "Everyone is waiting for something like this. They were afraid it would happen, because you know there are people losing their shirts. When you go around Manhattan you feel the tension. What’s happening in the markets is all anyone talks about. "Luckily for many investors, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange "missed" the midweek drama because it was closed for the holiday.

Putin supporter tapped to head Russia’s United Jewish Appeal
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 10/2/2008
One of the Russian Jewish community’s most prominent supporters of President Vladimir Putin is set to be appointed head of the country’s Keren Hayesod, also known as the United Israel Appeal. Boris Spiegel, a deputy and committee chairman in the Russian parliament, already serves as president of the World Congress of Russian Jewry, an organization that works with the Kremlin as a bridge with the millions of Jews who emigrated from the country. Keren Hayesod is the central fundraising body for Israel around the world, with the exception of the United States. It raises tens of millions of dollars annually for efforts such as absorbing immigrants into Israel, developing communities in the periphery and Jewish education in the Diaspora. Spiegel’s selection surprised many observers in Russia, as he is widely viewed as following the Kremlin’s official line regarding Russian-speaking Jews.

US Congress quiet on Jewish New Year
Associated Press, YNetNews 10/1/2008
Capitol building largely deserted as national lawmaking body marks Rosh Hashana; House to be on recess on Yom Kippur as well - A day after the House of Representatives defeat of a financial bailout plan that sent Wall Street into a frantic downward spiral, the Capitol building was largely deserted Tuesday as Congress marked the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana. Congressional leaders were still actively talking, trying to develop an alternate plan that Congress will approve. But the House was in recess both Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Senate will have no votes until after sundown Wednesday, the end of the holiday according to Orthodox and Conservative synagogues. Rosh Hashana in LAIsraeli flag raised outside consulate for 1st time/ Yitzhak Benhorin Los Angeles rings in Jewish New Year with ceremony including raising of an Israeli flag brought. . .

Support The Palestine Chronicle and See Us Through to 2009: If the World Ever Needed Independent Media, Now Would Be the Time
Palestine Chronicle 10/1/2008
The Palestine Chronicle just celebrated the nine-year mark in September 2008; our growth and progress is certainly worth celebrating, and our task is worthy of your support. We are launching our bi-annual fundraising drive and are striving to raise $12,000 in four weeks, a sum that should keep us up and running for the next six months. We know that we live in a very uncertain world today, and it is times like these when alternative sources of information are most critical. Now, on the threshold of our first decade, we would like to state our case and ask. Why should you give to PC? We are reliable -- We have been going strong for nine years’. and we’re just getting started!We are innovative -- We have made major overhauls and changes to our site multiple times in the past none years, making it more colorful, comprehensive and user friendly.

cartoon of the day
Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 10/1/2008
peacemaker? [end]


Rattling the Cage: Militias in the mirror
Larry Derfner, Jerusalem Post 10/1/2008
      As I write this, Sunday morning, a teenage Palestinian shepherd has been found shot to death near Nablus, which is surrounded by more Baruch Goldstein wannabes than anyplace else in the country except for maybe Hebron. Some Palestinian witnesses say they saw a white car with settlers in it chasing the shepherd. Recently I interviewed a Palestinian shepherd near Nablus who said the settlers in the area harass him all the time, killing his sheep. He complains to the police, the police do nothing. I’m sure they’ll do nothing this time, too. Another unsolved murder of a Palestinian in Israel’s "heartland." "Nationalistic motives" - Jewish "nationalistic motives" - are suspected. What’s new?
     On Friday there was a story in Yediot Aharonot about an IDF reserve unit that had just gotten back from a month of guarding Yad Yair, one of the illegal outposts near Yitzhar, the jewel in the crown of the Kach-minded settlements near Nablus. Yad Yair is officially slated for evacuation, and after the reservists dared accompany a Civil Administration official there on a visit, the soldiers were repeatedly set upon by mobs of hooded "hilltop youth." One soldier had his hand broken, another was bitten by an attack dog. They were beaten, chased, had their tires slashed, their water line cut, their guard post blockaded.

How I became a target for Israel’s ’Jewish terrorists’

Donald Macintyre, The Independent 10/2/2008
      Peace campaigner attacked with a pipe bomb tells Donald Macintyre why militant Zionism should be feared.
     Zeev Sternhell is careful about his choice of words when he unhesitatingly calls the pipe bomb which exploded outside his front door last week "an act of Jewish terrorism."
     As a Holocaust survivor orphaned by the age of seven and a combat veteran of Israel’s wars, Professor Sternhell, 73, who was lucky to have only been injured in the leg by flying shrapnel from the bomb, is "horrified" not for himself but because it might have hit his wife, daughter his grandchildren on one of their sleepovers, or their neighbours. "It was a terror act because they couldn’t know who would have been hit."
     Given that, as he wryly puts it, he has no known enemies in the "criminal underworld", the reason for what police think was attempted murder isn’t hard to find. As a veteran member of Peace Now, and vigorous opponent of the occupation since the late 1970s, the Hebrew University scholar, Israel Prize laureate and internationally-known authority on the roots of fascism apparently became the target of the highest-profile attack inside Israel by far right-wing Jewish extremists since Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995.

Iran fears nuclear witchhunt

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times 10/2/2008
      The latest news from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), aside from a gloomy portrayal of an international agency starved of cash and manpower, is that it cannot confirm the absence of a clandestine Iranian nuclear program. The head of the United Nations’ watchdog, Mohamad ElBaradei, should know better that this is not his agency’s mandate to begin with, no matter how much new affection is poured on the troubled agency by Western powers. Hence the question: is there a discrete for the simultaneous announcements whereby the IAEA tags along with the United States’ plan of action with regard to Iran, as long as Washington promises no military action, and then it is rewarded with Washington’s and London’s power of the purse?
     On Monday, ElBaradei warned that the agency’s ability to carry out its core work was at risk unless funding was increased. He pointed out that 90% of the IAEA’s nuclear security program depended on voluntary funding, rather than on its regular budget, which in 2008 amounted to US$415 million.
     The reason of raising the possibility of a quid pro quo is that the IAEA has recently flip-flopped over Iran’s "outstanding issues", which were thought to have been put to rest in the agency’s February 2008 report. They have cropped up in a subsequent report, albeit around the contentious issue of certain alleged "weaponization studies".

Holy Time and a Call for Peace

Hesham Hassaballa, Middle East Online 10/1/2008
      I hope and pray that both Israelis and Palestinians could - this year - stop and remember that they are children of the same holy father, Abraham. I hope and pray that both Israelis and Palestinians could - this year - see through the fog of hatred and the smoke of intolerance and realize that they both are heirs of the same tradition, servants of the same God, and bound to the fate of the Middle East, says Hesham Hassaballa.
     On Wednesday, October 1, Muslims the world over mark the end of the month of Ramadan with the Eid ul Fitr festival. On this day, Muslims celebrate with their friends and families the completion of a month of intense worship and spiritual reflection. It is always a special occasion for me and my family: We gather together dressed in our nicest clothes, attend special prayers in the morning, and - very important to me - we drink our coffee during daylight hours once again.
     This year’s Eid festivities are also unique as they fall immediately after the beginning of the High Holy Days of Judaism, with Rosh Hashana on September 30. Thus, the followers of two of the most significant Abrahamic faiths will be celebrating back-to-back, including in the Holy Land. Whenever these "accidents of the calendar" occur, it always causes me to stop and reflect.