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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.

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
5 October, 2008

Israeli settlers attack olive harvesters near Tulkarem
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 10/5/2008
As the olive harvest season begins in full swing, Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians harvesting their olives are on the rise as well. After the attack two days ago in Hebron, another series of attacks has been reported in the Tulkarem area, in the northern part of the West Bank. The latest attacks were centered in two areas: Ar-Ras village in southern Tulkarem, and Kafr Qaddum, also south of Tulkarem. Other incidents of settler violence have been reported in Nil’in, near Ramallah. In the attacks near Tulkarem, over the last three days Israeli settlers have fired guns at Palestinian olive harvesters, tried to steal the olive harvest from Palestinian farmers, and prevented Palestinian farmers from reaching their lands. In Ar-Ras, a family of olive harvesters were forced off their tractors at gunpoint by Israeli settlers, who were supported by Israeli soldiers, and forced to carry. . .

Daily Israeli invasions include digging up corpses, desecrating Qu’ran
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 10/6/2008
According to eyewitness reports, recent Israeli invasions have included soldiers digging up graves in Jenin, and desecrating copies of the Qu’ran, the Muslim holy book, by tearing it apart and throwing it in the toilet in several different cities. Israeli forces invade Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank on a daily basis, allegedly in order to abduct Palestinians that they consider ’wanted’ for various reasons. Often the ’tips’ to the Israeli soldiers on who they should abduct come from Palestinian informants who give names of their personal enemies, or from Palestinian detainees under torture, who give their Israeli captors any names they can think of in order to stop the pain. In recent weeks, Palestinian eyewitnesses have reported some particularly egregious behavior on the part of the invading Israeli troops.

Israeli Naval Violence against Palestinian fishing boats continues
International Solidarity Movement 10/5/2008
Gaza Region - On Saturday 4 October two international human rights observers accompanied a Gazan fishing boat in its daily work, important not only for the fishermen’s families but also for the Palestinian economy in general, especially in the besieged Gaza Strip. When the fishing boat was at about 8 nautical miles from the coast it was intercepted by an Israeli gunboat that began circling it and from loud speakers ordering it to go back. After a request from the captain, one of the internationals talked on the VHF radio making clear that there was an international presence on board. The Gazan fishing boat continued to fish along the Gaza Strip, maintaining the same distance from the shore and the Israeli gunboat gave up trying to threaten it. Later another Israeli gunboat approached the fishing boat, again after a request of the captain, one of the international human rights workers

Clinically dead Gazan mother called ''security threat;'' denied passage through Israel
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Thirty-year-old Karimah Abu Dalal was pronounced clinically dead in a Gaza City hospitalwhile she waited for permission to undergo a second bone marrow transplant in Jordan, after a relapse in her leukemia, discovered after the birth of her first son. Karimah is from the An-Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, and was diagnosed with leukemia after the birth of her son Ahmad, who is now three. The disease spread rapidly, and Karimah was never able to nurse her son. She was sent to Egypt where she had her first bone marrow transplant at twenty-seven, but six months later she experienced a chronic immune response against the transplanted tissue, and her health deteriorated rapidly. Karimah’s husband took her to hospital in Nablus in the northern West bank, which had recently been equipped to handle bone marrow transplants.

After 24 years in Israeli prisons, Gaza human rights proponent attacked by Palestinian police
Palestine News Network 10/5/2008
PNN - As the party-based assaults between the Gaza and Ramallah governments continue with new transgressions reported nearly daily, the Gaza police attacked Rafat Al Najjar, his wife, son and brother-in-law in the southern Gaza Strip’s Khan Younis. The 65 year old is a former Palestinian Legislative Council member who is the current Chairman of the Board of Al Dameer Association for Human Rights in Gaza. He spent more than 24 years of his life in his Israeli prisons. Gaza City’s Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, which has field investigators throughout the Strip and the West Bank, called on Sunday for an official investigation into Friday’s assaults and for the perpetrators to be prosecuted in the justice system. Reports of the incident indicate that after noon on Friday Al Najjar’s neighbors in the Jourat Al Lout district of Khan Younis began fighting.

U.S. Jewish committee recruits former Israeli defense officials for pro-Obama ad
Natasha Mozgovaya, and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
A Jewish political action committee that supports Barack Obama’s bid for the American presidency has "recruited" former senior Israeli defense officials to the campaign by collating flattering statements about the Democratic senator from seven such officials into a new advertisement that will begin running on Monday. However, it seems that some participants - including former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy and Brigadier General (res. ) Uzi Dayan - were unaware they were aiding an Obama campaign ad. The ad was produced by the Jewish Council for Education and Research, which is already responsible for two other projects aimed at attracting Jewish voters to Obama, JewsVote. org and the Great Schlep. The new effort is meant to reassure Jews who fear that Obama’s conciliatory approach to diplomacy will result in his being soft on terrorists, and hence bad for Israel.

Continued settler aggression in Nablus
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 10/5/2008
Nablus -- In a move aimed to deprive residents from access to their land and olive harvests, Israeli settlers from Elon Moreh placed four mobile homes on the land of eastern Nablus’ Deir Al Hatab. President of the Village Council, Abdul Karim Hussein, said today that settlers overtook the route to at least 500 dunams of olive groves. The olives are ready for harvest, Hussein noted, "with the settlers continuing the provocations including overtaking the water source. "He described the scene, "They were coming during the Jewish holidays and dipping their children in the town’s water source in a bid to seize it as a holy shrine. "The spring is the source of drinking water for residents. Hussein added that the harvest is tainted with danger this year leaving the financial situation unknown and the fate of Deir Al Hatab’s water supply uncertain as well.

Continued clashes mark the beginning of the olive harvest
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 10/5/2008
In Ni’lin and al-Ma’sra the Friday prayers and protests against the Wall have marked the beginning of the olive harvest. Although there are a few days remaining until the official start of the harvest season, farmers have begun picking olives in a number of villages across the West Bank. They have already been met with violence from soldiers and settlers, who are working collectively to drive the farmers off their land. In Ni’lin, the Friday prayers were held in the lands containing groves of ripe trees. During the prayers, settlers approached the people carrying Israeli flags. Upon arriving, they proceeded to burn a Palestinian flag in an attempt to provoke the people. Residents refused to be intimidated and confronted the settlers, forcing them out of the area before. . .

Dutch company acknowledges illegality of Israeli settlements, divests
Shawan Jabarin, Palestine News Network 10/5/2008
Ramallah -- Ramallah’s Al-Haq human rights organization penned an open letter to the Royal Dutch Embassy, Israel, the Dutch Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority and Heineken Nederlands to praise the decision of Barkan Wineries to divest from illegal Israeli settlements in Barkan. The full text follows. "As a Palestinian human rights organisation committed to the promotion and protection of human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Al-Haq welcomes the decision by Barkan Wineries. . . . . . an Israeli subsidiary of Tempo Beer Industry Ltd. Drinks, to remove its activities from the industrial zone of the illegal settlement of Barkan, in the northern West Bank, and transfer them into Israel. This divestment conclusion is a result of positive developments in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), including the excellent commitment demonstrated by the Dutch consumers; Heineken N.

PLC speaker: PA ’abducted’ son of West Bank lawmaker
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces raided the Tulkarem home of a jailed Palestinian lawmaker and “abducted” his son, the office of the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) alleged on Sunday morning. The PLC speaker’s office in Gaza said in a statement that PA forces stormed the home of PLC member Fathi Al-Qar’awi, wrecked the interior of the house, interrogated members of his family, and seized his son, Hamzah. Fathi Al-Qar’awi, who is affiliated to Hamas’ “Change and Reform” bloc is currently jailed in Israel. The statement condemned what it said was an ongoing policy of harassment against the offices and families of jailed Hamas lawmakers. The statement said the children of other lawmakers have been detained by the PA but did not mention any by name. The statement also held Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas “completely responsible”. . .

IDF officer: Major Fatah assault on Hamas close
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
There are signs that Fatah is preparing to launch a major operation against Hamas in the West Bank in the coming weeks ahead of expected turmoil when Mahmoud Abbas’s term as PA president ends in January, a top IDF officer has told The Jerusalem Post. Abbas’s presidential term is scheduled to end on January 9, and the IDF Central Command is preparing for the possibility that Hamas will try to take advantage of political instability in Ramallah to take over West Bank towns and cities. In the absence of elections or a compromise with Hamas, according to the Palestinian Authority constitution, Abbas will be replaced by the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Abdel Aziz Dweik, a member of Hamas who has been in an Israeli prison since August 2006. The senior IDF officer said there was evidence that Fatah forces were planning a widespread West Bank operation. . .

Hamas condemns raid on the home of imprisoned lawmaker and arrest of his son
Palestinian Information Center 10/5/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Hamas condemned, on Sunday, the raid against the home of imprisoned law maker Sheikh Fathi al-Qara’wi, in the Nour Shams refugee camp east of Tulkarem, and the kidnapping of his eldest son. Hamas said in a press statement that breaching the sanctity of the imprisoned lawmaker’s, crossing all national, legal and moral red lines, is but one in a chain of violations by the Fatah movement against Hamas since the latter won the legislative elections almost three years ago. The movement added that it can no longer believe claims by Fatah that it was after reconciliation and national unity and will not allow a repeat of the shedding of the blood of Abu Karsh on the eve of the Makka talks, adding that pointers on the ground to Fatah’s seriousness about dialogue are more important and realistic than their press releases.

Israeli forces attack fire brigade and ambulance crew during demonstration in Ni’lin
International Solidarity Movement 10/5/2008
Ramallah Region - The non-violent resistance continues in Ni’lin, as the demonstrations are consistently taking place against the apartheid wall. On Friday, October 3rd, around 200 people participated in the weekly prayer demonstration that followed the Friday prayer in the fields of the village. After the prayer took place at noon; village residents, members of the village popular committee, ISM activists, members of IWPS, and Israeli activists began to slowly approach the road where Israel’s Apartheid Wall is being built. The wall is meant to annex a large portion of Ni’lin’s remaining land to protect and expand nearby settlements. The Israeli soldiers that based themselves on the hills across the valley began to shoot tear gas at the demonstrators as they marched toward the construction area. At the same time around 50 Israeli settlers showed their support to the Apartheid wall by holding a rally on the other side of the valley.

Olive Harvest Campaign 2008: Israeli forces prevent residents of Tell from harvesting their olives
Olive Harvest 2008, International Solidarity Movement 10/5/2008
Nablus Region - Photos - Israeli forces marked the beginning of the olive harvest season by forcing Palestinian farmers from their lands in Tell. After the recent rain in Palestine, the 2008 Olive Harvest Campaign was launched today, ten days earlier than planned. For more information on the campaign please click here. On Sunday 5th October, approximately twenty farmers attempted to harvest olives from their lands adjacent to the notoriously violent Israeli settlement of Harvat Gilad. Whilst the Palestinian olive harvest does not officially begin until 10th October, farmers from Tell, a village near Nablus, felt compelled to start harvesting their olives early, due to the fact that settlers stole all olives from nearby lands the previous year. Farmers were able to harvest for only two hours, under the watchful eye of Gilad’s "hilltop youth", before Israeli police arrived,. . .

Three injured in Bilin weekly protest
International Solidarity Movement 10/5/2008
Reports - Bil’in Village - Report by Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bilin - The residents of Bil’in, joined by international and Israeli activists, gathered to demonstrate against the Apartheid Wall and settlement building on the 3rd October. The protesters raised the Palestinian flag and banners to commemorate the Eid, calling for a national unity and also other banners condemning the massacres against the Palestinian people. The demo left after the Friday prayer and called for an end to the racist Israeli policy and settlement building, closures, kidnappings, and the siege on cities and villages. The protesters marched towards the wall with tools to pick olives in their land behind the wall. When protesters tried to access their land, the army fired sound grenades and teargas cannisters which caused dozens to suffer teargas inhalation.

Israeli blockade turns cross-border tunnels into a growth industry
Mehdi Lebouachera, Daily Star 10/6/2008
Agence France Presse - RAFAH, Gaza Strip: Smuggling is so rife across the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt that the number of tunnels along which traffickers bring in contraband has swollen into the hundreds, their operators claim. "The ground at Rafah is a real Swiss cheese. If there were an earthquake the whole lot would cave in," the boss of one of the tunnels told AFP. "People come from everywhere to find work: Gaza, Jabaliyah, Deir al-Balah. . . This tunnel alone keeps 15 families alive," he said. The exact number of tunnels is impossible to verify but the rapid growth of excavation work is plain for all to see. At 10 in the morning in Rafah, the only sounds come from the nearby border, where the grinding of motors draws attention to smugglers busy digging more passages beneath this sandy frontier.

British pressure secures safe passage through Israel for 21 Gazan students
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – The British consulate general in Jerusalem has made the necessary arrangements with Israeli authorities to guarantee the safe passage of 21 Gazan students to the UK, where they have been accepted to study. Several of the students were awarded prestigious scholarships to study at the British institutions, and are relieved to travel before the study term starts so they can ensure that the prizes are kept for them. Other students have been permitted to bring a family member along with them. The consulate explained that Israeli authorities prevented Gazans accepted at foreign universities from travelling to their institutions until 26 June, when theBritish, European Union and US authorities pressured Israel to allow at least those students with scholarships to leave the Strip. Israeli permission was necessary since they control more than 80% of the land crossings out of the area, and have prohibited sea travel.

Israeli occupation navy boats fire at Palestinian fishermen, wound one of them
Palestinian Information Center 10/5/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- A Palestinian fisherman was wounded Sunday morning when an Israel occupation navy boat opened fire at a group of fishermen on the Rafah seashore. The PA ministry of agriculture stated that Muhammad al-Badrasawi (19 years) was moderately wounded in his foot when an Israeli occupation gunboat opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats on the shore of Rafah. Dr. Hasan Azzam, director of fisheries in the ministry of agriculture, said that the boats which were fired on were small rowing boats which are used for fishing just off the seashore. Azzam also said that last week there was another serious attack on Palestinian fishermen when Israeli occupation gunboats opened fire at a fishing boat owned by Omar al-Habil while fishing off the Rafah shore leading to the boat breaking in the sea. The boat and those on board were only saved by the quick response of other Palestinian fishing boats in the area.

Rafah crossing open Sunday to allow Hajj pilgrims returning from Mecca
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the the Gaza Strip on Sunday to allow the first group of Hajj pilgrims returning from Mecca to return home. A spokesperson of the de facto government Interior Ministry in Gaza, Eyhab Al-Ghussein, says the Egyptians have informed the Palestinian side that the crossing will be open today for pilgrims only. According to Al-Ghussein, 70 pilgrims will cross today, 140 on Tuesday and 100 will cross on Wednesday. Egyptian officials said nothing about opening the crossing in both directions to allow passage of students stuck in the Gaza Strip to leave to Egypt. The crossing was opened for one day during the third quarter of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and 1,200 Hajj pilgrims crossed en route to Saudi Arabia. Though it was supposed to remain open to allow students to cross into Egypt, Egyptian. . .

Al-Khudari urges lawsuits against Israel on behalf of unemployed Gazans
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Gazan lawmaker and chairman of the Popular Committee Against the Siege Jamal Al-Khudari on Sunday called on international labor unions and relief organizations as well as the UN to seek “real solutions” to unemployment caused by the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel. He called on laborers unions to work together in supporting Palestinian workers and to file lawsuits in international court against the economic siege imposed on Palestine. Al-Khudari asserts that Palestinian workers and their families in both the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip are living under dire conditions. He highlighted that 140,000 Gazan workers lost their jobs due to the siege which resulted in the closure of 97% of factories in Gaza because they could not get raw materials for their products. All contactors and construction companies closed as well, he added.

Egyptian activists prepare to break the Gaza siege on Monday
Palestinian Information Center 10/5/2008
CAIRO, (PIC)-- Egyptian lawmaker and human rights activist MP Hamdi Hassan has revealed Sunday that a caravan of hundreds of Egyptian cars and buses will set off for the Gaza Strip on Monday in an attempt to break the repressive Israeli siege on it. He explained that the Egyptian committee for ending the Gaza siege would hold a press conference in front of the headquarters of the Egyptian journalists syndicate before the caravan bound to the Gaza Strip sets off, stressing that the caravan will be mobilized regardless of the hindrances that might arise. "We must deliver our voice to the entire world in support for our besieged brothers and families [in the Gaza Strip], stressed Hassan. He added, "There is a sharp shortage in medicine and foodstuff in Gaza"¦ even the justice minister in the Hamas-led PA government [Dr.

Foreign activist files complaint against deportation
Palestine News Network 10/5/2008
Harmeet Singh Sooden has filed an official complaint to the governments of Canada and New Zealand and to the United Nations for human rights violations committed against him by the government of Israel in the course of denying him entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Sooden arrived on 14 June 2008 to work as a human rights defender with the International Solidarity Movement after first volunteering with the ISM in 2004. After declaring the purpose of his visit, Sooden was assaulted and injured, threatened, held in solitary confinement, denied the right to legal counsel and consular representation as well as the right to appeal his deportation order in a court of law, and unlawfully deported on 18 June 2008—all in contravention of Israeli and international law. Israeli authorities told Sooden that he was being deported because he constituted "a threat to the security of the State of Israel.

Israel renews administrative detention orders against two underage female detainees
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 10/5/2008
The Israeli Authorities renewed on Sunday the administrative detention orders against two underage female detainees from Bethlehem. The two detainees received three more months of detention without any charges or trial. The two detainees were identified as Salwa Riziq Salah, 17, and Sara Yasser Saleh, 17. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) reported that Salwa and Sara were kidnapped by the army on June 5 2008, and were immediately moved to administrative detention. The PPS slammed the Israeli violations and the continued detention of female detainees as more than 80 female detainees are still imprisoned by Israel. Some of them are mothers, others are children and a number of them are sentenced to high terms. The PPS called on the international community to intervene and release all detainees from Israeli prisons as more than 10000 Palestinians are still imprisoned by Israel.

Rights Group: Murders, arbitrary detentions increased in Palestine in September
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – An increase in murders and arbitrary detentions took place in the Palestinian territories in September, the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights reported on Sunday. In general the report says that a decline in the protection of human rights took place, especially in the Gaza Stip. Deaths due to the “misuse of force” and the collapse of tunnels in the Gaza Strip also increased last month, the organization said. Some of the deaths were attributed to disputes among families. The report also cited “arms chaos” as a cause of violence. An increase in violent attacks on public figures and their staffs was also reported. In addition, the commission reported an increase in attacks on the freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and public institutions.

PCHR Condemns Attack against Former PLC Member Ra’fat al-Najjar and Family by Palestinian Police
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 10/5/2008
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the attack, and subsequent humiliations, of former Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member, Ra’fat al-Najjar (65), his wife, son and brother-in-law by the Palestinian police in Khan Yunis. The Centre calls upon the relevant authorities to investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 12:30 on Friday, 3 October, a row erupted between neighbors of Ra’fat al-Najjar, in the Jourat al-Lout area of Khan Yunis. When the row escalated into an armed confrontation, local residents, including al-Najjar, his family and friends, intervened to quell the row.

Nine Palestinians taken by Israeli forces in raids in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces on Sunday early morning seized nine Palestinians in the West Bank what the Israeli military claimed were “security” reasons. According to the Israeli army, five of the arrestees were in Ramallah in the central West Bank, and four from Bethlehem in the south. Army sources have not revealed identities of the arrestees. Local Palestinian sources in Bethlehem said Israeli forces stormed the town of Tuqu east of Bethlehem and detained 33-year-old Umar Nawawra. Separately, in DuheishaRefugee Camp, south of Bethlehem, another Israeli force raided the camp and nabbed 17-year-old Mustafa Al-Ghari and 18-year-old Murad Al-Ghari. Invading Israeli forces also ransacked several homes overnight in both neighborhoods before they arrested the three young men.

Israeli forces confiscate construction equipment south of Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli forces confiscated a large piece of construction equipment from Zidan Issa Shawahi while he was working the fields near Umm Lasafa a village south of Hebron. Eyewitnesses said Israeli forces assaulted Zidan before confiscating the Excavator. They added that as Israeli forces attempted to move the equipment away from the scene, severe damage was done to the electrical wires surrounding the village, causing power outs in most homes and shops. [end]

Huwwara checkpoint closed following alleged bomb threat
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces on Sunday closed the Huwwara checkpoint on the main road south of Nablus preventing Palestinians from leaving or entering the major West Bank city. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers manning the checkpoint arrested a young Palestinian man carrying a bag on his way out of Nablus. The soldiers then immediately announced the checkpoint was closed. They claimed that the man was carrying a bomb. The witnesses added that Israeli soldiers fired into the air to force commuters to evacuate the area. No casualties have been reported. The closure of the checkpoint severs the main link between the nothern West Bank and points to the south, inclusing the administrative center in Ramallah, as well as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron.

Israeli army claims pipe bombs transported by Nablus man closed checkpoint
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Huwwara military checkpoint south of Nablus was closed for two hours Sunday afternoon after Israeli soldiers found iron material they said were pipe bombsEyewitnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces closed after detaining the young man, was carrying a medium sized package and standing in line to pass through the checkpoint out of Nablus. According to Palestinian security sources the man detained was 25-year-old Fadi Bassem Ibrahim Tharifah a resident of Nablus, who is currently unemployed. Fadi’s family told Ma’an that he lives with his father in Wadi At-Tuffah to the west of Nablus and he left his work in furniture store after a misunderstanding with his boss. They added that he left early in the morning and they were surprised when they heard that he was detained by Israeli army at the checkpoint.

Football fans forced to spend night at checkpoint by Israeli soldiers
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Busloads of Palestinian football fans were forced to spend the night at the Hamra checkpoint in the Jordan River valley on Saturday night on their way back from a match in the West Bank city of Jericho. Fans of a team from Askar Refugee Camp in the city of Nablus were told that they arrived at the checkpoint too late. The drivers told Ma’an that they had arrived at the roadblock before the scheduled closing time of 11pm. Soldiers staffing the checkpoint reportedly assaulted some passengers, and forced the busses to wait until 4am when they reopened the checkpoint. Askar Camp’s team had played Jabal Mukabbir (from Jerusalem) to a 0-0 draw. The game at Jericho stadium was a regular match in Palestine’s first league.

Israeli Supreme Court orders temporary halt on Mughrabi Gate construction
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Jerusalem - Ma’an - The Israeli Supreme Court ordered a temporary halt to the construction of an iron bridge at the Mughrabi Gate area of the Al-Aqsa mosque/Western Wall complex. The court ordered the halt until several legal objections filed against the construction have been heard. Adviser on Jerusalem affairs Hatem Abd Al-Qader said the court’s decision obliges the Israeli government, department of Antiquities, and the municipality of West Jerusalem to halt all construction and excavation. According to Abd Al-Qader the West Jerusalem municipality had plans to dig wells for 88 pillars to support the new bridge. [end]

MKs visit east J’lem to push for demolition of terrorists’ homes
Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
Right-wing MKs and a Jerusalem city councilman led a tour of some of the Arab areas of Jerusalem on Sunday to underscore what they say is the urgent need to demolish local terrorists’ homes. Terrorists’ families should be restricted from doing business in the capital, they said, and more should be done to combat illegal construction and tax evasion in the city’s Arab neighborhoods. MKs Uri Ariel and Eli Gabai, both from the National Union/National Religious Party, along with their Jerusalem representative, David Hadari, took reporters to the homes of recent east Jerusalem terrorists. Along the way, they cited various cases of what they see as gross hypocrisy in dealing with the recent phenomenon of local Arabs carrying out terrorist attacks. "We are seeing a contagious disease here," Gabai said, as he stood near the entrance to Jebl Mukaber - home to both. . .

Obama campaign vows not to cut aid to Israel
DPA, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
U. S. Senator Barack Obama has promised not to cut foreign aid to Israel if he is elected president in November, a spokeswoman for the Democratic candidate has said. The spokeswoman told Globes yesterday that Obama would honor existing agreements pertaining to foreign aid and as such was committed to "increasing aid to Israel to $30 billion over 10 years. "In the vice presidential debate last week, Obama’s running mate Senator Joe Biden said their administration would have to hold back on plans to double foreign aid in general in light of the financial crisis in the U. S. [end]

Obama good for Israel, say former Israeli generals
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 10/5/2008
Jewish Council for Education and Research features former defense establishment officials in endorsement video of US Democratic presidential hopeful. Clip aimed at relieving concerns Jewish voters may have about candidateWASHINGTON – Seven prominent figures of the Israeli defense establishment have voiced their support of US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. All seven have given short interviewes featured on an online endorsement video, in which they praise Obama’s Middle East policies. The video "stars" former Mossad Director Ephraim Halevy, former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, past head of the National Security Council, General (Res. ) Uzi Dayan, Amram Mitzna – former chief of the IDF Central Command, and Brig. -Gen. (Ret. ) Giora Inbar, who headed the IDF’s Lebanon Division. Also featured are past IDF Gaza Sector Commander Brig. -Gen. (Res. ) Shaul Arieli, Brig. -Gen. (Ret. ) Shlomo Brom of the Air Force Intelligence and former Mossad official Yossi Alpher.

Obama aide: We’ll honor aid arrangement with Israel
Ran Dagoni, Washington, Globes Online 10/5/2008
"While the new financial constraints might mean it will take longer to achieve this goal, Barack Obama remains committed to implementing the memorandum of understanding, increasing aid to Israel. " Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will honor the US aid arrangement with Israel, and will not cut aid if he is elected president, states an official campaign statement sent to "Globes". The statement added that an Obama administration might slow down the rate of increase in the aid. The statement came in response to rumors in the US Jewish community that US military aid to Israel was at risk if Obama were elected. Unpinning the rumor was a report that Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden had in the past threatened to halt US aid to Israel because of the settlements. Fears were raised by recent statements by the Democratic candidates that implied that Obama saw foreign aid as a target for cutting in the financial crisis.

Canada’s Liberals sack candidate over ’anti-Semitic’ remarks
Ohad Pas and agencies, YNetNews 10/5/2008
Party’s Winnipeg candidate Lesley Hughes asked to step down after old penned article containing anti-Semitic views resurfaces. Hughes defends piece, says she is ’a lifelong friend and supporter of the Jewish community’ - Canadian Liberal parliamentary candidate Lesley Hughes was asked to forfeit her place on the party’s election roster last week, after being accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has reported. Hughes, who was a candidate for the party’s Winnipeg roster in the central Canadian province of Manitoba, was admonished by Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion for an article she wrote six years ago, in which she suggested that the Israeli intelligence services warned the US administration of the coming September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, and that Israeli businesses were told to vacate the towers before the attack.

Livni tells France’s Kouchner: I oppose Olmert’s peace plan
Barak Ravid and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told her French counterpart Bernard Kouchner that she opposes the agreement in principle that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has offered Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "I do not believe in far-reaching proposals and an attempt to expedite matters, especially in light of the political situation," Livni, the prime minister-designate, told Kouchner on Sunday. In the morning, Kouchner met with Olmert, who said he was frustrated that Abbas had not accepted his proposal. "You’ve read what I said in the interview," Olmert told Kouchner, referring to his statements in Yedioth Ahronoth favoring concessions. "Still, the Palestinians do not want to sign. " Kouchner raised the matter later when he met with Livni and asked why she objects to Olmert’s proposal.

Palestinian foreign minister: Israeli settlement expansion makes peace process impossible
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 10/5/2008
In a statement to the press on Sunday afternoon, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki stated that Israel has thus far failed to uphold its end of the agreements made in Annapolis in October 2007, and settlements on Palestinian land have expanded, thus rendering peace impossible. "In Annapolis it was promised that by 2008 we would have an independent state and that we would have a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians," said al-Maliki at the press conference, adding, "There are three more months left until the end of the year, we’ll wait and see but for now all we can see is a flagrant violation of the Annapolis agreements, which we believed would end the suffering of both peoples. " Al-Maliki stated that the Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are the primary problems, as the prevention of settlement expansion was Israel’s first and only commitment to the Palestinians during the Annapolis talks.

Palestinian FM: Settlements are ticking bombs
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 10/5/2008
Riyad al-Maliki accuses Israel of violating Annapolis commitments, warns failure to achieve genuine progress in peace talks strengthens Hamas’ position - Israel failed to uphold the commitments it made to the Palestinian Authority at the Annapolis peace summit in 2007, Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki charged on Sunday afternoon. Speaking at an Israeli conference held by the Foreign Affairs Ministry on policy and strategy, al-Maliki lamented the lack of progress"In Annapolis it was promised that by 2008 we would have an independent state and that we would have a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians," he said. "We believed in what was promised; that this year would be different, but we are already in October, and we are losing hope that by the end of the year we will see the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and the end of the occupation.

Time running out for peace, says Livni
Associated Press in Jerusalem, The Guardian 10/6/2008
Israeli prime minister-designate Tzipi Livni yesterday warned that time is running out for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, with extremists gaining strength as negotiations stumble. In her first foreign policy speech since her appointment to form a new Israeli government, Livni said Israel must press ahead with peace talks because "doing nothing has its own price". Israel and the Palestinians resumed talks last November at a conference hosted by President Bush. They set a target date of January 2009, when Bush leaves office, for completing a peace deal, but apparent little progress has been made, and both sides cast severe doubt about meeting the target. Livni, who heads the Israeli negotiating team, warned there are dangers in letting the process drag on indefinitely.

Livni: We dream of peace but our feet are rooted in reality
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in her first foreign policy address since winning the Kadima primary last month, took veiled issue on Sunday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Rosh Hashana interview calling on Israel to cede nearly all of the territories won in the Six Day War. "We have passed the stage where we have to prove that Israel wants peace with everyone," Livni said at the Foreign Ministry’s Conference for Policy and Strategy. "Israel wants to reach peace with all its neighbors, including Syria. Lebanon and the Palestinians. " She said Israel had proven this through entering numerous peace negotiations, and by leaving the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, in an apparent criticism of Olmert, she said the issue was not only for Israel to talk about what concessions would need to be made, "but we have an additional responsibility, to run this process correctly.

Kouchner: Livni to lead peace process
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 10/5/2008
Visiting French FM tells Foreign Ministry conference he’s certain Kadima chairwoman will succeed in forming new coalition. Adds: France determined to fight rising anti-Semitism -"I believe in Tzipi Livni, trust her and am certain she will succeed in forming a new government," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said of his Israeli counterpart on Sunday. Livni was recently elected new chairwoman of the ruling Kadima party in place of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and was subsequently tasked by President Shimon Peres to form a new coalition. Speaking at the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s conference on policy and strategy, the French FM went on to say that "It is not simple to work with your minister; it is even rather difficult. (Livni) is courageous and talented, and it is her beliefs that will determine the course of the peace negotiations.

MP Mansour: The world should act for the release of kidnapped lawmakers
Palestinian Information Center 10/5/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- Palestinian lawmaker MP Muna Mansour of the Hamas bloc in the PLC has urged Saturday the international community as well as legal and human rights institutions to work for the immediate release of kidnapped Palestinian legislators in Israeli jails. Mansour was addressing relatives and families of the kidnapped Palestinian parliamentarians during a rally organized by Hamas lawmakers Mariam Saleh, Ayman Daraghma, Abdul Jaber Foqaha, in addition to Mansour to honor those families. She also condemned the humiliating treatment of the duly and democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people, explaining that the court and the Israeli prosecution only ask for adjourning the hearing for long periods with the aim to retain those lawmakers in jail as long as they could. "This is an Israeli political maneuver with the aim to cover up its failure in dealing. . .

Barak: Russia destabilizing Middle East
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 10/5/2008
Defense minister calls on Moscow to cease controversial weapon sales, play positive role in regional peace process. In meeting with French foreign minister, Barak urges Kouchner to use Paris’ influence to stop Hizbullah’s armament -Defense Minister Ehud Barak called on Russia to "play a positive role in the Middle East peace process, instead of providing weapons system which could destabilize the area. " Sunday’s controversial statement was made a mere 24 hours before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was scheduled to leave for an official visit to Russia. Barak began his work week by meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Jerusalem. The two had a short private session, after which they were joined by Labor Knesset Members Colette Avital and Avishay Braverman.

Blair to visit Jenin and Tubas Tuesday
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Envoy for the Middle East Quartet Tony Blair is scheduled tovisit Jenin and Tubas on Tuesday, where he will meet local governors and launch a water supply project between the villages of Meithalun and the Qabatiya. Blair will meet Jenin Governor Qaddura Musa, the Palestinian Minister of Justice and local judges for updates on projects initiated under funding raised during the Paris conference initiated by the Quartet. [end]

Inside Intel / The missile defense conundrum
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
The State Comptroller recently completed its latest report on how the defense establishment handles the development of weapon systems intended for active defense against rockets and short-range missiles. The report was presented to the Knesset’s State Control Committee, the prime minister, the defense minister and to senior defense officials. It seems the report uses harsh language, uncovering several shortcomings in the Defense Ministry’s process of deciding on which system to develop and why, to which military industry to grant the rights of development, and why one company should be preferred over another. The report’s subjects now have four months to respond to the criticism leveled against them. The report allows for a rare look at the close connections, sometimes reminiscent of a revolving-door policy, between Defense Ministry officials and those Israel Defense Forces officers. . .

ANALYSIS / IDF plans to use disproportionate force in next war
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
What will the next war look like? Recent statements from several senior Israeli military officials offer a surprising answer: Perhaps much like the last one. Following on the Israel Defense Forces’ failure in the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the army is likely to resume fortifying its maneuvering capability, represented by the Armored and Infantry Corps, at the expense of its firepower, particularly that of the Air Force. However, a recent interview with GOC Northern Command Gadi Eisenkot, and articles written by two senior reserve officers, indicate that the IDF will continue to give first priority to firepower, even if the targets it chooses are different than those chosen in previous conflicts. This is not merely a theoretical matter. Though neither Israel nor Hezbollah seems particularly interested in another round of fighting, another conflagration is certainly possible.

Israeli analysis: Israel plans to use massive force against Lebanon
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 10/5/2008
According to statements by Israeli military analysts, another attack on Lebanon by Israel would look much like the last one: massive civilian casualties, environmental ecocide and millions of cluster bomblets left unexploded throughout the country. Israel was widely criticized for its 2006 invasion of Lebanon in which an estimated 1,000 of the 1,200 Lebanese casualties were civilians. Israel suffered around 130 casualties, about half of which were civilians. However, Israel’s main ally, the United States, did not criticize Israel’s violations of international human rights conventions and instead rewarded the Israeli army with a gift of thousands of additional of cluster bombs after Israel began to run out after several weeks of non-stop bombardment of Lebanon. Israeli Northern Command General Gadi Eisenkot in an interview Friday with the Israeli daily ’Yedioth Ahranoth’, laid out. . .

’Israeli threats don’t scare Hizbullah’
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
The war of words between Israel and Hizbullah continued on Sunday, with a top official in the guerrilla group brushing off "threats" made by IDF Maj. -Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, in which the latter said that the next war would have serious consequences for the villages which support Hizbullah. "The resistance is completely ready and Israel’s threats do not scare [us]," Sheikh Nabil Kaouk said during a rally in southern Lebanon. His comments were published by United Arab Emirates newspaper Al-Hilaj on Sunday. "This paper tiger state will collapse at the hands of resistance fighters, which achieved a glowing victory in 2000 and 2006 against this thieving entity which has taken Palestinian land," Kaouk continued. "The liberation strategy of the resistance has proven its effectiveness, and has demonstrated its success on the highest levels," he said.

Olive harvesters attacked by Israeli settlers and soldiers near Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Qalqiliya – Ma’an – Palestinians preparing lands for the olive harvest were attacked by a group of Israeli settlers and army soldiers just outside the village of Kafr Qaddum south of Tulkarem. Eyewitnesses reported seeing Israeli soldiers beat civilians, driving them out of the lands. Soldiers claimed the land belonged to the settlement Qedumim, located less than one kilometer east of the city. The Palestinians were told that the land was off limits despite being outside the fences surrounding the settlement. [end]

West Bank: Palestinian olive groves closed off to Israelis
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 10/5/2008
IDF fears additional settler violence during olive harvest; 3,000 Palestinians allowed entry to Seam Line area olive groves -The olive harvest in the West Bank region commenced Sunday morning amid heightened tensions between the Jewish settlers and the Palestinians. As part of its effort to prevent additional violence, the IDF has closed off Palestinian olive groves to Israelis. The harvest is expected to continue through December. In the framework of the preparations, Civil Administration officials held talks with their Palestinian counterparts, leaders of villages and Palestinians working in the olive oil industry. During the meetings, the sides agreed on a timetable for the harvest. Israel has permitted the entry of some 3,000 Palestinians to olive groves located in the Seam Line area ahead of the harvest.

Yesha Council launches non-aggressive campaign
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 10/5/2008
While prime minister states all territories should be ceded to Arabs, settlers attempt to gain popularity by saying Israelis ’yearn for Jewish truth’ - The Yesha Council has launched a counter campaign following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s remarks that all territories should be ceded to the Arabs. Using green billboard signs and internet banners, the settlers are stating that "Judea and Samaria is every Jew’s story. " In this new PR campaign, the Yesha Council abandons its aggressive tone in an attempt to gain the public’s sympathy in a different way. "Today the public yearns to connect to the Jewish and and Zionist truth, something the education system has emptied, and this is the right time," explains Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan. The new ads mention biblical stories and other stories from Jewish history which took place in the West Bank.

Al Tirawi looking to Syria to help with internal schism
PNN, Palestine News Network 10/5/2008
Nablus -- Palestinian lawmaker and Fateh member from the northern West Bank’s Nablus, Jamal Al Tirawi is asking that the Syrian president play a positive role in the internal dialogue. A former leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades, Al Tirawi said today that Syria and President Bashar Al Assad have an historic role in the Palestinian cause and other Arab issues, adding that the country is in a position to "resolve the dispute and end the Palestinian crisis. "President Mahmoud Abbas will be meeting with his Syrian counterpart on 14 October to discuss progress in overcoming the internal schism and the Palestinian -- Israeli negotiations. Al Tirawi also said that the Palestinian issue on the international scene is "at a critical juncture" because of the internal crisis deeming that the most pressing issue.

Meshaal calls for thaw in Saudi-Syrian ties
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 10/6/2008
RIYADH: Exiled Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal has called for a thaw in ties between Saudi Arabia and Syria during a recent visit to Gulf kingdom, an Arab diplomat said on Sunday. "During meetings with Saudi officials, Meshaal raised the issue of Saudi-Syrian relations, which have long been tense, and stressed the importance of improving those ties," the diplomat told AFP, requesting anonymity. Relations between Riyadh and Damascus have been tense since the February 2005 assassination of Lebanese former Premier Rafik Hariri, a close Saudi ally, in a bombing widely blamed on Syria. Meshaal, who lives in exile in Syria, visited the Saudi holy city of Mecca in September to perform the umrah, or lesser pilgrimage, and to meet with Saudi officials. Fresh tensions between Syria and Saudi Arabia surfaced after a deadly car bombing in Damascus last month that killed 17 people, with Syrian official. . .

Teachers’ strike in Gaza to continue; no agreement with de facto government
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian teachers in the Gaza Strip will continue striking until Tuesday after failing to reach an agreement with the Hamas-controlled government of Gaza. Palestinian Teachers’ Union Secretary General Jamil Shihadah told Ma’an that the de facto government is still rejecting the union’s main demand, which is to allow the union’s main office in Gaza to reopen, and to “give up the arbitrary decisions that were made against the teachers and school principals. ”The teachers’ strike, as well a health workers’ strike, began as an apparent response to politicized hiring practices by the de facto government. Others, including United Nations observers and human rights groups, blame the strikes on the ongoing partisan dispute between Hamas and Fatah, with the Fatah-controlled government in the West Bank coercing workers into complying with the strike.

Hamas: Kidnapping sons of lawmakers exposes role of Abbas’s security agencies
Palestinian Information Center 10/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas said that the continuation of Abbas’s security agencies with their raids on the homes of captives and lawmakers, the closure of their offices, the interrogation of their spouses and the kidnapping of their sons are clear treasonous acts. The movement added, in a statement on Sunday by its spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, that these acts reflect the repressive role of these agencies against the Palestinian people and opposition forces spearheaded by the Hamas movement in fulfilment of the needs and wishes of the Zionist occupation. Hamas called for an end of what it called "the criminal and irresponsible role" of theses agencies and called on Palestinian factions to condemn this role. Finally, Hamas called for restructuring these agencies and distancing them from their unpatriotic role, so that they may become professional and legal agencies that serve the Palestinian. . .

Egypt’s plan: factions to meet in November; create back-up government if talks fail
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian factions are moving towards the establishment of a national agreement to be placed up for discussion in November when all parties meet in Cairo to discuss the initiative. According to Walid Al-Awad member of political office of Palestinian Peoples Party (PPP) and member of the PPP delegation in Cairo, says Egypt has a detailed plan to ensure the success of the discussions next month. Egyptian officials will execute the following plan in the lead up to the full-scale dialogue, known as Phase One. 1. Assure the level of seriousness and commitment to a comprehensive national dialogue of all parties participating in the discussion. 2. Work to form a Palestinian government that would take power the day after any premature break in the agreements to ensure safety and continuity3.

PA forces thwart recent suicide bombing bid by Hebron terrorists
Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
Palestinian security forces have thwarted an attempted suicide bombing within the Green Line, Palestinian sources told Haaretz recently. The security service in the West Bank arrested two senior wanted members of Hamas’ military wing in Hebron, who were found in possession of weapons and an explosives belt, the sources said. The suspects, who were arrested three weeks ago, were also in possession of a great deal of cash, which they were thought to be planning to use in carrying out the attack. One of the suspects is Wail al-Bitar, one of the heads of Iz al-Din al-Qassam in the area. Neither of the Hamas operatives resisted arrest. Both are said to be part of a Hamas network that planned and carried out a suicide bombing in Dimona in February that killed an Israeli woman and seriously wounded her husband.

Linking public and private sectors main topic of Palestinian National Economic Conference
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Jericho – Ma’an – The third Palestinian National Economic Conference opened in Jericho on Sunday, attended by Palestinian businessmen and economists assembled to tackle the issue of forming partnerships between the public and private sectors. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad addressed the opening session of the conference, where he praised the contributions of the private sector to the Palestinian economy and society. He congratulated businessmen on triumphing over difficult conditions, and for their creativity when working with available resources. He reiterated the commitment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to the implementation of legislation to regulate the private sector in order to ensure a stable environment for growth. Stability, said Fayyad, can only strengthen the developmental capacity of Palestinian business, and fortify Palestinians in their quest to provide a suitable life for their families.

Hamas condemns ''false'' media reports on rift between grassroots and leadership
Palestinian Information Center 10/5/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement in the West Bank has categorically denied Sunday the "false" reports on a deep rift between Hamas’s base and the Movement’s leadership in the West Bank. In a statement it issued on this matter and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC, the Movement explained that "Although Hamas welcomes "constructive and responsible criticism" even if that criticism contradicts its vision, the Movement doesn’t accept false and twisted criticism based on false information neither for itself nor for others". Hamas was reacting to news reports published in the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi and written by Palestinian journalist Waleed Awad, who alleged that a deep rift was escalating between Hamas’s grassroots and leadership in the West Bank at the backdrop of the meetings between PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and a number of Hamas political leaders and former ministers in the West Bank.

Senior PA official demands investigation into 2004 ''murder attempt''
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – More than four and a half years after gunmen fired on his house in the West Bank city of Ramallah, former Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Amr is demanding a new investigation into the “murder attempt. ”Amr, who is now the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to Egypt, told Ma’an on Sunday that his lawyers have officially asked the Palestinian Attorney General seeking an independent investigation to find and prosecute his attackers. Amr lost a leg after unidentified gunmen attacked his house in the West Bank city of Ramallah in 2004. At the time, analysts cited by the AP news agency suggested that Amr may have been targeted for his criticism of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Hamas advisor: factions must decide to succeed with talks or say ''to hell with the PA''
Ma’an News Agency 10/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – If the Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot succeed in the reconciliation talks, “to hell with it” said political consultant to the de facto government foreign ministry Ahmad Yousef on Sunday. In a statement issued Sunday Yousef said it was clear that Hamas was more successful in paving the way to dialogue, and that he felt Hamas had gained considerable public sympathy after expressing its willingness to push through the reforms required for a cooperative political system. With regards to the Cairo talks, said Yousef, they have not yet come to a point of reconciliation. Hamas has outlined the following points as conditions before they can agree to any reconciliation document1) The people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip should be able to enter either territory freely2) The Palestinian political system should be united under one authority and one government.

Laborites: Crisis will spur Livni, Barak to form gov’t
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
The urgency of the global financial crisis will spur prime minister-designate Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to resolve their dispute over the state budget and establish a Livni-led government, top Labor Party officials said yesterday. The Laborites were speaking after an economic discussion initiated by Livni and Barak - the heads of the Kadima and Labor parties - in an effort to reduce the differences in their positions on the budget. Until now, Labor has been calling on the government to exceed the budget limits so it can allocate additional welfare supplements, while Livni wants to stick to the budget. Seven economists who participated in the Livni-Barak meeting said the budget limits were a minor issue compared with the economic crisis at Israel’s doorstep. Although the meeting was supposed to be about the state budget, it ended up focusing on the world economic crisis and its impact on the Israeli economy.

Finance minister refuses to enlarge budget
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 10/5/2008
Ronnie Bar-On told the cabinet that there is no real cause for concern. "There are no signs for serious concern at the moment," Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On told the cabinet today, as he commented on the global financial crisis. He rejected the Labor Party’s demand, as part of the bargaining to join a government headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, to increase government spending by 2. 5% of GDP. "It would be wrong to deviate from the budget targets we’ve set. We must not open the budget in view of the global financial crisis. "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the cabinet that he met Bar-On and Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer daily for updates on the global economy. "This is being carried out with the full knowledge of its importance," he said.

Economic woes put a strain on coalition negotiations
Barak Ravid Mazal Mualem and Rotem Sella, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
The global economic crisis has thrown a new monkey wrench into the ongoing coalition negotiations, with Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak demanding government intervention to shore up the plummeting stock and bond markets but Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni, the prime minister-designate, rejecting the idea. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange fell to its lowest level since September 2006 on Sunday. The blue-chip TA-25 index lost 6. 3 percent to fall below 800 for the first time in two years, while the broader TA-100 lost 7 percent. The Real Estate-15 plunged 11 percent, completing a loss of more than two-thirds of its value since the start of the year. As for corporate bonds, the blue chip TelBond-20 fell 4. 3 percent, while the broader TelBond-40 recorded an almost unprecedented one-day loss of 7.

Bar-On: Government must not exceed budget
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 10/5/2008
Finance minister briefs cabinet on world markets’ financial crisis, possible effects on Israeli economy. ’While there is no cause for concern at this time, we mustn’t increase budget,’ he says -The financial crisis rocking world markets and its possible effect on the Israeli economy were some of the key topics of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert briefed his ministers on the various consultations he has held on the matter over the past few days. "I’ve met with Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On and Governor (of the Bank of Israel) Stanley Fischer and we have discussed the recent developments. Any measures taken were decided using the appropriate discretion," he told the cabinet. Bar-On reviewed the world financial crisis for his fellow ministers at Olmert’s request, and concluded by saying that "while there is no cause for concern at this time, we mustn’t exceed our set budget.

Hirchson case enters evidentiary stage
Vered Luvitch, YNetNews 10/5/2008
State Prosecutor’s Office begins first stage of former finance minister’s trial by calling National Labor Federation courier to testify about funds’ deposits -The evidentiary stage in the case of The State of Israel Vs. Abraham Hirchson, began on Sunday, at the Tel Aviv District Court. The former finance minister was indicted on multiple counts of theft, fraud, breach of trust, fraudulently obtaining funds, money laundering and falsifying corporate documents in April, for allegedly embezzling about NIS 4 million (over $1. 2 million) during his tenure as head of the National Labor Federation (NLF), between 1998 and 2005. The State’s offered into evidence the testimony of Shalomo Aroes, a NLF courier, who claims to be the one who deposited cash payments and checks in Hirchson’s account.

Foreign Min., PR firm rebrand Israel as land of achievements
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
By the end of this year, Israel will have a new international image, if the Foreign Ministry’s rebranding project is successful. The British firm Acanchi, which the ministry hired to craft the new image, is now in the final stages of preparing to launch the new brand. Fiona Gilmore, Acanchi’s founder and a leading expert in rebranding countries and cities, toured the country last week and met with a wide range of Israelis - public figures, businessmen, academics and activists in various causes. Her mission is to create a brand disconnected from the Arab-Israeli conflict that focuses instead on Israel’s scientific and cultural achievements. The contract with Acanchi, which has helped to rebrand locales ranging from Lebanon to Northern Ireland, was signed about six weeks ago. The rebranding idea was first proposed by the Israeli consulate in New York following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks there.

Sneh’s new party calls for equality for religious streams
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
Former Labor Party minister Ephraim Sneh unveiled an ambitious and provocative platform for his new Israel Hazaka Party at an event with some 200 supporters in Tel Aviv on Sunday night. The platform, which was written by a team of 60 experts in their fields, includes sections on security, law enforcement, socioeconomic issues, education, health care, housing, improving public service, aliya, human rights, religion and state, environment and agriculture. The platform on matters of religion and state, which was written by former Shinui MK Erella Golan, calls for equating all the Jewish religious streams in the law and granting full rights to everyone who arrived by the Law of Return without the need to convert to Judaism. "In my view, if someone’s mother is gentile, but he served three years in the Golani Brigade, he doesn’t need a religious procedure to become an Israeli with full rights," Sneh said.

Analysis: Deri’s return to Shas more likely with mayoral option closed
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
Although Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef will have the final word, Aryeh Deri’s return to Shas is looking more likely as chances of his being able to run for Jerusalem mayor ebb, Shas sources said Sunday. "If elections are postponed until Aryeh can legally be elected [July 2009] the pressure on Shas to bring him back will be almost unbearable," a Shas source said. "On the other hand if elections are called before Aryeh can return to politics it would be difficult to imagine seeing him returning to Shas after the elections. " If early elections take place no sooner than nine months from now, Deri would be able to present his candidacy. According to Shas sources, Deri’s popularity would force Shas to seriously consider including the former Shas chairman in its list. Deri could threaten to run on an independent list, which would split the Shas vote.

Economists oppose budget increase
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
Senior economists met with new Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and Labor chairman Ehud Barak on Sunday night to discuss possible increases in state spending, after Tel Aviv stocks dropped 6. 3 percent, the most in more than eight years. Barak has reportedly set a number of conditions for joining a Livni government, including increasing spending in the 2009 state budget by 2. 5% of GDP instead of by 1. 7%, the figure recommended by the Finance Ministry. No significant decisions were made at the meeting, however, as the economists could not reach a consensus. One supported the budget increase, three opposed increasing spending right now, and three economists opposed the proposed increase altogether. "We are moving into a difficult period of time as the global financial crisis is inevitably turning into an economic crisis that will. . .

Livni: Government must transcend politics
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 10/5/2008
In her first national address since becoming prime minister designate, Tzipi Livni discusses ongoing coalition negotiations, peace talks with the Palestinians and the economic crisis -"We must act quickly to secure political stability so that we can face challenges both domestic and foreign," Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said on Sunday afternoon in her first speech since being tasked with forming a new government. Speaking at the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s conference on policy and strategy, she went on to say that a stable government is one that can rise above the individual needs of any one party. Livni also discussed the financial climate: "Responsible economic policy cannot be linked to political happenings or factional considerations. Israel’s economy is strong, and it can even survive wars.

Steep falls on TASE
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 10/5/2008
Israeli markets followed Wall Street down, despite passage in the US of the $700 billion bailout package on Friday. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) was down sharply today. In the wake of the US stock markets, which fell on Friday, despite passage by the US House of Representatives of the $700 billion bailout package, the TASE recorded across the board steep falls. The Tel Aviv 25 Index fell 6. 3% to 794, while the Tel Aviv 100 Index dropped 6. 6% to 707, and the Tel Tech Index posted a steep loss of 11. 49%. The Real Estate 15 Index was off 11. 04%. Prior to the open, the TASE was set to drop about 2. 6%, and the "English Opening" system adopted by the TASE delayed trading for several minutes to allow traders an opportunity to sort out order imbalances. The theoretical drop at the open was not steep enough to trigger "circuit breaker" rules which would have delayed trading by 45 minutes.

Banks face slowdown with best-ever credit portfolios
Eran Peer, Globes Online 10/5/2008
The banks’ aggregate provision for doubtful debts was NIS 42. 8 billion at the end of June, 6. 8% less than at the end of 2007. Israel’s banks are entering the economic slowdown with their best ever credit portfolios, which are in far better shape than in 2000, the year that preceded the last slowdown, according to a "Globes" analysis of the banks’ financial reports for the first half of 2008. The decline in credit risk is expected to continue in the third quarter. During previous slumps, there was a lag until the slowdown was seen in companies’ performance, and even longer until financial difficulties began affecting the banks’ provisions for doubtful debts. Their provisions for doubtful debts are therefore expected to begin growing only in the fourth quarter or even the first quarter of 2009. During the first half of 2008, the banks’ balance sheet and off-balance sheet provisions for doubtful debts improved.

Gov’t seeks to quell financial fears as Tel Aviv stocks plummet
Barak Ravid , and Rotem Sella, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
Israel’s leadership on Sunday sought to quell fears that the lobal financial crisis would wreak havoc on the country’s economy, as Tel Aviv stocks plunged in the day’s trading. By mid-afternoon, the Tel Aviv 25 index fell 5 percent to 804 points, and the Tel Aviv 100 index slid 5. 4 percent to 719. The TA-Real Estate index led the downward spiral, loosing 10 percent. Since the beginning of the year, the latter index has lost over two thirds of its value. The Tel-Bond 40 index also suffered a heavy loss, falling 7 percent. After the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange suffered its initial losses Sunday, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On said the country’s financial leadership was not panicking in the face of the global crisis. "We are cooperating with the Bank of Israel and the banks, and at this time there is no sign of real fear.

Consumer confidence rises despite crisis
Noga Sharvit-Raz and Avi Temkin, Globes Online 10/5/2008
People hardest hit by the crisis - wealthy and older citizens - were the most pessimistic. The Israel Consumer Confidence Index unexpectedly rose by six points in September to 75. 2 points, despite the global financial crisis, similar to consumer confidence Indices in other countries. Nonetheless, the general trend of the index is downwards, reflecting the public’s considerable pessimism in the Israeli economy. The Consumer Confidence Index has been going down since the third quarter of 2007, even before signs of a slowdown emerged. The index indicates that the public has long sensed the pending change in the economic situation, the signs of which are now appearing in official data in the form of falling private consumption and predictions of a slowdown. Most of the rise in Consumer Confidence Index in September was due to an upward correction in the public’s assessment of the economic situation in six months.

Gaydamak’s fraud, arms trafficking trial starts today in Paris
Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
The trial of tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak starts today in Paris on charges of illegal arms trafficking, fraud, money laundering, fraudulent receipt and tax evasion. The indictment also states that Gaydamak and his former partner Pierre Falcone gave perks to senior members of the French government to promote their business deals. As far as is known, Gaydamak will not appear in court, although in the past he has said he would. Gaydamak claims that he is a victim of French political power struggles. The charges allege that mainly from 1993 to 1995, Falcone and Gaydamak used various intermediaries and sold weapons and ammunition worth $790 million from Russia and Slovakia to Angola, during that country’s civil war. They also allegedly established a branch of the Slovak arms company ZTS OSOS without the necessary permits.

Iran cannot rely on Western nuclear fuel - Mottaki
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 10/6/2008
TEHRAN: Iran will continue with uranium enrichment, the focus of international fears about its nuclear program, even if the country is promised supplies of nuclear reactor fuel, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Sunday. Iran’s "unchangeable policy is to be self-sufficient in fuel production for [nuclear] plants," Mottaki told reporters. "We are determined to continue peaceful nuclear work until reaching full self-sufficiency. " The minister was asked whether the Islamic Republic would suspend uranium enrichment if it received international guarantees of a fuel supply. Mottaki said Iran cannot rely on assurances by world powers and most notably the United States, which have not delivered on their nuclear contracts with Iran made before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran has been slapped with three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment,. . .

Kouchner sends garbled signal on Iran-Israel tensions
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 10/6/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned in comments published on Sunday that Israel would strikeIran before it had the potential to develop nuclear weapons. "I honestly don’t believe [a nuclear weapon] will give any immunity to Iran," Kouchner said in an interview with Israel’s mass-selling Haaretz newspaper during a two-day visit to the region. "First, because you will hit them before. And this is the danger. Israel has always said it will not wait for the bomb to be ready. I think that [the Iranians] know. Everyone knows. " The newspaper’s print edition quoted Kouchner as saying that Israel would "eat" Iran, but in a written statement the foreign minister said he had used the word "hit," and that he regretted any "phonetic confusion. ""During the interview in English with journalists from Haaretz, [I] used the word ’hit’ and not ’eat’ about a possible. . .

Iran: We won’t halt enrichment even if nuclear fuel supply guaranteed
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
Iran’s official news agency says Tehran will not give up uranium enrichment even if the West guarantees a supply of nuclear fuel to the country. Sunday’s IRNA report quotes Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as saying Iran could not trust Western countries, especially the U. S. , to provide nuclear support because they had backtracked on cooperation in the past. Mottaki said Iran would continue to enrich uranium and would provide it to other countries under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The UN Security Council has passed sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment. The U. S. and many of its allies fear Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons - a charge Tehran denies. Iran last week said they would consider stopping sensitive uranium enrichment if guaranteed a supply of nuclear fuel from abroad.

NGO appeals decision to hand over J’lem compound to Russia
Barak Ravid , and Haaretz Sevice, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday over the government’s decision to hand over ownership of the Sergei Courtyard site in Jerusalem to the Russian government. The non-profit organization claims that by deciding to transfer the site to the Russian government the Olmert administration overstepped its boundaries as an interim government. The decision to hand over the Sergei Courtyard, which Russia claims was expropriated by Israel without compensation, was meant as a good-will gesture to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on the eve of outgoing prime minister Ehud Olemrt’s trip to Moscow. The courtyard, located on Heleni Hamalka Street, is named after Sergei Alexandrovich, the heir apparent of Czar Nicholas II, who was executed by the Bolshevik revolutionaries.

Cabinet transfers Sergei building to Russian ownership
Barak Ravid and Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
The cabinet today voted to transfer the Sergei building in Jerusalem’s Russian Compound to the ownership of the Russian government, following negotiations that have been underway since the beginning of the 1990s. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will inform Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of the decision when he arrives in Moscow today. A number of groups have protested the move, including the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, which petitioned the High Court of Justice yesterday against it. The building, on the corner of Queen Helene and Monbaz streets in downtown Jerusalem, has for many years housed offices of the Agriculture Ministry, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. The agreement between Israel and Russia stipulates that these organizations will continue to occupy the premises.

As Kinneret recedes, drivers pull cars up to new water line
Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
Following the sharp decline in the water level of Lake Kinneret and its receding water line, many vacationers are parking their cars next to the new water line, thereby damaging the bed of the lake. In most cases, it is owners of SUVs, some of who even wash their vehicles with water from the lake and thereby pollute it with oil and dirt. According to Pinhas Green, director general of the Kinneret Administration, "the vehicles basically drive along what is considered the lake bed, a strip that is known as the ’shifting water-level strip. ’Vehicle tires crush, dig into and crack the earth and cause damage to the lake’s ecosystem. In addition, oil and gasoline leak onto the shore and the tires emit toxic substances. "Yesterday, for example, dozens of vehicles were visible parked on the shore near the moshava of Migdal.

Cabinet gives Russia Sergei’s Courtyard
Herb Keinon, Dan Izenberg, and Ehud Zion Waldoks, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
The cabinet on Sunday gave Prime Minister Ehud Olmert a gift to take to the Kremlin when he visits Russia Monday: transfer of ownership of Sergei’s Courtyard in downtown Jerusalem to the Russian government. The cabinet stipulated, however, that rights to use of the property by the Agriculture Ministry and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) must not be harmed, except by agreement between the two governments. The decision ends years of negotiations over the matter between Moscow and Jerusalem. The site was built in 1890 to accommodate Russian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land and was named after Tsar Alexander II’s son, Sergei Alexandrovich. RELATEDMinisters okay Moscow’s property claimAnalysis: What’s killing the Russians? Olmert off to Moscow to discuss Iran, weapons sales. . .

UAV maker Aeronautics signs $1b deal with Textron
Tali Tsipori, Globes Online 10/5/2008
AAI Corp. will market the tactical Orbiter mini-UAV to the US and other countries. Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd. has signed a cooperation agreement with Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) unit AAI Corporation to market Aeronautics’ Orbiter Mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to US and other countries. AAI also will manufacture the Orbiter mini-UAV at its Maryland headquarters for select programs. The agreement could generate up to $1 billion revenue for Aeronautics Defense Systems over ten years. The battery-powered Orbiter MUAV is less than 40 inches in length and designed for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. It has an operational endurance of up to three hours, and a maximum altitude of 18,000 feet. It is designed for easy portability and operation by a two-man team in the field. The Orbiter mini-UAV system is participating in an IDF procurement tender, and it is in use by the Polish and Irish militaries.

Orthodox rabbis to set voluntary guidelines for kosher businesses
Anthony Weiss, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
In the wake of a widely publicized initiative by the Conservative movement to link kashrut with Jewish ethics, the largest umbrella organization of Orthodox rabbis has announced that it will devise its own set of ethical guidelines for the kosher food industry. On September 23, the Rabbinical Council of America, which serves as the rabbinic authority for the country’s largest kosher certifier, announced that it would create and publish a guide to Jewish ethics as applied to business in general and the kosher food industry in particular, and that it would urge companies to voluntarily commit to upholding those standards. A top RCA official said that his organization’s push was in response to allegations of worker mistreatment by the kosher meat giant Agriprocessors. Agriprocessors has faced heightened scrutiny of its labor practices since a May 12 federal raid on its Postville,. . .

Environment Ministry: 60% of Israeli factories exceed air pollution limits
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 10/5/2008
Some 60 percent of factories in Israel emit levels of air pollution beyond the permissible limits, according to an investigation carried out last year by the Environment Ministry. The ministry conducted 377 surprise checks on 50 factories as part of the investigation. The majority of factories investigated were found to have rectified their violations and the level of pollution has dropped significantly according to checks repeated this year, said the ministry. In some of the cases, however, the ministry was forced to carry out enforcement procedures, including legal hearings. The ministry has opened a file to investigate further violations of business license terms. Among the factories that were examined, several were found to be emitting poisonous chemical substances.

Israeli hacker ’The Analyzer’ accused of masterminding global fraud
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 10/5/2008
The United States is seeking the extradition from Canada of an Israeli hacker known as "The Analyzer" over charges of masterminding a multimillion-dollar worldwide online fraud. Ehud Tenenbaum, 29, was arrested in late August over charges relating to a $1. 8-million theft from a Calgary financial institution. While he was granted bail last week, he was arrested again on a provisional warrant under the Extradition Act before he could post the required $30,000 bail. Canwest News Service reported on Friday that Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Bryan Mahoney denied Tenenbaum bail on the U. S. charges. The court heard on Friday that the allegations against Tenenbaum involved potentially hundreds of financial institutions in Russia, Turkey, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Germany and other countries.

US wants ’The Analyzer’ in prison
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 10/6/2008
Israeli computer hacker Ehud Tenenbaum, better known as "The Analyzer," has been arrested in Canada on a US extradition warrant following suspicions that he led an international hacking ring that stole millions of dollars from financial bodies in several countries, including Russia, Sweden, the Netherlands and Turkey. Tenenbaum is no stranger to prison - in 1998 he was arrested in Israel after breaking into the Pentagon computer system and Web sites hosted at a number of major American air force bases. He served 15 months of an 18-month prison sentence in Ramle Prison. Tenenbaum, 29, who currently resides in Montreal and is originally from Hod Hasharon, was arrested while attempting to post bail of $30,000 Canadian in a Calgary police station, where he was has been held since August 28 due to a separate charge that he stole $1.

Israeli hacker said behind global ring that stole millions
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
The United States will ask Canada to extradite Israeli computer hacker Ehud Tenenbaum, better known as the "Analyzer," so that he can be indicted as one of the masterminds of a worldwide ring of hackers that allegedly stole millions of dollars. Prosecutors say that the ring hacked into financial institutions in Russia, Turkey, Holland, Sweden, Germany and other countries. Ten years ago, Tenenbaum became famous for having hacked into the Pentagon’s computers. Then, last month, he was arrested in Canada on suspicion of being involved in a high-tech theft from a local bank. Three weeks later, a court decided to release him on $30,000 bail, but last week, before he had actually left prison, that decision was superseded by a new arrest order issued in connection with the U. S. extradition request. The other suspects in the case, including Tenenbaum’s fiancee, have been released on bail.

Sleiman discusses Syrian troop movements with Assad
Daily Star 10/6/2008
BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman contacted his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad on Sunday to further inquire about Damascus’ recent deployment of almost 10,000 soldiers along Lebanon’s northern border, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) said. Assad assured Sleiman that the deployment was one of several measures by Syria to counter smuggling, the NNA said, adding that Sleiman relayed Assad’s explanation to Defense Minister Elias Murr and the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), General Jean Kahwaji. Also on the weekend, visiting US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Hale held separate meetings with Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, and former Deputy Speaker Elias Ferzli. No statements to the media were made following the meeting between Jumblatt and Hale.

Security in Lebanon and Syria is ’interdependent’ - Raad
Daily Star 10/6/2008
BEIRUT: Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Mohammad Raad said Sunday that the security situations in Lebanon and Syria were "interdependent. "Speaking during a political rally in the southern village of Kfar Tebnit, Raad said Syrian forces had "no intention" of returning to Lebanon, but that they had the right to take measures to prevent "terrorist activities. "Raad added that a weak security situation in Lebanon and Syria would favor Israeli interests. The Syrian Army has deployed approximately 10,000 troops near Lebanon’s northern borders with the aim of enforcing counter-terrorism cooperation with its neighbor. The daily Al-Akhbar on Saturday quoted an unidentified ranking Lebanese Army officer as saying the Syrian move aims at achieving five goals. Such goals, according to the report, include besieging anti-regime factions operating in Syria in preparation to "uproot them.

’US considers lifting Syrian sanctions’
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
Washington is considering a change to its Syria policy in the near future that would entail lifting sanctions against the country but would not include returning the US ambassador to Damascus, Israel Radio quoted senior US officials as saying on Sunday. The officials said discussions were being held on how the US could best influence Syria, in light of the country’s recently improved relations with France and President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Damascus last month. A US official said there were several encouraging signals from the Syrians, including the decision to open diplomatic ties with Lebanon. On Thursday, a senior Israeli diplomatic official said Jerusalem had no problem with the US engaging in dialogue with Damascus. The Israeli official spoke in response to two US-Syrian meetings held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York earlier last week.

UN Seeks Drought Aid for Syria
The Media Line News Agency/rachelle Kliger, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
TThe United Nations is appealing for aid to help Syria deal with the country’s worst drought in four decades. The UN is asking for $20. 2 million to be allocated, mainly for herders and farmers whose livelihood has been damaged because of inconsistent of insufficient rainfalls. The Syrian government estimates that up to one million people are at risk of losing their livelihoods and suffering from malnutrition, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The average yield of basic crops has fallen, up to 59,000 herders have lost their herds and 47,000 herders have lost between half and 60 percent of their livestock. [end]

Protests get Jews for Jesus radio ad pulled in the North
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
A wave of irate protest silenced a Jews for Jesus radio campaign last week on a local radio station in the North. It took just a few hours for Kol Rega, which broadcasts to the Galilee and northern valleys, to cave in to pressure from listeners who phoned in to demand that the Jews for Jesus campaign be taken off the air. "Shortly after we broadcast it, we received dozens of angry phone calls from listeners telling us they were hurt by the crudeness of the ad," said Haim Hecht, manager of Kol Rega. "The truth is that even before it hurt my listeners the ad hurt me. It was simply too aggressive and blatantly missionary. " The slogan of the radio campaign is "Yeshu [a derogatory form of Jesus] equals Yeshua [accent on penultimate syllable] equals yeshua [accent on the last syllable]. " Yeshu as a reference to Jesus appears in the Talmud; it is an acronym for "May his name and memory be wiped out" (yemach shmo vezichro).

Poll: Israelis remain proud and patriotic
Andrew Tobin and Jerusalem Post Staff, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
Israelis have continued to display resilience and optimism in defiance of Palestinian terrorism, the Iranian threat, political uncertainty and occasional economic downturns, according to the 2008 Survey of Patriotism among Israeli Jews. In the survey, published by the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Herzliya Inter-Disciplinary Center, 92 percent of those questioned said they were proud to be Jewish, while 90% said they considered themselves patriotic. Eighty-five percent said they opposed dividing Jerusalem in exchange for peace with the Palestinians, while 92% said they would actively engage in a military battle for Israel. Despite the threats Israel faces, 87% of those polled said they preferred being Israelis than citizens of any other country; 86% said they would prefer living in Israel, even if Iran acquires nuclear weapons.

President Abbas to lay foundation stone for Palestinian Embassy in India
International Middle East Media Center News 10/5/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will leave for India on a four-day visit on Monday, during which he will meet with Indian President Prathiba Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. [end]

Khatami says he may seek presidency again
Siavosh Ghazi, Daily Star 10/6/2008
Agence France Presse - TEHRAN: Iran’s reformist former President Mohammad Khatami has revealed he is considering running for the post again next year but cautioned against too high expectations, newspapers reported on Sunday. A number of reformist parties and prominent figures have been urging Khatami to stand in the June 12 election but he said he has two conditions. "My first condition is reaching an agreement with the people on their expectations. The Iranian people have a historical and heartfelt desire for freedom, progress and justice," he was quoted as saying in the reformist newspaper Kargozaran. Khatami, 66, added that he would pursue the Iranian people’s desires, "compatible with religion and divine values," but did not elaborate. "[I] will present my programs to the people in the future," said Khatami, who served two terms as president from 1997 until 2005 when he was succeeded by hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

’Something has to be done with Iran’
Ap And Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told Israel Radio on Sunday that his country was worried over the strengthening of Iran’s nuclear capabilities and knows something had to be done, either peacefully or by means of a military strike. Kouchner hopes political instability in US, Israel won’t hurt Mideast peace efforts - Kouchner called on the Israeli people to remember the Palestinian peace process even during a period of political instability, as he assessed that solving the Palestinian issue would make it easier to resolve the Iranian crisis. The French foreign minister was in the region for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials. He met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other Israeli leaders in Jerusalem. Kouchner said that he was told of "real progress" in peacemaking during his talks but he added that he feared parties were waiting for the Israeli and US political situations to clear up.

Nigeria’s Ibos: Members of the Tribe?
Marc Perelman, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
LAGOS, Nigeria - Efraim Uba was born and raised Catholic in southeastern Nigeria, the homeland of the Ibo ethnic group. He spent 17 years as a Pentecostal preacher before joining a messianic congregation where members wore yarmulkes and tallits but praised Jesus. In 1999, one congregant traveled to Israel and came back claiming that the Ibos were Jews. He convinced the whole congregation to embrace Judaism. "We believe we are from Israel, and we only recently discovered that so many old Ibo traditions were in fact Jewish ones," said Uba, 60, who was wearing a large silver Jewish star around his neck. In 1999, he founded the Association of Jewish Faith in Nigeria, an organization with some 20 congregations, most of them in his native region. He is one of an estimated 30,000 Nigerians - a fraction of the nation’s 135 million people - who claim to be Jewish.

Labor may drop coalition preconditions
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 10/6/2008
Party closer to joining Livni government as aides hint Chairman Barak appears willing to postpone talks on increased funding until ramifications of global financial crisis clearer -Tzipi Livni and Labor Party headEhud Barak met Sunday evening with financial advisors in the framework of the newly elected Kadima chairwoman’s ongoing efforts to form a new coalition. Livni’s initially allotted 28 days to form a coalition end in two weeks. The two-hour meeting, which was held at Barak’s request, came amid Labor’s demand to increase the government’s spending limit. The sides also consulted with the financial advisors on possible ways to deal with the global economic crisis and its affects on Israel. All but one of the financial advisors said they were against increasing the government’s spending limit for welfare aid and only recommended expanding the budget to accommodate specific crises.

Livni, Barak advisers could be big winners in coalition talks
Guy Leshem, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
Do the people involved in the Kadima-Labor coalition talks have a conflict of interest? The question arises from the composition of the negotiating teams that the two parties set up a few days ago. Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni is being represented in the talks by attorneys Yoram Raved and Israel Maimon, while Labor chair Ehud Barak is being represented by former MK Effi Oshaya and attorney Alon Gellert. All four are confidants of their respective political patrons and have been given considerable discretion in the negotiations. But it turns out that all four also have private business interests that could be furthered by the decisions made in these talks. Oshaya, in addition to his membership on Labor’s central committee, is chairman of the board of the party’s educational institute, Beit Berl, and of its Katznelson Foundation, which together control hundreds of dunams of expensive land near Kfar Sava.

For first time: Free flu vaccine for everyone
Judy Siegel-itzkovich, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
Israelis are used to getting their annual influenza vaccinations right after Succot, but as 5768 was a leap year with an extra month, the timing is now off - and the health funds have already begun to invite members in for their shots. For the first time, the Health Ministry has recommended that children between the ages of six months and five years be taken for free vaccination at family health (tipat halav) centers rather than only infants, as young children are the main spreaders of the virus through vulnerable adult populations. In addition, the four health funds have decided to offer flu shots free to all members and not only those at high risk. Although this means the insurers will have to lay out a lot of money, they decided to provide it to all comers because the vaccination prevents the flu or minimizes complications in those who are protected, and saves them money in the end.

Comptroller hears Dichter testimony over police wiretap case
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 10/5/2008
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Sunday testified before the state comptroller over allegations that the Israel Police used illicit wiretaps while gathering evidence in the sexual assault trial of Vice Premier Haim Ramon. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss had ordered the investigation after Ramon’s defense attorneys complained police may have used wiretaps in the Prime Minister’s Office in connection with the allegations Ramon forcibly kissed a female soldier. The wiretapping suspicions are based on a document contained in the investigative material submitted to Ramon’s attorneys. The State Comptroller’s Office believe that the case will be concluded in the coming weeks. The comptroller has already heard testimony on the matter from Ramon, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, Police Commissioner David Cohen, former. . .

IDF thwarts smuggling of pipe bombs
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 10/5/2008
Alertness of soldiers stationed at Hawara checkpoint prevents terror attack. Two pipe bombs found in Palestinian man’s parcel detonated in controlled manner; no injuries reported - Troop’s alertness prevents terror attack:Two pipe bombs were found Sunday morning in a parcel carried by a Palestinian man upon his arrival at the Hawara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus. The explosive devices were detonated in a controlled manner, without causing any injuries. The Palestinian arrived at the checkpoint in possession of a bag which raised the soldiers’ suspicion. A sapper dispatched to the area found two small pipe bombs in the parcel and detonated them in a controlled manner. The Palestinian was taken in for questioning by security forces. About two weeks ago, a Palestinian youth was arrested at the checkpoint after pulling out a 10-centimeter (4-inch) knife and attempting to stab a soldier.


Articles

Rights group protests arrest of former lawmaker by Gaza police
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 10/5/2008
      The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the attack, and subsequent humiliations, of former Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member, Rafat al-Najjar (65), his wife, son and brother-in-law by the Palestinian police in Khan Younis. The Centre calls upon the relevant authorities to investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.
     According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 12:30pm on Friday, 3 October, a row erupted between neighbors of Rafat al-Najjar, in the Jourat al-Lout area of Khan Younis. When the row escalated into an armed confrontation, local residents, including al-Najjar, his family and friends, intervened to quell the row. In the meantime, a large contingent of Palestinian police arrived at the area, and fired into the air. Police officers also beat some individuals. When the officers attempted to enter al-Najjar’s house, saying they were pursuing those engaged in the row, there was an altercation between the police and al-Najjar’s relatives, who were standing in front of the house. The police officers attempted to assault two members of the al-Najjar clan, and Rafat al-Najjar intervened. A police officer pushed and insulted him, and he fell to the ground. Al-Najjar’s 18-year-old son, Othman, intervened and began fighting with the police. When Othman fled into the house, the police pursued him. His mother, 58-year-old Siham Abdul Hamid Zaqqout, attempted to stop the police, and they beat her with batons. The police also assaulted her brother, 57-year-old Jihad. The police then searched the house, but did not find nor arrest anyone inside the house.

The Olive Harvest: a symbol of steadfastness and solidarity

Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 10/5/2008
      As part of the activities marking the sixth week against the Apartheid Wall (November 9 – 16 2009), the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and its Popular Committees are coordinating collective efforts to safeguard the olive harvest and are calling on volunteers to stand in solidarity with Palestinian communities and join in the olive harvest, which will begin 15 October and end on 15 November.
     This year we are focusing on 105 villages across the West Bank that have been subjected to ongoing attacks and land confiscations, with the aim of offering support and bringing attention to local grassroots resistance.
     The 2008 olive harvest will begin with opening activities on October 15 in the Ni’lin (Ramallah district). The people of this village have been waging an intensive struggle against Occupation forces that have been laying the foundation for the Apartheid Wall on village land.
     A festival to mark the final day of the harvest will be held on November 15 in the village ‘Asira al-Qibliya (Nablus district), culminating the Week against the Apartheid Wall. ’Asira al-Qibliya has faced continued settler attacks, including physical assaults and the burning of community land and crops. The festival will feature Palestinian cultural activities and exhibitions of olive related products. Stop the Wall will also publish a report detailing Occupation abuses against farmers in the various villages.