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

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6 November, 2008

Israeli airstrike kills Islamic Jihad leader in northern Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – An Israeli spy plane killed a leader in the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, on Wednesday in the northern Gaza Strip as a fragile ceasefire appeared on the verge of collapse. Al-Quds Brigades field commander Ghassan At-Toramsi was killed instantly by the airstrike that targeted him on Abu Eita street in the Tel Az-Za’tar neighborhood. Medics found it hard to identity At-Toramsi because his body was torn to pieces in the bombardment. The Israeli attack shortly came after the Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for launching two homemade rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot, which caused no damage. Those projectiles were fired in retaliation for an Israeli attack on Tuesday night that killed six Palestinian fighters. Islamic Jihad was the first to respond to the Israeli attack, followed by other armed groups.

Palestinians protest at Israeli plan to build museum on Muslim graveyard
Shawna Ohm in Jerusalem, The Independent 11/7/2008
Hundreds of Palestinians marched through the streets of Jerusalem yesterday to protest against plans to build a museum on part of a centuries-old Muslim cemetery. The Museum of Tolerance is intended to promote understanding in a city divided by ethnic and religious rivalries, but protesters say building it over gravesites does anything but. Several Muslim groups opposed the project but the Israeli Supreme Court overturned theirappeal last week, saying that there had been a busy parking lot on the site since 1960, and no objections had been filed. The protesters, many wearing traditional black and white check keffiyeh headdresses, marched peacefully from East Jerusalem to the proposed site, just west of the walled Old City but voiced heated sentiments. "To go and to kill the people another time after their death is criminal," said Dr Ahmed Kanam, one of the protesters.

VIDEO - IDF troops film themselves humiliating bound Palestinian
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Channel 10 on Thursday released footage taken by Israel Defense Forces soldiers of themselves humiliating a bound and blindfolded Palestinian man at a West Bank checkpoint. The footage shows the Palestinian kneeling and repeating sentences given to him to say by the soldiers, who belong to the Golani infantry brigade. One of the lines is: "Golani will bring you a log to stick up your ass. "As the detainee repeats the words, the soldiers are heard laughing raucously in the background. Later Thursday, the army issued a harsh condemnation of the troops’ actions. "The IDF views this incident gravely and condemns it. Behavior of this kind goes against IDF values and its soldiers’ expected norms of behavior," the IDF Spokesman’s Unit said in a statement it released.

IWPS: Israeli soldiers beat Palestinian farmer unconscious near Kufr Qaddum
International Solidarity Movement 11/6/2008
Qalqilya Region - On Tuesday, November 4th, 2008, a family of about 15 was harvesting its land on a slope of Jebel Mohammed north of Kafr Qaddum village, close to the eastern side of a caravan outpost of the Qedumim settlement, when they were approached by Israeli soldiers. Family members report that they already had been harassed the previous day by soldiers and settlers, who tried to take horses and a tractor from them. They say that on Tuesday at about 9 a. m. the soldiers returned in a Hummer jeep, demanding that the family should stay at least 300 metres away from the settler outpost. However, as its entire olive grove is within 300 metres of the outpost, the family refused. The soldiers then proceeded to handcuff the men and youth and detained the entire family, including women and children, until about 15:30 on the pretext of its tractor being "illegal.

New Restrictions on Mobility of Medical Personnel in the West Bank
Palestinian Medical Relief Society - PMRS - Physicians for Human Rights - Israel, Palestine Monitor 11/6/2008
As of Sunday, 2. 11. 08, new Israeli army guidelines are in force, requiring Palestinian medical personnel from the West Bank who work in Jerusalem hospitals to come in only through the Qalandiya checkpoint in Ramallah. Medical personnel from the West Bank are prohibited from coming to work through other checkpoints, even if these are closer to where they live. Since 2. 11. 08, many medical personnel who have been prevented by the military authorities from going to work have contacted Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, the Palestineian Medical Relief Society. Today, Tuesday, 4. 11. 08, about 100 Palestinian medical personnel held a demonstration at the Qalandiya terminal to protest the new restrictions. Requiring all Palestinian medical personnel to come to work via the Qalandiya terminal forces them to go through many checkpoints inside the West Bank, spend many hours. . .

Palestinian farmer seriously wounded in northern Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/6/2008
Palestinian medical sources and eyewitnesses reported on Thursday that Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a Palestinian farmer after surrounding him in his own farm in Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The sources stated that the farmer was working in his farm when the army intensively fired at him and the farm. The farmer was seriously wounded. Meanwhile, the Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for exchanging fire with a group of Israeli settlers and soldiers east of the Gaza Valley area, east of Al Bureij refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip. The Brigades added that this attack comes as an initial retaliation to the Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip and the killing of six Hamas fighters and one fighter of the Islamic Jihad.

Israeli military detains eight Palestinian residents in the West Bank
International Middle East Media Center News 11/6/2008
Israeli military detained early on Thursday eight Palestinian residents from various parts of the West Bank, media sources and witnesses reported. The sources said that the Israeli troops attacked the cities of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron and that the soldiers ransacked houses before rounding up the detainees and taking them to interrogation centers. Israeli arrest campaigns throughout the West Bank tale place almost on daily basis as the Israeli military continues to hold a tight grip of the region since 1967. Israel holds more than 11,500 Palestinian prisoners including women and juveniles inside many detentions facilities in both the West Bank and Israel. [end]

Israeli forces impose curfew in Al-Khadr village near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli forces imposed a curfew and raided houses in the village of Al-Khadr, near the city of Bethlehem, on Thursday morning. Local sources said that one young man has been arrested, but his identity could not be determined. Witnesses told Ma’an that 15 military vehicles invaded the old city of the town, raiding schools and houses, including one owned by Abdullah Ahmad Da’dou. Witnesses say that schools are under seige, although classes are continuing inside. Israeli troops have deployed tear gas and sound grenades. Israeli sources claimed on Thursday that a Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli car on bypass road 60 near the village. The road is separated from the village by an 8 to 12 meter concrete barrier.

Policeman suspected of beating Arab man
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 11/6/2008
Investigation reveals officer verbally confronted young Haifa resident during patrol in northern city, decided to settle account with him several days later - A young man working as policeman as part of his military service has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting an Arab man in Haifa and breaking his nose. A probe into the affair by the Police Investigation Unit revealed that the incident took place several days after a verbal confrontation between the two men. The affair began on Friday, when the 20-year-old policeman went on a patrol in Haifa. He spotted a young Arab man and asked for his identity card. According to the young man, the policeman then threw his identity card on the floor and ordered him to pick it up. The Arab man told the investigators that several days later, on Tuesday, he was forced into a police car patrolling the northern city.

Israeli JAG will not pursue harsher charges against Ni’lin shooter
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An Israeli military judge said on Tuesday he would not pursue harsher charges against two Israeli soldiers in the case of a point-blank shooting of a handcuffed Palestinian detainee. The Israeli judge advocate general Brig. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit informed the High Court of Justice that despite the courts suggestion of a tougher indictment, the charges would remain the same. A coalition of Israeli human rights groups had sought tougher charges against. Col. Omri Borberg and Staff Sgt. L. In a videotape of the incident released by the group B’Tselem, Staff Sgt. L appears, shooting Ashraf Abu Rahma in the village of Ni’lin. Abu Rahma was arrested in July during a peaceful demonstration against the Israeli separation wall, which is planned to be constructed through the village. "We regret that, despite the severe criticism voiced by the High Court, the. . .

Rice admits Middle East deal this year is unlikely
Matthew Lee in Tel Aviv, The Independent 11/7/2008
The Bush administration conceded yesterday that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by a year-end deadline is no longer possible. "We do not think it is likely it will happen," Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman, said in Washington, while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged as much at the beginning of a tour of the Middle East. Ms Perino said US officials began to doubt the deadline months ago, as a corruption scandal and political uncertainties occupied Israel’s attention. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is being forced from office by the scandal, and elections are set for February. Ms Rice said upon her arrival in the Middle East yesterday that it was important to maintain momentum and support for the negotiations so that new governments in Israel and the United States have "a firm foundation" to continue to the talks next year.

Livni: Israel-PA peace talks must proceed unchanged
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Foreign Minister and Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni on Thursday said peace talks with the Palestinians must stay on course in light of elections in Israel and the United States. She said both Israel and the Palestinian Authority must "preserve the process within the structure that we have created. " "We are realistic enough to recognize the reality we face, but we are also determined enough to change it. I believe deeply that stagnation is not in Israel’s interest and cannot be our policy," Livni added. The foreign minister’s comments came during a joint press conference with held with U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Thursday, in which Rice all but conceded that reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the year’s end is no longer possible. Rice, when questioned about whether the U.

Hamas: Seven affiliates arrested by PA across West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Authority security forces detained seven Hamas-affiliates across the West Bank on Wednesday, according to Hamas officials. A Hamas statement released Thursday said the following individuals were arrested:From Hebron:Ahmad Ewedat and school teacher Adnan Shalaldeh. Amir Msameh, a medical student at An-Najah UniversityIn Jenin: Awad JamalSheikh Riyad Walwil, a leader of the Islamic movement leadersFrom Ramallah: Iyad Atiyeh[end]

Fatah: Hamas arrests dozens of our activists in Gaza
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah group said Hamas forces arrested dozens of its activists in the Gaza Strip on Thursday in an attempt to sabotage Egyptian efforts to reconcile the rival factions. Nine of the detainees, including a senior Fatah lawmaker, were later released but about 40 others remained in custody, Fatah sources said. Egypt hopes to end the factional fighting by hosting unity talks from Nov. 9. Tensions have remained high between the groups since Hamas Islamists seized the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after routing Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. A Fatah spokesman said the latest arrests were an attempt byHamas to sabotage the Cairo talks before they begin. A Hamas government spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Fatah condemns Hamas arrests of PLC leader, several other party members
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hamas arrested dozens of Fatah leaders after breaking into a private membership meeting in Rafah city in the Gaza Strip on Thursday afternoon, confirmed Fatah spokesperson Fahmi Az-Za’areer. Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for Fatah Ashraf Jum’ah was arrested along with several others. Secretary General of the PLC Ibrahim Khrieshah said Hamas security broke into the home of Jum’ah, assaulted and detained him. A spokesperson from the de facto Interior Ministry in Gaza said police received information that a meeting was being held in the area and plans were being made to "disturb security in the city of Rafah. "As a result, the spokesperson continued, the individuals who took part in the meeting were summoned for interrogation. Az-Za’areer called the actions evidence of the “material objection” that Fatah has to beginning the Palestinian national dialogue with Hamas in the coming days in Cairo.

Fatah and Hamas in unity government talks
Rory McCarthy in Gaza City, The Guardian 11/7/2008
Negotiators want end to Gaza economic blockade - The rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah will meet in Cairo on Sunday for the first time in more than a year in an Egyptian-led effort to agree a unified government and end their divisions. Egyptian officials have prepared an outline deal that would include a "national reconciliation government", but it is short on details and could take weeks of negotiation. The last effort at a unity government, arranged by the Saudis in February 2007, collapsed and the factions reverted to a near civil war until Hamas seized full control of Gaza months later. "This will probably be the last opportunity for Fatah and Hamas to put aside their differences and put an end to division and launch a comprehensive national dialogue,". . .

Islamic Jihad skeptical over possibility of success in Cairo talks
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Islamic Jihad is skeptical over chances of the success of the 9 November Cairo talks between Palestinian factions, said Deputy of the Secretary General Ziad An-Nakhlah on Thursday. In a statement released Thursday An-Nakhlah urged Palestinians not be too optimistic about the outcome of the Cairo talks. While optimism is essential for success, he said, obstacles and obstructions should be expected in the conciliation meetings, indicating that it will not be an easy road for any of the factions. “There are many large obstacles in front of the dialogue [process] which could cause the dialogue to fail,” said An-Nakhlah, adding that we “cannot expect magical solutions. ”An-Nakhlah’s primary concern was that “each of the two rivals [Fatah and Hamas]” will head to Cairo believing their point of view to be correct.

University workers will strike three days starting Monday; union says demands still not met
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Palestinian Universities will hold a three day strike starting Monday, affecting all university staff and workers, said media spokesperson for the union of workers of the Palestinian universities, Musa Abu A’jwah on Thursday. University workers struck just before the school year was to begin, asking for a hike in wages. This second strike comes in response to what the union has called the “ignoring” of the initial “demands package for the rights of the workers,” put forward by the union to the Education council and the Ministry of Higher education and some of the university administrations. While the strike is “not in the interests of the workers” said A’jwah, it is necessary since the increasing cost of living, the low exchange rate for the Jordanian Dinar against the Israeli New Shekel and the unstable market mean adjustments to salaries must be made.

18 Jerusalemites wounded, 17 detained during IOA demolition of buildings
Palestinian Information Center 11/6/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority on Wednesday demolished three Palestinian homes and a wedding hall in occupied eastern Jerusalem and wounded 18 citizens and arrested 17 others for protesting the demolition. Local sources reported that a large number of Israeli occupation police and army troops stormed the Sha’fat suburb in eastern Jerusalem and knocked down two homes then tore down a third in Bustan neighbourhood in Silwan village, south of the city, and destroyed a wedding hall in Beit Hanina in northern Jerusalem. Dozens of citizens protested the act but were confronted by force on the part of the troops who escorted the bulldozers that flattened the buildings, the sources elaborated. They added that the step was taken in line with the Israeli attempt to judaize the occupied holy city.

Palestinians protest construction of museum over Islamic cemetery in Jerusalem amid tight security
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – A rally to save the Ma’man Allah Islamic cemetery took to Jerusalem streets on Thursday in protest of the Israeli high court’s decision to allow the building of a museum for tolerance on the historic Islamic cemetery in East Jerusalem. Undercover Israeli police were deployed around the thousands of demonstrators, and prevented hundreds from wearing the traditional Palestinian Kyffeieh on their heads, carring Palestinian flags and protest banners. The group did, however, manage to finish its planned march from the Sa’d and Sa’eed Mosque to the cemetery, accompanied by Islamic and Christian leaders and figures. The Al-Aqsa foundation of Waqf and heritage said that they were disappointed that Israeli officers attempted to halt the protest, since the group had obtained official permission to hold the protest.

Muslims protest Museum of Tolerance
Yaakov Lappin And Jerusalem Post Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
Hundreds of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians held a demonstration at the Mamilla Muslim cemetery in central Jerusalem on Thursday to protest a High Court decision to allow the construction of the Museum of Tolerance on a site that partially covers the medieval cemetery. But Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center which is building the museum, has rejected the Islamic condemnations as the voice of extremism and vowed that it will rise as "an institution that offers hope and reason. " On October 29, after a prolonged legal battle, the High Court rejected a petition by the Al-Aqsa Company for Development of Holy Muslim Assets against the museum’s construction. The High Court ruled that the $250 million museum safeguarded religious sensitivities and respected the historical burial site.

Israeli Occupation Forces invade Al Faqr refugee camp
International Solidarity Movement 11/6/2008
Tubas Region - Photos - Early on the morning of Monday 3rd November, approximately 400 Israeli soldiers entered Al Faqr refugee camp to the north of Nablus city, destroying homes, throwing tear gas and sound bombs and imposing a curfew on the camp. At 2am soldiers disrupted the sleep of the residents of the camp, raiding almost 200 homes and causing widespread destruction and intimidation. Soldiers occupied 5 homes inside the camp, locking the families inside and cutting phone and power lines while also preventing families from obtaining food or contacting relatives. The homes of Abu Sa’aid, Raed Rashad, Mahmoud Armin, Abrahim Maysoud Souba and Ibrahim Abu Skier were all occupied for almost 24 hours by numerous soldiers. Raed’s home was occupied from 9am and the soldiers prevented the family from eating or contacting relatives for a number of hours.

Aqsa foundation: Israel builds the biggest domed synagogue in Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 11/5/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage revealed Tuesday that the IOA is embarking on building the biggest and tallest domed synagogue in the old town in occupied Jerusalem at the expense of the small Omari mosque which Israel destroyed when it occupied the town in 1967.  In a report, the foundation said that the Zionist circles consider this synagogue a smaller version of the alleged temple, pointing out that there are intentions to link between it and the Buraq wall. The report underlined that the aim of building this synagogue is to obscure the landscape of the Aqsa Mosque especially of the Dome of the Rock in an attempt to create some salient Jewish landmarks near the Aqsa Mosque. The report warned that the Zionist regime is escalating and accelerating its schemes to judaize Jerusalem especially in the area near the Aqsa Mosque and the old town.

ISM Gaza: Gazan fisherman injured during Israeli water cannon attack
International Solidarity Movement 11/6/2008
On Friday 31st October, 2008, seven trawling vessels from the port of Gaza City were accompanied by ten international human rights observers. Activists from the International Solidarity Movement were joined by volunteers from the Free Gaza Movement who reached Gaza on October 29th on the MV Dignity. The fishing fleet left port at about 07:30. By about 10:00 the fleet had scattered slightly and a couple of Israeli naval gunboats were on the scene, followed by a naval ship bearing a high-pressure water cannon on its bow. Two fishing vessels, approximately ten nautical miles offshore, endured a drawn-out onslaught from the water cannon. Throughout the morning different fishing boats were harassed by a number of Israeli naval vessels. One of the fishing boats suffered particularly brutal attacks both in the morning and then later in the afternoon.

''Dignity'' ship sails from Cyprus to Gaza on Friday evening
Free Gaza Movement, International Middle East Media Center News 11/6/2008
On Friday, November 7, the DIGNITY leaves at 5:00 pm from Larnaca to Gaza. This time, thirteen European Parliamentarians (from England, Ireland, Italy, Turkey, Wales, Switzerland, and Scotland) are on board. After two successful voyages, one in August and one last week, members of theare pleased to bring yet another delegation to Gaza to see for themselves the devastation Israel has meted out to 1. 5 million Palestinians. "Our dream two years ago was to bring people to Gaza to witness what Israel is doing. This time, we are honored to have Parliamentarians from the world community coming with us," said Mary Hughes Thompson, one of the originalorganizers. Theand the European Campaign to End the Siege have organized this voyage as Egypt refused to allow entry to 53 international Parliamentarians who were holding a conference in Gaza on November 8 -- 11.

FGM: Free Gaza returns the Dignity on Friday Nov. 7 with 13 MPs
International Solidarity Movement 11/6/2008
On Friday, November 7, the DIGNITY leaves at 5:00 pm from Larnaca to Gaza. This time, thirteen European Parliamentarians (from England, Ireland, Italy, Turkey, Wales, Switzerland, and Scotland) are on board. After two successful voyages, one in August and one last week, members of the Free Gaza Movement are pleased to bring yet another delegation to Gaza to see for themselves the devastation Israel has meted out to 1. 5 million Palestinians. "Our dream two years ago was to bring people to Gaza to witness what Israel is doing. This time, we are honored to have Parliamentarians from the world community coming with us," said Mary Hughes-Thompson, one of the original Free Gaza Movement organizers. The Free Gaza Movement and the European Campaign to End the Siege have organized this voyage. . .

Jordanian opposition group plans to break Gaza blockade by sea
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/7/2008
AMMAN: Jordan’s opposition Islamic Action Front said Thursday it was planning a trip to Gaza from the southern Red Sea port of Aqaba in a bid to break an Israeli blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory. "We are currently preparing for the trip and collecting aid for our brothers in Gaza to break Israel’s unjust and inhuman siege," Rheil Gharibeh, spokesman for the powerful Islamist party, told AFPGharibeh, whose party is the political arm of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood and has six seats in the 110-member lower house of Parliament, did not give a date for the trip but said it would be by sea from Aqaba’s port. Pro-Palestinian activists from around the world have sailed to Gaza on two separate trips in as many months and a third is due to take place Friday. A dozen politicians from Britain, Italy, Switzerland and Ireland plan to set sail to Gaza from the Mediterranean. . .

FGM: ''The people of Gaza have plenty of food. They don’t need to go fishing''
International Solidarity Movement 11/6/2008
Larnaca. When members of the Free Gaza Movement sailed to Gaza in August, several accompanied fishermen aboard their small boats. Israeli gunboats regularly confine these boats inside a 6-mile Israeli-imposed limit. Although international law allows every Mediterranean sea territory fishing rights 12-20 miles offshore, Israel ignores those laws and has killed at least 14 fishermen over the past few years. "All we ever wanted to do was fish," said one as he fixed his nets. "We can’t feed our families or make money doing what our ancestors have done for thousands of years. " Over the next two months, internationals reported and video taped several incidents of machine-gun fire and water-cannon attacks. Around 8:00 am, on October 31, ten internationals joined the fishermen as witnesses.

FGM: Free Gaza Movement to set sail
International Solidarity Movement 11/6/2008
Larnaca: Tomorrow at 5:00 pm, the DIGNITY leaves for the third time for the shores of Gaza. This time, eleven past and current members of parliaments of Europe are on board, with Al Jazeera International and The Independent journalists. These dignitaries were among the 53 Parliamentarians denied entrance by Egypt at the Rafah checkpoint. "Egypt did not allow us to enter Gaza via the Rafah terminal, but this will not stop us from visiting the area," Lord Nazir Ahmad, head of the European delegates stated, "We will sail to Gaza, we are determined to break the siege". Ms Clare Short MP emphasized, "The Egyptian refusal to grant us access through Rafah Crossing is insulting to all of us, and Egypt should open the crossing now.

Israeli troops fire on European, American volunteers harvesting olives in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli troops opened fire on international volunteers helping to harvest olives in the Gaza Strip near the border with Israel on Thursday morning. According to the volunteers, British, American, and Italian citizens were fired on by soldiers in two jeeps and Israeli watchtower. The group is on foot and one American citizen was driving a tractor. No injuries were reported. The Israeli military operates a 500-meter “buffer zone” inside the Gaza Strip along the Green Line. Palestinian farmers have come under frequent attack along the border zone. [end]

Khudari: $700m the direct losses of siege
Palestinian Information Center 11/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, has said that the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip had inflicted 700 million dollars in direct losses in all sectors. Khudari, who is the former minister of communications, said during a visit to the 5th Palestine expo for communications, on Wednesday that the siege should not hamper technological development. The MP admired the items on display and hailed the Palestinian patience and determination that is daily progressing in all spheres despite difficulties and obstacles. [end]

World Bank launches Gaza sewage project long delayed by blockade
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - A high level World Bank delegation and the Chairman of the Palestinian Water Authority, Dr. Shaddad Attili, visited Gaza on Tuesday, to launch an emergency sewage treatment project that was long delayed by Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Five people were killed last year when a massive sewage cesspit burst its banks, flooding the village of Umm An-Nasser. The new project will drain the sewage lake into nine basins. A test of the project took place on Tuesday. “Approximately 300,000 people living in North Gaza will benefit from this project. We look forward to further Israeli facilitation and donor assistance to benefit the Palestinian people. We strongly believe that water and basic services should be kept outside the conflict” said Dr. Shaddad Attili, Chairman of the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA).

Ministry of prisoners: Israel is responsible for kidnapping four women from Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 11/6/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The ministry of detainees and ex-detainees in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday held the IOA fully responsible for the lives of four Palestinian women who were abducted during the incursion of IOF troops into central Gaza and taken to an unknown destination. In a statement received by the PIC, the ministry reported that Israeli special units backed by air cover encircled on Wednesday morning amid intensive gunfire the house of Al-Humaidi family and forced everyone out before rounding up four women and two men, pointing out that the IOA refuses to admit the kidnapping of the four women. The ministry appealed to Egypt in its capacity as the truce sponsor to urgently intervene to get the four women released. In the same context, the Palestinian center for human rights explained Wednesday that theIsraeli military aggression started on Tuesday at about 0830 pm.

Three women abducted during Gaza attack are released; fourth woman in hospital in Israel
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli forces have released three Palestinian women who were taken from the Gaza Strip when Israeli troops invaded Maghazi Refugee Camp on Tuesday night, while another was still in an Israeli hospital of the city of Beersheba on Thursday. Released detainees Hanan and Sharihan Hassan Al-Hamidi said they “were interrogated and assaulted for several hours,” during their detention. The family of the fourth woman, Hanin Al-Loh, asked international institutions to secure the release of their daughter, who they said was shot in the back, hand, and leg, duing the Israeli incursion. The released women said Al-Loh was injured and left alone in the street bleeding for an hour before she and the others were abducted by Israeli soldiers. Two men, the husbands of the women detainees, were also abducted during the same raid.

Narratives under siege - The Israelis attack us every day
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - PCHR, ReliefWeb 11/5/2008
"I’ve been a fisherman for fifteen years now, ever since I was fifteen years old. My father was a fisherman and so was my grandfather. I have spent half my life at sea. But every day we face problems from the Israeli gunboats: they follow us, and then they start shooting at us because they want to force us to stop working. " Saber Al-Hissie comes from a Gazan family of fishermen. His 20 metre vessel belongs to his father, who, after many years of fishing, has finally passed the family business over to Saber. There are more than 3,500 professional fishermen in the Gaza Strip, and the majority of them live in and around Gaza City, where the main harbour is located. The Al-Hissie family, like most of the other Gaza city fishermen, live in the sprawling refugee camp, known locally as the Beach Camp, near Gaza harbour.

OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report 29 Oct - 4 Nov 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 11/4/2008
Military activities affecting civilians - IDF operation in the Gaza Strip and rocket firing at Israel: In the night of 4-5 November, six Palestinians were killed and seven others injured, including two civilians, in the first large-scale Israeli military operation in Gaza since the 19 June ceasefire. According to the IDF, during the Israeli military incursion into Gaza, the IDF destroyed a tunnel leading to the border between Gaza and Israel, which could have been utilized for military attacks on Israel. On the eve of 4 November, an IDF reconnaissance unit entered Deir el-Balah in central Gaza Strip. Armed clashes broke out between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces. . During the first clash, one Palestinian militant was killed and five others injured; four IDF soldiers were also injured. In addition, a Palestinian house was destroyed, and seven of its 23 inhabitants were detained, including several women, one of whom was injured.

Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 30 Oct. - 05 Nov. 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11/6/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) *IOF killed 7 members of the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip. *21 Palestinians, including a woman, and an international human rights defender were wounded by the IOF gunfire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. *IOF conducted 33 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and two others into the Gaza Strip. *IOF arrested 21 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, in the West Bank and 4 women in the Gaza Strip. *IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world. *IOF arrested 2 Palestinian civilians at al-Karama International Crossing Point on the Jordanian border.

DFLP fighters launch projectiles at Israeli kibbutz
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – National Resistance Brigades, the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) claimed responsibility on Thursday for attacking Israeli Kibbutz of Kfar Aza with two homemade projectiles fired from Gaza. Israeli sources reported this afternoon that just one projectile fired from northern Gaza landed near a Kibbutz, causing no damage. “The shelling came in response to the Israeli ongoing violations against the Palestinians and as a confirmation that we [the brigades] to go with the Intifada and resistance until the occupation is out. ”Israeli forces have killed seven Palestinians in three days in the Gaza Strip in attacks that have imperiled a ceasefire that went into effect in June. In response to the Israeli airstrikes and ground attacks, Palestinian fighters have begun to launch homemade rockets into areas bordering Gaza for the first time in months.

Israel raids Gaza Strip as violence escalates
Middle East Online 11/6/2008
GAZA CITY - A Palestinian activist died in an Israeli raid after rockets were fired on Israel Wednesday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. Ghassan el Taramse, 19, a member of the Al-Qods Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, was killed by a ground to air missile in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials said. An Israeli military spokesman confirmed the attack and calimed it "targeted a group that fired rockets at Israel". Since late Tuesday seven Palestinian activists have died in Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip. More than 50 rockets and mortar rounds were fired at Israel on Wednesday after Israeli forces killed six resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip, in the most serious incidents since a truce went into effect in June. At least 546 people -- nearly all of them Palestinians -- have been killed since Israeli-Palestinian. . .

Qassam hits western Negev; no injuries
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 11/6/2008
Rocket fired from northern Gaza Strip lands outside kibbutz near border fence; no injuries or damage reported. Tuesday night’s IDF attack on Gaza tunnel breaks months of calm as over 50 rockets are fired into Israel in two days - A Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed near a kibbutz by the border fence on Thursday. No one was injuries and no damage was cause. Over 50 Qassam rockets were fired on Israel since Tuesday, and a defense establishment source told Ynet on Wednesday that "the next 24 hours could determine whether the calm in the Gaza Strip will continue, and we are prepared for all possibilities". Palestinian sources reported that a member of the Islamic Jihad’s military wing was

IOF raid kills Palestinian fighter
Palestinian Information Center 11/6/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- A Palestinian member of the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad Movement, was killed at a late hour on Wednesday in an Israeli air raid north of the Gaza Strip. PIC reporter in the area said that an IOF reconnaissance plane fired a missile at Ghassan Al-Taramsi, 23, while walking east of Jabalia refugee camp killing him instantly and injuring three passersby. He said that ambulance cars rushed to the scene and carried the casualties, noting that the martyr’s body was shredded. The victims of IOF aggression over the past 24 hours thus rose to 7 martyrs, six of them affiliated with the Qassam Brigades the armed wing of Hamas Movement. The Hebrew radio, meanwhile, said that war minister Ehud Barak ordered the closure of the Gaza Strip’s commercial crossings for the second day until further notice due to the firing of rockets at adjacent Israeli positions and settlements.

One fighter killed in northern Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/6/2008
Palestinian medical sources reported that one fighter was killed on Wednesday evening and four other residents were wounded after the Israeli air force fired a missile at a group of fighters in Tal Al Za’tar area, east of Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The sources stated that the missile was fired at a group of fighters, members of the Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad. Medical sources at the Kamal Adwan Hospital identified the slain fighter as Ghassan Al Taramisy, 29. His body was severely mutilated due to the blast. The sources added that one of the four wounded Palestinians is in a serious condition. Furthermore, eyewitnesses reported that several military vehicles invaded an area east of Al Shujaeyya neighborhood, east of Gaza city and fired rounds of live ammunition in different directions.

Palestine Today 110608
IMEMC News - Audio Report, International Middle East Media Center News 11/6/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Thursday November 06 2008 Israeli military detained today several Palestinian residents from different West Bank cities as the Israeli troops shot and killed a resistance fighter in northern Gaza overnight. These news and more are coming up, stay tuned. Israeli soldiers rounded up on Thursday seven Palestinian residents from the West Bank cities of Tulkarem, Nablus and Hebron. The arrests took place in the early hours of Thursday as the Israeli soldiers ransacked the Palestinian homes. Meanwhile, the Israeli troops shot and killed overnight a Palestinian fighter and wounded two others in the northern Gaza Strip. Tension has escalated in Gaza over the past 48 hours after the Israeli military. . .

Islamic Jihad activist seized by Israeli forces from Nablus street
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Undercover Israeli forces seized on Thursday an Islamic Jihad activist from a city street in Nablus, in the northern West Bank. Eighteen-year-old Suhieb Al-Kharaz told Ma’an about the abduction of the man, who is his uncle. “Undercover Israeli forces who were riding in a civilian vehicle loaded with furniture had stopped in front of a grocerywhich belongs to the Al-Kharaz family and arrested my uncle Mohammad Ziad Makawi Al-Kharaz, who is 42 years old, and withdrew shortly after without shooting. ”[end]

Two seized by Israeli forces in Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized two Palestinians from their homes in Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem at dawn on Thursday. A Palestinian security source said that Israeli forces raided several houses and detained 30-year-old Jihad Sa’id Abu Sh’irah and 23-year-old Omar Khalil Aziyah. The source added that the Israeli forces raided the house of Mohammed Aziyah without any arrests. [end]

Olive grove fire forces Huwwara checkpoint closed
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Flames engulfed a field of olive trees near the Huwwara Israeli military checkpoint south of Nablus on Thursday, forcing the checkpoint to close until Palestinian fire crews arrived in the area. Local sources speculated that the fire was the result of arson. [end]

Hamas fighters threaten renewed violence if Israel does not lift siege
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
ThursdayGaza – Ma’an – Hamas’ armed wing threatened to renew military action against Israel if its blockade of the Gaza Strip is not lifted by the expiration date of a ceasefire with Israel. The spokesperson of the Al-Qasam Brigades, Abu Ubeidah said in a press conference in Gaza on Thursday, “We will not extend [the truce] as long as Israel is not committed to lifting the siege and opening the crossings. ”“Our commitment to the truce was not weakness. We are not anxious towards it. We are able to hit the heart of Israel in case of any [Israeli] military operation in the Gaza Strip. ”Palestinian armed groups renewed fire of homemade projectiles into Israeli areas near Gaza on Tuesday night in response to a deadly Israeli incursion in Gaza. Israel has killed seven Palestinians in Gaza in three days, the most serious violations of the June 16 ceasefire to date.

Barak vows further operations in Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/6/2008
After the Israeli army carried its recent offensive against the Gaza Strip, killing seven Palestinians in one day, several resistance groups retaliated by firing a barrage of homemade shells against the Western Negev, Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak vowed further military offensives against the Gaza Strip. Barak also ordered the closure of all border crossings and claimed that the Israeli army is conducting what he described as "an essential operation in the Gaza Strip in order to demolish a tunnel meant to carry an attack against an Israeli military target". His statements are coherent with statements made by several senior Israeli officials who said that a military offensive against the Gaza Strip became "an essential step". Israeli military sources reported that Palestinian fighters fired nearly 40 homemade shells at adjacent Israeli targets since Tuesday night.

Hamas-Israel truce under threat
Al Jazeera 11/6/2008
Deadly clashes between Israeli troops and Hamas fighters over the past 48 hours have put their six-month-old ceasefire under severe strain. Both Israel and Hamas have accused each other of violating the truce. The violent clashes on Tuesday and Wednesday were the most serious since the two sides agreed on the ceasefire on June 19. Seven Palestinians were killed in fighting that erupted after Israeli soldiers raided the Gaza Strip to purportedly destory a tunnel. Tenuous truce Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reporting from Gaza, said: "Both the Palestinians and the Israelis are putting great emphasis on the ceasefire being extrememly fragile at this stage. The last two days of attacks also come on the eve of Egyptian mediated talks aimed at reconciling Palestinian. . .

Gaza ceasefire at risk
Amnesty International - AI, ReliefWeb 11/5/2008
A spate of Israeli and Palestinian attacks and counter-attacks in the past 24 hours could spell the end of a five-and-a-half-month ceasefire. This would once again put the civilian populations of Gaza and southern Israel in the line of fire. The killing of six Palestinian militants in Gaza by Israeli forces in a ground incursion and air strikes on 4 November was followed by a barrage of dozens of Palestinian rockets on nearby towns and villages in the south of Israel. The Palestinian attacks caused no casualties or damage, but there is a real risk that any further armed actions by either side would risk igniting another deadly campaign. The ceasefire was agreed between Israel and Hamas last June and has been in force since then. It has been the single most important factor in reducing civilian casualties and attacks on civilians to the lowest level since the outbreak of the uprising (intifada) more than eight years ago.

Daif: Qassam would never give up resistance against the occupation
Palestinian Information Center 11/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Mohamed Al-Daif, the general commander of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, on Monday highlighted that the Brigades would continue along the path of resistance against the Israeli occupation and vowed to carry out quality operations inside the occupied Palestinian lands until achieving victory. On the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Qassam leader Fawzi Abu Al-Qar’a, Daif reviewed in a letter, a copy of which was received by the PIC, the exploits of martyr Qar’a who had managed to supervise dozens of operations against the Israeli occupation including the operation of Ashdod port in the heart of occupied Palestine. In the same context, the Qassam Brigades on Monday carried out a big maneuver in the Gaza Strip during which its fighters used live ammunition in the presence of fully-equipped medical crews.

Enough blame to go around
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 11/6/2008
The UN, Israel, Hamas, the PA, Tony Blair - none escaped the wrath of former Irish president Mary Robinson, who decried Gaza’s plight to Sderot’s mayor this week On Tuesday morning, not long before Israeli forces bombarded the Gaza Strip, a small convoy of white jeeps traveled the short Qassam route from the border of the Strip to Sderot. This time, some high-ranking Israeli authority decided it would be better not to stir up trouble, and ordered that the Erez checkpoint be opened for Mary Robinson, Ireland’s first woman president (1990-1997) and the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002). After eight years, she had returned for another visit here, this time as a representative of the group of world leaders known as The Elders, whose members include former U. S. president Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and as chair of the Council of Women World Leaders.

The Independent: Britain to crack down on exports from Israeli settlements
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, International Solidarity Movement 11/6/2008
Britain is taking the lead in pressing the EU to curb imports from Israeli producers in the occupied West Bank as a practical step towards halting the steady increase in the construction of Jewish settlements. An internal EU note circulated by the UK expresses concern that goods produced from the settlements may be entering Britain after being illegally exempted from tariffs in violation of an Israel-EU trade agreement. And the note, seen by The Independent, calls for the EU separately to consider afresh much more stringent labelling rules for settlement-produced goods in British stores to prevent them being designated as being from the "West Bank" in a way that could falsely imply that they have a Palestinian origin. The initiative is the strongest sign yet of deepening official frustration in Whitehall at Israel’s persistent flouting of international exhortations to halt

British fund soccer pitch on Palestinian earth slated for separation wall construction
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Salfit- Ma’an - The British Consul General in Jerusalem, and the International aid foundation joined up with the municipality of the northern West Bank town of Az-Zawiah to open a community soccer field on an area of earth designated to run beneath the path of the Israeli separation wall. The British Consul General donated 17,000 Pounds (34,000 US dollars) for the project, which includes a large grass pitch for the benefit of the Salfit-district community. In the event the British Consul General Richard Makepeace attended the opening ceremony, saying “we are happy to accomplish this project in cooperation with the local society, partners in the international aid foundation and the local municipality. We are particularly interested in supporting Palestinian sports and Palestinian football since it is so widely popular in the region.

Obama, Olmert agree on need to advance Mideast peace talks
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called U. S. President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday, and the two discussed the need to press ahead with the peace process with the Palestinians, Olmert’s office said. The current peace talks, launched nearly a year ago at a conference sponsored by U. S. President George W. Bush, have been bogged down from the start by violence, and bitter disputes over Jewish settlement building and the future of Jerusalem. The White House said on Thursday that an agreement was unlikely to be reached between the sides before Bush leaves office in January. In a statement, Olmert’s office said the prime minister and Obama "agreed on the need to continue to advance the peace process, and this, while safeguarding the security of Israel". The statement said Obama and Olmert also "spoke about the long friendship. . .

Rice concedes Middle East peace deal unlikely this year
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/7/2008
TEL AVIV: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice played down chances of a breakthrough in Middle East peace talks this year but urged Israel and the Palestinians to work on the outlines of a deal. "I think that whatever happens by the end of the year, you’ve got a firm foundation for quickly moving forward to a conclusion," she told journalists aboard her plane to Tel Aviv where she kicked off a four-day regional tour. "I think at some point it will be important to work to wrap all of that work up, one way or another," Rice said. She admitted Israel and the Palestinians may be unable to achieve the goal of a peace agreement by the time Barack Obama moves into the White House on January 20, and pointed out the peace process has been affected by Israel’s decision to hold snap elections on February 20. "Obviously Israel is in the middle of elections and that is a constraint on the. . .

Rice heads to Mideast in latest push for peace
Middle East Online 11/6/2008
JERUSALEM - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice headed to Tel Aviv on Thursday on her latest push for Middle East peace, as Israel called for an extension of the Gaza truce despite an outbreak of violence that the Israeli army initiated. During her visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank, followed by trips to Jordan and Egypt, Rice will push for agreement on the outlines of Israeli-Palestinian peace before President George W. Bush hands over the US presidency to Barack Obama on January 20. Rice was scheduled to start her 19th visit in two years to the Middle East on Thursday afternoon, just one day after a fragile truce in and around the Gaza Strip was rocked by the worst violence since it went into effect in June. Gaza resistance fighters on Wednesday fired a barrage of rockets and mortar rounds at southern Israel, without causing any casualties, after Israeli troops killed seven fighters in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Olmert plans trip to Washington following US election
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/6/2008
The outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert plans to visit his friend, outgoing US President George W. Bush, later this month to try to get some more military aid and favors for Israel before Bush leaves office in January. The announcement of the visit comes just hours after Israel hardliner Rahm Emmanuel accepted the offer of incoming US President Barack Obama to be his Chief of Staff. Obama’s selection of Emmanuel, as his first act as President-elect, signifies that Obama will likely not provide space for Palestinian human rights on his agenda. Olmert, for his part, having been forced to resign amidst a series of corruption scandals, is trying to get Bush to take action against Iran and Syria, according to Israeli analysts. He also wants Bush to allow Israelis to visit the US without a visa. Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation would not receive the same privilege,. . .

’Peace deal unlikely by year’s end’
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to urge the international Quartet overseeing Middle East peace negotiations on Sunday not to bind Israel to an artificial deadline by which to reach a final status agreement with the Palestinians, even as the White House acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that such a deal would not be concluded by the end of US President George Bush’s term in January. Rice in Israel but all eyes on the president-elect The Quartet wants to hear from Livni and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about their progress to date, and to record this in a document that would aid future negotiations, European Union envoy Marc Otte toldThe Jerusalem Post on Thursday. "We need to find a way to continue [peace talks] regardless of the question of time lines, titles or change of administration in the United States of America," Livni said. . .

Rice, Livni meet in Herzliya
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/6/2008
US secretary of state kicks off round of diplomatic talks in meeting with Kadima chairwoman, says election of Barack Obama signals completion of African American integration into US government - Speaking to reporters on Thursday after her arrival in Israel, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hailed the election of Democrat Barack Obama as the end of the long and hard-fought integration of African Americans into the top ranks of government. Rice recalled her childhood in Alabama and the Jim Crow laws she and her family were subjected to, and noted the appointment of her predecessor Colin Powell as an important part of the journey African Americans have undergone on the road to Washington. A journey, she said, that is now complete with the election of Obama. "What we have seen is proof that democracy is an ongoing process that we must work on day after day.

US: Middle East deal faces delay
Al Jazeera 11/6/2008
A Middle East peace deal is unlikely before the end of the year, the White House has said, in its first admission that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will not be reached in 2008. "We do not think that it is likely that [a deal will] happen before the end of the year," Dana Perino, chief spokeswoman for George Bush, the US president, said on Thursday. "We realise that with the political changes that have happened in Israel over the past couple of months, and really since early summer ’ that the prospects of being able to get [a deal] done became more unlikely," she said. Ehud Olmert, currently Israel’s acting prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, had revived peace efforts during a US-sponsored conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in November 2007.

Fayyad announces delivery of five million USD in equipment for civil defense
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced a delivery of five million US dollars in equipment to the Palestinian Civil Defense Department. “The civil Defense Department is an important department and is needed by the Palestinians,” he said. Saqer Mujahed, the director of the Civil Defense Department said the equipment would be delivered by next week. He added that a group of technicians in addition to ten engineers and two doctors will accompany the equipment. [end]

Bennie Begin: Negotiations with Palestinians won’t be fruitful Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
Bennie Begin, who recently announced his return to the Likud Party, said Thursday in an interview with the Knesset Channel, "Many people know that nothing will come of negotiations with the Palestinians. It’s impossible to reach an agreement with them in the current reality, to my chagrin. " The son of former prime minister Menachem Begin, he rejoined political life after a nine-year hiatus, having left the Likud government, in which he had served as science minister under opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu, in 1997, and political life altogether in 1999. The surprising move gave Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu the endorsement of a man who left the party in anger in January 1997 to protest Netanyahu relinquishing most of Hebron and personality conflicts between the two. It also gave the Likud a Knesset candidate with a reputation as an honest and humble politician,. . .

Vatican: Jewish charges against Nazi-era pope are ’outrageous’
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Jewish accusations that Nazi-era Pope Pius XII turned a blind eye to the Holocaust are "outrageous" and no one can tell the Vatican whether he should be made a saint, Pope Benedict’s deputy said on Thursday. Some Jews have accused Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, of being indifferent to the Holocaust. The Vatican says he worked silently behind the scenes and helped save many Jews from certain death during World War Two. "The depictions of Pius XII as indifferent to the fate of the victims of Nazism - Poles and above all Jews and even going as far as saying he was ’Hitler’s pope’ are first of all outrageous," said Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Bertone, who is known as the ’deputy pope’ because he ranks only second to Pope Benedict in the Vatican hierarchy, told a conference that such accusations "could not be supported from a historic point of view".

Arabs rally against construction of Jerusalem museum on Muslim cemetery
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Hundreds of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs rallied on Thursday at the ruins of a Muslim graveyard in Jerusalem, where the city’s new Museum of Tolerance is slated to be built. The protesters were demonstrating against a Supreme Court ruling which gave the green light to resume immediate construction, following a hiatus of more than two years. "We have come to tell the world, on behalf of all the Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Israel and the Diaspora ? we will not put up with this," said Sheikh Kamal Khatib, chairman of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch. "We will not forgive the defilement of the graves of our mothers, fathers and grandparents. We will not tolerate the construction of the Museum of Tolerance," he added. Khatib also called on the American president-elect Barack Obama to intervene, saying that the construction was "being done with the money of American Jews.

Palestinians boycott ’useless’ Jerusalem mayoral election
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Arab residents of East Jerusalem say their choice is clear in an election next week for mayor of the holy city - they will again opt to boycott the poll. "I voted in the past but it brought me nothing. I don’t believe in their democracy," said Fawziyeh al-Kurd, a Muslim Arab born in Jerusalem 56 years ago. Some 260,000 Arabs, most of them Muslim, live in Arab East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed in a move that has not won international recognition. As residents of what Israel terms "united" Jerusalem, Arabs in the city carry Israeli identity cards, giving them access to welfare and health services, and freedom of movement denied to Palestinians in the West Bank. But few have taken up the possibility of full Israeli citizenship.

Campaigning against Veolia kicks off in Bilbao, Basque Coutry
Stop The Wall 11/6/2008
On November 1st in front of Bilbao’s city hall, a group of Palestinian, Israeli and international activists, answered the Palestinian civil society’s call for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israeli occupation of Palestine by joining the international efforts to Boycott Veolia. Veolia, trough its participation in building the Jerusalem light train, is directly complicitin Israeli war crimes, and is an accomplice in the Occupation’s colonialist and apartheid regime. The city council of Bilbao has awarded a concession contract for bus transportation to Veolia, but the contract has not yet been ratified. The city of Bilbao is the first Spanish city where a direct action campaign has successfully raised awareness about European public institutions’ responsibility to boycott companies that collaborate with the Zionist colonization of Palestine.

Let Palestinians study campaign slams Egypt for barring students from travel
Palestinian Information Center 11/6/2008
LONDON, (PIC)-- The campaign "let Palestinians study" which was formed by the British union of student councils expressed on Wednesday its dismay and shock at the Egyptian authorities for preventing hundreds of students in the Gaza Strip from joining their universities outside the Strip. In a statement received by the PIC, the campaign said that what happened last Tuesday at the Rafah border crossing exceeded all ethical considerations especially as the Gaza authorities verified all students’ documents and everything was going on according to the established procedures Bilavia Adi, a member of the campaign, underlined that the campaign collected dozens of statements about humiliating students as they stayed at the Egyptian borders from Tuesday morning until the next day. Adi added that the Egyptian authorities normally transfer students in an unacceptable way to the airport and. . .

More than 2,000 Palestinians cross Rafah border in two days
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Official figures show that 2,326 people left the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing over the last two days, and Egyptian authorities prevented another 704 people from travelling. The Rafah border has been closed to normal traffic since June 2007, and most of Gaza’s 1. 5 million people have been trapped inside the Strip due to an Israeli and Egyptian blockade. Those who now use the crossing do so by special arrangement with Palestinian and Egyptian officials. Ihab Al-Ghussein, the spokesperson for the Interior Ministry at the de facto government in Gaza, said that more people would cross on Thursday, including students heading for universities abroad. said that the number of travelers by the Rafah crossing are 2326 during the past two days where the Egyptian authorities banned 704 people from traveling.

Israeli soldiers prevent ambassadors from praying at Ibrihimi Mosque
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli forces barred Egyptian ambassador to Palestine Ashraf Aqel and Tunisian Ambassador Ahmad Habbas from entering the Ibrahimi Mosque, or the Tomb of the Patriarchs, during their visit to the Hebron area with a delegation on Thursday. The two ambassadors were accompanied by Palestinian Transportation Minister Mashhur Abu Daqqa, Hebron governor Hussein Al-A’raj, local leader Dr Ali Al-Qawasmi, leaders of the parliamentary blocs in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and several international solidarity activists. The group was on a tour of Hebron and was making a stop in the Mosque for the afternoon prayers. The ambassadors said Israeli soldiers pointed their guns at the heads of the delegation, and ordered them to leave the area. Hebron Governor Al-A’raj added that Israeli forces showed flashed a paper at the group and said the mosque was a closed military area, and they were forbidden to be there.

Let my blogger go!
Noa Levanon, YNetNews 11/6/2008
Israelis protest outside Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv as part of concerted worldwide efforts to free jailed Egyptian blogger - A group of protesters gathered in front of the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv, Thursday, to decry the ongoing detention of Egyptian blogger Abdul Kareem Nabil, imprisoned two years ago in the neighboring country for the so-called crime of voicing dissent. The November 6 protest in the Israeli metropolis was one of many on this date at Egyptian embassies around the world, all part of a concerted effort to free the 24-year-old Nabil, better known as Kareem Amer , from a four-year jail sentence. Cars on the small Tel Aviv street slowed down to read colorful signs that bore slogans such as: "Free Kareem," "Let My Bloggers Go!" and "Blogging is Not a Crime. "  Protesters, many of them students at Israeli universities, cried out "Shame. . .

Israeli policy restricts movement of Palestinian medical workers
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – New Israeli policies will force Palestinian medical personnel from the West Bank who work in Jerusalem hospitals to enter Jerusalem via no other checkpoint but Qalandiya near Ramallah. The dictate was enforced from 2 November, and means extra-travel time for a huge number of hospital staff, as well as travelling through a larger number of internal West Bank checkpoints which cause long delays and are sometimes closed. According to a joint press release from Physicians for Human Rights–Israel, and the Palestinian Medical Relief Society on Thursday, Palestinian medical personnel intend to protest the decision. The Qalandiya terminal through which the staff have been told to pass, is more crowded than any of the other checkpoints between the West Bank and Jerusalem. According to the press release, “not only does this new regulation disrupt the schedules. . .

Obama’s choice for chief of staff puts ’Israel’s man in White House’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/7/2008
CHICAGO: After the euphoria of his historic election win, Barack Obama got down Thursday to choosing a presidential team that faces a mountain of problems, not least the economic crisis and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democrat dodged the limelight after being elected America’s first black president, but behind-the-scenes activity picked up with the formal creation of a team to handle his transition to power ahead of the January 20 inauguration. In an immediate reminder of the mammoth task ahead, the Dow Jones share average plummeted nearly 500 points Wednesday on resurgent fears of a deep recession. This was followed by large sell-offs and a raft of negative financial data in Asia and Europe. Democrats said Obama had asked combative Congressman and former Bill Clinton White House aide Rahm Emanuel, 48, to be his chief of staff, a vital post that helps set the tempo of the administration.

U.S. Jews laud Obama pick of Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
America’s Jewish community welcomed U. S. President-elect Barack Obama’s pick of Rep. Rahm Emanuel for the post of Chief of Staff, saying that the choice demonstrates that Obama has learned from the mistakes of previous Democratic presidents. On Thursday, Obama announced that Emanuel, a key official in the Clinton administration, had accepted his offerand will serve as the next White House Chief of Staff. William Daroff, the director of the Washington office of the United Jewish Communities (UJC), an umbrella organization representing 155 Jewish Federations and 400 independent Jewish communities across North America, said Thursday "Rep. Emanuel is among the smartest political tacticians and policy-makers that is on the scene in Washington. " "He was singularly responsible for guiding many of the top legislative priorities. . .

Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner for top post
Ali Abunimah - The Electronic Intifada, International Middle East Media Center News 11/6/2008
During the United States election campaign, racists and pro-Israel hardliners tried to make an issue out of President-elect Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein. Such people might take comfort in another middle name, that of Obama’s pick for White House Chief of Staff: Rahm Israel Emanuel. Emanuel is Obama’s first high-level appointment and it’s one likely to disappointment those who hoped the president-elect would break with the George W. Bush Administration’s pro-Israel policies. White House Chief of Staff is often considered the most powerful office in the executive branch, next to the president. Obama has offered Emanuel the position according to Democratic party sources cited by media including Reuters and The New York Times. While Emanuel is expected to accept the post, that had not been confirmed by Wednesday evening the day after the election.

Hamas: There is no difference between Obama and McCain
Palestinian Information Center 11/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Tuesday said that it sees no difference between the two main American presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain as far as the Palestine cause is concerned. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press release that both affirmed their backing to the Israeli occupation on financial, moral and military levels. He said that the policies of all former American administrations had caused destruction to the Palestinian people and led to the siege imposed on them and on their legitimate government in Gaza. He charged that those policies’ unlimited support to the "Zionist occupiers" and the establishment of a "racist state" at the expense of the Palestinian rights are contributing to the destruction of the Palestine cause. Barhoum explained that Hamas wants the new American president to respect the democratic choices of oppressed. . .

IDF concludes far-reaching exercise in North
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 11/7/2008
Lessons from Second Lebanon War implemented in joint ground, air, naval exercise at Northern Command; assessing initial decision-making stages in light of flare-up on northern front - The IDF completed a wide-ranged exercise on Thursday at the Northern Command in which different feasible scenarios of military clashes in the northern part of the country were chosen. During the drill, an emphasis was placed on participation between ground, air and naval forces. Lessons from the Second Lebanon War and from previous drills were implemented. The exercise which began on Sunday combined all Northern Command units including hundreds of reserves division soldiers. Chief of staff with soldiers during drill (Photo: Spokesman’s Office) In the drill, live ammunition was fired but it simulated all foreseeable threats to the IDF from the sea, air and ground.

IDF concludes large drill simulating double-front war in North
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
The Israel Defense Forces Northern Command concluded a large-scale exercise Thursday which simulated a double-front conflagration with Syria and Lebanon. The drill, codenamed "Shiluv Zro’ot III" (Crossing Arms III), was the second largest of its kind since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Among this week’s exercises was a strategic-level simulation involving all IDF commands. The exercise drilled the Israel Air Force and the Home Front Command in dealing with protocol and problem-solving missions under the simulated firing of thousands of rockets and missiles into the heart of Israel’s population centers. In addition to the Northern Command, the air force and the home front command, Crossing Arms involved the IDF Military Intelligence directorate and the general staff.

Lebanon needs better boats to patrol waters on its own - UN naval chief
Daily Star 11/7/2008
BEIRUT: The Lebanese Navy does not have the boats it needs to police its maritime border effectively, the commander of the United Nations naval contingent said on Thursday. Speaking to The Daily Star on board the French frigrate Latouche Treville, Rear Admiral Alain Hinden said that while Lebanese naval personnel were trained well enough to enforce security on their seaboard, their boats were unable to sail in rough weather. "The ships they have are too small," he said. "If the sea becomes rough it’s hard for them to go. They have quick boats, well educated officers - it’s not a question of personnel. "The Lebanese Navy’s lack of large warships means that it is reliant on the UN to help properly police the country’s maritime border. Ships like the Latouche Treville are able to sail whatever the weather, using specialized equipment to build a complete picture of other boats in the surrounding area.

Lebanon set to join WTO by 2009 - official
Special to The Daily Star, Daily Star 11/7/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanon is expected to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the end of 2009, a senior official at the Trade and Economy Ministry has said. "Lebanon is not late for accession to the WTO which is a process that goes through several phases and requires extended periods of negotiations," Lama Ouweijan, an adviser to the Lebanese economy and trade minister, told The Daily Star. "Most countries applying to the WTO require five to 15 years for accession," she added. A Trade and Economy Ministry study, issued in October 2000, outlined the mechanism adopted by the Lebanese government to join the WTO and provided an assessment of the economic and legislative reform required for conformity to the requirements of the WTO. In June 2001, The Memorandum of Foreign Trade Regime, which covered all aspects of Lebanon’s trade and legal regime, was presented to a working party tasked with hammering the path to accession.

Lebanon: Life set to get harder for Nahr al-Bared refugees
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Integrated, ReliefWeb 11/5/2008
NAHR AL-BARED, 5 November 2008 (IRIN) - As he picked plastics and paper off the rubble-filled conveyor belt, Issam Sayyed indicated to a white house behind him pock-marked with bullet holes and with its roof caved in. "That’s my home," said the father of nine, a Palestinian refugee displaced from the Nahr al-Bared camp in northern Lebanon, which was ruined in a 15-week war last year between the army and Islamist insurgents. Soon the bulldozers clearing the ruins would knock down the white house along with the others, and the remains of Sayyed’s home would be passing before his hands as he sorted through the rubble for a wage of US$13 a day. Across from the camp in the temporary accommodation known as the "barracks", Sayyed’s wife was mourning the loss of their 10th child, a baby boy. He had died for lack of medical care just four days after his birth, according to his father.

Mishaal visits Beirut, says Hamas keen on preserving Lebanon’s stability
Palestinian Information Center 11/4/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Hamas’s political leader and head of its political bureau Khaled Mishaal has affirmed Monday that Hamas Movement was keen on achieving Palestinian unity and national reconciliation, urging Fatah faction to stop arrest campaign against Hamas’s supporters in the West Bank. Mishaal’s remarks were made during a press conference he held after separately meeting with Lebanese president Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Fuad Al-Saniora in Beirut, where he stressed Hamas’s keenness on Lebanese security and stability. "We are keen on achieving the palestinian national reconciliation as one and complete bundle; and thus, let us all provide the good atmosphere, incluindg halting PA security forces’ campaigns against Hamas’s cadres in the West Bank among other adverse measures that could help us succeed in this regard", asserted Mishaal.

Need to know
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 11/6/2008
The Arab media is awash with reports about the arrest of Ali Jarrah, a Lebanese citizen accused of spying for Israel. Regardless of its credibility, it is clear that Hezbollah is doing its best to present his arrest as the victory it so desperately needs In a few months, a military court in Lebanon could very well hand down the death sentence to Ali Jarrah, a Lebanese citizen in his 50s, accused of spying for the Mossad. Jarrah, a resident of the town of Al-Marj in the Bekaa Valley, and his brother Yusuf have been detained for more than a month now, apparently subjected to tough interrogations. His interrogators - both from Lebanon’s military intelligence and from Hezbollah - have in mind getting to the bottom of a larger and more important affair: the assassination by explosive device of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s so-called "defense minister," in Damascus’ Kafr Sousa neighborhood last February.

Hariri looks to Russia to help liberate Shebaa Farms
Daily Star 11/7/2008
BEIRUT: Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri said on Thursday that Lebanon was looking forward to a Russian role to help achieve an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Shebaa Farms. Hariri said during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow that Russia had made a major contribution to the recent political progress in Lebanon. "We want Russia to continue its constructive role and help Lebanon in correcting its relations with its neighbors, particularly Syria in light of the recent establishment of diplomatic relations between Beirut and Damascus" he said. Lebanon and Syria signed in October a formal decree to establish such relations. An exchange of ambassadors is expected before the end of the year. The Future Movement leader also thanked Russia for its contribution to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and its role in protecting Lebanon’s independence and stability.

Palestinian released from Israeli prison after four years
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israel released on Thursday Rasem Aqawi to his home in the West Bank after spending four years at the Negev Prison. Aqawi was received by residents of his hometown, Allar, a village near the city of Tulkarem. Samara said the Palestinian detainees are living in worsening conditions in Israeli jails. He said Israel has banned families of prisoners from giving clothes to their relatives inside the prisons. Rasem called on human rights institutions to intervene assist Palestinians in Israeli jails. [end]

Hamas denies reports about its intention to boycott dialog sessions
Palestinian Information Center 11/6/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Thursday that it is closer to participating in the national dialog in Cairo after eliminating most of the obstacles during the last meeting with the Egyptian leadership, denying news reports about its intention to boycott the dialog sessions. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, pointed out that the last meeting with the Egyptian side was positive and a lot of questions were answered, but there is still an important issue which must be ended before the start of dialog that is the release of all Hamas prisoners from PA jails. Barhoum said that Egypt understood this demand and promised to pressure PA chief Mahmoud Abbas to end the political arrests and release all prisoners in his jails in the West Bank. The spokesman underscored that Hamas agreed with the Egyptian side on the arrangements for the meeting. . .

Nazzal: Hamas’s relations with Jihad strong
Palestinian Information Center 11/6/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement categorically denied on Thursday any differences with the Islamic Jihad Movement’s secretary general Dr. Ramadan Shallah. Mohammed Nazzal, Hamas’s political bureau member, described news reports that Hizbullah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah had mediated between Hamas political bureau chairman Khaled Mishaal and Shallah as "mere media fabrication". He said in a press statement that there was no problem at all between the two movements that necessitated mediation by Nasrallah. "Our relations with Dr. Ramadan are good and channel contacts between us are open and there is coordination between us on a number of issues," Nazzal elaborated. He pointed out that Mishaal’s recent meeting with Nasrallah in Beirut had focused on latest political developments in the Palestinian, regional and international arenas especially Hamas’s stands towards. . .

Bardawil: If political arrests continue, dialog won’t succeed
Palestinian Information Center 11/6/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, the spokesman for the Hamas parliamentary bloc, stated Wednesday that his Movement would never condone the use of political arrests in the West Bank as a trump card to pressure the Palestinian interlocutors in Cairo, highlighting that if these arrests continue, the dialog with "Israel’s collaborators" would never succeed. In a speech delivered during a massive march held in Khan Younis in protest at the political arrests in the West Bank, Dr. Bardawil strongly castigated the PA security apparatuses for persisting in hunting Palestinian resistance fighters and women, asserting that these acts proved that the PA and Fatah never wanted dialog because they still rely on the Zio-American support. The angry masses carried banners and chanted slogans condemning PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s security apparatuses for hunting and arresting Palestinian. . .

Palestinian courts open doors for citizens, media to observe judicial process
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Bethlehem - Special Report- The door of the Palestinian juridical system was opened to the public on Thursday in a response to recent accusations on shortcomings in the courtroom processes. The open courts were packed with media and concerned citizens, who are not permitted into courtrooms unless they are themselves going through legal proceedings. One of the spectators was Judge Iman Nasser-Ad-Din, who has worked in the Palestinian judicial system since 1982. She told Ma’an reporters that the court system has seen several upgrades since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. Notably, she said, the number of judges rose from 64 in 2006 to 183 in 2008. Some of the major problems that persist in the system, she noted, are the number of cases that are postponed after witnesses, or attorneys simply do not show up to court proceedings.

Status of 11 November Arafat commemoration in Gaza unclear; Hamas says no request for event received
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – An application to hold a commemoration festival for the former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat was rejected by the de facto Gaza government, said Head of the committee organizing the event Abu Walid Az-Ziq. Spokesperson for the de facto Ministry of the Interior Ihab Al Ghusein, however, said the ministry has received no official applications for festival permits. Az-Ziq, however, said his committee had indirect contact with the government in the Gaza Strip with regards to holding a festival, but the idea was nixed from the start. We have contacted the de facto government both directly and indirectly through one of the factional representatives because they refused to deal directly with us or recognize us, said Az-Ziq. “This indicated to us that they clearly rejected our attempts to go through legal channels,” he affirmed.

Caretaker gov’t bans ceremony to commemorate Arafat
Palestinian Information Center 11/6/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Sources close to the caretaker government in Gaza headed by Ismail Haneyya revealed on Thursday that the government refused to allow a ceremony organized by Fatah faction to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the death of PA chief and Fatah leader Yasser Arafat. The sources told PIC correspondent that the decision was taken after receiving information that certain parties were planning sabotage incidents during that rally. They added that the government said that the decision was thus adopted based on the higher national interests and to preserve people’s lives after taking into consideration what happened last year. The government had allowed Fatah last year to organize a rally on the occasion in which security chaos prevailed and six people were killed while a number of persons were arrested with bombs and guns in their possession.

Islamic Jihad Secretary-general doubts the success of the Cairo talks
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/6/2008
Jihad in Palestine, Ziad Al Nakhala, casted doubts of the success of the Cairo internal Palestinian talks which will be launched in Cairo on November 10. He still said that the group will participate in the talks hoping a successful outcome. The Arabs48 news website reported on Thursday that the secretary-general of the IslamicAl Nakhala added that there are several obstacles in front of these talks and that "if the talks go as planned, the people should still expect differences’ we should not expect magical solutions". He also said that Hamas and Fateh have their own points of view and each believes that their position is the correct one. "This causes obstacles, the Islamic Jihad and several factions are trying to resolve this", Al Nakhala stated, "This dialogue requires huge efforts by everyone in order to reach a solution".

Resheq: Abbas is responsible for putting obstacles before success of dialog
Palestinian Information Center 11/4/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Izzat Resheq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, strongly denounced the grave security coordination between the PA security apparatuses and the IOF troops in the West Bank, holding PA chief Mahmoud Abbas fully responsible for placing obstacles that hamper  the success of the Egyptian initiative. In a statement to the Quds Press, Resheq underlined that the Israeli approval of the deployment of hundreds of PA security elements in Al-Khalil city was conditional on intensifying arrest campaigns against Hamas cadres and institutions as well as the other resistance factions, and also on providing protection for Israeli settlers. "While Hamas and resistance factions are making further efforts for the success of the Egyptian endeavors to instigate national reconciliation, we find the PA in Ramallah reinforcing its forces with Israeli support to strike the Hamas Movement and the resistance factions," the Hamas leader said.

PSF: Disregarding amendments aims at pressuring Hamas and resistance
Palestinian Information Center 11/5/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Khaled Abdedlmejid, the secretary general of the Popular Struggle Front, has expressed surprise at the media reports that the Egyptian draft proposal for inter-Palestinian conciliation was closed to amendments. He told the PIC on Wednesday that Cairo and a number of Palestinian factions’ insistence on maintaining the paper without taking into consideration the reservations of other factions was meant to pressure Hamas and other resistance factions. Abdelmejid said that among his front’s main remarks was the title of the draft, which read "national project" meaning that any other previous national projects would be cancelled. He also said that the calm agreement between resistance factions and Israel should not be included in the paper because it had nothing to do with internal conciliation. The secretary general pointed out that big differences were engulfing. . .

Zahhar: Our meeting with the Egyptians was positive
Palestinian Information Center 11/5/2008
CAIRO (PIC)-- Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, a senior Hamas leader, stated that the Hamas delegation’s meeting with director of Egyptian intelligence Omar Suleiman on Tuesday was positive and many obstacles in the way of the national dialog were overcome. In a press statement posted on the Palestinian media network, Dr. Zahhar said in Cairo following the meeting that the delegation will return to the Gaza Strip to discuss the results of this meeting with other Hamas leaders.  Informed Palestinian sources had said that Hamas would not go for dialog before the release of all its cadres in PA jails and the end of political arrests in the West Bank. Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, underlined Tuesday that there are topics in the Egyptian draft irrelevant to dialog such as the truce and the PA-Israeli negotiations, pointing out that Hamas believes that. . .

Hamas: Our demand for releasing detainees in W. Bank is not a precondition
Palestinian Information Center 11/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Tuesday that its demands on Egypt to intervene to stop the political arrests in the West Bank by the PA security apparatuses is not a precondition, but to ensure the seriousness of the other party toward dialog. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said that the Hamas delegation’s meeting with minister Omar Suleiman will focus on the amendments to the Egyptian draft and the need to release all political prisoners in PA jails in the West Bank. Dr. Abu Zuhri stressed that Hamas insists on this demand because if it is not fulfilled, it will be an obstacle to its participation in the Cairo dialog, pointing out that the position of his Movement will be decided during the meeting with the Egyptian leadership. In a related context, the spokesman noted that the meeting of the quartet committee in Sharm Al-Sheikh. . .

Single Party politics at student elections
Devlish May, International Middle East Media Center News 11/4/2008
Student council elections are taken very seriously in the West Bank unlike student elections in the UK. In spring 2008 one studentat a West Bank university who openly supported Hamas was beaten on campus by Fatah hench men who entered from outside the university. As he tried to rise from the ground where he fell during the beating, he was shot straight in the face, dying instantly. So for the elections this year security on campus is extremely tight. The university is closed down but for the offices and voting booths. Corridors are roped off with guards stationed at every corner. Double doors are only half unlocked so when entering or exiting it is a squeeze through a narrow space past the broad blue clad form of a security guard. The guards are friendly but clearly on high alert, every passerby is assessed. The students gather in the grounds outside singing but the event is a subdued. . .

Yisrael Beiteinu MK Israel Hasson joins Kadima
Barak Ravid and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/6/2008
Yisrael Beiteinu MK Israel Hasson announced on Thursday that he intends to split from his party to join Kadima ahead of the upcoming elections, citing his wish to be "truly involved in public life. " Kadima leader Tzipi Livni welcomed Hasson’s decision. "Israel Hasson and I had numerous conversations about the security and diplomatic challenges Israel faces, and shared different notions," she said. "Against this backdrop, Hasson is joining Kadima today, and it makes me very happy. Kadima stands for a convergence of different political persuasions. ""There is a clear difference between one group that firmly rejects any diplomatic process, which will lead to a political stalemate and to pressure on Israel, and the other one ? Kadima ? which engages in a peace process that serves the security needs of Israel," she continued.

Labor, Kadima: Bibi can’t be Obama’s counterpart
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 11/5/2008
Israel cannot elect Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu prime minister after the United States voted for president-elect Barack Obama, because of the differences in their views on the Middle East conflict and economic issues, Labor and Kadima MKs charged Wednesday in the wake of Obama’s victory. Former ambassador Shoval: Obama will be a foreign policy president Netanyahu made a point of being the first Israeli politician to congratulate Obama, sending him a telegram telling him that he was "looking forward to working closely with him to take a fresh look at the problems of the region and to find new ideas to help build a better and hopeful future for all of us. " Advisers to Netanyahu boasted about the successful meetings between the two men that led to Obama introducing legislation for sanctions on Iran a week after they met two years ago, and showing enthusiasm for Netanyahu’s. . .

Peretz offers to bury hatchet with Barak
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
Labor MK Amir Peretz extended an olive branch to party leader Ehud Barak, who dethroned him as party leader, on Thursday, offering to end their rivalry. "Our shared past is not glowing, but both of us are still sitting in the same room and the same party. I may have made a mistake and you may have made a mistake, but we are both still here and this [long-lasting rivalry] must end now and here. We have no more time," Peretz said in a speech to the party’s central committee in Tel Aviv, as Barak listened. However, Peretz also criticized Barak, telling him that he had been given a vibrant party "on a silver platter. " "You arrived in the middle of the term, received a party and 19 mandates and you did with it as you liked. Nobody stopped you; they all gave you their backing," Peretz said. RELATEDPeace Now chief to run on. . .

Barak: Kadima ’a party of air’, Netanyahu like ’Santa Claus’
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Defense Minister and Labor chair Ehud Barak leveled harsh criticism at the Kadima party during at a Labor party convention Thursday, calling it "a party of air", adding "there’s no telling how it will handle itself when it faced with reality. "Barak also tried to distance the party from the Israeli peace movement, saying "Kadima has nothing connecting it to the Peace Camp". Barak also spoke against Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, and brushing aside his proposals to tackle the financial crises by referring to him as ’Santa Claus". Barak also spoke of the Likud’s new recruits, saying "although they are decent honest people, their views do not align with reality". Barak stated that the Likud’s approaches will lead Israel to a conflict with the free world, or worse, with the entire region.

Barak: All Kadima brought us was war, disengagement
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 11/6/2008
Gloves come off as Labor chairman lashes out against rival parties, deriding those within peace camp who see centrist Kadima as replacement for ’true social democracy,’ mocks Likud’s Netanyahu as ’wannabe Santa Claus’ - For the past several days the only Barack in the headlines was president-elect Obama, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak sought to rectify that on Thursday as the upcoming general elections begin to draw heat. The Labor party chairman lashed out against the political rivals that have so far trounced him in the polls, Kadima’s Tzipi Livni and the Likud’s Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu. "The way of the Likud and Bibi is the way of the extreme-right. Kadima’s identity is vague and divided, injecting disorder into anything that has to do with realization," said Barak at the Labor party conference held at Tel Aviv University.

3 American immigrants running in Likud
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
Many American Jews won their races for the Senate and Congress on Tuesday, and three more are aiming to join a different government in the race for the Knesset on February 10. Former Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball star Tal Brody, Government Press Office director Danny Seaman and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu’s former chief of staff Yechiel Leiter are all running in the Likud primary, expected to take place the second week of December. Spokesmen for other parties said they were not aware of other American immigrants running for Knesset beyond the three former US residents who are currently in the Knesset: Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), Nissim Ze’ev (Shas) and Tzvia Greenfield (Meretz), as well as perennial Nation Union candidate Uri Bank. Brody, 65, was born in Trenton, New Jersey and is best known for leading Maccabi to its historic win over powerful CSKA Moscow. . .

Would-be councilwoman linked to attack
Brenda Gazzar, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
An Israeli Arab woman who served time in prison for concealing information about a deadly Jerusalem terror attack and for her contacts with a West Bank terrorist is running for the Sakhnin city council. Taghrid Sa’adi, who is a candidate for the Hadash Party, was sentenced in 2003 to six years in prison for contacts with "a foreign agent" and for not revealing vital information prior to an April 2002 suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed six people and wounded scores of others, according to court documents. She was released, however, within the past year and is being praised by party leaders as an excellent candidate. "She is a regular citizen who, if she did something wrong, received her punishment," said MK Muhammad Barakei of the Hadash Party. "She is a positive citizen in society and she is a quality individual. . . "

Gaza woman gives birth to quintuplets
Ma’an News Agency 11/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - A Palestinian woman from Al- Bureij Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip gave birth to quintuplets on Thursday morningPalestinian medical sources said that Heba Ali E’ied, the wife of Haitham E’eid gave birth to the three boys and two girls in Ash-Shifa hospital in Gaza City after undergoing a caesarian section. [end]

Mahmoud Darwish commemorated in London
Mamoon Alabbasi – LONDON, Middle East Online 11/6/2008
The life and works of the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish were celebrated in London Monday in a special event that paid tribute to the renowned Arab writer. The event, organised by Exiled Writers Ink, included readings from the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish and other poets, literary analyses of some of his work, a short musical piece, and a documentary extract. Wasting little time on prose, Fathieh Saudi, poet and chair of Exiled Writers Ink, recited verses of Darwish’s poetry at the intervals when presenting each participant. A poem by Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter in memory of Mahmoud Darwish was read on his behalf by Joanna Carolan, a writer and performer. The poem, entitled ‘Death’, ended with: Did you wash the dead body Did you close both its eyes Did you bury the body Did you leave it abandoned Did you kiss. . .

Yiddish revival creates rift with Hebrew speakers
Reuters, YNetNews 11/6/2008
Growing number of diaspora Jews reclaim Yiddish as cultural language, more and more families teach ’dead’ language to their children as first language - Hebrew is the language of the State of Israel and the Bible, but a growing number of Jews around the world are reclaiming Yiddish as the language of their culture, creating a rift with some Hebrew speakers. Before the Holocaust, Stalinist persecution and mass assimilation, Yiddish - a fusion of German, Hebrew, Slavic and other languages - was the daily language of 11 million people. While Yiddish words like nosh and schlep live on and have been absorbed into everyday English, outside ultra-orthodox Jewish communities it is considered a dead language. Not so, says a group of passionate Jewish parents, many of them in the United States, who are making Yiddish their children’s first language.

Manufacturers want NIS 1b to face crisis
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 11/6/2008
Manufacturers Association president Shraga Brosh: The government is considering measures that will worsen the business environment. Manufacturers Association of Israel president Shraga Brosh has asked the government for NIS 1 billion over five years to help companies cope with the global economic crisis. He told the Knesset Finance Committee, "Precisely when the Israeli economy is liable to slip to a severe slowdown, and even a recession, the government is considering measures that will worsen the business environment and harm the competitiveness of Israeli industry. " Brosh added, "The Water Commission plans to raise water rates for industry by 150%, local property taxes (arnona) are due go up by 4. 6% next year, and electricity rates will rise by 5%. The excise on crude oil will rise 24-fold over several years, and tax breaks for industrial employees are due to be cancelled by the end of the year.

Histadrut looks to gov’t to prevent layoffs
Shay Niv, Globes Online 11/6/2008
Higher unemployment will only add to the state’s economic burden in the long term in the form of unemployment benefits. Even as the Ministry of Finance intervenes in the corporate government and bond markets and the Bank of Israelintervenes in the foreign currency market, the government is not intervening in the job market even as hundreds of employees are losing their jobs as the economic crisis worsens. The Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) is not satisfied with the attention promised to it and employers by Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On and other officials; the Histadrut is demanding that the government act to stop the wave of layoffs. It is calling on the Ministry of Finance to seriously weigh proposals made by Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini for the government to directly pay part of the salaries of employees in financially struggling enterprises in outlying areas.

UBS warns of ''severe'' downturn
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 11/6/2008
Analyst Darren Shaw finds the banking sector will be hit hard. About a week after cutting Israel’s GDP growth outlook from 2. 2% to 1%, investment house UBS says that an upcoming slowdown in Israel’s economic growth could be severe. Analyst Darren Shaw sees a rise in unemployment, more profit warnings, and cuts in dividends and possibly rights issues. The bank reduced its rating onMakhteshim Agan Industries Ltd. (TASE:MAIN ) from "Buy" to "Neutral" and lowered its price target to NIS 17 from NIS 30. The bank expects the agro-chemicals company to report zero growth as soon as the fourth quarter. UBS is bearish on Israel’ s banking sector, cutting earnings per share estimates by an average of 28%, as it does not see the banks meeting a 2009 capital adequacy ratio target of 12%, prompting capital raising or government intervention.

Average salary dips
Shay Niv, Globes Online 11/6/2008
Financial sector employees were in second place, but with lower pay. The average national gross salary was NIS 8,034 in August 2008, 0. 1%, or NIS 57, less than in July, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported today. As usual,Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE:ELEC. B22 ) andMekorot National Water Company topped the wage tables, with an average salary of NIS 18,408 in August. The financial sector was, also as usual, in second place, with an average salary of NIS 14,321, but this figure excludes bonuses of the preceding months. The effect of the global financial crisis on salaries in the sector will only be known officially in a few months, in view of the salary cuts at investment houses. At the bottom of the salary tables, as always, were accommodation and catering sector employees, with an average salary of NIS 3,780.

Economic expansion slows in third quarter
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
Business growth continued to slow down substantially in almost all sectors of the economy during the third quarter of 2008 except the transportation and communications industry, according to the Bank of Israel quarterly companies survey. "In this quarter, companies and businesses experienced a substantial slowdown in the rate of expansion of business activity as was indicated in the reports of the beginning of the year," the Bank of Israel said in its quarterly companies report, published Wednesday. "The leading index of activity in the business sector indicates, for the first time since 2004, expectations of a further slowdown in business activity. "Furthermore, inflation expectations for the next 12 months fell but the forecast is still higher than the upper limit of the price-stability target range. " The slowdown of growth in this quarter encompassed mainly the commerce,. . .

Lehman debt write-offs cut Discount NY profit
Eran Peer, Globes Online 11/6/2008
Clal Finance Batucha analyst Yuval Ben-Zeev: Were it not for the exposure to Lehman Brothers, the bank would have reported strong profit growth. Israel Discount Bank(TASE: DSCT) subsidiary Israel Discount Bank of New Yorkyesterday reported its financial results for the third quarter of 2008. Despite the financial crisis in the US, the bank posted a profit of $2. 3 million, 82% less than for the corresponding quarter of 2007, due to the bank’s exposure to Lehman Brothers. The return on equity was 7. 2%. Discount New York posted a profit of $32. 5 million in January-September, 23% more than the $26. 4 million for the corresponding period last year. The bank has a capital adequacy ratio of 10. 5%. The bank’s corporate bond portfolio totaled $518 million at the end of September. The bank made a $24 million write-off in its profit and loss statement on the exposure to Lehman Brothers.

Moscow invests $100m in Dead sea resort
Bloomberg, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
The city of Moscow will invest $100 million through a subsidiary to build a luxury resort hotel in Ein Bokek, on the southern shores of the Dead Sea, the Israel Tourism Ministry said on Wednesday. The Moscow municipality will subsidize flights and accommodation packages at the resort for city residents, the ministry said in a statement. Moscow is considered one of the three richest cities in the world, with an annual municipal budget of about $50 billion, the statement said. "Our activities to promote the construction of a luxury Russian hotel stem from a national and economic interest to take a more central position on the Russian tourist map and at the same time, to increase the number of guestrooms available in Israel," said Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila. Israel aims to boost the number of tourists to the country to about 5 million by 2012, from 2.

Financial crisis shifts power to Asia, experts say
Brenda Gazzar, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s whirlwind fundraising tour this week in the Gulf States demonstrates the increasing power of sovereign wealth funds and the shift of economic power to Asia, experts said Wednesday. However they warned that it will take much more than a fund-raising trip to the oil-rich Gulf States to help countries like Britain and America cope with the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression. Brown said he was in search of "hundreds of billions of dollars" to alleviate the crisis that has hit his country, along with America, particularly hard. "I think there will be more and more reliance and more of a shift of power (toward) Asian countries, not only for the oil rich countries, for the Gulf States, it’s also true for Singapore, China, Kazakhstan and other countries," said Dan Galai, Professor of Finance at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Livni urges Obama not to talk to Iran
Jerusalem Post Staff And Ap, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
US President-elect Barack Obama should not talk to Iran just yet, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Thursday, warning that such dialogue could project "weakness. " ’Post’ Editor in Chief David Horovitz: Obama robust on Iran "We need to fight extremism," Livni said as she stood next to visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a joint press conference in the home of the American ambassador to Israel. . "We need to continue the pressure on Iran and I believe that the idea of continuing the pressure comes with more intense and effective sanctions on the Iranians. " Although she described Obama’s election as "a source of inspiration to millions around the world," and congratulated him on his "historic victory," her comments marked a first sign of disagreement with the incoming American administration.

Ahmadinejad to Obama: Restore Palestinian rights
Ahmadinejad to Obama: Restore Palestinian rights, YNetNews 11/6/2008
Iranian president sends congratulatory telegram to US president-elect Obama. "˜We hope new government can fulfill its people’s demand to distance itself from present statesmen’s wrong approaches,’ he says - Israel NewsIranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a congratulatory telegram to United States president-elect Barack Obama on his presidential victory, the Iranian news agency IRNA reported Thursday. IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as calling on Obama to make significant changes to America’s approach to its role in the world. "You are generally expected to make a fast and clear response to the demands for basic. . . change in US domestic and foreign policy, which all people in the world and Americans want on top of your agenda," the Iranian president wrote to his new counterpart. Ahmadinejad went on to discuss his views on the extent of American involvement in the world.

Ahmadinejad congratulates Obama
Al Jazeera 11/7/2008
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, has congratulated Barack Obama on his US presidential election and called for "fundamental and fair" changes to US foreign policy. "The great Iranian nation welcomes real, fundamental and fair changes in America’s behaviour and policies, particularly in the Middle East region," Ahmadinejad said in a statement on Thursday. Iranian officials have said Obama’s election showed the American people’s desire for a change in the policies of George Bush, the current US president, who once labelled Iran part of an "axis of evil". The move was the first time an Iranian leader has offered such good wishes to a US president-elect since the 1979 revolution. Diplomatic ties between the two countries have largely been cut since the revolution removed the country’s US-backed leader from power.

Sarkozy pledges France’s support on Iran
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 11/7/2008
French president, foreign minister meet with Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik before she delivered keynote speech before nearly a thousand European MPs at ’unprecedented’ Paris conference in support of Israel - While the position of US President-elect Barack Obama on Iran’s nuclear ambitions has raised a fair deal of questions, Israel received an encouraging push from French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday evening. Sarkozy invited Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik to meet with him at the Élysée Palace prior to her keynote speech at an atypically large event for Israel. The president reaffirmed France’s support of Israel in its concerns over Tehran. Itzik also touched on the Iranian issue in her meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. The two also discussed the efforts to secure the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who retains French citizenship.

Iran bans weekly critical of Ahmadinejad - lawyer
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/7/2008
TEHRAN: The Iranian press watchdog has banned popular moderate weekly, Shahrvand Emrouz, which has been critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the magazine’s lawyer toldAFP on Thursday. "Unfortunately Shahrvand has been banned although we have not been officially notified yet," lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabai said. He said the closure had been ordered "under the pretext that the magazine is licensed as a cultural and social publication so it cannot have political material. "Since hitting stands in March 2007, Shahrvand Emrouz has covered current Iranian and international politics and cultural issues in its 70 editions. It featured articles by economists critical of Ahmadinejad’s policies as well as regular interviews with veteran revolutionary figures and clerics. Fars news agency, which is close to conservatives, said that Shahrvand had been banned for an "unreal portrayal of some government measures.

US revises Iraq security draft
Al Jazeera 11/6/2008
Washington has made several changes demanded by Baghdad to a draft text concerning the framework under which American troops in Iraq will operate, an official at the Pentagon has said. The revised draft of the Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa), which is intended to lead to a pullout of US troops by late 2011, is now viewed by Washington as complete, Bryan Whitman said on Thursday. "We have responded very positively to many of [Baghdad’s] concerns," Whitman said, adding that "there have been some changes that have been made. " "It’s now up to them to work it through the Iraqi political system ’ We’ve concluded the process with respect to the agreement. "Wrangling over the draft Sofa had become increasingly fraught in recent weeks as the expiration of the UN mandate in December nears.

Washington agrees to several amendments of US-Iraqi security agreement
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/7/2008
WASHINGTON: The United States has agreed to several changes proposed by Baghdad to a security deal meant to lead to a pullout of US troops by late 2011, and sees the process as complete, a Pentagon spokesman said on Thursday. "We have responded very positively to many of their concerns with respect to their proposed amendments, and that there have been some changes that were made to it [the draft agreement]," said Bryan Whitman. "The US has concluded the process on our side," he said. A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "There may be requests for clarifications [from the Iraqis] but as far as we’re concerned that process of negotiating has come to an end. "Meanwhile, deputy State Department spokesman Robert Wood said that "there was a letter from President [George W. ] Bush to Prime Minister [Nuri] al-Maliki with our final text," but he did not give any details.

Bomb blasts hit central Baghdad
Al Jazeera 11/6/2008
At least five people have been killed and 17 wounded in a wave of bomb blasts across the Iraqi capital. Police said on Thursday that four people died and four others were injured when two bombs were detonated in quick succession at a checkpoint in the commercial district of Sheikomar in central Baghdad. Another blast close to the Al-Gailani mosque in Baghdad’s central Baba Alsheikh area killed one person and wounded four others, according to police sources. In a separate attack, a roadside bomb exploded near a government transport truck as it picked up government employees in Sadr City, injuring nine including five city workers. Police officials told the AFP news agency that two civilians were killed in the Sheikomar checkpoint blasts.

EU aims to re-engage in Iraq after Obama administration takes office
Special to The Daily Star, Daily Star 11/7/2008
BEIRUT: The European Union is set to step up its engagement in Iraq once a new US administration takes office, according to an internal paper by the French EU presidency. "Our common interest is to contribute to the success of Iraq," the document seen by The Daily Starsays. "Therefore, the European Union intends to re-engage in the country without delay. "European countries like France and Germany were alienated from Washington in light of President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war against Iraq in 2003. When Spain’s socialist government withdrew its troops after a series of terror attacks, Madrid’s relations with the US also soured. The desire to re-engage with the US over Iraq policy coincides with Bush’s designated successor Barack Obama’s preparations for taking office. The document is part of a European effort to identify policy areas the 27-member block and the US have in common.

Abu Hussein’s invitation to Damascus
Sami Moubayed, Asia Times 11/7/2008
DAMASCUS - In the Muslim world, men take pride in their first born baby boy and they are often called "the father of X" for the remainder of their lives. In turn, first born boys are named after their grandfathers, and this explains why Syrians affectionately call Barack Obama "Abu Hussein" (father of Hussein). He does not have a baby boy - just two beautiful girls - yet that doesn’t really matter for the overwhelmed Syrians who woke up to hear the news coming in from Washington on November 5 that Barack Hussein Obama had become the 44th president of the United States. As far as they are concerned, his father’s name is Hussein and when Obama gets a baby boy, he is going to call him Hussein. That is the tradition in the Muslim world after all, and Obama comes from Muslim lineage in Kenya. Gamal Abdul-Nasser of Egypt was "Abu Khaled", Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is "Abu Hadi",

Syrian TV airs ’confessions’ of Damascus bombing suspects
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/7/2008
Syrian state television broadcast late Thursday purported "confessions" of suspected Islamic militants claiming they had carried out a Damascus car bombing in September that killed 17 people. Ten men and one woman, said to be members of the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah Islam group, were shown on TV late Thursday, making statements. One of the men in the broadcast said the fugitive Fatah Islam leader Shaker al-Absi had made his way into Syria from Lebanon but hasn’t been heard of since July. It wasn’t clear when or how the suspects were arrested. The unusual broadcast reflected efforts by Syrian authorities to portray their country also as victim of al-Qaida-linked militants that the government is trying to crack down on. The United States has accused Syria of not doing enough to curb the transit of militant fighters across its borders and into Iraq.

Syrian TV airs ’blast confessions’
Al Jazeera 11/7/2008
Syrian state television has aired purported confessions by men claiming to have carried out a deadly bomb attack in the capital Damascus in September. The 10 individuals shown on Thursday are said to be members of Fatah al-Islam, an al-Qaeda-inspired group which fought the Lebanese army in a Palestinian refugee camp last year. The individuals shown included Abdul Baqi al-Hussein, described as Fatah al-Islam’s head of security in Syria. The programme also showed a photograph of Abu Aysha al-Saudi, the alleged suicide bomber in the September 27 attack in Damascus. Seventeen people, all of them civilians, were killed when a car bomb exploded near a Shia shrine in the south of the capital. Al-Hussein said the aim of the attack, the deadliest to hit Syria in about a dozen years, was to "harm the [country’s] regime".

Let the games Begin
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 11/6/2008
After nearly 10 years away from politics, Binyamin Begin is returning to the Likud. Age has not altered the opinions of the late prime minister’s son, who does not believe in talks with the Palestinians and insists Kadima and Tzipi Livni have a bad record For half a year, since exchanging a few words at the annual memorial ceremony for Menachem Begin, the late prime minister’s son and former cabinet minister Binyamin Ze’ev Begin waited for a phone call from Likud leader Benjamin ("Bibi") Netanyahu. But Bibi didn’t call. For two years, Netanyahu dreamed of the moment when Begin would knock on his door and say: I’m back. But Begin didn’t knock. Begin was eager to return to the decision-making circles, and Netanyahu wanted an experienced player, the prince of all princes, the man whose name became a synonym for honesty, integrity and a different politics.

Religious leaders still divided over new agunot amendment
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 11/5/2008
Rabbis and religious MKs are split on whether or not pro-feminist legislation aimed at aiding agunot is in accordance with Orthodox Jewish values. Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar was adamantly opposed to the legislation, as were Shas and United Torah Judaism MKs. Even the more moderate National Religious Party and National Union MKs either opposed the legislation or were absent from voting. The outstanding exception was NRP Chairman Zevulun Orlev, who was involved in drafting the amendment to the Financial Relations Law and voted in favor. Several modern Orthodox rabbis also supported the law, including Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat and Rabbi Yuval Cherlow of the Petah Tikva Hesder Yeshiva. RELATED The amendment gives divorce courts the power, 12 months after the divorce process is initiated, to split up assets accrued during a marriage.

IRAQ: Christians trickling back to their homes in Mosul
Jim Forest/Flickr, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 11/7/2008
BAGHDAD, 6 November 2008 (IRIN) - About 400 Christian families, (some 2,400 individuals) have returned to their homes in the northern city of Mosul after a spate of threats and killings led them to flee in early October, according to officials. "We have so far registered nearly 400 Christian families who have returned to their houses and jobs, and resumed normal lives thanks to the deployment of security forces," said Jawdat Ismaiel, head of the Ministry of Displacement and Migration in the province. "Christians are no longer fleeing the city. Instead, more are coming back, especially when they hear that those who have returned are no longer being threatened and have resumed their daily life," Ismaiel said. Jamil Zaitoni, head of the Assyrian and Chaldean Council, an NGO in Mosul, hailed Iraqi government efforts to ensure security.

Anything for a quiet life
Jonathan Spyer, Ha’aretz 11/6/2008
So far, the story of the current negotiations with Syria showcases a number of recurring problematic elements in Israel’s approach to regional policy - and not just toward Syria. A chronic myopia serves Israel’s cause poorly, and leaves the country open to manipulation. For the Syrians, the Olmert government’s offer to start negotiations was the equivalent of a "get out of jail free" card. French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Damascus in September set the seal on the Alawite regime’s triumphant passage from isolation, a journey it began courtesy of the talks with Israel. In meetings in Damascus, in which the Emir of Qatar and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also participated, Syrian President Bashar Assad reportedly issued a six-point document that we are told will form the basis for the fifth round of indirect talks.

Mideast papers upbeat about Obama win but urge caution
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/7/2008
CAIRO: Middle Eastern newspapers Thursday welcomed Barack Obama’s election victory, but warned against hopes of rapid or radical policy change in the region ravaged most by his predecessor. Newspaper editorials hailed Obama’s historic win as a welcome change for the US after eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency, but cautioned that Washington’s regional priorities would always be Israel and oil. Egypt’s official Al-Ahram daily headlined with, "Obama rewrites American history," describing election night as "an evening to get rid of racism in an American way. "But Obama’s victory "doesn’t mean that we’re about to witness a radical change in American policy," an editorial in the independent Al-Badil said, because change "doesn’t depend on the color of your skin. " Obama’s presidency would not change the way "Arab affairs" are dealt with, the paper said, as US policy consists. . .

Islamists expect no radical changes from Obama
Jocelyne Zablit, Daily Star 11/7/2008
Agence France Presse - BEIRUT: The election of Barack Obama as US president may offer breathing space for Islamist groups in the Middle East from the guns-blazing attitude of his predecessor but no radical changes are expected, analysts say. "I think generally these groups welcome Obama over John McCain for many obvious reasons," said Paul Salem, director of the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Center. "The way he approaches the Arab world, the Muslim world, is much more friendly although at the same time they realize that Obama has a very pro-Israeli position. "Just the fact that he won’t be as hostile, as aggressive on all the issues is certainly a bit of oxygen and opens up possibilities for progress," Salem added. He noted that the rhetoric of radical, militant Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda could also meet with less sympathetic ears in the light of Obama’s victory.

Obama appoints chief of staff
Al Jazeera 11/7/2008
Barack Obama has announced that Rahm Emanuel, a former official in Bill Clinton’s administration, has accepted his offer to become White House chief of staff. "I announce this appointment first because the chief of staff is central to the ability of a president and administration to accomplish an agenda," said the US president-elect on Thursday. "And no one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel. " The move to appoint Emanuel, regarded among the Washington political elite as a master strategist, is Obama’s first political act since he swept to victory in the presidential election on Tuesday. [end] -- See also: Irgun Terrorists’ Son as Chief of Staff?

US: 3 new Jewish representatives in Congress
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 11/6/2008
Jewish public’s representatives in Washington strengthen their hold on both chambers of American lawmaking body, with 13 senators and 33 House of Representative delegates - WASHINGTON -Three new Jewish public representatives were elected to the US House of Representatives in Tuesday’s elections, bringing the total number of Jewish senators and House of Representatives members in the United States to 46. One of the new representatives is Jared Polis, 33, of Colorado, who made history as the first openly homosexual man to run and be elected to the House. Jewish House of Representatives member Barney Frank was elected to Congress in the past, but came out of the closet only years later and was reelected without any difficulties. Three Jewish senators ran for reelection, and two Democrats managed to keep their seats: Veteran Senator Carl Levin of Michigan and 84-year-old Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey.


Protecting Yanoun
Paul Adrian Raymond, MIFTAH 11/6/2008
      I consider myself an immensely privileged person. While my friends back home spend the rainy British afternoons indoors, fretting about global financial meltdown and wondering if there’s any chance of sunshine this year, I sit in the shade of an olive tree on a hillside overlooking a rust-red Mediterranean valley, and ponder.
     Compared to London, life in the northern West Bank village of Yanoun moves slowly. A boy of seven or eight stands near me with a plastic pipe and a bottle of detergent, blowing bubbles into the breeze. Lizards dart among the rocks and sparrows scrap noisily in the cracks of a barn wall. The only other sounds are cries from olive pickers in the valley, bleats of sheep and once every half an hour or so, the revs of a distant tractor. For Yanounis, the terms "credit crunch" and "financial crisis" are, like Tony Blair and the Icelandic Krona, largely irrelevant.
     But Yanoun, like many West Bank Palestinian villages, is no stranger to crisis. Six years ago, armed civilians from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Itamar forced the entire population to evacuate. They smashed up property, destroyed the village’s electricity generator, mutilated sheep and cut down hundreds of ancient olive trees. Eventually, the village residents, fearing for their children, packed their bags and left. They only came back when Israeli and international peace organizations established a permanent base in the village. Since then, "foreigners" have been a constant presence.

Travesty of tolerance on display

Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada 11/6/2008
      Israel seems to have little time for the irony that a modern Jewish shrine to "coexistence and tolerance" is being built on the graves of the city’s Muslim forefathers.
     The Israeli high court’s approval last week of the building of a Jewish Museum of Tolerance over an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem is the latest in a series of legal and physical assaults on Islamic holy places since Israel’s founding in 1948.
     The verdict ended a four-year struggle by Islamic authorities inside Israel to stop development at the Mamilla cemetery, which lies in the shadow of Jerusalem’s Old City walls, close to Jaffa Gate.
     After the judgment, Jerusalem’s mufti, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, called the museum’s building "an act of aggression" against the Muslim public.
     The furore from both religious and secular Palestinians has apparently bemused most Israeli observers.
     Rabbi Marvin Hier, initiator of the project, dismissed objections last week as cover for "a land grab by Islamic fundamentalists, who are in cooperation with Hamas." His view that Muslim concerns are really an attack on the Jewish state’s sovereignty is shared by many.

A Palestinian refugee’s open letter to Obama

Abdelfattah Abusrour writing from Ramallah, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 11/6/2008
      Dear President-elect Barack Obama, I would like to congratulate you on this victory, a victory that is not only yours, as you said in your speech, but also for those who believed in you, and who are full of hope for the change you promote and the wish that it comes through you and your efforts to lead your country and the world for a legacy and a heritage that is meaningful, and plant hope in a time of despair.
     I have been fortunate and blessed in my life. I received a scholarship to continue my studies in France where I stayed nine years. I returned to my occupied country with a PhD because I believed that I could make a change and that I am a change-maker in breaking cultural stereotypes, and could show another image of my people and their beauty and humanity through nonviolent resistance against the ugliness and violence of the Israeli occupation. This was my goal in creating the Al-Rowwad Center with a group of friends, to allow our children to use theatre and the arts for social change and nonviolent means of self-expression to keep them alive, instead of becoming a number on a list of martyrs, or handicapped for the rest of their lives, or perish in prison.

An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama - Mr. President, We Too Have A Dream

Abdul Basit, MIFTAH 11/6/2008
      Dear Mr. President-Elect, Barack Obama, First of all, let me convey my heartiest congratulation to you on your election as the President of the United States of America.
     I consider your election as President of United States of America as a miracle in itself. Born as the son of a Kenyan man and a white woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, through hard work and perseverance today you have become the President of United States of America. Unlike most of your predecessors, your humble background and past experience including your work as community leader will surely provide a different perspective about the reality from the grassroots level. Taking into consideration the path you treaded to reach the pinnacle of power, I surely believe that it is not without a purpose, particularly as you campaigned and got elected on the platform of ’Change’. I only hope that this purpose is for the well being of humanity as a whole. In fact, your election as the President of USA has suddenly brightened the image of your country and hope you enhance this expectation with the right policies that will unite humanity.


Khalid Amayreh, Palestinian Information Center 11/4/2008
      Palestinian Authority (PA) officials and spokesmen have been lying through their teeth lately about their increasingly vile treatment of the Palestinian people.
     These people  have  been claiming, nearly on a daily basis,  that  their  American-paid  and trained forces are not arresting political activists and that only "criminals" and  "terrorist elements" are being hounded and  arrested.
     Well, we who live here in the West Bank, don’t have to be presumptive about what is happening in our neighborhoods, streets,  towns and villages these days. We see the daily arrests with our own eyes, we know the detainees, we know their families and their friends.  Hence, we don’t even have to compare and contrast various accounts of the disgraceful onslaught by the PA against the Palestinian masses. Things are simply too plain to be controversial.
     Hence, it is our responsibility as journalists to communicate the truth and  facts concerning  this unmitigated  wave  of  repression  by the Ramallah regime against its perceived  political opponents.

Playgrounds for Palestine: One Marathon at a Time

Ramzy Baroud, Middle East Online 11/6/2008
      My right knee is wrapped. My left ankle is iced. I lost the nail on my right big toe, and have about 20 blisters and a similar number of bruises on both of my feet. This doesn’t even begin to convey half of the story of the punishment that my body has been subjected to in recent months. Why, you ask? Because I will join Susan Abulhawa, a Palestinian American activist, writer and founder of Playgrounds for Palestine - in running the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23. Our goal is to raise enough money to build a large playground in a Palestinian refugee camp, likely in Lebanon. We are more than half of the way there, but have about 5,000 dollars to go.
     I ran a full marathon before (the Vancouver Marathon in Canada in May 2008). I finished at a 4:10:29 and intended to break the four-hour mark in the next run. But since then, I sustained a knee injury. Compounded with an old back injury, training for the Philly Marathon has been much harder than I thought it would be.

Twilight Zone / Child bride

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 11/6/2008
      The incredible story of Khaleda Ghosheh - from the birth of her first son when she was 13, to her successful career as an author and magazine publisher
     The scent of aromatic candles wafted through the crammed, ornate pink-walled room. A painting of a naval battle covers most of the wall behind her. The furniture is very stylized. On her desk - near a laptop, a fax machine, a pack of thin Parliaments from which she pulls a cigarette, and a good deal more - sits a photograph of her between her two sons. These are her two boys: The one she had when she was 13, who was taken from her at birth and whom she did not see again for 18 years, and the one she raised by herself.
     Khaleda Ghosheh is out to capture the attention of the Arab reader. After publishing two books (in Arabic) - "The Secrets of Life," the unbelievable story of her own trials and tribulations, and "The Key to Dreams," which she calls a spiritual work - she launched a glossy monthly magazine called Hatun (Hard Rain). The 48 well-designed pages of newly published issue No. 5 contain articles and photographs about a murder in the Old City of Jerusalem, a sheep pen used as a school, the Border Police’s "slaughterhouse" at the Atarot checkpoint, minibuses where drivers sell tickets for only NIS 4 but think they are in the Grand Prix, a triple murder in Ramallah and an interview with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ adviser on Jerusalem, in which he "talks about everything," according to the blurb on the cover. There are also recipes for an eggplant salad in tahini and advice on dealing with diabetes.