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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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7 November, 2008

More rockets hit Israel following deadly incursion into Gaza Strip
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/8/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Friday fired six rockets into southern Israel without causing casualties or damages, the Israeli military said. The attack followed an Israeli violation of a truce with Gazan militants which saw soldiers from the Jewish state invade the coastal enclave and kill seven Palestinians. The incursion also prompted fighters to fire rockets into Israel on Thursday. Islamic Jihad claimed the attacks on Friday, saying in a statement issued in Gaza that they were a response to "the Zionist aggressions. "Despite breaking the de facto cease-fire, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said on Thursday that Israel favored an extension of the six-month Gaza truce that followed months of deadly clashes. Hamas said they would consider the proposal. Israel has imposed a devastating blockade on the coastal enclave since Hamas ousted. . .

IDF asks police, Shin Bet for info on left-wing figures active in W. Bank
Uri Blau, Ha’aretz 11/8/2008
The Israel Defense Forces has asked the Shin Bet security service and the police to provide it with information on left-wing figures active in the West Bank so it will be easier to issue restraining orders against them, Haaretz has learned. Since the IDF does not gather intelligence on Israeli citizens, the GOC Central Command depends on evaluations by the Shin Bet prior to signing restraining orders. So far, such orders have only been issued against extreme right-wing activists suspected of subversive activities. This time, the army has focused on a number of activists protesting the security fence, those who help Palestinians harvest their olives, and others. This is apparently the first time left-wing activists have been the possible target of such orders.

European politicians sail to Gaza on 3rd blockade-busting voyage
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/8/2008
Eleven European politicians sailed to Gaza from Cyprus on Friday after saying attempts to cross into the Palestinian territory via Egypt failed. Members of parliament from Britain, Ireland, Switzerland and Italy left the Mediterranean island on a boat arranged by a pro-Palestinian group seeking to highlight the poor living conditions of 1. 5 million people living in the Gaza Strip. "We were going to witness the living conditions in Gaza. We were not allowed through the Rafah crossing so we are going by boat because it is the only way to get in," said British MP Clare Short. The parliamentarians said they expected to arrive in Gaza early on Saturday. It is the third time the U. S. -based Free Gaza Movement has sailed from Cyprus to Gaza since August, despite a blockade imposed by Israel on the Hamas-ruled territory.

Israel demolishes homes for ’City of David’ heritage site
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 11/7/2008
Israel has been accused of demolishing Palestinian houses in Arab East Jerusalem while international attention was focused on the election of Barack Obama. Palestinian leaders and Israeli human rights organisations have said Israeli authorities displaced more than 20 people -- mostly children -- by demolishing three homes in the Silwan district of Jerusalem to make way for an archaeological park. Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator, said: "While the international media was transfixed by the results of the US election, Israeli forces were tearing up the homes of Palestinian families to build new settlements, furthering their control of occupied East Jerusalem and pre-empting final status negotiations. " Mr Erekat called on the international Quartet of the US, EU, Russia andthe UN, "to protect Palestinians and their homes" and hold Israel to commitments made. . .

Palestinians enter Hebron mosque by thousands in closure protest
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Thousands of Palestinians descended on the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron on Friday after calls from West Bank leaders to support the city in its efforts to lift the Israeli siege and closure policy. The city’s head mufti, Mohamad Maher Meswada, noted in his Friday sermon the importance of supporting the National Campaign to Lift the Closure of Hebron. “Through flocking from all parts of the West Bank to pray in the mosque, and to tour the alleys and neighborhoods of the Old City, and by purchasing from its stores in support of its residents, we stand against the attacks of Israeli soldiers and settlers,” Meswada told the crowds. Earlier on Thursday, Israeli soldiers prevented internationals and journalists from entering the area near the mosque, under the pretense that it is a closed military zone.

Israel admits 80% fewer Gazans to hospitals as requests increase
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The number of Gazans in need of medical attention admitted into Israel in the past month has declined from 500, to only 62 emergency cases and another 42 who direly needed specialized medical care. Head of Ambulances and Emergency Care in the de facto Ministry of Health Mu’awieh Hassanein said Israel had refused the requests of hundreds of Gazans. The problem, according to Hassanein, has been worsening for three months. Not only are Palestinians refused permission to seek treatment in Israeli hospitals, but they were also denied permission to travel out of the Gaza Strip to seek treatment in Jordan. Hassanein said he considered such steps inhuman, and appealed to the Jordanian King Abdullah II to put pressure on Israel to allow Palestinian patients to receive necessary treatment.

Israeli soldiers beat civillians at Al-Ma’sara demonstration; settlers bring them juice
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Two Palestinians were beaten by Israel soldiers during a demonstration against the separation wall in the West Bank village of Al-Ma’sara south of Bethlehem on Friday. About 200 demonstrators including international and Israeli peace activists marched between the villages of Juret Ash-Sham’a and Al-Ma’sara. As the protesters reached their destination Israeli troops attacked them with batons. Those injured were Ibrahim Ali Taqatqa and Nidal Mahmoud Zawahreh, who sustained light injuries after being struck repeatedly with wooden batons. The popular committee to resist the wall dedicated the day’s march to the memory of former Palestinian Prime Minister Yasser Arafat, who died four years ago next week. Several demonstrators reported seeing dozens of settlers from the nearby Efrat settlement approach the area of the demonstration.

Student detained after refusing to shake hands with Israeli President
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/8/2008
On November 2nd, Hebrew University student Ali Bahar was detained for three hours after refusing to shake hands with Israeli president Shimon Peres. Peres was visiting the university as part of a public relations tour. When the President approached Bahar to shake his hand, the student refused, stating QUOTE "I will not shake hands with a murderer of children. "Bahar was referring to the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land, which has cost the lives of one thousand and fifty Palestinian children since 2000. In the same time period, one hundred twenty three Israeli children have been killed by Palestinian fighters. Immediately following his encounter with the Israeli President, Bahar was detained by university security personnel and his student ID was confiscated.

One arrested and seven injured in Ni’lin prayer demonstration
International Solidarity Movement 11/7/2008
Ramallah RegionSix residents of Ni’lin and a Danish solidarity activist were injured today by Israeli forces as they demonstrated against the construction of the apartheid wall in the village of Ni’lin. One American solidarity activist was also arrested as the demonstration was coming to an end. Immediately after a group of 300 Palestinians, accompanied by 25 Israeli and international activists, gathered for a weekly Friday prayer the army began to fire tear gas at those who attempted to enter their land. The canisters being fired were shot directly at the demonstrators, an act which caused multiple of the seven injuries. As the demonstration continued tear gas was not only fired at the Palestinians and internationals attempting to enter the land but also into the village of Ni’lin, away from the demonstration. During the four hour demonstration rubber bullets and sound bombs were also used by the Israeli army.

B’Tselem: Testimony of 12-year-old beaten and imprisoned with adults
International Solidarity Movement 11/7/2008
Ramallah Region - Testimony taken by B’Tselem from Mohammad Khawaje who was arrested from Ni’lin on the 11th September 2008 - Muhammad Khawajah - I live with my family in Ni’lin. We live on the ground floor of the house, my two uncles and their families live on the first floor, and my grandmother lives on the second floor. Last Thursday [11 September], around 3:00 A. M. , I woke up from my mother’s shouts. She was shouting, "Get up! Get up! The army is here!" My father wasn’t home that night. I got up and went out with her to the inner courtyard of the house. There were about 12 soldiers there, and their faces were painted black. One soldier wore a black hat that covered his face. He sat on the stairs outside the house and didn’t take part. I think he was a collaborator who led them to houses. The soldiers were on the first floor.

Political and international representatives join Bil’in in weekly protest
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An increasing number of high-profile protesters have joined Bil’in residents in their weekly protest against the construction of the separation wall, organized by the local Popular Committee Against the Wall. On Friday Palestinian Minister of Traffic and Transport Mashour Abu Daqa member of the Palestinian Legislative Council Moheb Awad, Fatah member Walid Assaf, and Head of the Middle East Committee in the European Parliament, Aristotelis Pavlides attended the rally. The event was dedicated to the memory of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who passed away on 11 November 2004. The demonstrators marched in the village chanting against the discriminatory policies of Israel. The marchers were stopped by Israeli soldiers once they reached the gate leading to the confiscated Bil’in lands, and then attacked with tear gas.

Renovated synagogue opens old wounds in the heart of Jerusaelm
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/8/2008
Sixty years on, Jerusalem, where a new mayor will be elected next week, still lies at the heart of stalled efforts to broker a peace settlement. Nowhere are conflicts over land as up-close and personal as in the narrow lanes inside its ancient walls. And nowhere do emotions run higher than on the seam of the Muslim and Jewish Quarters, where heavily armed Israeli police eye jostling crowds streaming to al-Aqsa mosque or the Western Wall, a remnant of the Jewish Temple destroyed 2,000 years ago. "They want to push us out," said Alaa Zorba, a Muslim who runs a nearby grocery with his father, as he pointed from his window home to the rebuilt synagogue just across the alley. "But we won’t kneel," added Zorba. "We’d rather die. "He said he had been threatened by some Jews in the area and warned by Israeli police not to air his grievances in the media.

Political prisoner completely paralysed as a result of torture
Palestinian Information Center 11/7/2008
Ramallah, (PIC)-- Palestinian sources in the West Bank said that Amer Ghazal, a political prisoner in one of Abbas’s jails has suffered complete paralysis as a result of the torture he underwent at the jail. The sources, which preferred to remain un-named, said on Friday that Ghazal underwent severe torture, including prolonged periods of  (Shabh), which takes several forms; the tying of the feet and hands together behind the body, usually sitting on a low stool and the hanging to a door or a ceiling by the feet of the hands. Ghazal is detained at the notorious Junaid prison in Nablus. This prison has been named by the Palestinian citizens the (Maslakh) which means the abattoir or slaughterhouse. Another political prisoner, Bashir al-Dhaher (42) was reported a few days ago to have gone on an open-ended hunger strike to protest the sever torture he underwent, according to sources.

Young woman succumbs to wounds, child patient dies as a result of the siege
Palestinian Information Center 11/7/2008
GAZA, DEIR AL-BALAH, (PIC)-- A young Palestinian woman succumbed to wounds she sustained during the Israeli attack on Tuesday and a child patient died in Gaza after being barred from receiving treatment abroad. Hanin al-loh, a 23-year-old young woman was seriously wounded during the incursion of IOF troops to the east of Deir al-Balah  on Tuesday. Because of the intensive Israeli fire, the emergency team took a long time to reach causing her to lose a lot of blood. Late on Thursday night she succumbed to her wounds in hospital. Hanin’s death raises to eight the number of victims of this latest Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, on Friday morning, seven-year-old boy Adi Abdela’al died in hospital after suffering difficulties in breathing and heart problems and did receive some treatment in an Israeli hospital, but the occupation authorities refused to give him a permit to continue with the treatment.

Rafah closed after three days and 2,962 Gazans pass into Egypt
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Thirty percent of Gazans who sought to cross into Egypt via Rafah were turned away last week, after Egypt opened the border point for three days. According to de facto Interior Minister Ehab Al-Ghussein the 1,276 individuals who were denied entry into Egypt were said to be missing the appropriate paperwork, from universities or hospitals to which they were travelling. There were also apparently rejections based on “security concerns. ”The ministry said 2,962 Gazans were able to pass through the border crossing. Al-Ghussein said in a statement on Friday "2,900 is not a bad number,” but added that the ministry is looking forward to more crossing openings. He also expressed that his surprise that Egyptian authorities prevented residents from traveling under the pretext of security reasons, and hoped issues could be sorted out so the border could open on a more regular basis.

Danish woman injured by Israeli soldiers during Ni’lin protest
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Danish woman was shot with a tear-gas canister during the weekly anti-wall protest in the village of Ni’lin on Friday, and dozens of others suffered tear gas inhalation. The march proceeded as usual with protesters heading towards the site of the construction of the separation wall, and was accosted by Israeli soldiers who tried to prevent the protesters from accessing the confiscated village lands. As the protesters neared the construction site Israeli forces opened fire from close range, with tear-gas canisters shot directly at protesters, as well as firing rubber-coated steel bullets. According to the International Solidarity Movement the Danish woman was shot in the upper-arm with a burning hot canister. She was taken to the Sheikh Zaide hospital in Ramallah for treatment.

IOF troops deny Egyptian and Tunisian ambassadors entry into Ibrahimi Mosque
Palestinian Information Center 11/7/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)--  Israeli occupation forces stationed around the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil stopped a delegation of diplomats and official representatives from visiting the Mosque in the old quarters of the city. The delegation comprised the Ashraf Aqel, the Egyptian ambassador to the PA, Ahmad Habbas, the Tunisian ambassador to the PA, Dr. Hussain al-A’araj, Governer of al-Khalil, Khaled al-Eseili, Mayor of al-Khalil as well as sympathisers from the Norwegian left wing politicians. The delegations visit was an attempt to show solidarity with the Palestinian residents of the old quarters of al-Khalil whose life has become almost impossible as a result of direct attacks by extremist Jewish settlers and restrictions imposed by the IOF.

Bili’n demonstrators mark the fourth anniversary of Yasir Arafat’s death
International Solidarity Movement 11/7/2008
Dozens suffer from teargas inhalation during the weekly non-violent demonstration in Bil’in - Report by the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Apartheid Wall and Settlements - A protest was launched today after the Friday prayer in Bil’in, with residents joined by international and Israeli activists. Palestinian flags, photos of Yasir Arafat, and banners marking his death were carried during the demonstration. Mr. Mashour Abu Daqa, the Minister of Traffic and Transport, and Mr. Basem Al Masrijoined the demonstration today. The demonstrators marched in the village chanting against the discriminatory policies of the occupation and paying respect for Arafat’s life. When the protest reached the gate, they were stopped by sound grenades and teargas. Dozens suffered from gas inhalation. Also, the head of the Middle East Committee in the European Parliament. . . .

Hamas says operating against Qassam fire
Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/8/2008
Palestinian organizations announce they have decide to return to original ceasefire agreement after firing nine rockets at Israel Friday; retaliation to IDF Gaza op deemed adequate, says source -Following the Qassam fire that rained down on the south of Israel Friday, Hamas’ security forces announced they would begin cracking down on the fire emerging from the Gaza Strip. The organization’s internal security agents began to mobilize Friday evening towards Sejaiya district in an attempt to halt the rocket fire. According to Hamas the agents even succeeded in blocking an Islamic Jihad vehicle driving a Qassam-launching cell. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rocket fire on Friday. Despite the recent escalation of violence, sources from the Gaza Strip told Ynet that due to current talks among the Palestinian organizations and pressure applied by. . .

Jihad: We’ll cease rocket fire if Israel stops its ’aggression’
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/8/2008
The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for a series of rocket attacks on Israel on Friday, on the third consecutive day of renewed rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Gaza militants pounded southern Israeli territory on Friday with nine Qassam rockets. Two of the homemade rockets struck an open field south of Ashkelon, others struck areas in the western Negev. There were no injuries or damages reported in any of the Qassam attacks. An Islamic Jihad spokesman said the group would consider stopping launching rockets if Israel ceased its actions. "It depends on Israel, if they stop their aggression and abide by the truce we are ready to consider stopping firing," Abu Ahmed of the Islamic Jihad armed wing said. Islamic Jihad said its gunmen had launched 14 rockets against Israel during. . .

Islamic Jihad: Israeli ’internal politics’ escalating Gaza crisis
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A spokesperson for the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, blamed on Friday internal politics for the sudden Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip. Spokesperson Abu Ahmad insisted that “the latest Israeli escalation in the Gaza Strip is due to an Israeli internal crisis. ”“Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered (forces) to strike the Palestinian resistance in Gaza to prove his strength and to prove that he is the best to lead Israel,” Ahmad added. He went on to say that the “occupying state is approaching new elections in the coming months. ”“This was all predicted. Despite the truce, which has been in effect for almost five months,” Israelis are using the Palestinian playing field “as a headline for internal elections,” he claimed. In regard to the latest shelling over the past few days, Ahmad said that “the shelling came as an initial response to the Israeli attacks.

Southern Israel hit by Gaza rockets
Al Jazeera 11/7/2008
Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip have launched rockets into southern Israel. No injuries or damage was reported on Friday, the third successive day of hostilities that threatens to unravel a five-month-old truce between the enclave’s Hamas rulers and the Israeli government. Islamic Jihad has claimed responsbility for the latest rocket attack. According to the Israeli military, at least three rockets were fired. Palestinian fighters and the Israeli military have largely held their fire since a June 19 truce. But the lull ended on Tuesday after Israeli troops launched an incursion into Gaza to destroy what they said was a tunnel dug near the border aimed at kidnapping Israeli soldiers. Fighters killed Seven fighters were killed during the operation and dozens of rockets were fired into Israel in response.

Al-Quds claims responsibility for Sderot shelling
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for shelling the nearby Israeli town of Sderot with six homemade projectiles, in addition to firing others toward Ashkelon on Friday. Al-Quds told Ma’an that “the Israeli air force shelled the launching pad that fired four projectiles at Sderot north of Gaza but there were no injuries. ”The Brigades also affirmed that the shelling was in response to the latest Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, during which seven Palestinians were killed. “This is an affirmation of the right to self defense,” the unnamed Al-Quds source said. Israeli media sources also confirmed that Ashkelon was shelled with two homemade projectiles, but that no injuries were reported there either.

Four projectiles land near Sderot; Al-Quds and Hizbullah Brigades claim responsibility
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for the four home-made projectiles that landed in the Negev desert before sunrise on Friday morning. The statement from the Brigades said the projectiles were aimed at Sderot, an Israeli town north east of the Gaza Strip. A second statement was issued by the Hizbullah Brigades, who also claimed to have been responsible for the early Friday projectile launch. The latest attack is was said by both Brigades to be in direct response to the Israeli invasions and shelling in the Gaza Strip which took place on Tuesday. According to Israeli Army Radio no injuries were reported. ***Updated 12:12 Bethlehem time

5 Kassam rockets slam into w. Negev
Jerusalem Post 11/7/2008
Southerners woke up to another day of rocket attacks Friday as Palestinian terrorists fired five Kassams at western Negev neighborhoods. The rockets landed in the Sderot, Eshkol and Sha’ar Hanegev regions. No one was wounded and no damage was reported. One of the Kassams landed near a kibbutz reservoir, while a second hit the fence surrounding another western Negev kibbutz. The other rockets hit open areas. The Islamic Jihad’s armed wing claimed responsibility for the attacks. Meanwhile, the Ashkelon Parents Association decided to hold a partial strike on Friday morning in protest of, what they called, the government’s failure in dealing with the renewed rocket-fire.

5 Qassam rockets hit south
Shmulik Hadad, Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/7/2008
Palestinian terrorists fire two rockets at Sderot area; three more rockets land in open areas in western Negev; no injuries reported in rocket barrage. Islamic Jihad: Attacks response to ’Zionist aggression’ - Rocket attacks go on:Palestinian terrorists fired five Qassam rockets at Gaza-region communities Friday morning. Two rockets reportedly landed in the Sderot area, while three other rockets landed in open areas in the western Negev. No injuries were reported in the rocket barrage. The al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for the attack. One of the rockets reportedly landed near a water reservoir at a southern kibbutz. Another rocket hit the fence of a western Negev kibbutz. Meanwhile, the alert level in the south was raised ahead of the opening of the school day.

March 14 denies charge of funding Fatah al-Islam
Daily Star 11/8/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s pro-Western political leaders were reeling on Friday after captured members of the Fatah al-Islam Islamist group said they had been funded by the Future Movement during televised "confessions" to a suicide car-bombing carried out in Damascus in September. A suspect identified as Wafa al-Abssi, the daughter of Fatah al-Islam leader Shakr al-Abssi, said on Syrian state television that the group had received money from Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, which leads Lebanon’s anti-Syrian parliamentary majority. Speaking to reporters in Moscow Friday, Hariri said he would comment on the issue "as soon as I return to Lebanon. " "I will not comment on the information, here in Moscow," he said, "but I will have something to say in Beirut. "The suggestion that money from the March 14 coalition, which is heavily backed by the US as well as other Western powers, may have found. . .

More threats of wider Israeli offensive in any future war
Daily Star 11/8/2008
In any future conflict with Hizbullah, Israel will likely cite the Shiite group’s increasing influence within the Lebanese Cabinet as a legitimate reason to target Lebanon’s entire infrastructure, government sources told the Jerusalem Post in comments published Friday. According to assessments in Israel, Hizbullah’s influence over Lebanese politics is expected to grow, and it is set to gain at least two more Cabinet posts in elections next spring - likely the Interior Ministry and, as a remote possibility, the defense portfolio. Hizbullah already has a veto on Cabinet decisions. Hizbullah is four times stronger militarily today than it was at the end of the last summer war of 2006, the Israeli daily said. "In August 2006 Hizbullah had 14,000 rockets, with [the Israeli town of ] Hadera being the southernmost city within their range," the daily reported.

London U. event likens Gaza to Ghetto
Jonny Paul, Jpost Correspondent In London, Jerusalem Post 11/7/2008
LONDON - The situation in Gaza will be compared to that in the Warsaw Ghetto under the Nazis, at a prestigious London university next week. The Student Union at Goldsmiths college, University of London, is hosting an event on Wednesday titled "From the Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Ghetto. " The event is being organized by the Palestine Twinning Campaign, a student union group that won a vote last February to twin Goldsmiths with Al-Quds University’s campus near Nablus and to offer scholarships to two Al-Quds students. Speaking at Wednesday event will be Suzanne Weiss, a Holocaust survivor and member of the Toronto-based "Not in our Name: Jews against Zionism," and academic Ghada Ageel, who grew up in Gaza and now teaches Middle Eastern politics at Exeter University. Jennifer Jones, the campaigns and communications officer for Goldsmiths’ Student Union, is also. . .

British delegation visits Salfit, implements school library project
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Salfit – Ma’an – A delegation of British leaders representing “sister cities” met with their West Bank counterparts on Friday in Salfit. The delegation from the British city of Watford visited the Palestinian district and was received by members of the Sister Cities Committee there. A number of British volunteers met with locals from the towns and villages surrounding the Salfit governorate, meeting residents and organizations’ representatives, as well as school, municipal and village leaders. During the visit, a number of ongoing projects were studied. Several meetings and consultations were held with respective residents. The coordinator of the committee in Salfit, Mu’tza Naseef, noted that the project is the first to be implemented in Salfit, but that others are being considered in cooperation with residents.

Palestinian youth unemployment rate soars
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestine’s labor force’s highest rate of unemployment is among 15-to-29-year-olds, according to a recent survey released Thursday. The report, published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), found that the highest unemployment rate is concentrated among youth. Qalqiliya registers the highest unemployment in the West Bank (31. 5%), according to the report, which indicates that Tulkarem closely follows the city for the second slot (30. 3%). Hebron’s rate of unemployment is at about 1/4th of would-be workers (24. 5%), while Jericho and Jerusalem registered the lowest rates (13%, 14. 2%, respectively). The highest percentage of unemployed Palestinians is made up by youth. The age group hardest hit is those aged 20-24, at a little less than half unemployed (43. 4%). The statistic is distorted due to the disparity between West Bank and Gaza employment rates.

Hamas threatens to boycott Cairo reconciliation talks
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/8/2008
JABALIYA, Gaza Strip: Hamas threatened Friday to boycott next week’s Palestinian reconciliation talks, accusing President Mahmoud Abbas of arresting hundreds of members of the Islamist movement. "We will not go to the Palestinian dialogue as long as this massacre against Hamas continues in the West Bank," Hamas MP Mushar al-Masri told a crowd in the northern Gaza Strip city of Jabaliya. He said Hamas would decide later Friday whether to take part in the talks scheduled to start in Cairo on Monday. He accused Abbas, who also leads the Fatah movement, of arresting hundreds of Hamas members in the Occupied West Bank to please Israel and the US. "If you persist with your injustice and your repression, Hamas and the people of the West Bank will trample you," Masri shouted. The two factions have been bitterly divided since Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007, confining Abbas’. . .

Hanieyh expresses doubts over Cairo talks, says PA not ready
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an –De facto Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh has expressed real and deep concern over the prospects of the coming reconciliation talks scheduled to take place in Cairo on 9 November. In his regular press conference after the Friday prayer in Gaza Haniyeh said that he wanted true conciliation talks, not just talks. He said the continued waves of arrests of Hamas affiliates across the West Bank shows that the spirit of all parties is not equal. “What is happening in the West Bank is a real obstacle in front of dialogue,” he said, adding that the “security systems in the West Bank do not seem to operate independently of the Fatah-government. ” He accused the security services of imposing factional politics on Palestinians and reiterated that political prisoners should be released. “Holding talks while hundreds are jailed cannot achieve its objectives,” Haniyeh concluded.

PLO Executive Committee: We are ready for Cairo talks
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) said they are ready for the Cairo dialogue talks in a Ramallah meeting in the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday. In a statement made after the conference Abbas invited all factions to attend the dialogue and to abandon any attempts to impose ‘pre-conditions’ on the Egyptian draft paper. He called the coming talksthe only way to restore unity between sides and to end division. According to the official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa, the Executive Committee called on factions to keep national interests above narrow factional interests in the coming days, in order to ensure the success of the talks. In this regard, the Executive Committee confirmed its full commitment to Palestinian unity and expressed its hope that all factions will commit to the Egyptian. . .

Barghouthi slams Jum’ah arrest; demands immediate release
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and leader of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Al-Barghouthi on Friday demanded that Hamas free Ashraf Juma’ah, a Fatah leader detained Thursday in the Gaza Strip. Barghouthi called his abduction “a violation of the laws of the parliament and political jurisdiction,” and urged leaders to end political arrests in both Gaza and the West Bank. “Not releasing prisoners will obstruct efforts made toward national unity and is sending a negative message ahead of the talks in Cairo,” he added. Hamas arrested dozens of Fatah leaders after breaking into a private membership meeting in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday afternoon, Fatah claimed. PLC Secretary General Ibrahim Khrieshah said Hamas security broke into Jum’ah’s home, assaulted and detained him.

Haniyya: ''Fateh’s actions in the West Bank obstruct internal dialogue''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/7/2008
Ismail Haniyya of Hamas, prime minister of the dissolved government in Gaza, stated on Friday that the ongoing arrests carried out by Fateh security forces against Hamas members and supporters in the West Bank will obstruct the internal dialogue talks in Cairo. Haniyya added that there are at least 200 political prisoners in the West Bank, and considered this issue as a real obstacle in front of the Egyptian sponsored Palestinian national dialogue. He also said that "it seems that there is a stream that does not seek reconciliation, we want real and balanced reconciliation which would survive and prosper". In a press conference with the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, in Ramallah on Friday, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said that there are "no political prisoners at all" and that he believes in political pluralism.

De facto government slams Abbas’s political prisoners denial
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s assertion on Friday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is not holding political prisoners could very well derail the Egyptian sponsored unity talks, according to a spokesperson for the de facto government in Gaza. Hamas-affiliated Taher An-Nunu called the statement, which was made at a news conference beside US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, “an affront to the security portion of the Road Map (for Peace). ”“The Palestinian dialogue requires an immediate end to the arrest campaign in the West Bank, as well as releasing political prisoners in their jails,” An-Nunu said in a statement received by Ma’an. Abbas should also “stop being submissive to American pressure,” An-Nunu added, apparently in reference to Abbas’s appearance with the US foreign minister on Friday in Ramallah.

Leftist parties discuss unity negotiations at Gaza summit
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said that the success of the upcoming Cairo talks is conditional on whether or not the parties actually form a unity government. Ramzi Rabah, a leader within the DFLP, said that such a unity government would require political, professional and independent figures capable of lifting the siege of the Gaza Strip and supervising the hypothetical presidential and legislative elections. The elections “would be held simultaneously according to full proportionate representation to build a comprehensive partnership of all parties, factions and national figures,” Rabah said. Rabah called for “reforming and upgrading” the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), as well, by “electing a new unified national council for all Palestinians inside Palestine and in the Diaspora.

Hamas likely to boycott Egypt bid to reconcile Palestinian factions
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
The Islamist group Hamas is unlikely to take part in an Egyptian-sponsored Palestinian reconciliation conference on Sunday, a top Hamas official said. Palestinian sources said Hamas could announce a boycott of the Cairo conference, intended to end its factional conflict with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group, as early as Friday because Egypt had refused to put more Hamas proposals on the agenda. "The atmosphere is not promising and all the signs are not encouraging for Hamas to participate," Hamas politburo member Izzat al-Rishq toldafter a meeting with allied groups in the Syrian capital on Thursday. Egypt has invited Hamas and Fatah to the meeting, along with smaller Palestinian factions, to try to heal a rivalry that burst into open conflict after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip last year and Abbas embarked on peace talks with Israel.

Egypt may cancel Palestinian talks
Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
The Egyptians may postpone next week’s "national reconciliation" conference for the Palestinian factions following threats by Hamas to boycott the gathering, Palestinian Authority officials said Thursday. In a separate development, the Hamas government decided Thursday to ban Fatah supporters from marking the fourth anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat. Hamas’s security forces arrested dozens of Fatah supporters in the southern Gaza Strip in the past few days to prevent them from preparing for the anniversary celebrations. The PA officials told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas has informed the Egyptians that the movement has many reservations regarding the Egyptian initiative for solving the crisis between Hamas and Fatah. They added that Hamas was afraid that the PA would use the conference as a means of pressure on the Islamic movement to end its control over the Gaza Strip.

This Week in Palestine Week 45 2008
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 11/7/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 12 m 0s || 10. 09 MB || This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for November 1st through 7, 2008 Israeli Armed troops have raided different areas of Gaza Strip. These are the first attacks since a cease fire began 5 months ago. 7 Palestinian were killed during theses attacks, threatening to break down the efforts to renew the cease fire treaty and heating the borders of Gaza. These stories and more are coming up, stay tuned. Nonviolent Let us begin our weekly report as usual with the nonviolent actions in the West Bank where Palestinians continue to demonstrate against the apartheid wall being built on their land. The details with IMEMC’s this is Patricia Daugherty Bethlehem Dozens of participated in a nonviolent demonstration today against the apartheid wall at Al Me’sara.

PCHR Weekly Report: 7 Palestinians killed, 21 injured by Israeli forces
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/7/2008
In its weekly summary of Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights has reported that 7 Palestinian resistance fighters have been killed, 21 civilians have been wounded and 2 have been abducted by Israeli forces occupying the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli attacks in the West Bank:In the West Bank, 13 Palestinian civilians and an international human rights defender were wounded by Israeli gunfire this week. On 31 October 2008, 3 Palestinian civilians were wounded when Israeli forces moved into Dura village, southwest of Hebron, and fired at civilians who threw stones at military vehicles. On 3 November 2008, 6 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, when Israeli forces moved into al-Far’a refugee camp, south of Tubas, and fired at youth who threw stones at military vehicles.

Israel calls report of Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices in Occupied Territories ‘biased and anachronistic’, in Fourth Committee
United Nations General Assembly, ReliefWeb 11/6/2008
Sixty-third General Assembly - Fourth Committee - 23rd Meeting (AM) - Says Despite Lopsided Picture Painted in Debate, Past Year Seen Most Meaningful Israeli - Palestinian Talks Since 2000; Nine Related Draft Resolutions Introduced - The report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories presented a "biased and anachronistic picture" of the region, Israel’s representative told the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) as it concluded its general debate on that issue. Israel’s delegate said that by acknowledging the rights of only one side, the Special Committee’s work was utterly divorced from reality. Further, the Fourth Committee’s three-day debate had been filled with "futile rhetoric" that had no bearing on the well-being of the. . .

Israeli soldiers film themselves humiliating a bound Palestinian man
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/7/2008
Israeli Television, Chanel 10, showed on Thursday a video footage taken by Israeli soldiers filming themselves humiliating a bound and blindfolded Palestinian man at a military roadblock in the occupied West Bank, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported. Haaretz added that the Palestinian man was kneeling and repeating sentences he was ordered to say by the soldiers, members of the Golani infantry brigades. "The Golani soldiers will bring you a log, and sick it up your ass", one of the sentences the Palestinian man was ordered to repeat, Haaretz reported. "Do you want candy? The man repeats "Candy, Candy". Say Moomin house -- (man) moomin house, (soldiers laughing) say dad went to work (man says) work -- (soldiers) no, Dad Went To Work (he repeats after them in fear) and will bring you (then he repeats after them) a present, (and then another soldier says) "give him a round. . .

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.

ISM Gaza Strip: Sowing lentils, reaping bullets, in Khouza’a, Gaza Strip
Donna Wallach, International Solidarity Movement 11/7/2008
Khouza’a, Gaza Strip, Palestine, 6th November 2008 - A number of Palestinian farmers went to their fields yesterday (6th November) to sow seeds for crops of wheat, lentils and rye to be harvested in the spring. Some internationals, volunteering with ISM Gaza, accompanied the farmers as they worked - the first time in five years for most, if not all of these, farmers. The Palestinian farmers brought buckets filled with seeds, and the ISM volunteers walked with them up and down and across the land, sowing the seeds. Once the first plot of land had been sown a farmer with a tractor came and plowed the seeds into the land. Of course it wasn’t the way they would plant their crops if they could have the best circumstances. The land was full of weeds and thorns and not really prepared for sowing seeds - however, considering that the farmers are shot at whenever they go to their land, they need to plant their crops in the quickest way possible.

Latest ’Free Gaza’ vessel departs Cyprus for beseiged strip
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Free Gaza movement launched its third voyage from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon. The ship’s crew is made up of eleven past members, as well as a handful of European parliamentarians who were previously denied entry into Gaza by Israel at the end of October. Also accompanying the crew will be journalists from Al Jazeera International and the British Independent. The parliamentarians will begin a three-day fact-finding mission when they arrive in Gaza, and will share their findings with the European Campaign to End the Siege upon their return. The movement expects that the third voyage will also be successful. Since it will go through the same security and customs procedures as previous vessels and has stated that it has no intention of entering Israeli waters. Unlike the past trips of the Free Gaza movement, there has been no reaction from the Israeli government over the latest attempt.

Dignity boat sails to Gaza
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/7/2008
The Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS) reported on Friday evening that "Dignity Ship" left Cyprus approximately at 6 P. M heading to Gaza. The ship carries on board 23 persons, including 12 parliamentarians, reporters, peace activists and Nazir Ahmad, a Labour member of the House of Lords in the UK. Independent Palestinian Legislator, Jamal AL Khodary, head of the PCAS, stated that Clare Short, secretary of State for International Development from 1997 to May 2003, is also onboard the ship. "Clare resigned from the government and from the Labour whip over the Iraq war and in 2006 and became an independent", the PCAS reported. EL Khodary added that the ship is expected to arrive at the Gaza port on Saturday morning. It carries onboard medical and surgical equipment. He said that the previous three ships came to stress on the importance of breaking the unjust Israeli siege. . .

Ynet: European politicians sail to Gaza
International Solidarity Movement 11/7/2008
Third sailing protest sets off from Cyprus towards Strip with 11 politicians from UK, Switzerland, Italy in tow. ‘We want to challenge failure of our gov’ts to uphold Geneva convention,’ says British MP - Eleven European politicians set sail to Gaza from Cyprus on Friday after saying attempts to get to the Palestinian territory via Egypt failed. Members of parliament from Britain, Ireland, Switzerland and Italy left the Mediterranean island on a boat arranged by a pro-Palestinian group. "We were going to witness the living conditions in Gaza. We were not allowed through the Rafah crossing so we are going by boat because it is the only way to get in," said British MP Clare Short. The parliamentarians said they expected to arrive in Gaza early on Saturday. It is the third time the US-based Free Gaza Movement has sailed from Cyprus to Gaza since August.

Girls arrested in Hebron claim police abused them
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 11/7/2008
Three minors tell attorney police officers withheld sleep, food, and bathroom privileges from them after they were arrested in clashes between settlers, security forces in Kiryat Arba -Three girls who were arrested last week during clashes between settlers and security forces in Hebron claim to have been abused by the police, according to the attorney representing one of the suspects. Attorney David Halevy filed a complaint with the Police Investigation Unit (PIU) claiming that the girls, aged 12, 15, and 17, were falsely accused of a number of crimes in police reports and abused by officers in various manners. The three girls were indicted a week ago on charges of obstruction of justice and reckless endangerment. They were also charged with assault of police officers during the evacuation of an illegal structure in Kiryat Arba.

Court: Federman can stay in West Bank
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 11/7/2008
Jerusalem court rejects Prosecutor’s Office request to ban rightist activist from Judea and Samaria - The Jerusalem Magistrate’s court rejected Friday the Prosecutor’s Office’s second request to ban rightist activist Noam Federman from Judea and Samaria, after he was indicted for aggravated assault of a police officer. Judge Shulamit Dotan ruled Friday that the Prosecutor’s Office petition to forbid Federman from entering Judea and Samaria is premature, and that the rightist activist should be allowed to see the evidence against him before any decision on the matter is taken. On Thursday, the judge rejected the first request made by the Prosecutor’s Office because it failed to hand over the required documents to Federman. Upon entering the hearing, Federman told Ynet that the prosecutors’ request is "ridiculous.

Owner of disputed house in Hebron threatens to sue State
Zvi Zinger, YNetNews 11/7/2008
American-Jewish businessman whose disputed purchase of property inflamed conflict in Hebron claims h will sue government, prevent his community members from investing in Israel if court evicts Jewish settlers living there -"If the Jewish settlers are evicted from the ’peace house’, I will file legal suits against the Israeli government and anyone involved in the eviction," said the Jewish businessman whose purchase of a building in Hebron inflamed rigorous conflict between the city’s Jewish and Palestinian residents. Morris Abraham, 40, is a member of the Syrian-Jewish community in New York. His great-grandfather was a resident of Hebron during the 1929 riots, and Abraham claims his investment in various projects in the city is personal. "I love Israel and especially Hebron," he told Yedioth Ahronoth.

VIDEO - B’Tselem: JAG informs High Court will not amend indictment in shooting of bound Palestinian
International Solidarity Movement 11/7/2008
On 4 November 2008, the judge advocate general, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, informed the High Court of Justice that, despite the court’s suggestion that the prosecution consider filing more serious charges against Lt. Col. Omri Borberg and Staff Sgt. L. in the case involving the shooting of a bound and blindfolded Palestinian in Ni’lin, he decided to leave the indictment as it is. Attorney Dan Yakir, of the Association for Civil Rights, stated on behalf of the petitioners - the Association for Civil Rights, B’Tselem, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and Yesh Din - that, "We regret that, despite the severe criticism voiced by the High Court, the JAG remains firm in his opinion that abuse of a bound Palestinian detainee by a senior officer and shooting him is, at most, unbecoming conduct. The High Court now has the task of determining the appropriate response for such serious acts. ”.

Addameer Update: Military judge rejects appeal on continued detention of Salwa Salah and Sara Siureh
Addameer Prisoners'' Support and Human Rights Association, International Solidarity Movement 11/7/2008
Letter of appeal - Dear Friends, I am writing to inform you that on November 2, 2008 the Military Judge at Ofer Military Court rejected the appeal by Addameer Attorney Mahmoud Hassan to reduce the administrative detention order of Salwa Salah and Sara Siureh. This means that both girls will remain in prison until their current administrative detention order ends on January 3, 2009. It is not certain that both girls will even be released on this date. Administrative detention orders can be renewed indefinitely under Israeli Military Law. Both girls are now in Damoun prison in Israel and are being held with the other Palestinian adult female detainees. They have now spent more than 5 months in Israeli prisons, being held without charge or trial. Background - Salwa and Sara were both arrested from their homes in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on June 5, 2008.

Palestinian rhythms of resistance
Ahmed Habib in Toronto, Al Jazeera 11/7/2008
Jackie Reem Salloum, a film director and activist, has been one of the key players in the movement to increase global interest in Palestinian art. Born to Palestinian and Syrian parents in Dearborn, Michigan, her artwork was influenced by her experiences as a young woman in the Arab Diaspora. During her late teens, she studied at the renowned Steinhardt art school at New York University, where she learned to reinterpret traditional American cultural symbols like gum ball machines to include references to revolutionary figures like Musa Kazim Pasha al-Husseini, a mayor of Jerusalem who was ousted in the 1920s for his opposition to British pro-Jewish policies. In 2005, Salloum presented Planet of the Arabs, a nine-minute film about how Arabs are portrayed in the media, at the Sundance Film Festival.

Mahmoud Darwish Commemorated in London
Mamoon Alabbasi - London, Palestine Chronicle 11/7/2008
’Darwish’s vision lives on after his death. ’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 the dead body The

Gaza-region parent: Rocket fears are back
Ilana Curiel, YNetNews 11/7/2008
Southern residents readjust to life under Qassam threat in wake of latest attacks - In recent days, western Negev residents have had to readjust to the routine of living under the Qassam rocket threat, after long months of calm. Yaniv, a father of four at a southern Kibbutz, told Ynet that "everything is back, the fears are back," a short while after Islamic Jihad fired a rocket barrage from Gaza Friday morning. The only way to cope with the situation is to hug and kiss his children, Yaniv said. "The older ones are trying to be strong, but the young girls took it harder," he said. "After the lull was violated and a rocket landed in our kibbutz, it took my 9-year-old a long time to overcome the anxiety. There is no control over the fear, it doesn’t work like that. " Yaniv said he feels more secure when his children are at their fortified school or kindergarten.

Palestinians injured in mysterious explosion near Dir Al-Balah
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Three Palestinians were injured Friday night in a mysterious explosion at the entrance Dir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. Palestinian medical sources told Ma’an that “three residents were lightly injured in a mysterious explosion while traveling through the entrance” of the city. [end]

Despite lack of progress, Rice insists peace deal within reach
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/8/2008
TEL AVIV: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday Palestinians should soon have their own state, though she has made it clear she does not expect a breakthrough before President-elect Barack Obama moves into the White House. "They are dignified people and I am certain the day is coming soon when they have a state that will be in accordance with that great national dignity," she said after meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the Occupied West Bank’s political capital. The top US diplomat has nevertheless tacitly admitted that Israel and the Palestinians were unlikely to reach a peace deal by the time US President George W. Bush’s mandate ends on January 20, despite earlier pledges to seek agreement by the end of this year. "The distance to peace has been narrowed although peace has not been achieved," she said at Friday’s news conference.

Bardaweel: Rice’s visit to the region meant to spoil Palestinian national dialog
Palestinian Information Center 11/7/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Salah Al-Bardaweel, the spokesman of Hamas’s parliamentary bloc in the Palestinian legislature, said on Friday that the visit of US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to the region was meant to mar the Palestinian national dialogue. "It is clear that the visit of Rice, and the meeting of the Quartet committee at this point in time were meant to damage the Palestinian national dialogue and to cut the road on Egypt’s efforts to bury the hatchet [between Fatah and Hamas Movements]", added Bardaweel. He also accused Rice of aiming at strengthening position of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in rejecting reconciliation with Hamas, and to promise him new rounds of "futile" negotiations with the Israelis. Abbas and his Fatah faction had been negotiating peace with the Israelis for more than a decade now; yet, facts on the ground indicate that such negotiations had badly damaged. . .

Rice in Ramallah: US committed to peace; 2008 agreement doubtful
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Peace is at hand, but not during the Bush administration, according to outgoing US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday. Rice met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday in Ramallah, where the two leaders met with members of the press to mark Rice’s final trip to Palestine as American foreign minister. Despite the pessimistic outlook, President Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are still “committed to a comprehensive peace with the Israelis. ”“We want an independent Palestinian government that is compliant with the PLO’s commitments to continued support for the Gaza Strip,” Abbas added. Secretary Rice said that the “distance to peace between Palestinians and Israelis is very short. ”“Both sides have showed commitment toward a comprehensive peace, despite the fact. . .

Rice denies Annapolis peace push failed
Reuters, YNetNews 11/7/2008
During Ramallah news conference US secretary of state says she is certain if Palestinians, Israelis stay on Bush-endorsed track peace will be achieved; Abbas says he hopes Obama administration will begin tackling Mideast issues immediately -US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday denied the Israeli-Palestinian peace process sponsored by US President George W. Bush was a failure, saying it should lay the ground for an eventual deal. Launched nearly a year ago at a conference in Annapolis, Maryland, the negotiations were hampered from the start by violence and bitter disputes over Jewish settlement building and the future of Jerusalem. "We knew. . . That if that agreement was not reached by the end of the year, there would be those that would say that the Annapolis process, the negotiations, had failed.

Israel, PA to continue talks with Obama’s help
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Israel and the Palestinian Authority are to announce on Sunday their commitment to continuing talks on the core issues in 2009 after president-elect Barack Obama takes office. The parties have agreed to negotiate based on the principles determined at last November’s Annapolis conference. Outgoing U. S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said yesterday during her visit to Israel that the United States would remain a true friend of Israel. The statement on the continued negotiations is to be made to the members of the Quartet - the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - during a meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her Palestinian counterpart, Ahbed Qureia, will brief the Quartet’s foreign ministers on progress in talks over the past year since the Annapolis conference.

Obama message due at Rabin memorial
Igal Hai, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
A message from Barack Obama will be delivered tomorrow at the 13th central commemoration ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv. American labor leader James Hoffa is scheduled to speak at the memorial event where he will deliver a message from the U. S. president-elect, Haaretz has learned. James Phillip Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters - one of the largest labor unions in the U. S. - is a close associate to Obama, who won the presidential race on Tuesday. He is the only son of Jimmy Hoffa, who was also a president of the Teamsters, and who gained tremendous notoriety in the U. S. following his unexplained disappearance in 1975. Jimmy Hoffa is presumed dead. Other speakers at Rabin Square will include Rabin’s daughter, Dalia, President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.

Hamas hopeful on Obama
AP and Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/7/2008
Top Hamas member says group hopes to see Obama open new page in ties with Muslims - Hamas strongman Mahmoud Zahar says he hopes the election victory of Barack Obama will open a new page in relations between the US and the Muslim world. However, Zahar says he does not expect immediate change in US policy toward Hamas. The Bush administration is boycotting the Islamic group, along with most of the international community. Hamas refuses to renounce violence or recognize Israel. Last year, Hamas seized Gaza by force, and Zahar was instrumental in the takeover. He said Friday that "we hope, we hope, that Obama opens a new page with the world, including the Muslim world. "But citing what he believes is undue Israeli influence on U. S. policy, he said he doesn’t expect Obama to talk to Hamas, at least at the start of his presidency.

PM congratulates Obama on election win
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/7/2008
In a late night phone call Thursday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert congratulated Barack Obama on his victory two days earlier in which he became the 44th President of the United States. Although Obama does not replace outgoing US President George Bush until January, the two leaders spoke already of the importance of the ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. They agreed that any final status agreement must take into account Israel’s security needs, added the PMO. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Israel on Thursday to begin wrapping up the work she has done toward that agreement in advance of Bush’s departure. Olmert and Obama also spoke of the deep friendship between Israel and the United States and the need to preserve and strengthen relations, said the PMO.

Assad congratulates Obama, says hopes dialogue will prevail
Yoav Stern , and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/8/2008
Syria’s state news agency reported on Friday that the country’s president sent a telegram congratulating Barack Obama on winning the U. S. presidential elections. SANA said President Bashar Assad expressed hope that with Obama’s victory, constructive dialogue will prevail and overcome difficulties that stood as an obstacle to actual progress toward peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East. U. S. -Syrian relations plummeted after a U. S. helicopter raid last month into Syria near Iraq’s border. U. S. officials said it targeted a militant leader. Damascus maintained eight civilians were killed, and closed the U. S. cultural center and an American school in Damascus in retaliation. Assad’s congratulations for Obama followed those of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday.

Obama: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is unacceptable
Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/8/2008
In Barack Obama’s first press conference as United States president-elect Friday, he declared his intention to foil Iran’s pursuit of nuclear arms. "Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, I believe, is unacceptable and we have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening," said Obama, speaking in Chicago. The president-elect made the comments on Iran in response to a journalist’s question on what approach he might take with Tehran, given the drawn-out dispute between the United States and Iran over its nuclear program. He also said Iran’s support of terrorist organizations was "something that has to cease. "Obama confirmed that he had received a letter ofcongratulations from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He said that he would review the message and respond appropriately.

Livni: U.S. dialogue with Iran could be problem
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday that U. S. President-elect Barack Obama shouldn’t talk to Iran just yet, warning that such dialogue could project weakness - a first sign of disagreement with the incoming American administration. Obama has stated a willingness to talk to Iran about its nuclear program, which Israel, the U. S. and others believe is aimed at developing an atomic bomb. His policy marks a departure from that of the Bush administration, which has refused to engage Iranian leaders. Livni, a contender for prime minister in February elections, noted in an interview with Israel Radio that Obama is not willing to accept a nuclear Iran. But dialogue at this time is liable to broadcast weakness, cautioned Livni, who is head of the governing Kadima Party. I think early dialogue at a time when it appears to Iran that the world has given up on sanctions could be problematic.

Barak to Rice: All options are on the table regarding Iran nukes
Barak Ravid , and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/8/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday told visiting U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel would not rule out any course of action to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons. "Israel is convinced Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb," Barak told Rice," adding that Jerusalem "is not taking any option off the table, and we don’t recommend that others take any option off the table. " Western nations accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its civil nuclear program. Iran denies that, saying its atomic program is aimed at peaceful purposes. Barak’s comments came amid speculation about the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. Israel carried out an air strike last year on a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor.

Israel reiterates war threats against Iran
Middle East Online 11/7/2008
TEL AVIV - Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Friday issued a thinly veiled call for the United States not to rule out the possibility of a military strike against Iran because of its nuclear ambitions. "We don’t rule out any option. We recommend others don’t rule out any option either," Barak told journalists after talks with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "We are convinced that Iran continues to try to obtain a nuclear weapon and continues to cheat everybody by holding negotiations on the control of such weapons," Barak said. Iran insists it has the right to develop nuclear technology, which it says is aimed at generating energy for its growing population. Israel is the only country in the Middle Ease that actually has nuclear weapons. On Thursday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said possible US talks with Iran may be problematic, highlighting possible disagreements with a Barack Obama administration.

Olmert questioned by police for ninth time
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/8/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli police on Friday questioned outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for the ninth time since allegations of corruption emerged in May. "The prime minister is being questioned at his official residence," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Olmert, 63, has handed in his resignation but will remain at the helm of a caretaker government until after general elections scheduled for February 10. Police in September recommended indicting Olmert over suspicions he had unlawfully accepted cash-stuffed envelopes from a US businessman and for allegedly billing the same overseas trips several times over and using the proceeds to pay for private trips and a lavish lifestyle. Olmert insists that he is innocent.

All’s forgiven as Barak, Peretz embrace as Knesset campaign begins
Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
The Labor Party fired the opening salvo of its election campaign at the party’s convention yesterday in Tel Aviv, with party chairman Ehud Barak attacking both Likud and Kadima. "The way of Likud and Bibi [Netanyahu] at its head is the way of the extreme right. Even if its newest members are people of honesty and integrity, they represent a road that is disconnected from reality, which brought us into conflict with the free world and the entire region. "Barak also said of Netanyahu, "Who will deal with the economic storm? Bibi Netanyahu? Don’t you remember the reforms, and what he did to the poor? Bibi is dressing up like Santa Claus. "With regard to Kadima, Barak said: "It’s impossible to know where they will stand when the time comes for the real test. . . we ask who will lead to peace and we look toward Kadima and you ask, to whom will you give your vote? " Barak’s speech was a carefully crafted campaign address.

Fed up with Lieberman, MK Hasson bolts to Kadima
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
One week after Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman told the Egyptian president to "go to hell," fellow party member, MK Israel Hasson, announced yesterday that he would cross over to Kadima ahead of the upcoming elections. Hasson, a former deputy chief in the Shin Bet security service, cited a desire to be "truly involved in public life," but sources close to Hasson said the move was a reaction to Lieberman’s statement, among other issues that have gradually come to strain relations between the two. The sources said that Lieberman’s jibe at Hosni Mubarak was merely "the straw that broke the camel’s back. "Hasson, they said, was earlier disappointed when Lieberman presented the coalition an ultimatum in the form of a list of guidelines for peace talks with the Palestinians at the U. S. -sponsored Annapolis Conference last year.

ANALYSIS / Obama will star in Israel’s election campaigns
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 11/8/2008
Barack Obama won’t be much occupied with the Israeli elections, but his image will influence the campaigns of the prime ministerial candidates. Each will try to spin the mood of the American upheaval to his or her advantage and try to tap into some "Obama effect. " Tzipi Livni is emphasizing the closeness between her positions vis-a-vis the peace process and the elected president’s, while Benjamin Netanyahu is underscoring his familiarity with America and the personal chemistry he has going with Obama. The polls’ two leading candidates are trying to ride the wave of change and revolution that Obama’s election heralds in the United States. But the analogy to Israel is somewhat problematic. Netanyahu is an opposition leader who wants to propose an alternative to the outgoing government.

Even at half price, tycoons find no buyers for debts
Hagai Amit, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Some bondholders are willing to sell Delek Real Estate’s debt for close to half of what they would receive if they waited until the bonds mature. There are even investors who are willing to sell Arkadi Gaydamak’s bonds at a price reflecting a yield of 156%. Below is a sampling of Israel’s largest borrowers, in whom the market has the least faith. Amit Berger, who has earned the financial wizardry title by successfully navigating his way through the capital market over the past decade, buying and selling control of assets and companies and juggling his holdings, tops the list. The capital market has awarded Enter Holdings, which he controls, a yield of almost 300%. The bond series in question has no backing, as the company’s two assets - Tiv Taam and 5% of Prisma Investment House - are not in good shape and bondholders will apparently. . .

MK prepares for economic refugees from U.S.
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
The world financial crisis makes it necessary for Israel to start preparing immediately for a wave of North American immigrants, asserts Knesset Member Eliyahu Gabai, who is currently working to bring together immigrant absorption professionals for a special parliamentary discussion on the subject. But Nefesh B’Nefesh, which together with the Jewish Agency is the principle assistance organization for potential immigrants, is not quick to sound the alarm, noting that the crisis has not produced more immigration nor does it seem to be a significant push factor for North America Jews. In an interview with Anglo File, Gabai (National Union-National Religious Party) advocated two parallel moves, one proactive and the other preparatory. "First we need to see whether we are set to absorb an influx of immigrants," he said.

Report: Number of immigrant students declining
Yaheli Moran Zelikovich, YNetNews 11/7/2008
Immigrant Absorption Ministry data reveals 15% drop in number of olim choosing to pursue academic education in Israel -The last three years have seen a 15% drop in the number of new immigrants enrolling in Israeli universities, a report by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry revealed Friday. The data, which pertained to the 2006-2007 academic school year, indicated that the number of immigrants choosing Israeli higher education decreased by 1,411. The report was complied by the immigrant students’ unit within the Immigrant Absorption Ministry’s Students’ Department, which was formed some 40 years ago, in order to encourage and assist foreign Jewish student. Ofer Ofan, head of the ministry’s student department, noted that the trend seemed to be continuing in the 2007-2008 academic year as well.

Exploratory drilling for oil in Judean Desert passes final hurdle
Ehud Zion Waldoks, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
The Council of National Parks and Nature Reserves on Thursday approved exploratory drilling for oil in the Judean Desert Nature Reserve, where three companies - Ginko Oil Exploration, Delek Energy Systems, and Avner - believe there could be as much as 6. 5 million barrels’ worth. The companies believe that Zuk Tamrur 4, just north of Route 31 from Arad to the Dead Sea, is the best chance Israel has to find oil. That many barrels of oil, while not enough to power the country for more than a month, would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The council’s okay followed approval by the Nature and Parks Authority’s (NPA) Assembly, its highest governing body. The 23-member council advises the Environmental Protection Ministry and the NPA on matters of policy. It includes government, environmental, academic and public representatives.

Jordanian official complaints against Israeli tourists on the rise
Palestinian Information Center 11/7/2008
AMMAN, (PIC)-- Contrary to the norm, the Jordanian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Maha al-Khatib, criticised Israeli tourists visiting Jordan and said that they have become a burden on the tourism sectors. During a meeting with the parliamentary economic and monetary committee on Thursday to discuss the ministry’s budget, the minister complained that all Israeli tourists who visit Jordan bring with them everything they need and spend little time in Jordan. The minister also complained that some Israeli tourists visiting Jordan, especially Petra, deliberately lose themselves, adding to the burden of the tourism industry in Jordan. When asked to explain, the minister said that some Israeli tourists burry pieces of old antiquities in historic sites in Jordan. However, the minister did not explain why those objects were being buried.

Economic pressures are forcing haredi men into the working world
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
Tuvia, 20, is working the night-shift this week at Teva Pharmaceuticals. While many of his peers are in the middle of three years of mandatory army service, Tuvia operates a drug-packaging machine to make ends meet. "Right after I got married I knew I had to find a job," said Tuvia. "I did not want to wind up like my brother who fell into $40,000 debt. My mother-in-law didn’t like the idea. She threatened to stop paying our rent if I went out and got a job. But I was determined. " Tuvia, a Breslav Hassid from Mea She’arim, is one of a growing number of young haredi men who are leaving the yeshiva world earlier due to economic pressures. "Even if I received it every month on time - which I didn’t - the stipend I was getting from the kollel was not enough to raise a family," he explained. "Besides, I was paid in dollars. "

IRAQ: U.S. Pushes In Their Excellencies
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Inter Press Service 11/8/2008
CAIRO, Nov 7(IPS) - More than five years after the U. S. -led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Arab capitals are beginning to send ambassadors to Baghdad. But some Egyptian commentators question the timing of the move, which they attribute to pressure from Washington. "Arab governments originally wanted a full withdrawal of foreign forces and a stable security environment before sending ambassadors," Ahmed Thabet, political science professor at Cairo University, told IPS. "Yet the pending U. S. -Iraq security agreement promises to turn the current military occupation of Iraq into a constitutionally sanctioned one. " In early October, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit and Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmi visited the Iraqi capital with the stated aim of improving the two countries’ long-stalled bilateral relationship.

Iraqi doctors wary of carrying guns
Ahmed Janabi, Al Jazeera 11/7/2008
Iraq’s medical professionals have reacted with caution to a government waiver that doctors be allowed to carry arms for self-defence purposes. The Baghdad government is hoping the arms initiative will improve security conditions to lure doctors who now reside in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf back to the country. Nadhim Abd al-Hamid, the chairman of the Iraqi Physicians Union, welcomed the decision considering it as part of psychological tactic. He said: "It would make doctors feel more confident, and give a message to assailants that doctors are armed so they would think twice before attacking them. "Hussain Mousa, the union’s representative in the southern Iraqi province of al-Muthana wants the government to ensure better security for doctors rather than licensing gun ownership.

POLITICS: World Leaders Seek Culture of Peace
Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service 11/8/2008
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 7(IPS) - When more than a dozen world leaders meet in New York next week to discuss "the culture of peace", the primary focus will be the growing misperception of religion, specifically Islam, and the increase in racism, xenophobia and intolerance worldwide. An overwhelming majority of heads of state who will participate in the high-level meeting are from Muslim countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Morocco, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. U. S. President George W. Bush is also expected to address the two-day meeting of the 192-member General Assembly, his second visit to the world body this year, after September. "This is going to be a very important conference," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters early this week. Ban said the United Nations is the centre of the world’s efforts to advance mutual respect, understanding and dialogue.

’UN, not Riyadh, invited Israel to interfaith talks’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/8/2008
RIYADH: A Saudi diplomat denied in remarks published on Friday that Riyadh had invited Israel to a UN interfaith meeting in New York next week, saying the invitation had come from the United Nations. "The president of the UN General Assembly addressed invitations to all UN member states," Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Abdel-Aziz Khoja, was quoted as saying in Saudi and Lebanese newspapers. The November 13 conference is being held at the initiative of Saudi Arabia, which has no relations with Israel. Both Saudi King Abdullah and Israeli President Shimon Peres are due to attend. The meeting, which aims to promote dialogue among the world’s monotheistic religions, will be a follow-up to a similar conference in Madrid in July. This was an initiative by King Abdullah, whose country hosts Islam’s holiest shrines and does not permit the public practice of religions other than Islam.

Netanyahu offers new peace vision
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/7/2008
Likud chairman meets US secretary of State Rice, tells her he intends to adopt peace model that combines diplomatic success with economic cooperation; peace vision premised on grassroots level progress, Bibi says - Wooing centrist voters:Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu told United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Friday that he intends to adopt a new peace model should he be elected as Israel’s next prime minister. Netanyahu told Rice his model will combine diplomatic peace with economic peace, coupled with "accelerated development. "He stressed that the peace model will be premised on improvement on the grassroots level and that would then move up to the leadership level. The Likud chairman was referring to economic and trade ties between Israel and its neighbors that would ultimately prompt peace on the diplomatic front as well.

Rice: ''Annapolis Summit did not fail''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/7/2008
US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, stated during a press conference with the Palestinian President in Ramallah on Friday, that that Annapolis peace summit did not fail and that if the Palestinians and Israel stay on the track of peace, they will achieve it. She denied that the peace process, sponsored by the outgoing US President, George W. Bush, was a failure and stated that these efforts would lay the ground for an eventual peace agreement. The peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel were obstructed shortly after the Annapolis summit which was held a year ago in Maryland -- USA. Some of the main factors that obstructed the talks are Israel’s positions regarding Jerusalem, and the ongoing construction and expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including in and around East Jerusalem.

Rice: Annapolis is vital and vibrant
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/7/2008
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks launched a year ago are vibrant, and will continue and eventually lead to a Palestinian state, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday, dismissing the notion that US peace efforts failed because a deal won’t be reached by the year-end target. Speaking after a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Rice also addressed concerns that a possible change of government in Israel and the transition to a new US administration would stall the talks for months. In Israel’s February 10 election, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu is competing against Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who leads the current Israeli negotiating team. Rice and other Mideast mediators will meet in Egypt on Sunday to get a progress report from Livni and Palestinian negotiators.

Palestinian police call Israeli military to collect three lost Israelis near Bir Zeit
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Three Israelis mistakenly entered the Palestinian village of Bir Zeit on Friday, prompting Palestinian police officers to call the Israeli military in the area so that the three could be removed. Earlier Israeli reports said Palestinian police intercepted the three lost Israelis, but police denied this claim saying that they notified the police in charge of Israelis in the West Bank and had not further involvement with the incident. [end]

Crown prince visits Spanish UNIFIL troops
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/8/2008
MADRID: The heir to the Spanish throne, Crown Prince Felipe, made a surprise visit to Lebanon Friday to meet with Spanish troops serving with UN peacekeeping forces in the country, the Royal Palace said. "He is in fact today [Thursday] in Lebanon to meet with Spanish troops," a spokesman for the Royal Palace said, confirming earlier reports in the Spanish media. The 40-year-old prince arrived in Beirut on Friday morning, where he was received by Spain’s ambassador to Lebanon, Miguel Benz. He then traveled by helicopter to Marjayoun in the south of the country where over 1,000 Spanish troops are serving under the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Spanish media reported. Prince Felipe took part in a homage to Spanish troops who have been killed in Lebanon while at Spain’s Miguel de Cervantes military base.

Rahm Emanuel accepts offer to serve as Obama’s chief of staff
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, a key member of the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives, has accepted President-elect Barack Obama’s call to serve as his chief of staff, party officials said yesterday. "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 Obama, who was elected on Tuesday. "And no one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel. " Choosing Emanuel was one of Obama’s first decisions after becoming president-elect. The hard-charging fellow Chicagoan accepted the job after struggling over family and political considerations. By moving into a top White House job for a second time, Emanuel will have to put aside hopes of becoming speaker of the lower chamber. The son of a Jerusalem-born pediatrician who was a member of the. . .

Obama: A nuclear-armed Iran would be ’unacceptable’
Jerusalem Post 11/7/2008
In his first press conference since securing the United States presidency on Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama said Friday that a nuclear-armed Iran would be "unacceptable. " Iran, Syria happy about Obama victory Asked whether he responded to the letter of congratulation from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - the first instance of an Iranian leader congratulating an American president-elect since the Islamic Revolution which brought the ayatollahs to power in 1979 - Obama said "I am aware that the letter was sent," adding that so soon after the election there had been no time to "review the letter and respond as appropriate. " Obama also said that Iran’s support of terror groups "must cease," and that the US must mount "an international effort to keep [Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons] from happening. " His opening speech at the conference implied that the global economic crisis. . .

Barak on Iran: All options open
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/7/2008
Defense minister meets US secretary of state, says Iran still pursuing nuclear weapons while deceiving world powers; thanks Rice for being instrumental in Mideast peace process -Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday that Jerusalem is convinceIran is still pursuing nuclear weapons, while simultaneously deceiving the world via negotiations. Speaking after a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Barak said he believed that the leaders of the free world are aware of these developments, which must be taken into account in any future decision. " As for Israel, we have said before that all options are open," he said. Barak extended Israel’s gratitude to both Rice and the Bush Administration for their efforts to advance a solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict and for the creativity they have shown in the mediation.

Obama: Nuclear Iran unacceptable
YNetNews 11/7/2008
In first news conference since election, US president-elect urges international effort to keep Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapon. ’Iran’s support of terrorist organizations must cease,’ he says -An international effort must be made to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, US president-elect Barack Obama said on Friday. "Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, I believe is unacceptable," he said at a news conference in Chicago, his first since being elected Tuesday. "Iran’s support of terrorist organizations, I think is something that has to cease. " Obama said he would be reviewing a letter from Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, congratulating him on his election, and would "respond appropriately. " But he said the US approach to Iran could not be done in a "knee-jerk" fashion.

Column One: Livni’s Obama strategy
Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post 11/6/2008
With Sen. Barack Obama’s victory in the US presidential race, the stakes have been raised for Israel’s February 10 general elections. Whatever the Obama administration’s position on Israel may be, it will not be more supportive of the country than the Bush administration has been. And over the past year, the supportive Bush administration has decided not to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and not to support an Israeli effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. If Israel’s next prime minister intends to prevent Teheran from acquiring the means to implement its stated aim of destroying Israel, he or she must be prepared to stand up to America. Indeed, the greatest diplomatic challenge he or she will likely face will be standing up to a popular new President Obama, supported by large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and the overwhelming majority of American Jewish voters.

Forged documents and identity theft operation closed down near Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Hebron- Ma’an – A document forging laboratory was discovered during a police raid in Jabel Juhar near Hebron, lab equipment and supplies were confiscated and the illegal-business leader was arrested following the seizureThe media office of the Hebron police department said they found forged drivers licenses, cheques from several local banks and identity cards with the names and ID numbers of Palestinians indicating identity theft was also taking place. Head of the police department Ramadan Awad urged the citizens not to deal with forged documents, and reminded them that even owning a forged document is illegal under Palestinian law. [end]

Police in Tulkarem continue security campaign
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Tulkarem - Ma’an - The Public Prosecutions campaign in the Tulkarem area will continue next week, according to a statement from the Police Media Office in Tulkarem Friday. Tulkarem Police chief Ma’rouf Al-Barbary said that so far the goal of the campaign to strictly apply the law in all areas of Palestinian society has so far been a success, and will continue in the coming days. Ma’rouf urged citizens to take note of the operations, and end their illegal activities before the police do.

Replacing Barak
Yossi Sarid, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Just like America, Israel is also awaiting a new hope - one that is not faded or wrinkled. But here there is no sign of it for now: When in the U. S. they elect a new Obama, here they are reserving a place on the slate for an old Fuad [Labor MK Benjamin Ben Eliezer]; and really, what would we do without Fuad. Never mind Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu]; he is now a warrior who is behaving like a victor, and presumably it’s only a matter of time before the prime minister’s scepter is drawn from his scabbard. It is hard to expect of him that now, of all times, in his euphoria he will make way for a new hope - one that is neither recycled nor renovated. But what about Ehud Barak, who is pulling his party down into the abyss. Not only are we stuck with Bibi, we don’t even have an alternative; and what is hope in a democracy if not an ideological and ethical alternative? . . .

Police finish questioning Olmert for 9th time in corruption probe
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Police investigators questioned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Friday for the ninth time in connection with a series of corruption probes. Investigators arrived at 10 A. M. Friday morning at Olmert’s official residence in Jerusalem, for an interrogation that lasted about two hours. The outgoing prime minister is under suspicion in a string of cases, including questionable real estate deals and alleged cash transfers. The allegations involve events that took place before he became prime minister in January 2006. Olmert denies any wrongdoing, but the suspicions forced him to announce his resignation. He is to remain caretaker prime minister until a successor is chosen in February parliamentary elections. Related articles: Olmert probes: the corruption allegations against the prime ministerPolice sift through. . .

’Riot grrrl’ fuses feminism with Zionism in pioneering publication
Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 11/7/2008
Hadass Ben-Ari is not the first Anglo to move to Jerusalem because she "fell in love" with Israel during a short-term visit. But while most other Jews her age come to the capital to study or to work for a Jewish organization, the 26-year-old Ben-Ari spends her time publishing Fallopian Falafel, "the first and only Jerusalem-based feminist zine, bringing riot grrrl culture to the holy land. ""Riot grrrl" is no typo but an underground feminist punk/heavy metal movement that started in America in the early 1990s. Besides being a music scene, the riot grrrl subculture consists of political activism and a spirit of DIY (Do it yourself), which includes the publication of so-called zines (short for fanzine) - non-commercial pamphlets with small circulations. "It was mostly a self defense mechanism," Ben-Ari said in explaining how she got involved with the movement as a 22-year-old journalism student while living with her parents in Canada.

Quintuplets born in Gaza named in honour of local leaders
Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hibah Ali Eid and her husband Haytham from the Al-Bureij refugee camp in Gaza delivered quintuplets on Thursday, and named the infants after famous Palestinian leaders. The three boys were named Khaled, after Hamas leader in Damascus Khaled Mash’al;Mahmoud, after Mahmoud Az-Zahhar Minister of Foreign Affairs for the de facto Hamas government, and Ismail, after IsmailHaniyeh, the de facto Prime Minister in Gaza. The girls were called Mariam, after Mariam Farahat also known as Um Nidal, elected into the Hamas-lead government in 2006. Umm Nidal is also known for the involvement of her sons in attacks on Israel. Three of her six sons died in the course of their efforts. The second daughter of the couple was named Fatima, after Fatima An-Najjar who died when she walked into a group of Israeli soldiers and detonated a bomb strapped to her chest.

Who is a haredi?
Tali Farkash, YNetNews 11/7/2008
Meretz MK Tzvia Greenfield cannot call herself a haredi and at the same time support her party’s platform -"Say, is she really haredi? "a non-religious colleague asked me yesterday. "The one from Meretz, the one who said Shulamit Aloni was a great Torah scholar, you know, the one who’s a member of B’Tselem and everything, it says that she’s haredi. Is it true? " I gave her a lame excuse to avoid answering the question, because the truth was I wasn’t certain myself. The question of "Who is a haredi" once again occupies the ultra-Orthodox public these days. The swearing-in of Tzvia Greenfield to the Knesset this week as Meretz’s sixth MK brought back to life an ancient debate. The "Tzvia Phenomenon" (there’s no other way to put this,) has already baffled quite a few Israeli citizens, haredim and seculars alike.


Israel’s Man of the Year Eluded Justice
Mahmoud El-Yousseph, Palestine Chronicle 11/7/2008
      ’How on earth is this man not on the US no-fly list?’
     After reading about Israel’s most recent Man of the Year Award recipient, I did not know whether to laugh or cry.It looks like the judging panel at the Israeli television station Channel 2 is in need of a public relations consultant. The recipient of this yearʼs award was Meir Dagan, the Chief of Mossad - the Israeli foreign intelligence agency. Meir Dagan is an unindicted war criminal with Arab blood on his hands.
     Major Israeli daily newspapers Ha’aretz and Yediot Ahronot immediately denounced the choice and described it as an embarrassment to Israelis. Ha’aretz ran an editorial on Mr. Dagan that was titled, "Killer of the Year". While Yediot Ahronot described Dagan as an opportunist who does not know the meaning of humanity or sympathy.
     It is amazing that a media outlet would select such a man for this prestigious title that does not make Israelis feel proud at home and respected abroad. There are several noted and noble Israeli men that come to mind who would be worthy of this distinction.

Politics versus civic life in Gaza

Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 11/7/2008
      As the rival Palestinian political parties are set to engage in serious national unity talks in Cairo, the factional divisions have also led to a series of strikes by workers in the public sector. For the past 16 months, the ruling Hamas party in Gaza and the Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have been at odds. While Hamas has taken measures against Fatah in Gaza, in the West Bank the reverse has occurred.
     Abbas ordered a boycott of Hamas after the Islamist party took over Gaza amidst fighting with Fatah in June 2007, demanding that employees of the public sector not deal with a Hamas-run government. The repercussions from this decision have already been observed throughout many public services, as more than 45,000 government employees have been sitting idle since last summer.
     The past few months have witnessed strikes in the education and health sectors.According to Samir Imtair, Director General of the Hamas-run chamber of governmental employees, 4,000 teachers have gone on a strike since August.Although the Ramallah-based government has distanced itself from these strikes, arguing that it continues to pay the salaries of those striking and non-striking teachers, these actions were initiated by Ramallah-based institutions, like the public employees syndicate and the teachers union.

Obama, Emanuel and the Promised Land

John V. Whitbeck, Palestine Chronicle 11/7/2008
      ’Obama named as his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, an Israeli citizen and Israeli army veteran.’
     In the first major appointment of his administration, President-elect Barack Obama has named as his chief of staff Congressman Rahm Emanuel, an Israeli citizen and Israeli army veteran whose father, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was a member of Menachem Begin’s Irgun forces during the Nakba and named his son after "a Lehi combatant who was killed" -- i.e., a member of Yitzhak Shamir’s terrorist Stern Gang, responsible for, in addition to other atrocities against Palestinians, the more famous bombing of the King David Hotel and assassination of the UN peace envoy Count Folke Bernadotte.
     In rapid response to this news, the editorial in the next day’s Arab News (Jeddah) was entitled "Don’t pin much hope on Obama -- Emanuel is his chief of staff and that sends a message". This editorial referred to the Irgun as a "terror organization" (a judgment call) and concluded: "Far from challenging Israel, the new team may turn out to be as pro-Israel as the one it is replacing."

First Sign of No Change: Obama Hires Chief of Staff

Mazin Qumsiyeh – The West Bank, Palestine Chronicle 11/7/2008
      As an immigrant who thrived in every way in the US for 29 years having arrived with nothing but my will to learn, I know that indeed anything is possible in the land of change. I have now relocated to the occupied West Bank, my birthplace, to help achieve other dreams of change I always had for other lands. We desperately need change here after 41 years of military occupation, 60 years of dispossession, and countless futile and destructive wars. Millions here and in forced exile hope and pray that a President Obama fulfils his pledge and immediately starts to work to bring peace to our tormented land and that he does it based on International law.
     Others also pin their hopes on Obama. Like African Americans, Arab-Americans (Muslims and Christians) and Muslim-Americans suffered significant prejudice that only increased after September 11, 2001. We looked with dismay as many took the wrong lessons from the events of that day and supported disastrous and self-destructive policies.Instead of looking at US foreign policy and the havoc it was reaping especially in the Middle East, neoconservative Zionists took charge of our foreign policy deciding that might makes right and that endless wars are the answer.

For Palestinians, There Are Two Obamas

Hasan Afif El-Hasan, Palestine Chronicle 11/7/2008
      Barack Obama, the son of a black father from Kenya swept to victory as the US first black president. Despite the long campaign, the mud slung, the ugly inferences and demeaning charges, the elevation of Obama to the White House is a proud transcendent moment in the US history. It is a mile-stone that will be the start of a new age in race relationship in the US. A black family will reside in the White House that was originally built by slave black labor two centuries ago! America came a long way! Congratulations!
     There are many reasons for Obama’s success in the election of the first black president in the US. High among them is the ruinous legacy of President Bush foreign and domestic policies. The two costly wars and the economy in ruins would have failed any Republican nominee including the war hero and former POW, Senator John McCain. Mr. Obama ran an impressive campaign and he also received help from unsolicited source, Osama Ben Laden. Ben Laden could have released a message threatening the US, reminding the American people of 9/11 terrorist attack and got McCain elected, but he did not. Political analysts called such a Ben Laden message "October surprise".

Who Wants Arab Money?

Aijaz Zaka Syed – Dubai, Palestine Chronicle 11/7/2008
      ’Why should the Arabs offer their money without being assured of substantial returns?’
     At the height of the Asian financial crisis and meltdown of Russia in 1990s, a pundit said that Boris Yeltsin went to bed drunk and Brazil woke up with a hangover.
     The Asian crisis was little more than a patch of rough weather, compared to the current financial catastrophe. This may be the biggest financial crisis the world has ever seen, even bigger than the 1929 Crash. The Depression was confined to the US and the world was not as globalized as it is today.
     For once one finds oneself agreeing with Tom Friedman. The world is indeed flat.Which is why from Asian tigers to India and China, and from the old Europe to Latin America, no one has emerged unscathed from the Wall Street carnage.
     Although the Gulf states have taken some drubbing, the region has largely managed to insulate itself against the total collapse as the US, Europe and other economies have experienced.
     Of course, this is not thanks to some clever thinking on the part of Arabs. It’s because of the simple fact that the region isn’t still fully integrated into the global financial system.

Bush’s Last Bullet: Why the US Attacked Syria

Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle 11/7/2008
      ’US commandos killed eight Syrian civilians, including a father and his four sons.’
     The sovereignty of an independent, stable country that has carried out many constructive moves in recent months and weeks, which could have surely contributed to the stabilization of the Middle East, has been violated, its borders breached and its civilians killed.
     But when the country targeted is Syria, an Arab country, and the perpetrator is the US military, then, somehow things are not as appalling as they may seem.
     The US raid on a small farming community near the Iraq-Syria border on October 26 is being treated differently than the Russian attack on Georgia in August 2008. The latter was vehemently condemned by every last leading US official, who specifically decried Russia’s violation of international law, laws governing the sovereignty of nations, and the destabilization of a whole region. Few in the US government, and fewer in the ever-willing mainstream media, dared offer any alternative reading to what truly triggered the conflict. For example, Georgia’s initial violent attacks on South Ossetia, killing many Russian citizens and peacekeepers, seemed a negligible fact.

’The life of an Iraqi is worth no less than that of an American’

Tariq Ramadan, The Guardian 11/8/2008
      Barack Obama’s election is to be welcomed for several reasons. Yet we must not be lulled into complacency by naive estimates of what lies ahead.
     The eight years of George Bush’s presidency have accustomed us to errors, lies and manipulation. Since September 2001, the Bush regime has been obsessed by "war on terror" and the "axis of evil". Over time, Americans have awakened to the emptiness of these bellicose and arrogant slogans.
     Obama’s roots and his multiple cultural identities could not be of a greater contrast to that of his predecessor. His understanding of the countries of the world, particularly of the global south, point to a different future. Taken together, his life and experience make hope for a new understanding of domestic and international issues possible. Obama should become the symbol of a new United States, promoting domestic policies that favour justice and equality, improve urban life, broaden opportunity, and empower citizens of all origins. The first black president’s greatest achievement would be to cause people to forget his colour, and to implement more equitable social policies.

Let’s go to Egypt with optimism

Ibrahim Al-Laham, Ma’an News Agency 11/7/2008
      Bethlehem – Ma’an – We are just 48 hours away from the beginning of Palestinian national unity talks in Cairo, and every side is now deciding whether or not to join in with live ammunition in a bid to disturb the atmosphere in preparation for its failure or postponement.
     To name just one of these underhanded preparations, Israel carried out a military operation in the central Gaza Strip, itself a violation of the truce that has prevailed for the past five months.
     The attack was carried out with a weak pretense but carries a strong message who whomever it may concern. Ever since Israel realized that the time for Palestinian national reconciliation had arrived, it had no other option but to attempt to stop it. An operation to press “reset” on the deepening rift among Palestinians.
     Hamas leaders took the bait, releasing pessimistic statements, carrying out wide-scale arrests, in which dozens of Fatah leaders were detained.