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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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9 November, 2008

Al-Kurd family evicted from their home in East Jerusalem - Seven international solidarity activists arrested from protest camp
International Solidarity Movement 11/9/2008
Jerusalem Region - Israeli police have evicted the Al-Kurd family from their home in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, and arrested 7 international solidarity activists that were staying on the property. The evicted Al-Kurd family have been staging a 3 1/2 month popular campaign against their eviction, establishing a protest camp and regular community actions. At around 4:30am, Israeli police arrived at the property of the Al-Kurd family. Eight internationals, from the USA, Canada, Britain and Sweden, were situated in the protest camp established on the Al-Kurd family property. They have been arrested and are currently in Israeli custody in Jerusalem. This eviction has occurred despite international outrage and objections to the planned eviction, including a formal protest from the United States. The decision paves the way for the takeover of 26 multi-storey houses in the neighbourhood, -- See also: Israeli police have evicted the al-Kurds Family from their east Jerusalem home at dawn and U.S. protests eviction of Arab family from East Jerusalem home

Gaza goes dark: Strip generators run out of fuel
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – With the Nahl Oz fuel transfer point running at only 40% of its regular capacity for almost a week officials warned that power outages could follow. When the sun set in Gaza on Sunday the Strip was plunged into darkness and no electric lights illuminated Gazan cityscapes. The sounds of small generators were heard around the city so main roads and shops could continue to function. Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Jamal Al-Khudari warned of complete electricity blackouts in the Gaza Strip earlier on Sunday. His foreboding statement also cautioned citizens and the international community that the decreased supplies getting into the exhausted area could cause the humanitarian situation in Gaza to mushroom. Only two crossings into Gaza remain partially open, the northern Nahl Oz and the southern Kerem Shalom transfer point which operated. . .

Barak seeks OK to hit residential areas
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 11/9/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak called on the government on Sunday to examine ways of approving IDF action against residential areas in Gaza from which rockets are fired at Israel. Speaking during the weekly cabinet meeting, Barak said many rockets were fired from the vicinity of residential homes and schools, precluding an Israeli response due to fear of harming civilians. Around 60 rockets and an unknown number of mortars have fallen on western Negev communities since last Tuesday evening, when the IDF raided a tunnel 250 meters inside Gaza that the army said was about to be used to kidnap troops. In response, Barak has ordered all border crossings with Gaza to remain shut until further notice. The Defense Ministry has also called on the government to approve an extra NIS half-billion to construct rocket-proof protective structures and complete safety rooms for 4,400 Israeli housing units in the Gaza periphery.

Anti-closure events continue in Hebron’s Old City; Israeli forces harass officials
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Palestinian dignitaries were harassed on Sunday as they made their way towards Hebron’s city center to participate in the week-long National Campaign to Life the Siege imposed by Israel on the area. Delegations were halted at the Ras-Al-Jura checkpoint and detained while identity cards and passports were checked by soldiers. After arriving in the old city of Hebron delegates were told that the area around the Ibrahimi mosque had been declared a closed military zone and no one would be allowed in. The delegates persisted in their efforts to enter the mosque; went through the four sets of gates leading up to the entrance where worshipers usually stand, then were again told that they would not be allowed to enter. The delegation was accompanied by Governor of Hebron Hussein Al-A’raj, and included Palestinian Minister of Justice Ali Al-Khashan, Minister of. . .

Two UN Reports Highlight Israeli Infringement of Palestinian Rights
UN News Center, Palestine Media Center 11/9/2008
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has spotlighted in two new reports to the General Assembly how Israeli practices impinge upon the rights of Palestinians through the continued building of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and other means. In one publication, Mr. Ban stressed that United Nations resolutions and a 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) both reflect how Israel’s construction of settlements – “in effect, the transfer by an occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” – breach the Fourth Geneva Convention. Other activities, such as land requisition and the destruction of houses and orchards, are also “illegal,” he writes. Between 1967 and the end of last year, Israel set up 120 settlements in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem,. . .

Haniyeh: Hamas would accept state on 1967 borders
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas-affiliated prime minister in Gaza, said on Saturday that his government would be willing to accept a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with Israel. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Haniyeh made this pledge to a meeting of 11 European members of Parliament who sailed to Gaza in protest of the Israeli siege of the coastal territory. Haaretz journalist Amira Hass, who has been barred from Gaza for two years, sailed with the European delegation on Saturday. According to Haaretz, Clare Short, who served in the cabinet of former British prime minister Tony Blair, asked Haniyeh to repeat a previous offer to accept the 1967 borders in exchange for a long-term truce with Israel, “if Israel recognized the Palestinians’ national rights. ”In response to a question about whether there are in fact two Palestinian. . .

Independent Palestinian figures ask Egypt to re-start Palestinian dialogue
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Independent Palestinian figures have launched a last-minute attempt to get intra-Palestinian dialogue back on track after Egypt announced the postponement of a highly anticipated summit meeting of Palestinian factions in Cairo, said Palestinian businessman and academic Dr Yasser Al-Wadiyya on Sunday. “Contacts with the Egyptian leadership and Palestinian factions revealed that everybody is almost consenting with the suggested Egyptian document which was meant to be discussed in Cairo today,” Al-Wadiyya explained. Hamas announced on Sunday that it would not attend the meeting in protest of arrests of its members by the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. He reiterated that both Fatah and Hamas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip must end political arrests as a goodwill gesture in order to provide a “positive atmosphere” prior to dialogue in order to enter a new stage of unity and agreement.

Qassam hits Negev region; no injuries
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 11/10/2008
Rocket fired from northern Gaza lands in open area. ’We feel helpless; you hear the Color Red alert system and pray for a miracle,’ Kfar Aza resident says -A Qassam fired by Palestinians in northern Gaza Sunday night landed within the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council’s limits. No injuries or damage were reported. At around 11:10 pm a loud blast was heard in the western Negev area. The rocket apparently landed in an open field. Ophir Libstein of Kfar Aza said the rocket attack underscored the urgency of the petition filed on behalf of the residents of Israeli communities surrounding Gaza demanding that the government complete thefortification of their homes. " We feel helpless; you hear the ’Color Red’ (rocket alert system) and pray for a miracle," he said. " Earlier Gaza residents reported ofsporadic electricity blackouts, and Palestinian. . .

Israeli forces seize six Palestinians in West Bank raids
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized six Palestinians during early morning raids the West Bank on Sunday. Four Palestinians were arrested in Nur Shams Refugee Camp east of the city of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank. Palestinian security sources in Tulkarem identified those arrestees as 22-year-old Mahmoud Zandeiq from Nur Shams, 24-year-old Jihad Nazal from Qabatiya, near Jenin, 25-year-old Wajdi Zandeiq and his brother 20-year-old Mahmoud Zandeiq. Israeli soldiers also stormed the city of Tulkarem and searched several homes. One of the homes belongs to Sami Abu Safa, an officer in the Palestinian general intelligence service. The home of Kamal Ad-Da’ma was also ransacked and inspected as Israeli forces claimed his son Abdullah was wanted by the Israeli intelligence. Palestinian security sources in Bethlehem told Ma’an that Israeli forces arrested 27-year-old. . .

Israeli military invades a West Bank village, detains residents
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/9/2008
Israeli military invaded early on Sunday the West Bank village of Eidieya near the Bethlehem city , as the Israeli soldiers rounded up several Palestinian residents in other parts of the occupied West Bank. Witnesses said that the Israeli troops broke into a restaurant during invasion of the Eidieya village. Meanwhile , Israeli soldiers detained today a Palestinian youth from the nearby village of Dar Salah. In addition, the Israeli troops swept into the Nour Shams refugee camp in the outskirts of Tulkarem city, causing panic and fear among the residents, witnesses said. Witnesses added that the Israeli soldiers opened heavy random fire throughout the camp, messing up with many houses, before detaining four residents.

Hundreds of ultra-orthodox Jews pray at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Dozens of armored buses brought hundreds of ultra-orthodox Jewish worshippers to pray at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Tour buses lined the streets on the western side of the seperation wall, and roads were blocked off from Tantur to the Beit Jala (Gilo) checkpoint as hundreds of worshipers in black coats and hats gathered in the area. The mass prayer gatherings were organized by the Mosdos Kever Rachel (Rachel’s Tomb Institute) around the date believed to be the anniversary of Rachel’s death. The official date set by the group is 9 November, but worshipers overwhelmed the area on Saturday evening as well. The Institute runs a Jewish religious school at the tomb, and funds a daily bullet-proof bus service that brings Jewish worshippers from Jerusalem to the tomb.

Three students detained while supporting anti-closure events in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained three Al-Quds Open University students while they participated in a solidarity march in Hebron as part of a campaign to end the closure of Hebron’s old city. Palestinian security sources identified the students as Abdallah Salem Thawabtah and Ad Zeidan Thawabtah residents of Beit Fajjar as well as Mohammad Tayseer Shakarnah of Nahalin village. The national campaign against the closure of Hebron condemned the action.

Hamas: No room to implement long-term truce with Israel
DPA, Ha’aretz 11/10/2008
Hamas will not implement a long-term truce with Israel for the time being, a senior official of the Islamist organization said Sunday. The offer "was not canceled," Mahmoud al-Zahar said, but added that there was "no room to implement it for the time being" since "there is no one to talk about this proposal with on the other [Israeli] side. " He said a long-term truce was "a project that can be developed when there are intentions. "The Hamas long-term truce offer was first made by the organization’s late spiritual advisor, Ahmed Yassin, who suggested a 20-year-long ceasefire, without recognizing Israel’s right to exist, in return for an Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Six-Day war. Zahar’s remarks were made a day after Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said his government could accept a Palestinian state only. . .

Zahar: No long-term cease-fire with Israel at the moment
Jerusalem Post 11/9/2008
A long-term truce between Israel and Hamas cannot currently be implemented, DPA quoted Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar as saying on Sunday. Whilst the offer for a 20-year cease-fire, made by the late Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin, "was not canceled," Zahar said, it cannot currently be implemented because there is "no one to talk about this proposal with on the [Israeli] side. " Yassin’s offer was for a truce between Israel and Hamas in exchange for Israel withdrawing from all territory taken in 1967. Zahar’s remarks came the day after Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh made contrasting statements, saying that Hamas would accept a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, meaning the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Speaking to European politicians who arrived in Gaza on a ’blockade-busting’ voyage from Cyprus on Saturday, Haniyeh was quoted in. . .

Haniya to European lawmakers: we offered a long-term truce with Israel
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/9/2008
Palestinian Prime Minister of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, told European lawmakers today that his party has offered Israel a long-term truce and that his government has accepted a Palestinian state on the 1967 border lines. During a meeting of an 11-member EU lawmakers delegation in Gaza city, the prime minister, confirmed that Israel has though rejected the party’s offer. Answering a question about the international community’s perspective towards the existence of two Palestinian states , one in Gaza and the other in the West Bank, Haniya explained that there are no two states. He made clear that what exists in Gaza now is not a government, but rather some kind of A system that representS an elect-party ’Hamas’. The European delegation arrived in Gaza through Gaza shores, as a third breaking-siege boat could cross into Gaza.

IOA closes Gaza crossings for sixth day running
Palestinian Information Center 11/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority continued to close all Gaza commercial crossings on Sunday for the sixth day running at the pretext of Palestinian violation of the calm agreement. The Hebrew radio said that war minister Ehud Barak decided to retain the crossings closed after a projectile was fired from the Strip last night at an area south of Majdal, which caused no casualties or damage. An Israeli warplane on Saturday night blasted a missile launcher north of the Gaza Strip but no casualties were reported. An IOF patrol came under fire near the Karni crossing but no casualties were sustained, the IOF command said. IOF soldiers on Saturday advanced into eastern Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, on Saturday and bulldozed agricultural lands and were met with Palestinian resistance fire. The IOF violated the calm agreement when it killed 7 Palestinian fighters. . .

European campaign: We hope more ships will arrive at Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 11/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The European campaign to end the siege on Gaza has said that the successive successes of the sea voyages to the besieged Gaza Strip called for an Arab and international effort to send more ships loaded with all Gaza needs to the Strip. Dr. Arafat Madi, the head of the campaign, said in a statement on Sunday said that the third such voyage proved that the sea route between Gaza and the Cypriot port of Larnaca is open. He said that solidarity activists wishing to travel to Gaza on board those trips are increasing daily including MPs, politicians, legal experts and peace activists. Madi, who was on board the Dignity boat that anchored at Gaza on Saturday, said that his campaign was embarking on big efforts to secure Gaza’s medical needs, noting that Dignity had on board a ton of medicines and medical equipment.

Charity offers free medical care for one day in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Free medical care was administered to about a thousand Palestinians in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City on Saturday by the Patient’s Friends Society. According to Dr Hashim Rustim, who supervised the charity event, said free medicine was also given out despite dire conditions in the besieged Gaza Strip. For his part, the society’s president, Faysal Abu Shahla, said that Patient’s Friends Society offered medical services in the of most densely-populated neighborhoods to help residents during “these miserable days. ”He promised more medical charity campaigns, thanking the medical workers for their efforts in easing the suffering of people who cannot normally afford to go to the clinic.

Israel evicts Palestinian family from Jerusalem home
Reuters, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Supreme Court says Al-Kurd family did not own plot of land upon which home that became symbol of opposition to Jewish settlers was built. Adviser to Palestinian PM: New Israeli crime in series of crimes that aim at Judaizing Jerusalem -Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family on Sunday from an East Jerusalem home that has become a symbol of opposition to Jewish settlers seeking a bigger foothold in the holy city. The al-Kurd family had been living in the cream-colored stone house for the past 52 years. But Israel’s Supreme Court ruled they did not own the plot of land upon which the home was built and in July it ordered their eviction. Fawziyeh al-Kurd, 56, said police broke down the door before dawn, put her in handcuffs and dragged her and husband Mohammad out of their home, one section of which is already inhabited by a settler family under a four-year-old court decision.

Elderly Palestinian couple evicted from East Jerusalem home despite U.S. protest
Michael Bahl, Ha’aretz 11/10/2008
In a pre-dawn operation in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of predominantly Arab East Jerusalem, scores of police officers and IDF troops Sunday evicted an elderly Palestinian couple from their home, despite protests by the United States, other countries, and human rights groups. Security forces also detained several activists of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement who had been sleeping on the family’s property, and expelled them to the adjacent West Bank, without pressing charges. A Jerusalem court in July ruled that the east Jerusalem housing provided to Mohammed al-Kurd and his wife Fawzieh in 1956 by the Jordanian government and a UN refugee agency was built on land to which their title was in doubt and they must vacate the property. The case came to international attention when US diplomats lodged an official protest with Israel for harming Palestinians. . . .

Israelis throw disabled man, wife out of home
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/10/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli police evicted a disabled Palestinian man and his wife from their Occupied East Jerusalem home at dawn on Sunday in the wake of a prolonged court battle with Jewish colonists and just two days before municipal elections. Armed security forces surrounded the Kurd family’s house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of mostly Arab Occupied East Jerusalem during and after the operation. "They arrived at 3:30 in the morning. They broke into the house by smashing the door and forcefully threw us out, inhumanely," said Fawzia al-Kurd. Foreign diplomats, many of whom live in Sheikh Jarrah, had expressed support for the Palestinian family in recent months, and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was in Israel last week, had protested against moves to expel them. Foreign pro-Palestinian activists had camped out at the house for weeks in solidarity with the. . .

Border policeman gets one year for killing Palestinian in Jaffa
Ofra Edelman and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 11/10/2008
A border policeman was sentenced to one year in jail on Sunday for shooting and killing a Palestinian in Jaffa. Tomer Avraham was convicted of manslaughter in the 2006 death of Ayad Abu-Raya, but the Tel Aviv District Court deemed that incident an accident. "The accused did not seek to take a human life and did not gamble with human life. . . he failed as a soldier doing his duty," Tel Aviv District Court Judge Oded Mudrik said in sentencing him. The Police Investigations Department said it believed "the accused should be given a significant sentence, and therefore it would study the court’s decision and consider its steps. "According to the verdict, on October 4, 2006 a Border Police squad in Jaffa found three Palestinians in Israel illegally, including Abu Raya and his brother, at a building site.

PCHR Organizes an International Conference in Cairo on Extra-judicial Executions and Prosecution of Israelis Suspected of Committing War Crimes
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11/6/2008
In Cooperation with the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR) and the Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession (ACIJLP), On 8 November, 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is organizing, in cooperation with AOHR and ACIJLP, an international conference on the impunity and prosecution of Israeli war criminals in Cairo. The conference is organized as part of PCHR’s “Awareness raising and lobbying against the Death Penalty in the OPT” project that is funded by the EC and Oxfam Novib. [1] Dozens of international and Arab legal experts and human rights defenders have been invited to attend the conference that aims at discussing issues related to extra-judicial executions perpetrated by the Israeli military (Israeli occupation forces occupying the Occupied Palestinian Territories) against Palestinians.

Border Guard officer gets 1 year for shooting illegal resident
Vered Luvitch, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Tel Aviv court rules policeman who shot Palestinian during border guard operation guilty of manslaughter only - Border Guard officer Tomer Avraham, 21, who was convicted of shooting an illegal Palestinian resident to death two years ago, will receive one year of jail time and a year and a half of probation, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled Sunday. During the trial, it was determined that Avraham, who had shot the man during a border guard operation in 2006 aimed at identifying and detaining illegal residents in central Israel, was guilty of manslaughter and not of murder. As it was described to the court, Avraham and two other policemen identified and detained three Palestinians at a building site in Jaffa, at which point they hit them with night-sticks and sat them with their backs facing the wall of the building site.

Energy authority warns of Gaza blackout
Palestinian Information Center 11/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA energy authority in the Gaza Strip has warned that large areas of the Strip would plunge into total darkness within the few coming hours after the Israeli occupation authority blocked the entry of necessary fuel to feed the sole electricity generation station in Gaza. The authority said on Sunday that one of the electricity generators had already been shut down in the early morning hours. It appealed to all parties concerned to intervene and ask the IOA to allow entry of fuel supplies in order to ensure continued operation of the power station. The IOA is closing all Gaza commercial crossings for the sixth day on Sunday in violation of the calm agreement. [end]

Due to fuel shortage, Gaza power company warns of an upcoming power outage
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/9/2008
The Gaza Strip’s electricity power company warned on Sunday of an upcoming power outage due to shortage of industrial crude fuel needed for generating electricity, which Israel has stopped supplying for the past few days. In a statement, emailed to press, the company warned of a power outage across the coastal territory, blaming Israel for not supplying the needed daily needs of fuel used in generating electricity. The statement read that any power failure would affect essential serviced such as sanitation, hospitals and water networks throughout the Gaza Strip, expecting a serious power supply shortage in 24 hours. The electricity company called on all concerned institutions to intervene for preventing an imminent humanitarian crisis in Gaza, unless Israel resumes supplying fuel. Last week, Israel sealed off completely all Gaza’s crossings in the wake of a series of. . .

Khudari: Electricity station’s stoppage entails humanitarian disaster
Palestinian Information Center 11/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular anti siege committee, has warned that the complete stoppage of the sole electricity generation station in Gaza would entail a humanitarian and environmental disaster within the few coming hours. He said in a press conference on Sunday that the Israeli occupation authority was closing all Gaza commercial crossings for almost a week and fuel was running out from that station. The MP pointed out that the IOA was also banning entry of necessary equipment for the maintenance of the power station that was shelled and greatly damaged two years ago in an IOF aerial raid. Khudari appealed to the international community to pressure the IOA to end the siege, adding that the IOA was tightening the siege on Gaza following the successful sea voyages. Kenan Obaid, the deputy director of the Gaza power authority, said on Sunday that. . .

Blackouts in Gaza after Israel stops fuel
Ali Waked and AP, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Fuel shipments halted Wednesday following rocket attacks on Negev; Palestinian official says Strip will be plunged into total darkness Monday if shipments aren’t resumed -Gaza residents are experiencing sporadic electricity blackouts, and Palestinian officials are blaming Israel for cutting off fuel shipments to their power plant. Israeli military administration spokesman Peter Lerner says the Palestinians warned their Gaza City electricity plant would run out of fuel Monday if shipments aren’t resumed. He said the shipments were stopped last Wednesday because of Palestinian rocket attacks. Kanan Obeid, chairman of Gaza’s Hamas-run Energy Authority, also said the Strip would be plunged into total darkness unless the fuel shipments are resumed. According to him, one of the power plant’s turbines has already been deemed inoperative, and the remaining turbines will stop functioning on Monday.

Defense officials: Economic pressure on Gaza becoming ineffective
Alex Fishman, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Despite blockade imposed on Gaza, 150,000 liters of diesel oil poured into Strip through pipes located under Philadelphi route, while tunnels turn into freeway of goods, essentials - Gaza’s residents are no longer dependant on Israeli diesel oil, as the fuel flows from Egypt to the Strip through pipes located under the Philadelphi route. This is another stage in Gaza’s disengagement from its dependency on the State of Israel. Defense officials have admitted that the economic pressure, exerted by Israel on the Strip through the siege and the limitation of goods allowed to enter Gaza, is growing weaker and that today the Palestinians find alternative sources for their energy and goods supplies in Egypt. Israel has so far transferred 120,000 liters of diesel oil into the Gaza Strip on a daily basis. In the recent days, however, the Hamas government conveyed a message to the Jewish state that it no longer plans to continue buying fuel for vehicles, at least not at the extent it used to purchase in the past.

Blackouts flicker through Gaza as power station runs out of fuel
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/10/2008
Gaza residents were experiencing sporadic electricity blackouts on Sunday night as Palestinian officials blamed Israel for cutting off fuel shipments to their power plant. A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, Peter Lerner, said the Palestinians had warned Israel that their Gaza City electricity plant would run out of fuel Monday if shipments were not resumed. Lerner said the shipments had been stopped last Wednesday because of Palestinian rocket attacks, which began in response to an IDF raid on the coastal territory. The Defense Ministry said Sunday that no decision had yet been made about renewing the fuel supplies. The Gaza City plant provides about a quarter of Gaza’s electricity. Most of the rest comes directly over lines from Israel, though Egypt also provides a small amount.

’Israel won’t give Gaza-bound boats PR’
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 11/10/2008
Pro-Palestinian activists who have been sailing to Gaza in a bid to break Israel’s siege of the Strip are seeking a confrontation with the authorities, which is why they have not been stopped so far, an Israeli official involved in handling the issue told The Jerusalem Post Sunday. "We judge every incident individually. The past three times, the boats have been allowed entry, because it was decided that an operation to stop them was not worth conducting," the official said. The Free Gaza Movement has sent three boatloads of activists to Gaza, the last of which, Dignity, reached Gaza shores on Saturday, carrying 11 parliamentarians on board from Britain, Switzerland, Italy and Ireland. "The Dignity pulled into Gaza at 9:15 a. m. Gaza time after an uneventful trip from Cyprus," a Free Gaza Movement press release said.

Palestinian university workers begin three-day strike on Monday
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Workers at all Palestinian universities in the West Bank and Gaza will begin a three-day strike for increased pay on Monday union chief Musa Dr Amjad Barham said on Sunday. Barham told Ma’an that the week’s protest will include sit-ins in front of the Palestinian cabinet building and the office of Palestinian minister of education. He added that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had forced university workers to accept a pay cut in October. “We hold the Palestinian Council for Higher Education responsible for hindering education process in universities as it failed to meet agreements reached with unions and universities,” Barham said. [end]

Lies abound: Presence of political prisoners affirmed in West Bank and Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Human Rights organizations confirmed on Sunday the existence of political prisoners in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Fatah categorically insists they do not have political prisoners and Hamas, though also guilty of the phenomena, said on Saturday that conciliation talks cannot go forward until its West Bank affiliates are released. Hamas withdrew from the long-anticipated Cairo national conciliation talks early Saturday, less than one day before their scheduled start. The party declared it could not take talks seriously while its West Bank activists remained in Palestinian Authority (PA) prisons. According to Hamas, the PA is holding 400 Hamas activists behind bars. According to Fatah there “are no political prisoners” in West Bank prisons. Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for Fatah Mohammad Al-Lahham confirmed that. . .

Hamdan: We did not ask for postponement of the dialog
Palestinian Information Center 11/9/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, has pointed out that his Movement did not ask for postponement of the national dialog but opted not to attend it. He explained in a TV interview Saturday evening that Hamas officially informed Egypt that it would not attend the dialog after PA chief Mahmoud Abbas refused to release Hamas’s political detainees in the West Bank, which reflected his non-seriousness in making the dialog a success. Hamdan appreciated the Egyptian decision to postpone the dialog, hoping that it could convince Abbas to seriously get involved in the dialog. He stressed that Abbas retains more than 400 political detainees in his jails, and charged that his announcement before American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice that there were no political detainees in PA jails reflected submission to the American veto on the dialog.

Fatah: Hamas decision will lead to unpredictable future for Palestine
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Official Fatah spokesperson Ahmad Abd Ar-Rahman called Hamas’ decision to boycott conciliation talks in Cairo a move that reflects its irresponsibility towards Palestinian destiny and its conflict with Israel. The spokesperson accused Hamas of having unspecified “special concerns” that prevented them from working for reconciliation. Abd Ar-Rahman called the Hamas take-over in Gaza a “black page in Hamas’ history” and warned that the decision to boycott the talks would have an “unpredictable outcome. ”“Palestinian people want unity,” he added, “but Hamas refuses to attend the dialogue to give its opinion knowing that dialogue is capable of solving any problem. ”Egypt and the Arab-league, he concluded, have now been forced into a position where they must determine which side is standing in the way of reconciliation.

Abu Marzouk: Cairo should provide all reasons for success of dialog
Palestinian Information Center 11/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau, has called on Cairo to provide all reasons necessary to ensure the success of the inter-Palestinian dialog. He told PIC in an interview that Hamas made a detailed study within the Movement and with other factions such as Islamic Jihad, PFLP-GC and Saiqa before deciding against attending the Cairo dialog. He said that the decision was taken after it was clear that Hamas and other factions’ demands would not be taken into consideration mainly to provide serious atmosphere for ensuring its success especially as far as the security campaign against the resistance fighters in the West Bank was concerned. PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s denial in a press conference of the presence of political detainees constituted a "covert blessing" to his security apparatuses’ practices.

Hamas Boycotts Cairo Talks, Egypt Delays Palestinian Dialogue
Palestine Media Center – PMC, Palestine Media Center 11/9/2008
Abbas: Hamas Responsible for Failure of National Reconciliation 09/11/2008 The Egyptian government indefinitely postponed Palestinian reconciliation talks, which were scheduled to start Monday, after Hamas threatened to boycott the talks, "until the necessary and proper conditions are achieved to secure its success," according to the official news agency MENA on Saturday, leading Palestinian presidency to hold Hamas responsible for the collapse of the Egyptian mediation efforts and accusing the Islamist movement of “serving Israeli interest and harming the Palestinian cause. " "They (the talks) have been cancelled," Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told AFP. "Hamas told us it would not participate in the dialogue and therefore Egypt delayed talks until an opportunity presents itself," the Egyptian intelligence, which had been mediating talks between individual rival Palestinian groups, said in a statement.

Qassem: Hamas directed its weapons against occupation
Palestinian Information Center 11/9/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Prof. Abdul Sattar Qassem, political science professor and former PA presidential candidate, has said that all detainees affiliated with Hamas in the West Bank were political detainees. Qassem in an article published on Saturday said that not all politicians are nationalists for "there are politicians who sell the country for a few dollars, coordinate with the enemy against the country, acquire arms from the enemy and work as spies and agents for the enemy". He said, on the other hand, Hamas is not a terrorist group but rather is a group that has offered many sacrifices and used its weapons only against occupation. Hamas remained patient for a long time despite repeated PA security apparatuses assaults and persecution of its cadres and even leaders, the professor pointed out. Qassem described Hamas’s weapons as legitimate unlike those of the PA, which only obtained weapons with Israeli approval.

Hamas: Abbas’s denial of political detention ethical, national crime
Palestinian Information Center 11/9/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement issued a statement in Al-Khalil describing PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s denial of the presence of political detainees in his West Bank jails as an "ethical and national crime". It said that the allegation affirms that Abbas and his authority were not ready to retract their "suspicious security role in prosecuting resistance", and proved their complete bias in favor of the Zionist regime that exchanges role with them in targeting Hamas and its cadres. Hundreds of those detainees in Abbas’s jails are the cream of the Palestinian society while criminals and real security threats are left at large under the very eyes of the security apparatuses, Hamas charged. It resolved, "There is no hope of success of any dialog with those people who practice oppression against Hamas then deny doing it and try to deceive the public opinion through promulgating scandalous lies".

Fatah: Egypt could host unity talks in 2 weeks
Reuters, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Negotiator Nabil Shaath says Abbas’ faction ’interested in making sure chance to return to dialogue is not wasted,’ adding Hamas’ pretext was ’silly’ -Egypt could host Palestinian reconciliation talks in two weeks, after a failed attempt to bring Hamas andPresident Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction to the table this week, a senior Fatah official said on Sunday. Fatah negotiator Nabil Shaath told reporters his assessment was based on information from the Egyptian mediators, who are steering the initiative to end internal divisions that have also undermined Abbas’ attempts at peacemaking with Israel. "I expect it would be two weeks, minimum, to return to dialogue. . . I know that Egypt is working hard in order to find another chance so that the chance would not be wasted completely," Shaath said.

Israeli defense minister asks for a response to Gaza homemade shells fire
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/9/2008
Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, asked on Sunday for a government response to homemade shells fire onto nearby Israeli areas, as cabinet member Benjamin Beneleizer, called for stopping fuel supplies to Gaza. Barak’s request came during a weekly cabinet meeting Sunday morning, discussing a variety of issues, including latest developments on the ground in Gaza following Israeli attacks on the coastal region last week. The Israeli defense minister was quoted by Israel’s radio station-Arabic service, as saying that " it is an imperative to respond to sources of the homemade fire from Gaza’. The radio also quoted Israeli infrastructure minister, Benjamin Beneleizer as asking stoppage of fuel supplies to the coastal territory, in response to the homemade shells fire. Today’s reactions came in the wake of a series of deadly Israeli army attacks on Gaza last week, in which 8 residents including 6 fighters were killed.

Barak: Israel should consider firing back at Qassam launchers
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 11/10/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak urged the cabinet on Sunday to consider discussing in its next session the use of counter fire in response to the Qassam rockets being launched at the Negev from the Gaza Strip. During a debate on the matter of reinforcing Gaza-area homes, Barak suggested that the matter of responsive fire be raised during the cabinet’s next meeting on Wednesday. The defense minister stressed that the most recent Israel Defense Forces operation, which was carried out to destroy a tunnel from the coastal territory believed to be intended for abducting soldiers, was a "defensive raid. " "The operation does not give the Palestinian organizations justification for breaching the calm," he said. Barak was referring to the barrage of Qassam rockets which were launched following the raid.

National Security Cabinet to discuss fortifications Wednesday
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Defense Ministry demands NIS 500 million in order to provide safe rooms for Gaza vicinity residents, but Finance Ministry says request for funds not mentioned in last budget meeting - The National Security Cabinet will discuss Wednesday a request for additional NIS 500 million (about $132 million) in funds for the protection of Gaza vicinity communities, the cabinet determined during its weekly meeting Sunday. The funds would be used to create individual shelters and secure rooms for over 4,400 homes in the region. During the cabinet meeting, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, himself a resident of the southern city of Ashkelon, emphasized that "the capabilities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad have changed compared to what was expected over the past two years as planned regarding the fortifications for Gaza vicinity communities.

Christian clergymen clash in Holy Sepulchre church
Middle East Online 11/9/2008
JERUSALEM— Rival monks brawled at one of Christianity’s holiest sites, and Israeli police have detained two clergymen for questioning. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says fighting erupted Sunday between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in occupied Jerusalem. The church marks the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Police detained one monk from each side. Rosenfeld says fighting flared over preparations for the annual ceremony held by the Armenians to commemorate the 4th century discovery of the cross believed to have been used to crucify Jesus. Six Christian sects control the ancient church. They regularly fight over turf and influence, and Israeli police must occasionally intervene. Israeli police were called as the free-for-all left several people with black eyes, bruises and bloody cuts.

Faithful fight at Jerusalem church
Al Jazeera 11/10/2008
Israeil police have made two arrests after fighting erupted between Armenian and Greek Orthodox clergymen at one of Christianity’s most sacred sites - the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. An Armenian and a Greek Orthodox monk were arrested after the brawl, police said on Sunday. Dozens of worshippers, dressed in traditional vestments of their sects, kicked and punched each other, knocking down tapestries and overturning decorations at the site in east Jerusalem. Police officers eventually restored order at the church, which followers believe is both the traditional site of the crucifixion and contains Jesus’s tomb. Both sides blamed each other for the violence, with one Armenian monk saying that Greek Orthodox worshippers attempted to place their monk inside the tomb - which he said is not permitted.

Once again, monks come to blows at Church of Holy Sepulcher
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/10/2008
Israeli police rushed into one of Christianity’s holiest churches Sunday and arrested two clergyman after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus’ tomb. The clash broke out between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection. It began as Armenian clergymen marched in an annual procession commemorating the 4th-century discovery of the cross believed to have been used to crucify Jesus. It ended with the arrival of dozens of riot policemen who separated the sides, seizing a bearded Armenian monk in a red-and-pink robe and a black-clad Greek Orthodox monk with a bloody gash on his forehead. Both men were taken away in handcuffs. Six Christian sects divide control of the ancient church.

Quartet urges Middle East action
Al Jazeera 11/9/2008
Senior envoys from the Middle East Quartet have called on Israel and the Palestinians to move forwards with peace talks despite the process being largely stagnant for the past year. The Quartet - which groups the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States - gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday to assess progress. The meeting at the Egyptian Red Sea resort comes a year after peace talks were relaunched in Annapolis in the US, but there is little sign that the ambition of reaching a deal by the end of the year can be achieved. Political turmoil in Israel which has led to early elections being called, and a lingering feud between rival Palestinian factions have hampered efforts to seal a deal.

Quartet: Mideast peace process should continue
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/10/2008
Sylvie Lanteaume and Hala BoncompagniAgence France Presse SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt: The so-called Middle East Quartet called on Israel and the Palestinians on Sunday to press on with peace negotiations even though a year-end target date for a deal is dead in the water. The Quartet also called for a halt to Jewish settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land as per its obligations under international law and UN Security Council resolutions, and for the dismantling of what it called "terrorist infrastructure. " "The Quartet called for the continuing of the peace process in the framework of Annapolis," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said after a meeting of the Quartet in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh. He was referring to the US city where talks were revived in November 2007 after a near seven-year hiatus, with both sides committing to reaching a long-elusive deal by the end of 2008.

Abbas, Livni brief Quartet meeting in Sharm Ash-Sheikh
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni briefed a meeting of the international Quartet on the status of peace negotiations in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm Ash-Sheikh on Sunday. The meeting took place the same day a Palestinian national unity summit was scheduled to begin in Cairo. The Palestinian meeting collapsed before it could begin when Hamas announced it would not attend in protest of Palestinian Authority arrests of Hamas members in the West Bank. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the French and the Russian foreign ministers and the UN secretary general will also attend the Quartet meeting. Palestinian, Israeli, and US officials have conceded that a peace deal is unlikely to be agreed on soon. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit expressed his hopes that newly-elected US President Barack Obama will push forward the peace process in the Middle East.

President Abbas hopeful about negotiations and dialogue
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/9/2008
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, said on Sunday that he is still optimistic about peace negotiations with Israel and that he is hopeful that Cairo succeeds in reactivating the national Palestinian dialogue. In the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Sharm Elshiekh, the Palestinian president emphasized the need to reactivate the Arab peace initiative of 2002, calling on a meeting of the Quartet (United Nations, United States, EU, Russia), to keep up playing its role in Middle East peace. Abbas explained during a press conference in the Egyptian town, "peace negotiations with Israel will continue until February2009 in order to inject a momentum to the peace process". On another issue, the Palestinian president was quoted as saying " we have decided to take part in the Cairo-hosted Palestinian national unity conference, but unfortunately Hamas has abruptly announced it would boycott such a conference".

Hamas: Quartet meeting meant to deepen Palestinian discord
Palestinian Information Center 11/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Sunday charged that the international quartet committee meeting in Egypt was meant to deepen the inter-Palestinian division and to endorse the American veto on Palestinian national dialog. Dr. Ismail Radwan, one of Hamas’s political leaders in Gaza, said in a press release that the meeting proves that the American veto was still there. He cited PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s escalation of his security campaign against Hamas supporters coupled with American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the region and the quartet meeting as proof. The Palestinian people refuse the American administration’s dictates and pressure, he asserted, adding that the quartet meeting puts obstacles before inter-Palestinian dialog and before national unity. The meeting further falls in line with a final measure by the Bush administration to ensure continuation. . .

Peres at Rabin memorial: Oslo Accords served the supreme Zionist interest
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/10/2008
President Shimon Peres on Sunday opened an evening of events marking 13 years since the assassination Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by lighting the "candle of Yitzhak" in memory of the slain leader at his official residence in Jerusalem. The president, who as foreign minister worked closely in tandem with Rabin in touting the Oslo accords, met with Rabin’s family. Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by a right-wing gunman seeking to derail his government’s peace moves. During the ceremont in his memory, Peres said: "Yitzhak was murdered while on the ascent, where we both marched together in agreement with one another in order to lead the state of Israel to the realization of the dream of the nation of Israel over the course of generations - peace for all and security for everyone. "

Livni: We recognize need for PA state
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/9/2008
Calling the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations "irreversible," the Middle East Quartet, meeting Sunday in Sharm e-Sheikh, said it would allow the bilateral talks to continue without international intervention or a deadline. Livni in Sharm: We recognize need for PA state The move by the Quartet - the US, Russia, EU and the UN - came in response to a request from both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. After the meeting, the Quartet said in a statement it "underlined its commitment to the irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations. " It also promised to respect the bilateral and confidential nature of the talks and called on all states to adhere to those same principles. RELATEDLivni: We recognize need to establish a Palestinian stateRice: Annapolis is vital and vibrantRice, Lavrov seek to ease tensions. . .

Olmert: Obama ’well-intentioned’
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Outgoing prime minister speaks with US president-elect, tells cabinet his tone and words indicate he will continue America’s friendship with Israel - US president-elect Barack Obama is "well-intentioned", outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told ministers during a cabinet meeting Sunday, relaying a congratulatory conversation he had held with the recently elected candidate. In response to the question whether Obama would be good for Israel, the prime minister responded, "The question of whether a president of another country is good for Israel is not phrased appropriately. The president of the United States needs to be good for the United States and we in Israel need to be good for ourselves. " Nonetheless, he did express confidence that the Obama administration would continue to have cordial relations with Israel, noting that Obama’s "tone and his words. . .

Analysts say Israeli-Palestinian peace process on hold
Zhang Yanyang, Xu Gang, ReliefWeb 11/8/2008
JERUSALEM, Nov 08, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) Though it is unrealistic to reach Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement by the end of U. S. President George W. Bush’s term, political analysts here do not regard it as a setback. The comment came after U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in her talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders during her on- going Mideast trip, has conceded this week that the Annapolis goal are unlikely to be met by the year’s end, while denying that the peace push was a failure. Under the U. S. pressure, Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed last November at an U. S. -hosted international conference in Maryland’s Annapolis to relaunch the stalled peace talks aimed to hammer out a comprehensive peace treaty before US President George W. Bush leaves office in January.

Palestinian, Estonian Foreign Ministers Hope for Successful Conclusion to Peace Process
Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Palestine Media Center 11/6/2008
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority Riyad al-Maliki in Marseille. Topics discussed at the meeting were the situation in Palestine and the peace process. The ministers also discussed co-operation with the European Union for advancing the peace process and bilateral relations. According to Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority Riyad al-Maliki, the European Union plays a very important role in backing the Middle East peace process. Estonian Foreign Minister Paet stated that the peace process that began in Annapolis must continue regardless of the extraordinary election taking place in Israel in February of next year. “The peace process must progress and it must end with the creation of the Palestinian state,” said Paet.

Livni: We see the need for a Palestine, as long as it’s not a terror state
The Associated Press and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/10/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Sunday that progress had been achieved in peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, and that Israel recognizes the need to establish a Palestinian state, on condition that an independent Palestine does not sponsor terrorism. Speaking after a meeting Sunday with the Quartet of Mideast peace negotiators in Egypt, Livni described the negotiations with the Palestinians as serious and intensive. "We recongnize the need to establish a Palestinian state, provided that it will not be a terror state," she said. Representing Israel at the meeting at the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheik, Livni updated representatives of the U. S. , Russia, United Nations and the European Union on Sunday about progress in talks with the Palestinians.

UK MPs call for Europe-wide campaign to pressure Red Cross concerning Schalit
Etgar Lefkovits, Jpost Correspondent, Paris, Jerusalem Post 11/8/2008
Two British MPs called on European parliamentarians late last week to launch a joint campaign to pressure the International Red Cross to do more on behalf of the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit who is being held by Hamas in Gaza. The proposal was put forward at the Policy Conference of the European Friends of Israel held in Paris on Thursday and Friday, where hundreds of European parliamentarians gathered at the largest Israel policy conference ever held in Europe. The initiative comes two and a half years after Schalit was abducted, and amid increasing concern over his well-being as Egyptian-mediated negotiations for his release have repeatedly stalled. The bi-partisan initiative will see parliamentarians from across Europe and beyond seek meetings with local representatives of the International Red Cross in each of their respective countries on the same. . .

VIDEO / Syria President: Israel is not genuine about peace
Yoav Stern and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/10/2008
Syrian President Bashar Assad accused Israel of working toward peace with its Arab neighbors for the sake of internal political gain alone, calling the country’s peace efforts "not genuine. ""Until now, we’ve seen the peace slogans in use in the internal political game in Israel, and as part of Israel’s maneuvering spin on its foreign policy," Assad told the opening session of a meeting of Arab parliamentarians in Damascus on Sunday. The Syrian leader called on Israel to clarify its outlook on peace among nations, and accused its neighbor of professing to want peace as a series of tactical moves, rather than a strategy. Syria and Israel recently held four rounds of indirect talks, mediated by Turkey. But the talks made no significant headway, and Syria said a fifth round was postponed at Israel’s request.

Assad: Israel not genuine about peace
Associated Press, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Syrian president says Jewish state must prove it wants peace by withdrawing from all Arab territory - Syria’s president says Israel is not genuine in its professed desire for peace with its Arab neighbors. Bashar Assad says Israel must prove it wants peace by withdrawing from all occupied Arab territory. Assad spoke Sunday at the opening session of a meeting of Arab parliamentarians in the Syrian capital Damascus. Syria and Israel recently held four rounds of indirect talks, mediated by Turkey. But the talks made no significant headway, and Syria said a fifth round was postponed at Israel’s request. Assad also criticized a proposed American-Iraqi security pact that would keep US troops in Iraq for three more years. He said American troops contribute to regional instability and should withdraw from Iraq. A recent American raid inside Syria near its border with Iraq is confirmation that the US will use Iraq as a base to attack its neighbors, he added.

VIDEO - Mass exercise tests IDF’s ability to fight two-front war against Syria, Hezbollah
Channel 10 and Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 11/9/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for November 9, 2008. The Israel Defense Forces Northern Command concluded a large-scale exercise Thursday which simulated a double-front conflagration with Syria and Lebanon. The drill, codenamed "Shiluv Zro’ot III" (Crossing Arms III), was the second largest of its kind since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Among this week’s exercises was a strategic-level simulation involving all IDF commands. Speaking before subordinate officers, Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said that the importance attached to Crossing Arms III stemmed from the fact that it involved all IDF operational arms, and from the fact that it was put together in a way which internalized the lessons of the Second Lebanon War. After the drill concluded Thursday, Ashkenazi said he was "very pleased with the seriousness shown and the progress made.

Border issues on agenda for Baroud’s visit to Damascus
Daily Star 11/10/2008
BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora met on Sunday as Lebanon was preparing to send its interior minister to Syria on Monday for the first time since former Premier Rafik Hariri’s murder in 2005, in an effort to boost security cooperation between the two neighbors. Sleiman and Siniora discussed the prospects of Ziyad Baroud’s visit as well as other issues, most importantly the outcome of the president’s weekend visit to Egypt. Baroud, who visited both Siniora and Sleiman on Sunday to brief them on his visit’s agenda, will be accompanied by Lebanon’s security chiefs, Wafiq Jizzini and Ashraf Rifi, the president’s office said. The visit comes almost three months after Sleiman made a landmark visit to Damascus and less than a month after Syria and Lebanon decided to establish diplomatic relations for the first time.

Security forces arrest Fatah al-Islam member
Daily Star 11/10/2008
BEIRUT: A Lebanese man named during the televised confessions of members of the Fatah al-Islam militant group in Syria last week was captured by security forces in Tripoli over the weekend. Khaled al-Itter, known by the alias "Abul Abed," was arrested on Saturday, security sources told the AFP news agency. Itter is said to have been involved in meetings between Fatah al-Islam’s senior members after the group was forced out of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in 2007 after months of heavy fighting with the Lebanese Army. Lebanese security forces swooped on Itter just two days after he was named on television by one of the men suspected of planning a suicide car-bomb attack that killed 17 people in Damascus in September. Syrian state television broadcast the "confessions" of 10 men and a woman, who were all said to be members of Fatah al-Islam.

South Korea re-commits to UNIFIl role
Daily Star 11/10/2008
BEIRUT: South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-Hee said Saturday that his country was committed to its military contribution in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Lee’s remarks came after meeting Defense Minister Elias Murr at his residence in Rabieh. Ahead of meeting Murr, Lee headed south to meet members of UNIFIL’s South Korean contingent, based near Tyre. [end]

Lockheed Martin in talks to sell Israel F-35s
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 11/9/2008
The chairman of the Maryland-based Lockheed Martin defense contractor, Robert J. Stevens, used a visit to Israel on Sunday to quietly urge the government to purchase a fleet of fifth-generation F-35 warplanes, also known as Joint Strike Fighters. The F-35 is slated to begin to replace the world’s F-16 fighter jets over the next five years. With its reported firepower, stealth, and cutting edge technologies, the jet is described by Lockheed as the most "lethal, supportable and survivable aircraft ever to be used by so many warfighters across the globe. " Stevens told The Jerusalem Post that Israel was currently in talks over a possible purchase of 25 F-35s, with an option to eventually buy more. The discussions were "very lengthy," and there had been "no commitment to buy yet" on Israel’s part, he said. At a press conference at Tel Aviv’s Hilton Hotel, Stevens said there. . .

Ethiopian immigrants protest dire absorption conditions
Yael Branovsky, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Residents of Beit Alfa absorption center rally outside Prime Minister’s Office once more, say government bodies fail to follow through on agreement reached before High Holidays; seven protestors detained for questioning -Some 150 Ethiopian immigrants staged a demonstration in Jerusalem on Sunday, in protest of their economic distress and the harsh living conditions in the Kibbutz Beit Alfa absorption center in northern Israel. The protestors further claimed thatprevious agreements reached in their case have not been implemented. Seven protestors were held for questioning by the police after attempting to break into the Prime Minister’s Office compound. The immigrants first began protesting before the High Holidays. After Two days of protests, the Jewish Agency and Absorption Ministry agreed to pay the immigrants back-owed pensions and. . .

8 Ethiopians arrested at violent Beit Alfa protest
Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post 11/9/2008
An entrance to the Prime Minister’s Office looked more like a refugee camp on Sunday afternoon as a protest by nearly 150 new Ethiopian immigrants over "sub-standard" conditions at the Beit Alfa immigrant absorption center turned violent. Crying children, men on crutches, and scattered personal possessions covered the blockaded entrance - behind the Bank of Israel headquarters - as the protesters, who have been there since Tuesday, have said that they refuse to leave the premises until solutions are found to their problems. On Sunday, patience wore thin as protesters attempted to break into the PMO compound, and police detained eight of them for questioning. While police said they had no choice but to prevent the protesters from entering the area, some of the immigrants alleged that police had used unnecessary force.

Israel’s efforts to bring emigrants back home continue
Itamar Eichner, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Government initiates survey for expatriates, in bid to strengthen their ties to Jewish state, encourage them to return -For the first time since the State of Israel’s inception, the government initiated a survey meant to analyze the community of Israeli expatriates across the globe. The objective? To create a consistent channel of communication with these communities and thus strengthen their connection with Israel and, hopefully, encourage them to return. The idea was conceived by Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel, who enlisted the help of Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski. The survey itself will undertaken by Dr. Uzi Ravhon, of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In upcoming weeks, the Israeli government will encourage expatriates to fill out a survey available on the

Scene set for Fatah conference in Amman; first since 1989
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Cairo – Ma’an – The preparatory committee for the sixth Fatah conference in Amman is scheduled to meet for a planning session between 15-18 November, at which time the Fatah extended committee will also meet. Fatah’s last general conference was held in 1989 in Tunis, and the coming meetings have been in the preparatory stages for almost a year. “The conference will be held within next few weeks,” a source within Fatah reported, atwhich point a “new central committee will be elected. ”Sources said no surprises are expected in terms of members nominated or elected into the central committee and added that most of the candidates are in their fifties and have been with the party for a long time. The source added that other members will not attend for health reasons. Topics for the meetings include:Discussions on the party views of the Zionist project, reviewing. . .

Gaydamak would stop e. J’lem house demolitions
Jerusalem Post 11/9/2008
Jerusalem mayoral candidate Arkadi Gaydamak would stop all demolitions of illegal Arab homes in east Jerusalem as mayor, his spokesman said on Sunday. The remarks follow a months-long campaign by Gaydamak to court the Arab vote ahead of Tuesday’s municipal elections; he is polling far behind front-runners Nir Barkat and Meir Porush. "Gaydamak is adamantly opposed to the destruction of illegal homes in east Jerusalem, and as mayor he would cancel all such demolition orders," spokesman Yossi Milstein said. While the demolition of illegal homes is one of the most sensitive issues facing Arab Jerusalemites, it remains unclear how many will vote for the tycoon in elections 95 percent of them typically boycott. In contrast to Gaydamak, Jerusalem opposition leader Barkat and United Torah Judaism MK Porush stuck to traditional Israeli views on the subject on Sunday, proposing. . .

Sakhnin candidate banned for terror ties
Jerusalem Post 11/9/2008
A woman who served six years in prison for concealing knowledge of a suicide attack that killed six people in Jerusalem withdrew on Sunday from the Hadash Party’s slate of candidates for the Sakhnin municipal council, following a petition by the Movement for Quality Government. The woman, Tagrid Sa’adi, lied when she filled out her forms by stating that she was fully eligible to run for municipal office, even though according to the law, anyone who has served more than three months in jail and whose crime involves moral turpitude is prohibited from running for office for seven years after the end of the sentence. A person who wishes to run before the end of the seven years may ask the head of the elections to determine whether the crime committed involved moral turpitude. Sa’adi did not do so.

Terrorist’s aide drops out of Sakhnin municipal race
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Tagrid Saadi, who was convicted of aiding enemy agents in connection with 2002 terror attack in Jerusalem, forfeits city council bid following High Court petition filed by Movement for Quality Government in Israel - Controversy’s end: Tagrid Saadi, whose bid for the Sakhnin City Council was challenged by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel (MQG), announced Sunday that she will be dropping out of the municipal race. Earlier, the High Court heard MQG’s motion to have Saadi, who ran as part of the Hadash list, struck from the party’s city roster, on grounds of previous terror affiliation. Saadi, an Israeli Arab, was convicted of aiding an enemy agent and conspiring with terror elements, in connection with the 2002 terror attack on Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market, which claimed the lives of six Israelis.

Israeli universities still in danger of strike
Yaheli Moran Zelikovich, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Despite negotiated agreement to transfer more funds to higher education, letter from Hebrew University president indicates money not transferred, universities may be forced to close - The 2008-09 school year began as planned for Israeli universities, following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s intervention in negotiations between representatives of the academia and of the Finance Ministry that led to an apparent agreement between the two sides. Unfortunately, according to a letter sent to senior lecturers Sunday by Hebrew University President Menachem Magidor, it seems that the agreement is not worth the paper it’s printed on: In practice, the Finance Ministry has transferred neither the NIS 465 million (approximately $122 million) general budget addition or the additional NIS 50 million in government funds ($13 million) earmarked for university development, both of which were promised to universities as per the negotiated agreement.

Universities threaten closure over lack of funds
Jerusalem Post 11/9/2008
Universities may have to halt studies if they do not receive promised funds from the Finance Ministry soon, Committee of University Presidents (CUP) head Prof. Menahem Megidor warned on Sunday. "We hate to rain on the parade, but the danger of school stopping and [universities] closing is still present, in a real and immediate way," Megidor, who is also President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote in a letter to faculty members. "Despite the prime minister’s assurances, the money that will enable education is nowhere to be found. The Treasury is delaying its transfer, and has even conveyed in various ways that it does not intend to transfer [it]. "In addition, Megidor wrote, "Other budgets which the Finance Ministry promised in the past have not reached us. " "We are in the same place we were two weeks ago," he wrote.

’Barak’s words may lead to incitement’
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 11/9/2008
Right-wing politicians expressed their dismay and anger Sunday at Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s remarks on violence by Jewish extremists. Barak, speaking Saturday night at a Tel Aviv rally marking the 13th anniversary of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, implied that extremists were responsible for the violence permeating Israeli society. "We used to call them wild weeds, but now they are tumors with secondary growths," Barak said in his address to the rally. "This is no longer a warning sign, it’s a threat to democracy, the IDF, the police and to all the authorities of a normal society. " Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai demanded that Barak apologize.

Ultra-Orthodox pitted against secular Jews in Jerusalem’s mayoral election
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian 11/10/2008
When Pnina Dadon and her husband bought an apartment in Kiryat Yovel a decade ago, the west Jerusalem district was affordable and largely secular. In the years after the founding of the Israeli state it had been given over to Jewish immigrants from Morocco, such as her husband’s parents who lived nearby. Now Dadon, 39, has been out on the street, leaflets in hand, campaigning to rouse that older, secular community against what she sees as the growing encroachment of the strictly religious, ultra-Orthodox community into her neighbourhood. Religious kindergartens are being built and more synagogues planned in Kiryat Yovel as the ultra-Orthodox community grows in size and influence across Jerusalem. Tomorrow the community’s often uneasy relationship with the city’s secular Jews comes to a head. There will be city mayor elections, which will pit Nir Barkat, a rightwing, multimillionaire technology investor, against Meir Porush, a rightwing, Haredi - or ultra-Orthodox - rabbi.

Rejoining Likud, Meridor rules out deal with current PA leaders
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 11/10/2008
A diplomatic agreement cannot be achieved with the current Palestinian leadership, the Likud’s latest acquisition to its roster of Knesset candidates, former finance minister Dan Meridor, told The Jerusalem Post following his press conference at the party’s Tel Aviv headquarters. Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu brought back Meridor to the Likud to beef up the party’s left flank, less than a week after the return of former science minister Bennie Begin boosted the party’s right. While Begin will be utilized to attract voters from parties to the right of Likud, Meridor will be used to attack Kadima and win back the Likud’s former voters in the center of the political map. While Meridor spoke in favor of efforts to reach an agreement with Syria that could break its axis with Hizbullah and Iran, he sounded skeptical of efforts to reach an agreement with Palestinian Authority. . .

Hirchson case: Senior labor federation official gets 56 months in jail
Vered Luvitch, YNetNews 11/9/2008
Former head of NLF financial division gets reduced sentence on embezzlement, fraud and money laundering charges in exchange for testimony against former Finance Minister -The Tel Aviv District Court sentenced Ovadia Cohen, former head of the financial division of the National Labor Federation (NLF), to four years and eight months in prison on Sunday for his part in the Hirchson fraud case. Cohen pled guilty to embezzlement, fraudulent documentation and money laundering as part of a plea bargain with the State Prosecutor’s Office. He is expected to testify against former Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson. Cohen was convicted of embezzling nearly NIS 10 million (about $2. 6 million) from the NLF during his tenure as the head of the organization’s financial division prior to 2003. During this same period, Cohen also served as the chairman of the. . .

Fischer: I’m worried
Uriel Harman, Globes Online 11/9/2008
The Bank of Israel Governor predicts 2. 7% growth in 2009. "We expect 2. 7% growth in 2009, and we’re accused of over optimism. In such times, if you want to be serious, you should be worried, and I am really worried. Wise men won’t tell you that there is nothing to be worried about," said Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer last week during a meeting of the EU-Israel Chambers of Commerce and Industry held at the home of the Ambassador of France. Fischer added, "There will probably be a period of a rise in unemployment, a drop in the growth rate, and some companies will find it difficult to raise capital. These things happen during a slowdown. Some companies will find it difficult to obtain credit. "The slowdown is global, and in some countries, including in Asia, there is a severe recession. "

Partial airport work stoppage threatens departing flights to U.S.
Zohar Blumenkrantz, Ha’aretz 11/9/2008
Labor strife at the Israel Airports Authority is threatening to ground flights scheduled to depart Ben-Gurion Airport on Sunday night and into Monday morning. IAA workers announced a partial strike that is expected to disrupt departing flights, prompting IAA management to seek an injunction from the regional labor court so as to prevent extended delays for travelers. The authority also opened a situation room. The partial work stoppage is likely to primarly affect trans-Atlantic flights to the United States. Passenger luggage from incoming flights will not be unloaded. The move was decided upon Sunday after negotiations for a new labor deal reached a dead end. Management and workers remain at odds over the status of part-time workers as well as contractor employees. Related articles:FAA finds serious flaws in flight safety at Israeli. . .

Ben-Gurion Airport resumes normal operations
Eli Senyor, YNetNews 11/10/2008
Wage dispute between airport employees, management leads to short-term strike; workers return to work at around midnight -The Israel Airports Authority workers’ union has told Ben-Gurion International Airport employees Sunday night to resume normal operations, while the wage negotiations with management are continuing. Earlier five flights that were scheduled to depart from the airport have been delayed after Israel Airports Authority (IAA) employees renewed their short-term strike in protest of the deadlock in the negotiations over their wages. In the evening hours the IAA’s workers’ union held a meeting to discuss a possible general strike, while their employers asked the National Labor Court to issue an injunction ordering them to resume normal working hours. During Sunday afternoon’s talks, union representatives demanded a wage. . .

Global financial storms threaten empire of Jewish billionaire, philanthropist Adelson
Ophir Bar-Zohar, Noam Rodeh and Nimrod Halpern, TheMarker, Ha’aretz 11/10/2008
Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, listed prior to the global financial crisis as the third wealthiest man in America, is in talks with officials in Singapore and with banks in Hong Kong and Macao as mounting cash-flow difficulties at Las Vegas Sands threaten to torpedo $16 billion worth of casino projects in Asia - and possibly the very existence of his gambling empire. Since the crisis hit, Adelson has lost at least half of his reported $28 billion fortune - on paper - as the value of his gambling empire Las Vegas Sands was whipped by the global financial tempest. Adelson has lost at least $16 billion - on paper - as the value of his gambling empire Las Vegas Sands is whipped by the global financial tempest. Adelson has been a major contributor to Jewish causes, notably Birthright Israel, which sponsors free trips. . .

Palestinian construction worker injured in Ashkelon
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Palestinian construction worker from Hebron in the southern West Bank was seriously injured when he fell off a lorry which was unloading iron bars in a construction site in the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon. Israeli medics transported the 40-year-old worker who to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. The man was reported to be injured in the head. Last Tuesday, another Palestinian worker 45-year-old Hasan Isma’il from the village of Artas, near Bethlehem, died after falling from a third-floor scaffolding in a nearby Jewish settlement. [end]

Foreign direct investment in Israel up sharply
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 11/9/2008
But foreign investment in stocks traded on the TASE did reflect the global crisis and was significantly lower during the third quarter of 2008. Foreign direct investment in Israel increased sharply during the third quarter of 2008, despite the global economic crisis. Foreign direct invest via the banks totaled over $2 billion in the third quarter, the Bank of Israelreported today. Foreign direct investment via the banks amounted to $1. 38 billion in the second quarter and $1. 63 billion in the first quarter, and totaled $5. 82 billion in 2007 as a whole. Total direct foreign investment was $1. 47 billion in the second quarter of 2008 and $2. 19 billion in the first quarter, and $9. 67 billion in 2007 as a whole. The Bank of Israel did not disclose list foreign investment not made through the banks for the third quarter.

First Int’l subsidiary aims credit card at ultra-orthodox
Eran Peer, Globes Online 11/9/2008
Bank Poalei Agudat Israel CEO Dov Goldfreind: PAGI Plus cardholders will be branded as wise consumers. First International Bank of Israel (TASE: FTIN1 FTIN5 ) is expanding its activity in the haredi (ultra-orthodox) community through subsidiary Bank Poalei Agudat Israel Ltd. Bank Poalei Agudat Israel will issue its customers a branded credit card, PAGI Plus, which will offer discounts at businesses areas frequented by haredim, such as Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, and Ashdod. Bank Poalei Agudat Israel also announced that new customers will receive NIS 1,000 when they open an account at the bank. Bank Poalei Agudat Israel CEO Dov Goldfreind said, "PAGI Plus cardholders will be branded as wise consumers with an affinity and commitment as religiously observant. "

US, EU and Arab officials meet on Iran
Tovah Lazaroff And Ap, Jerusalem Post 11/9/2008
Senior US and European officials met in Sharm e-Sheikh on Sunday with several Arab leaders who are worried about the international community negotiating an agreement with Iran that would give the Islamic Republic more power in the Middle East, a US official who participated in the talks said. US President-elect Barack Obama has said he is open to holding talks with Teheran on its nuclear program. Israel was involved in Sunday’s meeting, but not directly, according to a spokesman for Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. "There is a concern in the international community about what would happen with Iran under the new [US] administration," the spokes-man said. RELATEDItzik urges EU MPs to act on IranIran slams Obama for nuke remarks He also said diplomats were worried that the US might establish an interest. . .

Arab diplomats want more information about West’s nuclear talks with Iran
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/10/2008
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt: Arab diplomats complained on Sunday about a lack of dialogue with the West over Iran’s nuclear ambitions during a briefing on the crisis by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended the meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh alongside French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and their counterparts from Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. "The Arab countries wanted to be informed of the state of negotiations" between Iran and six major world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - said an official who attended the talks. Another participant said the Arab diplomats expressed "deep concerns" at the meeting and complained of "insufficient dialogue" between Arab countries and the six world powers on the standoff over Iran’s nuclear drive.

Iraq sets provincial elections for January 31 as poll shows falling support for religious parties
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/10/2008
BAGHDAD: Iraq on Sunday timetabled long-awaited provincial elections for January 31 as a survey showed religious parties apparently losing support. The elections, which Washington sees as key for achieving national reconciliation, will take place "in one day in Baghdad and the other provinces," Qazim al-Abudi, administrative director of the Iraq High Electoral Committee, toldAFP "The electoral campaign will start at the end of this month or at the beginning of next month and it will last for two months," he said. In a survey by Al-Amal Association, an Iraqi non-governmental association, only 22. 7 percent of 12,000 people polled in 11 provinces said they would vote for religious parties. Voting for independent candidates was deemed a priority by 26. 3 percent of the 11,000 Iraqis surveyed, while 23. 7 percent said they would select democratic and secular blocks.

Baghdad set to pay bill for Sunni ’Awakening’ militias
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/10/2008
BAGHDAD: The Iraqi government is set to put former rebels in Baghdad on its payroll, partially integrating what is arguably the country’s largest militia into the armed forces, a senior official said Sunday. The transfer of responsibility for paying the so-called Sons of Iraq from the US military to the government begins with 54,000 men in the province of Baghdad on Monday, said Major General Kazim Atta, spokesman for Baghdad command. "Baghdad will pay salaries of all the Sons of Iraq in Baghdad starting tomorrow," he told AFP. The Sons of Iraq, also known as Sahwa (Awakening) Councils, are a decentralized network of Sunni Arab militias, comprised mostly of former insurgents, which the US paid to switch sides. Many of them battled US and Iraqi forces after the 2003 American-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, before they joined forces with the US military in 2006 in the fight against Al-Qaeda-linked militants and other insurgents.

Egyptian analysts question Arab overtures to Iraq
Daily Star 11/10/2008
CAIRO: More than five years after the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Arab capitals are beginning to send ambassadors to Baghdad. But some Egyptian commentators question the timing of the moves, 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," Ahmad Thabet, political science professor at Cairo University, told IPS. "Yet the pending US-Iraq security agreement promises to turn the current military occupation of Iraq into a constitutionally sanctioned one. "In early October, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit and Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmi visited Baghdad with the stated aim of improving the two countries’ bilateral relationship. The trip was the first by an Egyptian foreign minister since 1990, when Cairo severed diplomatic relations with Iraq in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

Several killed in Iraq blasts
Al Jazeera 11/9/2008
At least four people have been killed and 13 others injured in a bomb attack in the Iraqi province of Diyala, security officials and doctors have said. The bomb, which had been planted on a motorcycle, detonated in a crowded market in the town of Khalis on Sunday afternoon, officials said. An Iraqi police officer in charge of leading security operations in the town was among those hurt, Dr Ahmed Ibrahim Hassan, a staff member at Khalis hospital, said. There are frequent bomb attacks in Diyala despite recent improvements in security elsewhere in Iraq. Hospital attackThe attack in Diyala came hours after a female suicide bomber launched an attack in front of a hospital near the city of Falluja in Anbar province. A woman, a doctor and his wife were killed, with another seven people wounded, doctors said.

Muslim states to remember Kristallnacht
Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 11/10/2008
Dramatic Muslim representation is expected at Monday’s "Special Event Promoting Tolerance Throughout the European Continent" at the European Parliament in Brussels. Representatives of Libya, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, Turkey and Malaysia, among others, are to attend an event publicized as part of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht. The event is organized jointly by the European Jewish Congress and the presidency of the European Parliament. It is the first event of this scope in Europe to include such significant Muslim participation. The Muslim world representatives almost certainly had "clearance from home," said World Jewish Congress vice president Maram Stern, "so this is a great success. " The anniversary of Kristallnacht is an appropriate occasion for discussing tolerance, EJC president Moshe Kantor. . .

Belgian far right leader: I am one of Israel’s staunchest defenders
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 11/10/2008
At Belgium’s request, the European Parliament is expected next month to lift the immunity of one of its members, a former leader of the rightist Vlaams Belang party, exposing him to racism charges. Describing himself as a victim of blatant persecution, Frank Vanhecke told Haaretz the decision could spell his "political death. " In the interview, Vanhecke countered claims that Vlaams Belang is anti-Semitic, calling them "unjust and untrue," pointing to his record of cooperation with Antwerp’s Jewish community and standing up for Israel in the European Parliament. Vlaams Belang is an anti-immigration in the Flemish Community of Belgium that advocates the independence of Flanders and separation from the French-speaking population. Although it’s one of the country’s largest parties, and the second largest political party in Flanders,. . .

VIDEO / Netanyahu announces return of moderate ex-MK Meridor to Likud
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 11/9/2008
Likud Chair Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday announced the return of moderate ex-MK Dan Meridor to the right-center party, part of a broad effort by the Likud to attract high-profile figures ahead of early elections. Netanyahu, opening a press conference, referred to Meridor as "broadminded, honest and independent-thinking. He is one of the State of Israel’s most polite and intelligent people. " Meridor served as Finance Minister in then-prime minister Netanyahu’s cabinet in 1996. But Meridor, who was on the political left of the Netanyahu cabinet, bolted the government the next year, joining forces with Labor and other Likud politicians to found the Center party. Analysts Sunday noted the contrast between the relatively dovish views of Meridor, and those of hawkish former Likud MK Benny Begin, who last week announced his return to the Likud and intention to contend for a place on the party list.

Former Chief Rabbi Lau named as chair of Yad Vashem council
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/9/2008
Israel’s Cabinet has named the former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau as the new chairman of the council of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. Lau, 71, is a Holocaust survivor who went on to become a respected and influential rabbi. He succeeds Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, a fellow Holocaust survivor and former minister of justice who died in June this year, as chairman of the council, an honorary body of 120 people, which meets once a year. "The issue of the Holocaust is close to Rabbi Lau’s heart, and he sees in Holocaust Remembrance both Jewish and universal values," Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said in a statement released by the Centre. "My life experiences echo in the walls of Yad Vashem, and are found in the documents and exhibits therein," said Lau. Born in 1937 in Piotrkow, Poland, and scion of a well-known European rabbinic. . .

Palestinian family evicted from Jerusalem home despite US complaint
Ma’an News Agency 11/9/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family at gunpoint from their home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem at 4am on Sunday, in spite of a formal US government protest. A member of the Al-Kurd family said that Israeli troops police stormed their neighborhood and designated the area a “closed military zone,” preventing residents from reaching the house. Eight international solidarity activists from Canada, the United States, Britain and Sweden were arrested for protesting the eviction by camping on the family’s property. The eviction took place in spite of a formal diplomatic complaint filed by the US in July against the eviction. The US official protest question the authenticity of the Ottoman-era bill of sale on which the Jerusalem District Court relied in ruling that the property belongs to the Committee of the Sephardic Group, an organization seeking to establish a settlement in the neighborhood.

Palestinians forced from ’UN home’
Al Jazeera 11/9/2008
Police officers have evicted a Palestinian family from their east Jerusalem home of 52 years, after Israel’s high court ruled in favour of Jewish settlers already occupying part of the building. The al-Kurd family finally lost their protracted legal battle on July 16 this year, after judges backed the settlers’ claim to the land and ruled that the family be removed from the property. The family were evicted on Sunday, despite the fact the al-Kurds are still in the midst of appealing against the high court judgment. Fawzia al-Kurd told news agency AFP: "They arrived at three thirty at the morning. They broke into the house by smashing the door and forcefully threw us out, inhumanely. "Foreign pro-Palestinian activists have been camping outside the house in recent weeks in protest of the court ruling.


Where there’s a will
Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/6/2008
      The Israelis can be defied. But it requires courage, especially from Arab countries.
     The auditorium of the Rashad Al-Shawwa Cultural Centre reverberated with applause as Joe Fallisi, the Italian tenor, finished his song. Fallisi is one of 27 foreign and Palestinian activists who arrived to Gaza last week aboard the boat "Dignity" in a blockade- busting trip organised by the Free Gaza Movement.
     During the three days they spent in Gaza, the activists toured the strip, inspecting the damage that two years of blockade and Israeli incursions have incurred. On Thursday, they went to Dar Al-Shifaa, the largest hospital in Gaza, where dozens of patients face death if they are not allowed to receive treatment abroad.
     Iman, the wife of a heart patient, said, "I cannot believe that my husband is going to die just because they won’t let him travel. His life could be saved with a simple medical procedure."
     Scenes of demolished houses, destroyed olive groves, uprooted orange orchards, and filled-in wells left a profound impact on the activists. Hassan Bakr, whose farm the Israelis had destroyed, said he hoped the activists would relay what they saw to the outside world and "force Israel to stop the crimes it is perpetrating.&quot.

The Bilbao Initiative – Civil Society Action for Justice in Palestine

Final Declaration and Action Plan, Palestine Media Center 11/6/2008
      Final Declaration and Action Plan
     For the past 60 years, the indigenous Palestinian people has been scattered in the Diaspora and fragmented within its homeland by walls and policies of segregation and domination. However, the Palestinian national struggle cannot be divided, and the rights of the Palestinians to return to their homes of origin, enjoy freedom, and exercise self-determination can only be achieved if the root causes of their denial are addressed and if Palestinian national unity is preserved.
     During the Bilbao Initiative gathering, we, Palestinian, progressive Israeli and international organizations and social movements discussed and embraced the latest Palestinian in-depth examination (1)of Israel’s legal and political regime over the Palestinian people. This analysis exposes Israel as a state which is built on the massive ethnic cleansing of 1948 and which for six decades has systematically committed injustices against all segments of the Palestinian people – refugees in exile, citizens of Israel and those in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) – on grounds of their national identity, in order to prevent Palestinian self-determination and to cement colonization and domination via racist laws, including promoting exclusively Jewish immigration while barring the Palestinians’ right to return. From a legal perspective, this study has concluded that Israel’s regime is a system that uniquely combines apartheid, settler-colonialism and belligerent occupation.

Paid Bigots Including Walid Shoebat Teaching Religious War At U.S. Air Force Academy

Lawrence Swaim, Palestine Think Tank 11/8/2008
      The U.S. Air Force Academy just can’t seem to get it right. Six major cheating scandals in four decades. Endemic sexual harassment against female cadets. Christian evangelical officers proselytizing non-Christian cadets. But in February 2008, on the occasion of their fiftieth annual assembly, the Academy brass outdid themselves.
     They presented three discredited Islamophobes who spewed religious bigotry and advocated religious war, in the process trampling on the First Amendment and exposing the Air Force to international ridicule.
     Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani all claim to be "reformed terrorists." The three men’s narratives "border on the fantastic," as a Feb. 7 New York Times story delicately put it, including their claims that they killed hundreds of people while still children. Even members of Shoebat’s own family apparently believe that his stories of terrorism are fabricated. Most experts have concluded that they are frauds.
     ....However ludicrous their claims may be, the trio provided Academy brass with yet another opportunity to push the bigoted worldview of the Religious Right, this time under the guise of educating about terrorism....

WAR alert: Obama Advisors Discuss Preparations for War on Iran

Peter Symonds, Palestine Think Tank 11/8/2008
      On the eve of the US elections, the New York Times cautiously pointed on Monday to the emergence of a bipartisan consensus in Washington for an aggressive new strategy towards Iran. While virtually nothing was said in the course of the election campaign, behind-the-scenes top advisers from the Obama and McCain camps have been discussing the rapid escalation of diplomatic pressure and punitive sanctions against Iran, backed by preparations for military strikes.
     The article entitled "New Beltway Debate: What to do about Iran" noted with a degree of alarm: "It is a frightening notion, but it not just the trigger-happy Bush administration discussing"”if only theoretically"”the possibility of military action to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program"¦ [R]easonable people from both parties are examining the so-called military option, along with new diplomatic initiatives.
     Behind the backs of American voters, top advisers for President-elect Barack Obama have been setting the stage for a dramatic escalation of confrontation with Iran as soon as the new administration takes office. A report released in September from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank, argued that a nuclear weapons capable Iran was "strategically untenable" and detailed a robust approach, "incorporating new diplomatic, economic and military tools in an integrated fashion."

Differing directions

Hassan Nafaa, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/6/2008
      Despite being pro-Israeli, Obama will face an Israel radicalised to the right while the US he promises, and that the world awaits, is of the centre.
     With the US presidential elections at hand it is hard to resist the temptation to turn to recent history. Around this time in 2000, Bill Clinton was gathering his papers as he prepared to leave the White House, weighed down by disappointment in the results of strenuous efforts he had exerted over the preceding months to reach a final settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He had succeeded in persuading Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak to come to Camp David to discuss final status issues in talks that he attended personally. Now Arafat and Barak had to reorder their cards, each in their own way, in order to ready themselves for a new phase in the conflict following the failure of Camp David II. Whereas Arafat realised that he had to prepare the Palestinian people to take on the burdens of another phase in the struggle that would be exceedingly difficult after Sharon’s provocative visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque that triggered the second Intifada, Barak had to scramble to mend rifts in his coalition government and get ready for early elections. Within a short space of time after the US elections, which resulted in a Bush victory, Israeli Knesset elections were held and resulted in the victory of Sharon.

US President Obama’s Gatekeeper

Fikret Erta, Zaman, Palestine Media Center 11/9/2008
      Rahm’s surname was adopted by his family in 1933, after Rahm’s paternal uncle, Emanuel Auerbach, was killed in a confrontation with Palestinians in Jerusalem.
     The White House chief of staff is the highest-ranking member of the Executive Office of the President of the United States and a senior aide to the president. It is, therefore, of the highest importance. The duties of the chief of staff are both managerial and advisory, and depending upon the president’s choice and style they can cover the following: managerial -- selecting key White House staff and supervising them, structuring the White House staff system, controlling the flow of people into the Oval Office and managing the flow of information; and also advisory -- advising the president on issues of politics and policy, negotiating with Congress, other members of the executive branch and extra-governmental political groups to implement the president’s agenda.
     In short, the chief of staff is responsible for overseeing the actions of the White House staff, managing the president’s schedule and deciding who is allowed to meet with the president. Because of these duties, the chief of staff has been dubbed "the Gatekeeper" and "the Co-President". -- See also: Zaman: President Obama’s gatekeeper

Neither hell nor heaven

Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/6/2008
      Egyptian-Israeli relations will endure a recent Israeli affront, reports"I think we should call back our ambassador and throw out their ambassador. These people hate us and they don’t want peace with us," said Hassan, a Cairo taxi driver. Hassan was commenting on an affront directed by Israeli parliamentarian Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Yisrael Beitenu ("Israel is our home" Party, to President Hosni Mubarak over the president’s reluctance to visit Israel. "If Mubarak does not want to come to Israel then he can go to hell," Lieberman said to the shock of official and public quarters in Egypt.
     "Let them go to hell. This is what we should tell them: ’You go to hell, all of you!’" Hassan added. Not that Hassan is a strong supporter of the Egyptian president. On the contrary, he is unsatisfied with the prevailing economic conditions that are forcing him, though a civil servant "with a university degree", to work extra time as a taxi driver to make ends meet. "But this is different. We criticise the president. But no Israeli has the right to criticise the president of Egypt."

I Hope The Palestinians Will Use Nonviolence In Their Struggle For Human Rights And Freedom

Mairead Maguire, November 4, Palestine Monitor 11/9/2008
      (Journey to Gaza, 28th October, 1st November, 2008)
     On 28th October, 2008, the Free Gaza Movement set sail in SS Dignity from Larnaca, Cyprus, for Gaza. On board were 27 Internationals from 13 countries, Including Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, five physicians, human rights lawyers, etc., I felt deeply privileged to be part of this group going to Gaza. On this the second boat journey into Gaza the siege-breakers brought with them 6 cubic meters of medicine, and their hope that by going to Gaza across the sea (only the second boat to do so in over 41 years) they would give hope to the people of Gaza and that the outside world would break its silence to the tragedy of Gaza’s suffering and act to get the siege lifted.
     It’s hard to image that in the 2lst century a country can be so cut off from the Outside world. Sixteen months ago, when Gazans voted Hamas in free and fair elections, the reaction of Israel was not to open up dialogue with the Elected representatives (as they eventually must do) but to put in place a Policy of collective punishment of the entire population, which has lead to an humanitarian catastrophe. Israel said it was ending the Occupation of Gaza, but in truth it maintained it by closing all border entrances and isolating The Gazans from the entire world. Gaza is like an open air prison with Israel holding the keys but it’s worse, at least in prison, the inmates are Fed and taken care of. The people of Gaza are drinking polluted water and have not enough food and medicines and materials for existence. And in the words of one Gazan “we are slowly choking to death with this siege”. Before we sailed to Gaza the Israeli Gov., warned we would not be allowed to sail into Gaza. However, we were determined to do so and just 20 miles off the coast of Gaza, held our breath as two Israeli navy gunboats stalked us but took no action. Common sense had prevailed; hopefully a sign for the future, that in the final analysis those in power in Israel will realize that dialogue not Gunboats and F.16’s, is the only way to solve this too long and painful Palestinian Occupation. We arrived in Gaza exhausted and sea-sick. We were met by dozens of Palestinian heavily armed Police and though, before leaving Gaza, I had requested not to be so guarded, we were informed that the Hamas Government wanted to ensure our safety, and throughout the entire 4 day visit we were escorted by armed Palestinian police. Our reception by the people of Gaza was deeply moving....

Contesting the subtext

Muqtedar Khan, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/6/2008
      Bigotry has made Arab and Muslim a pejorative in the US presidential elections.
     All men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities -- The Virginia Statue of Religious Freedom (1786) In this presidential election cycle, American Muslims became a subtext of American politics that exposed the profound religious bigotry embedded in some segments of American society.
     A few months ago, some unscrupulous activists were sending e-mails claiming that Barack Obama was secretly a Muslim and in spite of repeated denials -- vehement ones often -- by the Obama campaign, for a long time nearly 10 per cent of the country believed them. The main assumption behind this tactic was that for some the mere possibility that Obama was Muslim was sufficient to discredit him.
     The irony of this episode during the campaign season is that the cads who were claiming that Obama was secretly a Muslim were banking on the existence of religious bigotry amongst McCain’s supporters. The subtext is this: We have many bigots in our society; let us exploit this reality by spreading lies about Obama’s faith.

EU MPs urged to rethink refugee issue

Etgar Lefkovits, Paris, Jerusalem Post 11/10/2008
      How to sell violations of human rights: "We are asking why the UNHCR has the mandate to solve the problem of refugees and UNRWA does not," Elon said. "There are cynical political reasons to maintain the status of the refugees."
     A gathering of hundreds of European parliamentarians who support Israel concluded over the weekend in Paris with a politically loaded discussion on the rehabilitation of Palestinian refugees - one of the most sensitive issues facing Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.
     The debate, part of a conference sponsored by the Brussels-based European Friends of Israel, came amid a groundswell of parliamentary activity around the world, including in the US and Canada, to reroute funding from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the mammoth UN body that deals with Palestinian refugees and their descendants, towards the resettlement of some of the refugees and their descendants in third countries. The session, which was hosted by the Israel Allies Caucus Foundation, the international arm of the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus, included addresses by European parliamentarians as well as by MK Benny Elon of the National Union-National Religious Party and MK Amira Dotan of Kadima. The two co-chair a new Knesset caucus on the rehabilitation of Palestinian refugees.