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

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11 November, 2008

Limited industrial fuel shipped into Gaza: crisis not over
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli sources reported Tuesday that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized on Monday the transfer of a “limited amount” of fuel to Gaza after the warnings about blackouts issued by several politicians in Gaza. Head of gas station owners Mahmoud Ash-Shawwa confirmed the report Tuesday, saying industrial diesel was being pumped into Gaza. If there are no projectile launches for three days, he added, Israel has promised to ship in more fuels. There is a real shortage is all fuels in Gaza, particularly in cooking gas. Fears are rising that bakeries will fall victim to the evening power cuts and dwindling cooking gas supplies and cause a bread shortage. Ash-Shawwa said he had heard that cooking gas was due to be shipped into Gaza in the “next few days. ”Hundreds of Palestinian demonstrated the streets holding lighted candles and calling out slogans against the inhuman treatment.

IOF soldiers use stones to break the bones of Palestinian workers
Palestinian Information Center 11/10/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces on Monday detained and beat up three Palestinian workers while en route to work in the 1948 lands at the pretext they had no work permits. Local sources said that the three workers, in their early twenties, were attempting to enter the 1948 lands near Na’lin village, north of Ramallah, when the soldiers intercepted them and pointed guns at them. They said that the soldiers told the workers to utter insulting remarks about themselves, which they refused. The local sources said that the soldiers then used their rifle butts and rocks to beat the workers and break their limbs. The workers were hospitalized in Ramallah with fractures and bruises all over their bodies. Medical sources described their conditions as moderate to serious. Meanwhile, the Israeli information center for human rights B’Tselem asked the IOA to release two Palestinian. . .

UN warns Gaza food aid may end
Ap And Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) aid agency said Tuesday that it will have to halt food distribution to 750,000 needy Gazans by Friday if Israel keeps the territory sealed. Agency spokesman Chris Gunness said food stockpiles were running low. "UNRWA’s food distributions to 750,000 people in Gaza will end on Thursday unless we get in wheat, luncheon meat, powder milk and oil into the Gaza Strip. This is both a physical as well as a mental punishment of the population - of mothers and parents trying to feed their children - who are being forced to live hand to mouth. It is a further illustration of the barbarity of this inhuman blockade. It is also shameful and unacceptable that the largest humanitarian actor in Gaza is being forced into yet another cycle of crisis management," said Gunness.

IDF petitions over state’s Ottoman land law in West Bank
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
The Israel Defense Forces commander in the West Bank and the legal adviser in the region filed a High Court of Justice petition against the military appeals committee and a foundation that purchases West Bank land for settlements. The state prosecution, which is representing the petitioners, is asking the High Court to issue an interim order suspending land registration procedures enacted in accordance with the appeals committee. The petition expresses an objection to a decision the military appeals committee made several months ago to accept two appeals by the Keren Leyad Midreshet Eretz Yisrael, which buys land to build and expand settlements, and to have the group be listed as the owner of several parcels of land near the settlement of Alfei Menashe. Palestinians from the West Bank village of Thalat, near Nebi Samuel, say the land belongs to them.

Abbas accuses Hamas leaders of ’not wanting’ reconciliation
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/12/2008
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas launched a bitter attack Tuesday on the Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, as a divided nation marked the fourth anniversary of historic leader Yasser Arafat’s death. Abbas accused Hamas of sabotaging efforts to mend the rift in Palestinian ranks created by its seizure of Gaza last year and of using force to prevent any commemorations for Arafat in the coastal territory. Speaking at Arafat’s graveside at his political headquarters in the Occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas blamed Hamas for the abandonment of planned reconciliation talks due to have been held in Cairo Sunday, accusing it of "not wanting dialogue. "He charged that the Islamists had invented "false pretexts" for not showing up at the talks with other Palestinian factions. "They missed this opportunity and I am talking of the Hamas leadership here," he said.

Israeli police kidnaps a Palestinian reporter in Jerusalem
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/11/2008
The Israeli police kidnapped on Monday at night Abdul-Baset Al Razim, a Palestinian reporter from Jerusalem after breaking into his home in Abu Dis and searching it. The Police and members of the so-called border-guard units, broke into the house of Al Razim casing excessive damage, confiscated his laptop, several documents, his mobile phone and took him to an Al Maskobiyya prison in Jerusalem. His wife voiced an appeal to local and international human rights groups and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate to intervene for his release, especially since he suffers from several chronic diseases and needs regular medical checkups. She added that some of the medications her husband is taking cannot be skipped but the police kidnapped him without allowing him to carry any of his medications.

Media blackout? International journalists report being barred from entering, exiting Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Gaza/Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel has limited food and fuel shipments into Gaza, and now appears to be preventing journalists from entering and even leaving the area. Several journalists have speculated that Israel hopes to limit press coverage of the effects of its latest blockade. On Tuesday Dirk Jan Visser, a photographer with a foreign news service, was denied entry into the Gaza Strip, on Monday BBC journalist Aleem Maqbool and his colleague were denied entry into Gaza, and a French journalist, “V” was denied permission to leave. Security officer for UNRWA Andrew Pollock said that there had indeed been some fluxuation in the number of journalists allowed in and out of Gaza, and added that this had been the case since the security situation in the area became after 4 November. Spokesperson for the UN Media office in Gaza (OCHA) Hamada Al-Bayari confirmed that restrictions. . .

Undercover Israeli forces snatch Palestinian man at gunpoint in Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Undercover Israeli forces on Tuesday afternoon seized a Palestinian man off the streed in Jenin Refugee Camp in the northern West Bank. Local Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that undercover Israeli operatives arrested 39-year-old Mahmoud Amarna from in front of his house in the Tal’at Al-Khubz neighborhood in Jenin refugee camp. The sources explained that a white Volkswagen stopped next to Amarna and three masked men in civilian clothes seized him at gunpoint. Then they left through the southern entrance to Jenin. Witnesses said that four Israeli military vehicles imposed a flying (as hoc) checkpoint near the southern entrance to Jenin and stopped Palestinian vehicles in order to protect the undercover forces.

Special undercover Israeli military unit abducts a Jenin resident
International Middle East Media Center News 11/11/2008
Special undercover Israeli unit abducted on Tuesday a Palestinian resident from the West Bank city of Jenin, media sources and witnesses reported. Local media sources and witnesses confirmed that a special undercover Israeli military unit, disguised in Arab clothes, swept with civilian cars into the Jenin refugee camp, abducting Mahmoud Amarna,36, and taking him to unknown destination. This attack is a part of daily Israeli military assaults on Palestinian cities, towns, villages and refugee camps in the occupied West Bank. Israel currently detains more than 11,000 Palestinians including women and children inside jails in Israel and in the occupied West Bank. [end]

Israeli forces detain 9 around Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians from the Hebron governorate on Tuesday morning. ISraeli sources claimed the men were "wanted" resistance fighters, four of whom were detained from Hebron city and the remaining five from the outlying areas. [end]

Israeli forces raid neighborhoods across Nablus; set up post on residential roof
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Nablus/Salfit – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank city of Nablus before dawn on Tuesday and raided several neighborhoods. Israeli forces set up a military monitoring post on roof of house owned by Nassif family in the city, and no arrests were reported. [end]

Gaza Shut to Fuel and Journalists
Aleem Maqbool, MIFTAH 11/11/2008
Over the last six days, Israel has all but closed its crossings with the Gaza Strip. No fuel (paid for by foreign donors) has been allowed into Gaza for its power station, no food has been allowed in for the United Nations’ aid distribution centres on which most Gazans rely. No journalists are being allowed into Gaza to cover the story. The one crossing through which people can get into Gaza, if they have Israeli permission, is at the northern tip of the territory, at Erez. It has a vast terminal building for security checks, but for days, journalists have not even been allowed further than the security barrier outside. This morning, we tried to get through. Having handed in our passports and Israeli Government press cards, we waited by the front barrier, close to two Israeli army jeeps. Over the hours that passed, we watched a group of Red Cross personnel get clearance to enter the terminal to go into Gaza.

After brief window fuel transfer points closed; fuel will last Gaza 30 hours
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel resumed the transfer of industrial fuels into Gaza Tuesday morning, furnishing the area with enough fuel to power the electricity plant for another 30 hours. The brief window where transfers were possible closed before more than a small fraction of fuel waiting to be delivered could be sent through. Head of the Palestinian power authority in the Gaza Strip Kan’an Ubeid said that the 420 thousand liters of diesel that were transferred Tuesday morning would be able to run the power station for approximately 30 hours, after which blackouts would start. Israel tricked the world into believing that they resumed fuel shipments, Ubeid said. He accused Israel of wanting to pull the wool over the eyes of the world in an effort to ease the anti-Israel tension in the Arab countries internationally.

Khudari: Bakeries to close down within 48 hours
Palestinian Information Center 11/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the Popular Committee Against the  Siege (PCAS), on Monday warned that bakeries in Gaza would close down within 48 hours after Israeli occupation authority closed commercial crossings for the 7th day running and barred entry of fuel and wheat. He told a press conference held at the Gaza power station that the station would come to a complete halt at 06. 30 pm Monday unless the IOA allowed entry of fuel supplies. The MP noted that the station needs 3. 5 million liters of fuel weekly and was gradually shutting down its turbines after all attempts to secure fuel supplies failed. The complete stoppage of the sole power station in the Strip would entail a "humanitarian catastrophe" and would deal a strong blow to all aspects of life in the Strip that has been under tight Israeli siege for almost two years, he elaborated.

Israel ends suspension of fuel supplies to Gaza
Mark Tran and agencies, The Guardian 11/11/2008
Israel today renewed fuel deliveries to Gaza, ending a week-long suspension of supplies after militants fired rockets from the Hamas-controlled enclave. About half of Gaza’s 1. 5 million residents were without power yesterday when their sole power plant shut down. Israel, which is the sole provider of industrial fuel to the facility, had blocked shipments of EU-funded fuel for a week in response to a surge in rocket attacks. Palestinian militants said the attacks were in retaliation to an Israeli raid that killed six gunmen a week ago, despite a ceasefire that started in June. The Israeli army said it carried out its raid to foil the planned kidnapping of a soldier by Gaza militants. Israel’s foreign ministry said it remained committed to the truce, but Hamas officials warned the Israeli move could further undermine the ceasefire. Palestinian workers said the first delivery of fuel had been received at the Nahal Oz fuel depot and was on its way to the power plant

Sources: Israel stops pumping fuel to Gaza’s power plant
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/11/2008
Sources in Gaza announced on Tuesday that Israel stopped pumping industrialized crude fuel, needed for generating electricity in Gaza, after having allowed some quantities of such fuel earlier in the morning. Kan’an Obaid, chairman of the Palestinian energy authority in Gaza, confirmed Tuesday afternoon that pumping of fuel has stopped completely in the afternoon, as Israel prevented more quantities into Gaza. However, Obaid pointed out that the Gaza Strip’s sole power plant has received, since the morning up this afternoon, more than 420,000 liters of crude fuel, allowing partial operation of the plant. Obaid regarded the delivery of such quantities as an illusion, Israel could convince the world with by announcing it would resume pumping fuel to run the power plant. Gaza’s power plant produces half of the Gaza Strip’s population need of electricity, while Israel supplies the remaining quantities.

oPt: Borders closed, food distribution at risk
Missionary International Service News Agency - MISNA, ReliefWeb 11/11/2008
"If Israel does not reopen the borders we will not even be able to cure the most common sicknesses; the hospitals lack bandages medicines and electricity is constantly rationed", said Jamal al Khudari, head of the Popular Committee against the Siege on Gaza, to MISNA, denouncing what he called "a predictable humanitarian crisis". The closure of the borders "is causing a situation of chronic emergency – said al-Khudari – which is impossible to contain in Gaza on account of the long months of siege". Moreover, he said, "the border passes at Sofa, Abu Salem, Karni, Beit Hanoun (Erez) which link Gaza with the outside world and which Israel usually keeps partially open for the passage of a restricted number of people and goods, have been closed for the past six consecutive days". If such a situation persists, "the UN will be forced to stop the distribution of food aid to 750,000 residents starting next Friday", said Chris Gunness, UNRWA spokesman.

Quiet resumes on Gaza border, despite unrest ’under surface’
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
The cease-fire seems to be back in force, as the Gaza border quiets down: On Tuesday no rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi toured the Gaza border area on Tuesday. During the tour, Barak said the abduction of another IDF soldier to Gaza would be a "strategic terror attack that would turn into an international problem. "He said that within hours it would become a national problem, and within a day, international. "We have no intention of disturbing the peace. We want to continue the cease-fire, but if we need to prevent a terror attack against soldiers or Israeli citizens, we will act," added Barak. Hinting at the destruction of the tunnel near the Gaza border last week, which sparked the latest. . .

Israel allows fuel into Gaza as UN warns food aid in peril
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/12/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel Tuesday reopened the terminal that handles all fuel supplies to Gaza to allow delivery of diesel to the Palestinian territory’s sole power plant one day after it shuddered to a halt. A UN agency, meanwhile, warned it would have to suspend food distribution on which a majority of Gaza’s 1. 5 million population depends unless Israel also allows in vital foodstuffs. The Nahal Oz terminal used for oil deliveries "opened at 8:30 a. m. for the transfer of diesel for the power station," said Israeli Army spokesman Peter Lerner. An official of the Palestinian energy authority in Gaza confirmed that Israel had resumed the fuel shipments and said the power plant would restart later in the day. The plant had ground to a halt Monday evening after Israel stopped the flow of fuel to the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire, which caused no damage, by Palestinian militants in the besieged enclave.

Palestine Today 111108
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 11/11/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 30s || 3. 22 MB Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Teusday November 11 2008 Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas criticized on Tuesday the Hamas party in Gaza as ’ failing’ the Cairo-hosted national unity conference. Meanwhile, Israeli military detention campaigns continued in the West Bank. These news and more coming up, stay tuned. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, blamed today the ruling Hamas party in Gaza for obstructing an expected Cairo-hosted dialogue for Palestinian national unity. Abbas urged the Arab states league to take a stance in light of such a development. The rival Fatah party of Abbas and the Hamas party in Gaza, were expected to attend a national unity conference in Cairo to end division and come out with a national unity government.

Candle-lit march denounces closure of crossings
Palestinian Information Center 11/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Popular Committee Afgainst the Siege organized on Monday evening a candle-lit march to protest the continued Israeli occupation authority’s closure of crossings and stoppage of fuel supplies necessary to operate Gaza’s sole electricity generation station. Hundreds of citizens including children gathered in central Gaza city carrying candles and posters protesting the siege and demanding an immediate end to it to allow regular supply of fuel and other basic needs. MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the committee, warned of a human tragedy that would befall the Strip within hours if the fuel supplies were not resumed. He pointed out that a simultaneous march was being organized in Cyprus while other events were planned in other capitals and major cities around the world. For his part, Dr. Arafat Madi, the chairman of the European campaign to lift the siege on Gaza. . .

Dignity boat leaves Gaza with 8 trapped Palestinians on board
Palestinian Information Center 11/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The European parliamentary delegation that arrived in Gaza Strip aboard the Dignity boat on Saturday left the Strip on Monday afternoon carrying with it eight trapped Palestinians. The European MPs along with other foreign sympathizers toured the Gaza Strip and got first hand information on the huge damage caused by the Israeli devastating siege. The delegates were seen off by PA premier Ismail Haneyya, acting PLC speaker Dr. Ahmed Bahar and the head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege MP Jamal Al-Khudari. The 23 visitors, who included a former British minister, pledged to convey the Gaza suffering to their countries. The MPs expressed sorrow at the oppressive siege and its consequences but admired Gaza people’s patience despite the occupation, siege and anguish. Two of the foreign solidarity activists remained in Gaza to coordinate future events and. . .

Jordanian royal committee warns of IOA scheme to open two tunnels under the Aqsa
Palestinian Information Center 11/10/2008
AMMAN, (PIC)-- The Royal Jordanian committee for Jerusalem affairs has warned that the Israeli occupation authority was planning to open two tunnels under the Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. The committee’s secretary general Abdullah Kanan said in a press release that the IOA continued attempts to open tunnels and initiate new excavations that target changing the Aqsa’s landmarks and to control the holy site one way or another. The IOA is slated to open two new tunnels one in Silwan and the other in Wad area in the old city of Jerusalem and has announced plans to build 32 new housing units in occupied Jerusalem. Kanan said that Israel was trying to impose a new de facto situation on the holy city and to accelerate its judaization attempts to turn Jerusalem into the united capital of Israel believing that its strength coupled with the unlimited American support would force an Arab and international acceptance of that situation.

UNRWA to stop providing services to Gaza as border crossings remain closed
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/11/2008
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza warned on Tuesday it would be forced to stop providing services to registered Palestinian refugees unless the Israeli closure of crossings stops. Christopher Gunness, official spokesperson of UNRWA told media outlets in Gaza that his organization would be obliged to stop providing food assistance to more than 750,000 registered Palestinian refugees in a couple of days if the Israeli closure of crossings continue. Last week,Israel decided to seal off all commercial crossings with Gaza, in what Israel said a response to the continued fire from Gaza onto nearby Israeli areas. Palestinian fire came in reaction to last week’s Israeli military attacks on Gaza, in which 8 people including six resistance fighters were killed and several others were wounded.

Arafat commemorations disrupted and dispersed by Israeli soldiers; two injured
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Two Palestinian students were injured on Tuesday when Israeli forces dispersed a commemorative ceremony in the villages south of Bethlehem city commemorating the fourth anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat. The ceremony saw hundreds holding photos of Arafat and signs attesting that the gatherers were committed to walking in his footsteps. The ceremonial procession walked up the main road near the Efrata settlement, where Israeli soldiers dispersed the group of mourners. Another commemoration ceremony in Tuqu south of Bethlehem also saw confrontations with Israeli forces, though no injuries were reported. [end]

Arafat’s nephew insists Israel poisoned the late Palestinian leader
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
In any case, Israel is responsible for his death. There were preparations to get rid of the political leadership of the Palestinian people. " He went on to say that though there was no solid proof of the poisoning, he was gathering information on the subject. While more than 10,000 people attended the memorial service in the West Bank city of Ramallah, no such service was held in the Gaza Strip. Fatah and other groups said they submitted requests to the Hamas authorities in the Strip for permits to hold commemoration rallies, but they were never given a response. Hamas, on the other hand, said no such requests were made. Last year, more than 250,000 Palestinians attended the rally in Arafat’s memory, during which Hamas police officers killed seven people.

Al Qudwa: ''Israel poisoned Arafat''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/11/2008
Speaking in front of dozens of thousands of Palestinian residents who attending a rally commemorating the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, his nephew, Nasser Al Qudwa stated that Arafat was poisoned by Israel and that the circumstances that led to his death will "soon come to light", Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported. In an interview with the AFP, Al Qudwa said that in a year or two, "the nature of poison administered to Arafat and the method used to do that, will be known". He also said that Israel is responsible for the death of Arafat as part of a plan to get rid of the senior Palestinian political leaders. The anniversary was marked by at least 10. 000 Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Haaretz reported that there was no memorial for Arafat in Gaza as Fateh and several other Palestinian factions said. . .

Row over Jerusalem Muslim Cemetery
Wyre Davies, MIFTAH 11/11/2008
Religious leaders in Jerusalem are warning of dangerous consequences after a decision by Israel’s Supreme Court to allow the destruction of part of an ancient Muslim cemetery. The graveyard has not been used for more than 50 years, but contains the bodies of some important Islamic figures. Many of those bodies will now be disturbed to make way for a new Jewish "Museum of Tolerance". Earlier this week hundreds of Muslims - young and old - marched through the centre of Jerusalem towards the city’s Mamilla cemetery. Police helicopters flew overhead and security was tight. The focus of the march, and of increasing Muslim anger, was the Israeli Supreme Court decision to sanction a controversial new building on part of the Muslim cemetery. OutrageLocated just inside West Jerusalem, the cemetery is not used for burials any more but Muslim leaders made clear they still regard it as sacred, as they arrived for a rally reading verses from the Koran.

Yasser Arafat 1929 - 2004
Kristen Ess "“ Palestine News Network, International Middle East Media Center News 11/11/2008
Four years ago today Yasser Arafat died in France after taking ill in Ramallah. He was airlifted from the Muqata never to return. The image of the great man turned slight by poison or too many years under siege indoors, whatever it was that eventually killed him, that photo is forever etched in the mind. Abu Ammar waving goodbye. Talking to people today and yesterday, it seems that there is no one who does not remember where he was four years ago, and where he was days later when the national hero’s body was returned to the soil of Palestine. The funeral in the Muqata was more packed than any event has ever been in this country. Security staff could not get the doors of the helicopter open because of the crowds. People openly wept, the covers of newspapers and magazines were black. It was the end of Ramadan and fasting was harder that day. Hundreds of thousands of people in mourning and no one smoked.

Hamas: Abbas’ speech at Arafat memorial factionalist, incites disunity
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ comments during a memorial ceremony for the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat were slammed as an “attempt at incitement” by Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum on Tuesday. That afternoon Abbas had used the speech as a platform to call for unity, he condemned Hamas for “thwarting” both the Yemeni initiative and the Egyptian conciliation efforts and causing frustration to the Palestinian people, calling the actions “unacceptable. ”Barhoum called the speech one of a factional leader, not one of a Palestinian President. “He did not speak as a president of all Palestinians,” Barhoum lamented, “but rather as a head of his party. ”He also criticized Abbas for failing to speak out in his speech against the new Israeli siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip, which will see the lights go out and the food supply stop if actions are not soon taken.

Palestinian divide over Arafat commemorations
Middle East Online 11/11/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas launched a bitter attack on the democratically elected Hamas movement which controls Gaza (although Gaza is still under illegal Israeli occupation) on Tuesday as a divided nation marked the fourth anniversary of historic leader Yasser Arafat’s death. Abbas accused Hamas of sabotaging efforts to mend the rift in Palestinian ranks created by its seizure of the Gaza Strip last year and of using force to prevent any commemorations for Arafat in the coastal territory. In his speech delivered besides Arafat’s graveside at his political headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Abbas blamed Hamas for the abandonment of planned reconciliation talks due to have been held in Cairo on Sunday, accusing it of "not wanting dialogue. " He charged that the democratically elected movement had invented "false pretexts" for not showing. . .

Hamas reiterates refusal to recognize Abbas after 9 January
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar on Tuesday reiterated his movement’s refusal to recognize an extension of President Mahmoud Abbas tenure after his current term ends on 9 January 2009. Zahhar warned that Abbas might have prepared “a political bomb similar to Oslo. ”Abbas has been seeking to extend his term, a move Hamas rejects as unconstitutional. Although Hamas has formed a separate government in the Gaza Strip, the movement has until now recognized Abbas as the elected Palestinian president. During a political panel at the Islamic University in Gaza City, Zahhar also condemned the arrest of Hamas supporters in the West Bank, calling this “the uprooting of resistance. ”With regards to the reason behind the postponement of the Cairo talks with the rival Fatah movement, Zahhar said, “The reason is that Fatah has no real intentions to make dialogue. . .

Hamas bans Arafat memorial in Gaza
Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Islamist group’s security forces remove banners in honor of deceased PLO leader, prevent Fatah members from holding spontaneous processions -While the Palestinian Authority is marking the fourth anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death, Hamas security forces in Gaza on Tuesday have prevented young Fatah supporters from holding spontaneous processions in memory of the late Palestinian Liberation Organization leader. Eyewitnesses said Hamas forces used force in some cases and removed Fatah flags and posters of Arafat that were suspended from houses in the Strip. Homeowners who refused to remove the banners were taken in for questioning, they said. The PA has held several memorial services for Arafat in the past few days, and the main ceremony is scheduled to take place near the deceased leader’s tomb in Ramallah later in the day.

Officials deny Bethlehem sweep will target Hamas
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/12/2008
BETHLEHEM, Occupied West Bank: The Palestinian leadership mounted a security operation in Bethlehem on Tuesday similar to those launched in other West Bank towns that have drawn charges of partisanship. " The security plan is aimed against those who do not respect the law and is not intended as a basis for carrying out political arrests," Bethlehem security chief Colonel Suleiman Abu Hadid told a news conference. He added that the plan would not involve the deployment of any police reinforcements, unlike in the flashpoint city of Hebron where an additional 600 officers were deployed last month. Bethlehem Governor Salah al-Taamari said 20 criminals were currently being sought by police in the town but insisted that the traditional birthplace of Jesus Christ nonetheless remained a safe place for pilgrims and tourists. He cited as evidence the 1 million tourists who have visited the town this year.

Palestinian police to begin security campaign in Area B and C near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Preparations for a safety campaign in Areas B and C in advance of Christmas and Eid Al-Adha that will crack-down on illegal activity like unlicensed cars and drivers, theft, drugs and assault were announced by the Bethlehem area police on Tuesday. In a press conference Governor of Bethlehem Salah Ta’mari and Police Security Commander Sulaiman Umran stressed that the campaign contains no political motivations and is meant to be a two-week systematic crackdown on all lawbreakers in areas B and C. Palestinian police do not normally operate in areas designated B and C, since they are under Israeli security control. In the past, when police have requested permission to enter areas outside of major Palestinian cities, they have had to coordinate heavily with Israeli military forces in the area.

Palestinians Scold Dividing Hamas, Fatah
Motasem Dalloul – Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 11/11/2008
’Both sides are liars and people don’t trust them. ’Marking the fourth anniversary of iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s death, many Palestinians blame rivals Fatah and Hamas for an ever-increasing divide and hijacking unity hopes. " For the failure of the dialogue, I blame both Hamas and Fatah," Mahmoud Joneed, an unemployed worker from Gaza, told IslamOnline. net. President Mahmud Abbas used a speech marking the anniversary to launched a bitter attack on rival Hamas, accusing it of sabotaging the much-awaited reconciliation talks that were to begin in Cairo on Monday, November 10. " They missed this opportunity and I am talking of the Hamas leadership here. " Egypt cancelled the reconciliation talks after a number of factions, including Hamas, decided to boycott it. Hamas attributed its decision to Fatah’s refusal to free Hamas members detained in the West Bank although Hamas did the same with Fatah loyalists in the Gaza Strip. " Both sides are blamed," insists Mohammed Nabeel, a shopkeeper.

Secularist set for Jerusalem win
Al Jazeera 11/12/2008
Nir Barkat, a secularist venture capitalist, looks set to take the powerful office of Jerusalem’s mayor, according to early exit polls. Israel’s Channel One television station reported projections shortly after the polls closed on Tuesday that indicated Barkat should receive around 50 per cent of the vote. Barkat’s main rival, ultra-Orthodox rabbi Meir Porush, would be pushed into second place, receiving around 42 per cent of votes, the broadcaster said. Jackie Rowland, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Jerusalem, emphasised the results were only projections but said they suggested residents had voted for change after five years under the outgoing Orthodox mayor. "There has been a certain amount of interest among secular people in the hope that they had a candidate who could possible. . .

Jerusalem Arabs’ election boycott continues
Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
As in previous municipal elections, the overwhelming majority of Jerusalem’s Arab voters boycotted Tuesday’s vote. Only a few thousand Arabs - mostly municipality workers and their families - cast their ballots amid tight security measures and threats by Palestinian activists. The number of Arab voters in the city is estimated at 125,000. But since 1967, the Arab residents of Jerusalem have been boycotting the municipal elections out of fear that their participation would be interpreted as recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Arab neighborhoods. The Arabs in Jerusalem are entitled to vote and run in the municipal elections in their capacity as permanent residents of the city. However, because they aren’t citizens of the state, they can’t vote for the Knesset. As has been the case on the eve of each municipal election, the Palestinian Authority issued several warnings to the Arab residents not to participate in the election.

Palestinians boycott Jerusalem municipal elections
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Only a small minority of the Palestinian population in Jerusalem headed to the polls on Tuesday to vote in municipal elections that are being held in cities across Israel. Ma’an’s reporter in Jerusalem found that the majority of Palestinian Jerusalemites boycotted the elections heeding a call by Palestinian national forces and political figures in the city. The boycott was yet another statement that Jerusalem is an occupied city, and as such, Palestinians reject Israeli authority in the sections of the city seized by Israel in 1967. Palestinian political leaders said that the Jerusalem municipality is “a tool through which Israel government carries out its strategic plans against Palestinian citizens. This includes racial cleansing, confiscation and demolition of homes in addition to enforcing exceptionally high taxes.

Election violence: Haredim riot in Jerusalem
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews clash with police on municipal election day as haredim try to prevent voters from getting through. Officer, security guard lightly injured in two separate incidents - Elections for local authorities continued across Israel Tuesday afternoon with most of the nation’s eyes on Jerusalem, where things are heating up. Tuesday afternoon dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews tried to prevent voting at the Beit Israel neighborhood ballot in Jerusalem, apparently following disputes between different ultra-Orthodox groups. Police and Border Guard police officers arrived at the scene to clear the rioters, and clashes broke out as the ultra-Orthodox began throwing stones, leaving one officer with light head injuries. The officer was taken to hospital for treatment, and one of the stone-throwers was detained for questioning.

Divisions abound as Israelis vote in municipal elections
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/12/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israelis voted in municipal elections on Tuesday with the Occupied Jerusalem mayoral race highlighting the country’s polarization despite pledges by the candidates to keep the Holy City united. The polls held across Israel as well as in Jewish colonies in the Occupied West Bank and the Occupied Golan Heights, were also seen as a test of strength ahead of February 10 parliamentary elections. In Occupied Jerusalem, the race pitted a secular high-tech entrepreneur against an ultra-Orthodox MP, with a Russian-Israeli billionaire running a distant third and all proclaiming the credo that the city is Israel’s "eternal and undivided capital. " In Occupied Arab East Jerusalem numerous businesses went on strike for an electoral boycott and to protest Sunday’s expulsion of a disabled Palestinian man and his family forced out of their home of 52 years following a lengthy court battle with Jewish settlers.

3 Akko Arabs indicted for torching hesder yeshiva
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 11/11/2008
State files arson, conspiracy, weapons manufacturing charges against three of northern city’s residents for setting local Talmudic seminary on fire; claim act motivated by revenge - The State Prosecutor’s Office indicted three of Akko’s Arab residents for arson on Tuesday, in connection with the torching of one of the northern city’s hesder yeshivas two weeks ago. The incidents occurred on the heels of the Yom Kippur riots which riddled city streets for several days. According to the indictment, filed with the Haifa District Court, Ibrahim Bayuni (29), Khaled Shaaban (20), and Salah Titti (20) set fire to the Northern Wind Hesder Yeshiva offices by hurling a Molotov cocktail into the building. The act, said the prosecution, was motivated by revenge for the way the Jewish residents of Akko conducted themselves during the riots.

MIDEAST: Arabs Uneasy About Joining Israeli Army
Daan Bauwens, Inter Press Service 11/12/2008
TEL AVIV, Nov 11(IPS) - The Israeli government has begun to actively promote voluntary army service for Israeli Arabs. The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, is meanwhile considering plans to make civil service compulsory for all Israeli citizens, including Israeli Arabs. The Arab community in Israel is opposing the plans, and leaders say these are only a way of getting rid of Palestinian identity. They also have misgivings about compulsory national civil service, which means community service in towns, hospitals or schools as an alternative to military service. Last month Israel’s Haaretz daily newspaper presented recruitment numbers showing an increase in the number of Israeli Arabs volunteering for the Israeli army. Israeli Arabs, unlike their Jewish fellow-countrymen, are exempt from military service. The information provided to the newspaper by the Israeli Defence Forces. . .

Olmert: ''Clashes with Hamas, a matter of time''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/12/2008
Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, warned on Tuesday of upcoming clashes between Israel and the Hamas movement in Gaza. His statements came as he and his defense Minister, Ehud Barak, visited the "Gaza Brigade" of the Israeli army. During the visit, Olmert and Barak received a briefing on the security situation in the region. Olmert stated that he has no doubt that the situation between Israel and Hamas is "the calm before the storm" adding that the battle with Hamas is inevitable. On his side, Barak said that Israel has no intention start any unnecessary attack against Gaza, but both Barak and Olmert said that Israel must be prepared for a possible scenario. Barak claimed that Israel is not interested in breaking the truce, but added that this truce will not bar the army from acting in order any foil any attempt to attack Israelis or attempts to attack and abduct Israeli soldiers.

Olmert: Confrontation with Hamas inevitable
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Prime minister tours Gaza Division headquarters with defense minister in tow, both pledge that while Israel is keen on maintaining current ceasefire army is prepared to act against any perceived threat -Although the shaky ceasefire with Gaza’s armed groups has so far not collapsed despite repeated violations by Hamas, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday warned residents of communities in southern Israel to brace for a possible escalation of the hostilities. "The situation between us and Hamas is one of an inevitable clash. It’s only a question of ’when,’ not ’if. ’ And if we need to fight Hamas - then that is what we’ll do. In any event we must be alert and prepared," Olmert said during a visit to the Gaza Division’s headquarters. He was accompanied by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Lt Gen. . . .

PM: Hamas confrontation inevitable
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
In the shadow of renewed conflict with Hamas, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited the IDF’s Southern Command headquarters on Tuesday. They were accompanied by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. -Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, and briefed by Southern Command Chief Maj. -Gen. Yoav Galant, who provided detailed explanations on the state of the cease-fire, IDF actions in the area and the preparations being made by a Hamas-led coalition of Gaza-based terror groups. "It is merely a question of when and not a question of if," said Olmert, speaking after the briefing on the possibility of renewed conflict. "We are not looking forward to this but neither are we afraid, and if there is a need to fight Hamas, we’ll do that," he added.

Report: Hamas says its officials met Obama aides before U.S. election
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
The Arab daily Al-Hayat on Tuesday quoted a senior Hamas official as saying that United States President-elect Barack Obama’s advisors met with members of the Palestinian militant group before the U. S. presidential election. Ahmed Yusuf, a political advisor to Hamas’ Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh, reportedly told the London-based paper that, "The connection was made via email and after that we met with them in Gaza. " Al-Hayat reported that Yusuf also said the relations were maintained after Obama’s electoral victory last Tuesday. He said the president-elect’s advisors requested that the relations be kept secret so as not to aid his rival, Senator John McCain. During Obama’s campaign, he pledged that his administration would only hold talks with Hamas if it renounced terrorism, recognized Israel’s right to exist, and abided by past agreements.

Hamas denies reported pre-election meeting with Obama aides
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian de facto government in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday denied reports that Hamas officials held meetings with advisors of the US president elect Barack Obama before last Tuesday’s election. In a statement, the de facto government says they would not oppose such meetings in theory, but no meetings were in fact held. “We would not be afraid to announce such meetings, had they took place, but everybody knows that the Gaza Strip is under crippling siege, and no such meetings have been held. ”The statement explained that the new US administration would be facing a “serious moral test” on whether they “respect democracy and Palestinian rights. ”The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper quoted Hamas political advisor Ahmad Yousif on Tuesday as claiming that Obama’s advisors secretly visited Gaza to meet Hamas officials.

Obama adviser denies Hamas meeting
Hilary Leila Krieger And Jpost Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
US President-elect Barack Obama’s office flatly denied a Hamas official’s claim Tuesday that advisers to Obama met with representatives from the terrorist organization while on a visit to the region. "This assertion is just plain false," Obama’s senior foreign policy adviser, Denis McDonough, told The Jerusalem Post. Earlier in the day, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper published an interview with Hamas political adviser Ahmed Yousef in which he said that a secret meeting was held in Gaza ahead of the US election on November 4. "We are maintaining contact with them," Yousef said. "We first made contact on the Internet and then met with some of them here in the Gaza Strip. They advised us not to reveal this information lest it influence the elections or become manipulated by [Republican candidate John] McCain’s campaign.

Hamas says met Obama advisors in Gaza
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Ismail Haniyeh’s political advisor says Islamist group met with US president-elect’s aides in Strip following online correspondence; ’they told us not to come out with any statements so as not to harm Obama’s campaign,’ Ahmad Yousuf says -Ahmad Yousuf, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s political advisor, said that during the recent US presidential race a secret meeting between senior Islamist group figures and advisors to President-elect Barack Obama was held in Gaza. " We were in contact with a number of Obama’s aides through the Internet, and later met with some of them in Gaza, but they advised us not to come out with any statements, as they may have a negative effect on his election campaign and be used by Republican candidate John McCain (to attack Obama)," Yousuf said in an interview with London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat, published TuesdayYousuf. . .

’Lebanon raids Mossad spies’ flat’
Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
The Lebanese Army raided the apartment of brothers Ali and Yousouf Jarrah, who are accused of being Mossad spies in the country, the Lebanese As-Safir newspaper reported Tuesday. The paper claimed it had exclusive pictures of the brothers’ "operation room" in which sophisticated communications and surveillance equipment was found - the like of which is not sold on the Lebanese market - and which proved that the brothers engaged in espionage. The paper added that it would not publish the pictures. According to a similar report published last week by As-Safir, Lebanese security officials told the paper that the spies worked to pass information to the Mossad about a range of Lebanese activities, both through pictures of military and civilian installations, and through spoken contact. In a statement released by the Lebanese army and quoted in the report, both members of the. . .

Egypt: Police clash with Bedouins, 3 dead
News agencies, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Hundreds of armed tribesmen storm Egyptian security checkpoint in outpour of rage following killing of Bedouin smuggler, at least three Bedouin reported killed - Egyptian police shot and killed three Bedouin men during clashes Tuesday in a restive area of the Sinai Peninsula near the Israeli border, security and local government officials said. Five police officers were injured in the clashes, which broke out about three miles south of where armed clashes between police and Bedouin erupted the night before, officials said. Egypt’s Interior Ministry confirmed clashes had taken place in the border area - but did not say whether anyone was killed or injured. Armed Bedouin attacked a security checkpoint earlier Tuesday and seized 11 policemen, an Egyptian security official said. The Bedouin tribesmen were angered by a police shooting a day earlier that killed a suspected Bedouin smuggler in the area.

Bedouin angry over Egypt shooting
Al Jazeera 11/11/2008
A group of Bedouin tribesmen have briefly held at least 25 Egyptian police officers hostage - including the Sinai peninsula’s security chief. The armed Bedouin freed the officers after about two hours, as protests took place across the region on Tuesday in response to the shooting dead of a tribesman the previous day. "The Bedouin freed them in a mountainous area near the Israeli border," a security official told the AFP news agency. Local medics said that three more Bedouins were killed on Tuesday as protesters fired guns into the air and burned tyres. Hundreds of demonstrators surrounded a police post in the small town of Madfouna, injuring at least four police officers. A Reuters news agency photographer at the scene said Bedouin had looted the post and set several fires.

Armed Beduin attack Sinai checkpoint
Yaakov Lappin And Ap, Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
The IDF is monitoring an ongoing feud between Sinai Beduin and Egyptian policemen, although it is not overtly concerned about the situation at this stage. Armed Beduin attacked a security checkpoint Tuesday in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and seized 11 policemen in a restive area near the border with Israel, an Egyptian security official said. In the clashes, Egyptian police shot and killed three Bedouin men, security and local government officials said. The Beduin tribesmen were angered by a police shooting a day earlier that killed a suspected Beduin smuggler in the area. Smugglers use the border area to send weapons, drugs and other items into the Gaza Strip, often through underground tunnels. Traffickers also ferry African migrants seeking to enter Israel. The Beduin tribesmen raided a security checkpoint Tuesday and dragged the 10 policemen and a senior officer into. . .

Livni, Abbas both reject Olmert’s concessions
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert struggled behind closed doors to assert his authority on Tuesday after his diplomatic platform was rejected by both his successor as Kadima leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Uproar over Olmert’s remarks on withdrawal - At a rally in Ramallah, Abbas rejected Israeli concessions on Jerusalem and refugees, just one day after Olmert publicly stated he would come close to returning Israel to the pre-1967 borders in a final-status agreement. Abbas’s words dealt yet another blow to Olmert, who was slammed for his views by Kadima politicians - including new party leader Tzipi Livni, who laid bare the chasm between them on the issue in an interview with Army Radio. Although Attorney-General Menaham Mazuz has ruled that Olmert has the legal authority to continue negotiations with the Palestinians as head of a lame duck government,. . .

Arab league: either the settlements are dismantled or we give up on a Palestinian state
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The 2002 Arab League peace plan is still on the table, but ‘facts on the ground’ are making the viability of a Palestinian state alongside Israel remote, said Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa. In an interview with the Israeli press, Moussa spoke candidly about realistic prospects for peace and Palestine, slamming Israeli settlement construction and the country’s non-response to the six-year-old peace plan. What Israel needs to do, Moussa said,is accept the plan in general, after which point it will be given the opportunity to discuss specific reservations. He made it clear that the Arab League would be a willing supporter of a peace plan that respected the spirit of the 2002 document. Some of the main points of the proposal were the establishment of a united Jerusalem accessible to all Palestinians and Israelis, transferring sovereignty. . .

Olmert Says Time Running out for Two-State Solution
Reuters, MIFTAH 11/11/2008
Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday time was running out for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At an annual memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister killed by an ultranationalist Jew in 1995, Olmert again advocated a peace deal under which Israel would withdraw from nearly all of the occupied West Bank. " If God forbid, we procrastinate, we could lose support for a two-state solution," he said, referring to the creation of a Palestinian homeland alongside Israel, a concept at the foundation of U. S. -sponsored peace negotiations. " The decision must be taken now, without hesitation, before. . . the narrow window of opportunity to plant (that) solution in the consciousness of our people and the nations of the world vanishes in front of our eyes," Olmert said.

PM aides slam Livni, say she made concessions on Jerusalem to Palestinians
Barak Ravid and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
Aides to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued blistering criticism of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Tuesday in response to Livni’s voicing her dissatisfaction with Olmert’s call to a return to the 1967 ceasefire lines at remembrance ceremonies for slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. "Livni was the head of the negotiating team and it was she who showed flexibility and made constructive compromise proposals on the issue of borders as well as the issue of Jerusalem," an aide to Olmert said. "We have no doubt that if and when she will be elected prime minister she will continue the policy of compromise which is Kadima’s way just as Prime Minister Olmert planned from the beginning. "Olmert aides also lashed out at Livni for suggesting that it was she who spearheaded the convening of the Annapolis peace conference in November 2007.

Livni, After Quartet Meet: I’m Not Repeating Mistakes of Camp David
Barak Ravid, MIFTAH 11/11/2008
Israel and the Palestinian Authority presented the Quartet for Mideast peace with several agreements on Sunday on the way negotiations will proceed next year on the conflict’s core issues. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who updated the Quartet at Sharm el-Sheikh with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said she was convinced she has not repeated the mistakes of Camp David in 2000. She said although no deal was reached this year, both sides are determined to continue talks. Livni and Abbas stressed "the need for continuous, uninterrupted, direct bilateral negotiations. " They asked the international community to support the parties’ efforts in the framework of the Annapolis process, the Quartet said in a statement read by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. "The Quartet emphasized the importance of continuity of the peace process," Ban said.

Livni distances self from Olmert border comments
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
Kadima Chairwoman and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni distanced herself yesterday from outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s assertion that Israel needs to return to its pre-1967 borders. "I, as Kadima chairwoman, am not committed to the outgoing prime minister’s comments, but to Kadima’s platform, and this is what determines exactly how we will hold negotiations," said Livni, speaking in an interview with Army Radio. Olmert, speaking on Monday at a ceremony in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, called for withdrawing from the territories and "returning to the area that was Israel until 1967," in order to preserve Israel as a democratic and Jewish state. Livni continued: "Between myself and Olmert there have been differences. When I wrote the platform of Kadima, upon its establishment, Olmert spoke in terms of ’consolidation.

Netanyahu: Peace Talks Will Continue if Elected
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 11/11/2008
Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday pledged to continue negotiations with the Palestinians if he wins February elections, backing away from earlier hints he would abandon U. S. -backed peace talks. But Netanyahu gave no indication he would make significant concessions. Netanyahu refuses to discuss the future of the disputed city of Jerusalem, one of the ’’core issues’’ in negotiations for the past year. On Sunday, international Mideast mediators reaffirmed this framework, even as Netanyahu’s office said he did not. Netanyahu’s position on other key issues also falls far short of Palestinian and international demands. His statement that peace talks would ’’move forward’’ if he is elected prime minister appeared to be aimed at easing international concerns and sending a message to the Israeli electorate that he can get along with the rest of the world.

Netanyahu will seek alternative to current peace talks if elected
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Tuesday the Likud chairman will halt peace talks with the Palestinians in their current form if he wins a national election next February, but will instead step up efforts to develop the Palestinian economy. Spokeswoman Dina Libster said the Israeli politician, a strong contender to be the next prime minister, believes the talks launched by President Bush in Annapolis, Maryland, last year have failed. "He thinks the Annapolis process and negotiations taking place now are mistaken," Libster said. The Annapolis talks aim to resolve all key areas of dispute with the Palestinians, including the conflicting claims to Jerusalem. "Netanyahu does not want to halt talks, but he believes it’s premature to talk about a final peace deal, and sharing control of Jerusalem is out of the question," Libster said.

UK initiative supports training of ''medical clowns'' for sick Palestinians
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an –Two actors and eight volunteers have been trained in “clown therapy” under a UK project in cooperation with Inad Theatre near Bethlehem launched on Tuesday. The clowns visit chronically diseased children, perform comedy shows and tell stories in an effort to encourage laughter and joy and to speed up the child’s quick recovery process. According to a statement from the group the project is the first of its kind in Palestine. The project is focused in the Bethlehem area at the al-Hussein Government Hospital where children are treated for leukaemia, anaemia, malnutrition, and disabilities caused by childhood accidents. The hospital is a major center for long-term care for children and, according to the group’s statement, “despite the dedication of the medical staff and their parents, the days can be monotonous and depressing.

European Commission announces 1.5 million Euros for water aid to Palestinians
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Severe and unusual weather in 2008 disrupted the fragile existence of several vulnerable Palestinian communities living mostly in areas of the West Bank categorized as under the sole security and civil control of Israel. The at-risk populations include farmers, herders and those living in isolated areas. Responding to the situation is an initiative sponsored by the European Commission (EC) and run through its Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO). The 1. 5 million Euro project will see vulnerable populations provided with emergency water, in quantities large enough to cover both domestic and agricultural needs. The project will build local capacity for water storing and harvesting, by building cisterns and water tanks. Water trucks will also be provided to ensure regular distribution of sufficient water to vulnerable populations.

Divided Palestinians mourn Arafat
Al Jazeera 11/11/2008
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has launched a bitter attack on the rival Hamas movement as he attended events to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, the former Palsetinian leader. Abbas accused Hamas of sabotaging efforts to mend the rift in Palestinian politics and of using force to prevent any commemorations for Arafat in the coastal territory. Speaking at Arafat’s graveside on Tuesday, Abbas blamed Hamas for the abandonment of planned reconciliation talks due to have been held in Cairo on Sunday, accusing it of "not wanting dialogue". Hamas responded by accusing Abbas of being "complicit in the plans of the Americans and the Zionists". The two sides have been bitterly divided since Hamas seized full control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after a week of deadly street fighting.

Abbas proposes referendum to Hamas
Jpost.com Staff And Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas paid tribute to his predecessor Yasser Arafat at a Ramallah memorial rally on Tuesday, while challenging Hamas to a referendum. Prof. Menachem Klein on ongoing rift between Fatah and Hamas - "The Palestinian leadership will continue to lead in the way of Yasser Arafat until a Palestinian state is established with Jerusalem as its capital," he said at the rally commemorating Arafat’s death. Abbas added that Fatah had rejected offers made by Israel for concessions which included Palestinian renouncement of parts of Jerusalem and the refugee issue. Furthermore, Abbas maintained that "the Palestinians will not sign any agreement with Israel which will not see the emptying of Palestinian prisoners from its jails. " "The ways of the shahids [martyrs] Arafat, Abu Jihad [Khalil Ibrahim al-Wazir], George Habash and even Sheikh Ahmed Yassin - are the ways we recognize.

In surprise move, Fischer cuts interest rate 0.5%
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 11/11/2008
The Bank of Israel’s key rate is now at its the lowest ever level. In a surprise move, Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer has announced that he has cut the interest rate by 0. 5%, to a rate of 3%. The interest rate cut will go into effect on Friday, November 14. The interest rate is now at the lowest level in the history of the State of Israel. The Bank of Israel said that the decision was based on new information that has become available since its previous rate cut on October 27. The central bank said that recent data shows that an upcoming global slowdown will be more severe than first thought, and it worried that "the increased severity of the global slowdown is expected to influence real activity in Israel. " The Bank of Israelsaid that the cut in the interest rate would help the economy deal with the global economic crisis.

Treasury prepares for deteriorating scenario
Hadas Magen and Adrian Filut, Globes Online 11/11/2008
The Ministry of Finance fears that tax revenues may fall by as much as NIS 30 billion in 2009. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that the Ministry of Finance and the Israel Tax Authority are preparing for a "horror scenario" that could see tax revenues plunge by a far greater sum than NIS 10 billion. In recent weeks, a team appointed by Tax Authority director Yehuda Nasradishi has been looking at ways to tackle the anticipated shortfall in tax revenue. It is believed that since Israel is now on the verge of a severe slowdown, and that 2009 will be a tough year, it is highly likely that the slump in tax revenues could be as much as NIS 30 billion. Sources close to the issue say that in an instance like this, there will be no avoiding a review of the proposed tax cuts, some of which could even be cancelled. This could also include a freeze of the multiyear reform of income and company tax.

Israeli businesswoman profiled for good works in Africa, also deals arms
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
Israeli businesswoman Yardena Ovadia is operating as a mediator in arms sales to the African nation of Equatorial Guinea for sums of up to $100 million, security sources told Haaretz in recent days. One such deal involved sales by Israel Shipyards Ltd. and Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI) to the country’s military, including four Shaldag patrol and escort boats and a Sa’ar missile boat. They are also reportedly building a dockyard in the country. IMI was also involved in a multimillion dollar deal between Aeronautics, a Yavneh-based company, for building a fleet of scout vehicles for that country’s military. Neither Israel Shipyards nor Aeronautics, nor Ovadia herself, commented on the matter. The Channel 2 news program "Fact" ran a profile of Ovadia on Sunday but made no mention of the weapons deal allegations.

Leviev puts Africa-Israel Industries up for sale
Globes Online 11/11/2008
Africa-Israel Investments is trying to pare down its debt. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that Lev Leviev, the chairman of Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE: AFIL; Pink Sheets: AFIVY), has put up steel-making subsidiary Africa-Israel Industries Ltd. (TASE: AFID) up for sale. Africa-Israel Investments owns 67. 5% of Africa-Israel Industries, which has a market cap of NIS 121 million, after an 81% fall in its share since January. Its share fell 1. 8% today to NIS 74. 40. Leviev acquired Africa-Israel Industries, then known as Packer Plada from the Packer family in late 2006 for NIS 75 million, reflecting a company value of NIS 320 million, 26% above its market cap at the time. Africa-Israel Industries controls two companies: Yadpaz Ltd. and Negev Ceramics Ltd. (TASE: NGEV).

Excellence chief economist cuts 2009 growth forecast
Erez Wollberg, Globes Online 11/11/2008
Shlomo Maoz: Israel, a nation that depends on global trade, will be especially hit. Excellence Nessuah(TASE: EXCE) chief economist Shlomo Maoz has just cut his growth forecast for Israel’s economy in 2009 to 1. 7%. Maoz said, "Israel, as a nation that is dependent on global trade, will be especially hit, like other countries that are export-dependent. " In his first outlook on 2009, Maoz said that the option of increasing the government’s budget in order to stem the crisis is not possible in Israel as the upcoming elections halt government activity. Maoz expects 2008 growth to reach only 3. 8%, in contrast to a recent Central Bureau of Statistics estimate of 4. 5%. Excellence expects that unemployment in Israel will jump to 8. 3% in 2009, compared with 6. 3% today. Higher unemployment will flow from reduced exports of goods and services - including a sharp 20%. . .

Leumi Mortgage Bank profit collapses 57%
Erez Wollberg, Globes Online 11/11/2008
The provision for doubtful debts tripled to NIS 94 million for January-September. Bank Leumi(TASE: LUMI) subsidiary Leumi Mortgage Bank today published its financial report for the third quarter of 2008. The bank posted a net profit of NIS 47 million (NIS 50 per share), 56. 9% less than the NIS 109 million for the corresponding quarter of 2007. Leumi Mortgage Bank reported income from taxes and a reduced tax expense for the corresponding quarter of 2007: NIS 38 million for closing a tax assessment for 2000-05, and NIS 19 million for an inflation-adjusted tax reduction. Leumi Mortgage Bank’s provision for doubtful debts was NIS 25 million for the third quarter, 31. 6% more than the NIS 19 million for the corresponding quarter. The bank’s provision for doubtful debts for January-September more than tripled to NIS 94 million from NIS 31 million for the corresponding. . .

Chinese VC funds express interest in Israeli technology
Batya Feldman, Globes Online 11/11/2008
According to Lillian Safran Shaked, China’s VC funds also look to collaborate with their Israeli counterparts. At least seven Chinese venture capital funds are seeking collaboration with the Israeli counterparts and to invest in Israeli start-ups saysGross, Kleinhendler, Hodak, Halevy, Greenberg & Co. partner Lillian Safran Shaked, head of the law firm’s China desk and part of the high tech/international practice group. Safran Shaked and her colleague on the China Desk, Adv. Tal Shoham returned to Israel after a series of meeting with Chinese venture capital funds in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. Safran Shaked said, "Israeli technologies greatly intrigue Chinese funds, but their knowledge of, and interaction with, Israeli companies ranges from negligible to zero. During our meetings, the Chinese funds expressed a wish to deepen their knowledge with a view. . .

Ratings giant Nielsen wants share of Israeli market
Yael Gaoni, Globes Online 11/11/2008
The ratings committee will meet on Thursday to decide whether to publish a new tender. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that just three days before the television ratings tender is decided, The Nielsen Company announced that it will participate, if a new tender is published. The ratings committee will probably thoroughly consider this option because TNS Israel Ltd. unit Tele-Gal Israel Rating Company Ltd. is the only bidder in the current tender. Last week, The Nielsen Company CEO David Calhoun and Nielsen Online CEO Itzhak Fisher visited Israel. One of issues they raised was the tender, and they decided in principle to participate in a new tender, if one was published. As "Globes" reported, the tender committee will decide the television ratings tender on Thursday. The committee will discuss at its upcoming meeting the joint bid of Tele-Gal and TNS plc (LSE: TNS).

Local hi-tech investment soars
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
Despite the global financial crisis, investments in Israeli hi-tech companies rose 45 percent in the third quarter this year over the same period last year, but a slowdown is expected. "Israeli hi-tech companies, responding to early signs of market changes and the falling dollar-shekel rate, have been raising follow-on capital to help them navigate through the long-anticipated global crisis. Now that the crisis is here, a similar rate of investment won’t be maintained," Zeev Holtzman, chairman of Israel Venture Capital Research Center and Giza Venture Capital, said Monday. In the third quarter of 2008, 124 Israeli hi-tech companies raised $600 million from local and foreign venture-capital investors. The quarterly amount was the highest reported in the last eight years: 45 percent above the $414m. raised in the third quarter of 2007 and up 29% from the $465m.

Foundation to disburse grants to families of victims of early period of Intifada
Ma’an News Agency 11/11/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – The Palestinian foundation for sponsoring families of “martyrs” and wounded will offer the so-called presidential “noble grant” to 500 families whose members were killed during the Al-Aqsa Intifada (uprising), says Intisar Al-Wazir, the chair of the foundation. The Director General of the foundation, Khalid Al-Jabareen explained that the payments will affect families of those killed in 2001 and 2002 and have not received that “noble grant” yet. Efforts will continue to pay that grant to all families who have not received it yet. Payment, according to Al-Jabareen will start next week. The “noble grant” was approved by late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat. The grant is worth Six thousand Israeli Shekels, or 1,500 US dollars.

US judge dismisses lawsuit over Egypt hotel bombing
Yael Levy and Reuters, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Federal judge says said Egypt or Israel would be a better forum for plaintiffs’ claims as many victims of Hilton Taba attack received medical treatment in Israel and much of the evidence is in Hebrew or Arabic -A US federal judge dismissed a lawsuit on Monday filed against the Hilton Hotel chain by victims of the 2004 bombing of the Hilton Taba Hotel in Egypt. The plaintiffs included 157 Israelis and Russians who were either guests or relatives of those who died when a vehicle laden with explosives was driven into the hotel’s lobby in the Sinai town of Taba. They sued Hilton Hotels Corp in 2006, seeking damages after claiming the hotel’s security was inadequate. In October 2004, bombings at three sites on the east coast of the Sinai peninsula killed 34 people. The Egyptian government said the mastermind was Palestinian and the targets appeared to be Israeli tourists.

No work, no food, no prospects
Vered Lee, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
"We sleep on the floor," says 10-year-old Tadela Munges. "Mom on the mattress, we, the brothers, on the cartons. There are blankets, but it’s very cold at night. " For the past week 120 Ethiopian immigrants from the Beit Alfa absorption center have been protesting their difficult living conditions in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. There are no bathrooms or showers; their daily diet consists of donated canned food, bread, snacks for the children and bottles of water. Women complain of headaches as they hold sick infants and children suffering from colds, while beaten, exhausted men continually repeat: "We won’t budge from here until a solution is found for us. We have no home to go back to. We want work. "Before Yom Kippur about 200 immigrants demonstrated about financial distress, a lack of access to jobs, hunger and a disdainful attitude on the part of Jewish Agency counselors.

Hariri asks Moussa for inquest into Fatah al-Islam claims
Daily Star 11/12/2008
Parliamentary majority leader MP Saad Hariri officially called on the Arab League Tuesday to form a fact-finding commission to look into "confessions" broadcast by Syrian state television last week by alleged Fatah al-Islam members responsible for a deadly September car bombing in Damascus. Hariri called Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa Tuesday and urged him to form "an Arab committee that would investigate the confessions," the MP’s media office said. In the broadcast, the suspects said that Fatah al-Islam, an Al-Qaeda-linked group which battled the Lebanese Army last year at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, had links to Hariri’s Future Movement. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud’s visit to Syria drew a series of reactions on Tuesday, with the March 14 Forces expressing fears that Syria was planning to restore hegemony over Lebanon.

Nasrallah: Israeli hands that attack Lebanon will be severed
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday accused Israel of operating multiple spy networks in Lebanon, vowing that "the Israeli hand that attacks Lebanon will be cut off. " The head of the Lebanon-based guerilla group spoke via satellite at an event marking Hezbollah’s Martyrs Day in a suburb of the Lebanese capital Beirut, celebrating the militia’s first suicide bombing in 1982. Nasrallah, broadcast on a giant television screen, told a crowd of supporters that not only is Israel to blame for numerous murders in Lebanon, it is also waging psychological warfare against its neighbor. "The spy network that was recently exposed is one of many operating in more than one arena and in more than one place," the Hezbollah chief said, referring to a cell recently arrested by the Lebanese army, believed to be linked to Israel’s Mossad.

Nasrallah skeptical of Obama’s ’change’
Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday lashed out at the Jewish state, calling Israelis "racist war criminals" and warning that Hizbullah was "stronger than ever. "He also expressed skepticism regarding US President-elect Barack Obama’s promises of change. In a speech marking Martyr Day in Beirut, Nasrallah said: "We come here every year to reiterate our pride and our respect for our martyrs. We mention them at every turn and not only on happy days. We remember them in our feelings and thoughts and in our everyday social interactions. " According to the Hizbullah leader, Israel was behind a series of assassinations threatening the stability of the Lebanese political landscape. He warned, however, that his organization "is stronger than ever and is at the height or readiness. " "The Israeli hands that harm Lebanon will be cut off, as they have been cut off in the past," he threatened.

Worldwide economic crisis puts squeeze on GA
Ruth Eglash And Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
The United Jewish Communities’ (UJC) annual General Assembly, to be held here next week, could end up being the smallest gathering since the organization - considered the backbone of North American Jewry - started holding its central conference in the Jewish state 10 years ago, The Jerusalem Post has learned. "Thousands of American Jews are coming to Israel to celebrate the country’s 60th anniversary, even though there is a severe economic recession taking place worldwide," UJC’s senior vice president and director-general of its Israel operations Nachman Shai told the Post Monday. "We were worried about cancellations but we believe that at least 3,000 people will attend the conference’s opening night Sunday, with upward of 2,500 of them coming from the US. " Shai admitted that fewer people would attend than in previous years, but said that considering the global economic crisis, that was to be expected.

IAF dismayed at Amman for blocking Sheikh Raed Salah’s entry to Jordan
Palestinian Information Center 11/11/2008
AMMAN, (PIC)-- The Islamic Action Front (IAF)  has expressed dismay at Amman’s government decision to bar the entry of Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 areas, into Jordan to attend an IAF-sponsored event. Mohammed Al-Ziyud, the IAF secretary in Zarka city, where the event was supposed to be held, said on Monday that the Jordanian people were prioritizing the Jerusalem question. He said that no one would accept non-understandable pretexts that block exposing Zionist schemes in Jerusalem. The government, which repeatedly blocked entry of Sheikh Salah into Jordan, is allowing all those who "surrender rights and constants" to freely enter the country, Ziyud charged. The government had disapproved a request for the IAF to organize a carnival on Jerusalem without giving any reason.

Jordan, Israel work to overcome regional water deficit
Ehud Zion Waldoks, Jerusalem Post 11/10/2008
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. While Israel’s water crisis is severe and much publicized, Jordan’s is much worse. Jordan is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world in terms of water per capita. Water runs there for just one day a week. The rest of the week, residents must carefully ration the water they have stored in rooftop containers. Israel has offered to desalinate water and pass it on, The Jerusalem Post has learned. "There has been a deficit for the last 10 to 15 years," Friends of the Earth Middle East Jordan Director Munqeth Mehyar told the Post. "And with this past dry year, I fear the authorities are drawing on our strategic reserve of aquifers and that’s scary. " The Jordanian Water Ministry has done a good job of meeting the needs of residents, industry and agriculture, he said, and has kept up a steady flow once a week.

’Environment could be strong connector between Israel, Diaspora’
Ehud Zion Waldoks, Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
The Jewish Agency’s Partnership 2000 program has discovered the potential of the environment to unite people and is eager to exploit it. The program pairs communities all over the world with communities in Israel to collaborate on projects. About 500 communities worldwide pair up with 45 counterpart communities here, according to strategy director Uri Bar-Ner. Partnership 2000 will hold its third international conference on Wednesday - its first in Israel. The event was scheduled to coincide with other major conferences which draw Diaspora Jews such as the UJC’s General Assembly and Lions of Judah, Bar-Ner said. Over 200 people have signed up, he added. The day-long conference will focus on the hot topics for Partnership 2000, Raya Strauss Ben-Dror, the program’s chair, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Blair bodyguard ’fires gun accidentally’
AP, The Independent 11/11/2008
One of Tony Blair’s guards accidentally fired his gun at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport today as the former prime minister was boarding a plane. No one was hurt. An Israeli police spokesman said the incident happened as the guard was unloading his gun prior to getting on the flight. And airport spokeswoman said: "One of his bodyguards accidentally fired his gun, and the bullet hit the ground. " Mr Blair is now the envoy of the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers - the US, UN, EU and Russia. He attended a Quartet meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik and had a round of meetings with Israeli officials before leaving Israel. At the same airport in June, French President Nicolas Sarkozy was hustled onto his plane when a police officer shot himself dead.

Airport drama: Blair’s guard misfires
Eli Senyor, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Quartet Envoy Tony Blair’s bodyguard causes scare at Ben Gurion Airport; police launch investigation - Security drama at airport: A bodyguard securing the Quartet’s Middle East Envoy, Tony Blair, misfired a bullet at Ben Gurion international airport Tuesday as Blair was preparing to leave Israel. The incident caused a commotion at the site, prompting police and security personnel to rush Blair into the airplane. A short time after the incident, it turned out that it was not an attempted terror attack. No injuries were reported as result of the misfire. Meanwhile, police at the airport held the bodyguard for questioning. The incident took place around 3 pm, moments before Blair’s planned departure. Immediately after he was rushed into the plane, the pilot was ordered to take off. The bodyguard involved in the incident is expected to board a later flight.

Row over claims of Syrian nuclear find
Ian Black Middle East editor, The Guardian 11/11/2008
Claims that traces of uranium were found at the site of an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor which was bombed by Israel last year prompted a row about politically-motivated leaks yesterday. Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the UN body was taking very seriously allegations that Syria has a hidden atomic programme. But he declined to confirm that uranium had been detected. Unnamed diplomats said on Monday that samples taken by UN inspectors from Kibar in northern Syria contained traces of uranium combined with other elements. The uranium was processed, suggesting some kind of nuclear link. "It isn’t enough to conclude or prove what the Syrians were doing, but the IAEA has concluded this requires further investigation," said a diplomat with links to the Vienna-based watchdog. Melissa Fleming, an IAEA spokeswoman, said the agency was drafting its first

IAEA ’serious’ about Syria nuclear probe
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
The chief UN nuclear inspector said Tuesday his agency is taking allegations of a secret Syrian atomic program seriously and urged the country to cooperate fully with his investigation. Diplomats: Uranium traces found at Syrian site - Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also urged other nations with information that could help the investigation to share what they know. He spoke a day after diplomats told The Associated Press that IAEA samples taken from a Syrian site bombed by Israel on suspicion it was a covert nuclear reactor contained traces of uranium combined with other elements - a finding that merits further information. Syrian officials had no comment Tuesday. Syria has previously denied any covert nuclear program. Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad has said Damascus would consider a request by the nuclear watchdog to revisit the bombed site.

Peres, Livni at UN for interfaith forum
Allison Hoffman In New York And Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
President Shimon Peres is slated to speak Wednesday before world leaders - including the Saudi king - gathered in New York for a UN summit on interfaith cooperation. Israeli diplomats, hoping to revive a Saudi-backed plan for regional peace, have made a strong show of support for the interfaith meeting, organized under UN auspices at the request of King Abdullah after he and Spanish King Juan Carlos hosted a roundtable for political and religious leaders in Madrid last July. Officials told The Jerusalem Post that, on the sidelines, Peres is reaching out to Arab delegations in hopes of holding bilateral talks during the three-day parley, officially billed as an event to promote a "culture of peace. " No meetings with any Arab leaders had been agreed to by Tuesday afternoon, a mission spokeswoman told the Post.

World leaders set to gather for talks on interfaith relations at UN headquarters
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/12/2008
UNITED NATIONS: World leaders gather at the United Nations on Wednesday and Thursday for a conference on interfaith relations that was overshadowed by uncertainty even before starting. Seventeen heads of state are expected to attend, including US President George W. Bush and the leaders of Arab nations and of Israel, countries where religion and politics are especially sensitive. The conference at the UN comes as US President-elect Barack Obama, who has signaled greater flexibility for American foreign policy in mostly Muslim geopolitical hotspots, readies to take power. Two days of talks will take the form of a debate in the General Assembly under the official theme of "culture of peace. "The conference was organized by the General Assembly president, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, a Nicaraguan Catholic priest who adopted left-wing liberation theology and served as foreign minister under Sandinista rule.

Iraq: US pact changes not enough
Al Jazeera 11/11/2008
Iraq’s government spokesman has said the United States’ offers of changes to a draft security agreement are "not enough" and asked Washington to offer new amendments if it wants the pact to win parliamentary approval. The comments on Monday by Ali al-Dabbagh were the first by the Iraqis since the US submitted a response last week to an Iraqi request for changes in the draft agreement. The agreement would keep US troops In Iraq until 2012 and give Iraq a greater role in the management of the US mission. Al-Dabbagh said his remarks constituted the government response but it had not been officially conveyed to the Americans. However, on Tuesday Al-Dabbagh told Al Jazeera that there was optimism from Baghdad that a deal with the US would be made.

Iraqi Cabinet meets to mull latest draft of US security pact
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/12/2008
BAGHDAD: The Iraqi Cabinet met behind closed doors for six hours on Tuesday to discuss a controversial military accord intended to govern the presence of US troops in Iraq beyond 2008. Baghdad and Washington have been racing to frame the terms of the deal ahead of the expiry of the UN mandate on December 31, but the head of the cabinet’s Parliamentary Affairs Committee said more discussions were needed. The UN authorization for foreign troop presence in Iraq was not obtained until after the fact of the 2003 US-led invasion. "The deliberations are continuing in the cabinet in order to ascertain the scope of the amendments that have been added in order to reach a clear agreement and to see if it is acceptable to Parliament," Safaldin al-Safi said. "The American response contained many positive elements, but at the same time it contained clauses that require more discussion," he said in a statement on his party’s website.

Zebari pays surprise visit to Damascus
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/12/2008
DAMASCUS: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari arrived in Damascus on Tuesday, on a surprise visit two weeks after a US raid on a Syrian village launched from Iraq that caused tensions with Baghdad. Damascus criticized an initial government statement in Baghdad that appeared to condone the October 26 helicopter-borne raid on a Syrian border village and called off a joint meeting scheduled for November 12-13. Zebari was greeted at the airport by his Syrian counterpart, Walid Moallem, at the start of the previously unannounced visit. Syria’s President Bashar Assad on Sunday called on the US to pull its troops out of Iraq, saying they posed a threat to neighboring states. "The presence in Iraq of US forces of occupation is a permanent threat to neighboring countries and an element of instability in the region," Assad said in a speech to MPs.

Palestinians bid goodbye to India, hello Sweden
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - UNHCR, ReliefWeb 11/11/2008
NEW DELHI, India, November 11 (UNHCR) – More than 100 Palestinian refugees from Iraq are leaving India in the first large-scale resettlement of Palestinian refugees from outside the Middle East. A total of 137 Palestinian refugees who fled Baghdad for India have been accepted for resettlement by Sweden. So far, 91 have left for Sweden; the rest are due to leave in the next six months. Another 10 left for Norway earlier this year. Within the community, the mood today is noticeably different from before. Back in Iraq, like other Palestinians after the regime change of 2003, they had been targeted and persecuted. Kidnappings were routine, as were midnight knocks on the door in Palestinian homes. Their shops were torched, their homes looted and bombed. They fled terror and the first groups reached India in March 2006.

Baghdad hopes reopening of notorious span over Tigris will bridge Sunni-Shiite divide
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/12/2008
BAGHDAD: Authorities in Baghdad on Tuesday opened a major bridge linking historic Sunni and Shiite districts that was closed in 2005 after nearly 1,000 Shiite pilgrims perished in a deadly stampede. The move is expected to help repair the deep sectarian divisions that have plagued the city since the start of major Sunni-Shiite violence in 2006 and ease traffic in the bustling capital. Hundreds of people, including Shiite and Sunni clerics and other Iraqi officials, walked across the bridge spanning the Tigris River hugging and kissing cheeks in a show of national unity. The Al-Aima (Imams) bridge links the centuries-old neighborhoods of Kadhimiyah and Adhamiyah, the former named for a revered Shiite shrine and the latter built around the tomb of a famed Sunni lawmaker. "Today is a historic day for us. We want to visit our friends. We have missed them, and haven’t been able to visit them for three years. "said Ali Abdel-Hussein as he walked across the bridge from his home in Kadhimiyah.

IOA allows limited fuel supplies into Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 11/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority on Tuesday allowed limited shipments of fuel into the Gaza Strip to operate the power station, which came to a complete halt last night due to lack of fuel. Mahmoud Al-Shawwa, the chairman of the union of petrol stations, said that the IOA promised to allow fuel shipments for the station for three days if no missile was fired from the Strip. Shawwa noted that the Strip was suffering an acute cooking gas shortage, which he said would be channeled to the Strip within two days. Israeli security sources said that full fuel supplies to the Strip would not be restored at the moment, and added that all commercial crossings would remain closed for an indefinite period. Many areas in Gaza were out of power for the second day today after the IOA blocked entry of fuel for seven days at the pretext locally made missiles were fired from Gaza at Israeli targets.

Israel to resume delivery of electricity fuel to Gaza’
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/11/2008
Israel decided yesterday night to reopen the Nahal Auz fuel terminal in eastern Gaza, to allow delivery of industrial crude fuel for generating electricity at Gaza’s sole power plant. Peter Lerinz, spokesman of the Israeli government’s liaison office in Gaza and the West Bank, told media outlets that the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, ordered the reopening of the said terminal upon a request from the Quartet’s envoy, Toni Blair. Lerinz added that the other Gaza commercial crossings will remain closed ’until the homemade shells fire against Israeli areas comes to a halt’. Yesterday night many parts of the Gaza Strip were blacked out as the power plant ran out of needed fuel following days of Israeli closure of Gaza’s crossings. Meanwhile, director of UNRWA’s operations in Gaza, Mr. Jhon Gang, called for an immediate reopenning of the Gaza crossings due to what he described. . .

Bodyguard of Blair accidentally fires gun at Ben Gorion Airport
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/12/2008
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported on Tuesday that the bodyguard of the International Middle East peace Envoy, Tony Blair, accidentally fired his gun at the Ben Gorion Airport in Israel causing a state of panic. Haaretz added that the accident did not cause physical harm to any person. The Israeli police and airport security rushed to the scene after hearing the shot. The incident took place at 3 P. M as Blair was about to leave Israel. An initial probe conducted by the Israeli police revealed that that incident was due to an error by the foreign national bodyguard. In May of this year, Blair had a ’near-miss’ when Israeli fighter jets mistook his plane for an ’enemy aircraft’, and were within seconds of shooting him down. Two fighter jets were sent in hot pursuit of Blair’s aircraft after they monitored the plane taking off from the Sinai the northern part of Egypt.

Blair’s bodyguard accidentally fires gun at Ben Gurion airport
Zohar Blumenkrantz, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
International Mideast peace envoy Tony Blair’s body guard caused a fright on Tuesday when he accidentally fired his handgun at Ben-Gurion International Airport. No one was injured in the incident, which occurred outside the terminal building at around 3:00 P. M. Blair, a former British prime minister, was preparing leave Israel at the time. Israel Airport Authority security guards and police rushed to the scene after the shot. An initial probe revealed that the incident was due to an error by the bodyguard, a foreign national. In May, Israeli fighterjets scrambled to intercept an unidentified aircraft suspected to be hostile, only to find out that it carried none other than Blair, a top military official said.

VIDEO - Footage emerges of Obama poking fun at ’foul-mouthed’ Rahm Emanuel
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
Jews and Israelis lauded U. S. president-elect Barack Obama’s pick of Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff last week. Emanuel, known for a tough but savvy approach to politics, has enjoyed close relationships with both Obama and several other Democratic powerhouses, including the Clintons. C-SPAN recently rebroadcast a 2005 celebrity roast of Emanuel, in which both Hillary Clinton and Obama take on their fiery old friend. The roast was held at a fundraiser hosted by Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy. On the agenda was Emanuel’s unusual name, and even more so, his famous temper. [end]

’America’s Role is Central’
Der Spiegel, MIFTAH 11/11/2008
Interview with the Syrian Foreign Minister: SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Minister, what do you think of the vote that America has cast? Moallem: I am happy about the result of the American election and I congratulate President-elect Barack Obama. I hope that he will help us make a dream come true: a Middle East of peace, of stability and prosperity. There is no way around it: To achieve this, America’s role is central. SPIEGEL ONLINE: Syria is a neighbor of Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian territories -- and it is Iran’s best friend. Which Middle East conflict would you like to see Obama tackle first? Moallem: The Arab-Israeli one because this conflict aggravates and fuels all others. This truly is the time to come to a comprehensive peace between Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinians. SPIEGEL ONLINE: Obama is hardly in a position to solve this alone.

Livni says not bound by Olmert’s political statements
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Kadima head tries to distance herself from PM statements saying vast concessions a must in talks with Palestinians; ’A party should first and foremost defend its people’s national interests,’ she says - Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni released a media statement Tuesday saying that "as chairwoman of the Kadima party, I am obligated only by the party’s platform and not by any statement made by the outgoing prime minister. " The statement was meant to distance Livni from recent statements made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, suggesting that Israel must make vast concessions in Jerusalem in order to propel the peace process forward. Olmert’s statement, said a source close to Livni, might be seen as his only legacy, at least as far as the international community is concerned: "This is a de-facto commitment by an acting prime minister, to the world, the Obama Administration and the Palestinians," added the source. "It’s a declaration of policy which was not sanctioned by the party. "

Israel FM distances herself from Olmert policies
Middle East Online 11/11/2008
JERUSALEM - Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni distanced herself on Tuesday from comments by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert calling for painful territorial ‘concessions’ for Middle East peace. In an interview with army radio, Livni, who will lead Olmert’s centrist Kadima party into a snap February election, said she was not bound by his policies. "I am bound by the Kadima platform that I drafted and in which I laid down principles for negotiations with the Palestinians that the whole world can support," said Livni, who is Israel’s lead negotiator in the peace talks. "It is possible to conduct the negotiations in my own way without having to arrive at the outcome raised by the outgoing prime minister. " In a speech to parliament on Monday marking the anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Olmert said Israel needed to give up large tracts. . .

Statement issued by the Quartet - Remarks by Secretary-General at joint press conference following the Quartet meeting
United Nations Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General - OSSG, ReliefWeb 11/9/2008
Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, 9 Nov 2008 - (extract) Q: Do you think that the Quartet can play a role in alleviating the sufferings of Palestinians in Gaza? Thank you. SG: Thank you very much. As the Secretary-General, I have broad responsibility and a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance to all the people around the world who are in need of such assistance. Particularly, I am deeply distressed about the plight of the civilian population in Gaza. Through the work of several United Nations agencies, including UNRWA [the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East], the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization, the United Nations is standing by the people of Gaza and helping them in these difficult times. The Quartet has also made clear its support for a more constructive strategy for Gaza.

Abbas at Arafat memorial: We’ll continue to follow shahids’ path
Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Palestinian president tells thousands of supporters at memorial service for PLO leader that he won’t agree to peace deal with Israel without massive prisoners’ release. MK Tibi to rally: We miss Arafat’s kaffiyeh - a symbol for all revolutionaries, freedom-seekers worldwide -"The Palestinian leadership will continue to follow Yasser Arafat’s path until a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is established," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday during a memorial service marking the fourth anniversary of the iconic Palestinian leader’s death. During the memorial, held at Abbas’ Mukataa compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the Palestinian president said, "The path of the shahids - Arafat, George Habash (founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and (assassinated Hamas spiritual leader) Sheikh Ahmed Yassin - is the path. . .

President Abbas blames Hamas for failure of Cairo national unity conference
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/11/2008
Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, blamed on Tuesday the ruling Hamas party in Gaza for the failure of the Cairo-based national unity dialogue, urging the league of Arab states to take a stance. In a speech he delivered during a special ceremony marking the second anniversary of the death of late president Yasser Arafat in Ramallah city, Abbas stressed " we have accepted the Egyptian initiative for dialogue but Hamas leaders have aborted such a dialogue by boyotting the Cairo conference". Abbas also called for ending what he termed the Hamas coup against legitimacy in Gaza, slamming harshly Hamas ban of a twin festival in Gaza , marking Arafat’s death four years ago. The Palestinian president also called for holding simultaneous presidential and legislative elections, urging those candidates ’who are confident of themselves to come to the ballots’ " Hamas does not want. . .

Batesh: Political detention in West Bank stumbling bloc before dialog
Palestinian Information Center 11/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Khaled Al-Batesh, one of the Islamic Jihad Movement’s leaders in Gaza Strip, has said that the spate of political arrests in the West Bank constituted a stumbling bloc before holding the national dialogue. Batesh in a statement published by Palestine newspaper in Gaza on Tuesday said that national dialog is the only solution to the internal Palestinian crisis. He stressed that his Movement was ready to attend the dialog but the absence of one of its main components (Hamas) would spoil the dialog and make the presence of others "worthless". The Jihad leader expected Egypt to launch a new wave of mediation efforts to initiate the dialog, which Cairo was supposed to host, but remarked that all parties to the dialog should furnish the atmosphere and ensure its success. Fatah should release all political detainees as a goodwill gesture, Batesh said, and demanded a. . .

Abbas lashes out at Hamas, renews denial of political detention
Palestinian Information Center 11/11/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- PA chief Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday renewed his denial that political detention was taking place in the West Bank and alleged that Hamas’s claim in this regard was contrary to the people’s interest. Abbas, speaking at a rally commemorating the 4th anniversary of the death of late PA chief Yasser Arafat, said that the PA was not submitting to any American or Israeli veto. He said that his Fatah faction was committed to dialog as a means to settle internal problems, and renewed his demands for formation of a national unity government that would not re-impose siege, abide by the PLO program and prepare for simultaneous presidential and legislative elections. "We support admission of other forces into the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people," he said, adding that whoever joins the PLO should accept it and all its resolutions.

Hamas: Abbas’s speech full of contradictions, reflects ill will
Palestinian Information Center 11/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Tuesday described PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s speech on the 4th anniversary of late PA chief Yasser Arafat’s death as hollow and full of contradictions that attempted to raise the public opinion against Hamas. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said in a statement that Abbas did not speak as the president of the Palestinian people but rather as a sheer partisan leader and uncovered his ill intention and his attempt to drive a wedge between Hamas and the Palestinian factions and the Arab countries. He said that Abbas spoke about resistance while he is in fact attempting to liquidate it, and was surrendering constants that Arafat died for. Barhoum underlined that Abbas never asked for lifting the siege on Gaza and did not ask Egypt to open the Rafah crossing but still insists on bringing back the occupiers to control the terminal.

Leviev program nixed by schools
Or Kashti, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
An educational program initiated by ultra-Orthodox business tycoon Lev Leviev will no longer be run by the state education system, Education Ministry Director-General Shlomit Amichai told a meeting of mayors yesterday. Amichai said the decision comes after program organizers decided to discontinue its operation. The Education Ministry instructed schools a month ago to stop teaching the program, called "Zman Masa," or "Journey Time," which seeks to raise the familiarity of students at state elementary schools with Judaism. The directive came after program organizers failed to adhere to two conditions imposed by the ministry: Instruction must be given by teachers or students in state teaching colleges; and the material must meet criteria established by the 1994 Shenhar Report that recommended teaching Jewish studies in a pluralistic, rather than strictly Orthodox spirit.

How politics tear the ultra-Orthodox apart
Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
No matter what the outcome of the municipal elections, the truth is already known to every ultra-Orthodox child: This was a wild election campaign, one that devastated nearly every myth in ultra-Orthodox politics - Agudat Yisrael, the Council of Torah Sages and the idea that "the sages of Israel" are the supreme authority whose opinion is "the opinion of Torah. "The ultra-Orthodox political crisis, which is rooted in the war between the Gur Hasidut and the other elements in Agudat Yisrael, is occurring just when ultra-Orthodox society as a whole is grappling with other troubles - the main faucet that waters the yeshiva world is closing in the wake of the financial crisis in the United States. So at the onset of a time of wound-licking, it is worth remembering the person who more than anyone else shaped ultra-Orthodox society and politics since the founding. . .

Turnout slips in Haifa, as incumbent seems safe
Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
Voter turnout in Haifa was only 18 percent by 7 P. M. yesterday - less than the national average at the same time - although it is usually higher than the national turnout. Adam Fish, who heads the city’s elections committee, attributed the low voter interest to the assumption that the incumbent mayor, Yona Yahav, would win. "This is significant for Haifa because over the years, the voter turnout in the local election campaign was higher than the national average," said Fish. But this time around, he said, the public was apathetic because the local media had already declared Yahav the winner. "This is what I was afraid of," Yahav said yesterday, projecting an uncharacteristic sense of concern. "It’s hard to evaluate what’s happening here. You hear good things, but low voter turnout causes a distortion of the results.

IDF files harsh indictments against officers involved in Golan training accident
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
The Israel Defense Forces announced on Tuesday that indictments will be filed against four officers, among them a colonel and a lieutenant colonel, surrounding the death of Sergeant Major Assaf Wachsman, A reservist who was killed in a training exercise in the Golan Heights a year ago when an armored personnel carrier overturned and crushed him. In accordance with a ruling by the Military Advocate General Avichai Mandelblit, the four will be charged with causing Wachsman’s death by negligence. Wachsman’s father, Leon, told Haaretz on Tuesday that he sees Mandelblit’s decision as a positive one. "The Military Advocate General didn’t accept the findings of the inquiry commission, which stated that the incident resulted from an obscure failure, and decided to pursue justice for the responsible officers. "

Talansky set for trial in NY assault case
Allison Hoffman, Jerusalem Post Correspondent, Jerusalem Post 11/11/2008
Morris Talansky, the American financier embroiled in one of the corruption probes into outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was ordered Monday to stand trial on misdemeanor assault charges in New York. The Long Island mogul faces up to a year in prison if convicted of attacking his longtime dentist, Leonard Barashick, during a payment dispute, according to Nassau district attorney’s office spokesman Eric Phillips. Barashick claims Talansky slammed a heavy chair at his shins and threw him against a wall after he demanded money for six dental crowns. Talansky’s trial is scheduled for November 24 and will be heard by a supervising judge, not a jury, Talansky’s lawyer, Anthony Colleluori, told The Jerusalem Post. The assault case is unrelated to the investigation into allegations that Olmert accepted illicit contributions during his stint as Jerusalem mayor and as industry, trade and labor minister.

Katsav gets new office
Nurit Felter, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Finance Ministry signs lease for former president and suspected sex offender Moshe Katsav on top floor of Israel’s tallest building. Spacious office to cost taxpayers $3,714 per month - Israel’s tallest building, and one of the most prestigious business spaces in the country, is expecting a new tenant come December 1 - former president and suspected sex offender, Moshe Katsav. According to a Yedioth Ahronoth report, the Finance Ministry signed a lease for Katsav’s luxurious office on the 49th floor of the Moshe Aviv Tower, located in the central city of Ramat Gan, on Monday. The property includes a spacious office with a secretary’s post, a deluxe office and conference room, and of course, a kitchenette. Katsav’s office spans 1270 square feet and has breathtaking panoramic views, showcasing the busy Tel Aviv metropolitan area to the Samarian mountains.

Barak concerned over new left-wing movement
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Establishment of new movement aimed at expanding Meretz’s electoral base ahead of elections to be announced Friday; Amos Oz, Uzi Baram among prominent members -The founding conference of a new left-wing political movement aimed at emboldening the Meretz-Yahad party is scheduled to take place on Friday. The movement, which has yet to be named, will consist of several prominent leftist figures such as novelist Amos Oz, former minister Uzi Baram and Law Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer. On Monday, upon receiving word of the plans to establish the new movement, Defense Minister and Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak contacted Baram to inquire whether he was deserting the party. The new movement was initiated Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron, who has met with numerous left-wing figures over the past few months.

Interior minister: Low voter turnout rate to distort results
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Interior Minister Sheetrit upset by low turnout rate in Tuesday municipal elections, says reluctance to vote will lead to results that constitute ’complete distortion of democracy’ - Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit says he is concerned that low voter turnout rates in Tuesday’s municipal elections will prompt distorted results. "When people do not come out and vote, they make other elements, which they do not want, gain strength," the minister said, about an hour and a half before polling stations were scheduled to close. At the time, the turnout rate in Jerusalem stood at 36%, compared to 30% in Tel Aviv and 33% in Haifa. Turning his attention to the Jerusalem municipal elections, Sheetrit said: "It’s clear that the results will be completely distorted. The same is true for Haifa and other locations.

Is Bibi imitating Obama?
Adar Shalev, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Upgraded Netanyahu website suspiciously similar to Barack Obama’s website - Ahead of the upcoming general elections, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu has upgraded his website, which now features more news, Likud members’ blogs, and videos, among other things. However, some sharp-eyed bloggers could not help but notice the striking similarity between Bibi’s site to that of American President-elect Barack Obama. Despite the obvious similarities between the sites, Netanyahu’s Spokesman Yossi Levi claimed that the design of Bibi’s website was not copied from Obama’s site. " We view the comparison as a compliment," Levi said. "The guideline of the Likud’s online campaign is openness and maximal transparency to the public, with maximal public participation in the election process. "

Municipal elections underway across Israel
Ynet, YNetNews 11/11/2008
Mayoral race reaches final stretch as 7,712 ballots await voters in 159 cities, councils. Ballots to remain open until 10 pm, high voter turnout expected - Ballots opened at 7 am Tuesday morning, as the 2008 municipal elections began across Israel. Some 7,712 ballots have been spread throughout the country in order to allow 4,734,507 voters to choose one of 600 mayoral candidates, in 159 cities and local councils. The ballots will close at 10 pm. The two most visible campaigns of the local race were those taking place in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as four candidates in each city have been bidding for the public’s vote. Storming Tel Aviv’s City Hall are current Mayor Ron Huldai, Knesset Member Dov Khenin (Hadash), Head of the Israeli Green Party Pe’er Visner and Major-General (Res. ) Oren Shahor.

Famous figures backing Meretz? Labor is unfazed
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 11/10/2008
Reports that authors Amos Oz and David Grossman and former Labor politicians such as Avraham Burg and Uzi Baram are organizing a group that will back Meretz for the next Knesset did not seem to worry Labor MKs on Monday. Meretz Party chairman MK Haim Oron is said to be behind the move. According to the reports, he met in recent weeks with several prominent figures on the Israeli left in an attempt to receive their support for his party. Meretz, which won 12 mandates in 1992, has only five in the current Knesset. Oron refused to confirm the details on Monday, but said he praised any initiative to join and strengthen Meretz in the upcoming elections. "It is important to strengthen the Israeli Left in a significant way," Oron said Monday. "The social-economical crisis doesn’t skip Israel and, together with the urgent political needs and the demand to fill the. . .

Ging calls for opening Gaza crossings, warns of worsening humanitarian crisis
Palestinian Information Center 11/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The director of UNRWA operations in Gaza Strip John Ging on Tuesday said that all Gaza crossings should be opened and warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis in the beleaguered Strip. Ging in a statement to the Ramattan news agency said that the crisis is deepening in Gaza, noting that today 600,000 of its inhabitants are living without electricity, which only adds to the state of suffering, desperation and frustration its inhabitants face. He rejected the Israeli policy of collective punishment on the Gaza populace, adding that the inhabitants are not the ones who fire rockets and thus should not be punished. The UNRWA official urged the international community to act, asserting that protecting civilians was a priority. For his part, Kanan Obeid, the deputy chairman of the Gaza energy authority, told PIC on Tuesday that the Israeli occupation authority’s fuel supplies were half the amount agreed upon.

UNRWA: Cutting off fuel supplies to Gaza collective punishment
Palestinian Information Center 11/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Sami Misha’sha’, the UNRWA spokesman in Gaza, has criticized the use of fuel as a political pressure card by the Zionist government against the Gaza Strip. He said in a press release on Monday that such measures as cutting fuel supplies constitute a form of collective punishment and "the Israelis have no right to decide the fate of such a large number of Palestinian inhabitants just to send a political message". The director said that his Agency supplied limited quantities of fuel to Gaza hospitals, after the Israeli occupation authority’s cutting off of fuel, to retain power supply badly needed in hospitals. He warned that prolonged fuel cut off would carry negative impacts on humanitarian services in the Strip. UNRWA depends on fuel to maintain its humanitarian role, to distribute its assistance and to run its mobile and other clinics, he said, noting that information. . .

UNRWA Commissioner-General: The challenge of providing primary health care in conflict situations - The example of Palestine refugees
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 11/3/2008
Statement by Karen Koning AbuZayd, UNRWA Commissioner-General:, Primary Health Care Conference, Doha, 3 November 2008 - Distinguished delegates: I thank the Government of Qatar for hosting this important conference. We are also grateful to WHO for inviting UNRWA to contribute a perspective from its sixty years of service to Palestine refugees. As many of you will know, UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide relief and emergency assistance for Palestine refugees in the Near East. Since commencing operations in May 1950, our programmes have considerably evolved in response to the changing needs of refugees over the decades. At present, we maintain services in education, health, social welfare, infrastructure, camp improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza (the occupied Palestinian territory). UNRWA is the main provider of comprehensive primary health care services to Palestine refugees in its areas of operation.

US coaches Arab overtures to Iraq
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Asia Times 11/12/2008
CAIRO - More than five years after the United States-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, ambassadors from Arab countries are flocking to Baghdad. Egyptian commentators have said the timing of the move suggests pressure from Washington, rather than a claimed desire for strengthened bilateral ties, is fueling the diplomatic drive. "Arab governments originally wanted a full withdrawal of foreign forces and a stable security environment before sending ambassadors," Ahmed Thabet, political science professor at Cairo University, told Inter Press Service. "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 Ahmed Aboul-Gheit and Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmi visited the Iraqi capital, with the stated aim of improving the two countries’ long-stalled bilateral relationship.

Archaeologists discover new pyramid in Egypt
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
Archaeologists have discovered a new pyramid under the sands of Saqqara, an ancient burial site that remains largely unexplored and has yielded a string of unearthed pyramids in recent years, Egypt’s antiquities chief announced Tuesday. The 4,300-year-old monument most likely belonged to the queen mother of the founder of Egypt’s 6th Dynasty, several hundred years after the building of the famed Great Pyramids of Giza, the country’s antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said as he took media on a tour of the find. The discovery is part of the sprawling necropolis and burial site of the rulers of ancient Memphis, the capital of Egypt’s Old Kingdom, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) south of Giza. All that remains of the pyramid is a square-shaped 16-foot (5-meter) tall structure that had been buried under 65 feet (25 meters) of sand.


Articles


Boycotting Israeli settlement products: tactic vs. strategy
Omar Barghouti, Electronic Intifada 11/11/2008
      There has been a spate of recent news reports on international companies moving out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) to locations inside the internationally-recognized boundary between Israel and the West Bank. The impression is made that boycotting products originating in Israel’s illegal colonies in the West Bank is on its way to becoming mainstream, handing the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement with a fresh, substantial victory. While this development should indeed be celebrated by all BDS activists anywhere, caution is called for in distinguishing between advocating such a targeted boycott as a tactic -- leading to the ultimate goal of boycotting all Israeli goods and services -- and as an end in itself. While the former may be necessary in some countries as a convenient tool of raising awareness and promoting debate about Israel’s colonial and apartheid regime, the latter, despite its lure, would be in direct contradiction with the stated objectives of the Palestinian boycott movement.
     Most recently, the Swedish company Assa Abloy heeded appeals from the Church of Sweden and other prominent Swedish organizations and decided to move its Mul-T-Lock door factory from the industrial zone of the Barkan colony in the occupied West Bank to a yet-unannounced location inside Israel, following the lead of Barkan Wineries, a partially Dutch-owned company that had already left Barkan to Kibbutz Hulda. The fact that part of this kibbutz sits on top of an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village whose name, Khulda, the Kibbutz had -- typically -- appropriated was not viewed, apparently, as worthy enough to be mentioned in the documents accusing the wine maker of wrongdoing, according to international law.

Israel Must Crack Down on Violent Settlers Now

Steve Breyman, Palestine Chronicle 11/11/2008
      ’The violence of extremist Israeli settlers threatens to crush this hope.’
     The director of Israel’s domestic security agency—the Shin Bet—expressed his deep concern in a cabinet meeting on November 2 that Israeli leaders who seek peace with the Palestinians may be assassination targets for Jewish extremists.
     Given the very strong support in the Israeli and other publics for a peace agreement with the Palestinians, the concern seems unbelievable. Yet as crazy as the warning sounds, the Israeli government must take it seriously. November 4 was the anniversary of the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin was gunned down by an Israeli settler angered by the Prime Minister’s meager concessions at the Oslo peace talks.
     In a recent interview, Rabin’s killer—Yigal Amir—expressed no remorse for the assassination. The current caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appears to understand the increased threat posed by Israel’s lunatic fringe. "There is a group, that is not small, of wild people who behave in a way that threatens proper law and governance. . . . This is unacceptable and we cannot countenance it," Olmert said, according to a statement from his office. "Attacking soldiers and their commanders, attacking policemen and other security personnel and injuring them is unacceptable." Escalation to the use of firearms is not out of the question. Recall that a sizable number of the quarter million settlers have government-issued assault rifles with which to protect themselves.

Testimony: Twelve-year-old beaten and imprisoned with adults

Report, B''Tselem, Electronic Intifada 11/11/2008
      Muhammad Salah Muhammad Khawajah, 12, is a student and a resident of Nilin in the Ramallah District. His testimony was given to Iyad Hadad on 18 September 2008 at the witness’s home:
     I live with my family in Nilin. We live on the ground floor of the house, my two uncles and their families live on the first floor, and my grandmother lives on the second floor.
     Last Thursday [11 September] around 3:00am, I woke up from my mother’s shouts. She was shouting, "Get up! Get up! The army is here!" My father wasn’t home that night. I got up and went out with her to the inner courtyard of the house. There were about 12 soldiers there, and their faces were painted black. One soldier wore a black hat that covered his face. He sat on the stairs outside the house and didn’t take part. I think he was a collaborator who led them to houses.
     The soldiers were on the first floor. I heard them tell my Uncle Sami to direct them to our floor. One of the soldiers asked, "Where is Muhammad?" and I realized he was asking about me. The soldier told my uncle to call me, so he did. I started walking towards them. Two soldiers grabbed me and took me outside. I realized they wanted to arrest me. I was afraid, and began to cry, and called my uncle to come with me.

The School Run

Ron Taylor, Palestine Chronicle 11/11/2008
      ’The effect on the emotional well being of the children can only be imagined.’
     "The children face beatings from settlers," says O. "Sometimes they spend all day in fear. The settlers must leave. If the settlers are here there is no safety, only fear." O is a Palestinian farmer from the tiny hamlet of Maghaer al-Abeed in the South Hebron Hills. He is also the father of young children who attend primary school in the nearby village of At-Tuwani. But the journey to school is a dangerous one.
     "We usually start from home and then to Tuba, and then on to the chicken barns," says M, one of the 20 or so children who make the journey to At-Tuwani. "And there we wait for the soldiers. There we face the settlers. The settlers try to crash into us with their cars. They sometimes catch us, hit us with rocks and knock us down."
     The settlers live in the red-roofed Jewish settlement of Ma’on and its outpost of Havat Ma’on or Hill 833 -- a collection of huts largely hidden in the trees and the chicken barns. Both stand there in defiance of international law. The latter is even illegal under Israeli law. Many of those living here moved to the West Bank from the United States, France and South Africa as well as from Israel itself. They are armed and claim the land as their own.

Israel Re-brands Oppression

John Chuckman, Palestine Chronicle 11/11/2008
      ’We see no check-points bristling with guns, no razor-wire..’
     There has been an ad on television recently, one featuring a young couple walking or drifting into a place of enchantment, a warm and colourful fantasy world, a kind of biblical Disneyland. Every step of their brief journey is met by people smiling warmly, moving slowly, even bowing, greeting them at each turn with Shalom!
     It is interesting that all the faces in the ad are the same kind of faces we might see in New York or London, except that here they are all bathed in glowing antique light. We see no harsh fundamentalist types cutting down someone else’s olive groves and cursing anyone, even other Jews, as interlopers. We certainly see no arrogant settlers, strutting around with machine guns, sneering at the camera.
     The couple quick-cuts their way through pleasant scene after scene -- images of ancient middle-eastern streets and buildings and finally a man watering a garden, back-lighted by sun so that each drop he sprays is seen like blessing making the desert bloom.

Hamas and the Art of Time-Wasting

Tariq Alhomayed, MIFTAH 11/11/2008
      An official Egyptian statement released the day before yesterday expressed regret over Hamas’s decision to boycott the reconciliation talks with Fatah in Cairo and in the process wasting an opportunity for national unity, despite the strenuous efforts exerted by the Egyptians the statement said.
     But the question here is; what’s new about that?
     This is Hamas, and the way its leaders operate. Hamas has not fulfilled a single promise to date, except those made to Iran, Syria, and Israel. They have never been critical of Damascus, while at the same time dwelling within Tehran’s political sphere. Hamas has committed to a truce with Tel Aviv that does not bring peace, and has not improved the quality of life for the people in Gaza.
     Besides this, Hamas has thrown away many other opportunities, including backing out on the Mecca Agreement, using arms to take over the Gaza strip and in the process splitting Palestinian ranks. Moreover, Hamas’s leader Khalid Mishal only remembers his fellow Arabs when the Israeli military machine targeted him, and then he appeared on our screens wearing a mufti turban trying to reconcile the Arab world, recalling stories of doom and gloom.

We are Sick of the American-Israeli Interference

Kawther Salam, Palestine Think Tank 11/10/2008
      I am writing this article after I escaped from the criminal action of Israelis on November 1, 2008, who came to Vienna to watch and to harass me. I wonder if the mission of these criminals to terrorize me in exile was coordinated between the Israelis and the Palestinian "security" team, just like what is happening in Palestine now.
     We Palestinians are sick and tired of the Palestinian Authority, which is implementing the Israeli-American so-called "security plan" instead of the Israeli military, with a mission of terrorizing, chasing, arresting people, destroying the houses of civilians and boasting about their vile crimes in the streets. Everybody knows that these forces are useless cowards during the Israeli raids on Palestinian cities under their authorities. The Palestinian civil society is sick of the so-called "Hamas authority", the radical Palestinian movement which distorts the face of Islam, and which has turned the holy mission of the Palestinian struggle into a struggle for their own pockets and unknown foreign agendas.

Our inept justice system

Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank, Palestinian Information Center 11/10/2008
      Everything seems to be collapsing in the nominally-autonomous enclave, known as the Palestinian Authority these days.
     The executive authority, which really has no authority or sovereignty of its own, has become too authoritarian and tyrannical and, of course, too corrupt.
     The legislative authority is paralyzed due to the mass incarceration by the Nazi-like Israeli occupation regime of dozens of lawmakers for their refusal to recognize the "legitimacy" of Zionism and  the Israeli apartheid state.
     And the media, the fourth estate, has likewise  been thoroughly corrupted due to the virtual absence of press freedom and freedom of speech as a result of  the consolidation of  an  American-sustained reign of terror now being  consolidated in the West Bank.
     Now, the Palestinian Justice System seems to be collapsing as well, mainly due to its growing  subservience to the executive power, particularly to the police-state apparatus.

Israel Demolishes Homes for ’City of David’ Heritage Site

Donald MacIntyre, MIFTAH 11/11/2008
      Israel has been accused of demolishing Palestinian houses in Arab East Jerusalem while international attention was focused on the election of Barack Obama.
     Palestinian leaders and Israeli human rights organisations have said Israeli authorities displaced more than 20 people – mostly children – by demolishing three homes in the Silwan district of Jerusalem to make way for an archaeological park. Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator, said: "While the international media was transfixed by the results of the US election, Israeli forces were tearing up the homes of Palestinian families to build new settlements, furthering their control of occupied East Jerusalem and pre-empting final status negotiations."
     Mr Erekat called on the international Quartet of the US, EU, Russia and the UN, "to protect Palestinians and their homes" and hold Israel to commitments made at last year’s Annapolis summit, to halt confiscations and demolition of Palestinian property. The Quartet is meeting in Sharm El Sheikh on Sunday.