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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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12 November, 2008

Israelis attack Gaza again, kill four resistance fighters
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/13/2008
GAZA CITY: Four Palestinian militants were killed and an Israeli soldier was wounded Wednesday as Israel launched an attack on the Gaza Strip in the latest flare-up to rattle a nearly five-month truce. After the Israeli move into the coastal enclave, militants also fired several mortar rounds into Israel and the Israeli military responded with two air strikes just inside Gaza, the Zionist state’s military said. Witnesses said the four Palestinians who died were members of the Islamist Hamas movement that controls Gaza. An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers exchanged fire with gunmen who attempted to place an explosive device near the border in the central Gaza Strip. The gun battle broke out after Israeli armored vehicles crossed into the territory near the city of Khan Yunis, Palestinian witnesses and security officials said.

Gaza crossings to re-open after six days of closure, but UNRWA still warns of food crisis
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - The United Nations still fears that it may be forced to suspend food aid to over 700,000 people in the Gaza Strip if Israel does not ease restrictions on imports of vital goods. The United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) announced on Wednesday that it will be forced to suspend operations if the weeklong closure of Gaza is not lifted by Friday. "This has become a blockade against the United Nations itself," UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness told reporters on Wednesday. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak reportedly ordered the Gaza Strip’s border crossings reopened beginning with a shipment of fuel for the territory’s only power plant on Wednesday. Shipments of food and other humanitarian goods will resume on Thursday. As of Wednesday, UNRWA officials said they had still not received clearance to ship goods into Gaza.

High Court orders Beit El to stop building on private Arab land
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday issued a temporary order blocking residents from populating some 35 housing units recently constructed in the West Bank settlement of Beit El. The order, issued to the Beit El local council and yeshiva, requires Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police to actively ensure that the 30 apartments and five caravans remain empty of residents. It also requires a freeze of ongoing construction involved in the project, and that all buildings constructed on private land be destroyed. The decision was made following a petition issued on October 29th by two Palestinian landowners who claim the land in question belongs to them. The two men were assisted by the Yesh Din human rights organization. Yesh Din wrote in the petition that the buildings were constructed on privately. . .

Israeli court extends detention of alleged stone-throwing children
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Israeli military court at Ofer detention center in the West Bank extended the detention of eight Palestinian students until 14 December on Wednesday citing a need for ‘further investigation. ’The court rejected a petition to release these detained students on bail. The students all attend a school in Al-Arroub, in the southern West Bank. The children are accused of throwing stones at Israeli troops. Mahmoud Hassan, an attorney for the Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, condemned the court’s decision, saying the students will be prevented from continuing their studies. Hassan added that the detention center where the youths are held “lacks the minimum requirements of humanitarian law. ”

Israel to permit entry to Gaza in humanitarian cases only
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/13/2008
Foreign journalists are furious over an IDF order that bars them from entering Gaza, which they say was imposed with no formal notice. Reporters found out the hard way in last week, either by phone or at the Erez crossing to northern Gaza, that they could not get into the Strip, according to Conny Mus, a reporter for the Dutch television station RTL. "This morning we called and they [border crossing officials] said you can come in one hour," said Mus, who headed down with a television crew fully expecting to spend the day working in Gaza. "They put our names on a list and we waited for five hours at the border," said Mus. Only then was their request denied. The Defense Ministry said no order had been issued to keep journalists as such from going to Gaza. "There is no decision not to allow journalists in," said Peter Lerner, the spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Israeli forces destroy two houses in West Bank village
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - Israeli forces demolished two houses in the West Bank village of Shaqba, west of the city of Ramallah, on Wednesday afternoon, citing a lack of building permits. A total of 18 people lived in the two homes. The houses belonged to the family of Bassem Hassan Subhi Ibrahim. Israeli authorities delivered demolition orders for another five houses. Hard-to-obtain building permits are often used as a pretext to demolish Palestinian homes throughout the occupied territories. In 2006 three houses were destroyed in the same village. [end]

An Israeli military force abducts three Nablus residents
International Middle East Media Center News 11/12/2008
An Israeli army contingent abducted on Wednesday three Palestinian resident from the West Bank city of Nablus. Palestinian security sources said that an Israeli contingent invaded several neighborhoods in the city as a special undercover Israeli army unit was deployed in one of the city’s streets. The sources confirmed that the special force abducted three Palestinian residents , identified as Samer & Amjad Mabrouk as well as Dawood Abu Dawood, then took them to unknown destinations. Also, the Israeli forces took over the house of Nasif family in Nablus’ Almadallah Aljadida neighborhood, turning it into a military outpost. [end]

Mortars and rockets hit Negev, after deadly IDF raid near Gaza
Amos Harel and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday fired a number of mortar shells and at least two Qassam rockets at the western Negev, hours after Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed four Hamas gunmen near the Gaza border. Neither the shells nor the rockets caused any damage or injuries, according to Army Radio. Earlier Wednesday, soldiers opened fire on a group of Palestinian gunmen they saw approaching the security fence. The militants were trying to lay an explosive device near the fence, the army said. The incident began when soldiers from the IDF Paratroopers Brigade saw the group of Palestinians moving toward the border fence near the central Gaza town of Khan Yunis. The troops subsequently opened fire on the militants. Dring an ensuing gunbattle, a number of mortar shells were fired at the IDF troops and an explosive device was detonated, according to the army.

Israeli forces seize Palestinian man during raid east of Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli forces seized a young man at dawn on Wednesday from the West Bank village of Ash-Shawawra, east of the city of Bethlehem. Palestinian security sources reported to Ma’an that about six military patrols entered the village and stormed and searched the house of the Al-Khatib family. The invading troops later withdrew, taking with them 23-year-old Amjad Mahmoud Al-Khatib. [end]

ISM Gaza: Resistance is plowing the fields of Fukharee
International Solidarity Movement 11/12/2008
Gaza Region - Fukharee, Gaza Strip, Palestine, 11th November 2008 - By Donna Wallac - On Tuesday 11th November 2008, four international Human Rights Observers accompanied some farmers to plow their fields for wheat, rye and lentils. The day started out with a long walk to the field. As in previous accompaniments to the "Buffer Zone", the fieldswaiting to be plowed were close to the fence separating Palestinians farm lands from Israel. The farm lands of the Gaza Strip located on the eastern border have been turned into a desert by the Israeli occupation force army - destroying all the crops, trees and hot houses that existed 300 - 500 meters inside. Tuesday’s accompaniment enabled a few Palestinian farmers to plow their lands - something they haven’t been able to do for at least 5 years! If they go by themselves to their fields they are shot at and face imminent death or permanent injury.

Israel to allow limited amount of fuel and aid into Gaza on Thurs.
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that a limited amount of fuel and humanitarian aid would be allowed into the Gaza Strip on Thursday. Israel kept its border crossings with the Gaza Strip closed for nearly a week due to a rash of violence that erupted following a deadly Israel Defense Forces raid on Gaza and days of responsive Qassam rockets onto the western Negev. It allowed some fuel shipments into the territory on Tuesday but food and other humanitarian supplies have yet to be transferred. Following consultations with security officials, Barak said the fuel situation in Gaza shouls be evaluated on a day-to-day basis. He ordered the defense establishment to permit entry into the Gaza Strip for 30 trucks carrying humanitarian aid from international organizations.

Agha warns of blocking fuel, fertilizers into Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 11/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The minister of agriculture in the caretaker government, Dr. Ismail Al-Agha, on Wednesday warned that the continued Israeli blockage of fuel supplies and entry of fertilizers, fodder and vaccines into the Gaza Strip was threatening the agricultural and animal farming sectors. He told a press conference that the lives of thousands of farm animals and poultry are threatened due to the lack of fodder, noting that the Strip ran out completely of fodder and necessary fertilizers for the agriculture sector. Agha also warned that barring entry of vaccines would lead to the spread of diseases among animals and human beings. The minister charged the Israeli occupation authority with deliberately blocking the entry of calves to double taxes on them and to deprive the inhabitants from meat. He urged Egypt to open the Rafah crossing or to establish a sea route between Gaza. . .

UN spokesperson: ''Israeli blockade on Gaza causing negative effects of UN efforts''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/13/2008
UNRWA spokesperson, Christopher Gunness, stated on Wednesday that the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip is negatively impacting the functioning of the UNRAWA in the coastal region. Gunness added that the UNRWA provides food and other essential services to the residents of the Gaza Strip, but the Israeli siege is barring the delivery of these supplies. The UNRWA official said that UNRWA it is forced to suspend the distribution of essential supplies to the residents of Gaza as Israel is baring the entry of any aide or supplies thus negatively impacting the lives of 750. 000 residents who receive this aid. On Wednesday, one of the UN flour warehouses in Gaza was totally empty while Israeli is still holding six tons of canned meat. The UN stated that the six tons are even short three other tons. Also on Wednesday, Israeli soldiers killed four Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip.

Israel to allow limited amount of fuel and aid into Gaza on Thursday
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/13/2008
Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, stated on Wednesday that Israel would allow a limited amount of fuel into the Gaza Strip on Thursday and would also allow the entry of humanitarian aid. Barak held a meeting with senior military and security officials and decided that the fuel situation in the Gaza Strip should be evaluated on a day-to-day basis, Israeli online daily Haaretz reported. He ordered the army to allow the entry of of 30 trucks carrying humanitarian aid donated by international organizations. On Tuesday, some fuels shipments were allowed into the Gaza Strip, while food and humanitarian supplies did not make it through yet. After a short opening of the borders, Israel shut them down again for nearly a week after violence in the area following an Israeli invasion to the Gaza Strip. On Wednesday, the Israeli army killed four fighters in an invasion to the coastal region.

Gaza security costs girl her dream
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 11/13/2008
An outstanding Palestinian student has lost her best chance of realising a burning ambition to study medicine in Britain because she was trapped in Gaza until it was just a day too late to take a crucial written exam in Jordan. Last week Diana Alsadi, 18, was supposed to take the Cambridge biomedical exam that is required by those who want to study at the top four UK medical schools. The student, who had grades of over 96 per cent in the past two years at the Catholic Holy Family School in Gaza City, had paid the £31 fee, and acquired a British visa. But she failed to secure an Israeli permit to leave Gaza through the northern Erez crossing, despite weeks of persistently trying. Then she thought she had a lucky break when the Rafah crossing into Egypt suddenly opened last week in time for her to make it to Cairo by taxi for a 10pm flight to Jordan on the evening before the test at the British Council’s office in the Jordanian capital.

Two Palestinian women released from Israeli prisons
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – The Israel Prison Service released on Wednesday two Palestinian women prisoners, after both completed two and a half year sentences. Thirty-six-year-old Wadha Fuqaha isfrom Ramallah in the central West Bank ,and 23-year-old Falastin Nakhlah is from Al-Jalazun Refugee Camp near Ramallah. Both women are affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement. Fuqaha was detained on 22 June 2006. Her husband Yousif served some seven years in Israeli jails, most recently a seven-monthterm beginning in 2005. [end]

Youth center worker sentenced to 10 months in prison
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Israeli military court Salem sentenced Mathfar Thuqan on Wednesday an administrator at the Youth Center in Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus to 10 months in prison and a 2,000 shekel fine. Thoqan has two brothers in Israeli prisons, Amir who is serving a life sentence, and Arabi who is sentenced to 18 years. [end]

Protesters picket US State Department following eviction of al-Kurd family of East Jerusalem
International Solidarity Movement 11/12/2008
International Actions - Jerusalem Region - The eviction of the al-Kurd family from their East Jerusalem home is attracting worldwide protest. Upon hearing the news, two recent ISM volunteers who had camped out on the al-Kurd patio for several days picketed the U. S. State Department and visited with a representative of the Israel-Palestine desk. They were assured that the State Department had already filed a complaint with the Israeli government, but the volunteers are pressing for immediate, concrete action. To view original report on the eviction of the al-Kurd family of Occupied East Jerusalem: [end] -- See also: Original report

AFP: Palestinian family evicted from emblematic Jerusalem home
International Solidarity Movement 11/12/2008
Jerusalem Region -- JERUSALEM (AFP) "” Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family from their east Jerusalem home at dawn on Sunday in the wake of a prolonged court battle with Jewish settlers and just two days before municipal elections. Armed security forces surrounded the al-Kurd family’s house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of mostly Arab east Jerusalem during and after the operation. "They arrived at 3:30 in the morning. They broke into the house by smashing the door and forcefully threw us out, inhumanely," Fawzia al-Kurd told AFP. Foreign diplomats, many of whom live in Sheikh Jarrah, had expressed support for the Palestinian family in recent months, and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who was in Israel last week had protested against moves to expel them. Foreign pro-Palestinian activists had camped out at the house for weeks in solidarity with the. . .

Candle-lit demonstration through the Old City of Hebron
International Solidarity Movement 11/12/2008
Hebron Region - Photos - On the 8th November, around 50 residents of Hebron, joined by international solidarity activists, gathered in the Old City to protest against Israeli closures in the area. The demonstration, initiated by the Popular Committee of Hebron and the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, took the form of a candle-lit procession through the Old City. Residents marched behind a banner declaring ‘This Is Apartheid’ and carried signs with such statements as ‘ Zionism is Racism’. The event was deemed a success as Israeli soldiers watched from a distance. The Committees declared that this demonstration marked the first of what will become weekly protests through the Old City as they demand that the forced closures of Palestinian shops by Israeli forces is reversed.

Haaretz: Elderly Palestinian couple evicted from East Jerusalem home despite U.S. protest
Michael Bahl, International Solidarity Movement 11/12/2008
Jerusalem Region - In a pre-dawn operation in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of predominantly Arab East Jerusalem, scores of police officers and IDF troops Sunday evicted an elderly Palestinian couple from their home, despite protests by the United States, other countries, and human rights groups. Security forces also detained several activists of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement who had been sleeping on the family’s property, and expelled them to the adjacent West Bank, without pressing charges. A Jerusalem court in July ruled that the east Jerusalem housing provided to Mohammed al-Kurd and his wife Fawzieh in 1956 by the Jordanian government and a UN refugee agency was built on land to which their title was in doubt and they must vacate the property.

Israeli army injures eight in Hebron as they attack march to mark the anniversary of Arafat’s death
International Solidarity Movement 11/12/2008
Hebron RegionPhotos On the 4th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death, a march commemorating his life in Hebron was confronted by the Israel army in Bab Azzawaya near the Gilbert checkpoint. The area is in H1 and considered to be under Palestinian Authority control. According to local people interviewed by ISM volunteers, a group of 20 young people started a spontaneous memorial celebration near the entrance to the Old City. As the demonstrators approached the checkpoint, eight soldiers started to shoot tear gas towards them. This shooting of tear gas provoked clashes between young locals and the Israeli army. There was a similar spontaneous demonstration in an other part of the city, with 200 participants. Many of these demonstrators joined the twenty in Bab Azzawya where the Israeli army was clashing with local youth.

PM slams ’discrimination’ against Arabs
Elie Leshem And Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday railed against what he termed 60 years of "deep-seated discrimination" against Arab Israelis. "For sixty years there has been discrimination against Arabs in Israel. This discrimination is deep-seated and intolerable," Olmert said while addressing a meeting of the Knesset committee that is investigating the lack of integration of Arab citizens in public service. MK Ahmed Tibi, the chairman of the committee, had proposed establishing an apparatus to supervise the incorporation of Arabs in the Israeli public services. World Likud Head Danny Danon lashed out at the prime minister following the remarks, saying that Olmert was overlooking efforts by Arabs to "undermine security. " "Olmert thinks that in his final months as prime minister he can dole out statements that will cause his failures and deeds to be forgotten," Dannon said in a statement.

Olmert: Discrimination against Arabs deliberate
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 11/12/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says longtime discrimination against Israeli Arabs seeking public service posts deliberate; PM says that complete absence of Arab employees at Bank of Israel ’terrible’ - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert painted a grim picture Wednesday in respect to discrimination against Arabs seeking public service jobs. In a special parliamentary session on the matter, Olmert said: "It is terrible that there is not even one Arab employee at the Bank of Israel (out of 900 employees) and that in the Israel Electric Company Arabs constitute fewer than 1% of all workers. " "The issue of integrating Arab employees into the public service has been occupying me greatly," he said. "The gap between their ratio in the population and their integration into the public service arouses concern and unease.

Olmert decries ’deliberate and insufferable’ discrimination of Arabs
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday decried the "deliberate and insufferable" discrimination of Arabs at the hands of the Israeli establishment, during an appearance before a Knesset panel in Jerusalem. The gap between the proportion of Arab citizens in Israel and their inclusion in the state’s civil service positions "arouses concern and unrest," the premier told a parliamentary commission of inquiry examining the issue. Among the more prominent members of Knesset comprising the committee are MKs Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List - Ta’al), Reuven Rivlin (Likud), and Shachiv Shnaan (Labor). Panel members say that during the address, Olmert reiterated his past statements according to which discrimination against the Arab minority is the result of years of neglect.

Nablus area villages take action against settler violence
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Popular Committee against settlements and the separation wall in the West Bank city of Nablus is planning a series of actions to counter Israeli settlers’ attacks on Palestinian farmers in the area this week. According to Khalid Mansour, the campaign’s coordinator, an action will be held on Friday against the Homesh settlement west of Nablus. Settlers returned to the outpost after it was evacuated five years ago. The settlers have “harassed and terrified” the Palestinian population of the surrounding villages. A festival will also be held on Saturday in Asira Al-Qibliya, a village to the south of Nablus. Asira Al-Qibliya and its neighboring villages of Burin, Madama, Huwwara and Kafr Qalil have all been attack by settlers in recent months.

FINANCE: Corporate Vows Tested in the West Bank
Ida Karlsson, Inter Press Service 11/13/2008
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 12(IPS) - A company that is a member of the U. N. Global Compact for corporate social responsibility has ties to production in an Israeli settlement on the West Bank considered illegal by the United Nations. A spokeperson for the company, Vileda, an international household products firm, said he was unaware of the contract with a manufacturer in the West Bank, Plasto Polish. However, a representative of Plasto confirmed in a telephone interview with IPS that the company was a subcontractor for Vileda. "Companies have a social as well as a legal responsibility and must therefore take no part in the illegal occupation," Merav Amir of the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP), told IPS. " In order to comply with international human rights law, companies should make sure that their businesses have nothing to do with the occupation.

Court orders state to explain construction in Jerusalem’s Holy Basin
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
The High Court of Justice last week ordered the state to explain the unauthorized construction and earthworks by government bodies near the Western Wall and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Arab residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan and Peace Now activists had petitioned the court on the matter. The petition calls on the court put an end to area earthworks by the Israel Antiquities Authority. The petition alleges the authority - which is reportedly digging near the Al-Aqsa Mosque with the cooperation of the Elad Association for Resettling Jews in the Old City - has failed to obtain building permits for the works and has not presented a proper building scheme. High Court Justice Edna Arbel, who reviewed the petition, ordered the authority - along with the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, the city of Jerusalem and building contractors. . .

Rights group: Egypt must stop shooting migrants
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
Egypt should stop shooting unarmed migrants as they try to sneak across the barbed wire border to Israel in a desperate journey that has gone from dangerous to deadly, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday in a new report. Since 2007, Egyptian border guards have killed at least 33 migrants, many from Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region including a pregnant woman and a 7-year-old girl, the report said. Many more have been wounded in an apparent response by Egypt to international pressure that it doesn’t do enough to secure its borders, it said. Those detained by Egypt guards at the border are put on trial in secret military courts and often denied access to the UN refugee agency in violation of international law, the 90-page report by the New York-based group added. The report also accused Israel of forcibly returning at least 139 African migrants back to Egypt, where they risk arrest and deportation.

Egyptian troops mass on Sinai border to stave off further Bedouin clashes
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
An Egyptian security official says large numbers of security forces are heading to Egypt-Israel border area in an attempt to stave off any further Bedouin strife. Dozens of armored vehicles have already arrived at the border followingviolent clashes between angry Bedouins and police that led to killing of three Bedouins and injury of at least five policemen. The security official spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. Bedouins also looted and burned several checkpoints along over 10 miles of Egypt-Israel borders south of Rafah Tuesday and seized a total of 70 members of the security forces in separate incidents

Report: Egypt, Israel failed to respect basic asylum procedures
DPA, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
At least 32 African migrants were shot dead by Egyptian guards since June 2007, while Israel has forcibly returned at least 139 border crossers to Egypt, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Wednesday. In the 90-page report, "Sinai Perils: Risks to Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Egypt and Israel," the rights group called on Egypt to halt the use of lethal force against border crossers and all deportations of persons to countries where they risk persecution or ill-treatment. It also urged Israel to halt forced returns of migrants to Egypt, where they face military court trials and possible unlawful deportation to their countries of origin. Human Rights Watch found that both Egypt and Israel have failed to respect basic asylum procedures. "This report tackles a very important issue," Hafez Abu Saeda, Secretary General. . .

Analysis: Northern Sinai: A desert playground for smugglers, jihadis
Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
The 25 Egyptian police officers taken hostage by Beduins in northern Sinai on Tuesday have now been freed. The men were released on the Egyptian border with Israel, reportedly unharmed. The freeing of the hostages concludes a series of events that began on Monday with a shoot-out between local Beduin and police on Monday, in which one Beduin was killed. A large and angry crowd of Beduin then gathered, firing weapons in the air, burning tires and clashing with security forces. The kidnapping took place in the context of these protests. This incident - which had Israeli forces on alert along the border earlier this week - cannot be understood in isolation. Rather, it is a reflection of a deeply problematic situation in the northern Sinai, which is host to large-scale smuggling networks that traffic a wide range of commodities between Sinai and Gaza and Israel.

Khudari calls for forming international pressure groups to end siege on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 11/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, called during a rally held in front of the Israeli embassy in New York for forming  pressure groups in all parts of the world in order to force Israel to end its unjust siege on the Gaza Strip. During the rally, MP Khudari explained the disastrous effects of the Israeli siege and the closure of crossings on all aspects of life in Gaza, highlighting that the health sector was one of the most affected by the siege. The lawmaker elaborated that the Israeli siege claimed the lives of 256 Palestinian patients including children and women, pointing out that the popular committee established a memorial to these victims of siege in Gaza in order to commemorate them and to bear witness to the injustice of the Israeli occupation. In the same context, MP Khudari stated Wednesday in a press release received. . .

IOF troops demolish house under construction
Palestinian Information Center 11/12/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces at dawn Wednesday demolished the home of Nasser Shalash in Shakaba village, west of Ramallah city, at the pretext of lack of construction permit. Local sources said that the soldiers escorted a number of bulldozers that flattened the house, which was under construction, and leveled a sheep pen. Witnesses said that the soldiers handed demolition notifications to owners of seven houses in the village at the same pretext. In Nablus, IOF soldiers rounded up three members of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the PFLP, after ambushing them in one of the city’s streets. Eyewitnesses reported that the IOF special forces beat the three after detaining them with their riffle butts. In another development, relatives of the prisoner Alaa Brejiah, 37, appealed to legal and human rights groups to intervene and save his life.

Palestine Today 111208
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 11/12/2008
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 Wednesday November 12 2008 Israeli military killed in Gaza today four Hamas fighters and abducted in the West Bank three Palestinian residents. These developments come in the backdrop of a failed Palestinian national unity dialogue. These news and more are upcoming, stay tuned. The Israeli military invaded early on Wednesday the southern Gaza Strip village of Alqarrara, killing four Hamas fighters in the area. Witnesses said that Israeli drones fired two missiles towards a number of resistance firghters, 300 meters depth into Palestinian-controlled territories. Also, the witnesses said that the army bulldozers demolished a Palestinian home, after forcing inhabitants out.

Mayor-elect vows to keep Jerusalem occupied
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/12/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: A secular tycoon celebrating his election as Occupied Jerusalem mayor on Wednesday vowed to turn the holy city into a world metropolis and bolster its illegal status as Israel’s "undivided" capital. Nir Barkat won 52 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s poll, routing an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, a scandal-plagued Russian-Israeli arms dealer and a pro-cannabis candidate. Media hailed his triumph as a secular revolution after five years under ultra-Orthodox Mayor Uri Lupolianski. Barkat, 49, swept to victory on a hard-line ticket rejecting concessions to the Palestinians of any part of Occupied East Jerusalem as part of a peace deal. All Israeli presence on occupied land is illegal under international law and violates numerous UN resolutions. The successful businessman with a penchant for natty suits faces an uphill battle in a city struggling with rampant poverty,. . .

Secular businessman elected mayor of Jerusalem
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem Wednesday November 12 2008 08.50 GMT, The Guardian 11/12/2008
A secular, rightwing Israeli businessman has been elected mayor of Jerusalem, marking a shift away from ultra-Orthodox rule in the city, according to final results released early today. Nir Barkat, 49, a wealthy technology entrepreneur who supports Jewish settlement expansion in Jerusalem, defeated a strictly religious ultra-Orthodox rabbi, Meir Porush, by a comfortable nine-point margin. Barkat won 52. 4% of the vote against 43. 4 for Porush. Turnout in the mayoral and municipal elections in Jerusalem was put at 41% - most of the Palestinian population of the city, as usual, boycotted the poll. Although Jerusalem’s mayor has limited influence on government policy, the job is regarded as important in such a sensitive and fought over city with its sharp divisions between Jews and Arabs, secular and religious, rich and poor.

Israel’s longest-serving mayors ousted as residents vote for change
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
The residents of Be’er Sheva, Rishon Letzion and Ashdod ousted some of Israel’s longest-serving local leaders in Tuesday’s upset municipal elections. In Be’er Sheva, veteran mayor Ya’akov Terner lost to his former deputy Rubik Danilovich. The incumbent won just 30 percent of the vote versus an impressive 60 percent for Danilovich. Challenger Dov Tzur beat Rishon Letzion’s incumbent mayor, Meir Nitzan, garnering 52 percent of the vote. Nitzan has served as the mayor of Israel’s fourth largest city for the past 25 years. Ashdod’s current mayor, Zvi Zilker, was defeated by Dr. Yehiel Lasri, who secured 55 percent of the vote. After 33 years in office ? albeit nonconsecutive ? Zilker has been the country’s longest-serving local leader. Other than in Tel Aviv and Haifa, where Ron Huldai and Yona Yahav won another five-year term in office,. . .

Sheikh Salah: There is a Zionist scheme to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 11/12/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied lands, said that the Zionist scheme to judaize occupied Jerusalem through ethnic cleansing became crystal clear after the IOA ordered the expulsion of Jerusalemite citizens from their homes in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Sheikh Salah, during a conference held in the neighborhood in solidarity with the Jerusalemite families threatened with eviction, appealed to the conscientious people in the world to support the steadfastness of these families and participate in the picket held in the neighborhood. He also called on the Arab and Islamic leaders and peoples not to stay passive towards the serious Israeli violations against the holy city and the Aqsa Mosque. For its part, the Palestinian caretaker government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya strongly denounced the repeated. . .

Secular, but not so liberal
Daphna Baram, The Guardian 11/12/2008
After five years under an ultra-orthodox mayor, secular Jerusalemites finally got their act together, turned out in number at the polling stations, and elected the secular candidate, young businessmen Nir Barkat. With the final results in, Barkat gained 50% of the votes, and ultra-orthodox candidate Meir Porush got 42%. Barkat’s achievement is impressive, bearing in mind that many Jerusalemites and Israelis believed that the demographic balance in favour of the orthodox Jews doomed the ever-holiest city to be ruled by religious mayors from here till kingdom come. It is even more remarkable for a politician who can hardly be called a charismatic or attractive leader. Barkat’s prospects were clouded further by the famous tendency of the orthodox to vote as a unanimous bloc,as instructed by their rabbis: a bloc, moreover, with turnout rates typically in excess of 100%, (sometimes including

New mayor vows to dismantle Chords Bridge, blasts capital’s Light Rail
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
"Jerusalem has won, Israel has won, the Jewish nation has won," secular candidate Nir Barkat declared in his victory speech before dawn yesterday after defeating his ultra-Orthodox rival Meir Porush in the Jerusalem mayoral election. Speaking at a news conference later, Barkat lambasted the Jerusalem Light Rail project and the Chords Bridge on which the light train would enter Jerusalem. He said he would reexamine both projects’ feasibility and not hesitate to replace them with cheaper, more effective alternatives, if such were found. "Israel’s poorest city should invest the money in education, culture and sanitation, not in bridges," Barkat said. Criticizing the NIS 280 million investment in an ostentatious bridge when so many people want to leave the city, Barkat said: "I don’t know anyone who would stay in Jerusalem just for a bridge.

Jerusalem fire chief accused of opening brothel
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Jerusalem Fire and Rescue Chief of Operations Moshe Suissa is suspected of trying to establish a brothel in the city’s Atarot industrial area, among other alleged offenses, all of them described in a letter written by an assistant district attorney that was obtained by Jerusalem Councillor Saar Netanel. Since August, police have been investigating Suissa for a variety of alleged offenses, including bribery, falsifying corporate documents and having private work carried out at his home by firefighters. The Jerusalem Administrative Court yesterday heard a petition filed by Netanel and the Ometz good-government association against outgoing Mayor Uri Lupolianski. Lupolianski has so far refused to suspend Suissa and has given him his full backing. In August, a workplace restraining order was issued against Suissa that must be renewed by the court every two weeks.

VIDEO - PA police step up campaign against Hamas fighters in Hebron
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for November 12, 2008. Palestinian security forces were recently deployed in Hebron, where their presence is now heavily felt. Their primary target is Hamas. Since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June of last year, life hasn’t been made easy for its fighters in the West Bank, which is still ruled by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party. As a result, many Hamas men have gone into hiding. R oughly 250 Hamas men in Hebron are in presently jail, where they claim they undergo brutal torture at the hands of Palestinian policemen. Related articles: Hamas tunnel uncovered by PA near Hebron was arms training sitePalestinian forces carry out first crackdown on Hebron militants Palestinian security forces deploy in HebronAlso on Haaretz.

Palestinian collaborator sentenced to death by firing squad
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an Exclusive – After two days of deliberation a Palestinian military tribunal in Bethlehem sentenced on Wednesday a security officer to death by a firing squad after he has found guilty of aiding the Israeli occupation. The was found to have provided information to the Israeli intelligence services that enabled them to assassinate two activists affiliated to Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, in Bethlehem. Three judges presided over the case: Faris Duda, Fadi Hijazi and Ahmad Jaddu. The prosecution was represented by Ibrahim Abu Salih and Akram Arar. Attorney Khalil Al-Heih defended the suspect. A number of the defendant’s relatives attended the hearing. The 24-year-old officer, referred to only by his initials “AD”, from the town of Al-Arroub, was found guilty of treason according to article 131/a of the Palestinian military code of punishment ratified in 1979.

Death sentence awaits Abbas approval
Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
A Palestinian Authority "military" court in Bethlehem on Wednesday sentenced a Palestinian security agent to death by a firing squad after finding him guilty of "collaboration" with Israel. The agent, whose identity was not revealed, previously served as a member of the PA’s General Intelligence Force in the West Bank before joining the Palestinian Naval Force. This was the sixth verdict of its kind in the past year. PA "military" courts in Jenin and Hebron had also imposed the death penalty on Palestinian civilians and security officers convicted of assisting Israel in its war against Palestinian gunmen and fugitives in the West Bank. Ironically, the death sentences come at a time when the PA security forces are increasing their security coordination with Israel in the West Bank and are actively involved in a massive crackdown on Hamas supporters.

Hamas says Abbas’ speech is hostile
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/12/2008
Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, slammed the Tuesday speech of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and said that this speech is an attack against Hamas, and that he did not call for lifting the Israeli blockade over Gaza. Hamas media spokesperson, Fawzi Barhoum, strongly denounced the speech Abbas gave in Ramallah while thousands of Palestinians were commemorating the late President, Yasser Arafat. Barhoum claimed that Abbas was speaking as the leader of Fateh movement, and not as the leader of the Palestinian people. He also said that instead of attacking Hamas, Abbas should have called for ending the siege on Gaza, and should have officially demanded Egypt to open the Rafah border terminal. Hamas movement considered the speech of Abbas as "a destructive blow to dialog" and held him responsible for the consequences.

Haneyya government: Abbas’s speech proved his irresponsibility
Palestinian Information Center 11/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian caretaker government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya strongly denounced the speech made Tuesday by PA chief Mahmoud Abbas which included misinformation and deception, saying that his speech was prepared by a group of liars and proved his irresponsibility. "The man is not worthy of the leadership of the Palestinian people; he is part of the crisis and not part of the solution and he destroyed the bridges of rapport and dialog," the government underlined in a statement received by the PIC. The statement said that Abbas’s speech clearly offended the anniversary of late PA president Yasser Arafat and included explicit recognition of his involvement in the siege on the Gaza Strip and a cover for continuing to undermine the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and their resistance in the West Bank.

Gazan journalist accuses de facto government security of abuse
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A prominent Palestinian journalist on Wednesday accused Hamas-allied security forces in Gaza of beating and arresting him without cause on Tuesday night. Awad Abu Duqqa, who is also the secretary general of the Palestinian Media Coalition “Internal security forces affiliated to the de facto government came to my family home in Khan Younis because my younger brother lit a candle commemorating fourth anniversary for the death of Yasser Arafat. When I promised to put out the candle, they left. Five minutes later, they came back and started beating me brutally. ”He added that he was taken to internal security detention center in the city of Khan Younis, and was only released after four hours of interrogation. “They threatened to kill me if I reported about what they did,” he said.

Hamas: ''Fateh forces arrested 27 Hamas members in the West Bank''
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 11/12/2008
Hamas media sources reported on Wednesday that Fateh-controlled security forces continued their arrest campaign against Hamas members and supporters in the West Bank, and arrested 27 members. The sources stated that in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, the security forces arrested Salah Al Mohtasib, Monthir Ehrayyis, Sa’id Hmedat, Mohammad Al Hoor, the imam of a local mosque. All are from Sorif town, near Hebron, and the security forces also confiscated their personal computers. In Bani Neim town, in the Hebron district, the security forces arrested Dr. Bassam Manasra, a lecturer at the Hebron University, a school teacher identified as Mousa Zedat, Tareq Ed’es. Walid Hmedat, Khalid Hmedat, Sharhabeel Hmedat, Majid Tarayra, Jamal Sawalha, Adel Ballout, Mazin Ballout, and Mahmoud Mustafa Hussein.

Nazzal: We are keen on dialog but not at any price
Palestinian Information Center 11/12/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Mohamed Nazzal, a member of the Hamas political bureau, stated that his Movement is keen on the national dialog but not at any price, stressing that the dialog would not be at the expense of Hamas’s stands and principles. In an interview with the Jordanian Al-Sabeel newspaper, Nazzal said that Hamas and the three Palestinian factions, which refused to attend the dialog, determined their demands including that the Egyptian draft is not a sacred text and thus must be subject to adjustment and addition. The Hamas leader added that the PA also must release all political detainees in its jails and allow the Hamas delegates in the West Bank to travel and participate in the dialog sessions. He pointed out that the postponement of the inter-Palestinian dialog was an Egyptian decision because Egypt was the party which invited Palestinian factions to participate in the dialog.

Abu Marzouk: Dialog was designed to obtain Hamas concession
Palestinian Information Center 11/12/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy political bureau chairman of the Hamas Movement, has denied that regional pressures on his Movement had led to postponement of the inter-Palestinian dialog that was scheduled to kick off in Cairo a couple of days ago. He told the London-based ’Al-Quds Al-Arabi’ newspaper that all should know that Hamas’s decision to participate or not in the dialog was an independent one. The Hamas leader said that the Cairo dialog was designed to obtain a green light from the Palestinian factions to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas to sign an agreement with Israel. He recalled that Nabil Shaath, a close associate to Abbas, said in Sharm El-Sheikh that Palestinian division prevented Abbas from reaching a peace agreement with Israel. He stressed that one of the main reasons for Hamas’s boycott of the dialog was the fact that the dialog was aimed at subjugating. . .

On the fourth anniversary of Arafat’s death, Abbas: ''We will remain steadfast''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/12/2008
Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stated during his participation in a massive rally commemorating the late president Yasser Arafat that the Palestinian leadership would remain steadfast on all principles that Arafat defended and died defending. Abbas also held Hamas responsible for the failure of internal dialog. Abbas stated that the Palestinians will continue their struggle for liberation and independence, and called for national unity among all Palestinians and their factions. The president also called on the Hamas movement in Gaza "to end its coup" and resume internal dialog. He accused the Islamic movement of foiling the Yemeni Initiative for national unity and also accused the movement of foiling Egypt’s efforts. He also said that he would not succumb to Israeli and US pressure, adding that the Palestinians were determined to achieve their legitimate rights of liberation and independence.

Analysis: Cairo concludes Fatah-Hamas chasm will not end anytime soon
Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
Fatah and Hamas representatives were supposed to meet at "reconciliation" talks in Cairo this week under the auspices of the Egyptian government and the Arab League. However, the negotiations were called off by the Egyptians, who reached the conclusion that the gap between the rival Palestinian parties remained as wide as ever. The week that was supposed to mark the beginning of a new era in relations between Fatah and Hamas has turned into one of mutual accusations, threats and bad-mouthing. The Egyptians, along with several Arab countries, are now convinced that the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is a long-term phenomenon. Many Palestinians have also come to accept the fact that they now have two mini-states. "We will have to live with the new reality where the Palestinians have two separate entities, one in the Gaza Strip and the second in the West Bank," an Egyptian diplomat told The Jerusalem Post.

Peres: Arab peace plan - a serious opening for real progress
Shlomo Shamir and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
President Shimon Peres told world leaders on Wednesday at an interfaith dialogue in New York that the Arab peace initiative must be seriously considered as "a serious opening for real progress" in Middle East peace. The proposal, initiated by Saudi Arabia in 2002 and ratified by Arab foreign ministers last year in Damascus, offers pan-Arabrecognition of Israel in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from Arab landscaptured in 1967. The goals of the initiative, Peres told delegates at the United Nations-hosted summit, was to "stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighborliness, and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity.

Livni: Saudi message inadequate
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 11/13/2008
Tzipi Livni praises Arab peace initiative but says peace is more than just piece of paper, notes that Saudi message in interfaith dialogue conference inadequate; Foreign minister adds that talks with Palestinians in very advanced stages - NEW YORK- Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Wednesday that while Saudi King Abdullah’s peace initiative is important, the words of Arab leaders at the United Nation’s interfaith dialogue conference are inadequate. Speaking at a press conference in UN Headquarter in New York, Livni said that "peace is more than just a piece of paper," adding that all parties to peace negotiations must also fight extremism. The foreign minister added that for the first time there is an understanding that Mideastern leaders cannot turn a blind eye to what goes on in mosques and schools.

Peres breaks bread with Saudi king to kick off interfaith meet
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
Arab leaders, including the Saudi king, and Israel’s president attended the same dinner, a rare encounter that the head of the United Nations hopes will promote understanding and talks. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the dinner Tuesday night for leaders attending a two-day UN conference to promote a global dialogue about religions, cultures and common values that starts Wednesday. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the General Assembly to hold the conference as a follow-up to an interfaith meeting he organized with King Juan Carlos of Spain in July in Madrid. "It’s quite unique when you expect President [Shimon] Peres of Israel. . . and many kings and leaders from the Arab world. . . [sitting] down together and having dinner," Ban told reporters. The secretary-general told reporters he was not going to organize any meeting between the Saudi king and the Israeli president.

World leaders at UN split on root cause of religious intolerance
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/13/2008
UNITED NATIONS: World leaders met Wednesday at the United Nations to discuss religious tolerance in a conference called for by by Saudi Arabia, a country where only a strict form of Islam is allowed. More than a dozen heads of state were due to speak, including US President George W. Bush and the leaders of Arab nations and of Israel. UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned world leaders that globalization has increased communal strife, extremist ideologies and the polarization of societies. "Anti-Semitism remains a scourge," he said. "Islamophobia has emerged as a new term for an old and terrible form of prejudice. And other kinds of racism and discrimination show a dismaying persistence. ""One of the great challenges of our time must now surely be to ensure that our rich cultural diversity makes us more secure - not less," Ban said.

Acting PLC head slams the Israeli offensive in Gaza
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/12/2008
Dr. Ahmad Bahar of Hamas, the acting head of the Palestinian Legislative Council, slammed the Wednesday Israeli attack against Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, in which four fighters of the Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were killed. Dr. Bahar stated that "this Israeli crime is a continuation of previous crimes against the Palestinian people, including the attack which was carried out several days ago and led to the death of six Qassam fighters". He added that the Israeli military escalation is a frank Israeli statement expressing the lack of Israeli commitment and interest in the truce, and expressing Israeli interest in continuing the aggression against the Palestinian people. The acting PLC head saluted the resistance, and said that the Palestinians have the right to defend themselves using all available means, and have the right to retaliate to the Israeli attacks.

Palestinians killed in Gaza raid
Al Jazeera 11/12/2008
Four Palestinian fighters have been killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers along the Gaza border. The Israeli army said one of its soldiers was also wounded in Wednesday’s clashes. The army said Palestinian fighters fired several mortar rounds into Israel and that it responded with two air strikes just inside Gaza. Witnesses said the four Palestinians who died were members of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. An Israeli army spokeswoman said soldiers exchanged fire with fighters who attempted to place an explosive device near the security fence in the central Gaza Strip. "Throughout the exchange of fire a number of mortar rounds were fired at IDF (military) forces and an explosive device was detonated," she said. The IDF force identified hitting four gunmen. Grenades and various weapons were found on their bodies. A soldier was hospitalised with light wounds, she said.

An Israeli attack on Gaza leaves four fighters killed
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/12/2008
In a new fresh Israeli attack on southern Gaza today, Israeli military killed four Palestinian resistance fighters. Earlier in the day, an Israeli contingent swept into the Qarrara town in southeastern Gaza, as Israeli drones rocketed a group of fighters, while the latter were defending the area. Dr. Mo’awiya Abu Hasanin, chief of hospital and emergency department at the Hamas-run ministry, confirmed to IMEMC that corpses of the four killed were found earlier in the day in eastern Qarrra town in southern Gaza. Abu Hasanin denied reports that a Palestinian woman was injured during the Israeli attack, asserting all those killed were resistance fighters. The Alqassam brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, declared four of its fighters were killed by the Israeli troops. Meanwhile, Israeli sources claimed that an Israeli drone spotted a number of ’militants’,. . .

Israeli forces kill four Palestinian fighters in Gaza incursion
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli forces killed four Hamas-affiliated Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip near the town of Al-Qarara on Wednesday, medics on confirmed. Witnesses said Israeli warplanes fired two missiles during fighting between the armed men and Israeli tanks who had invaded. One missile was fired at a mosque, and the other exploded near a school, where the fighters were located. Other witnesses reported a different version of the airstrike. According this account, three missiles landed near houses belonging to two families named Aal Muhanna and An-Naja, and another landed near the Al-Islah mosque. The four slain men were identified as Mahmoud Siyam, Rami Freinah, Muhsen Al-Qidrah and Isma’il Abu Al-Ola. Earlier on Wednesday Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers invaded the Gaza Strip east of Al-Qarara, sparking clashes with Palestinian fighters.

Two Kassam rockets fired at Israel
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
The cease-fire with Hamas appeared to falter once again after the IDF thwarted an attempt by Palestinian gunmen to plant an explosive device along the Gaza border on Wednesday. IDF troops kill four terrorists near Gaza border Paratroopers on patrol identified a group of gunmen some 300 meters inside Gaza, near the Kissufim border crossing, and opened fire in their direction, the IDF said. Four Palestinian gunmen were killed in the ensuing exchange of fire. The soldiers crossed the border and entered the Strip in pursuit of the gunmen, and the terrorists set off explosives during the incident. RELATEDVideo:UNRWA spokesman says children in Gaza shouldn’t be punished One IDF soldier suffered light wounds to his hand and was evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba for treatment.

6 mortar shells fired at western Negev
Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/12/2008
Several hours after IDF kills four terrorists attempting to carry out attack in Gaza region, Palestinians target southern Israel; no injuries or damages reported in attack, local residents urged to stay close to fortified sites - Palestinians fired six mortar shells at open areas in the western Negev Wednesday afternoon. No injuries or damages were reported in the attack, which followed the killing of four terrorists earlier in the day. Following the thwarted attack, authorities raised the alert level at Gaza-region communities for fear of a Palestinian response in the form of rocket or mortar fire. Local residents were urged to remain close to fortified sites in case of more attacks.

Four Qassam fighters killed during Israeli aerial attack in Khan Younis
Palestinian Information Center 11/12/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Four Palestinians fighters affiliated with Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were killed during confrontations with air-backed IOF troops who invaded Wednesday afternoon east of the Qarara town in Khan Younis. The PIC reporter said that an Israeli warplane fired at least one air-to-ground missile at a group of Al-Qassam fighters as they were engaging the invading IOF troops in the area in an armed clash. The reporter added that Israeli warplanes also fired two missiles at the Ma’arri school in Qarara, while an Israeli tank opened fire at the houses east of the town without any reported injuries. Qassam sources told the PIC reporter that Al-Qassam fighters spotted the infiltration of Israeli military force into the east of Qarara and engaged in direct clashes with it, pointing out at the time of reporting that heavy fighting is still taking place as more military reinforcements arrived in the area.

IDF kills four Hamas gunmen in tactical shift in Gaza
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
The Israel Defense Forces killed four Hamas gunmen near the Gaza border yesterday. Although Israel claims to remain committed to the lull (the tahadiyeh) with Hamas, the IDF has changed its tactics on the Gaza Strip border. In the past two weeks, IDF units have crossed into the Gaza Strip several times to strike at terrorists and foil potential attacks. One Israeli soldier was lightly wounded in the action. A Hamas spokesman told Haaretz that the group was not about to cancel the truce but intended to reexamine it. In response to the Israeli strike, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired six mortar shells and two Qassam rockets at the western Negev, causing no injuries or damage. Defense sources told Haaretz that the army is now authorized to act within what the IDF calls the "security parameter" - a several-hundred-meter strip beyond the border fence.

Cabinet: Extra NIS 500m need to reinforce Gaza-area homes not available
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 11/12/2008
The security cabinet on Wednesday rejected a request by the Defense Ministry for an extra NIS 500 million to reinforce Israeli communities within the range of Gaza rocket fire. The treasury has argued that additional funds are not available for reinforcing homes. However, Defense Minister Ehud Barak says the extra money is needed to provide protection against rockets for an additional 4,700 housing units. Since the ceasefire began in June about 400 miguniot, concrete structures that provide protection against rocket fire, have been placed at schools and school bus stops in border communities. The Defense Ministry has been preparing to manufacture an additional 80 shelters which are to be installed at factories and in agricultural areas, and it will also act to reinforce farm tractors.

Army officials: ''War with Gaza will could talk place in the coming two months''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/12/2008
Senior Israeli military officials stated on Wednesday that they believe that the Gaza Strip will witness a new war in the coming two months. The officials said that this war could happen although Hamas, in control of Gaza, is not interested at all in ending the truce. The officials stated that the Palestinians consider December 19 as the last day of truce as the six-month truce deal was achieved through indirect talks mediated by Egypt between Israel and Hamas nearly six months ago, also the term of President Mahmoud Abbas in office officially ends on January 9 of 2009. Hamas officially stated that on January 9, Abbas will officially become an "illegitimate president". Israeli military sources stated that even if Hamas is not interested in a new confrontation with Israel, "there are other factions in Gaza, such as the Islamic Jihad and other group close to Al Qaida, that will be. . .

UNIFIL denies reports of imminent Israeli pullout from Ghajar
Daily Star 11/13/2008
BEIRUT: A new round of media speculation on a possible Israeli withdrawal from the village of Ghajar surfaced Wednesday, with local media outlets reporting that Israel could withdraw from the town’s northern section in the coming days. UN officials in Lebanon would not corroborate the reports. The reports said that Israeli officials have unofficially notified the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) - whose duties include patrolling the UN-drawn Blue Line that serves as a de facto Lebanese-Israeli border - that they should be prepared to step in after an Israeli withdrawal, likely in the next few days. But UNIFIL spokeswoman Yasmina Bouziane cautioned against continued speculation, saying, "That’s a media report. "There has been a wide array of media speculation this fall about a potential Israeli withdrawal from the northern half of the small and increasingly symbolic. . .

Salloukh backs ban on use of cluster bombs
Daily Star 11/12/2008
BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh has urged countries around the world to outlaw the use of cluster bombs by signing an international treaty at a conference to be held in Norway next month. Speaking in Beirut on Tuesday to delegates at a conference held in preparation for the signing of the treaty, Salloukh said that Israel’s use of cluster bombs during the 2006 war had given Lebanon first-hand experience of the suffering they can cause long after the conflict has ended. "This heavy legacy of the July war still causes a human toll," he told delegates from countries around the Middle East. "The farms and fields have been transformed into traps for civilians. "He said that efforts to create an international treaty that would outlaw the use of cluster munitions had gone better than anyone could have predicted, and called for countries to sign up to the convention when it opens for signature in Oslo on December 3.

Cluster-bomb activists visit army deminers
Daily Star 11/13/2008
ZAWTAR: Delegates from an international conference on cluster munitions taking place in Beirut this week visited deminers from the Lebanese Army working in South Lebanon on Wednesday. A convoy of vehicles carried delegates from Beirut to Zawtar, an isolated village that was heavily bombarded by the Israeli military during the summer war of 2006. Lebanese Army deminers have been working to clear the area of unexploded cluster munitions since the conflict ended. On a windswept hilltop outside the village that is still scattered with the deadly bomblets spread by cluster-bomb strikes, delegates watched the heavily protected deminers as they located and destroyed individual bomblets left over from the war. Brigadier General Mohammad Fehmi, the director of Lebanon’s mine-action center, was keen to emphasize that the area had been targeted despite not being used for military purposes during the conflict.

Baroud backtracks on cooperation with Syria after March 14 balks
Daily Star 11/13/2008
BEIRUT: Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud’s recent visit to Syria have raised controversies over the revival of Syria’s security role in Lebanon, which forced the minister to reformulate the outcomes of his visit. Baroud said he did not "call for coordination with Syria that would be similar to what had been experienced. " "What I meant is that there is a chance to present our demands to Syria. . . and listen to their views," Baroud said in an interview on Wednesday. He stressed the fact that the joint statement issued after his talks in Damascus "referred to a follow-up committee that would not proceed with its assignment unless approved by Cabinet. "The March 14 Forces voiced "strong reservations" on Wednesday over the formation of security cooperation committees between Lebanon and Syria. In a statement issued following its meeting on Wednesday, the March 14 Forces’ secretariat. . .

Analysts says Fatah al-Islam ’confessions’ aimed to bully Syria’s foes in Lebanon
Daily Star 11/13/2008
Analysis BEIRUT: Syria was trying to bully its antagonists in the March 14 coalition by airing on state television "confessions" of alleged Fatah al-Islam members last week linking the group to March 14’s Future Movement, a number of analysts toldThe Daily Star on Wednesday. The suspects said in the broadcast that they had carried out a deadly car bombing in Damascus on September 27 and had received money from the Future Movement of parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri. Hariri, who has denied the allegations, asked Arab League chief Amr Moussa on Tuesday to form a fact-finding commission to look into the charges. Fatah al-Islam militants fought the Lebanese Armed Forces for more than three months last summer at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli. The accusations leveled in the confessions found little traction among the analysts.

$10 million for word on missing Israelis
Daily Star 11/12/2008
BEIRUT: Liban Post offices in South Lebanon on Tuesday received faxed messages from an unknown phone number offering $10 million to anyone who provides information on Israeli soldiers missing in Lebanon. The faxed message received at post offices in Nabatiyeh, Bint Jbeil, Hasbaya, and Marjayoun provided numbers carrying British codes and the following message: "If you have any reliable information regarding missing Israeli soldiers we guarantee you a monetary reward equal $10 million, we guarantee full secrecy and your safety. "This is not the first time for Israel to send phone, mail or faxed messages to Lebanese citizens, official institutions seeking information on dead or missing Israeli soldiers, in particular missing Israeli Air Force navigator Ron Arad.

Sectarianism, refugees, Arab-Israeli conflict ’cause instability’
Special to The Daily Star, Daily Star 11/13/2008
BEIRUT: Increasing sectarianism, the Arab-Israeli conflict and insufficient effort with regards to refugee questions are the factors most threatening stability in the Arab world, panelists at a conference in Beirut on "State Building and State Stability in the Arab world," concluded on Wednesday. The conference was held at the American University of Beirut (AUB) Wednesday and organized by the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International affairs, AUB’s Institute of Financial Economics and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a political group close to Germany’s Christian Democratic Party. "We have a bizarre relationship with statehood in the Arab world," said Rami Khouri, the director of the Issam Fares Institute, at the opening of the conference. Huge nonstate actors like Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories, Muslim Brotherhood wings in various countries. . .

USAID allocates $6 million to help villages affected by Nahr al-Bared battles
Daily Star 11/13/2008
BEIRUT: The US Embassy in Lebanon inaugurated an assistance program on Wednesday to help communities surrounding the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp. According to a statement released by the embassy, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing $6 million for the program, which is aimed at alleviating the effects of battles at the camp last year. Nahr al-Bared was largely reduced to rubble, and surrounding areas were severely affected following 15 weeks of fighting between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam militant group. At least 430 people were killed, including 170 soldiers and 220 militants. The inauguration ceremony at the Grand Serail was attended by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and other key personages, including US Ambassador Michele Sison, USAID Lebanon Mission Director Denise Herbol, and Ambassador Khalil Makkawi, who heads the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee.

Foreign Troops Could Deploy in West Bank After Peace Deal
Akiva Eldar, MIFTAH 11/12/2008
After an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories within the framework of an overall peace agreement, foreign forces could be stationed there for a specific period, the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, told Haaretz in an interview over the weekend in Brussels. Moussa said this was acceptable to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He added that Israel could withdraw in stages from the Golan Heights and West Bank, so long as the withdrawal would adhere to a reasonable schedule, anchored in a UN Security Council decision. Moussa ruled outthe possibility of the Arab League negotiating with Israel on the overall peace agreement, noting that the League supports serious bilateral negotiations. A complete freeze on all settlement construction is a precondition for any progress in relations between Arab nations and Israel, the secretary-general said.

Livni Distances Herself from Olmert Comments on ’67 Borders
Haaretz, MIFTAH 11/12/2008
Kadima Chairwoman and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni distanced herself Tuesday from outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s recent 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 called on Monday for withdrawing from the territories and "returning to the area that was Israel until 1967. " 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. ’"You can’t just throw the key to the other side and hope for the best, especially not in Judea and Samaria. " She was referring to the plan for a pullout from the West Bank touted by Olmert when he headed Kadima’s 2006 electoral bid.

VIDEO - Carter: Obama will waste no time pursuing Middle East peace
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Former United States President Jimmy Carter said in an interview with CNN this week he expected President-elect Barack Obama to waste no time pursuing Middle East peace talks once he takes office. Carter told CNN he "thrilled" by Obama’s election and praised his victory as heralding "a new approach" to the handling of the peace process. Carter said Obama "will not wait for even a month after he is president to start working on the peace process, where as you know, the previous two presidents waited till the least year they were in office before they began the peace process. "When asked by CNN if it would be unwise for Obama to focus on the peace process while the United States is facing an economic crisis, Carter said the process was too important to put off.

Some Chicago Jews say Obama is actually the ’first Jewish president’
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Quite a few of Barack Obama’s "friends from the past" have popped up recently. It’s doubtful whether he even knows their names, but in the Chicago Jewish community many people really are long-time friends of the president-elect. Some of the older people in the community say that they "raised him," while others half-jokingly call Obama "the first Jewish president. "They raised contributions for him, provided him with contacts, and also enjoyed hosting him and believed in his glorious future in politics. During most of the campaign, when rumors were spreading among American Jews that Obama was a closet Muslim who was more supportive of the Palestinians and was interested in granting the president of Iran legitimacy, his support among American Jews did not even come close to that enjoyed by Bill Clinton.

Change has come ... to Jewish America
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
WASHINGTON - Will the "Obama effect" that enabled Democratic candidates to ride the party’s presidential candidate into Congress also contribute toward changing the map of Jewish influence on Capitol Hill? J Street, the "pro-Israel, pro-peace" lobbying group and Political Action Committee (PAC) formed just last April and seen as the left’s answer to the veteran American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is counting on it. Though only about six months old, J Street already managed to raise $570,000 for 41 Congressional candidates, most of them Democrats. Six of them lost their races, and three are still awaiting the final results. Lobbyists on the right imply that the new group is a passing trend that merely hitched a ride on the "year of the Democrats. "It has been accused of splitting the "Jewish vote," thereby damaging the message of unity and the effectiveness of pro-Israel lobbying.

Barak refuses to rule out coalition with Likud
Akiva Eldar and Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak has refused to promise MKs negotiating with Meretz about forming a new center-left party that Labor would not join a government headed by Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu after the February elections. A senior Labor official told Haaretz yesterday that the issue came up in talks conducted by Barak in the past two days aimed at preventing key Labor MKs such as Ami Ayalon, Ophir Pines-Paz and Michael Melchior from joining the new Meretz initiative. After Barak’s meetings with Ayalon and Pines-Paz on Tuesday night and yesterday respectively, it appears both are likely to remain in Labor. Barak confidants described both meetings as "relaxed and good" - Barak had initiated the meetings after learning that Ayalon and Pines-Paz were talking with Meretz chairman Haim Oron and considering leaving Labor.

Cabinet rejects extra Gaza belt funding
Dan Izenberg And Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
In an alleged response to a query from the High Court of Justice, the security cabinet decided on Wednesday to reject a Defense Ministry proposal to extend the range of the program for building reinforced security rooms in the Gaza periphery from 4. 5 kilometers to 4. 7 km. But infuriated residents of communities within the 4. 5-km. zone charged that the cabinet had discussed the wrong issue. The ministers should have been considering the residents’ demand to allocate NIS 500 million to complete construction of security rooms for all 8,000 families within the official 4. 5-km. danger zone. So far, the government has allocated NIS 327m. for the first phase of the program, enough for only 3,000 housing units in the zone. "Instead of dealing with the real problem, the committee made this stupid decision," charged Kadima MK Shai Hermesh, who lives in Kibbutz Kfar Aza and is one of the petitioners.

No Leader Before Olmert has Explicitly Called for Return to ’67 Borders
Aluf Benn, MIFTAH 11/12/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert chose to strike on the most sensitive day of Israel’s calendar, Yitzhak Rabin Memorial day. He did so both in the Knesset and on Mount Herzl, in order to lay out his vision - Israel must pull out of all the territories quickly, before it loses international support for a two-state solution. No Israeli leader before him has called explicitly for withdrawing from the territories and "returning to the area that was Israel until 1967. "Olmert’s criticism of the settlers’ violence against the Palestinian olive pickers and his warning of the next political murder were also sharper than ever. Olmert countered the argument that he was exploiting a national memorial to present a controversial political position. This was not a private memorial service for Rabin the man, he said, but an event symbolizing the way of a prime minister who was murdered for political motives, and as such, it must not be cut off from its political context.

Rumored jump to Meretz leads Pines-Barak meeting
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines met with party chairman Ehud Barak on Wednesday, following reports Paz-Pines plans to run with Meretz in February’s national elections. Paz-Pines, 47, is chairman of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee and has been an MK since 1996. He reportedly met in recent days with Meretz chairman MK Haim Oron to examine possibly joining the party. Sources close to Paz-Pines confirmed on Wednesday that the meeting with Oron was held, but they strongly insisted that no decisions had been made. Other Paz-Pines associate said they thought such a decision would have a great impact on Labor, but also be decisive to the continuation of Paz-Pines’s political career, because once he left Labor it would be almost impossible for him to go back. The meeting between Barak and Paz-Pines was held on Wednesday afternoon following a similar one. . .

PFLP: Popular pressure will force Hamas and Fatah back to negotiating table
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A member ofthe leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Jamil Muzhir on Tuesday called on Palestinians to pressure rival factions Hamas and Fatah to resume an aborted attempt at dialogue. In a statement Muzhir, a member of the PFLP Central Committee said that without popular pressure, “opportunists” will continue to sow division in Palestinian politics. A planned Egyptian-hosted summit of Palestinian political leaders was suspended before it began last Sunday after Hamas announced it would boycott the talks. Hamas was protesting what it said was a political crackdown by the Fatah-led government in the West Bank. Unity between Hamas and Fatah has been elusive since Hamas took full control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, expelling Fatah-allied security forces. “Postponement of dialogue resulted in frustration in the Palestinian street. . .

Iran test-fires two-stage missile that uses solid fuel
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/13/2008
TEHRAN: Iran said on Wednesday it test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missile that has a range similar to the existing Shahab-3 that can reach Israel, the source of numerous threats against the Islamic Republic. "The Defense Ministry’s experts. . . succeeded in testing a new generation of ground-to-ground missile," Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency. State television broadcast the launch of a missile similar in size to the Shahab-3. Najjar told the television the missile had "a range of close to 2,000 kilometers," which is that of the Shahab-3. "This is a two-stage missile carrying two engines with combined solid fuel," Najjar said, adding that the missile was called the "Sejil. "A separation ring in the middle of the body of the missile appeared to confirm that it functioned in two stages.

Iran says test-fired new missile
Dudi Cohen and Reuters, YNetNews 11/12/2008
Islamic Republic’s defense minister says new generation of ground-to-ground Sejil missile is of a type using solid fuel, describes it as ’deterrent’ - Iran has test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missiles, state television reported on Wednesday. Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar told the TV station that the missile, named Sejil, is a swift missile produced by the Iranian aerospace industries, which are subject to his office. He did not say when the missile was tested, but claimed that it was a "two-stage missile with two engines driven by solid fuel" and "a highly unusual ability". He failed to elaborate on the missile’s range. Such a test could possibly point to the fact that Tehran has managed to develop a surface-to-surface missile on its own using solid fuel, enabling the Islamic Republic to be more prepared for launching than with a missile driven by liquid fuel.

Iran says new missile tested successfully
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
Iran has successfully test-fired a new generation of its longer range surface-to-surface missile using solid fuel, making them more accurate than its predecessors, the defense minister announced Wednesday. Mostafa Mohammed Najjar said on state television that the Sajjil was a high-speed missile manufactured at the Iranian Aerospace department of the Defense Ministry. He said it had a range of about 1,200 miles. At that range it could reach Greece and Bulgaria in southeastern Europe, as well as easily strike arch-foe Israel. Solid fuel missiles are more accurate than the liquid fuel missiles of similar range currently possessed by Iran. RELATEDAnalysis: Obama faces tough questions on Iran The official IRNA news agency said the test was conducted Wednesday and television showed the missile being fired from a launching pad in a desert region.

Iranian test of new missile called success
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Iran has successfully test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missile with a range of about 2,000 kilometers, the Iranian defense minister announced yesterday. The missiles, which reportedly can reach anywhere in Israel, use solid fuel, making them more accurate than predecessors. Mostafa Mohammed Najjar said on state television that the Sajjil was a high-speed missile manufactured at the Iranian Aerospace department of the Defense Ministry. The official IRNA news agency said the test was conducted yesterday while television showed the missile being fired Wednesday from a launching pad in a desert region. This missile is a two-stage weapon with two combined solid-fuel engines and has an extraordinarily high capability, the television quote Najjar as saying. Uzi Rubin, an expert on missiles who used to be among the Israeli Defense Ministry’s senior most authorities. . .

Iran test-fires new missile
Reuters, The Independent 11/12/2008
Iran has test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missiles, state television reported today. Iran’s armed forces have staged frequent manoeuvres in recent months, coinciding with speculation of possible US or Israeli strikes against the countryover its disputed nuclear ambitions. The reports came a day after Iranian media said the elite Revolutionary Guards had tested a new missile, named Samen, near the Iraqi border. "Iran successfully test-fires new generation of ground-to- ground missiles," state television said. Another Iranian channel, the English-language Press TV, said the missile, named Sejil, was of a type that used combined solid fuel and described it as a "deterrent". "Launch aimed at clarifying Iran’s conventional missile aims," Press TV said. The Press TV newscaster said the missile had two stages and showed the Islamic state’s capability to "defend its soil".

Syria: IAF to blame for uranium traces at suspected nukes site
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Syria’s foreign minister suggested on Wednesday that Israel Air Force bombs may have been the source of uranium traces diplomats from the United Nations nuclear agency said were found a suspected nuclear site in Syria. Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem said the leaks by the UN diplomats about the traces found at the site were politically motivated and aimed at pressuring Syria. Unnamed diplomats at the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency have said samples taken from a suspected nuclear site allegedly bombed by Israeli planes last September contained uranium combined with other elements that merit further investigation. "These media leaks are a clear-cut signal that the purpose was to pressure Syria. This means that the subject is not technical but rather political," Moallem said at a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

UN leak angers Damascus
Anne Penketh, The Independent 11/13/2008
Syria has reacted angrily to the leaked findings of a UN weapons inspection team which disclosed that traces of uranium were found at a suspected clandestine nuclear complex. "The objective of this campaign of anonymous leaks is to find something to pressure Syria with. This is being turned into a political issue," the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid al-Moualem said yesterday. His comments came after diplomats in Vienna told Reuters on Monday that particles of processed uranium turned up in test samples taken by IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors from the site in eastern Syria last June. The director general of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, is expected to release his report on the findings next Wednesday ahead of an IAEA board meeting. Britain is on the board and Foreign Office sources did not rule out discussions of the allegations during David Miliband’s visit to Damascus.

Britain in push to bring Syria in from the cold
Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor, The Independent 11/13/2008
The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, will travel to Damascus next Monday for the highest-level political talks between Britain and Syria since Tony Blair was publicly humiliated by the Syrian President in 2001. Seizing back the initiative from France, which has led European efforts to end Syria’s diplomatic isolation, Mr Miliband said yesterday that he had accepted Syria’s invitation as a result of an "important change in approach" by Damascus. The Foreign Secretary said he recognised the "constructive" role Syria could play in reaching a comprehensive solution for the Middle East, at a time when the Syrians have engaged in indirect talks with Israel in Turkey. He also pointed to Syria’s establishment of diplomatic relations with its neighbour Lebanon and its efforts to curtail foreign fighters and weapons into Iraq as signs of greater co-operation by Damascus.

Gov’t approves aliya of some 150 Bnei Menashe from India
Amir Mizroch, Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
The Interior Ministry has granted permission to the Shavei Israel organization to bring a group of some 150 Bnei Menashe from northeastern India on aliya, a government source told The Jerusalem Post this week. The Bnei Menashe claim descent from a lost tribe of Israel and some 7,200 of them reside primarily in the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, which border Burma and Bangladesh. While there has been no decision to allow the remaining 7,200 Bnei Menashe to make aliya, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit has allowed the 150 in on humanitarian grounds, as members of this group were previously promised their aliya would be approved, and thus many of them had sold their homes and most of their possessions. Over the past decade, some 1,500 members of the community have immigrated to Israel thanks to Shavei Israel, which assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people.

Palestinian student elected to position in Federation of Medical Students
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian student Mahmoud Ahmad Makhlouf was elected to head a commission on Human Rights and Refugees for the International Federation of Medical Students (IFMSA) on Wednesday. Makhlouf is the second Palestinian student to hold the post, after Nada Qawasmi of Al-Quds University who was elected for the years 2007 and 2008. Makhluf is the founder of a medical student union at An-Najah University. He has attended three international medical student conferences in Great Britain, and coordinated medical work in Palestinian refugee camps. [end]

Suha Arafat seeks return to homeland
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Suha Arafat, the widow of the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat, says she wants to return to Palestine because life in the Diaspora has become unbearable. “I will be back to Palestine, to Ramallah. My life and my daughter’s life in Diaspora has become intolerable. We lost security and safety as Abu Ammar left us. Every day since he passed I feel boredom and deadly sadness,” Suha told the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat. Palestinians marked the fourth Anniversary of the death of their iconic leader on Tuesday. Arafat died of a mysterious medical condition in a Paris hospital in 2004. He spent his last days under besieged by the Israeli military in the presidential compound in Ramallah. Suha is currently living in Malta after moving there from Tunisia. “He used to care for every Palestinian family and take care of their small and large concerns. . .

''No umbrella large enough to protect us from this storm''
Adrian Filut and Yael Gross-Englander, Globes Online 11/12/2008
Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav: After the first financial wave, a crisis will follow in the real economy. "The crisis is at its height and there will many more conclusions one way or another. We’re still at the learning stage. We’re talking about a huge event," said Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav at the Prime Minister’s Conference for Export and International Cooperationthis morning. Ariav added, "We’ve witnessed the collapse of institutions we thought would never fall. We’ve seen the fear index rise and panic spread. This is precisely why it’s important to keep cool and thoughtful. We’re under incredible pressure to stop trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE). All in all, the system has shown maturity and responsibility, and we’ve weathered the first wave intact, even wondrously.

Discount Bank sees rise in unemployment
Yael Gruntman, Globes Online 11/12/2008
The bank has also reduced its forecast for growth in 2009. Economists at Israel Discount Bank Ltd. this morning published an updated forecast for growth for the Israeli economy, which in their opinion will amount to just a 1. 7% increase in GDP in 2009. Business output will grow by 1. 5% in 2009 and in the estimation of the Discount Bank economists, this lower growth will be expressed in a rise in unemployment to 7. 5%. The economists point out that a rate of growth of 1. 7% would mean stagnation in the per capita GDP in Israel, compared with a fall of 1% in the per capita GDP in developed countries generally, and a fall of 1. 7% in the per capita GDP in the US. So despite the severe slowdown expected in Israel - the economy is still expected to demonstrate strength in relation to Western countries. The economists refer to the latest forecast published last week by the IMF,. . .

Africa loses lead to Gazit Globe
Nathan Sheva, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
By the end of trading in Tel Aviv yesterday, something had changed. Gazit-Globe had passed the battered real estate empire of Africa Israel in market capitalization. Gazit-Globe, whose controlling shareholders include Chaim Katzman and Dori Segal, became the largest real estate company in Israel in terms of market cap: NIS 2. 37 billion. After yet another huge slide yesterday, specifically 15%, Africa Israel’s market cap dropped to NIS 2. 1 billion. That is coincidentally about the value that Africa Israel had hoped to get for just one of its assets, the Ramat Aviv mall in Tel Aviv. Gazit-Globe lost 4. 4% yesterday, reducing its market cap to NIS 2. 3 billion. Teva remains the weightiest stock in Tel Aviv, followed by Israel Chemicals and Bank Leumi - although Bezeq is following hot on their heels, with a market cap of NIS 14.

Shipping tycoon Ofer to be knighted
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
The $20 million contribution by Israeli businessman and shipping tycoon Sammy Ofer to Britain’s maritime heritage will earn him an honorary KBE (Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) from Queen Elizabeth next month. Ofer, who announced his intention to donate the money earlier this year to Britain’s National Maritime Museum, had pledged an identical contribution to the Tel Aviv Museum before withdrawing the offer following the eruption of a controversy concerning Ofer wishing to name the institution after himself and his wife. The industrialist served in the Royal Navy during World War II. After the war, he and his brother Yuli went on to create one of the largest private shipping companies in the world, operating a significant part of its fleet from London. In 2008 he contributed to projects connected with the UK’s maritime heritage at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Maritime Greenwich.

Mishmar Security Co goes out of business
Noam Sharvit, Globes Online 11/12/2008
The company has fired all its 800 employees. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that Mishmar Security, Cleaning, and Maintenance Services Company Ltd. has gone out of business and fired all its 800 employees, due to financial insolvency. Founded in 1963, Mishmar was one of Israel’s largest security and cleaning services firms. Mishmar owner and CEO Yossi Lieb confirmed the report. Lieb convened the employees yesterday to announce the news. Dismissal notices sent to senior employees stated that the measure was due to "the company’s financial difficulties, which resulted from the market situation. " The sources added that dozens of Mishmar employees today petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court for a liquidation order against the company, after they were not paid their October salaries.

Two Palestinian workers injured as lightning strikes settlement
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Two Palestinian workers were injured when lightning struck a construction site in the Ariel settlement outside of the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday. Lightning reportedly struck iron rods used in construction. Israeli medical sources said that the two Palestinian workers were treated at the scene before being transferred by Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance. [end]

Industry lauds Fischer, calls for fiscal moves as well
Adrian Filut and Yael Gross-Englander, Globes Online 11/12/2008
Manufacturers Association head Brosh: Israel has one economic leader, and his name is Stanley Fischer. "Israel has one economic leader, and his name is Stanley Fischer. The Governor of the Bank of Israelunderstood long before everyone else here where we were headed, and he knew how to prepare the Israeli economy. Regrettably, we haven’t yet seen action on the fiscal policy side," said Manufacturers Association of Israelpresident Shraga Brosh at the Prime Minister’s Conference for Export and International Cooperationthis morning. Brosh’s comments were a broadside against Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On, who has so far refrained from actively intervening in the capital market or taking fiscal measures. Brosh noted that there was an opening for talks between him and the government. He said that Fischer helped manufacturers by changing his policies, cutting. . .

Bombings and shootings leave at least 23 dead in Iraq
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/13/2008
BAGHDAD: At least 23 people were killed in a string of attacks across Iraq on Wednesday, including a dozen people who lost their lives in a rush-hour bombing in Baghdad and two US troops slain by an Iraqi soldier after one reportedly slapped their comrade. In the deadliest single attack of the day, a booby-trapped car exploded, followed by another bomb blast at a bus station in the working-class district of Baghdad al-Jadideh in the east of the capital. At least 12 people were killed and 60 wounded, an Interior Ministry official said. In the northern city of Mosul, an Iraqi soldier, on joint patrol with US troops, opened fire on his American comrades, killing two, the ministry said. "During a patrol with the Iraqi Army, an Iraqi soldier opened fire on the American soldiers at around 1300 hours, killing two of them and wounding others," a ministry statement said.

POLITICS-US: Obama Pressured to Back Off Iraq Withdrawal
Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service 11/13/2008
WASHINGTON, Nov 12(IPS) - The promotion of Robert M. Gates as President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of defence appears to be the key element in a broad campaign by military officials and their supporters in the political elite and the news media to pressure Obama into dropping his plan to withdraw U. S. troops from Iraq in as little as 16 months. Despite subtle and unsubtle pressures to compromise on his withdrawal plan, however, Obama is likely to pass over Gates and stand firm on his campaign pledge on military withdrawal from Iraq, according to a well-informed source close to the Obama camp. Within 24 hours of Obama’s election, the idea of Gates staying on as defence secretary in an Obama administration was floated in the New York Times, which reported that "a case is being made publicly by columnists and commentators, and quietly by leading Congressional voices of Mr Obama’s own party.

Deadly bombings rock Iraqi capital
Al Jazeera 11/13/2008
At least 21 people have been killed in a series of bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, according to police and the Iraqi interior ministry. In the most severe attack on Wednesday, at least 12 people were killed and 60 others injured when a booby-trapped car and roadside bomb exploded nearly simultaenously in eastern New Baghdad, an Iraqi interior ministry spokesman said. That blast came hours after four people were killed in an explosion in downtown Baghdad, and shortly after five people died in a car bombing near a secondary school in the northern Shaab neighbourhood. The latest attacks came as the Iraqi military announced new measures to curb "the increasing number of terrorist attacks" in the city. Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, an Iraqi military spokesman, said. . .

RIGHTS: Women Leaders Reject ''State of Living Death''
Wolfgang Kerler, Inter Press Service 11/13/2008
Yanar Mohammed says life has never been worse for Iraqi women. - NEW YORK, Nov 12(IPS) - United in their fight against discrimination and inequality, three women from crisis-struck countries received the 2008 Gruber International Women’s Rights Prize -- Yanar Mohammed from Iraq, Sapana Pradhan Malla from Nepal, and Nadera Shalhoub-Kervorkian, a Palestinian woman living in the state of Israel. In contrast to the oft-repeated assertion that the increased number of U. S. soldiers deployed to Iraq in 2007 -- an operation known as the surge -- has significantly improved security there, Mohammed spoke of the worsening situation for Iraq’s women. "[Even] in the times of bloody dictatorship, life in the big cities had more of a civil appearance," Mohammed told IPS. "Women almost had a situation of equality in terms of education, in terms of work and in some. . .

Iraq’s Cabinet to vote on US security pact
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/13/2008
BAGHDAD: The Iraqi Cabinet will vote on a controversial military pact to govern the presence of US troops in the country on either Saturday or Sunday, Iraq’s finance minister said. "We received the last draft from the Americans and now it is being discussed between the American and the Iraqi committees and the prime minister’s office," Baqer Jabr Solagh toldAFP on Wednesday. "The Cabinet will meet [Saturday or Sunday] to see the last draft and then the Cabinet will vote. . . They have to vote, yes or no. "Baghdad and Washington have been racing to agree on a pact ahead of the December 31 expiry of the UN mandate - obtained after the fact of the 2003 US-led invasion - governing the presence of the 140,000 US troops currently stationed in the country. The most recent draft stipulates that American forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 2009 and from the country by. . .

Israeli special forces seize three PFLP fighters in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - Israeli special forces seized three resistance fighters affiliated with the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in the west of Nablus at dawn on Wednesday. Ma’an’s correspondent reported names of detainees as follows: 33-year-old Amjad Mabrouk, 28-year-old Samer Mabrouk and 40-year-old Daoud Abu Daoud. [end]

IDF soldier jailed for yawning during Rabin memorial service
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
The Israel Defense Forces has sentenced a soldier to 21 days in jail for yawning during a recent memorial service for assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. The soldier yawned while the commander of the Ramat David Israel Air Force base was delivering a speech on last week’s memorial day for Rabin. The senior officer paused for a few minutes after the yawn, which was allegedly long and loud. The soldier was consequently by the army tried on account of his "disrespectful act" and was sentenced to 21 days in military prison. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that he is able to request a pardon, which will be considered according to military regulations. The soldier’s mother told Israel Radio that her son was not disrespectful, but tired. She said that her son deserves to be punished for inappropriate behavior, but the verdict is disproportionately harsh.

Another stay of exit issued for Gaydamak
Nurit Roth, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Businessman Joseph Troim, one of a series of creditors to whom Arcadi Gaydamak owes money, will give the Israeli-Russian businessman no peace. At Troim’s request, the Tel Aviv District Court has issued a stay of exit order against Gaydamak. The order comes just a week after the Petah Tikva Magistrates Court issued an identical order prohibiting Gaydamak from leaving the country unless he deposits $2. 5 million in cash and additional collateral to ensure that he appears at court proceedings against him in a money laundering affair involving Bank Hapoalim. The current order is the latest episode in the ongoing dispute between Troim and Gaydamak. After Troim sued, Gaydamak sued him for slander. Shortly thereafter he withdrew the suit and agreed to arbitration. Then, three months ago, the arbitrator ordered Gaydamak to pay Troim NIS 50 million. . .

Opposition head: Netanyahu: We can give pension safety net
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 11/12/2008
Benjamin Netanyahu said he is perpetually thankful that Stanley Fischer is Governor of the Bank of Israel. "We can today give our citizens a pensions and savings safety net, which was something that we could not previously do because the till was empty," said head of the opposition Benjamin Netanyahu today at the Prime Minister’s Conference for Export and International Cooperation. "Today the situation is different but requires creativity. For example, we can determine minimal return, a minimal floor. " "I am perpetually thankful for the fact that Stanley Fischer is Governor of the Bank of Israel, mainly because of what he represents and not only his policies. For monetary policy is not enough. We must minimize unemployment and promote growth. At the moment this is not being done. If there will be initiatives that support growth, we, as a responsible opposition will support the government," added Netanyahu.

Fischer: It’s okay to raise deficit for short term
Yael Grunterman, Globes Online 11/12/2008
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer sees moderate increase in deficit as acceptable. In the Bank of Israel’s Inflation Report for the third quarter of 2008, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer accepted that a short term increase in the deficit is okay. He said that such steps should not result in an excessive increase of the government deficit or government debt. Fischer observed that a short-term moderate increase in the deficit is not likely to undermine economic stability or confidence. Fischer noted that Israel is unlike many other countries in that its general financial system, and in particular the banking system, are well placed to meet the global crisis. He expected inflation, which reached 2% during July-September 2008 and 5. 5% in the 12 months ending September 2008, to moderate gradually and return to within range by the middle of 2009.

High-tech businessman Nir Barkat wins Jerusalem mayoralty
Lilach Weissman and Batya Feldman, Globes Online 11/12/2008
Barkat, an early investor in Check Point, won 52% of the vote. Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Nir Barkat won the election for Jerusalem mayor yesterday, with 52% of the vote, beating haredi (ultra-orthodox) candidate Meir Porush. This was his second attempt; he lost to Uri Lupoliansky in the 2003 elections, after winning only 43%. Barkat was a co-founder ofCheck Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq:CHKP ) and ofBRM Capital It is not certain what helped Barkat win yesterday’s election: the note he inserted into the Western Wall on the morning of the election; the Gur Hassidim who voted for him; the religious-national camp; or the capital’s secular residents who saw him as a symbol of hope. Whatever the reason, he was able to garner 36,000 more votes than in the previous election.

Secularist wins Jerusalem poll
Al Jazeera 11/12/2008
Nir Barkat, a secularist venture capitalist, has been elected mayor of Jerusalem, Israeli media has reported. With votes counted in 704 of 707 polling stations, Barkat won about 51 per cent of the vote versus 42 per cent for Meir Porush, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, and Barkat’s main rival. Arcadi Gaydamak, a Russian billionaire also contesting the election, was running a distant third with 3. 5 per cent on Wednesday. Claiming victory, Barkat said that the election showed "there is someone who will protect Jerusalem". He also pledged to be "the mayor of everyone". The election results are said to highlight the growing rift between religious and secular Jews in Israel’s poorest city. Barkat will succeed Uri Lupolianski, the first ultra-Orthodox Jew to serve as mayor of Jerusalem.

Fire at servers farm paralyzes Justice Min.
Yoav Yitzhak, News1-TheMarker, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Work at the Justice Ministry has been all but paralyzed after its server farm burned to a crisp on Monday night, in a fire reportedly caused by a short-circuit in an air-conditioner at the ministry’s branch on Salah a-Din Street in East Jerusalem. The loss of data affects ministry branches throughout Israel. The attorney general and prosecutor general are both affected, as is the spokesman’s office. The ministry insists that the fire could not have been caused by arson because the building is guarded and the servers are inaccessible to the general public. Upon discovering the blaze in the cellar where the servers sit, guards tried to extinguish it, but after failing, called the fire department. At this stage, the ministry cannot say exactly what material has been lost, the spokesman admits, but clearly the damage is tremendous: The. . .

’Dream of peace didn’t die with Rabin’
Allison Hoffman, Jerusalem Post Correspondent In New York, Jerusalem Post 11/12/2008
President Shimon Peres broke with precedent Wednesday and addressed the Saudi king directly from the podium at the UN General Assembly hall, thanking King Abdullah for presenting his peace initiative and opening the door for potential contacts. The two leaders did not speak privately, nor did they interact at a dinner reception, but took full advantage of the forum offered by this week’s interfaith peace conference - organized by the UN at the behest of the Saudis - to engage in the closest any Israeli and Saudi leaders have come to a conversation. Abdullah opened the summit Wednesday saying he wanted to "continue what we have started, extending our hand to all who seek peace. " Peres responded with effusive praise, deviating from his prepared remarks to praise the monarch by name. RELATEDPeres, Livni at UN for interfaith. . .

Peres lauds Arab peace plan
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 11/12/2008
Saudi peace initiative provides hope, president says at UN’s interfaith dialogue conference - NEW YORK- President Shimon Peres praised the Saudi-led Arab peace initiative in his speech at the United Nations Wednesday, delivered in the framework of the interfaith dialogue summit in New York. Both Peres and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are attending the conference, which was opened with an address by Saudi King Abdullah. "We cannot change the past," Peres said in his speech. "However, we can shape our future. This seems more feasible today in light of the Saudi proposal which evolved into an Arab peace initiative. The initiative’s portrayal of our region’s future provides hope to the people and inspires confidence in the nations. "

Archaeologists hope to learn much from Phoenician-era cemetery in Tyre
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/13/2008
TYRE: A Phoenician-era cemetery has been unearthed in the coastal town of Tyre, officials said Wednesday, adding that the find could provide key information about the seafaring civilization. "This discovery represents for now the most important source of information to better understand the history of the Phoenicians in this region," said Ali Badawi, an archaeologist and head of antiquities in Tyre, which was a major Phoenician seaport from about 2000 BC through to Roman times. He told AFP that the cemetery, found nearly intact at the eastern edge of the town, dates to between the ninth and seventh centuries BC. "The importance of this cemetery is that it is located in one of the main Phoenician towns," said Maria Aubet, a professor of archaeology and head of a team from the University of Barcelona which uncovered the find.

cartoon of the day
Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 11/12/2008
Remembering The Sacrifice Of Lebanon [end]

Archaeologists discover remains of ancient female shaman in Israel
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/7/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Archaeologists have found the 12,000-old skeleton of a female shaman buried in northern Israel. The remains were found alongside those of 50 tortoises, body parts of a leopard, a boar and other animals as well as a human foot. According to the archaeological team, led by Leore Grosman of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the burial site is among the earliest known graves of a shaman, or healer. "The grave was constructed and specifically arranged for a petite, elderly, and disabled woman, who was accompanied by exceptional grave offerings," the archaeologists wrote in this week’s edition of the US journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ""The grave goods comprised 50 complete tortoise shells and select body-parts of a wild boar, an eagle, a cow, a leopard, and two martens," the experts said.


Articles

Israel continues to coerce Gaza patients into collaboration
Press release, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 11/12/2008
      The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continue to blackmail Palestinian patients who need to travel for treatment in Israeli hospitals or Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank. They seek to travel outside Gaza due to the deteriorating conditions of the Palestinian health system there, which is unable to deal with their critical medical conditions. Such practices of the IOF continue on a semi-regular basis amidst the ongoing, tight siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and the continued silence of the international community.
     According to Al Mezan field investigations, Khalid Abu Shammala, 38, passed away on Tuesday morning, 28 October 2008, after he was denied access to a hospital. The IOF at Erez asked him to collaborate with them otherwise he would not go through to the West Bank. Abu Shammala underwent a surgery to plant a supporting rod in his coronary artery in early 2006 in Ein Shams Hospital in Cairo, Egypt. His medical condition started deteriorating in July 2007 as an obstruction was detected inside the planted rod. It is noteworthy that the deceased was married with four children.

Under the cover of a commander’s orders

Meron Benvenisti, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
      A short while ago, the GOC Central Command published an order establishing in the occupied territories "The Ayosh Second Authority," which duplicates the Second Authority for Television and Radio in Israel. ["Ayosh" is a Hebrew acronym for Judea, Samaria and Gaza.] The order was published in response to a High Court of Justice petition against the decision to grant the settlers a permit to operate a radio station, on the grounds that an Israeli body - the Second Authority - does not have the authority to operate in the territories.
     This legal maneuver drew hardly any attention, since it did not contain any striking innovation. Hundreds of previous "commanders’ orders" have for a long time duplicated Israel’s system of government, law and administration, and turned the territories into annexed areas; of course, only when the issue relates to, and is in the interest of, the Israelis.

Gaza border crossings closed for sixth day

Press release, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 11/12/2008
      The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is deeply concerned over continued policies of collective punishment imposed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip. These policies have included ban on delivery of food supplies and basic goods, including energy fuel required for electricity generation, grains and wheat. Following the halt of fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip in the past six days, more than 30 percent of the population of Gaza was in complete darkness last night, and people lined up in front of bakeries to buy flour and bread. Although IOF allowed the delivery of 427,410 liters of energy fuel this morning, which is enough to operate Gaza’s power plant for a single day, PCHR in concerned that humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip may further deteriorate.
     IOF have closed all commercial crossings of the Gaza Strip since Wednesday, 15 November 2008, banning the delivery of the limited quantities of supplies that had been allowed into the Gaza Strip. IOF have also stopped the delivery of fuel supplies that had been already reduced, which has caused further deterioration to humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip that had been deteriorating since 15 June 2007 when IOF imposed a total siege on the Gaza Strip.

Gaza: A Flicker of Power

Eva Bartlett - Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 11/12/2008
      Gaza in total darkness, again.
     Gaza is host to a new power outage.
     It came the evening of the day when a delegation of 11 European Members of Parliament had visited Gaza’s only power plant, which supplies about 1/3 the electricity used in Gaza (the amount used, not the amount needed. People are making due with regular power cuts, particularly in the northern areas of the Strip).
     The plant used to supply 50% of Gaza’s needs before Israel bombed it in June 2006, destroying all 6 of the plant’s large transformers. Since then, ten smaller, temporary transformers have had to function, inadequately, as permanent replacements. With the siege on Gaza, importing new transformers, or even replacements parts, has become impossible.
     During the visit, Dr. Rafik Maliha, Project Manager of the plant, warned that a power outage was imminent, as the plant hadn’t received fuel from Israel in 6 days and had no reserves. Israel closed all commercial and humanitarian border crossings on November 5, following a volley of home-made rockets, fired into Israel with no injuries reported. The rockets came as retaliation for the targeted assassination of 7 Palestinians in Gaza late on November 4, a major violation, but not the first, of the truce between Hamas and Israel.

Disaster of Israel’s Making

Sonja Karkar - Melbourne, Palestine Chronicle 11/12/2008
      ’Palestinian society has been taken on a rollercoaster ride of promises (and) lies’
     The illegal settlement movement, supported by every Israeli administration to date, has burgeoned out of control and its right wing leaders are vehemently opposed to negotiating land for peace.
     We will probably see the present Foreign Minister and Kadima party leader, Tzipi Livni - if she forms the next government and takes over from Ehud Olmert, now interim PM - use the same stalling tactics with the Palestinian Authority that have, up until now, allowed land grabs from the Palestinians for the Zionist dream of a greater Israel. After all, Livni was nurtured on that dream.
     Her main rival, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, has vowed to allow expansion of the settlements if he wins expected early elections. A 15-year-old peace process is ominously poised for failure, not just politically but economically.
     The 1993 Oslo Peace Accords were supposed to offer the Palestinians the political freedom and economic independence to which they have always been entitled. Since then, Palestinian society has been taken on a rollercoaster ride of promises, lies, provocations and chaos with not a single benefit to show for its painful concessions.

Rabin’s assassination is still a turning point

Ghassan Khatib, Daily Star 11/12/2008
      There is no doubt that the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin 13 years ago was a turning point in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and that the period that followed could have turned out very different in his presence. Rabin had three reasons to enter into a serious peace process. The first was his experience in trying and failing to suppress by force the first Palestinian intifada, a period of popular Palestinian non-violent resistance against the occupation. The failure came in spite of his direct orders to be as tough as "breaking their bones," an order Israeli soldiers followed to the letter. This experience led him to conclude that there could be no military solution to the conflict.
     The second reason was his long experience of negotiations with the Palestinian delegation in Washington. During this time, the Israeli government, first under Yitzak Shamir but later under Rabin himself, tried to bypass the legitimate Palestinian leadership, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), to reach an agreement on creating an autonomous body led by local Palestinian leaders in the Palestinian territories. That experience led him to the conclusion that Israel would have a better chance of achieving its objectives by dealing directly with the PLO.

Al-Khadr: Daily brutality in a West Bank village strangled by the Wall

Ma’an News Agency 11/12/2008
      Bethlehem - Ma’an - The symbol of the village of Al-Khadr it is its grapes. There are fields upon light green fields of them. They hang in heavy bunches. About a third of the 10,000 residents of the town earn their living from cultivating grapes and other crops.
     Yet Al-Khadr is a shrinking preserve. Once a 22,000 dunum (1 dunum is 1,000 square meters) swath of territory spreading southwest from Bethlehem, some 5,000 dunums have already been confiscated for the construction of four major Israeli settlements. More land is pending confiscation. According to Mayor Ramzi Salah, 90% of the village’s landed is slated for confiscation, between the expanding settlements and outposts, the nearly complete Israeli separation wall.
     Welcome to ground zero of the refugee-campization of Palestine. The people of all Khadr are being severed from their land, from their agricultural culture, from their personal and collective history. They are becoming displaced people without physically moving. Rather, Israel is rapidly remolding the physical environment around them, enveloping them in concrete, hemming them in with concrete walls and modern hilltop suburb-cum-settlements.

The Meeting that Never Was

Joharah Baker – The West Bank, Palestine Chronicle 11/12/2008
      ’Hamas and Fateh leaders need to peel away the sheath of factional agendas..’
     Whichever way you slice it, the cancelled reconciliation talks slated to have taken place in Cairo on November 9 is bad news. If our goal is to merely cast blame, there is plenty to go around. Yes, though the talks were supposed to include a multitude of Palestinian factions under Egyptian mediation, we all know the major players here are Palestine’s Titan rivals, Hamas and Fateh. Unfortunately, the bitter fighting between the two has dichotomized Palestinian society almost surgically -- if you are not a loyal supporter of the Palestinian Authority, you are, by assumption, a Hamas proponent.
     On the street, this seemingly clear cut fission which has sharply manifested itself in and basically taken over Palestinian politics for the past several years, is not without its shades of gray. There are those who criticize both, who categorize themselves as independent Palestinians or those who still cling to leftist philosophies the Palestinian Communist/Marxist movements embraced long ago during their years of glory. Nevertheless, given the sheer power of both Hamas and Fateh -- the former because of their stronghold on the Gaza Strip and the latter given its historical position at the helm of the Palestinian leadership -- this battle has come down to these two. All others, no matter how sincere they may be in their intentions, have been pushed to the far margins of Palestinian political life.

Obama, Rahm-bo and the End of the New American Century

Paul Craig Roberts, Palestine Chronicle 11/12/2008
      ’The change that is coming is the end of American empire.’
     If the change President-elect Obama has promised includes a halt to America’s wars of aggression and an end to the rip-off of taxpayers by powerful financial interests, what explains Obama’s choice of foreign and economic policy advisors? Indeed, Obama’s selection of Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff is a signal that change ended with Obama’s election. The only thing different about the new administration will be the faces.
     Rahm Emanuel is a supporter of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Emanuel rose to prominence in the Democratic Party as a result of his fundraising connections to AIPAC. A strong supporter of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, he comes from a terrorist family. His father was a member of Irgun, a Jewish terrorist organization that used violence to drive the British and Palestinians out of Palestine in order to create the Jewish state. During the 1991 Gulf War, Rahm Emanuel volunteered to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. He was a member of the Freddie Mac board of directors and received $231,655 in directors fees in 2001. According to Wikipedia, "during the time Emanuel spent on the board, Freddie Mac was plagued with scandals involving campaign contributions and accounting irregularities."

The only way out

Eva Bartlett writing from Cyprus, Electronic Intifada 11/12/2008
      Over the past year, Muhannad Omar al-Helo has twice petitioned the Israeli government to leave Gaza in order to study in Europe for a master’s degree.He has also contacted Israeli lawyers and human rights groups about his case. On 2 November aboard the SS Dignity, the third Free Gaza boat, he was finally able to leave Gaza and the 16-month Israeli siege, which has imprisoned the 1.5 million Palestinian residents of the tiny coast territory, and sail to Cyprus.
     Al-Helo smiled broadly as he held up the bag of clothes purchased in Cyprus that he is sending back to Gaza for his wife and their 18 month-old daughter. "Some of this is available in Gaza," he said, cradling an adult running shoe, "but it is extremely expensive, as it has been brought in through the tunnels," referring to the network of tunnels through which smugglers bring goods in from Egypt. He sorted through the articles: a dress for his baby, a belt for his wife, a warm winter coat for the girl, a pretty scarf for his wife.