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

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13 November, 2008

With crossings closed, food aid runs out for Gaza
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 11/14/2008
The UN suspended food distribution to 750,000 people in Gaza yesterday and much of its main city was without power last night after Israel halted supplies to the Strip amid continued fears that the five-month-old ceasefire could break down. Earlier, the Israeli authorities turned away 20 senior European diplomats from the Erez crossing as they attempted to visit Gaza. The diplomats -- including Richard Makepeace, the British Consul-General -- were given no reason by staff at the crossing, a Consulate spokeswoman said. The move followed more than a week in which foreign journalists have also been barred from entering Gaza. The Foreign Press Association has protested against the ban, which observers say has lasted for longer than any other of its kind since the intifada began eight years ago. Crossings have been mainly closed between Israel and Gaza since the Israeli military. . .

Barak sanctioned settlement expansion
Uri Blau, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has approved dozens of construction projects in the West Bank in recent months, contradicting Israel’s commitments to the Road Map, Haaretz has learned. Barak also approved the marketing of hundreds of housing units in settlements. Some of the permits for construction projects were granted in settlements to the east of the separation fence, which are beyond the areas the state defines as "settlement blocks" and it expects to retain under Israel’s control following a permanent agreement with the Palestinians. By press time, the Defense Ministry had not responded to Haaretz’s query on the matter. The Road Map, an American initiative put in place in 2003, calls on Israel to avoid any expansion of settlements, except for construction necessitated by the needs of natural population growth.

Israeli forces attack medical clinic near Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees condemned an Israeli attack on one of their clinics in the village of Al-Mugher, near Ramallah on Thursday. The Vice President of the organization, Jihad Mash’al said in a statement that Israeli troops broke through the gate of the clinic, ransacking the facility and destroying equipment. He called on international organizations to intervene and stop attacks against medical workers and the clinics. [end]

Switzerland: Israel breaking int’l law by razing Palestinian homes
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Switzerland accused Israel on Thursday of wantonly destroying Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and near Ramallah in violation of the Geneva Conventions’ rules on military occupation. The Swiss Foreign Ministry demanded that Israel immediately halt the demolitions, which Israel has said are aimed at removing illegally constructed shacks. An Israeli Embassy spokeswoman in the Swiss capital of Bern said the decision to remove the structures was not an arbitrary decision, but was sanctioned by law. "This demolition of houses was done under a court order," embassy spokeswoman Shlomit Sufa said Thursday. Switzerland - as the guardian of the Geneva Conventions - can call meetings of the treaty’s signatories if it finds problems with its implementation, but does not have any special powers to enforce the document.

Hebron governor calls for removal of settlements after diplomats harassed by settlers
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – The governor of Hebron, Husein Al-Araj, demanded the dismantling of the Israeli illegal settlements in the heart of his city on Thursday. The governor also demanded the implementation of international law in order to protect civilians under occupation. Thesestatements came during a press conference the governor held in his office on Thursdayone day after the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki and a delegation of 27 foreign diplomats were roughly accosted by Israeli settlers and soldiers during a tour of Hebron’s Old City. “From the first moment the delegation entered the area near Al-Ibrahimi Mosque through the electronic gates heading to the area of the Islamic judicial court and Shuhada street and the yard of the Al-Ibrahimia school, the settlers started harassing is. One of the settlers intercepted the delegates and took pictures of them and harassed them.

Ministries order IEC to begin Gaza gas talks
Lior Baron, Globes Online 11/13/2008
Negotiations with BG Group ended a year ago with large gaps between the two sides. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures have officially instructed Israel Electric Corporation(IEC) (TASE: ELEC. B22) to commence negotiations with BG Group (NYSE: BRG; LSE: BG) on the purchase of natural gas from the BG’s offshore well in Gaza. Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker recently, informing him of the government’s decision to allow negotiations to go forward, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year. The IEC board, headed by chairman Moti Friedman, approved the principles of the framework proposal a few weeks ago.

IFJ denounces Israel for blocking entry of journalists into Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 11/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The international federation of journalists has denounced the Israeli decision to prevent foreign journalists from entering Gaza for a week, describing the decision as a violation of the freedom of the press. Aidan White, the IFJ general secretary, said in a press release a copy of which was available to the PIC on Thursday that Israel once again shows its disrespect for the freedom of the press through imposing restrictions on foreign journalists and their freedom of movement. He said that censorship and hampering the media would only worsen the crisis and would lead to the spread of fear and rumors. He added that it was about time for Israel to end the siege on Gaza and to allow journalists, Palestinians and foreigners alike, to do their job without its intervention. White expressed concern that such a decision would carry serious consequences on press coverage of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Qassams strike near southern towns of Ashkelon and Netivot
Amos Harel and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Qassam rockets fired by Gaza militants hit near Ashkelon and Netivot on Thursday, widening the scope of cross-border violence that has threatened to unravel a shaky Israel-Hamas truce. The rocket that struck Ashkelon hit an open area near the southern town. No one was wounded and no property damage was caused in the attacks. Earlier Thursday, The Israel Defense Forces announced it would delay thereplacement of its top Gaza commander due to recently the increased tensions on the border. Brigadier-General Moshe (Chico) Tamir was scheduled to be replaced by Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg on Friday, but a military official announced that the prior’s term has been extended until further notice. Early Thursday, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired at least five mortar shells and one Qassam rocket at the western Negev, Army Radio reported.

Gaza bakeries about to close down
Palestinian Information Center 11/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA economy ministry in the Gaza Strip has warned that most of the bakeries in the Strip would close down by Thursday morning in the event the Israeli occupation authority continued to bar the entry of cooking gas into Gaza. Hatem Owaida, the director of the economy minister’s office, said in a press statement on Thursday that the IOA closure of Gaza commercial crossings since last Wednesday deprived the Strip of necessary fuel and gas supplies. He noted that the IOA allowed entry of limited quantities of fuel for generating the power station over the past two days. Owaida expressed concern that the bakeries’ crisis could worsen in the event the crossings remained closed and no flour supplies were allowed access.

Gaza power plant will close by weekend without more fuel from Israel – UN
United Nations News Service, ReliefWeb 11/12/2008
Israel opened its fuel crossing point with the Gaza Strip today but closed it again after less than 230,000 litres were delivered, citing ongoing clashes on the Gaza side, United Nations officials reported. If no industrial fuel deliveries are allowed in tomorrow, Gaza’s power plant will have to be switched off this weekend, the UN Office of the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) said. Apart from the fuel crossing, all Gaza commercial crossings remained closed today for the seventh day in a row, with no humanitarian or commercial commodities being allowed in. UNSCO said there were concerns in Gaza over the growing shortage of cooking gas and a number of bakeries have been forced to shut down, leading to worries over the availability of bread. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said the current blockade of Gaza is affecting its operations "as never before.

Gender equality report ranks Israel 56th
News agencies, YNetNews 11/13/2008
World Economic Forum publishes annual report probing equality of sexes worldwide. Data indicate steady decline in Jewish state’s standing, as Norway tops chart, Yemen lingers in bottom - A new report probing gender equality in various countries around the world ranks Israel in the 56th place out of 130 - far behind other Western countries. The report, published by the World Economic Forum, in association with Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, indicated a decline in Israel’s ranking: In 2006 it came in at 35, and in 2007 - 36. The rankings are determined by compiling 15 variables in four categories: Equal economic opportunities, including participation in the workforce and equal opportunities in the work place and in finances; access to education, longevity and participation in politics.

Israeli forces raid home of Ma’an board member in Jalazun Refugee Camp
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided house of Mu’ammar Urabi member of Ma’an Network’s Board of Directors, in Al-Jalazun Refugee Camp in Ramallah overnight on Thursday. Urabi said that five military vehicles surrounded his house and smashed front gate. About fifteen Israeli soldiers stormed the house and held Urabi captive in one room while they searched the rest of the house over four hours. The Israeli troops finally released Urabi and left the area in the early morning. Urabi said that he told the soldiers he is a journalist. The soldier responded that they knew this. When he asked why his home was raided, the soldiers’ response was, “Stay silent. ”He added that Israeli troops searched his computer and personal files. Books, closet, bet, kitchen cupboards and furniture.

Israel to Hamas: We don’t want escalation in Gaza
Barak Ravid and Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Israel on Thursday delivered a message to Hamas via Egyptian intermediaries indicating that while it has no interest in escalating tensions along the Gaza border, it will retaliate against any attempt by the Islamist group to carry out attacks. Hamas for its part insists it is Israel that is guilty of perpetrating provocations. Nonetheless, a spokesman for the Hamas government in Gaza told a Haaretz reporter that the Islamist group is also interested in maintaining the truce, "but not from a position of weakness and if the provocation [by Israel] will be bigger than expected, the Palestinian response will not be a simple one. " A senior diplomatic official in Jerusalem said Thursday that aides to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak held consultations with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman during which they. . .

We Can’t fight Hamas with our hands tied, says Ramon
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/13/2008
Vice premier demands cabinet make decision on harsher Israeli response to Qassam attacks from Gaza, despite fear of breaking international law. ’Government’s role is to take a chance, fulfill duty of defending citizens of Israel,’ he says -Vice Premier Haim Ramon warned of Israel’s poor hand on Wednesday night, saying the State was not responding appropriately to the continuedQassam attacks from the Gaza Strip out of fear that ministers and Israel Defense Force officers will be accused of breaking international law when going abroad. " The government’s role is to take the chance that we might not be able to travel to Belgium and eat chocolate, but that we fulfill our duty and defend the citizens of this State," Ramon said. Disputed DecisionSecurity Cabinet refuses to increase fortification budget/ Security Cabinet ministers reject defense establishment’s. . .

Hamas: We are entitled to retaliate to aggression, factions to reconsider calm
Palestinian Information Center 11/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas has asserted it was entitled to retaliate to the Zionist aggression on the Gaza Strip regardless of the calm agreement, and called on the Palestinian factions to re-consider and re-evaluate the calm. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press release that the Israeli occupation forces’ aggression on Khan Younis, south of the Strip, that killed four fighters affiliated with the armed wing of Hamas, the Qassam Brigades, on Wednesday was a flagrant violation of the calm that also coincided with the closure of crossings. He noted that the aggression also coincided with Israeli threats of shelling northern Gaza border areas and with the international quartet committee’s meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, which issued decisions biased in favor of the "Zionist occupiers" along with PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s speech that attacked Hamas and incriminated resistance.

DFLP: Israeli attacks prove ''weakness'' of Gaza truce
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip show the “weakness” of the five-month-old Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire, an official in the leftist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said on Thursday. Ziad Jarghon, a member of the DFLP central committee said in a statement that the Israeli attacks are intended to “end the resistance” to the Israeli occupation. He urged all Palestinian factions to unite and fight back against the Israeli attacks. Israel killed four Palestinian fighters during an incursion in Gaza on Wednesday. Jarghon said the conditions of the ceasefire itself should be reviewed.

Police Order Diplomats to Cancel Hebron Walking Tour
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 11/13/2008
Israeli police on Wednesday forced about 20 foreign diplomats to cut short a walking tour of the Israeli-controlled sector of the tense West Bank city of Hebron, the visitors said. The diplomats were from Europe, Latin America and the Far East, said Jose de la Cruz, a representative of Chile. The group was escorted by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki. Hebron, the West Bank’s largest city, is divided under an Israeli-Palestinian interim deal. Israeli forces control the center where several hundred militant Jewish settlers live. Palestinians often complain about harassment by settlers and say Israeli security forces tend to look the other way or side with the settlers. De la Cruz said that even though Wednesday’s trip was cut short, it was "very useful to a diplomat, as a foreign observer, to see the reality on the ground. "

Adalah NY: Eight Groups Call on Marriott Marquis to Cancel Hebron Settlement Fundraiser
International Solidarity Movement 11/13/2008
International Actions - Action Alert - New York, NY, November 13, 2008 - Eight groups representing tens of thousands of people in the US, Palestine and Israel have called on the Marriott Marquis hotel in Manhattan to cancel the November 17th dinner for the Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund aiming to raise money for Israeli settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Hebron. In a November 7th letter the groups said, "The Marriot Marquis will be facilitating activities that directly violate international law and US foreign policy, actively promote racial discrimination, and, at least indirectly, support brutal Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian civilians and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Hebron. "  The signers of the letter include Adalah-NY, Coalition of Women for Peace, (Israel), Gush Shalom (Israel), Jews Against the Occupation-NYC, Jewish Voice for Peace,Palestinian. . .

Israel infuriated by British plan to label West Bank produce
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Relations between Israel and Britain remained strained on Thursday over Downing Street’s intention to label products manufactured in West Bank settlements, a week before the expected arrival of British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Miliband, to the Middle East. Miliband, who will visit Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Lebanon next week, is expected to talk to Israeli officials over the settlements in the West Bank and his country’s proposed plan to label products manufactured in them. "This initiative is a serious and substantial problem in relations between the two countries, and is generating a sense of crisis," a senior diplomat in Jerusalem said. Over the past few weeks Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has spoken to Miliband and tried to persuade him to cancel the plan, by equating it to the initiative by U.

Tell Oxford not to create lecture series in Peres’ honor
Appeal, Badil, Electronic Intifada 11/13/2008
Oxford University’s Balliol College has decided to honor Shimon Peres and the apartheid state of Israel by inviting him to speak in Oxford, and by planning to establish a lecture series in his name. Peres will deliver his lecture on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 under the title "The Globalization of Peace. " Founded in 1263, Balliol College is Oxford University’s oldest college one of the most prestigious educational institutions in Europe. Many leading British and international politicians and thinkers have graduated from the college, and future decision makers currently attend it. Moreover, Balliol has a reputation for being one of the more progressive colleges at Oxford University. The immortalization of Peres’ name by such an institution should be a major cause of worry for anyone interested in promoting peace and justice for Palestine, in Europe and elsewhere.

New synagogue opens old wounds in Jerusalem
Reuters, YNetNews 11/13/2008
Newly reopened temple in capital’s Old City causes concerns among local Arab residents who blame Israeli authorities for trying to shift religious balance in favor of Jews - A synagogue newly reopened in Jerusalem’s Old City has worried Arab neighbors and Palestinian leaders who accuse Israel of using its political power to push them out and shift the city’s religious balance in favor of Jews. Israelis say the work in the Muslim Quarter merely restored a building wrecked during 19 years of Arab control before Israel captured the Old City in 1967, but Palestinians complain they live under an unequal rule. Sixty years on, Jerusalem, where a new mayor will be elected this week, still lies at the heart of stalled efforts to broker a peace settlement. Nowhere are conflicts over land as up-close and personal as in the narrow lanes inside its ancient walls.

EU lawmakers call for punishing Israel
Middle East Online 11/13/2008
LARNACA, Cyprus - A group of European lawmakers said Tuesday they will petition the European Union to suspend a preferential trade agreement with Israel because of Israel’s "cruel" blockade of Gaza. Lord Nazir Ahmed, a member of Britain’s House of Lords, said Gaza’s 1. 4 million residents face a dire situation because the siege has deprived them of medical supplies. Ahmed was among 11 lawmakers from Britain, Ireland, Switzerland and Italy who sailed Saturday to Gaza from Cyprus on a yacht owned by the US-based Free Gaza activist group, in defiance of an Israeli blockade. Israel’s navy did not block the vessel, Dignity, which made its third run to Gaza since August. It returned to Cyprus on Tuesday after the activists delivered one ton of medicine and hospital equipment. "Israel is contravening international law.

Israeli siege forces UN to halt food aid in Gaza Strip
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/14/2008
GAZA CITY: The United Nations announced it was suspending food distribution to half of Gaza’s 1. 5 million people on Thursday after Israel refused to allow emergency supplies into the Palestinian territory. Israel had said it would allow 30 trucks to deliver suppliesThursday after it completely sealed off the Gaza Strip again on November 5, but later said rocket and mortar fire by Gaza militants made it impossible. "They have told us the crossings are closed today. At the end of today we will suspend our food distribution," said UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman Chris Gunness. "Our warehouses are effectively empty," he added. UNRWA usually distributes emergency food rations to about 750,000 people in the impoverished, overcrowded sliver of land whose economy has been crippled by a tight blockade Israel claims is aimed at forcing militants to stop firing rockets and mortar rounds at the Jewish state.

Gaza Power Plants totally off
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/14/2008
The Popular Committee Against the Siege, headed by Legislator Jamal El Khodary, stated that all power generators at the Gaza Power Plant stopped operating due to the lack of industrial fuel as the Israeli occupation barred fuel supplies from entering Gaza ten days ago. On Thursday evening, at 6:30, the Committee sounded sirens in different parts of the Gaza Strip to announce that the power plant is not functioning anymore. Al Khodary stated in a press conference in Gaza that since the Power Plant is not functioning, hospitals and medical centers would not be able to function. Other basic services, including drinking water wells, will also be out of order. The power shortage would also disrupt critical water and sanitation services, this endangering the health and life of the residents. Several bakeries had to shut down and the rest of the bakeries will shut down soon, he added.

Analysis: Perfume, Viagra, lions and fuel
Jerusalem Post 11/14/2008
Sixteen months after assuming full control over the Gaza Strip, Hamas appears to be stronger than ever - largely thanks to the growing number of tunnels that are used to smuggle goods and weapons under the border with Egypt. Israeli hopes that the embargo imposed on Gaza will eventually turn the impoverished Palestinians living there against the Hamas government seem unrealistic in light of the booming smuggling industry. According to sources close to Hamas, the number of underground tunnels has risen in the past two years to nearly 1,000. Once, Palestinian groups used the tunnels mainly to smuggle weapons into the Strip. But the tunnels have now become a vital tool in circumventing the Israeli commercial blockade of the district. It’s no wonder the tunnels are no longer a secret, and foreign journalists are being invited to visit them and interview their owners.

Gazans shell Israel for 9th day in row
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Palestinian militants fired Qassam rockets and mortar shells at Israel for the ninth consecutive day yesterday with at least five Qassam rockets and six mortar shells landing in open fields surrounding the Gaza Strip in the morning. Three more rockets fell in open areas near Sderot last night. No injuries were reported. Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces decided to delay the departure of its outgoing Gaza Division commander, Brigadier General Moshe Tamir, who was slated to be replaced by Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg yesterday, because of the escalation in violence. "The decision [to keep Tamir in his position] was made due to tensions in the region over the last few days," an IDF spokesman said in response. Most of the rockets and mortar shells were fired by Palestinians in the early morning hours of yesterday morning.

UN: Israel’s border closures leave us with no food for Gaza
Amira Hass , Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
The United Nations on Thursday warned its stocks had run so low that it would not be able to make its next delivery of food to 750,000 needy Gazans on Saturday. "We’ve been working here from hand to mouth for quite a long time, so these interruptions on the crossing points affect us immediately," said John Ging, director of UN Relief and Works Agency operations in Gaza. The Defense Ministry had said it would allow 30 truckloads of humanitarian supplies into Gaza on Thursday. But the crossings were kept shut because militants fired fire rockets and mortars into Israel earlier in the day, security officials said. Later in the day, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the army to keep the crossings shut after receiving an intelligence warning of a plan by Palestinian militants to attack the Kerem Shalom border terminal.

Israeli forces kill four Gazans on seventh day of total closure
Press release, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 11/13/2008
On Wednesday, 12 November 2008, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) carried out an incursion into al-Qarara town and killed four Palestinians. IOF continues to seal the Gaza Strip’s borders and impede entry of food, medical supplies and fuel for the seventh day in a row. According to Al Mezan investigations, at around 10am on Wednesday, 12 November 2008, Israeli troops infiltrated nearly 300 meters inside agricultural lands in the al-Wad area to the northeast of Khan Younis city. Soldiers engaged in firefight with members of the Palestinian resistance. The IOF sent in tanks and military vehicles to reinforce the troops, under surveillance by drones and a cover of tank shells. At approximately 11:30am, drones fired a number of missiles towards a group of resistance members. The Israeli ground forces denied ambulances’ access to the area to evacuate the wounded during the invasion.

Israel stops Gaza aid delivery
Al Jazeera 11/13/2008
The United Nations is to suspend its food distribution effort to the Gaza Strip after Israel said it would not allow emergency supplies into the Palestinian territory, a UN spokesman has said. Israel had initially permitted the UN Relief and Works Agency to send 30 lorries of supplies to Gaza on Thursday but later reversed the agreement, citing a barrage of mortar fire by fighters in the enclave. "They [Israel] have told us the crossings are closed today. At the end of today we will suspend our food distribution," Chris Gunnes, a spokesman for Unrwa, said on Thursday. "Our warehouses are effectively empty. "Unrwa usually distributes emergency food rations to about 750,000 people in the Gaza Strip, half the population of the territory. "Pushing people to the brink of desperation every few months and forcing Unrwa into yet another cycle of crisis management, is not in the interest of anyone who believes in peace, moderation and stability," Gunness said.

Gaza commander replacement put off due to clashes
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 11/13/2008
Swearing-in ceremony of new Gaza Division chief, Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg, postponed in light of ’possibility of continued attempts by Hamas and terror elements to disturb stability in the region’. Popular Resistance Committees: IDF in panic over our modest rockets -Outgoing Gaza Division Commander Brigadier-General Moshe Tamir will remain in office until the situation in the Strip cools down, it was decided on Thursday, the day Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg was scheduled to be sworn in as Tamir’s replacement. The decision was made by IDF Southern Command Chief Major-General Yoav Galant and Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, following days of tension around the Gaza Strip and a number of clashes between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers. Gaza BorderIDF thwarts terror cell’s attempt to infiltrate Israel/ IDF force spots terror cell about to break into Israel through border fence.

Gaza mourns four slain fighters; armed groups launch rockets
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinians in the Gaza Strip mourned on Thursday four men who were killed in a battle with Israeli forces on Wednesday. The funeral began at a local mosque in the town of Al-Qarara, where the men were killed. Ahmad Bahar, a member of the Palestinian Parliament and a Hamas leader, joined the prayer. From there a somber funeral mach proceeded a local cemetery. The mourners called for revenge the deaths of Mahmoud Siyam, Rami Freinah, Muhsen Al-Qidrah and Isma’il Abu Al-Ola, who were killed in a truce-violating Israeli incursion. Fighters reactSeparately armed Palestinian groups unleashed a barrage of homemade rockets and mortar shells at Israeli areas bordering the Gaza Strip overnight in response to Israel’s killings of the four. No one was injured by the rockets, which are likely to further strain a five-month old truce between Israel and the Hamas-controlled government in the Gaza Strip.

Int’l lawmakers: We’ll work hard to inform Europe on the size of tragedy in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 11/13/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The international parliamentary delegation which visited the besieged Gaza Strip last Saturday aboard the dignity boat stated that it would work hard on informing the lawmakers and governmental officials in Europe about the size of the tragedy and humanitarian crisis in the Strip. The parliamentary delegates who included 11 European lawmakers who returned to their countries after a three-day visit to Gaza organized by the Free Gaza movement and the European campaign to lift the siege. Upon his return to London, head of the delegation Lord Nazir Ahmed expressed his shock at what he saw in Gaza and condemned the Egyptian authorities’ insistence on closing the Rafah border crossing. MP Clare Short, the former secretary of state for international development in the UK, said that despite the tragic humanitarian conditions, the parliamentary delegates received warm. . .

Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 06 - 12 Nov. 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11/13/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)*IOF killed 4 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. *7 Palestinian civilians, including a child, and an international human rights defender were wounded by the IOF gunfire. *IOF conducted 31 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and 3 others into the Gaza Strip. *IOF arrested 29 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, in the West Bank. *IOF transformed a house in Nablus into a military site. *IOF undercover unit arrested 3 Palestinians in the north of the West Bank. *IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

Military Court in Bethlehem Sentences a Palestinian to Death
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11/13/2008
PCHR Calls upon Palestinian President Not to Approve the Sentence, and for Abolition of Death Penalty in Palestinian Law - On Wednesday, 12 November 2008, the Military Court in Bethlehem sentenced Ayman Ahmed ’Awwad Daghamgha, 24, a member of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, from al-’Arroub refugee camp north of Hebron, to death by firing squad. The trial was administered by a panel of 3 judges (Chief Justice Fares Douda; Judge Fadi Hijazi; and Judges Ahmed Jaddou’). It was held in the headquarters of the Military Court in Bethlehem. Representatives of the prosecution, Major Ibrahim Abu Saleh and First Lieutenant Akram ’Arar, and the defendant’s lawyer, Khalil al-Heeh, were present in the trial. The court convicted Daghamgha of treason in violation of article 131/A of the Palestinian Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979, and sentenced him in consensus to death, a sentence

OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report 05 - 11 Nov 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 11/11/2008
Military activities affecting civilians This week saw a decline in the number of military search operations (81) in the West Bank by the IDF compared to the 2008 weekly average (104). There was also a decline in the number of IDF arrests of Palestinians (67) compared to the weekly average in 2008 (102). In the West Bank, 35 Palestinians, including four children, and six Israeli security forces were injured in several clashes. Factional Palestinian detentions: During the reporting period PA security forces arrested 28 Palestinians with alleged Hamas affiliations in the Hebron governorate. The intensity of PA operations in the southern areas of the West Bank has increased in the aftermath of Hamas’ announced refusal to participate in the Palestinian internal dialogue scheduled to be held in Cairo, Egypt. Complete closure of the Gaza Strip crossings Commercial goods and Humanitarian. . .

Bedouin shoot Egyptian policeman
Al Jazeera 11/13/2008
Bedouin fighters have shot and wounded an Egyptian policeman in Sinai. The shooting follows an incident in which tribesmen seized dozens of guns and thousands of bullets during two days of protests. Armed bedouin wounded the policeman in a drive-by shooting on Thursday in El-Matala, close to the Israeli border. Mohammed Mustafa Bandari, 22, was hit in the leg by three bullets and taken to hospital in stable condition, an Egyptian official said. The bedouin have been protesting against the killing of a tribesman in a shootout with police on Monday. Violent protestsAngered by the incident, bedouin launched violent protests in the peninsula, including seizing a police station. Peaceful protests continued on Wednesday.

’Spy’ admits to surveying Mugniyah assassination site
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 11/13/2008
Lebanese newspaper reports head of ’espionage ring’ for Israel was also ordered to reconnoiter place where senior Syrian officer was killed - Lebanese officials believe that the "Israeli espionage network" uncovered recently was involved in the assassination of seniorHizbullah commander Imad Mugniyah. Security sources told the As-Safir newspaper on Wednesday that the network’s leader, Ali al-Jarah, had confessed to his investigators that he was ordered to survey the Kafr Sousa neighborhood in Damascus, where Mugniyah was killed by a car bomb in February. According to the report, al-Jarah also admitted that he was later asked to reconnoiter the Syrian port city of Tartus, where senior officer Mohammed Suleiman was assassinated several months ago. The Lebanese security sources estimated that al-Jarah and his brother Yusuf were recruited by the Israeli. . .

US official visited Beirut to push missile ban
Daily Star 11/14/2008
BEIRUT: A senior United States security official made a three-day visit to Beirut betweenTuesday and Wednesday to discuss the banning of "man-portable air-defense systems" (MANPADS) with Lebanese officials. According to a statement by the US Embassy on Thursday, Ambassador Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr. , special envoy for MANPADS, visited Lebanon November 11 to 13. Accompanied by US Ambassador Michele Sison, Bloomfield met with Lebanese governmental and defense officials. The discussions focused on Lebanese efforts at MANPADS control and destruction. "Countering the proliferation of MANPADS is a national security priority of the US and Lebanon has joined with the US and numerous other countries to counter this threat," the embassy statement said. "With US assistance and international cooperation, more than 26,000 loosely secured, illicitly held, or otherwise at-risk MANPADS have been destroyed since 2003," it added.

Palestinian forces seize explosives cache in Beddawi
Daily Star 11/14/2008
BEIRUT: Palestinian security forces in the Beddawi refugee camp seized explosives from the home of a captured Islamist militant on Wednesday night, finding "all the equipment needed to make a bomb," an intelligence source told The Daily Star. Officials raided the home of Wael Abu Jaber, a suspected member of a militant network behind a series of deadly bombings in Tripoli, after he told them he had explosive material hidden in his basement. A "large quantity of explosives and remote detonators" were seized during the raid, the source said. Jaber is believed to be a member of the "Jawhar cell," a group of Islamist militants wanted by security services for their involvement in a series of attacks against the Lebanese military in Tripoli over the summer that left soldiers and civilians dead. Jaber’s arrest and the subsequent discovery of the explosives haul, which also contained timers. . .

Video: ''Nahr al-Bared: Transitions''
a-films, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 11/13/2008
More than a year after their homes were destroyed during the battle between the Lebanese army and the militant Islamist group Fatah al-Islam, the majority of the Palestinian refugees from the Nahr al-Bared camp in northern Lebanon find themselves in a difficult situation. Not able to return to their homes, stuck in pre-fabricated housing units and mostly unemployed, many feel frustrated and hopeless that things will improve. Being subjected to aid organizations and external political decisions, many refugees have started to criticize the humanitarization of their political problem and voice opposition to the politics of the humanitarian aid coming into the camp. This short film, produced in October 2008, documents the experiences and thoughts of several young residents of Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, as they talk about current developments in the camp and their personal situation.

Lebanon collaborators mull leaving Israel
Middle East Online 11/13/2008
QLAYAA, Lebanon - Bshara Rizk awoke at dawn and headed home, making his way through mine-infested fields and climbing over a barbed wire fence that stood between him and his native Lebanon. Bloodied but euphoric, he arrived in his hometown of Qlayaa, located just across the border from Israel, where he exclaimed to the local priest: "I’m back. " Rizk, 24, had been living in a northern Israeli town since 2000, when his father’s mainly Christian militia, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), followed its Israeli allies as they withdrew back across the border, after a long and brutal occupation of south Lebanon. For eight years, Rizk worked at a factory in Israel, but most SLA members never felt welcomed in Israel. "I never felt complete there and I always wanted to go back to Lebanon," the burly Rizk said following his return home on a Thursday back in June.

OPT: Refugee Stories - ECHO helps beneficiaries make ends meet
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 11/12/2008
Damascus, November 2008 - Despite his poor health, Ahmed Ata Jichi waits patiently in line to receive UNRWA’s quarterly distribution of food and cash assistance. Today is a good day for him. He will be able to take back food for his family. "My children are most excited about the milk," he says. "It is as if I travelled abroad and brought back presents for them. " In reality, Jichi only walks a short distance to the distribution centre. Originally from the village of Safad Faradeh, he now lives with his wife and eight children in Homs refugee camp in Syria. As a patient of epilepsy, it is extremely difficult for him to find a stable source of income. Consequently, his family must borrow money and rely on the assistance funded by donors such as the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO). ECHO is one of the largest contributors to UNRWA’s Social Safety Net programme (SSN), providing €15 million for food assistance in 2008.

Miliband lauds Syrian-Lebanese ties, but March 14 not so sure
Daily Star 11/14/2008
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who is expected to visit Lebanon next week, praised Damascus on Thursday for having opened diplomatic relations with Lebanon. "I think that in a significant way there has been important change in the approach of the Syrian government, notably the historic decision to exchange ambassadors with Lebanon," Miliband told a news conference on Thursday. Syrian President Bashar Assad issued a decree last month to establish diplomatic ties with Lebanon for the first time since the two states won independence from France in the 1940s. Meanwhile, the Cabinet will convene on Saturday at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, with 32 items on its agenda. The Cabinet’s secretariat general received a request from Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud to discuss the outcome of his talks in Damascus earlier this week.

Hamas prepared for talks with Fatah when West Bank prisoners released
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Gaza – Ma’an -A senior Hamas leader said on Thursday it is prepared to re-enter talks with its rival, Fatah, as soon as the Fatah-dominated government in the West Bank releases political prisoners. Salah Bardawil the spokesperson of Hamas bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) said during a press conference in Gaza that the West Bank government should stop denying the existence of the political detainees“There is no need to mislead Palestinians,” he said. Hamas pulled out of planned talks with Fatah and other factions last Saturday in protest of the continued detention of what it claims are more than 600 prisoners in Palestinian Authority (PA) custody. Bardawil also demanded that the PA reopen charities it closed and release millions of dollars in confiscated funds. Asked why Hamas had prevented mass demonstrations in commemoration of the death. . .

Hamas: Political arrests in W. Bank is a Zio-American scheme
Palestinian Information Center 11/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Thursday that the detention of hundreds of Hamas cadres and supporters is a Zio-American scheme carried out at the hands of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s security apparatuses which are financed and supervised by Israel and the US. During a news conference held by lawmakers Salah Al-Bardawil and Fathi Hammad along with Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas underlined that there is no need to mislead the Palestinian people and the world by denying the political arrests because they were seen in broad daylight and thus do not need evidence or analysis. Hamas called on Abbas to leave the language of incitement against it and to comply with the Palestinian law and the will of the Palestinian people through issuing an urgent decision to release all political detainees and ending the criminal practices of his security apparatuses against Hamas cadres and institutions.

Fatah fires back: Hamas leaders ’murderers of their own nation’
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah fired back on Thursday at its rival Hamas, escalating a war of words in which each side is blaming the other for the breakdown of dialogue. Fatah Spokesperson Ahmad Abd Ar-Rahman labeled two Hamas leaders as “murderers committing crimes against their own nation. ”Abd Ar-Rahman was referring to the deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Ahmad Bahar, and Hamas’ interior minister, Sa’id Siyam. He was responding to a speech given the previous night by Siyam. Siyam’s speech itself was responding to an address by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday in commemoration of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. “Anyone who watched Sa’id Siyam’s speech on Wednesday was able to recognize that he places no political, moral, national or Islamic value in the Palestinian community; he is nothing but a bandit,” saidAbd Ar-Rahman.

Abbas Urges Vote to Heal Rift with Hamas
Wafa Amr, MIFTAH 11/13/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Tuesday for a referendum to resolve a power struggle with Hamas, highlighting bitter divisions on a day of mourning for Yasser Arafat. Tens of thousands gathered at Arafat’s gravesite in the West Bank city of Ramallah for the fourth anniversary of the former Palestinian leader’s death. Hamas, which seized Gaza last year after routing Abbas’s forces, barred Arafat memorials there. Abbas, who controls the West Bank, and Hamas have traded blame since reconciliation efforts broke down last week. Egypt postponed talks meant to end the rift when Hamas decided to boycott, demanding Fatah release prisoners. A key dispute is over when to hold an election. Abbas has proposed holding a simultaneous presidential and parliamentary poll in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, arguing the law gives him the right to remain in office until 2010.

Hamas interior minister lashes out at Abbas over Arafat speech
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The interior minister of the Hamas-run government in Gaza excoriated President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday evening, accusing him of being responsible for the political split that has taken place during his term in office. In a press conference that ran for over an hour in Gaza City, Siyam responded to a speech Abbas had given on Tuesday at a memorial service for Yasser Arafat, in which the president slammed Hamas. Siyam called that speech ‘disappointing. ’“We expected to hear a new initiative to release political detainees in West Bank but he came with a disappointing speech,” he said. Hamas pulled out of a planned summit on Palestinian unity earlier this week in protest of the Fatah-led government’s alleged holding of political prisoners in the West Bank. Siyam claimed that there are more than 600 political detainees in the Palestinian Authority’s detention centers in West Bank.

Hamas to resume unity talks if supporters freed
Middle East Online 11/13/2008
GAZA CITY - The democratically elected Hamas movement said on Thursday that it was ready to resume reconciliation talks if Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas frees more than 600 of its activists being held in the West Bank. "The number of prisoners held by Abbas’s security services in the West Bank now totals 616. What is happening in the West Bank is an attempt to eliminate Hamas," a senior official from the movement, Salah al-Bardawil, told a Gaza City news conference. "If these political prisoners are freed tomorrow, the Hamas delegation will return to Cairo within the hour to take part in dialogue. " Palestinian factions had been due to meet in the Egyptian capital on Monday in a bid to heal the rift between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah movement. But the talks were called off after Hamas announced a boycott in protest at the rounding up of its members in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Siyam accuses Abbas of fighting the Palestinian people, slaughtering the law
Palestinian Information Center 11/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Interior minister in the PA caretaker government Sa’eed Siyam has accused Wednesday the PA chief Mahmoud Abbas of fighting the Palestinian people and of slaughtering the PA basic law, describing Abbas’s speech in Ramallah as "disappointing". He said that the Palestinian people were expecting Abbas to call for unity during his speech on the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah, but, he added, unfortunately the speech was partisan and disappointing. "Hamas made history through combining ballot boxes and resistance, and it became an important player in the local and regional arena; but, those who were defeated in the elections and abandoned the resistance will become part of the dark history", asserted Siyam during a press conference he held in Gaza Wednesday.

Abu Marzouk: We welcome Arab efforts to reconcile Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 11/13/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy political bureau chairman of the Hamas Movement, severely criticized PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s speech on Wednesday on the fourth anniversary of the death of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He said that the speech was full of fabrications and unfounded accusations, and described it as a "political scandal". Abbas should have been more rational and balanced in his capacity as the Palestinian president, the Hamas leader explained. Abu Marzouk, shifting to another issue, denied that Amr Mousa, the Arab League secretary general who is expected to visit Syria on Saturday, would meet with Hamas leaders. "There is no preparation for any such meeting but we welcome any Arab effort that would help in patching up the Palestinian national line," he elaborated.

PLC member: ’Fly the Palestinian flag on Independence Day’
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Ashraf Jum’ah, a Fatah-affiliated member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) on Thursday urged Palestinians to fly the Palestinian flag on 15 November to mark Palestine’s declared Independence Day. He said the flags would also be a symbol of national unity. The Palestine Liberation Organization declared independence in 1988. To date Palestinians have no recognized state and no effective political boundaries. Jum’ah also called on Hamas to respect Independence Day. In a statement he also called on Hamas to restart talks with Fatah “without precondition. ” He said unity would serve Palestinians fight for freedom and independence. [end]

NGO warns of border workers’ exploitation
Ruth Sinai, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Hundreds of employees expected to be hired by two companies that won the tender to operate border crossings between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are at risk of being exploited, a human rights organization said yesterday. The NGO Bema’aglei Tzedek said the two companies proposed budgets that were unrealistically low, raising concerns over their future ability to pay their employees. The group said their proposals were considerably lower than their competitors and 10 percent less than the minimum estimated by the Defense Ministry. It also said that one of the companies, Modi’in Ezrahi, was ordered last year by the Defense Ministry to pay its employees millions of shekels in unpaid salaries. The tender is expected to create employment for some 650 employees, whose tasks will include screening human traffic and merchandise passing through the crossings.

Israeli troops seize student from home near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized a Palestinian university student while raiding the village of Al-Ubeidiya, east of the city of Bethlehem, early on Thursday. Palestinian security sources reported to that five military vehicles invaded the village at 2am. Israeli troops searched a house owned by Jamal Mahmoud Rabay’ah ,then detained his 22-year-old son Ra’fat, a student at Hebron University. [end]

Israeli army invades Madama, south of Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Israeli army invaded the West Bank village of Madama south of the city of Nablus and ordered the residents to stay inside their homes on Thursday evening. A Member of the village council, Hasan Ziyadah told Ma’an that “ten Israeli military jeeps invaded the villages and started to search, combing the bypass road that leads to the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Yizhar. ”No confrontations or injuries were reported during the incursion. [end]

Israel says it detained five Palestinians in the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli troops seized five Palestinians during overnight raids in the West Bank, Israeli radio reported on Thursday morning. The detentions reportedly occurred in the cities of Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron. [end]

The migraine that is Migron
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Nothing underscores the government’s weakness and its capitulation to the settlers more than the continued existence of the illegal outposts, as promises for their evacuation, made to the Americans, are continually broken. At present, the one person paying the political price of this state of affairs is Ehud Barak, whose Labor Party is steadily fading in the polls. Barak did not create the problem, but as defense minister, charged with responsibility for the territories, and as Labor chairman, the supposed head of the peace camp - he should be leading the charge against the outposts. But he doesn’t. Apparently, he feels a certain kinship with the settlers, and this sufficed to arouse the left’s old suspicions about Barak: that he was and remains a hard-headed, security-minded type.

Palestine Today 111308
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 11/13/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 2 m 30s || 2. 29 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Thursday November 13 2008 Palestinian concerned bodies warned today of an imminent shutting down of Gaza’s sole power plant as well as halt of work at many local bakeries in the coastal territory, as Israel continues to close border crossings. The Palestinian local popular committee for breaking the Israeli siege on Gaza announced today that the Gaza power plant, which provides Gaza with electricity, is about to shut down shortly as Israel continues to close border crossings. Also, the committee added that many of Gaza bakeries will about to stop working because of shortage of flour as Israel denies access of 30 trucks, loaded with wheat.

Haniyeh recognized Israel in 2006 letter to President Bush
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
A few months after Hamas’ 2006 election victory, leader Ismail Haniyeh tried to start a dialogue with U. S. President George W. Bush. Haaretz has obtained a written message from Haniyeh sent to Bush via an American professor who met with Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip. Haniyeh asked Bush to lift the boycott of the Hamas government and pressure Israel to maintain stability in the region. On June 6, 2006, Haniyeh met Dr. Jerome Segal of the University of Maryland in the Gaza Strip. Segal had been involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for many years and was one of the first Americans to meet Palestine Liberation Organization leaders in the late 1980s, even passing messages from senior PLO figures to then U. S. Secretary of State George Schultz. Segal’s academic work brought him in contact with senior State Department and National Security Council officials throughout the Clinton administration.

Hamas: IDF’s Gaza incursions is Barak election ploy
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
GAZA - The escalation in violence between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip over the last week is an Israeli provocation aimed at increasing Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s standings in the polls, Hamas spokesman Taher a-Nunu said yesterday. The Islamic group said the killing of several Palestinian gunmen in two separate incursions by the Israel Defense Forces into the Gaza Strip was intended to increase Barak’s poor numbers in the polls ahead of the February general elections. He added it was also meant to force Hamas into reaching an agreement with the more moderate Fatah. "They want Hamas to disband itself and for a [Palestinian] national unity government to be formed without Hamas or other organizations," a-Nunu said. "The weak Mahmoud Abbas will be able to make political concessions Israel is interested in with such a weak government.

Global Forum for Islamic Parliamentarians to send a ship to Gaza
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/14/2008
Palestinian Legislator, head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, Jamal El Khodary, stated on Thursday that the Global Forum for Islamic Parliamentarians decided to send a ship to the besieged Gaza Strip. The ship would sail from Cyprus and the Forum formed a committee to conduct the needed arrangements, specify the number of participants and the timing of the first Islamic trip to the Gaza Strip. The trip would be the fourth after three successful European trips to Gaz. El Khodary stated that he received a phone call from Nasser Al Sane’, member of the Kuwaiti national council, the vice president of the Forum, and that Al Sane’ informed him of the new trip during the call. The Forum plans to extend invitations to a number of EU Parliamentarians to participate in the trip and provide the needed help in order to guarantee its success.

Bahar: Israel does not want to be committed to the truce
Palestinian Information Center 11/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ahmed Bahar, the acting speaker of the PLC, strongly denounced the Israeli military assault on Khan Younis on Wednesday which claimed the lives of four Palestinian fighters affiliated with Al-Qassam Brigades, saying that this crime and the previous one proved beyond doubt that the Israeli occupation does not want to be committed to the truce. In a statement received by the PIC, Bahar underlined that Israel wants to continue its aggression on the Palestinian people in Gaza, adding the Palestinian resistance has the right to retaliate by all possible means to any Israeli assault. The Hamas change and reform parliamentary bloc called for retaliating to the Israeli crime committed on Wednesday in the Qarara town in Khan Younis, considering it a natural result of the inciting speech against Gaza delivered by PA chief Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli deputy-defense minister: Truce is dying
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/13/2008
Deputy-Israeli defense minister, Natan Valnaie, stated on Thursday that the truce between Israel and the Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza is dying - but is not quite dead yet. Valnaie made the statements on Israeli radio, saying, "The Israeli army will continue military activities, wherever necessary, as the government needs to protect the Israeli population centers adjacent to the Gaza Strip". The first six months of truce between resistance factions and Israel are about to end, as the Israeli military began this week a series of violent attacks. The latest attack took place yesterday in Gaza, in which four Hamas fighters were killed. he truce began in June 2008, and was scheduled to last for six months. During the truce, Israel was to end all military attacks on Gaza, as well as gradually lifting the siege.

Avoiding a worst-case scenario
Amos Harel Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
The visit on Tuesday by the prime minister, defense minister and Israel Defense Forces chief of staff to the Gaza Strip border reflected an unusual consensus among them: that Israel has no interest in a war in Gaza right now. The bad blood between Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, over the breakup of the government forced by Barak, is still there, but when it comes to Gaza, the two see eye to eye. The southern front is a relatively low priority, compared to the risks posed by a potential conflagration with Hezbollah and Syria on the northern border. Even when G. , head of the Shin Bet security service’s southern district, warned of the danger of Hamas building itself up during the truce, an IDF officer hastened to interrupt. We’ve also sent units to do training exercises during this period, he reminded the dicussion participants.

Israel insists cease-fire can hold
Yaakov Lappin And Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/13/2008
Israel still wants a truce with Hamas, and believes that Hamas is also interested in resuming the cease-fire, defense officials insisted Thursday night, even as Kassam rockets continued to fall around southern Israel. As a result of the salvoes, all the border crossings with Gaza remained closed to deliveries of fuel and other essentials. "We are interested in continuing the cease-fire, but we will act in every way to defend our soldiers," a senior defense official told The Jerusalem Post, a day after the IDF made the second incursion into the Strip since the cease-fire began in June. "We believe elements on the other side also wish to continue the cease-fire," the official said, adding that the rocket attacksThursday were the terrorists’ response to perceived Israeli violations of Gazan territory.

Livni to Ban: UN must hold Syria responsible for arms smuggling
Shlomo Shamir and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday accused Syria of breaching United Nations Security Council resolutions and endangering the whole of the Middle East by continuing to support the smuggling of weapons and ammunitions to militant groups in Lebanon. Livni told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on the sidelines of an interfaith meeting in New York that Syria must be clearly warned that it will not gain legitimazation from the West unless it is held responsible for the smuggling. Meanhwile, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is to visit Syria as part of a tour of the Middle East next week in an effort to improve relations. The foreign secretary on Wednesday praised Syria for opening diplomatic relations with Lebanon and preventing foreign fighters infiltrating Iraq.

Livni: Syria must stop smuggling weapons if it seeks recognition
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 11/13/2008
Foreign minister meets with UN secretary-general in New York, firmly responds to Ban’s concern over humanitarian situation in Gaza, tells him arms smuggling from Damascus to Hizbullah ’endangering the entire region’ - NEW YORK - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met Wednesday night with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and expressedIsrael’s protest over the ongoing arms smuggling from Syria to Hizbullah inLebanon and the continued firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into the Jewish state. Livni, who is taking part in an Interfaith Dialogue at the UN headquarters, demanded that the Security Council respond to the violation of its resolution stating that Hizbullah must be disarmed and that the weapon smuggling must be halted. Interfaith DialogueLivni: Saudi message inadequate / Tzipi Livni praises Arab peace initiative. . .

UK’s Miliband to visit Syria next week
AFP, YNetNews 11/13/2008
British foreign secretary hails ’new approach’ by Damascus, which he says may help stabilize region - British Foreign Secretary David Miliband will visit Syria next week, he said Wednesday, hailing a "new approach" by Damascus which he added could help stabilize the region. Miliband, who hosted talks in London with his Syrian counterpart late last month, notably pointed to a reduction in foreign fighters and arms being funneled into Iraq over the last 16 months. "I hosted talks with the Syrian foreign minister two weeks ago and he invited me back to Syria. I am pleased to take up the invitation next week," Miliband told reporters. "I think it is important for us to find ways for Syria to play a constructive role in the future of the Middle East. "Syria is a secular state in the Middle East.

Livni: Israel not counting on Obama in peace talks
Shlomo Shamir and Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Thursday Israel did not need any "dramatic" intervention in peace talks with the Palestinians from U. S. President-elect Barack Obama when he takes office in January. Livni said that while there were expectations from Obama on the Middle East, her message to the new administration was: "You don’t need now to do anything dramatic about it. The situation is calm. We have these peace talks. " The foreign minister, who as Kadima Chairwoman could become prime minister after the general election in February, told Jewish leaders in New York that the international community should limit itself to backing the talks according to parameters set out at a peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, nearly a year ago. The talks have been hobbled by violence and bitter disputes over settlement building and the future of Jerusalem.

Rahm Emanuel apologizes for father’s disparaging remarks about Arabs
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
U. S. President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel apologized to an Arab-American group on Thursday for comments disparaging Arabs made by his father. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee sent a letter to Emanuel calling on him to distance himself from remarks made by the elder Emanuel in an interview with an Israeli newspaper following his son’s appointment last week. In the interview, Benjamin Emanuel was reported as saying: "Obviously, he will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House. "While some political analysts have said Rahm Emanuel, a veteran Democratic congressman, should not be held responsible for the actions of his father, there was also a sense that an apology was unavoidable.

Bush unexpectedly meets Livni, Peres
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/13/2008
During a brief, unscheduled and warm encounter on Thursday afternoon in New York, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told President George W. Bush that he had helped advance Israeli-Palestinian peace hopes, and congratulated him for standing up to terrorism and extremism. Livni and Peres at interfaith Bush spoke briefly to both Livni and President Shimon Peres on the sidelines of an interfaith conference organized by the United Nations at the behest of Saudi Arabia. "They were not supposed to meet," Livni’s spokesman told The Jerusalem Post. But as soon as Bush was done addressing the conference, the head of UN protocol approached Livni’s staff and told them that the president wanted to speak with them. The president walked from the podium directly to them. "It was an extraordinary gesture," said Livni’s spokesman, who said that the three talked in a side room.

All roads lead to Tehran
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Robert Stevens, president and CEO of the security, aviation and technology corporation Lockheed Martin, was recently in Israel for talks with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other senior officials. The Israeli defense establishment is one of the most important customers (and to a lesser extent, also a supplier) of Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-16 fighter plane and in the near future also of its successor, the F-35. The Israeli portfolio is not worrying the American arms industrialists. Neither Congress nor the administration would dare lay a finger on military aid to Israel. That is not because of their love for Israel, but rather because they do not want to be responsible for aircraft production lines being shut down in St. Louis and Fort Worth, in the wake of automobile production lines shut in Detroit, and hence increase unemployment during a period of recession.

Saudi King meets with group of prominent U.S. Jews in New York
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz met with a group of prominent American Jewish leaders in New York on Thursday. The meeting - which was attended by leading political and religious figures, among them Ronald Lauder, the head of the World Jewish Congress - was held as part of a United Nations-sponsored interfaith dialogue. Also among the attendees were the head of Reform Movement, Rabbi Eric Yoffie; leading Orthodox Rabbi Marc Schneier; and former American Jewish Congress president Jack Rosen. The two-hour meeting was also attended by 40 American religious leaders, including Christian clergy members and senior Muslim imams. In his remarks to the gathering, the Saudi monarch commented for the first time on Barack Obama’s victory in the U. S. presidential elections.

World leaders plead for religious tolerance
Middle East Online 11/13/2008
UNITED NATIONS - World leaders pleaded Wednesday for religious tolerance at a UN conference sponsored by Saudi Arabia. The meeting at UN headquarters in New York of representatives from 80 countries targeted religious and cultural divisions dubbed the "clash of civilizations. " Saudi King Abdullah called for "peace and harmony. " Speaker after speaker echoed these words, insisting that the world’s major religions all back tolerance. But anger over the Israeli-Arab conflict, as well as resentment at some Western economic and social policies, soon surfaced, reflecting tensions behind the talk of goodwill. Barely discussed, but also haunting the conference, was the divide over exactly what tolerance means. More than a dozen heads of state were due to speak, including US President George W. Bush on Thursday.

VIDEO - Press conference by President, Foreign Minister, Ambassador of Israel
United Nations Department of Public Information - DPI, ReliefWeb 11/12/2008
Watch the Press Conference - "What we have witnessed today is not the end of a story, but the beginning of a new one," said Israeli President Shimon Peres, speaking at a Headquarters press conference following his appearance today at the General Assembly’s high-level meeting on a culture of peace. Reminding correspondents of the "three no" Arab approach to Israel -- "no recognition, no negotiations, no peace" –- Mr. Peres said, "Today we have heard a totally different voice: a voice of friendliness, of understanding, and also of the feeling that the time has come to try to have an overall peace in the Middle East. "He said King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had spoken with a strong and highly-respected Arab voice, and the initiative to hold the event was unprecedented. Joining Mr. Peres at the press conference were his Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tzipi Livni, and Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shaleve.

Defense Ministry’s Amos Gilad: We won’t let Iran go nuclear
David Horovitz, Jerusalem Post 11/14/2008
Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, Maj. -Gen. (res. ) Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic-Security Bureau, has stressed to The Jerusalem Post in an unusually hard-hitting interview. For now, Israel is backing diplomatic and economic efforts to thwart the Iranians, Gilad added, but it doubts these will work and it is keeping all options open. Asked about the complexities of any resort to military action, particularly since Iran has built its facilities to withstand a repeat of the IAF’s 1981 destruction of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak, Gilad replied, tellingly, that domestic critics 27 years ago said the Osirak raid "couldn’t be done. And the fact is, it succeeded. " "Iran is a country with smart people that have capabilities," he noted. "It really would be a considerable challenge.

Experts: ’New’ Iranian missile an old one
Ynet, YNetNews 11/13/2008
Western military officials who examined images from recent Iranian missile test believe it is famous Shahab-3 missile with new logo - Iran declared Wednesday that it had test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missiles, named Sejil, with a 2,000-kilometer (1,200-mile) range, capable of reachingIsrael and US bases in the Gulf. However, Western experts told the London-based Times it was probably just another name given to the Shahab 3 missile which had been test-fired on previous occasions. Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar told state television on Wednesday that 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 test-fired, but claimed that it was a "two-stage missile carrying two engines with combined solid fuel" and "a highly unusual ability".

IDF to court-martial soldiers filmed humiliating bound Palestinian
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
The Israel Defense Forces ruled on Thursday it will court-martial four infantrymen who were filmed verbally abusing a bound and blindfolded Palestinian at what is believed to be a checkpoint in the West Bank, Channel 10 reported. According to the report, IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi ordered an investigation into the incident, tapping GOC Northern Command Gadi Eizencot to oversee the probe. Last week, soldiers from the Golani infantry brigade posted a video on YouTube depicting a blindfolded Palestinian being forced to repeat phrases in Hebrew as the soldiers manning the checkpoint laugh in the background. One of the lines is: "Golani will bring you a log to stick up your ass. " As the detainee repeats the words, the soldiers are heard laughing raucously in the background.

The Sixth Week Against the Apartheid Wall takes to the streets in Argentina
Stop The Wall 11/12/2008
The Sixth Week Against the Apartheid Wall kicked off in Argentina on November 8th, with cultural activities and solidarity actions held in Lezama Park, Buenos Aires. The event was organized by a coalition of organizations, including the Movement for Peace, Sovereignty and Solidarity Among Peoples (MOPASSOL), the Argentine Association for Solidarity with Palestine (AARSOPAL), the Argentine League for the Rights of Man (LADH), the Federation of Organizations and the Argentine-Palestinian Brigada Jorge Calvo of Culture in Motion. In the early afternoon, a group of artists, social organizations, human rights workers and political activists gathered, with significant media attention, to begin work on their activities. The central event was the painting of a large mural measuring over fifteen metres in length and two metres in height.

6th Week Against the Apartheid Wall kicks off in Beita
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 11/11/2008
On November 9th and 10th, the village of Beita in the Nablus district was the site of a two-day event to kick off the 6th annual Week Against the Apartheid Wall. Organized by the Stop the Wall Campaign and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, the event drew in some 250 people who came from Beita and its surrounding areas to show their solidarity for the farmers of the village. On the first day, an exhibition of olive products from the area was unveiled, showcasing the olive oil, soaps, and other products for which Palestinians are renowned. The second day of the festival featured music and dancing, as well as speeches from farmers, campaign activists, and union members. The focus of these speeches was on supporting the farmers’ steadfastness and resistance against intensifying attacks and attempts at land confiscation.

PA Prime Minister Fayyad Interviewed on Economy, Debt Payments, Future Projects
Ja''far Sadaqah, MIFTAH 11/13/2008
[Sadaqah] In a few hours, the Palestinian Authority [PA] will have finished paying all its debts to the employees and others. What does it mean to get rid of a legacy that has been bothering it for 16 months, and what does this mean to you? [Fayyad] This issue has many implications. Everyone knows what the reality is, and I do not want to say "we inherited this and we inherited that" because these terms are sometimes misused. Ruling is an ongoing process, regardless of who is in power. Without exaggeration, the salaries were either not paid or were partially paid for 16 consecutive months. When this government took over in June 2007, we specified our security and economic priorities. As part of the commitments we made, we said that we would prepare a comprehensive security plan to deal realistically with the needs of the citizens.

UNCTAD unveils strategy for retaining and expanding investment in Palestinian territory
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development - UNCTAD, ReliefWeb 11/12/2008
Geneva, 12 November 2008 -UNCTAD´s Division on Investment and Enterprise and its Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian people have completed a tailor-made proposal for "aftercare" strategy to retain and expand investment in the occupied Palestinian territory. With only US$27 million in average annual inflows of foreign direct investment to the territory since 2002, there is a need to take care of existing investors - foreign and domestic - that could not be clearer. The UNCTAD project builds on the organization´s vast international experience in investment promotion. The strategy was presented at a workshop in Ramallah on 29 October under the patronage of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister of National Economy, Mohammad Hassouneh. UNCTAD´s strategy received positive feedback from the PA, investors, and key enterprise support institutions.

Report: Galilee Bedouin claim Obama as lost member of tribe
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
About 8,000 Bedouin living in the Galilee are claiming U. S. President-elect Barack Obama as a lost member of their tribe, The Times of London reported on Thursday. The tribe, based in the northern village of Bir al-Maksour, has not yet produced evidence of the so-called family connection. Local council member Abdul Rahman Sheikh Abdullah told The Times they have withheld the claims until now so as not to intervene in the election campaign. "We knew about it years ago but we were afraid to talk about it because we didn’t want to influence the election," Abdullah told The Times. "We wrote a letter to him explaining the family connection. " Obama has not yet responded to the letter, The Times reported. The claim has brought a slew of visitors to the small Bedouin village, where tribesman have celebrated the "Bedouin Obama’s’ victory, according to The Times.

Obama’s ’Bedouin relatives’ celebrate election
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 11/13/2008
Tribe from northern village of Bir al-Maksour claims blood relation to US president-elect. Members prepare grand celebrations in his honor, plan to send delegation to Washington to congratulate him - As US president-elect Barack Obama prepares for his move into the White House, his self-proclaimed relatives from a Bedouin tribe in northern Israel prepare to travel to the United States to congratulate him personally. "We are planning to send a large delegation to the United States, where we will shake his hand and tell him ’congratulations’," said Sheikh Abdul Rahman Abdullah of the village of Bir al-Maksour. Abdullah and his tribe believe they are blood relatives of the new president. "With us Bedouins, you know for sure who you’re related to, even after many generations," said Abdullah in an interview with Ynet on Thursday.

Israeli Beduins claim link to Obama Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/13/2008
President-elect Barack Obama made history last week when he became the first African-American to be elected into the White House. He is also the first president with a father who is Muslim. And if all of those precedents weren’t enough, now a village in northern Israel claims that the president-elect is also part Beduin, The Times reported on Thursday. "We wrote a letter to him explaining the family connection. "Abdul Rahman Sheikh Abdullah, a 53-year-old local council member and spokesperson for the Beduin village of Bir-al Maksour, told the paper. According to the report, Abduallah said that it was his 95-year-old mother who spotted the connection. In a video taped by The Times and posted on their website, Abdullah described exactly how their family realized the link to their powerful relative.

Jewish separatism proves a vote-winner in Karmiel
Brenda Gazzar, Jerusalem Post 11/13/2008
In the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Karmiel, a new list advocating the preservation of the city’s Jewish character won three out of 17 seats on the city council, while a new joint Jewish-Arab list garnered none. The independent list entitled Habayit Sheli (It’s My House) used slogans during the municipal election campaign such as "My house is not for sale" - a reference to the minority Arab-Israeli population in the country. "The residents of Karmiel are very intelligent and understand that we need to give a chance to a new generation, to the young people, to work toward preserving the Jewish, Zionist nature [of the city] and to bring young couples to the city to make it vibrant," said Oren Milstein, a founder of the list. "We don’t have anything against anyone. We are just in favor of our character. " Rina Greenberg, who was reelected to the council on the independent list. . .

Only 3 out of 32 female mayoral candidates win post
Ruth Sinai, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Only three of the 32 female mayoral candidates were elected into office in Tuesday’s local elections, constituting a mere 2 percent of all elected mayors. By contrast, the number of women elected as heads of regional council increased significantly. Nonetheless, women’s rights activists were disappointed Wednesday that their projections had not borne fruit. Some activists said they expected candidates like Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin in the U. S. and Tzipi Livni in Israel to draw more votes to local Israeli female contenders. The three female city mayors were all reelected to office, and so no new city has come under a female mayor. These include Miriam Feinberg in Netanya and Yael German in Herzliya - both of whom are now entering their third terms - and Flora Shushan, who served half a term in Mitzpe Ramon.

IDF generals’ wages shot up by whopping 94.1% over last 14 years
Moti Bassok TheMarker, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
The monthly salaries of Israel Defense Forces major generals shot up over the last 14 years by a whopping 94. 1 percent, reaching NIS 48,419 in 2008, according to a recent Finance Ministry report. In contrast, the average salary in Israel only rose by 26. 8 percent in real terms between January 1994 and January 2008. The report proves what the army has been denying for years: Not only does the IDF top brass earn the highest wages, it also receives the highest wage hikes - both in percentages and shekels. The report, titled "2009 budget proposal - for unclassified security matters," disproves the defense establishment’s argument that every effort is being made, including financial recompense, to keep talented low-ranking officers in the army. As such, it shows that the salary of an IDF captain, only rose from a monthly. . .

Labor MK Pines-Paz to remain in Labor; Ex-police chief joins Likud
Roni Singer-Heruti , and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Labor Party MK Ophir Pines-Paz, who flirted with the idea of joining a new left-wing political faction to be headed by Meretz, informed party chairman Ehud Barak on Thursday that he intends to remain in Labor. Pines-Paz will assume a key post in the party’s election campaign. Fellow Laborite Ami Ayalon, who has also entertained thoughts of joining Meretz, is expected to announce his decision in the coming days. Ex-police chief joins Likud Former police commissioner Assaf Hefetz announced on Thursday he was joining the Likud, becoming the opposition party’s latest recruit ahead of general elections in February. "I couldn’t think of anyone better to join than Assaf Hefetz," said Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at a joint press conference with the former police chief.

Former Shas MK sent to jail for 3 years
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 11/13/2008
Ofer Hugi appeals Supreme Court after being convicted of fraud; judges decide to aggravate his sentence, order him to pay fine of NIS 200,000 in addition to prison term - The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to aggravate the sentence of former Knesset Member Ofer Hugi (Shas), who was convicted of fraud and false registration. Judges Yoram Danziger, Salim Joubran and Eliezer Rivlin discussed two appeals simultaneously. Hugi appealed the conviction and the sentence, while the State asked that the sentence be aggravated. The court decided to accept the State’s claims and increase the sentence from two to three years behind bars, and to raise the fine Hugi was required to pay from NIS 12,000 (about $3,054) to NIS 200,000 ($50,900). The former MK’s lawyer, Rina Levy, said after the hearing, "This result is extremely harsh, and Hugi himself was surprised.

Labor won’t join coalition not interested in advancing peace talks, says Barak
Akiva Eldar and Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Labor Party chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that his faction had no intention of joining a coalition government uninterested in advancing the peace process with Palestinians. The statement, issued by the Labor Party chairman’s office, came after Haaretz reported that he has refused to promise that Labor would not join a government headed by Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu after the February elections. A senior Labor official told Haaretz Wednesday that the issue came up in talks conducted by Barak in the past two days with MKs negotiating with Meretz about forming a new center-left party. The talks were 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. . .

New members of left-wing bloc to run for Knesset
Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
More than 25 people are expected to gather this morning in the first meeting of the new left-wing bloc initiated by Meretz leader MK Haim Oron. "Our intention is not to form an extra-parliamentary movement and those who take part in the gathering will eventually appear on a list running for the Knesset," a source close to the new coalition said. The organizers intend to hold a founding gathering of some 200 people in about three weeks. The group will mark the third largest political bloc in Israel. Among those expected today are former Labor Party figures Uzi Baram, Avraham Burg, Yossi Kucik, Gilad Sher, Mordechai Kremnitzer and authors A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, Ronit Matalon and Dorit Rabinyan. Former Labor Party minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, who was mentioned as a supporter of the new group, apparently had a change of heart and will not join the meeting.

Exports fall
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 11/13/2008
The trade deficit reached $1. 8 billion in October, as trend figures showed exports fell for the first time in five years. Seasonally adjusted trend data point to an annualized drop in exports of goods (excluding diamonds) of 3. 4% and an annualized increase in imports of goods of 2. 8% in August-October 2008, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported today. This is the first drop in exports in five years, although there have been slowdowns in the rate of growth. Imports of goods totaled $4. 8 billion in October and exports of goods totaled $3. 1 billion, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported today. The deficit totaled $1. 8 billion. The figures do not include trade with Palestinian Authority, and does not include foreign trade in services such as software. In January-October, the average monthly trade deficit was $1.

Corporate bonds take a pounding
Nathan Sheva, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Tel Aviv’s bond indices fell hard yesterday, dragged down by Finance Minister Roni Bar-On’s firm refusal to ride to the rescue of Israel’s tycoons. The Finance Ministry had already provided some relief to the corporate bonds sphere 10 days ago. It announced that long-term investment vehicles, such as provident funds and pension funds, could book up to 3% of their holdings in corporate bonds by purchase value, instead of market value. That allows the funds to avoid posting losses as the bonds plunge on the market. But evidently, the market was unpersuaded. The Tel Bond-20 index (including the 20 weightiest corporate bonds on the market) lost 3. 9% yesterday, falling to its lowest level since February 2007. The Tel Bond-40 index lost 6. 4% and the Tel Bond-60 index (including all the bonds on the other two indices) fell by 4.

Thu: Real estate shares collapse
Mishel Udi, Globes Online 11/13/2008
The Tel Aviv 25 Index fell below 700 points for the first time since 2005 and the Real Estate 15 Index shed 15. 8%. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) fell today. The Tel Aviv 25 Index fell 4. 55% to 689. 90 points, the Tel Aviv 100 Index fell 5. 61% to 595. 17 points, and the Tel-Tech fell 8. 25% to 128. 98 points. Turnover was NIS 1. 65 billion. The TASE tumbled today, ending a very bad week for investors. Tel Aviv 25 Index fell below 700 points for the first time since 2005, after falling 8. 4% for week. The Tel Aviv 100 Index fell below 600 points, after losing 10. 4% for the week. Technology stocks took another hit and the Real Estate 15 Index fell 15. 8%, and lost 31. 1% for the week. The Tel Bond 20 Index fell 7. 1% this week and the Tel Bond 40 Index fell 8. 2%. Panic in the corporate bond market spread to blue-chip stocks today, with heavily indebted holding companies taking a battering.

Government readies for economic crisis
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 11/13/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On confirmed on Wednesday that the government was preparing an economic aid package to help the economy cope with a crisis. "Together with the finance minister and the Bank of Israel governor we are putting together a package of economic measures for a crisis. We are not yet there, but we will have the measures necessary to cope with a crisis," said Olmert at the Prime Minister’s Conference for Export and International Cooperation in Jerusalem on Wednesday. "The Israeli economy is entering the global crisis in a much better and stable situation than it was ever before. So I suggest we don’t let unnecessary hysteria reign," he added. Olmert said that the government would implement measures to enable the export sector to be competitive in an effort to secure its level of productivity and profitability.

Bank of Israel finds no credit crunch in Israel
Irit Avissar, Globes Online 11/13/2008
A Bank of Israel source says the level of credit has increased in the banking system. A seniorBank of Israel official told "Globes" that there is no credit crunch at the banks and there was even an increase in credit in the banking system. The official accused certain special interests of sowing panic, which did not reflect economic reality. He said that while banks had tightened credit terms, this was for reasons of prudence, not because of a system-wide credit crunch. Yesterday,Bank Hapoalim (TASE:POLI ; LSE:80OA) president and CEO Zvi Ziv said that the government should intervene in the capital market. At the at thePrime Minister’s Conference for Export and International Cooperation , he said, "Every minute that passes leaves Israel’s long-term savers in an economic crisis from which they cannot emerge on their own.

Israeli NRA founder seeks to import American gun culture
Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
While the gun lobby in the United States took a setback last week with the election of Barack Obama, who supports the ban of assault weapons, a group of Israeli-Americans are now trying to ease restrictions on gun ownership here in Israel. Modeled and named after the powerful but controversial Virginia-based National Rifle Association, it is unclear whether the Israeli NRA will be able to gather enough support to be in any way influential. Several experts have already voiced criticism of the group’s agenda. "You hear about mob shootings in Netanya, where innocent people get killed, you hear about people being attacked with knives, with guns, with bulldozers," said Joshua Moesch, who founded the group last week. "I think that having more responsible citizens out there with weapons is very important. The police can be the greatest in the world, but they can’t everywhere at the same time. "

Fatah ’martyr’ returns home
Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/13/2008
PA security officer tells Jenin area family son was killed by Israeli police in Nazareth. Family mourns death of 24-year-old, only to receive call several hours later that he is coming home. Police open investigation against officer who started rumor - A practical joke by a Palestinian security officer caused a storm in the Jenin area on Wednesday, as a Preventive Security officer informed the family of 24-year-old Majdi Nazal that their son was killed by police fire in Nazareth. The officer said the Fatah-affiliated Nazal refused to follow police orders while in Nazareth, and was shot dead as he tried to escape. The family tried to contact their son via his mobile phone, and after many failed attempts, were convinced he was really dead. The family opened a mourners’ tent and the official Palestinian news agency WAFA even published an announcement that a young Palestinian. . .

At least six people killed, dozens wounded in violence across Iraq
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/14/2008
BAGHDAD: Six people were killed in attacks across Iraq Thursday, including three when a suicide car bomber targeted police in the Anbar Province west of Baghdad, security officials said. The car-bomb attack took place west of Ramadi, the main city in the province that was virtually ruled by Sunni insurgents until US forces allied with local tribes in late 2006 to bring order to the vast desert region. "The suicide bomber drove his car into vehicles in a passing police patrol, killing two civilians, a police officer, and wounding four others, including two police," Police Colonel Anwar al-Asafi told AFP. Meanwhile in Baghdad at least one person was killed and another seven were wounded by a homemade bomb attached to a minibus bound for the southern town of Nasiriyya, police said. A further six people, including four policemen, were wounded by a second roadside bomb in the capital,. . .

Egypt to host talks on threat to Arab interests in Red Sea
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/14/2008
SANAA: Several countries will meet in Egypt next week for talks on rampant piracy near the Red Sea, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Kurbi said on Thursday. "Countries bordering the Red Sea have been invited to meet on November 20 in Cairo to discuss the security of the Red Sea," Kurbi said, adding that the meeting was called by both Egypt and Yemen. On Monday, Kurbi complained that the heavy deployment of multinational naval forces in the Gulf of Aden to combat piracy could pose a threat to Arab security. "The intensive multinational military presence in the southern outlet of the Red Sea is worrying," the official Saba news agency quoted him as saying. Kurbi warned that such a heavy foreign presence endangers "Arab national security" and could lead to an "internationalization" of the Red Sea that he said "was proposed in the past by Israel but faced an Arab rejection.

Palestinian suspected in 1980 Paris synagogue bombing arrested in Canada
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
Two French judges issued an international arrest warrant against Diab earlier this month. He is suspected of making and planting the bomb that killed three French people and an Israeli woman outside a synagogue in an upmarket area of Paris. Twenty other people were wounded in the bombing, which was not claimed by any group. Canadian police were not immediately available to comment. L’Express said Diab had dual Lebanese and Canadian citizenship and was a sociology lecturer at a university in Ottawa. The magazine said a team of French police, magistrates and intelligence officers were in Canada working on the case and would try to arrange Diab’s extradition to France. The bomb was placed in a bag attached to a motorbike that was parked outside the synagogue in a street called Rue Copernic, in the posh 16th district of Paris.

Syria, Iraq discuss security ahead of group talks
Middle East Online 11/13/2008
DAMASCUS - Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari on Wednesday discussed the next meeting of a US-supported commission on security in Iraq, due to convene later this month in Damascus. "We discussed with Mr Zebari the meeting of the enlarged commission on security on November 22," Muallem told a joint news conference, referring to the Iraqi Neighbours Border Security Working Group. The meeting would come less than a month after an October 26 attack by helicopter-borne American soldiers, which Damascus said left eight civilians dead in a Syrian village near the border. An official in Washington said the raid had targeted a "facilitator" of foreign fighters crossing the border from Syria to battle US and Iraqi forces. The United States regularly accuses both Syria and Iraq’s eastern neighbour Iran of fanning the violence and not doing. . .

New York Times’ reports end to Iraq war
Middle East Online 11/13/2008
NEW YORK - The United States has ended the war in Iraq and indicted President George W. Bush on treason charges, The New York Times reported Tuesday. OK, well not really. An elaborate spoof hit the streets of New York on Tuesday: a convincing fake of The New York Times announcing not just the withdrawal of troops from Iraq but a raft of other US liberal fantasies. Bush is indicted, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice apologizes that the fuss about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was invented, and Americans are finally getting national health insurance. And that’s just on the front page. The only problem? The free, 14-page "special edition" newspaper -- and its equally realistic looking "New York Times" website -- are phoney. Website www. gawker. com has identified the pranksters behind the stunt as The Yes men, a liberal group famous for practical jokes.

oPt: USAID launches new education quality improvement program
United States Agency for International Development - USAID, ReliefWeb 11/13/2008
Ramallah, West Bank – The U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) held a ceremony on November 13 to launch the Model Schools Network (MSN) Program aimed at improving the quality of Palestinian basic education. The Minister of Education and Higher Education Lamis Al-Alami, USAID Mission Director Howard Sumka and AMIDEAST Vice President Leslie Nucho attended the event, together with representatives from Birzeit and Al-Quds Universities, Al Muntada/The Young Scientists’ Club and the participating network schools. The event took place at the Arab Evangelical Episcopal School in Ramallah. The USAID-funded Model Schools Network Program, which is implemented through AMIDEAST and carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, responds to an urgent need for improving the quality of Palestinian education at the basic level.

Germany announces 10 million euro grant to Palestinian Education Ministry
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The German government announced a 10 million euro donation to the Education Ministry of the Palestinian Authority on Thursday to supplement a 15 million euro donation made earlier this year. Palestinian Minister Of Education Lamis Al-Alami signed the agreement with the head of the German aid mission to Palestine in Ramallah. The officials said the grant was intended to strengthen relations between the two countries and rebuild crumbling schools across the Palestinian territories. Several development projects were included in the aid deal. The Palestinian Authority is almost entirely dependent on international aid to pay hundreds of thousands of employees and provide basic services.

Fischer rules out heavy gov’t intervention
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 11/14/2008
Israel’s central bank will continue to cut interest rates as necessary to support economic growth amid a looming global recession, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer has told The Jerusalem Post, while rejecting mounting pressure for increased government spending. "There will probably be government intervention in dealing with the credit crisis and the decline in credit supply in the economy," Fischer said. "But we will not be able to do what the United States and other industrialized economies are doing in terms of massive fiscal expansion, and fortunately we don’t have to do it. It is not necessary in Israel. " Since Israeli financial institutions, in particular the banks, were in better shape than in other countries and the economy was entering this crisis after five years of strong growth, there was no need for higher state spending that would only widen the budget deficit, he said.

Welfare Minister plans to ease terms for receiving unemployment benefits
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog on Thursday announced plans to ease the terms for receiving unemployment benefits for residents of periphery town and low-income earners. The initiative will reduce the amount of time an employee needs to hold a position in a company in order to be eligible for unemployment benefit. "The conditions in Israel for receiving unemployment benefit are too strict," Herzog told Army Radio. "I hope we can negotiate on the program next week. It won’t be easy for those employees who were fired from their jobs to find a new post, and it is up to the government to respond to their needs," added the Welfare Minister. Herzog said he hoped easing the terms would help address the wave of dismissals now affecting the economic sector. "We see the data, and we cannot wait until the situation becomes more difficult," said Herzog.

Bluebird Aero opens new UAV facility
Yaniv Magal, Globes Online 11/13/2008
The company looks to hire more workers to develop its tactical unmanned aerial vehicles. Bluebird Aero Systems Ltd. yesterday dedicated its new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) factory at Kadima, which cost NIS 5 million to build. The new 2,000-square meter plant will employ dozens of workers for the development and production of advanced electronic systems and mini tactical UAVs. Bluebird president and CEO Ronen Nadir founded the company in 2002. One of the company’s UAVs weighs just one kilogram and can be launched within minutes from any location without the need for prior infrastructures or preparation. The UAV provides tactical mapping on demand services in near real-time. The size and weight of the UAV, combined with the advanced command and control capabilities jointly developed with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

Likud primary race set for December 8
Gil Hoffman And Shalhevet Zohar, Jerusalem Post 11/13/2008
The Likud will elect its list for the Knesset on December 8, midway between Labor’s December 2 primary and the December 17 race in Kadima, the party’s law committee decided Thursday. The move requires the approval of the Likud Central Committee on Sunday. The date was chosen to showcase the Likud’s Knesset list without having to compete with other parties for air time. Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu hopes that electing many respected public figures will give the party a boost ahead of the February 10 general election. Netanyahu decided against reserving slots on the party’s list for any of the celebrities who have joined the party, but the committee did reserve slots 10, 20, 24, 29 and 34 for women and 21 and 30 for new immigrants. The Likud’s 100,000 members will each select 10 candidates among the current and former MKs and newcomers expected to run for slots 2 to 19 on the list.

Former police commissioner joins Likud
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 11/13/2008
Assaf Hefetz holds joint press conference with opposition leader Netanyahu, says Likud to restore public’s feeling of security - Former Police Commissioner Assaf Hefetz officially announced Thursday that he was joining the Likud party. "We will erect an iron wall which will smash the waves of crime and restore the citizens’ feeling of security," Hefetz said in a joint press conference withLikud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu. Hefetz presented his plan for the prevention of crime and hooliganism in Israel and said he was excited to be returning to public action. "In the past few years, the public has slowly been losing its personal safety. I am a father myself, I have a little girl, and the public’s fear of violence and hooliganism must stop. This situation must stop, it can be stopped and the citizens’ feeling of security can be restored," he stated.

Phoenician-era cemetery unearthed in Lebanon
Middle East Online 11/13/2008
TYRE, Lebanon - A Phoenician-era cemetery has been uncovered in Lebanon’s coastal town of Tyre, officials said on Wednesday, adding that the find could provide key information about the seafaring civilisation. "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 onwards through the Roman period. He said 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 who headed a team from Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University which investigated the find along with Lebanese colleagues.

OPT: Israel blocks Gaza aid after rocket attacks
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 11/13/2008
GAZA, Nov 13 (Reuters)- Israel blocked humanitarian supplies from entering the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Thursday after Palestinian rocket attacks, and a U. N. relief agency said it would be forced to suspend food distribution. Israel also held up shipments of European Union-funded fuel to the territory’s sole power plant. Palestinian officials said the facility would be shut down later in the day. "The border crossings will not be opened today, despite our plans, due to the continued rocket fire and security threats at the crossings," said Defence Ministry spokesman Peter Lerner. Israel had initially said it would allow the delivery of fuel and some 30 truckloads of food and other humanitarian supplies into the enclave, where a flare-up in cross-border fighting threatens a 5-month-old truce. "Our warehouses are empty and our food distribution to 750,000 people. . .

Gaza in crisis: Israel turns away UN food convoy at border; blackouts as power plant shuts down
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel went back on a pledge to ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip on Thursday, turning away critical deliveries of fuel and food at the borders for the seventh consecutive day. In reneging on its pledge, Israel blocked delivery of United Nations food aid intended for 750,000 Palestinians. Gaza was plunged into darkness as the territory’s only power plant shut down at 6:00pm local time due to a lack of fuel. Just before dark, Palestinans went into the streets in a frantic search for candles and bread. As night fell, sirens sounded accross the Gaza Strip in protest of the closure. Earlier in the day, 20 European consuls who planned to visit Gaza were turned away at the Erez border crossing. Aid workers were also denied entry to the Strip and medical patients were prevented from entering Israel for treatment.

Israeli blockade forces UN to suspend food distribution in Gaza
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 11/13/2008
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said today it would have to suspend food distribution in Gaza after Israel blocked humanitarian supplies from entering the strip. Israel also prevented delivery of industrial diesel, which is paid for by the EU and used for the strip’s sole power plant. Palestinian officials said the plant, which has already shut down once this week, would have to close by last night if no more fuel was delivered. Israeli officials blamed Palestinian rocket fire out of Gaza. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli defence ministry, said the border crossings were shut today because of "continued rocket fire and security threats at the crossings". For the past week Israel has also stopped journalists from entering Gaza. It was not clear if food and fuel shipments would be allowed in tomorrow.

PFLP, ''Hizbullah'' claim responsibility for projectile attack
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Gaza –Ma’an – The Abu Ali Mustafa brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and a group calling itself “Hizbullah,” claimed responsibility for firing one homemade projectile at an Israeli target “in the Western Negev. ”In a statement the factions said “The shelling is response of the latest Israeli attack during which four resistance fighters were killed, and as affirmation of the option of resistance. ”Around the same time Israeli media reported that a projectile landed on the outskirts of the city of Ashkelon, north of Gaza, causing no damage. [end]

DFLP fire two projectiles at Israeli armored vehicles east of Juhor Ad-Dik
Ma’an News Agency 11/13/2008
Gaza – Mayan- The National Resistance Brigades, the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine fired two homemade projectiles assembled Israeli armored vehicles east of the area of Juhor-Ad Dik. The brigades added in a statement that the attack was a response to Israeli attacks on Palestinians. [end]


Double agents, car bombs and antics worthy of James Bond
Robert Fisk, The Independent 11/13/2008
      When it comes to spy stories, Ian Fleming couldn’t match Lebanon -- and Sister Syria -- for the kind of head-spinning espionage and murder mystery now engulfing the Levant. The contents page must include the murder of a prominent pro-Iranian kidnapper and guerrilla leader in Damascus, Israeli Mossad spies, bomb explosions in both Lebanon and Syria, claims that the pro-American son of an assassinated ex-prime minister in Beirut funds an Islamist killer group -- not to mention an intriguing connection to the Lebanese hijacker of United Flight 93 on 11 September 2001. If the tale is even half-true -- and I’ve had a visitation from a Syrian suggesting his countrymen believe quite a lot of it -- there has to be a bid for the film rights.
     On 14 February 2005, the former prime minister and billionaire Rafik Hariri – along with 21 others – was liquidated by a massive bomb on the Beirut Corniche. The Americans and much of Lebanon suspected his Syrian enemies were to blame, and the United Nations set up an international inquiry – now the longest running police investigation in the world – into his death. The cops fingered Syria, and the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus protested its innocence. A further series of murders and a bloody battle between pro-Syrian, pro-Iranian Hizbollah fighters and gunmen paid by the majority Future Movement MP Saad Hariri (son of the aforesaid Rafik) finished up with a conference in Doha which ensured that Lebanon’s pro-American prime minister would lead a cabinet whose pro-Syrian opposition would have veto powers over cabinet decisions.

’The ebb, the tide, the sighs’

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
      The young fisherman is now in hospital, feeble and pale, one leg in a cast held in place by iron screws. He is awash with pain. His mother does not leave his bedside. A blind Palestinian physician takes him for a brief physiotherapy session in the corridor. Mohammed Masalah leans on a walker. The blind orthopedist encourages him to take one step and then another, but the pain defeats him and he asks to be taken back to bed.
     The sea is the same sea and the Arabs are the same Arabs, as an Israeli prime minister once said. Only the cease-fire is no longer the same cease-fire. On land and in the air it is generally maintained, but not at sea. There, Israeli forces continue to shoot at fishermen from besieged Gaza, who are trying to wrest from the sea a living that is so difficult to make on land.
     Gaza’s 40,000 fishermen have been deprived of their livelihood. Before the siege, they caught 3,000 tons of fish a year; now it is 500 tons. The fishing season begins with the advent of winter, when schools of fish migrate from the Nile Delta and the waters off Turkey toward the Gaza area. But few of them are now entangled in the nets of Gaza’s fishermen. Today, most of the fish can be found about 10 miles offshore, in an area that is off-limits to the fishermen. Israel has restricted them to a six-mile limit, though sometimes navy boats attack at three miles - just to keep the fishermen honest.

EU parliamentarian: ''Hamas is fighting an occupation''

Cherrie Heywood, Electronic Intifada 11/13/2008
      RAMALLAH (IPS) - The assault on Chris Davies, Liberal Democrat party spokesman for the environment for the north west of Britain and a member of the European Union’s parliamentary delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, has delivered a firm political message to the European parliament.
     Davies was assaulted when he was taking part, together with several Israelis, Palestinians and people from other countries, in a protest rally against Israel’s barrier that divides Palestinian farmers from their land in the central West Bank village of Bilin.
     Davies slammed the United States bias towards Israel, and questioned the EU policy on Hamas.
     IPS: Why did you attend the demonstration, and what led to the assault?
     Chris Davies: I did this as a personal initiative. I had read about Israelis and Palestinians working together to cross the divide by taking part in these weekly demonstrations to remove the [wall], and wanted to see the situation for myself.
     Our group walked peacefully towards the wall and held up our hands to show that we were unarmed and nonviolent. Immediately about 30 tear gas canisters were fired at us. Twenty Israeli soldiers then shoved us backwards, forcing a number of us to fall over backwards. I was also manhandled. We then withdrew.

Global Threats, Coordinated Responses

Rami G. Khouri, Middle East Online 11/12/2008
      DUBAI -- What happens when you put on the table all the major crises facing the world, identify how they are linked to each other, and attempt to start charting a path towards their resolution? What happens when you do this by bringing together 700 experts and leaders in their fields from around the world who analyze and recommend action on 68 issues and regions of the world?
     This is what took place in Dubai last weekend when the World Economic Forum (WEF) convened the inaugural Summit on the Global Agenda, in partnership with the Government of Dubai. WEF founder and chairman Klaus Schwab audaciously but accurately called it “the biggest brainstorming exercise ever held on a global agenda.”
     The 700 “thought leaders” from business, government, academia and civil society assessed a very wide range of issues of relevance to the entire world, including water, energy, youth, terrorism, health care, climate change, food, sustainable development, women’s rights, education, capital flows, and four dozen other topics. Simultaneously, teams analyzed the current state and future prospects of all the world’s geographic regions and a few major countries like Russia, China, Korea and India.

The Makings of History / Green Leaf in the Bukharan quarter

Tom Segev, Ha’aretz 11/13/2008
      For some 20 years, maybe even more, I have known a Palestinian housepainter who used to sneak into Jerusalem to look for work. Over the years, much has befallen him. He has been a collaborator of the Shin Bet security service, a heavy drug user and a thief; for about 10 years he was in and out of prison. In the meantime he has turned into a real "mensch," a husband and father. He survives with legal methadone and works, too. He now holds a blue Israeli ID card, given to temporary residents, and lives in a hostel for the homeless in Jerusalem, not far from Mea She’arim and the Bukharan Quarter, where his polling station is located.
     What excitement! He will soon turn 40, but this week was the first time in his life that he was allowed to participate in an election. He lost his polling information card, of course. What excitement! He will soon turn 40, but this week was the first time in his life that he was allowed to participate in an election. He lost his polling information card, of course. The telephone number where residents can find out the location of their polling station was constantly busy - of course. We sent a fax to the special number reserved for the deaf. An hour or two later someone called and in a booming voice gave us the number and address of his station.

''My Son Tom'': Mother continues the solidarity that Israeli bullets cut short

Raymond Deane, Electronic Intifada 11/13/2008
      In April 2003, the 21-year-old English photojournalism student Tom Hurndall was shot in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip.
     The Israeli authorities absurdly claimed "that a Palestinian gunman wearing fatigues had been shooting a pistol at a watchtower and had been targeted by a member of the Israeli Defense Force [’IDF’]."
     His mother Jocelyn, the author of the harrowing memoir, My Son Tom - The Life and Tragic Death of Tom Hurndall (with Hazel Wood), travels to Israel. At the Soroka Hospital in Beersheva she recognizes her comatose son "despite the bandages surrounding [his] dreadfully swollen head, covering [his] eyes." She learns that one senior doctor has suggested that his wound was "commensurate with a blow from a baseball bat," and realizes that the cover-up culture is not unique to the Israeli army.
     She travels to Rafah where members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) explain how Tom -- wearing the orange fluorescent jacket unmistakably identifying a peaceworker -- had witnessed children being targeted by an Israeli sniper, had picked up a little boy and brought him to safety, and was on his way back to collect two terrified girls when he was shot. She meets Salem Baroum, the child Tom rescued, who is "completely silent, utterly traumatized." Later she visits Salem’s home, "a very small house only partly covered by a roof," where tea is drunk "sitting on chairs with the rain dripping in."

The Route to Durable Peace

Sam Leibowitz and Mazin Qumsiyeh, Palestine Chronicle 11/13/2008
      As the endless negotiations between Israeli government and Palestinian Authority officials regurgitate old arguments while making no progress, a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians are paying attention to other solutions than the supposed "two-state" outcome. They focus on the "one-democratic-state" solution—a proposal to establish a single, democratic and secular state in the area known as Israel/Palestine.
     The concept of coexistence in a bi-national or one secular democratic state, granting equal rights to all its citizens regardless of their religion, is worthy of critical consideration. It is not a new concept. In the early days of the Zionist movement, it was promoted by Albert Einstein, Martin Buber, and Rabbi Judah Leib Magnes, who argued vociferously against a "Jewish state". It was also a political position adopted by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in its more visible days, and by some Israeli parties in the 1950s.
     Although it did not garner significant support in past decades, the idea has received new interest with the collapse of the Oslo process, and recently it has been the subject of books, research papers and conferences.