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

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14 November, 2008

Chronic malnutrition in Gaza blamed on Israel
The Independent 11/15/2008
The Israeli blockade of Gaza has led to a steady rise in chronic malnutrition among the 1. 5 million people living in the strip, according to a leaked report from the Red Cross. It chronicles the "devastating" effect of the siege that Israel imposed after Hamas seized control in June 2007 and notes that the dramatic fall in living standards has triggered a shift in diet that will damage the long-term health of those living in Gaza and has led to alarming deficiencies in iron, vitamin A and vitamin D. The 46-page report from the International Committee of the Red Cross -- seen by The Independent -- is the most authoritative yet on the impact that Israel’s closure of crossings to commercial goods has had on Gazan families and their diets. The report says the heavy restrictions on all major sectors of Gaza’s economy, compounded by a cost of living increase of at least 40 per cent,. . .

Hamas fires rockets into south Israel
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 11/15/2008
Hamas militants fired four Katyusha rockets at the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon yesterday as escalating violence threatened to end a five-month ceasefire that both sides insist they want to maintain. The rocket attacks, which caused no injuries, came after an Israeli airstrike which the military said was against rocket-launching militants in northern Gaza. Palestinian medics said two gunmen were lightly injured. One Israeli was lightly wounded in a salvo of rockets fired at the border town of Sderot. The renewed fire came amid international calls for a reopening of the crossing which has been sealed for 10 days, blocking the movement of humanitarian goods and keeping diplomats and journalists out of the Strip. The closure began, along with the degradation of the ceasefire, after a raid by Israeli troops into Gaza which the military said was to thwart the use of a tunnel to kidnap Israeli soldiers.

Israeli DM greenlights settlement construction despite peace
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 11/14/2008
JERUSALEM, Nov 14, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Israeli DM greenlights settlement construction despite peace commitment: report Israeli DM greenlights settlement construction despite peace commitment: report Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has sanctioned dozens of construction projects in Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank during recent months, local daily Ha’aretz reported Friday. Some of the permits were granted to settlements east of the separation fence, which are beyond the areas Israel defines as " settlement blocks" and expects to retain under its control in a peace agreement with the Palestinians, according to the report. These approvals by the defense minister, who ordered in January that all construction projects in the West Bank be brought to him for authorization, came despite Israel’s commitment to the Road Map, a U.

At least four Palestinians injured at Bil’in anti-wall demonstration
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Four Palestinians were injured on Friday at an anti-wall protest in the West Bank city of Nil’in, near Ramallah, according to a statement received by Ma’an. Demonstrators marched through the village before Israeli soldiers arrived, firing percussion grenades and teargas. At least four Palestinians were injured by rubber-coated bullets and dozens inhaled teargas during the Friday event. According to a statement from the Popular Committee Against the Wall, five who were shot by rubber-coated bullets were identified as Ahmad Salih, Dar Ayyub, Ahmad Jabarin, Adib Abu Rahma and Abd el-Majid Nasir. Ma’an could not immediately determine which estimate regarding the number of injured is correct.

After night of darkness Gaza power still out; no sign of change to come
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Residents of the north and central Gaza Strip, including all of Gaza City spent the night in total darkness after power was shut off due to Israel’s refusal to let fuel supplies pass through the border. Power in the Strip will remain off until Israel allows fuel to pass into the area. Alarms sounded from mosques and police cars around the Strip warning Palestinians that the power from the local plant would stop. Citizens rushed into the already dark streets to buy candles and lanterns by whose light they hoped to cook, study or watch their children by. “Israel stopped the supply of fuel into Gaza for ten days and most of the sector has been plunged into darkness,” said the head of the People’s Committee to break the siege and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Jamal Al-Khudari.

Forty-five Palestinian homes and farms issued demolition orders in Idhna, West of Hebron
International Solidarity Movement 11/13/2008
Hebron Region - On November 3rd, 25 Palestinian homes and five farms in Idhna were issued demolition orders of their homes for the 23rd of November. The order claims that the homes were "built without permission" of the Israeli authorities. Fifteen homes were previously issued demolition orders in the area and are currently attempting appeals of the orders. The homes in question are approximately two kilometers from the apartheid wall outside of Idhna. Many of the families have already had homes demolished on the land and now face a second demolition of their rebuilt homes. The permission required by the Israeli authorities is impossible to obtain for most Palestinians and many times is a ridiculous demand used to legitimize the demolition of homes across the West Bank. Since the beginning of the second intifada until May 2007, 5,000 Palestinian homes within the West Bank have. . .

Switzerland leans on Israel to stop home demolitions in Jerusalem
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/15/2008
GENEVA: Switzerland on Friday condemned the destruction of Palestinian homes in Occupied Jerusalem and said it had made representations to the Israeli Foreign Ministry on the issue. The Swiss Foreign Ministry said it was "deeply worried" and called on "the Israeli government to put an immediate end to operations of destruction carried out under the name of ’administrative demolitions. ’"The ministry noted that international law banned an occupying power from destroying the property of the occupied territory. There was no military need that could justify the destruction of the houses, it added. "East Jerusalem is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory. In accordance with international humanitarian law, Israel is obliged to look after the protection of the population," the ministry said. "Since 2000 more than 600 houses have been demolished in East Jerusalem and. . .

Nine residents of Ni’lin arrested for particpation in popular resistance against the apartheid wall
International Solidarity Movement 11/14/2008
Ramallah Region - Eight people have been arrested during Israeli invasions of Ni’lin on the nights of November 10th and 11th. Another resident of Ni’lin also decidedto turn himself in to Israeli authorities after his home had been invaded by the army for several consecutive nights while his wife and children were harassed by the soldiers looking for him. All of the nine are arrested for activel participation in the popular resistance against the apartheid wall in Ni’lin since April 2008. At approximately 3 am November 10th around 200 Israeli soldiers invaded the village of N’ilin and arrested 7 people in their homes. Those arrested were: Mohammad Sabti Khawaja, 28 Ahmed Sabti Khawaja, 24 Mohammad Yaser Amera, 28Mussa Khaleel Nafea, 19 Abedallah Abed Al Kareem Srour, 18Ayham Mohammed Nafea, 23 Tariq Khaled Srour, 17They also came looking for Hilal Abed Al Qader Nafea, 35 but he was not in his home.

Ramallah villages rally in protest of road closures
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinians living near the northern West Bank city of Ramallah marched on Friday in response to calls by a local council to protest checkpoints that obstruct movement in the surrounding villages. The residents, along with Israeli and other international peace activists assembled between the villages of Ras Karker and Dir Ibzeegh on a road used by 14 villages that are populated by about 35,000 Palestinians. Israeli forces closed the road eight years earlier under the pretext that it us used for settlers. After the closure, armed forces also erected dirt mounds, cements blocs and metal gates, checkpoints and monitoring towers. During the first two years of closure, residents had to reach Ramallah on foot or by using animals or tractors, taking them hours to reach a city that just years earlier took a few minutes by car.

Israeli troops attack nonviolent protestors in Bethlehem
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 11/14/2008
Israeli troops assaulted nonviolent anti-wall protest in the West Bank village of Al-Ma’asara near Bethlehem. The protest was also to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the declaration of independence by the Palestinian National Council. Mohammad Brejeieh spokesperson of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements said troops severely beat the nonviolent protestors causing them bruises and wounds. [end]

Two protesters injured in Jenin anti-settlement march
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli troops attacked a peaceful demonstration protesting the continued construction of Israeli settlements and the seperation wall on Friday morning south of Jenin. The protest took place near the evacuated settlement of Homesh located between Jenin and Nablus. When the demonstrators reached the abandoned area Israeli soldiers attacked them with rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs. Two people were lightly injured by the rubber bullets. [end]

Israeli army prevents Nil’in anti-wall demonstration
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Nil’in – Ma’an – The Israeli military turned way demonstrating Palestinian, international and Israeli activists from a planned march against the Israeli built West Bank separation barrier on Friday. Ma’an’s correspondent on the scene reported that soldiers declared the area a “closed military zone,” presenting a Hebrew document and non-specific map as evidence. Members of the press were turned away, as well, despite that at least one reporter presented press credentials to the officer on duty. [end]

Israeli forces detain six Palestinian citizens from the West Bank; raid Tuqu
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli forces detained six Palestinian citizens and stormed one village across the West Bank before daybreak on Friday. Israeli sources said that the troops arrested six "wanted" Palestinians from Al-Ubeidieh in the Bethlehem governorate, from Hizma and Abu Dis in the central region and the village of Beit Ur near Ramallah. The village of Tuqu south of Bethlehem was also raided, with no detentions reported. In Ubeidieh Israeli forces detained 22-year-old Bassem Muhammad Rabay’a. All detainees were taken to an unknown location for questioning. [end]

Three nonviolent protestors wounded in Ni’lin’s demo
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 11/14/2008
At least three civilians have been wounded, one in the head, during an anti-wall protest in the West Bank town of Ni’lin near Ramallah. The protest was organized by the popular committee against the wall in the town as part of the efforts focused at retrieving their land confiscated for the construction of the wall by the Israeli military. The three were wounded with rubber-coated steel bullets fired by the Israeli military who invaded the village to prevent the nonviolent protest. Israeli troops also fired concussion grenades and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators causing dozens to choke. [end]

Israeli soldiers detain, rob shooting suspect in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers broke into three homes owned by a Palestinian family near Nablus on Thursday night, stole thousands of shekels inside and destroyed property inside, relatives told Ma’an. Forces also arrested Mohammad Badran at his home, where they robbed the family of NIS 50,000 and JD 800, according to a complaint filed with the Palestinian coordination office in Nablus. Israeli media reported that Badran may have been involved in the shooting death of an Israeli citizen inside the Green Line. An investigation into the incident by the Palestinian Authority found that no basis for charging the man, but Israeli forces detained him on Thursday. [end]

Israeli troops wound four nonviolent protestors in Bil’in
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 11/14/2008
At least four nonviolent protestors were wounded in the weekly nonviolent protest in Bil’in west of the West Bank city of Ramallah. Dozens of the villagers accompanied by International and Israeli supporters marched after the Friday prayer and went through the village in an attempt to reach the land confiscated for the construction of the wall. The protest this week was dedicated to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the death of the late President Yasser Arafat and the 20 anniversary for the Palestinian declaration of independence. Israeli troops fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters at the protestors to prevent them from going through the gate in the wall to their land.

Two wounded in a nonviolent demonstration at an evacuated settlement
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 11/14/2008
Two Palestinian civilians were wounded as they tried to enter the evacuated Israeli settlement of Homesh near Nablus. Hundreds of Palestinians from the villages of Bzaria and Burka accompanied by International peace activists marched to the settlement to protest the return of six Israeli families to the settlement which was evacuated in September 2005 when Israel pulled out from the Gaza Strip. A spokesperson of the popular committee against the settlements said the protests will continue in peaceful means. Israeli soldiers operating in that area fired a number of tear gas canisters and concussion grenades to prevent the protestors from entering the evacuated settlements. One of the wounded was identified as Ra’ed Hamad, 40 and he sustained wounds and burns in his leg.

EU commissioner calls on Israeli occupation to reopen Gaza crossings
Palestinian Information Center 11/14/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC) -- The European Union (EU) commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy, Bentita Ferrero-Waldner, expressed profound concern about the continued closure of Gaza’s border-crossings calling on the Israeli occupation to reopen them and allow fuel and essential goods into Gaza. "I am profoundly concerned about the consequences for the Gazan population of the complete closure of all Gaza crossings for deliveries of fuel and basic humanitarian assistance," Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement on Friday. "I call on Israel to re-open the crossings for humanitarian and commercial flows, in particular food and medicines. Facilitation of fuel deliveries for the Gaza Power Plant should be resumed immediately," the commissioner said. The commissioner also reminded the Israeli occupation of its obligations under international law to the population of the. . .

UNRWA: Gaza Strip ran out of food supplies amidst catastrophic human condition
Palestinian Information Center 11/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The UNRWA, the UN agency that caters for Palestinian refugees, has announced Thursday that food supplies and basic needs in Gaza Strip had ran out due to the Israeli rejection to allow the agency trucks into the populated Strip. John Ging, the operations manager of the UNRWA in the Strip said in a press statement that the agency won’t be able to bring food supplies into Gaza Strip as a result of the Israeli refusal to open the border-crossings with Gaza, describing the situation there as "catastrophic". He added that UNRWA ran out of supplies on Thursday evening and will not be able to distribute more unless the crossings are opened and food aid is allowed in. The Israeli occupation authorities had earlier promised to allow the agency bring around 30 trucks of food and basic needs into the Strip to enable the agency attend to the needs of the 750,000 Palestinian. . .

UNRWA unable to deliver food in Gaza due to Israeli blockade
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 11/14/2008
GAZA, Nov 14, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network)-- UNRWA unable to deliver food in Gaza due to Israeli blockade: official UNRWA unable to deliver food in Gaza due to Israeli blockade: official A United Nations official warned on Friday that the continuation of the tight Israeli blockade on Gaza would disable the organization to deliver food supplies and humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. John Ging, Director General of the UN Relief and Work Agency in the Far East (UNRWA) operations in Gaza said in a statement that " UNRWA is unable to deliver food in Gaza due to the strict Israeli blockade. " Israel has closed all Gaza Strip commercial crossings following an escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza militant groups. Israel hasn’t allowed fuels and food supplies into the enclave since early last week.

Israel releases PLC member with Hamas after 28 months in prison; 46 still detained
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli army released member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for the Hamas bloc Mahmoud Musleh in prison on Thursday. Musleh was seized from the West Bank city of Ramallah, where he lived and worked, in the days following the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006. Musleh was one of 56 PLC members taken from Ramallah at the time; 46 of his colleagues remain in prison. He was released after 28 months of detention. [end]

MIDEAST: Palestinian Factions Torture Opponents
Cherrie Heywood, Inter Press Service 11/15/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Nov 14(IPS) - Unity talks between the two main Palestinian political factions Hamas and Fatah failed before they even began this week following Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to release 400 Hamas prisoners held in PA jails in the West Bank. Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, demanded their release as a precondition for attending the talks which were due to take place in Cairo under Egyptian mediation. Last week Hamas released 80 Fatah political prisoners from Gaza’s jails and demanded the PA reciprocate. According to human rights organisations, the bitter political rivals continue to imprison, torture, persecute and abuse their political opponents as the power struggle for supremacy across the Gaza Strip and the West Bank intensifies. These are the two main Palestinian territories.

PA forces beat, detain fans at football match; fire into crowd
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces fired on football fans Friday night at a match in progress at the Askar Refugee Camp, witnesses told Ma’an. The match was being played between the Askar Youth team and the Tulkarem Youth Center in Jenin when PA security forces unexpectedly attacked people in the crowd at the amphitheater, reportedly beating several Palestinians with batons and detaining dozens of youths. Witnesses called the attacks “tragic” and said that the crowds were “confused and astonished” by what was taking place. Others reported that PA forces detained dozens and threatened players at the match, as well. Local organizations called for bringing those involved in “firing above the heads of people in the crowds” into account for their actions. “It is illogical that [the PA] confronted the empty plastic water bottles before they showered. . .

Hebron man sentenced to death by firing squad, PCHR appeals to Abbas
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an/PCHR – A Bethlehem military court sentenced a Palestinian to death on Wednesday after convicting him of treason. Ayman Ahmed Awwad Daghamgha from the Al-Arroub refugee camp north of Hebron and member of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service (PGIS) was found guilty of having collaborated with Israel since 1999. Daghamgha worked in an Israeli gas station south of Bethlehem and reported to Israeli intelligence on stone throwers and politically affiliated students in exchange for money, the court said. The 24-year-old later joined the Palestinian Naval Police in the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) before he moved to the General Intelligence Service. The court found that he monitored Palestinian resistance cells and provided information on them to Israeli intelligence. The court found that the information provided by Daghamgha lead to the. . .

Ban Ki-Moon, EU call on Israel to open Gaza’s border crossings
Ap And Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/14/2008
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that Israel’s response to the incessant firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip, in which crossings to the area were closed, was "unacceptable. " In a statement released by the UN, Ban voiced his concern "that food and other life saving assistance is being denied to hundreds of thousands of people. "He called to immediately end the "measures which increase the hardship and suffering of the civilian population of the Gaza" and "to allow urgently, the steady and sufficient supply of fuel and humanitarian assistance. " Ban indicated his desire to see Israel resume the facilitation of UNRWA’s activities, as well as the access of other humanitarian organizations to Gaza. The UN leader also condemned the attacks by the Palestinians, who fired 16 rockets into Israel on Friday.

Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner on the closing of Gaza crossings
European Commission - EC, ReliefWeb 11/14/2008
"I am profoundly concerned about the consequences for the Gazan population of the complete closure of all Gaza crossings for deliveries of fuel and basic humanitarian assistance. I call on Israel to re-open the crossings for humanitarian and commercial flows, in particular food and medicines. Facilitation of fuel deliveries for the Gaza Power Plant should be resumed immediately. International law requires the provision of access to essential services such as electricity and clean water to the civilian population. Recent infringements of the calm agreed in June must not lead to a renewed cycle of violence. I call on all parties to exercise restraint. " [end]

Israelis launch new assault on Gaza - and truce
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/15/2008
GAZA CITY: An Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip prompted Palestinian fighters to fire rockets into Israel Friday as the United Nations said its food distribution ground to a halt due to Israeli closures of the enclave’s border crossings. Two Palestinian militants were wounded in the Israeli air attack, medics and witnesses said. The Israeli military said the assault was in response to previous Palestinian reprisals. Gazan fighters responded by firing nearly 20 rockets. One Israeli woman was wounded by shrapnel when a rocket struck the Israeli city of Sderot, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. At least three rockets hit the city of Ashkelon, home to more than 100,000 Israelis, without causing any casualties, emergency services said. Hamas said it had targeted the port city with five Grads - military-grade missiles that have a longer range than the makeshift weapons usually fired into southern Israel.

Ex-Shin Bet official: Most Hamas leaders want to maintain short-term truce
Amos Harel Barak Ravid and Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 11/15/2008
Most Hamas leaders are interested in maintaining a cease-fire with Israel in the short term, according to a former deputy chief of the Shin Bet security service. In an article published on U. S. Web site regarding the escalation of violence that erupted more than a week ago between Israel the Gaza Strip, the official wrote that continuing the truce would allow Hamas to achieve its other political goals. "Although certain Hamas officials (particularly in the military wing) want to abandon the ceasefire altogether, most of its leaders will most likely continue to emphasize the truce’s benefits and maintain the agreement for the near term, since it allows Hamas to make progress on other goals," wrote the official. " "The organization is concerned that a large-scale incursion by the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] would prevent. . .

Hamas militants fire rockets into southern Israel
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 11/14/2008
Hamas militants in Gaza fired several rockets into southern Israel today, while Israel kept its crossings into the territory closed as a five-month ceasefire appeared to be collapsing fast. Violence has returned to the Gaza Strip in the past 10 days. In two separate operations Israeli forces have killed a total of 10 Hamas gunmen. Hamas, and other militant groups, have responded with several days of rocket fire. Today rockets, including longer-range Grad missiles, hit the Israeli towns of Sderot and Ashkelon. The Israeli military fired at rocket launchers in Gaza and two Palestinian gunmen were reported injured. Israel kept its crossings into Gaza shut for the 10th straight day, meaning no food, humanitarian supplies or fuel were delivered. Gaza’s sole power plant shut down on Thursday night bringing some blackouts in Gaza City, although electricity delivered over power lines from Israel and Egypt continues to arrive.

Olmert: Israel will not put up with rockets
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Prime minister determines in emergency meeting - Israel will not put up with rocket fire, said Prime Minister EhudOlmert following an emergency meeting regarding recent rocket barrages from Gaza, on Friday. Fifteen rockets were launched at Israel from Gaza since Friday morning. "The Israeli government sees the firing of missiles and attacks from Gaza as a basic violation of our ceasefire understanding and we will not tolerate it, he said in the meeting. The prime minister emphasized that Israel will not allow the Palestinians to resume pre-ceasefire tactics, stating: "It’s unacceptable that the population in Israel, in particular in the Gaza vicinity communities, will be subjected to a situation of such uncertainty, such as there was several months ago, prior to the ceasefire. " In this capacity, Olmert said that current military operations and presence. . .

Qassam Brigades: Fridays shelling is just a taster
Palestinian Information Center 11/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said on Friday that the truce will not stop them from retaliating to Israeli occupation atrocities against the Gaza Strip and that they will choose the time, the place and method of retaliation. Abu Obaida, spokesman of the brigades, said in a press statement which was published on their website on Friday: "The calm was on condition that [Israeli] occupation abides by it, the occupation broke it, thus we have the right to retaliate to all breaches [of the truce]. The occupation has clearly breached the calm when it assassinated a number of resistance heroes, especially from the Qassam Brigades. "He added that the Qassam Brigades has its own way of retaliating to such atrocities warning the Israeli occupation of sever retaliation if it continued with its aggressions stressing that what happened on Friday was meant to be a simple message to the occupation.

’Gov’t will continue to pressure Hamas’
Jpost.com Staff And Ap, Jerusalem Post 11/14/2008
The government will continue to put pressure on Hamas until ongoing rocket barrages on southern Israel are halted, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday. Olmert called the attacks a "fundamental violation" of a five-month cease-fire with Hamas. He said Israel will continue to step up pressure on Hamas by keeping border crossings closed and through other unspecified means. Olmert held an emergency meeting with senior officials from the defense echelon including Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. -Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi in Tel Aviv. The emergency meeting came in response to a barrage of 16 rockets and a mortar shell that was fired by Palestinians on Friday alone. Five of the rockets used were Grad-type Katyushas. Barak, who had earlier visited Sderot, said that the defense establishment would continue to act and protect southerners and IDF troops.

1 injured in Qassam attack in Sderot
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Israeli aircraft bombs ring of rocket launchers in northern Strip shortly after Qassam attack on western Negev. Rocket hits electric pole near house, leaving 80-year-old woman lightly injured. Palestinians say at least three members hit. EU external relations commissioner urges Israel to open Gaza crossings - As rocket barrages fell on southern Israel Friday, European Union Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner called for Gaza crossings to be opened and the delivery of fuel and good to be resumed. " I am profoundly concerned about the consequences for the Gazan population of the complete closure of all Gaza crossings for deliveries of fuel and basic humanitarian assistance," Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement. She called on Israel to re-open the crossings for humanitarian and commercial flows, in particular food. . .

Five rockets slam into Ashkelon area
Jpost.com Staff, Yaakov Lappin And Ap, Jerusalem Post 11/14/2008
Following the morning’s Kassam rocket strikes on Sderot and the Sha’ar Hanegev region, the Ashkelon area also came under attack on Friday afternoon. Five Grad-type Katyusha rockets were fired at the region, one of which hit the city center and another that landed on its outskirts. Three more struck open areas. Shortly afterwards, another Kassam rocket landed in a kibbutz in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. Also, a mortar shell exploded near the Kissufim area. Three people were sent into shock as a result of the attack and were evacuated to Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital. Earlier Friday, Gaza terrorists fired ten Kassams at the South, one of which lightly wounded an elderly woman in a Sha’ar Hanegev kibbutz. RELATEDIsrael insists cease-fire can holdPerfume, Viagra, lions and fuel Four other. . .

UN chief calls for continued ceasefire
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Secretary-General condemns rocket-fire, also calls on Israel to open crossings into Gaza - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called on Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza to uphold a ceasefire agreement, amid continued rocket barrages on the Negev and closed vehicle crossings into Gaza on Friday. "The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the deterioration of the humanitarian and security situation in Gaza and southern Israel, and at the potential for further suffering and violence. He calls on all parties to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law," read a statement released by Ban Ki-Moon’s office. "The Secretary-General reiterates his condemnation of rocket attacks. He calls for an end to such attacks and urges full respect by all parties of the calm that has been in effect since 19 June 2008," the statement continued.

Olmert administration divided over Hamas-Shalit swap deal
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office is divided on the issue of prisoner swaps with Hamas, according to senior officials in the Israeli government. According to Israeli media reports, army leaders believe Israel’s willingness to swap prisoners with Hezbollah led to Hamas raising its demands for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The soldier was seized in a cross-border raid near Gaza in June 2006. One senior Israeli official in Olmert’s administration, Yuram Trovonchinetz, said that the swap with Hezbollah was a “grave mistake that caused strategic harm for Israel” and delayed a swap with Palestinians in which Shalit would be released. Israel traded all of its Lebanese prisoners, including Druze militant Samir Quntar, who was convicted of murder in an Israeli court, for the bodies of two soldiers killed in July 2006.

Report: Shalit talks on hold till elections
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Hamas affiliated source tells Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper Egypt decided to postpone talks for release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit until after new government is formed in Israel - Negotiations between Israel and Hamas for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit have been postponed until after general elections, a source close to Hamas told London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper. The source said Egypt decided to put the talks on hold due to "Israel’s internal situation". The source estimated that there would be no breakthrough in the Shalit matter until after Israel forms its new government, and said Hamas has decided to reconsider the truce agreement. "The Hamas leadership in the territories and abroad is holding talks to decide on the matter and has even opened talks with the rest of the Palestinian parties in order to reach an agreement regarding the ceasefire," the source said.

Barak: Use force to protect security
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Defense minister tours Sderot after rocket barrage, says Israel ’has a duty to defend citizens’ and calls Qassam fire ’unacceptable’ - Israel will "use force to protect the security of its soldiers and citizens and to foil operations against us," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday, in response to ongoing rocket attacks onIsrael. "If the other side chooses a ceasefire, we will consider giving it a chance. " "We have the duty to defend our citizens, and we can’t accept this kind of shooting," he said during a tour of the beleaguered southern city of Sderot. The defense minister noted that, during military operations in the past week, 12 Hamas operatives had been killed. His words reflect the sentiments of other security officials prior to an emergency meeting that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to hold this afternoon in Tel Aviv.

Gaza: 16 projectiles and Israeli counter-attack leave Israeli, 4 Palestinians injured
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Abu Ali Mustafa, An-Nasser and Al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for the launch of 11 projectiles which landed near Ashkelon at dawn on Friday, and another five launched at 11:30. In response to the first set of projectiles, the Israeli army launched an airstrike against the area they believed the projectile to have been fired. The Israeli army said two Palestinians were wounded in this attack. Palestinian medical sources confirmed that four resistance fighters were taken to hospital with serious injuries after being injured in the Al- Atatra area north of Beit Lahia. They would not comment in the identities or affiliations of the fighters. The brigades are the armed wings of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and the armed wing of Hamas respectively.

De facto government condemns ''Israeli terror'' in Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto government in Gaza on Friday called on Egyptian mediators to immediately intervene in the “deterioration of the human, health and living situation” in the Gaza Strip. A de facto government media office warned in a statement of “the grave deterioration of the situation in Gaza due to the closure of the crossings. ”“The closure of the crossings (is) preventing the pumping of fuel into Gaza for the 10th day,” it added. “Israeli forces are intentionally increasing the sufferings of the Palestinians in Gaza through continued closure of the crossings, stopping fuel shipments and cutting off electricity,” media spokesperson Alaa Al-Bata said on Friday. Al-Bata also demanded that the international community “urgently act to save the Gazan residents from Israeli terror. ”

Gaza flare-up threatens truce
Al Jazeera 11/14/2008
Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip have fired rockets towards the southern Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Sderot in response to an Israeli air force attack on one of their positions, the Palestinian group has said. Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman, said at least two of the five Soviet-made long-range rockets launched by the Hamas fighters on Friday caused damage to buildings. The Israeli air attack earlier had injured four Gazans. Israel and Hamas blamed each other for the recent flare-up in the fighting. The violence is threatening to end a five-month old truce between the two sides, besides preventing an emergency UN food delivery to the 1. 5m Palestinians in the besiegedGaza Strip. Mark Regev, an Israeli spokesman, said: "Hamas is directly responsible for the escalation in the violence. "

Israel says willing to extend truce, will respond to rockets
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian factions in Gaza have not yet reached the “no return” point if they want to renew the truce with Israel, said a senior official in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Though the source called the launch of homemade projectiles into Israel and the digging of tunnels into Egypt a violation of the terms of the truce, he reiterated that a renewal is still possible. He added, however, that “Israel will not hesitate to respond and put a stop to any terrorist plan” if the situation reaches that point. A number of Israeli Knesset Members with the center-right Likud party and rightist opposition criticized what they call the recent “inaction” of the state. They say that Israel has not responded strongly to what it calls “Hamas attacks” which voided the trice long ago.

Barak: Prefer Shalit return to reelections
Rona Tal, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Protesters from Public’s Campaign for Hostages’ Release campaign in front of defense minister’s home; during meeting with campaign leaders, promises that elections won’t have adverse effect on release efforts - Defense Minister Ehud Barak "would rather see Gilad Shalit home than get reelected," reported Miki Leibovitch, who heads the Headquarters of the Public’s Campaign for the Hostages’ Release, now focused solely on Shalit. Leibovitch, along with almost 200 others, rallied in front of Barak’s house on Friday to protest the stagnation of efforts to secure the release of the kidnapped corporal. The group has been protesting in front of the home of a different government official each week. "After about an hour of protesting, Barak’s security guard beckoned to me and called me into a meeting.

Hamas fires heavier rockets at Israel
Abed Shana, ReliefWeb 11/14/2008
GAZA, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Hamas Islamists fired their longest-range rockets at a southern Israeli city on Friday after an Israeli air force attack on their Gaza stronghold, in the 11th day of skirmishes threatening a five-month-old truce. A statement from the armed wing of the Islamist group said Hamas fired five 1960s-era, Soviet-made Grad rockets at an Israeli town, the longest range weapon they have claimed to shoot at the Jewish state. Israeli rescue services said five rockets struck the southern coastal city of Ashkelon but caused no casualties. The Grad has a maximum range of 25 km (15 miles). Palestinian medical workers said two Hamas fighters were wounded in a morning strike by the Israeli air force, which an Israeli military spokesman said was ordered in response to a Hamas rocket attack.

Party affiliates claim responsibility for Gaza projectile attacks
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian resistance factions on Friday claimed responsibility for shelling Israeli settlements and towns near Gaza City. The National Resistance Brigades, an armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), said in a statement received by Ma’an that homemade shells were fired on Sderot and other nearby Israeli military posts in Kesofem and Sofa. The Ahmad Abu Ar-Rish Brigades, which is affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) shelled Sderot with two homemade devices, according to a separate statement. The Al-Aqsa Brigades, which is affiliated with Fatah, claimed responsibility for shelling Sderot, as well.

Barak approved settlement expansion in recent months
Palestinian Information Center 11/14/2008
NAZARETH, (PIC)-- The Israeli Haaretz news paper revealed, in an article published on Friday, that the Israeli war minister Ehud Barak "has approved dozens of construction projects in the West Bank in recent months, contradicting Israel’s commitments to the Road Map". It was also revealed in the article that some of these projects were in settlements that lie east of the apartheid wall being built  by the occupation on West Bank lands creating facts on the ground ahead of reaching a final settlement with the Palestinians. "Some of the permits for construction projects were granted in settlements to the east of the separation fence," the article read and noted that the constructions contravene Israel’s road map obligations. The report also reveals that Barak has authorised the construction and marketing of hundred of housing units and plots in various West Bank settlements since April this year.

In direct violation of the Road Map, Barak approves settlement construction in the W. Bank
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/14/2008
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported on Friday morning that Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, approved in recent months plans for the construction and marketing of hundreds of units in illegal West Bank settlements. A number of settlements are east of the annexation wall, which means that these settlements are even outside of the large settlement blocs that Israel’s refuses to evacuate under any peace deal with the Palestinians. Barak’s approval of these constructions and expansion of illegal settlements comes in direct violation of the Road Map Plan initiated by the United States, and yet another frank Israeli rejection to several security council and United Nations resolutions. The Road Map Plan states that in exchange for peace, Israel should not build or expand Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Peace Now tries to halt Silwan building
Jerusalem Post 11/13/2008
Elad, a religious nationalist movement calling for Jewish settlement and development in Silwan, outside Jerusalem’s Old City, plans to build a huge building where construction is currently prohibited, a recent petition to the High Court of Justice states. The 115,000-sq. m. building is to include up to five stories of underground parking, according to the petition, which was filed by village residents and Peace Now. The petition also names the Israel Antiquities Authority, which is conducting massive archeological excavations on the site, the Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, which is in charge of administering and protecting the land, and the Jerusalem Municipality, which is responsible for granting building permits and preventing illegal construction. The Palestinian petitioners live adjacent to the site and complained that the excavations, which. . .

IOA builds shopping center, conference hall next to Aqsa Mosque
Palestinian Information Center 11/14/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- After it had built a synagogue near the Aqsa Mosque, the Israeli occupation authorities started the construction of a shopping center and a conference hall next to the Muslim holy shrine, Palestinian and Israeli sources revealed Thursday. According to the sources, the Israeli archeology bureau and El-Ad society were illegally carrying out the construction works without permits from concerned authorities under the cover of carrying out archeological excavations. The Hebrew Ha’aretz newspaper revealed that the illegal excavations were uncovered after a number of Palestinian citizens living in the Arab-dominated Selwan suburb, which is close to the Aqsa Mosque filed a petition at the Israeli high court seeking the halt of the constructions. The Israeli "peace now" movement also condemned the construction works and joined the protesting Palestinians in filing the petition.

Opposition to Jerusalem museum
The Guardian 11/14/2008
A recent judgment by Israel’s supreme court will allow the construction of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Museum of Tolerance, designed by renowned US architect Frank Gehry, over a Muslim heritage cemetery of great historical importance in the centre of Jerusalem. It is a blow to peaceful coexistence in an already divided city. This project, started in 2006, had been frozen due to public outcry and legal challenge, most especially from Muslim religious leaders and the Israeli Islamic movement, with the backing of Orthodox Jews concerned about disturbing graves. The site in Mamilla, near Jerusalem’s Independence Park, is on disputed burial land taken over by the Israel’s Land Administration in 1948, whose ownership is claimed by the Islamic authorities.

PCHR Weekly Report: 4 Palestinians killed, 7 injured by Israeli forces
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/14/2008
In its weekly summary of Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of November 6 -- 12, 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights has reported that 4 Palestinians have been killed, and 7 Palestinian civilians, including a child, and an international human rights defender were wounded by Israeli forces occupying the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Over the last week, Israeli forces conducted 31 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and 3 others into the Gaza Strip. During those incursions, Israeli forces abducted 29 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, in the West Bank. Israeli attacks in the West Bank:In the West Bank, during the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 31 military incursions into Palestinian communities. During these incursions, Israeli forces abducted 29 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children.

This Week in Palestine week 46
IMEMC News - Audio DEpt, International Middle East Media Center News 11/14/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 11 m 30s || 10. 00 MB || This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for November 8 through 14, 2008. LEDE: The Palestinian national dialogue is not progressing as the parties fail to meet, meanwhile, Israeli troops continue to invade the West Bank as the 1. 5 million Gazans are sinking into darkness for lack of fuel, These stories and more are coming up, Stay tuned. Nonviolence: Let us begin our weekly report as usual with nonviolent actions in Palestine, where Palestinians commemorate the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and the 20 anniversary for the Palestinian declaration of independence through nonviolent actions against the settlements and the wall. Ma’asra On Friday, Israeli troops assaulted nonviolent anti-wall protestors in the West Bank village of Al-Ma’asara in Bethlehem.

‘Deir Yassin Remembered’ Scholarships Go Two Palestinian Girls
Palestine Media Center 11/13/2008
THE DEIR YASSIN Remembered Scholarship, a $2,500 award, was divided equally this year between Haneen Abu Eisha, a graduate of Young Women’s Muslim Secondary School, and Nida’ Ahmaru, a graduate of Jericho Girls’ School, with the assistance of Badil, a resource center for Palestinians, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs said in its November edition. Haneen is enrolled at Al Quds University, where she is studying English literature. Nida’ is enrolled at Hebron University studying Islamic Studies and social work. This particular award was funded by Palestinian-Australian John Karkar and his wife, Sonja, who is on the board of Deir Yassin Remembered, but is best known for her activism as well as for leading Australians For Palestine. Two more inaugural scholarships, in honor of the late Issam Nashashibi, a founder of Deir Yassin Remembered, were given to Reem Khalifa and Aya Bustami in January 2007.

Army to court martial soldiers who filmed themselves while humiliating a bound Palestinian
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/14/2008
Israeli sources reported that the army decided to court martial Israeli soldiers who filmed themselves humiliating and abusing a bound Palestinian man at a roadblock in the occupied West Bank. Israeli TV, Channel 10, reported that Israeli army chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, ordered a probe into the incident and ordered the Israeli Army Northern Command leader, Gadi Eizencot, to oversee the investigation. The video was made public when a number of soldiers of the Golani infantry brigade of the Israeli army posted a video on YouTube showing the bound and blindfolded Palestinian man forced to repeat humiliating sentences while the soldiers were laughing in the background. The army claimed that it initiated a probe into the abuse, and an army official stated that the army was never aware of the incident until it received the clip from Channel 10.

Israel to try troops over Palestinian abuse video
Middle East Online 11/14/2008
JERUSALEM - The Israeli army is to try several soldiers suspected of posting a video on YouTube that shows them humiliating a bound and blindfolded Palestininan, a statement said on Friday. The clip posted last week showed soldiers from the crack Golani Brigade forcing a prisoner to repeat degrading remarks in Hebrew while they looked on and laughed. "The inquiry regarding the issue is in its final stages, and it has been found that the event occurred fifteen months ago in the area of the Gaza Strip," the statement from the military said. "Some of the soldiers involved are still in active service. At the end of the inquiry, these soldiers will be charged in a disciplinary trial. "The Israel Defence Force considers this to be a grave incident and a serious infraction, and is treating it as such. Furthermore, the IDF is taking additional action in order to prevent such incidents in the future.

Saudi FM: In UN speech, Peres left some parts of Arab peace plan untouched
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/15/2008
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal this week reacted coolly after President Shimon Peres praised on the Arab peace initiative as a "serious opening for real progress,"during a United Nations-hosted interfaith meeting in New York. "The disappointing side of President Peres’ comment is that he chose parts of the Arab peace plan and left other parts untouched," Faisal told reporters on Thursday. Meanwhile, Iran’s UN envoy on Thursday accused Israel of abusing the Saudi-sponsored UN interfaith conference for political purposes and suggested it had no right to take part. Speaking on the second day of the meeting, which earlier heard U. S. President George W. Bush call for worldwide religious freedom, Iran’s UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee did not name Israel but left no doubt what country he had in mind.

Fayyad meets with French leaders on EU, Quartet role in Middle East peace
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – The role of Europe in the Quartet must be activated so a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders can established, agreed Palestinian Prime Minister of the care taker government Salam Fayyad and French Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner during a joint press conference on Friday. During two separate meetings with French Prime Minister François Fillon and Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner, Fayyad agreed that the future of the peace process requires international intervention to insure Israeli compliance especially in halting settlement construction. Discussions between Fayyad and the French leaders covered the parameters of peace negotiations, which they agreed should focus on the mechanisms of implementing resolutions rather than on the resolutions themselves. They further agreed that guarantees and assurances would have to be built into any agreement.

PLO office: Israel failed to implement all Road Map obligations after Annapolis
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
[Ma’anImges]Bethlehem – Ma’an – Since parties renewed their Road Map commitments at that Annapolis conference last November Israel has not fulfilled even one of their obligations, according to a report released Friday by the negotiations affairs department of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The report records serious violations during the first nine months following the meetings in the United States, which were intended to kick-start a process for peace by 2009. Despite US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s eight visits to the region since the Annapolis conference, the Negotiations Support Office at the PLO recorded violations to promises to halt settlement activity, attacks against Palestinian homes and property, internal West Bank checkpoints, among others. According to the Road Map, to which Israel renewed its commitment in November 2007, they were to. . .

UN calls on Mediterranean nations to play role in peace process
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) sent a message to a parliamentary session in Monaco on Friday that urged Mediterranean nations to “play an active role” in supporting the peace process in Palestine, as well as in other regional conflicts. “The need for dialogue, mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence, as individuals and nations, is clear,” Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon wrote in the message to parliamentary representatives on Friday. “Israelis and Palestinians are engaged in vigorous negotiations to conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues. The opening of indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria with Turkish facilitation is another positive development,” the statement said. “These are important developments. But they remain fragile,” the secretary-general added.

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem: Peace Is Directly Related to God
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Palestine Media Center 11/13/2008
“BLESSED ARE the peace keepers,” began His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal, “for they shall be called the children of God. ” During his first visit to the United States since being installed as Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, he addressed an Aug. 11 luncheon in his honor under the auspices of the Archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl, at the John Paul II Center in Washington, DC. The event was co-hosted by the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Twal described the attachments of Jews, Christians, and Muslims to the Holy Land, and the physical and political complexities of maneuvering through three countries—Palestine, Jordan, and Israel. He discussed the daily, exhausting toll on ordinary people.

Iran accuses Israel of abusing UN interfaith meeting
Reuters, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Iran’s UN envoy says Israel tried to abuse UN-sponsored interfaith conference for its own political purposes - Iran’s UN envoy on Thursday accused Israel of abusing a Saudi-sponsored UN interfaith conference for political purposes and suggested the Jewish state had no right to take part. Speaking on the second day of the meeting, which earlier heard US President George W. Bush call for worldwide religious freedom, Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee did not name Israel, but left no doubt what country he had in mind. Peres in the same room with King Abdullah (Photo: Moshe Millner, GPO) "The representative of a regime (whose) short history is marked with. . . aggression, occupation, assassination, state terrorism and torture against the Palestinian people, under the pretext of a false interpretation of a divine religion, has tried to abuse this meeting for its narrow political purposes," he said.

Hamas rallies against ''criminal'' PA security services, Israeli army
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hamas leaders rallied against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s security services in a televised media offensive in Gaza City on Friday afternoon. Hamas spokesperson Mushir Al-Masri described President Abbas as the “leader of a gang” during the rally held outside Gaza’s parliament building. Another Hamas leader, Mahmoud Az-Zahar, said that the movement would “take [its] revenge” against what he called the PA’s politically motivated arrests campaign, even if “many more national dialogues” are ever held. “We are willing and able to manage the battle (against PA security forces) in the face of these criminals,” Az-Zahar added. He also described the PA’s leadership as “generals,” insisting that they want to turn Egypt against Hamas, along with Arab countries and the rest of the international community.

Palestinians in Egypt prepare to celebrate anniversary of Palestinian declaration of independence
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Cairo – Ma’an – Fatah representative in Cairo Dr Barakat Al-Farra said on Friday that Palestinians in Egypt are preparing to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their country’s declaration of independence on Saturday. Palestinians in Egypt are keen to restore national unity, Al-Farra said in a press statement, adding that they will never ignore their rights, like the right of return and for the establishment of a Palestinian state. “In our ceremony we will remember the late president Yasser Arafat who sacrificed his life and soul for the sake of his nation and their rights,” he said. Al-Farrar congratulated all Palestinians at home and abroad on their day to recognize independence.

Sources: Hamas looking to postpone national dialogue in order to avoid extending Abbas’ term
Palestine News Network - PNN, International Middle East Media Center News 11/14/2008
Informed Palestinian sources disclosed today that Hamas wants to delay the comprehensive Palestinian dialogue in Cairo until after the ninth of January 2009 when Mahmoud Abbas’ presidential term ends. When the Hamas party declared it would boycott the internal dialogue just a day before it was slated to begin, most indicators pointed to a reticence by leaders outside of Palestine. The Gaza government was viewed as largely supporting the meeting. However within a day the party said there was no internal discord. It should be noted that the Hamas movement works on consensus decision making which includes the outside leadership, the Gaza leadership and members on the chapter level. Postulations as to why Hamas had boycotted the meeting included specifically outside control and a general disdain for Egypt. The Hamas party at large, and its supporters, are routinely at odds with. . .

Hamas accuses Abbas of cutting lines of national dialogue after arresting Naseef
Palestinian Information Center 11/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has accused PA chief Mahmoud Abbas of cutting all lines of national dialogue, and held him responsible for the arrest of the Hamas political leader Rafat Naseef in Tulkarem city Thursday. The Movement also considered the arrest of Naseef, who is also a member of the Movement’s delegation to the proposed inter-Palestinian national dialogue in Cairo, as strong blow to Egypt’s efforts in burying the hatchet between Hamas and Fatah movements. "The arrest of Naseef, who was recently released from Israeli jails, reveals the sharp ethical, security, and political decline of the PA security forces in the West Bank [under the command of Abbas] that implement policies of the Israeli occupation", asserted Fawzi Barhoum, the spokesman of Hamas Movement in Gaza Strip, in an interview with the PIC.

Emanuel ’sorry’ for dad’s Arab remarks
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/14/2008
US President-elect Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff apologized to the Arab-American community on Thursday for remarks his Israeli-born father made to Ma’ariv. Last week, Benjamin Emanuel talked about his son Rahm Emanuel’s new job and told the Israeli daily that "obviously he’ll influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House. " That prompted an outcry from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which called on Rahm Emanuel, a former Israeli citizen, to condemn the "unacceptable smear. " On Thursday, Rahm Emanuel called the group’s president, Mary Rose Oakar, to apologize on behalf of his family. RELATED’Rahmbo’ takes Washington "These are not the values upon which I was raised or those of my family," the group quoted him as saying.

Obama aide in ’anti-Arab’ row
Al Jazeera 11/14/2008
Rahm Emanuel, US president-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff, has apologised to an Arab-American group for comments made by his father that disparaged Arabs. Benjamin Emanuel was reported as telling an Israeli newspaper about his son last week: "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. " The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee had sent a letter to Emanuel calling on him to distance himself from his father’s remarks. Rahm Emanuel, also an Illinois congressman, called the group’s president, Mary Rose Oakar, on Thursday to apologise on behalf of his family. "These are not the values upon which I was raised or those of my family," the group quoted him as saying.

Obama’s entry shuffles the congressional seats
Hilary Leila Krieger, The Jerusalem Post, Washington, Jerusalem Post 11/13/2008
As US President George W. Bush prepares to yield the seat of power behind his Oval Office desk to President-Elect Barack Obama, the impending move has already set off a round of musical chairs in Congress. While Obama has filled few White House positions so far, he will definitely be taking with him Delaware Senator and Vice President-elect Joe Biden, who has served until now as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Seniority dictates that Senator John Kerry would be the next in line to head the committee, a protocol that US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is likely to respect and from which Kerry, who heads a much lower-profile committee now, would be keen to benefit. A former American Israel Public Affairs Committee official said Kerry’s 20-year record in the Senate has been "very strongly supportive of Israel and aware of it and in the tradition of Joe Biden. "

Gov’t source: Gaza truce can still be resumed
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Top government official says it’s not too late to resume ceasefire with Gaza Strip. Nonetheless, ’if Hamas completely violates the truce, it will a hefty price ’. Source says Israel not afraid to break truce -A top diplomatic source in Jerusalem responded to the rocket barrages on southern Israel on Friday, saying, "If Hamas completely violates the truce, it will pay the hefty price of renewing terror activity". Nonetheless, the source said, "we have not yet reached the point of no return, and if Hamas stops the shooting, we can renew the terms of the truce. "We can’t say we didn’t expect this. Israel was not the first one to violate the truce in the Gaza Strip. Israel has made many efforts to get the message across that it is interested in continuing the truce. " The source continued to say that even last week’s IDF operation in which atunnel in Gaza was blown up, was done to preserve the ceasefire.

Hamas not to renew ceasefire
Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Hamas to demand new conditions for any ceasefire talks, including prior opening of crossings; Islamic Jihad member warns of imminent suicide attacks - Hamas will demand different conditions for any renewed ceasefire, regardless of whether the current six-month Hamas-Israel ceasefire will end as planned on December 19 or be terminated early as the result of rocket fire on Sderot, a source from the organization told Ynet Friday. "If and when new discussions will commence regarding an extension of the ceasefire, we’ll demand the opening of all crossings prior to or concurrent to a ceasefire," the source said. "We’ll demand to put a stop to Israeli disruptions of the ceasefire via closings of the crossings or delay of goods, as well as demanding that the ceasefire apply to the West Bank. "According to the source, it is unclear whether the ceasefire has officially ended.

’Hamas wants to influence Israeli elections’
Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Palestinian sources in Gaza say Hamas purposely provoking Israel to end ceasefire and influence upcoming general elections. ’Hamas wants right-wing gov’t to end diplomatic process; group functions best during military clashes,’ says source - Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip said the past week’s escalation and Qassam attacks on Israel are no coincidence, and that Hamas is trying to heat things up on the southern front ahead of general elections in Israel, in hopes of leading to the election of a right-wing party. Hamas sources denied the claims and said the shooting was a response to Israel’s violation of the ceasefire. Palestinian sources told Ynet that Hamas was looking for a way to end the diplomatic process. "Hamas wants Netanyahu," one source said. "They know his election will put an end to the diplomatic process.

Arab MK ranked No2 out of 120 called ''outstanding man'' in Israel
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Jerusalem - Ma’an –The top ten Members of the Israeli Knesset were nominated and named Israel’s “outstanding men. ” Coming in at number two was Palestinian citizen of Israel Ahmad At-Tibi. In the article that accompanied the rankings, the top ten Knesset Members (MKs) were called "a source of pride for each parliamentary bloc. " Ahmad At-Tibi was born in Taybeh, north of Ramallah in what is today the West Bank. He was a friend and advisor to the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat but resigned from his post in 1999 when he first ran for election to the Israeli Knesset and won. He later formed his own Arab Nationalist Party (Ta’al), and has been an outspoken proponent for Palestinian rights for Palestinians living in Israel, as well as Palestinians in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank. The list was put together by Ma’ariv, one of Israel’s top daily Hebrew papers and published on Friday.

New leftist movement is born
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Members of new movement hold founding event in Tel Aviv, say body meant to support Meretz, fill vacuum in political arena. Advertising expert says according to polls new movement could win over many first time voters, Kadima and Labor dropouts - Former Labor politicians and Israeli intellectuals announced the establishment of a new left-wing movement meant to support Meretz. The founding event held in Tel Aviv on Friday included figures such as author Amos Oz, Uzi Baram, Tzali Reshef, Gliad Sher, Abraham Burg and Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer. Members of the new movement said it was meant to fill the vacuum that has been created in Israel’s political arena. Former Labor Minister Uzi Baram said, "Labor has been regressing for some years now, and not just because of Ehud Barak. " This is an attempt to establish a new left-wing movement, and while Meretz. . .

New movement to back Meretz for Knesset unveiled in TA
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/14/2008
A new left-wing political movement that plans to back Meretz for the next Knesset was unveiled at a Tel Aviv press conference on Friday. The new group is made up of some 30 former Labor lawmakers, academics and businessmen, including former Labor politicians Avraham Burg and Uzi Baram, authors Amos Oz and David Grossman and Hebrew University law professor Mordechai Kremnitzer. "Labor has been regressing for many years, and not just because of [Labor chairman] Ehud Barak," said Baram. "This is an attempt to form a new left-wing party. It is true that Meretz is its central component and that there are still disagreements over the name, however, we have not come to join Meretz but to form a new alternative. Clearly the weakening and collapse of the Labor party from a public perspective has paved the way for us to do this.

Analysis: Labor and the disappearing Left
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 11/13/2008
Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak doesn’t know what’s hit him. Consistently unflattering polls predict a painful crash in Labor’s not-too-distant future. On Friday, former Labor icons officially announced a new leftist movement to back Meretz. Minister without Portfolio Ami Ayalon is among those considering crossing the Knesset aisle leftward, although Labor stalwart MK Ophir Paz-Pines, who had also wavered, told the party chairman on Thursday night he was staying put. Defense-minded Barak had issued an order to "hug" Paz-Pines tightly and not let him go. In an increasingly dark economic climate that could impact elections more than in previous years, Barak really could not afford to lose a socially minded MK like Paz-Pines. While former Labor chairman Amir Peretz waved the social banner in the last general election and reminded the public what differentiated. . .

Whither NRP?
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 11/13/2008
On Tuesday the National Religious Party’s central committee, a group of 1,160 crocheted kippa-wearers representing the heart of religious Zionist political aspirations, will convene to vote on its own demise. "Some people might call it political suicide," said attorney Moshe Patt, a member of the NRP for more than 40 years and head of the party’s Tel Aviv branch. "But in reality we are embarking on a new era, creating a party that will continue the NRP’s tradition under a different name. " Patt, who said that he first joined the NRP after college not for ideological reasons but "because all my friends from Bnei Akiva and religious high school were members," admitted the sentimental part of him was sad about seeing the NRP’s central committee taken apart. "We have to do it though. It is a necessary step for the sake of unifying religious Zionists and traditional Jews under one list," he said.

Police question Olmert for tenth time
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/14/2008
National Fraud Unit investigators questioned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for the tenth time on Friday over corruption allegations. Army Radio reported that the prime minister was interrogated for two-and-a-half hours at his Jerusalem residence about the Investment Center scandal, in which he is suspected of funneling approximately NIS 7. 67 million to businesses run by an associate in the Likud central committee during his tenure as industry, trade and labor minister. Olmert was also reportedly grilled over allegations that he made political appointments in the Business Authority while serving as minister of industry and trade. Last Friday, Olmert was grilled for two-hours in a session which focused on completing the inquiry into the Rishon Tours affair, in which police say double-billed charities and a government ministry for the same airplane expenses, and misused funds to pay for personal family travel.

Olmert questioned for 10th time
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 11/14/2008
National Fraud Investigation Unit officers arrive at Prime Minister’s Residence for tenth round of questioning in several corruption affairs, including investment center, Cremieux house and political appointments. Questioning cut short due to situation in south -The tenth round of questioning of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took place at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on Friday. The investigation included probing into Olmert’s alleged involvement in the Bank Leumi affair, the Cremieux Street house affair, and shady political appointments. National Fraud Investigation Unit officers arrived at Olmert’s home at around 9 am. The investigation was cut short upon the prime minister’s request following the Qassam fire in the south. Olmert told the police that he wished to be updated on the events, and his interrogators obliged.

Exclusive: IDF to outsource primary health care
Judy Siegel-itzkovich, Jerusalem Post 11/13/2008
The shortage of IDF physicians and the need to improve primary care for non-combat soldiers has led the army to issue a public tender for the supply of those services in civilian health fund clinics. A pilot program will begin soon to replace primary care clinics at the Tel Hashomer base and in Tel Aviv’s Kirya military headquarters so that more military doctors can be shifted to bases in the North, South and other outlying areas where combat soldiers serve. The change was revealed by Col. Dr. Kobi Haviv, the IDF’s commander of medical services, in a exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. Thousands of non-combat soldiers would be included in the pilot program, he said. Haviv, a specialist in occupational medicine, public health and medical administration, speaking in his office at the Tel Hashomer military base, said the supply of medical specialist care to soldiers was "fine.

Palestinian arrested in Canada for alleged role in 1988 Paris synagogue bombing
Ma’an News Agency 11/14/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested a Palestinian man on Thursday for suspected participation in the planning of a synagogue bombing in Paris 20 years ago. The man arrested has been identified as 55-year-old Hassan Diab, apart-time sociology professor at the University of Ottawa. He was taken into RCMP custody under the power of a provisional arrest warrant. The Canadian press has said an extradition hearing will be held in 24 days to determine whether the country can send Diab to France to be tried for the crime. Diab was arrested in the province of Quebec. He was reported to have told French police one year ago that the investigations begun against him were a case of mistaken identity.

Suspect in French synagogue bombing held in Canada
Reuters, YNetNews 11/13/2008
Man of Palestinian origin in his 50s arrested in Quebec for suspicion of planting bomb that killed three French people, Israeli woman outside Paris synagogue in 1980 -A suspect in a bombing that killed four people outside a Paris synagogue in 1980 was arrested in Canada on Thursday, a judicial source said. The source confirmed a report on the website of the French magazine L’Express, which said Hassan Diab, a man of Palestinian origin inhis 50s, was arrested in the town of Gatineau in Quebec. "French judges involved in the case are there now," the source in the Paris prosecutor’s office said. 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.

Lahoud: Priority is to defend Lebanon, not disarm Hizbullah
Daily Star 11/15/2008
BEIRUT: A successful national defense strategy is not about disarming Hizbullah, but about protecting Lebanon, Minister of State Nassib Lahoud said Friday at a conference on the future of Lebanon’s national defense strategy. "We do not want Lebanon to be a battlefield for Israel or a comfort gift for a loser in the region," he said. Lahoud delivered his comments during a plenary session, entitled "The Regional Environment and its Effects on Lebanon," on the first day of a national defense conference at the Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure Center. The conference, hosted by the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA), aims to contribute to the ongoing national defense strategy talks in Lebanon - the centerpiece of national dialogue sessions chaired by President Michel Sleiman. Speakers and attendees at Friday’s session included a collection of parliamentarians, Cabinet members, retired military brass, and academics.

Former SLA fighters face uncertain return to Lebanon
Rima Abushakra, Daily Star 11/15/2008
Agence France Presse - QLAYAA: 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. For eight years, Rizk worked at a factory in Israel while the rest of his family, like many other SLA members, lived off Israeli government subsidies. "I never felt complete there and I always wanted to go back to Lebanon," the burly Rizk told AFP in an interview following his return home on a Thursday back in June.

Syria’s case against Hariri cries out for Arab League scrutiny
Editorial, Daily Star 11/15/2008
The Arab League seems to be taking seriously a call by Lebanon’s parliamentary majority leader, MP Saad Hariri, to investigate the validity of accusations made against him by members of the Fatah al-Islam militant group and aired by Syrian state television. The "confessions" aired during the broadcast included assertions that the group was behind a deadly September car bombing in Damascus - and that the perpetrators had received funding from Hariri’s Future Movement. These are extremely serious charges, especially given the persistence with which similar allegations have been made against Future with regard to Fatah al-Islam and a variety of other armed Sunni elements for the past couple of years. They - and the unorthodox manner in which they have been leveled- are also exceedingly dangerous, stoking fears that Syria’s government is building a pretext to regain its former role in Lebanon or something like it.

Iraqi official says all British troops will quit country by end of 2009
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/15/2008
BAGHDAD: All British troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year and a controversial Iraq-US security pact is likely to be approved by Baghdad this weekend, Iraq’s national security adviser said Friday. Prominent Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, meanwhile, announced the activation of a new militia against the US-led occupation and urged Muslim countries to join in protests against the proposed security accord. Baghdad has been racing to secure separate deals with both Britain and the US to replace the UN mandate currently governing the presence of foreign troops in the country, which expires on December 31. The mandate was not acquired until after the fact of the 2003 invasion. "By the end of next year there will be no British troops in Iraq. By the end of 2009," National Security Adviser Muwafaq al-Rubaie said, adding that talks between London and Baghdad on the pullout had begun two weeks ago.

Salameh issues call for Arab monetary union
Daily Star 11/14/2008
BEIRUT: Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salameh on Thursday recommended a single currency for the Arab countries and further expansion of the banks in the region to counter the negative effects of the global credit crunch. "Our banks will face challenges in the future in view of the financial crisis around the world. Among these challenges are quality competition that should induce us to expand the Arab banking sector and create a single currency so that the growth and commercial trade in the region will not be pegged to other currencies," Salameh told participants in a conference called Investments for Stability. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has been pushing over the past several years to create a single currency among its oil-rich member. But these attempts did not yield any results, and all of the GCC states are still using their local currencies.

GA Magazine / The Internet intifada
Benjamin Hartman, Ha’aretz 11/14/2008
The struggle for the Holy Land may be the world’s most ancient conflict. But in one respect, at least, the weapons and the battleground could not be more cutting-edge. This is the realm of the "virtual intifada," digital combat played out in cyberspace by intensely partisan pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli activists-cum-hackers, or in the vernacular of the Information Age, "hacktivists. "One incarnation of this online political activism has hitched its battlewagon to the stars of social networking, taking advantage of the runaway popularity of sites like Facebook and MySpace. At the forefront of pro-Israel hacktivists are the shock troops organized as the Jewish Internet Defense Force, a group best known for its activities against anti-Israel groups on Facebook, the social networking colossus whose members may establish and join network groups based on a wide variety of interests.

Sderot resident appeals to Obama
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Pinchas Amar asks President-Elect to keep his promise from July to protect town residents from rocket fire. In Ashkelon, school canceled and police ask residents not to hold a protest because of safety concerns - A few months ago, US President-Elect Barack Obama stood in the Sderot home of Pinchas Amar and promised an end to rocket fire. Friday, after one of the Qassams among the repeated rocket barrages landed near his home, the resident of the beleaguered Negev town sent out an appeal to the new American leader. "Obama promised me, in my home, in front of the media, that he wouldn’t allow the rocket fire to continue. My message to him is: Keep your promise," said Amar, who, along with his wife, was injured in earlier rocket fire. "I was barely able to reach the secure room," said Amar, who was recently restricted to a wheelchair after falling off a ladder.

Sharp drop in Christians converting to Judaism
Nurit Felter, YNetNews 11/14/2008
Year of 2008 sees significant decrease in number of Christians choosing to become Jewish. Drop also registered in number of Jews converting to Islam - A significant decrease was registered this year in the number of Christians who converted to Judaism in Israel. Only 119 Christians chose to become Jewish in 2008, a figure dramatically lower than the annual average in the last 20 years. According to Immigration Administration statistics, 437 Christians converted in 2003, 884 in 2004, 733 in 2005, 457 in 2006 and only 273 in 2007. Meanwhile, only five Muslims converted to Judaism in 2008. Many of those who converted in recent years were non-Jewish new immigrants, and it is possible that a change in the general atmosphere in the country has made it easier for this population not to convert.


Articles


Israeli Settlers Steal Land, Distort Truth
Paul J. Balles, Middle East Online 11/14/2008
      In April 2008, Jeremy Ben-Ami wrote in Forward about Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine:
     " Somehow, for American politicians or activists to express opposition to settlement expansion – or support for active American diplomacy, dialogue with Syria or engagement with Iran – has become subversive and radical, inviting vile, hateful emails and a place on public lists of Israel-haters and anti-Semites. For the particularly unlucky, it leads to public, personal attacks on one’s family and heritage."
     My own experience bore out Jeremy’s. In one article, I had referred to the settlers as “land thieves”. A reader complained, saying the label was “a racial slur, and textbook anti-Semitic”. While it was a slur against illegal settlers in Palestine, and critical of Israeli occupation and settlement behaviour, it could not qualify as anti-Semitic, textbook or otherwise.

Israel Tightens Chokehold on Village of Nilin

Jonathan Cook, Middle East Online 11/14/2008
      The sun is sinking fast behind the trees of an olive grove on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Nilin. After a day of confrontations between the Israeli army and the Palestinian villagers over Israel’s building of its separation wall on Nilin’s land, the soldiers appear finally to have gone.
     Overlooked by the homes of the neighbouring Jewish settlement of Hashmonaim, a handful of Nilin’s braver teenagers finally come out to work.
     Jamal and Abed are sweating from their efforts to beat both nightfall and the return of the army. They stand proudly, the fronts of their T-shirts turned out to hold a bulging stash of used tear gas canisters and stun grenades. Each is worth one shekel (25c) in scrap value, and between them they have at least 50 canisters.
     Nilin, midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is home to nearly 5,000 Palestinians. Known as the “village of entrepreneurs”, it has more than its share of millionaires. But that looks set to change.

Mending the broken wing

Abdallah Mesleh writing from Nilin, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 11/14/2008
      Thousands of hectares of land have been confiscated, hundreds of olive trees were uprooted and tens of thousands of trees were burned at the hands of Israeli occupying forces. In Palestinian villages, where social and economic development is sustained from the land, the villagers are left asking: What’s left for next generations?!
     The olive harvest in Palestine is a special occasion in Palestinian life that reveals the importance of the land and the olive tree in the past, present, and the future of Palestinians. Palestinians depend on the olive harvest, and it has come to reflect a wonderful image of self-sufficiency and Palestinian social unity.
     For 500 years my family has harvested olives. Our trees have been passed from one generation to the next. Each year, generations of my family have gathered to pick from our trees. Each generation, like each branch that grows from our family’s trees, is considered a gift.
     But today, the olive harvest in my village, Nilin, located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is no longer the wonderful occasion for families to come together and express their deep relation of solidarity and love for each other and for their land.

Testimony: Israeli navy shoots and wounds fisherman off Gaza coast

Report, B''Tselem, Electronic Intifada 11/14/2008
      Muhammad Jihad Rizeq Musleh, 18, is a fisherman and a resident of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. The testimony was given to Muhammad Sabah on 7 October 2008 at the European Hospital in the Gaza City:
     I live in the Sultan neighborhood in Rafah with my parents, three brothers, and three sisters. In 2006, I began to work as a fisherman. My father taught me the trade and I worked with him for about two months. Then I went to work with Omar al-Bardawil. Omar has two boats, one a motorboat and the other a rowboat. When gas is available in the Strip, we use the motorboat, and when there isn’t gas, we use the rowboat.
     Two days ago [Sunday, 5 October], around 3:00am, I went fishing in the rowboat with Ahmad al-Bardawil, Omar’s son. We rowed west about two kilometers from shore, with our back to the Rafah fishermen’s port. At that point we were three kilometers from the Palestinian-Egyptian border. We knew the distances exactly because we have a GPS device.
     We stopped by some rocks in the sea, where there are usually a lot of fishermen, and started to lower our fishing lines into the sea. We have a rope that that is 1,800 meters long and has floats and 600 hooks attached to it. We put bait on the hooks to catch different kinds of fish, like grouper and bream.

Palestinian refugees in the Arab world: the right to have a right

Sari Hanafi, Daily Star 11/15/2008
      The borders between states in the Arab East were historically porous so that refugees were able to move quite easily. Waves of refugees were able to be managed with tremendous tolerance: 800,000 Palestinians, 1 million Iraqis in the 1990s and 2.4 million Iraqis since 2003, 1 million Sudanese since the 1990s. Since the Arab nation-states cannot stop the waves, they instead organize later on their marginality and exclusion from the right to have a right, to paraphrase Hanna Arendt. Nation-states are often composed of authoritarian or security regimes that formulate a tough definition of who is inside or outside the nation. This way produces a mass of non-citizens, such as around 150,000 Kurds in Syria, many thousands of bidoon [stateless Bedouins] in Kuwait, and around 150,000 stateless kids from Egyptian mothers and Gulf fathers.
     Although the construction of national identity in the region began during the British and French mandates, the crystallization of this national identity - which occurred within a multilayered context of space and time - is a relatively recent phenomenon. Because of the relative tenuousness of this process of crystallization, the state in the Arab world became a nationalizing state. i.e., "after making Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan ... it must make the Syrians, the Lebanese, the Jordanians ..." The process of importation of state-formation has a tremendous impact on identity formation. The citizenship relationship becomes an exclusionary force that embodies the techniques and processes by which states secure their legitimacy in the eyes of the people they govern. Citizenship process becomes not part of the process of democratization and creation of citizens but struggles that are at the heart of state legitimization strategies, including the formation and transformation of political identities and communities; the distribution and redistribution of rights, responsibilities and resources; and negotiations over representation and participation.

Mahmoud Darwish Joins Long Line of Palestinians Buried away from Home

Isabelle Humphries, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Palestine Media Center 11/13/2008
      On the same day that Mahmoud Darwish was given full honors at his funeral in Ramallah, a much smaller gathering met by an Israeli petrol station in an industrial zone off the road to Acre. Carrying sheaves sof wheat and Palestinian flags, we climbed a winding track up the Galilee hillside, behind a coffin carried at the head of the procession.
     Hearing of the passing of Mahmoud Darwish I immediately thought of the overgrown cemetery of al-Birweh, perched overlooking the fertile plain which reaches the sea. In the summer of 2005, three villagers had taken me there: two who remembered life in this village paradise, a third born in the 1950s in the zinc shacks in which his parents sheltered. Following Israel’s 1948 occupation of al-Birweh, many villagers were forced across the border to Lebanon, where they still wait in camps and cities to return home. Hundreds of other villagers, however, including the family of Mahmoud Darwish, managed to stay in the area, and now live less than three miles away from al-Birweh, in the overcrowded village of Judayde.

Sort out the real conflicts from the zealotry

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 11/15/2008
      US President-elect Barack Obama has much on his foreign policy plate and he will have to make some hard decisions about prioritizing issues his team will address. The Middle East is likely to emerge quickly as a high priority area, given that many of the key concerns of the United States and the world directly emanate from, or are closely linked to, the Middle East, i.e., energy, terrorism, religious radicalism, illegal immigration, drugs and non-proliferation of nuclear fuels and weapons of mass destruction.
     When the region’s many conflicts are boiled down to their essence, however, two core sources of tension account for most of the regional and global confrontations that plague the Middle East. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict (and its wider Arab-Israeli conflict) is one, and the other is the Iranian-American confrontation (with its wider Iranian-Western-Israeli tensions).