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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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17 November, 2008

Israel briefly opens Gaza crossing
Al Jazeera 11/18/2008
The closure of crossings into Gaza has prevented the distribution of UN humanitarian aid in the Strip EPAThe Israelis have temporarily opened the Karem Abu Salem border crossing with Gaza to allow a limited supply of humanitarian aid to reach the territory. Thirty trucks, 11 of which are carrying United Nations (UN) supplies, were allowed to travel into the Strip on Monday. Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Gaza, said: "One UN official told me. . . there will be enough to last a week, but in a week’s time, if Gaza doesn’t get more supplies, the UN will be in the same position. "Mohyeldin reported that UN officials had likened allowing limited supplies through to "a sort of drip-feeding" of the territory. Israel stepped up its blockade of Gaza - keeping crossings closed and so preventing the delivery of fuel and essential humantarian supplies - in response to Palestinian fighters launching rockets into southern Israel.

Israel to free 250 Palestinian prisoners in goodwill gesture to Abbas
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during talks on Monday to release 250 Palestinians prisoners next month, a spokesman for Olmert said. "The 250 prisoners will be released in advance of the upcoming Muslim holiday," said the spokesman, describing the move as a goodwill gesture towards Abbas, who revived peace talks with Israel after breaking with Hamas Islamist rivals last year Muslims celebrate the al-Adha feast next month. The spokesman said the prisoners Israel plans to release would not be aligned with Islamist movements. Israel last freed Palestinian prisoners on Aug. 25, during a visit by U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has been trying to broker a peace deal. At the time, it described the release of the 198 prisoners as a bid to bolster Abbas.

Israeli forces detain 14 Palestinians across West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained fourteen civilians across West Bank before daybreak on Monday. Israeli sources said their forces detained fourteen “wanted” resistance fighters from Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron and the Jordan valley, and confirmed that the men were taken in for questioning. [end]

Livni to Miliband: U.K. plan to label West Bank goods is ’exaggerated’
Barak Ravid and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Sunday told her visiting British counterpart, David Miliband, that the U. K. was taking an "exaggerated" stance in its initiative to distinctly label produce imported from the West Bank. Miliband arrived in Israel on Sunday, where he met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Livni, for a two-day visit aimed at advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. A senior official in Jerusalem described the talks as "not simple," and said that in addition to dissonance over the state of settlements, the two also butted heads on the issues of Syria and the indictment being handed by Britain to Israeli defense officials. During their meeting, Livni also told Miliband that she expected the international community to support Israel as it attempted to quell militant fire from the Gaza Strip.

Car bomb kills Israeli crime boss
Al Jazeera 11/18/2008
A car bomb has killed one of Israel’s most prominent crime bosses in Tel Aviv, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reports. Israeli police identified the dead man on Monday as Yaakov Alperon, the head of one of the country’s most powerful crime families. Alperon is the most senior figure to be killed and the latest casualty of ongoing gang wars that have left scores of people dead. Police say Alperon was killed instantly when an explosive device was apparently detonated by remote control on a street in Tel Aviv. ’Serious event’In recent years, gang violence has plagued Israeli towns and cities. "An extremely serious event took place today, and its consequences are completely clear to us," Ilan Franco, the Tel Aviv police commander, said.

Settlers threaten ’Amona’-style riots over Hebron eviction
Nadav Shragai and Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
The High Court on Sunday instructed settlers occupying a house in Hebron to evacuate it within three days, but a coalition of right-wing organizations, MKs and West Bank rabbis said they plan to oppose the move firmly. In an emergency meeting on Sunday in the settlement of Kiryat Arba - the house is located between the settlement and Hebron - the opponents of the evacuation pledged that the settlers would not be removed by Wednesday as the court had demanded. Their resistance, they said, would be "uncompromising, but not violent. ""If the house is evacuated, there will be Amona part two here," said a participant at the meeting, referring to the February 2006 clashes between settlers and security forces during the evacuation of a West Bank outpost. The emergency meeting was organized by Rabbi Dov Lior, the head of the rabbinical committee in Judea and Samaria and the rabbi of Kiryat Arba.

’Ramle woman indicted for aiding Gaza terrorists’
Elie Leshem, Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
Somaiya Abu Ghanem, a 21-year-old resident of Ramle, was indicted Monday in the Petah Tikva District Court for contact with a foreign agent, the Prime Minister’s Office announced. The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), in cooperation with the Israel Police, arrested her on December 28, the statement said. According to the indictment, in September 2008, Ghanem was contacted by Gaza-based Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorists, who sought her assistance in kidnapping an Israeli. Ghanem allegedly expressed her willingness to aid the terrorists. In the investigation, it also emerged that Ghanem was allegedly asked to assist in bringing a woman suicide terrorist from Gaza into Israel and to lead her to a crowded place, the statement said. Ghanem worked as a teacher’s aide at a Ramle kindergarten and was due to begin university studies.

Gaza media blackout an unprecedented violation of press freedom, say journalists
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Gaza/Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel has continued to bar international journalists from the besieged Gaza Strip for at least a week in what media condemned on Monday as an unprecedented violation of press freedom. Steve Gutkin, the AP bureau chief in Jerusalem and the head of the Foreign Press Association told Ma’an that he knows of no foreign journalist that has been allowed into Gaza in the last week. Gutkin said that while Israel has barred foreign press from entering Gaza in the past, the length of the current ban makes it unprecedented. He added that he has received no “plausible or acceptable” explanation for the ban. The AP itself moved two of its international staff into the Strip before the closure began. The Foreign Press Association reiterated its condemnation of the closure on Monday: “We regard this as an unconscionable breach of the Israeli Government’s responsibility to allow journalists to do their jobs in this region.

Israel lets ''few days'' of food supplies into Gaza; UN: ''but then what?''
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – Delivery of an unspecified number of aid and food trucks to UNRWA and Gaza Strip commercial dealers was confirmed on Monday after Israel threatened to withhold the supplies “depending” on the actions of resistance groups, who launched projectiles at the Negev Monday afternoon. Thirty-three trucks filled with frozen meat, dairy products, medicines and UNRWA food aid waited at the Gaza border since Sunday, when they were turned back on the orders of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Barak ordered the crossings closed Monday but appeared to have changed his mind after international condemnation for the decision increased. Then, mid-day on Monday Israel reported the launch of several homemade projectiles from the Gaza Strip, and said they landed in the western Negev. No injuries were reported, and the act has not yet been claimed by any of the Palestinian factions in Gaza.

Report: Israel demolished 90 Palestinian houses since Annapolis
Palestinian Information Center 11/17/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The applied research institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ) reported that Israel, since the Annapolis conference held in October last year, has embarked on building tens of thousands of settlement units in the West Bank and demolished 90 Palestinian houses at the pretext of illegal construction. In a report, ARIJ said that Israel uses the pretext of unlicensed building as an excuse to displace Palestinians from their lands in blatant violation of international law. The report underlined that 55 Palestinian houses were demolished by the IOA in occupied Jerusalem, where Israel aims through the demolition of homes to empty the holy city from its native residents. The report noted that the IOA handed the Palestinian citizens in different West Bank areas more than 400 demolition orders which threatens more Palestinian families with displacement.

8 Qassams hit western Negev
Ilana Curiel, YNetNews 11/18/2008
Most rockets believed to have landed in open areas in Eshkol Regional Council; no injuries reported, several houses sustain damage. Transfer of 30 trucks of humanitarian equipment into Gaza scheduled for Monday put on hold following attack - Eight Qassam rockets were fired at communities in the western Negev’s Eshkol Regional Council on Monday morning. There were no reports of injuries but several houses were damaged. Residents of the Eshkol Regional Council were ordered to enter fortified rooms. The Al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad’s military wing, claimed responsibility for the attack. Following the barrage, the transfer of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip was put on hold. Several explosions were heard south of Sderot at around 10:10 am. Most of the rockets landed in open fields, but one exploded in a kibbutz in the area, damaging a number of houses.

Olmert orders plans drawn up for massive offensive against Gaza
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/17/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Interim Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert accused Hamas on Sunday of "shattering" the Gaza truce after two rockets hit Israel, which the Jewish state followed with an air strike that killed four Palestinian resistance fighters. However, Olmert, who made the comments at a weekly Israeli Cabinet meeting, did not mention the initial Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip on November 5 that killed seven Hamas members. The incursion, which touched off days of fighting, was in violation of an Egyptian-mediated truce between Israel and Hamas which had virtually halted violence between the two foes. The head of the Hamas administration in Gaza, deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya, said Israel was violating the truce and demanded that Israel prove its interest by keeping to its side of the bargain. "Israel must turn its words about a truce into action by halting aggression and. . .

IDF brass slams ’war-mongering’ by top ministers
Amos Harel Avi Issacharoff Barak Ravid and Yanir Yagna, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Senior Israel Defense Forces officers yesterday criticized certain cabinet ministers for beating the drum for military action in the Gaza Strip. The General Staff officers called for weighing more aggressive action against Hamas if the rocket fire into the Negev from the strip continued. However, they do not support reoccupying the territory at this stage. Top IDF brass also expressed concern that some politicians were trying to drag the IDF into the political debate. Meanwhile, the fighting in Gaza continued yesterday: The IDF killed four Palestinians from the small Hamas-allied group, the Popular Resistance Committee, who were about to launch Qassams, and a Sderot man sustained minor injuries when a Qassam landed near his home. A spokesman for the group, Abu Mujahid, said the tahadiyeh (lull) with Israel was over as a result of the killing of four of its men.

Livni: ’No such thing as a partial lull’
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – Israeli Prime Minister-designate Tzipi Livni said on Monday that "there is no such thing as a partial lull – it’s either there or it isn’t, and today it isn’t there. " At a cabinet meeting Livni said that she holds Hamas responsible for the apparent collapse of the truce in the Gaza Strip. It was not clear whether Livni’s remark was intended as an official repudiation of the 16 June truce agreement. Israel invaded the Gaza Strip on 4 November, killing six Palestinian fighters and sparking nearly two weeks of cross-border violence that have thrown the ceasefire into question. Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz also reiterated his call for Israel ”stop talking” and begin assassinating Hamas leaders in Gaza in response to homemade rockets fired from Gaza into Israel.

Families of Gaza patients: Egypt besieges Gaza for the third year in a row
Palestinian Information Center 11/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The family committee of Gaza patients stated Sunday that Egypt along with Israel besieges the Gaza Strip for the third consecutive year, adding that the two parties refuse to allow the patients to receive medical treatment abroad. In a statement received by the PIC, the committee said that the Egyptian authorities insist on preventing dozens of patients from traveling for treatment through the Rafah border crossing while Israel also closes the Erez crossing before patients who need to be admitted into hospitals in the 1948 occupied lands. The committee called on the Palestinian government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya to speak openly to the public about Egypt’s bias in favor of Israel at the expense of the besieged Palestinian people in Gaza. The committee also called for looking for a neutral mediator other than Egypt to deal with the inter-Palestinian files.

Hamas: Egypt detained nine Palestinian patients
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Egyptian security forces detailed nine Palestinian patients on Monday who traveled to Cairo for treatment, taking them to an unknown location, Hamas-affiliated media reported. According to Hamas’ Al-Aqsa satellite channel, Egyptian forces arrested the patients during a raid. A Three-year-old girl is reportedly among the detainees. The Egyptian government has denied the incident and says it will open an investigation. The patients all traveled to Egypt from the Gaza Strip. Among the alleged detainees is the brother of a Hamas lawmaker named Mushir Al-Masri who accompanied his 3 year-old daughter to Egypt treatment. The other patient detainees are: Hussam Mahmoud Ar-Ramlawi, Iyad Ali Hassan Salem from Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip. Salem is reportedly paralyzed. Salem’s brother Muhamad Ali Hassan, Muhammad Said Radwan, Nour Khamis Al-Masri. . .

Negev Bedouin mosque facing imminent demolition by Israeli government
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli government is planning to demolish a recently built environmentally-sustainable Bedouin mosque in the Negev desert in the coming days. The Israeli Ministry of the Interior delivered the demolition order for the mud and straw bale structure in the village of Wadi Al-Na’am on Monday. A stop-construction order was issued in August. Rebecca Vilkomerson, of the Bedouin rights and environmental organization BUSTAN said the demolition would likely take place before Thursday. The group is organizing local and international volunteers to stay in the mosque day and night in order to protest and document the destruction of the building. “We can’t stop the bulldozers unfortunately but we want to be there and witness the demolition,” said Vilkomerson. Local Bedouins and volunteers helped build the Mosque over four months as a demonstration of inexpensive and environmentally sound construction techniques.

Ami Ayalon quits Labor, claiming party has lost its will to live
Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 11/17/2008
Minister without portfolio Ami Ayalon announced his resignation from Labor Sunday morning, claiming that the center-left party has lost its will to live. "The Labor Party is a body that does not seek political life, and does not fight for its life," said Ayalon, speaking at a press conference. Ayalon, a former head of the Shin Bet security service, is reportedly considering taking over as head of Michael Melchior’s left-wing religious Meimad party. This would be with the intention of becoming part of a larger alliance with Meretz or with the new leftist party launched on Friday. The minister is also believed to be considering joining the Kadima party. Speaking to a group of activists at Kibbutz Sdot Yam on Saturday, the minister said that, "The Labor Party is a party with no ideals, regulations or laws, and it is a party I will not be a part of. "

Ayalon quits Labor, but won’t join Oron’s new left-wing party
Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
MK Ami Ayalon is leaving the Labor Party, but he won’t be joining Meretz chairman Haim Oron’s new left-wing list. The two had been discussing the issue for the past several weeks. Ayalon requested the first or second slot on the party list, and asked that a poll be held to determine whether he or Oron would lead, according to sources involved in the negotiations. However, last night he told Oron he would not be joining. During the press conference he called Sunday to announce his resignation from Labor, Ayalon denied having asked for a top spot - and used the opportunity to criticize the party he was leaving. "I can’t convince even those who are closest to me to vote for Labor. Labor has lost its way," Ayalon said. Party chairman Ehud Barak, he said, "was supposed to be the solution - and the past year and a half have shown me that he is not the solution.

Author hopes to pull Israel to the left with new party
Toni O''Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 11/17/2008
The renowned Israeli author Amos Oz has joined 30 intellectuals and public figures to forge a leftwing party in an attempt to defeat the resurgent rightwing Likud party, which is leading the polls. But Labour, not the hardline nationalists in Likud, may be the biggest losers if the party succeeds in Israel’s elections which are due in February next year. "I hope the expanded leftist movement will become a replacement for the Labour party. The Labour party has finished its historic role, it isn’t putting forward a national agenda and it joins any coalition," Oz told the Haaretz newspaper. In 2006 Labour’s leading light and Nobel peace prize winner, Shimon Peres, defected to join the hawkish Ariel Sharon, who led a breakaway group from the hardline Likud party to form the more centrist Kadima, which heads the coalition government.

IOF troops round up more Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 11/17/2008
JENIN, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces at dawn Monday rounded up four Palestinian young men including two brothers in Burkin village, west of Jenin city, local sources reported. They said that three of the abducted youths are teenagers and the fourth is a student in the Arab American University in Jenin. Locals in Ya’bad also reported that the IOF soldiers detained a young man and beat up a 7-year-old child during their incursion into the village. The Hebrew radio earlier quoted the IOF command as saying that 14 "wanted" Palestinians were arrested at dawn Monday in Ramallah, Nablus, Al-Khalil cities and Jordan Valley. It said that the Palestinians were held in police stations for interrogation.

Nineteen-year-old Al-Aqsa activist arrested by Shin Bet for planning attack in Israel
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli intelligence services detained 19-year-old Al-Aqsa activist Sumayya Abu Ghanem from her home in Ramla south east of Tel Aviv one month ago, according to information released on Monday. According to Israeli sources Abu Ghanem was suspected of planning attacks against Israeli Jewish targets inside Israel. Information detailing the arrest was released on Monday by the Shin Bet, the Israeli General Intelligence unit. [end]

Ramla woman charged for attempt to aid terrorists
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 11/17/2008
Kindergarten aide arrested, charged with intent to assist Fatah’s military wing with kidnapping of Jews, smuggling of suicide bomber into Israel from Gaza -The Shin Bet and the police suspect that a 21-year old Israeli woman from Ramla was asked by terrorists to assist them in the execution of attacks in Israel. The information was cleared for publication Monday after Petah Tikvah’s District Court indicted the young woman on charges of contacting a foreign agent. Sumiya Abu Ranem, resident of Ramla, is employed as a kindergarten aide in the city. She had planned to start studying at an Israeli university this year, but her plans were thwarted by her arrest several weeks ago. Police asserted that operatives from the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Fatah’s military wing, contacted Abu Ranem and asked her to assist them in kidnapping a Jew, and she expressed a willingness to do so.

Ramle woman arrested on suspicion she planned to assist suicide bombing
Yuval Goren and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
The Shin Bet security service and the Israel police recently arrested Sumiya Abu Aanam, a young woman from Ramle suspected of planning to carry out a terror attack at the behest of militant Palestinian group Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. A gag order on the case was lifted Monday, revealing that Abu Aanam, a 21-year-old teacher’s aide at a Ramle kindergarten, was arrested at the end of October. She was set to begin studying at an Israeli university this week. The police investigation revealed that shortly before her arrest, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade activists from Gaza contacted Abu Aanam and asked her to help them kidnap a Jewish Israeli. She apparently voiced willingness to assist. The young woman was also asked to help smuggle a female suicide bomber from Gaza into Israel and to take her to a busy area.

Palestine today 111708
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 11/17/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 30s || 3. 22 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Monday November 17 2008 As the humanitarian situation in Gaza is on the brink of collapse due to the Israeli closure, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert denied during a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas there is any humanitarian crisis in the coastal Strip. This news and more coming up stay tuned. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza warned today of stoppage of hospital services at major Gaza hospitals due to the continued Israeli closure of border crossings over the past two weeks. A ministry statement read that major services at such hospitals will stop unless power supplies return to normal, warning of lack of spare parts at such hosipitals.

IDF lets limited aid into Gaza, despite Qassam fire on Negev
Yanir Yagna, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired between eight to 12 Qassam rockets at the western Negev, most of which landed in open fields. There were no reports of injuries, but a local structure sustained damage, A Qassam rocket fired by militants on Sunday struck a residential yard in the southern town of Sderot on Sunday, leaving one person with light shrapnel wounds. Several other people were treated for shock. Meanwhile, Israel opened a border crossing with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Monday for the first time in two weeks, allowing in a limited amount of humanitarian aid, U. N. and Palestinian officials said. The move came ahead of talks in Jerusalem between outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who termed Israel’s tightened blockade of the Gaza Strip a "war crime.

Khudari: Israel disregards int’l appeals when it allows in 30 trucks
Palestinian Information Center 11/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, considered Monday the Israel intentions to open the Karem Abu Salem crossing in order to allow 30 trucks carrying aid and food supplies a disregard for international appeals. MP Khudari expressed his refusal of dealing with Gaza as an area which needs nothing but aid provided from time to time, calling for the need to rapidly and fully open all Gaza crossings in order for Gaza to live in freedom. The lawmaker noted that this relief aid is not sufficient, adding that Gaza needs more than 2000 trucks to cover the recent crisis caused by the closures. The lawmaker also stressed the need for continuing the international pressure on Israel to open the crossings and end the tragedy of Gaza. The lawmaker pointed out that the IOA holds in custody Palestinian goods at its ports and force businessmen to pay taxes on them without allowing these goods into Gaza.

Israel allows 30 UN trucks into Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/17/2008
The Israeli Authorities allowed on Monday the entry of thirty UN trucks filled with foods and medicine to the Gaza Strip, the Arabs48 news website reported. Yet, the Gaza Strip remains under strict siege and all trade crossing are closed under direct orders of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Last week, Israel barred UN trucks from entering the Gaza Strip and claimed that it has intelligence info that resistance groups are planning attacks against Israel. The 15 UN trucks were loaded with medicine and were attempting to cross into the Gaza Strip through the Karni crossing. Dr. Moawia Hassanen, head of the Emergency Unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, said that the number of patients who died due to the siege arrived to 270, including children, infants and elderly. He added that 400 patients who suffer from chronic diseases were barred from leaving Gaza to receive medical treatment abroad.

Israel allows aid into Gaza as new rocket barrage hits Western Negev
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 11/17/2008
GAZA, Nov 17, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) --Israel allows aid into Gaza as new rocket barrage hits Western Negev Israel allows aid into Gaza as new rocket barrage hits Western Negev Israel on Monday opened a crossing point into Gaza to allow limited amount of humanitarian aid as militants fired a new barrage of rockets into Israeli border towns. Kerem Shalom crossing point in southeast Gaza Strip was opened this morning to receive truckloads of food and other aid for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said Hatem Owaida, an aide to Hamas’ minister of economy. "We were told that 30 trucks will be allowed in today; 12 of them carrying dairy products and frozen food imported by private companies and the other trucks will go for the UNRWA," Owaida explained. Last week, the UNRWA halted food distributions to 750,000 Palestinians as its storehouses ran out of rations.

IOA opens Karm Abu Salem crossing only for limited aid quantities
Palestinian Information Center 11/17/2008
NAZARETH, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority on Monday opened the Karm Abu Salem crossing allowing entry of limited quantity of supplies to the Gaza Strip but retained the other vital crossings closed especially Nahal Oz through which fuel is transferred to the Strip. Press reports said that the IOA was planning to allow passage for 23 trucks loaded with foods supplies to UNRWA, which, according to the media, would be enough for only one week. UNRWA had announced a halt to its distribution of humanitarian assistance after it ran out of stock. The Hebrew radio reported that war minister Ehud Barak decided to retain the Gaza crossings closed despite appeals to the contrary by the UN and its agencies and the European commission. It said that Barak attributed his decision to the continued firing of home made rockets at Israeli settlements near the Strip.

Obeid warns of humanitarian disaster after power outage
Palestinian Information Center 11/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Kanaan Obeid, the deputy chairman of the Palestinian energy authority in Gaza, Sunday evening warned of a real humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip after the electricity cutoff reached hospitals and sewage pumps. He told a press conference that the sole power generation station in the Strip came to a complete halt last Thursday and as a result 40% of power in Gaza was cut off. The electricity company is distributing power on Gaza and central districts from the direct Israeli power lines, which does not meet the Strip’s needs. He explained that 70% of Gaza Strip areas are now without electricity. The Israeli occupation authority has been barring the entry of necessary materials to maintain the electricity network in the Strip such as the transformers, wires, cables meters and fuses, the energy official underlined.

Jordan’s activists plan to break Gaza blockade
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 11/17/2008
AMMAN, Nov 17, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Jordan’s activists planned to break Gaza besiege by transporting humanitarian aid to residents there, local daily the Jordan Times reported on Monday. Preparations are under way to dispatch a convoy of ships to Gaza Strip to break the Israeli blockade and provide food and medical supplies to Gaza residents, said Zaki Bani Rsheid, Secretary General with the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan. "By dispatching the ships, Jordan will become the first Arab country to take such an initiative. The idea is to have all segments of society, officials, civil society organizations, activists and professional associations work together to aid the Palestinians in Gaza," campaign coordinator Rhayyel Gharaibeh said on Sunday.

Israel to free 250 Palestinian prisoners in goodwill gesture to Abbas
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/18/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday that 250 Palestinian prisoners would be freed in a goodwill gesture, as Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas urged Israel to maintain the Gaza truce. The pair met in Occupied Jerusalem for the first time in two months, amid rising tension in and around the besieged Gaza Strip. On November 5, Israel shattered a five month truce with the Hamas movement that runs the Gaza Strip by invading the territory and killing seven of the Islamist group’s members. Since then, Palestinian fighters retaliated by firing rockets into Israel while the Jewish state tightened its crippling siege of the enclave. "Abbas had asked him to free Palestinian prisoners and Olmert told him of the decision to release 250 at the beginning of December," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said.

Hamas: ''Abbas-Olmert meeting, a mockery''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/17/2008
Fawzi Barhoum, spokesperson of the Hamas movement, slammed the meeting which took place on Monday between the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and described the meeting as a mockery and a cover-up to the Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people. Barhoum added that this meeting was held while the army is ongoing with its crimes and siege against the Gaza Strip. Barhoum also said that Abbas ignored the Palestinian cause and struggle and "joined the Zionist-American project", and accused Abbas of receiving his orders from the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. He added that Monday’s meeting between Olmert and Abbas was also meant to bar any possible talks between Hamas and Fateh movements , and that this meeting and all similar meetings, are part of an Israeli-American plan to eliminate the resistance, especially Hamas, and to oblige Abbas to make more commitments that only serve Israel.

Israel to free 250 Palestinian prisoners
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/17/2008
Prime Minister Olmert meets with Palestinian President Abbas in Jerusalem, informs him Jewish state will release Fatah inmates as goodwill gesture in honor of Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. All prisoners freed will be forced to sign commitment not to return to terror - Another goodwill gesture to the Palestinian Authority:Israel will release 250 Fatah prisoners in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha which will take place at the beginning of December, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Monday during a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem. Israeli officials clarified that the gesture will include the release of prisoners who were involved in terror but belong to the moderate camp, and are not members ofHamas or the Islamic Jihad. The release is part of Israel’s effort to encourage the moderate forces and prove that such gestures can only be reached by taking the road of peace.

Abbas: No partial agreements with Israel
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his rejection of any peace agreement that does not settle the core issues, including Jerusalem, refugees, and borders, in his negotiations with Israel. During a press conference in Ramallah with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Abbas said that he would not settle for half measures. He said the issues of water and security would also have to be settled, along with the release of Palestinian prisoners. President Abbas stressed the importance of Britain’s role in the peace process. Abbas has been negotiating a potential final resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for over a year. The talks have stumbled due to continued Israeli settlement construction and a lack of a unified Palestinian leadership. For his part, Miliband said that at a meeting earlier in the day between Abbas and the Israeli Prime. . .

Hamas: Abbas-Olmert meeting a ''farce''
Palestinian Information Center 11/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Monday described PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s meeting with the resigned Israeli premier Ehud Olmert as a "farce" and a "challenge to the Palestinian people’s feelings who are suffering at the hands of Israeli occupation in all areas of Palestine". Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman said in a press statement that the meeting clearly aims at covering up the Israeli occupation’s crimes and to beautifying its image following the savage scenes of its aggressions. Abbas has forsaken his people and is completely biased in favor of the Zio-American project, the spokesman charged, adding that Abbas obeyed all dictates of American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in her latest "ominous visit to the region" and personally supervised the political massacre in lines of Hamas and Palestinian resistance in the West Bank.

Israeli PM promises to release Palestinian prisoners
James Sturcke and agencies, The Guardian 11/17/2008
The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, today promised to release 250 Palestinian prisoners as violence continued in Gaza. Even as Olmert and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, met in Jerusalem, Gaza militants launched rockets, some of which landed in the border town of Sderot, where the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, was visiting. Miliband was not harmed, and it was not immediately clear whether he was still in the area at the time of the attack. Palestinian leaders asked the foreign secretary to take steps against Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, and Miliband criticised the construction during a news conference with Palestinian officials. Hamas militants overran the Gaza Strip last year, expelling Fatah forces loyal to Abbas. After a relatively effective five-month cease-fire, violence has returned, with. . .

Olmert pledges to free 250 Fatah prisoners in gesture to Abbas
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged on Monday to release 250 prisoners affiliated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement. During a meeting in Jerusalem, the prime minister vowed to make the gesture before the Msulim Eid Al-Adha holiday on 8 December, a spokesperson for Olmert told reporters. As a political as much as diplomatic gesture, none of those released will be members of Islamic factions, including Fatah’s rival, Hamas. Israel last released 198 Palestinians in a goodwill gesture in August. There are over 11,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, who are regarded as symbols of resistance to Israeli occupation. Palestinian officials said that during Monday’s meeting Abbas asked Olmert to extend a five-month-old truce in the Gaza Strip. The ceasefire is due to expire in December.

Olmert vows to release 250 detainees
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/17/2008
Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, met on Monday in Jerusalem with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and vowed to release 250 detainees as a gesture of good will ahead of the Adha Muslim feast. Israeli sources reported that all detainees who will be freed must sign a commitment not to carry any attacks against Israel. The sources added that some of the detainees who will be freed carried attacks against Israeli targets but are considered moderate and support the peace talks. Senior Israeli officials stated that this step "comes to encourage moderate forces to talk the road of peace". President Mahmoud Abbas stated in a press conference with the British Foreign Minister, David Miliband, that he and Olmert discussed the peace process and agreed on the release of 250 detainees, the return of deportees and also discussed Israel’s settlement activities in the West Bank.

British FM to pressure Israel on settlements
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband arrived in Israel yesterday for a two-day visit, and is expected to express strong opposition to West Bank settlement here. His visit comes while relations between Israel and Britain are strained, due to Downing Street’s intention to label products manufactured in the West Bank, as a means of applying economic sanctions. In addition, he is aiming to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace talks during his regional tour, which will include Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Yesterday, Miliband met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni During their meeting, Livni told her British counterpart she expected the international community to support Israel as it attempted to quell militant fire from the Gaza Strip. "Israel cannot just watch its citizens being attacked," she said.

Miliband: Israel must protect its own
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/17/2008
Visiting British foreign minister tours rocket-battered Sderot with Defense Minister Barak, who tells guest ’no country can accept constant bombardment of its citizens’. Shortly after their visit two Qassams fired from Gaza destroy greenhouse -Defense Minister Ehud Barak toured Sderot Monday with British Foreign Minister David Miliband. "Israel should, above all, seek to protect its own citizens," Miliband told the people of Sderot. After the tour two Qassam rockets were fired from Gaza. No injuries were reported, but damage was done to one of the greenhouses situated in Eshkol Regional Council. The Popular Resistance Committees and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. Barak and Miliband toured the Qassam-plagued city with Israel’s ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, British Ambassador to Israel Tom Philips, Sderot’s outgoing mayor, Eli Moyal, and the city’s new mayor, David Buskila.

Miliband begins Mideast trip in Occupied Jerusalem
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/17/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband arrived in the Middle East on Sunday for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a bid to bolster the peace process as Israel prepares for early elections. After landing in Israel, Miliband was due to go into Occupied Jerusalem talks with interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a British Embassy spokeswoman said. Before leaving London, he said his visit was an opportunity to sound out Israeli politicians ahead of the February polls. "My visit to Israel will allow me to listen to all of Israel’s political leaders at this important time," he said, according to a Foreign Office statement. Miliband is due to meet both Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and right-wing opposition Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, the two frontrunners to head a new government. He will also meet Defense Minister Ehud Barak, leader of the center-left. . .

Israelis bristle at attempt to limit exports
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 11/17/2008
David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, is embroiled in a diplomatic wrangle with Israel over Britain’s attempts to restrict European imports from Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The exchanges came after four Palestinian militants were killed by an Israeli airstrike on Gaza as they fired mortar rounds into Israel. One landed in the back yard of a home in the southern border town of Sderot, injuring one Israeli. The Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, and the outgoing Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, used meetings with Mr Miliband to complain about what an Israeli official earlier described as an "annoying" demand from the British Government for a tougher EU imports regime. An internal note circulated to the 27 EU member states suggests that among measures "aimed at curbing settlement building" they should follow Britain’s example by running more thorough checks to see whether. . .

Miliband visits Israel to ’show solidarity’ after rocket attacks
Haroon Siddique and agencies, The Guardian 11/17/2008
Palestinian militants fired six rockets into southern Israel today a few hours before the foreign secretary, David Miliband, was due to visit the area, Israeli police said. Miliband arrived in Israel last night and was scheduled to visit the southern Israeli town of Sderot today. The town has been one of the targets of recent rocket attacks by Palestinian militants as the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas threatens to unravel. Israeli spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the rockets fired today landed in open areas and no one was injured. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. Israeli operations against Hamas gunmen and rocket attacks on Israel by militants have put the five-month ceasefire under increasing strain over the past fortnight. Israel has closed crossings into Gaza, blocking deliveries of food, humanitarian supplies and fuel.

Livni: ''Settlements issue, over exaggerated''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/17/2008
During her meeting with the British Foreign Minister, David Miliband, Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Linvi, claimed that the issue of settlements in the occupied territories is "an over exaggerated thing"and demanded the UK to lift the restrictions on importing products manufactured in Israeli settlements, in addition to voiding arrest warrants against a number of Israeli military officials. Livni rejected the British intentions to impose restrictions on settlement products and the intentions to place an identification mark of these products in UK stores. The UK decision was met with anger by Israel but Miliband stated that the British government is under internal pressures to cease importing goods and products manufactured in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. Livni told Miliband that "she realizes the amount of pressure" but added that stating that settlements are obstructing peace "is over exaggeration".

Barak: Israel will not accept indiscriminate attacks on its citizens
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Monday toured the southern town of Sderot, which has been pounded by Palestinian militants’ rocket fire in recent days. "No country can accept long-term indiscriminate attacks from a foreign entity on its citizens, and Israel will also not accept it," said Barak. "We will act when the conditions are ripe and, when necessary, we will act with force. "Barak added, "I hope it will not take too long before we can once again bring tranquility to the entire region, and bring back our abducted soldier, Gilad Shalit. "Barak took questions from reporters who asked about a wider military incursion, but said that he does not intend to publicize any IDF operations in the press. "When the time comes for a broader attack, we will do that," said Barak.

Olmert accuses Hamas of ’shattering’ Gaza truce
Middle East Online 11/17/2008
JERUSALEM - Interim Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accused the democratically elected Hamas movement on Sunday of "shattering" the Gaza truce. Olmert told the weekly cabinet meeting that Israel could not stand idly by while it came under repeated rocket fire and said he had ordered security chiefs to draw up action plans against Hamas’s 17-month-old rule in Gaza. But several more rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel late on Sunday afternoon, leaving one person with light shrapnel wounds to the head and the arm, the army said. Defence officials said that Israel’s border crossings would remain closed to humanitarian deliveries to the aid-dependent territory, despite mounting international pressure for a resumption of desperately needed food and fuel. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was expected to press Olmert on the issue in talks on Monday, following appeals from both the European Union and the United Nations.

VIDEO - Gazans urged to pressure Hamas on Shalit
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 11/17/2008
(Video) Members of Smart Middle East forum believe that to influence Hamas, you must first win support of its public. New video appeal making rounds in Gaza tries to convince families of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel to put screws on Hamas - VIDEO - "Pressure Hamas" - that’s the key message a new initiative working to help free kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is trying to get across in Gaza. Video courtesy of Smart Middle East Forum - At a time when the talks between Israel and Hama s over the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit appear hopelessly stagnated, a forum called Smart Middle East has prepared a short Arabic-language video appealing to the families of those Palestinian prisoners in a bid to force Hamas back to the negotiations table. Circulated through e-mail, automated phone recordings and even video-sharing. . .

Gaza fighters launch up to 14 projectiles into Israel
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian military organizations launched as many as 14 homemade projectiles into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Monday, a day after Israeli forces killed four Palestinian fighters. The rockets were the latest attacks in an ongoing cross-border conflagration in which 15 Palestinians have been killed. As of Monday only one Israeli was lightly injured and others treated for shock after a projectile landed in a residential yard in the town of Sderot. The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for a total of ten projectiles, fired in three separate attacks. At noon the Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for launching eight projectiles into the Eshkol area, east of the Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. In the late afternoon the group said it fired one projectile at the same area, and another at “the Western Negev.

Olmert pledges to spur fortification efforts
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 11/17/2008
In response to court petition filed by southern communities, prime minister says fortification of homes threatened by Qassam rockets can be sped up if state approves Finance Ministry’s plan for development of infrastructure -Prime Minister Ehud Olmert plans to spur the fortification of houses in Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities, a government statement said Monday. The statement was made in response to a petition filed by residents with the High Court of Justice. The residents filed the petition after the Cabinet announced its decision not to increase funding for the fortification of houses within the realm of Qassam rockets. The statement explained why this decision was altered. It said Olmert had held a discussion on the global financial crisis, during which the Finance Ministry presented a plan on manners of dealing with its effects.

IDF releases video of Gaza gunners firing rockets at Israel
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/17/2008
The Israel Defense Forces released a video on Sunday evening showing militants in the Gaza Strip in the process of firing rockets at Israel. The video was released just hours after Israel Air Force troops killed four Palestinian gunners at a launching pad in northerern Gaza. The video shows militants positioning a rocket launcher and distancing themselves from it before opening fire. Meanwhile, a Qassam rocket fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip struck a residential yard in the southern town of Sderot on Sunday, leaving one person with light shrapnel wounds. Several other people were treated for shock. This was the third rocket to hit the Negev on Sunday, as violence between Israel and the coastal territory continued for a second week.

Over 10 Kassams fired at South
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
Palestinian factions in Gaza continued their rocket assault on the South on Monday, firing over 10 rockets into Israel. Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza continues to hail down on Israel Two Kassam rockets struck the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council Monday evening; no injuries or damage were reported. During the afternoon, shortly after a tour of Sderot conducted by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and British Foreign Minister David Miliband, two Kassam rockets landed in the Eshkol Regional Council, damaging a greenhouse. During the tour, Barak said he told the British foreign minister that "no country can accept continuous and indiscriminate shelling of its citizens from a foreign entity, and Israel will not accept this either.

Water quota mulled if drought continues
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Israelis’ lifestyles may have to be drastically altered if there is a drought this year, the Ministry of National Infrastructures warned during a special discussion on the water crisis during yesterday’s cabinet meeting. Among the possible actions the water authority may be forced to take are a drastic cut in water for public parks and gardens, and a significant increase in water rates to lower consumption. Extreme measures, such as water quotas for households, are also under consideration. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said during the meeting that bureaucratic mistakes were responsible for the lack of needed desalinization plants in recent years, which could have provided an answer to the present water crisis. The cabinet made a number of decisions, including the establishment of a ministerial committee to remove barriers to building a large desalinization plant in Ashdod.

Two thousand angry protesters cut electricity and build road blocks at Beit Fajjar Stone Factory
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Two thousand workers in the Beit Fajjar Stone factories staged aggressive strike action south of Bethlehem on Saturday and 1,000 participated Sunday, calling for better wages and regular pay, as well as strict adherence to the Palestinian Labor Law. Workers erected barriers around the factories, preventing trucks from delivering supplies or exporting stone products. Large numbers of strikers were posted around the several compounds to prevent the use of alternative entry or exit points. Some said the electricity in some factories was also cut off. Member of the stone and construction workers union Khaled Thawabtah said the strike came after a series of small-scale protests which were ignored by the factory administrations. Head of the Stone Masons Union in Palestine Subhi Thawabtah said the union “supports workers’ rights” but encouraged strikers to move forward in “peaceful and democratic ways.

Israeli moderately injured in West Bank shooting
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 11/17/2008
Man shot twice in apparent auto theft after entering Palestinian village near Kedumim settlement. Police launch investigation; shooters escape with vehicle - An Israeli citizen was moderately injured Monday after being shot in the foot and chest by a Palestinian near the Kedumim settlement in the West Bank in an apparent robbery. A Magen David Adom crew arrived at the scene and evacuated the injured man to Kedumim clinic, from which he was then transferred to hospital by helicopter. An initial investigation revealed that the Israeli driver entered the Palestinian village of al-Funduk near Kedumim, apparently to do some shopping. Two Palestinians tried to steal the man’s car but the Israeli resisted and as a result the Palestinians shot him twice, and drive off in his vehicle. The victim managed to make his way to Kedumim intersection, where he received primary medical treatment.

Israeli man moderately injured in criminally linked West Bank shooting
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
An Israeli man sustained moderate injuries Monday after being shot at by Palestinians, who then stole his car near the West Bank settlement of Kdumim. The man, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron, had gone down to run errands in a nearby Arab village on Sunday when assailants attacked him, inflicting injuries to his abdomen and foot. An Israeli who had witnessed the attack evacuated the victim to hospital in Kdumim, as the assailants fled the scene with the victim’s vehicle. Police have launched an investigation into the incident and are conducting searches for the assailants. [end]

Hamas: The PA declined morally and politically when it kidnapped Asfour
Palestinian Information Center 11/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated that the kidnapping of Hamas leader Adnan Asfour for some time on Sunday evening soon after he was released from Israeli jails reflected the level of moral, security and political decline the PA leadership and its security apparatuses had reached. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called in this regard on Egypt to declare its position towards the political arrests in the West BankBarhoum held PA chief Mahmoud Abbas directly responsible for the liquidation campaign against the Palestinian resistance and Hamas in the West Bank, adding that Abbas became a destructive element and a threat to the Palestinian people. The spokesman strongly denounced the PLO factions for their silence towards the political arrests practiced by the PA and Fatah leadership, pointing out that the arrest campaigns destroyed the bridges of trust and the Palestinian people’s hope of returning to the dialog.

Haniyeh: Talks with Fatah postponed, not cancelled
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Monday that an Egyptian-brokered summit of Palestinian factions has not been cancelled, but rather postponed. Haniyeh, the prime minister of the de facto government in Gaza, said that the summit aimed at restoring unity between Hamas and rival Fatah would be resumed when “pending issues” are resolved. Hamas pulled out of a Palestinian reconcilliation summit planned to begin in Cairo last week in protest of Fatah holding Hamas-affiliated political prisoners. A Hamas-Fatah unity government collapsed in June after Hamas violently took full control of the Gaza Strip. In a statement Haniyeh said he would communicate these views to Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who has played a role in brokering Hamas-Fatah dialogue. Haniyeh said he is eager to pursue intra-Palestinain dialogues, but that talks would require the proper ‘atmosphere’ to succeed.

PA crackdown has Hamas reducing cash transfers to West Bank
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Hamas has dramatically reduced its money transfers to various charitable organizations in the West Bank formerly linked to the group, as the Palestinian Authority continues to assert its control over those organizations. Hamas had used the charities to transfer money to its operatives in the West Bank and to strengthen its standing among the Palestinian public. Since the beginning of this year, the PA has systematically installed new managements at the charities, which then transferred the organizations’ assets to the PA itself. In addition, the PA has appointed religious leaders affiliated with the Ramallah government to the Waqf Islamic religious trust, which was previously run by clerics identified with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ parent movement. This leadership change has forced Hamas to stem the flow of money to the charities it once funded.

Abu Marzouk: Abbas’s security works hard to crush all voices against Israel
Palestinian Information Center 11/17/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, stated that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s security apparatuses devoted themselves to eliminate all voices against Israeli occupation, Dayton and the roadmap plan. Dr. Abu Marzouk underlined that the detention of Hamas leader Adnan Asfour, who was only released after the intervention of Palestinian and Egyptian dignitaries, was conclusive evidence that the PA apparatuses work for Israel and act upon its orders. The Hamas leader also noted that if the PA continued to work against the Palestinian resistance, serve the Israeli occupation and implement the roadmap plan, there would not be any future inter-Palestinian dialog. Abu Marzouk asserted, in this respect, that Hamas would never go to dialog under pressure. Palestinian local sources reported that the PA security apparatuses kidnapped 24 Palestinian. . .

EU donates 750,000 Euros to pave way for future Palestinian elections
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - The European Union is handing over three quarters of a million Euros to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission to help pave the way for future elections. Roy Dickinson, the European Commission’s Head of Operations in Jerusalem, and Hanna Nassir, the Chairman of the Central Elections Commission (CEC) signed the grant agreement on Monday. The Palestinian Authority is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in 2009 and 2010, but the ongoing political split between the West Bank and Gaza, disputes about the timing of the elections, and the Israeli closure of Gaza have cast serious doubts about whether elections are feasible. The CEC will use the grant for an elections outreach program in Palestinian schools, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. The CEC will train school teachers on the elections system and provide materials. . .

Fatah prepares to repatriate exiled leaders in advance of sixth conference in new year
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Several key and senior Fatah members will soon arrive in the West Bank, said head of Palestinian National Council (PNC) Salim Az-Za’noun said on Sunday. The plan will see the party members moved to the West Bank “permanently,” though Az-Za’noun did not indicate whether the leaders were being evacuated from Gaza or brought in from Syria, the Arab world or abroad. He did indicate that the move was part of the extended plans for a sixth Fatah conference. Hinting at the date for the conference, on which details remain scarce, party members indicated that it is slated for some time in the first few months of the new year. The Jordanian daily paper Al-Ghad quoted Az-Za’noun as saying arrangements were being made so that Fatah members who do not have Palestinian identity cards will be able to enter the West Bank “permanently.

Caretaker government lashes out at Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an – The West Bank-based Palestinian government accused the rival Hamas movement of resisting newly deployed Palestinian security forces on Monday. Riad Al-Maliki, the spokesperson of the Fatah-dominated government said that a current security campaign in the West Bank is nonetheless “going well. ”"All the threats by Hamas to control the West Bank are worthless threats," said Al-Maliki. Hamas has accused the Palestinian Authority of cracking down on political opposition in the West Bank. There has been speculation that Palestinian factional fighting could flare up again when President Mahmoud Abbas’ term expires in January. In his weekly press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Al-Maliki said Abbas would soon call a cabinet meeting to discuss how to pursue the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.

Abbas’ absence from Cairo meeting, political arrests caused Hamas to boycott talks
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to participate in meetings at the aborted Cairo Palestinian reconciliation meeting contributed to Hamas’ decision to boycott the summit, informed sources told Ma’an. This revelation is contributing to an emerging picture of Hamas’ reasons for withdrawing from the meeting, which contributed to its premature collapse. The sources said that Abbas wanted to participate only in ceremonial sessions, not the political negotiations at the Cairo talks, which collapsed before they even began. Since part of the Hamas-Fatah split is the status of Abbas’ presidency, Hamas saw it as imperative that he attend the sessions. Abbas had not planned to attend the opening day of the summit, instead appearing at a meeting of the international Quartet on Middle East peace.

IDF officials: Settlers unlikely to quit Hebron home unless forced
Tomer Zarchin Nadav Shragai and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/17/2008
Settlers have three days to evacuate a disputed building in the West Bank town of Hebron, the High Court ruled Sunday. IDF officials predicted, however that settlers would not voluntarily vacate within the designated time and that forced would most likely be used to implement the evacuation. The officials said the IDF has a total 30 days to complete the settlers’ evacuation from Hebron and to return the building to the proper Palestinian owners. The High Court ruling drew ire from right-wing politicians on Sunday, who termed the eviction "discriminatory" and "scandolous. "The four-story building became a flash point for tensions when settlers moved in early last year after claiming to have purchased it from a Palestinian. But the Palestinian denies the claim and Israeli authorities have not recognized the sale as legal.

Israeli court orders colonists to end takeover of Hebron house
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/17/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel’s High Court on Sunday gave Jewish settlers three days to evacuate a house in the Occupied West Bank town of Hebron whose ownership is contested. The ruling, which was slammed by settler leaders, follows a series of violent clashes between Israeli security forces and hard-line Jews seeking to erect unauthorized outposts in the Occupied West Bank. All Israeli presence in the Occupied West Bank is illegal under international and stands in violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions. The court rejected an appeal by two right-wing organizations against an order issued by the state to evacuate the Hebron house, which the settlers claim they had purchased from a Palestinian, who denies selling the house. The house was occupied by dozens of hard-line Jewish settlers in March 2007.

Uzi Landau joins Yisrael Beiteinu
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 11/17/2008
Former minister, who served as Knesset member on behalf of Likud for 22 years, announces plan to move to Avigdor Lieberman’s party - Dr. Uzi Landau, who served as a Knesset member on behalf of the Likud for 22 years, is moving to Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, Ynet has learned. Last week, Landau decided not to run for the 18th Knesset on behalf of the Likud. "This wasn’t an easy decision for me, but I’m at peace with it," Landau said at a joint press conference with Lieberman. He went on to slam his former party. "Today I’m leaving the Likud, which was my political home since my youth. I served there with many friends for many years. Even after it cleaned itself off the Kadima gang, which has no way and no ideology and is essentially an expression of opportunism, the Likud is still gradually losing its identity, and it’s unclear to me where it is heading.

Landau joins Israel Beiteinu because he ’can’t trust Likud’
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
Veteran former Likud minister Uzi Landau announced at a Tel Aviv press conference on Monday that he was joining Israel Beiteinu as Avigdor Lieberman’s number two. Former Likud MK Uzi Landau announces he will join Israel Beiteinu party Landau served as an MK from 1984 until 2006. He served as internal security minister and a minister-without-portfolio in former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s governments but quit in protest of the Gaza Strip disengagement. Lieberman first spoke to Landau about joining his party a year ago, but Landau only decided to return to politics over the past two months. He said he joined Israel Beiteinu because he was afraid of Kadima Leader Tzipi Livni forming the next government or Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu giving her a prominent role in a government he would form. "I see what’s happening in the political arena and the danger of Tzipi Livni leading the country," Landau told The Jerusalem Post.

Begin, Meridor grab spotlight at Likud central committee meet
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday recognized the faction members who had sat in the opposition with him, even as high-profile candidates for the party’s Knesset list, like returning Likudnik Benny Begin, stole the spotlight at Sunday’s central committee meeting. "Take a good look at the 12 faction members - these are the people who walked with me in the political wilderness and flew the Likud flag during hard times," Netanyahu told the central committee members. The comments appeared to be intended to diminish tensions ahead of the December 8 primary, during which many candidates are expected to displace some of the MKs who sat through Likud’s time in the opposition. Three years after Netanyahu took the power to choose the MKs out of the hands of the central committee and led Likud to one of its worst defeats, he has returned to the central committee as a victor.

Israel wants more Palestinians to join army
Daan Bauwens, Inter Press Service, Daily Star 11/18/2008
TEL AVIV: The Israeli government has begun to actively promote voluntary army service for Palestinian-Israelis. The Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, is meanwhile considering plans to make civil service compulsory for all Israeli citizens, including Palestinian-Israelis. The Palestinian community in Israel - the remnants of the indigenous population who were not ousted or fled from their land in the face of a Jewish terror campaign that preceded the creation of Israel - is opposing the plans. Leaders say the proposals are only a way of getting rid of Palestinian identity. Palestinian-Israelis also have misgivings about compulsory national civil service, which means community service in towns, hospitals or schools as an alternative to military service. Last month Israel’s Haaretz daily newspaper presented recruitment numbers showing an increase in the number of Palestinian-Israelis volunteering for the army. -- See also: Chief IDF rabbi: Army rabbinate needs to inculcate Jewish values

Chief IDF rabbi: Army rabbinate needs to inculcate Jewish values
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
The chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces is sticking to his position that the military rabbinate must be involved in inculcating soldiers and officers with "values and Jewish awareness," despite the opposition of the education corps. "There is a crucial need to connect [the] soldiers with their roots and Jewish values," Rabbi Avihai Ronski wrote in a letter he sent earlier this month to officers in the military rabbinate, in response to criticism that arose in response to a Haaretz article describing the rabbis’ activities. "Thank God we have the privilege of dealing with this. We should continue to act in the area of Jewish awareness. " Haaretz reported a month ago that the IDF rabbinate was getting involved in areas under the responsibility of the education corps and quoted senior officers as saying the IDF rabbis are. . . -- See also: Israel wants more Palestinians to join army

How did IDF gain control over half of the country?
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Some countries have an army, and some armies, like the Israel Defense Forces, have a country. According to a recent study on the defense establishment and land in Israel, various defense bodies lord over half the land. The army tops the list, but they all largely do as they please with respect to planning and development. The result is that while the rest of the country adopts orderly processes, starting from national and regional master plans, much of the state land remains managed separately. The existence of this kingdom may be essential, but its size and management methods have yet to face serious public scrutiny. The study, "A Land in Khaki: Geographic Dimension of Defense in Israel," was written by geographers Amiram Oren and Rafi Regev and published by Carmel Publishing. Oren has been researching how the defense establishment’s activities affect the planning of land use, the environment and the property sector.

Hermesh blasts Kadima for not reserving slot for him
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
The Kadima faction decided to reserve slots on the party’s list for women, immigrants and a non-Jew in a meeting at the party’s Petah Tikva headquarters on Monday, angering representatives of other sectors. MK Shai Hermesh, who represents kibbutzim and moshavim in Kadima, stormed out of the meeting in protest against the decision to reject his request for a reserved slot for his sector. Livni’s chief of staff Amir Goldstein ran out of the building after Hermesh, but he refused to return. "It is chutzpah that they are reserving places for Arabs and immigrants and not for the pioneers who settled this land," Hermesh said on his way out of the building. Hermesh said he was angry because Kadima faction chairman Yoel Hasson prevented a vote on reserving the slot. He said his sector brought the party three seats in the last election and yet he still did not make the Knesset until. . .

Israel Land Administration workers arrested in bribery affair
Noam Sharvit, Globes Online 11/17/2008
"The suspects used their seniority within the authority to satisfy their greed. "Four Israel Land Administration (ILA) workers have been arrested by Israel Police on suspicion of accepting bribes and sexual favors in exchange for reducingpayments owed to the ILA. The bribery is believed to have cost the taxpayer millions of shekels. A further 27 suspects were also detained by police, among them lawyers and middle-men, who are suspected of offering and soliciting bribes. Detectives also raided the ILA offices in Tel Aviv where they seized documents. Police say their inquiries have revealed a case of serious, wide-ranging corruption in the public sector in which "the suspects used their seniority within the authority to satisfy their greed. " The inquiry was launched a year ago after detectives at the Israel Police Economic Crimes Unit received information that the suspects. . .

Crime war feared after Alperon hit
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
Police fear a full-scale war between the country’s various organized crime families will erupt after Mafia kingpin Ya’acov Alperon was killed when a car bomb exploded in his vehicle on a busy Tel Aviv thoroughfare Monday afternoon. Mob kingpin Yaakov Alperon killed in Tel Aviv assassination Three bystanders, including a 13-year-old boy, were wounded in the blast, which left Alperon’s car ablaze as it sat on the corner of Rehov Yehuda Hamaccabi and Derech Namir. The lifeless body of the mob boss, known on the street as "Don Alperon," dangled from an open door. "We received a report of an explosion in a car," paramedic Lior Elharar told Army Radio. "We arrived within several minutes and found three casualties, one of whom was dead. " RELATEDAnalysis: ’This is a war over honor’ "I heard a huge blast and I approached the junction," Idit, an eyewitness, said.

Crime boss killed in underworld Tel Aviv car bombing
Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
A car bomb in central Tel Aviv killed one of Israel’s top mafia kingpins on Monday, threatening to unleash an all-out war in Israel’s increasingly violent underworld. Israel Police officials identified the dead man as Ya’akov Alperon, the head of one of the country’s most powerful crime families. Medics said three bystanders were also lightly wounded in the explosion, including a 13-year-old boy. In recent years, mob wars have plagued Israeli towns and cities. Rival underworld gangs have waged bloody battles for control of gambling and protection rackets, targeting each other with bullets, bombs and even anti-tank missiles in violence that has killed dozens of gangsters and at least eight bystanders in the last three years. Monday’s attack was by far the most high-profile incident to date.

Reputed mob boss Alperon killed in blast
Avi Cohen, YNetNews 11/18/2008
Car carrying senior crime figure Yaakov Alperon explodes near bus stop on Namir Road; three other people lightly injured. Former police commander believes family will avenge murder -A loud blast rocked north Tel Aviv on Monday after a rented car carrying reputed crime boss Yaakov Alperon exploded near a bus stop. Magen David Adom rescue forces reported that the person in the car, later identified as Alperon, was killed and three bystanders were lightly injured. Alperon attended a court hearing earlier Monday. The incident took place shortly before 12 pm on the corner of Yehuda Maccabi Street and Namir Road. Large police and MDA forces were dispatched to the area. Zion, the manager of a photo shop on Yehuda Hamaccabi Street, told Ynet, "There was a very loud explosion, on Namir Road, between Bavli and Pinkas Streets.

VIDEO - Plagued by staggering debts, Israeli tycoons struggle to keep companies afloat
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for November 17, 2008. The global economic crisis has threatened many fortunes around the world. In Israel in particular, the value of the holdings of two big-name tycoons have been falling so dramatically that experts fear they won’t be able to recover. Billionaires Yitzhak Tshuva and Lev Leviev, who own Delek Group and Africa Israel, both have debts totaling tens of millions of shekels. It’s unclear whether their assets exceed those debts. The deteriorating value of Leviev and Tshuva’s companies has been brought on by the sharp downturn their stocks have taken amid plummeting shareholder confidence. Africa Israel’s value has dropped by 92 percent since the start of 2008, wiping out 17 billion shekels of its value.

Bottom shekel / The market doesn’t want their debt
Hagai Amit, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
The capital market has decided: Lev Leviev and Yitzhak Tshuva are going to have trouble overcoming the situation. That’s what the events of the last few weeks mean. During the good years, their empires - Africa Israel and Delek respectively - borrowed massively. On Thursday, if you wanted to lend money to Leviev, you could buy Africa Israel bonds on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange at a yield of 62%, which means a 62% return each year until the bond matures. Meanwhile, just about every other investment avenue in the market is racking up negative returns. Also on Thursday, if you wanted to lend money to Tshuva, you could buy Delek Group bonds at a yield of more than 20%. Bonds of subsidiary Delek Real Estate could be had for a yield of 61% (B5 series) or an astronomical 152% (B4 series). Yet somehow, nobody was buying bonds from Leviev or Tshuva on Thursday.

’Israel, Germany develop nuclear warning system’
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
Working in secret, Israel and Germany have jointly developed a nuclear missile detection system, according to the Defense News Web site. Code-named Project Bluebird, the system is based on the prototype of an aerial infrared sensor designed to identify a nuclear-tipped missile speeding toward a target amid a cluster of decoy missiles. Military planners work under the assumption that in a nuclear strike, decoy missiles could be launched along with those carrying nuclear warheads to confuse and overwhelm missile defense shields. According to the sources, Project Bluebird is designed to avert such a scenario. On November 3, Defense News published details of the program and cited a German defense official as confirming its existence. According to the Web site, the system’s infrared sensor has already been tested aboard a business jet.

Middle East would challenge Clinton as secretary of state
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/17/2008
WASHINGTON: Hillary Clinton, if Barack Obama names her secretary of state as media speculation suggests, will confront staggering challenges overseas like US military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorism and a defiant Iran. Clinton, 61, a high-profile senator from New York, formidable Obama presidential campaign rival and former first lady, would be tasked with ushering in a new era of US diplomacy promised by Obama. Sources close to Clinton and Obama did not deny media reports that the former first lady met Obama in Chicago on Thursday and was in the frame to become the top US diplomat. She would face high expectations from a world that has yearned for an end to the turbulent eight years of President George W. Bush and that widely welcomed the victory of America’s first black president with his promises of change.

Appointing Hillary secretary of state would be bold move - Kissinger
Daily Star 11/17/2008
NEW DEHLI, India: Speaking to a session of the World Economic Forum’s 24th India Economic Summit, held in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger endorsed US Senator Hillary Clinton, rumored to be the favorite for the post in President-elect Barack Obama’s administration. "I believe it would be an outstanding appointment," Kissinger said. "If it is true, it shows. . . great courage on the part of the president-elect. To appoint a very strong personality into a prominent cabinet position requires a great deal of courage. " Kissinger acknowledged that "Obama was my second choice in the election. But at the same time, I want to stress that this is the moment for nonpartisanship in America. There are a number of challenges that must be dealt with. "Among other pressing priorities is the West’s row with Iran over Tehran’s nuclear. . .

MI Chief: I support direct talks between Iran and U.S.
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Military Intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin said on Monday that he was not opposed to direct talks between Israel and the United States, saying "dialogue is not appeasement. " Speaking at the annual lecture in honor of late Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Moshe Dayan at Tel Aviv University, Yadlin said that Barack Obama’s election as U. S. president and the world financial crisis present an opportunity to halt the Iranian nuclear drive through diplomacy. Iran has been stung by lower global oil prices in recent months. Obama’s election also sets the stage to apply international pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear aspirations, Yadlin went on to say. "Iran will do anything not to be cornered into the position of Iraq or North Korea," he said. "Iran is also very susceptible to international pressure because of the crisis.

GA special report / Ex-IDF chief: Military option against Iran still exists
Bradley Burston, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon, widely rumored to be weighing a run for Knesset on Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud list, said Monday that the military option for an attack on Iran still exists. While Western forces are capable of effectively attacking Iran, Israel should be prepared to go it alone if necessary, Ya’alon said. He stressed that keeping the military option on the table was a vital element of a wider strategy encompassing political isolation of the Tehran regime, and international economic "smart sanctions. "Asked if, as a last resort following talks and sanctions, Iraq’s nuclear program could still be stopped through military means, Ya’alon told a panel discussion of the United Jewish Communities General Assembly:"I believe that most of the Western armed forces, especially air forces, have the right capabilities. . .

GA special report / Olmert: World must confront Iran’s malevolence
Bradley Burston and Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that the world must "confront Iran’s malevolence" and stop the Muslim country from developing nuclear weapons. Olmert was speaking to the United Jewish Communities General Assembly (GA), an annual conference of thousands of participants from North America, held in Jerusalem this year. The GA, generally held in the United States and Canada, was last convened in Israel five years ago. "Iran has not terminated its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Iran has not ceased its funding and training of terrorists in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, and around the world," the prime minister told the cheering crowd. "Iran has not stopped its pursuit of regional hegemony and creating chaos in this tormented region. "he continued.

’Iran will have nukes within two years’
Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
With Iran less than two years away from acquiring nuclear capability, a combined strategy of political isolation, increased economic sanctions and the threat of military action as a last resort is the best way to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons, former chief of General Staff Lt. -Gen. (res. ) Moshe Ya’alon said Monday. He said warily that President-elect Barack Obama’s readiness for tough diplomacy could be constructive, provided it advanced that three-pronged strategy. "It’s a matter of a couple [of] years, one to two years, not more than that, until Iran is capable of coming out with nuclear capability," Ya’alon told a gathering of North American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. The former military chief is reportedly on the verge of entering politics, and has been touted as a possible future defense minister in a government led by Likud opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

Peres: Israel can bring peace to Middle East
Diana Zinkler, YNetNews 11/17/2008
On second day of UJC General Assembly President Peres tells participants Israel can play major role in resolving regional conflicts; says he is confident Israel-US relations will remain warm after change of administration - President Shimon Peres was the guest of honor on the second day of the United Jewish Communities’ General Assembly, which conevened in Israel for the 77th time this week. Peres opened the first session of the day at the Jerusalem International Convention Center with a speech on Israel-US relations, peace in the region and Iran. Speaking to a crowd of North American and Israeli Jews, Peres addressed the recent election of Barak Obama to US president, and said: "I have not the slightest doubt that the relationship between Israel and the US will be warm, profound and reasonable. "Peres received warm applause when he told the audience that when Obama asked. . .

MI chief: Low probability of war between Israel, enemies in ’09
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
The probability of a war between Israel and its enemies over the next year is low, military intelligence chief Maj. -Gen. Amos Yadlin said Monday. Speaking Monday at Tel Aviv University, he said the world is waiting to see how the financial crisis plays out, and how the new US administration deals with the threat from Iran. He said Iran is Israel’s main threat, calling it "the regime with radical ideology and radical weapons. " Yadlin surmised that Syria might make peace with Israel, but only if Israel gives in to all Syria’s demands, though even then, Syria would not cut ties with terror groups. On the Israel-Palestinians conflict, Yadlin said that Israel could deal with two entities, working toward peace with Fatah in the West Bank while confronting Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. Last month, Yadlin told the cabinet that if Israel’s indirect talks. . .

GA special report / Peres to Obama: To help Israel, be a great president for the U.S.
Bradley Burston and Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
President Shimon Peres, relating a conversation he had with Barack Obama, said Monday that when Obama asked him what he could do for Israel, Peres replied, "Be a great president of the United States. "Speaking to the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Jerusalem, Peres dismissed fears that traditionally strong U. S. Israeli-relations would change under an Obama administration. "People say: Will he be nice to Israel or not? I am not an expert, but I want to tell you that I don’t have the slightest doubt that the relations between the United States and Israel will remain warm, profound, responsible," Peres said, to prolonged cheers. "When Obama asked me what can he do for Israel, I told him: Be a great president of the United States. "

GA special report / Olmert: Strong Israel is best deterrent protecting world Jewry
Bradley Burston and Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, evoking the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogroms that presaged the Holocaust, said Sunday that a strong Israel is the most effective deterrent protecting Jews worldwide. Speaking in Jerusalem to the United Jewish Communities General Assembly (GA), an annual conference of thousands of participants from North America, and focusing his remarks on a large contingent of U. S. and Canadian Jewish youth taking part in programs in Israel, Olmert noted the anniversary, declaring: "Today, while anti-Semitism exists and certainly in some countries it still flourishes, no Jew should hide his religious identity. We must stand up and be proud of our heritage, our past, our culture. "Today, the strong state of Israel is our most effective deterrent to protect the Jewish people worldwide," he said.

GA conference / JA Chairman Ze’ev Bielski blames $45 million cutback on financial crisis
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
In a well-timed move, the Jewish Agency held a press conference two weeks ago to announce internal cutbacks and layoffs. The announcement allowed JA Chairman Ze’ev Bielski to arrive at the organization’s annual assembly, which concluded yesterday in Jerusalem, with one less closeted skeleton to worry about. Indeed, given the assembly’s broad and well-publicized forum made up of 1,000 Jewish Agency officials and partners, it might have been difficult to keep rumors of impending dismissals under wraps and out of the papers - as Bielski himself is quite willing to concede. "After some deliberation we decided to go public instead of having it leak little by little," Bielski told Haaretz in an interview ahead of the assembly this week, which preceded the United Jewish Communities General Assembly. The two events this year drew thousands of people from all over the world, and constitute. . .

Holocaust educational program to be exported to the US
Ruth Eglash, Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
An intergenerational Holocaust educational initiative that has been running successfully here for the past eight years is set to be exported to the US, thanks to a large financial donation and the determination of the program’s sponsors. Presented Monday at the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Jerusalem, "Witness Theater" is a year-and-a-half long interactive educational project bringing together Holocaust survivors and high school students with the aim of never forgetting the Nazi atrocities perpetrated against the Jews. It culminates in an extremely moving piece of theater, in which survivors retell their stories while students act out the experiences on stage. "The aim is for the two generations to interact and for the survivors to find a positive forum to retell their stories," explained Professor Itzhak Brick, the director-general of the Joint Distribution. . .

JNF branches in US, Israel end feud with new agreement
Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
An ongoing feud between the Israeli and American branches of the Jewish National Fund which threatened the 107-year-old organization’s future has ended, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The feud had pitted the Israeli Keren Kayemet LeIsrael against the Jewish National Fund in the United States, which raises funds for KKL in the largest Diaspora community, in a bitter dispute over ownership of the "KKL" brand. The American branch had registered it under its name in the United States, while the Israeli organization sought to keep the brand for itself. The feud even led to legal action from KKL toward the American organization and board members. The fight ended formally on November 5 as KKL’s board unanimously approved an agreement according to which a third company, tentatively named "NewCo," would own the brand in perpetuity, leasing it to the American branch.

Police report 40% rise in drug smuggling
Yuval Yoaz, YNetNews 11/17/2008
Data by National Police Headquarters show high increase in trafficking, smuggling in 2008 compared to 2007, with hundreds of kilograms of drugs entering Israel from north, south, east, airport -The number of drug trafficking and smuggling cases opened in Israel in 2008 rose by 40% in 2008 compared to last year. The data were presented to Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen on Sunday in a National Police Headquarters discussion on the special units that have been set up in recent years aimed at combating the smuggling of drugs through Israel’s borders. According to the data, during 2008 theLebanon border drug unit confiscated over 122 kilograms (269 pounds) of heroin, some 23 kg (50 pounds) of hashish and some 5 kg (11 pounds) of cocaine. The southern border drug unit confiscated 115 kg (253 pounds) of several different drugs, and just two days ago,. . .

Mon: Real estate falls further
Yael Schwartzbart, Globes Online 11/17/2008
Bank shares fell, following reports yesterday that the Bank of Israel is considering ordering them to set aside larger doubtful debt reserves. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) fell today. The Tel Aviv 25 Index fell 1. 63% to 661. 01 points, the Tel Aviv 100 Index fell 1. 74% to 577. 07 points, and the Tel-Tech fell 1. 16% to 129. 35 points. Turnover was NIS 1. 23 billion. The TASE opened higher today, with investors hoping for some balance to yesterday’s negative opening to the week. But by mid-day, the market turned down and ended lower. Overseas markets opened the weak lower, following the weak close to last week. Over the weekend, the leaders of the world’s major economies the G20 met in Washington and discussed an aid package, but no decisions were reached. An aid package is being discussed in Israel as well, and was reportedly approved by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, but. . .

Merrill Lynch applies for remote TASE membership
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 11/17/2008
The application, from Merrill Lynch International, is the first of its kind. Investment house Merrill Lynch is the first applicant for remote membership on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE). The application was submitted by its subsidiary Merrill Lynch International (MLI). Merrill was bought by Bank of America in September in a $50 billion all-stock transaction. Merrill Lynch is one of the largest brokerage houses in the world. Its subsidiary, Merrill Lynch International, a member of the London Stock Exchange for over ten years, operates on behalf of large institutional investors around the globe. Merrill Lynch’s remote membership will enable the company to provide its clients with direct access to TASE trading. At the same time, its membership will increase the exposure of TASE listed companies to a broad spectrum of foreign investors.

B-G Airport strike ends as Histadrut chief calls for renewed talks in labor dispute
Zohar Blumankrantz, and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/17/2008
Ben-Gurion International Aiport employees ended their short-lived but disruptive strike at on Sunday evening, after the head of the Histadrut Labor Federation intervened and called to renew negotiations between workers and management officials. The strike, declared earlier Sunday, had caused delays in departures from Ben-Gurion Airport as well as disruptions in baggage unloading from arriving flights. Histadrut chief Ofer Eini broke into in the ongoing dispute, after management threatened to call for a decree forcing the employees back to work. Airport management earlier on Sunday claimed the negotiations ran into difficulties over workers’ demand for an increase in salary. The workers, however, blamed management for reneging on agreements that had gone into effect only last week following another one-day strike by IAA workers. . .

Short-lived wildcat strike shuts Ben-Gurion airport
Zohar Blumenkrantz, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Hundreds of Israel Airports Authority employees protested yesterday afternoon opposite the organization’s headquarters after declaring a general strike at Ben-Gurion International Airport. The strike quickly ended as the Histadrut labor federation intervened and called to renew negotiations between workers and management officials. Histadrut chief Ofer Eini broke into in the ongoing dispute, after management threatened to call for a decree forcing the employees back to work. This is the second time in a week workers called a strike, with both sides still blaming each other for their failure to reach an agreement. A week ago, airport employees returned to their regular work through the intervention of the Tel Aviv Labor Court, after delays in service caused disruptions in air traffic. Management officials said the talks had failed due to employees’ wage demands.

Palestinan film wins silver at 14th Cairo Arab Media Festival
Ma’an News Agency 11/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian film Kaffa! won silver this week at the Fourteenth annual Cairo Festival for Arab Media in the category of short film, in a pool of 33 films. Kaffa!, which means "enough" in Arabic, was produced by the Ma’an TV Network in 2008 and tells the story of internal political division through the lens of a Palestinian family whose sons are affiliated with different political factions. The tragic-comic film calls to action all sides and begs for an effort to heal the rift between brothers. Winning first place in the short film competition was the Syrian Al-Mahattah Al-Qadima (The Next Phase). Journalists, actors, directors and writers from 18 Arab countries were entered in the festival in dozens of categories relating to cultural and media-related fields. After winning the silver prize Kaffa! director Sa’d Al-Arouri said that while Ma’an faced. . .

Out of the shadows
Linda Grant, The Guardian 11/18/2008
Nearly a decade ago I sat in a half-empty screening room at the ICA in London, watching Israeli director Amos Gitai’s film Kippur. The audience talking in Hebrew before the lights went down indicated that I was in a minority of those requiring subtitles. The film’s subject was the disastrous first week of the northern campaign of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the soldiers sliding in the mud, assailed from the skies by Syrian bombers. This was, Israeli friends assured me, almost certainly an allegory of the quagmire in Lebanon at the time, although Israeli cinema was almost unknown outside its own country. Israel on screen was an aspect of the news. It lacked a niche even in the art house. Until recently, Israeli film was insular, hemmed in by the restrictions of a tiny market for the Hebrew language, the Arab boycott in the. . .

War, death and animation: Cartoon film stirs Israel’s conscience
The Independent 11/17/2008
Until a matter of months ago, very few Israelis realised that their army fired flares to light up Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps while Lebanese Christian militiamen committed the notorious massacre of Palestinian civilians there in 1982. But Ari Folman, who as a 19-year-old soldier fired some of the flares, makes their descent through the sky over Beirut’s beachfront one of the recurring images of Waltz With Bashir, his "animated documentary" that premiers in Britain this week. In Israel, the film has rekindled discussion about the divisive invasion of Lebanon that was initially billed by Ariel Sharon, who was defence minister at the time, as a limited push to halt PLO rocket attacks, and the extent of Israeli responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacre where the estimated number of victims ranged from 700 to more than 3,000.

Detained Tripoli militant reveals details of Fatah al-Islam leader’s life on run
Daily Star 11/18/2008
BEIRUT: Details of the escape and subsequent life on the run of Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker al-Abssi emerged on Monday, following the arrest of the man who is alleged to have smuggled him out of the country. The 50-year-old suspect’s arrest came after security services were reportedly given information by Khaled al-Ittir, a Tripoli-based militant who was seized 10 days ago. His name had been mentioned days earlier in the "confessions" of 10 men and a woman to a suicide bombing in Damascus which were broadcast on Syrian television. Ittir is believed to have helped to arrange meetings between senior members of Fatah al- Islam following 15 weeks of bloody fighting between the group and the Lebanese army that left the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp destroyed and more than 400 people dead. Information gathered in his interrogations apparently suggests that Abssi left the country some months after fleeing Nahr al-Bared.

Lebanese President to visit Iran
Middle East Online 11/17/2008
TEHRAN - Lebanon’s President Michel Sleiman will visit Iran later this month, foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi told reporters on Monday. "On Azar 4, Michel Sleiman is due to make a trip to Iran," Ghashghavi said, referring to November 24 on the Iranian calendar but without giving further details about the visit. In Beirut the presidency confirmed that the visit will take place on November 24 and 25. Iran hailed Sleiman’s election in May after supporting Qatari mediation to end Lebanon’s long-running political crisis in choosing a new president. Political disputes in Lebanon had left the country without a head of state since former president Emile Lahoud’s term ended in late November 2007. Shiite-majority Iran is a staunch supporter of Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement, although it denies Israeli charges that it provides military backing to the militant group.

ElBaradei: Report on Syria ’not conclusive’
Middle East Online 11/17/2008
DUBAI - UN atomic watchdog head Mohamed ElBaradei said on Monday that a report on Syrian nuclear activity is "not conclusive" and he called for more cooperation from both Syria and Israel. The report will show that "we still have work to do," said the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency. "We are having a report by the end of this week with regards to Syria. . . It’s still not conclusive," he told reporters at an economic conference in Dubai. "We are taking the issue very seriously. " "We need more cooperation from Syria. . . We need also cooperation from Israel," ElBaradei said. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said last week he was stunned by media reports that the IAEA had found secret atomic material on a site in northern Syria bombed by Israel in September 2007. "Such information hawked by anonymous diplomats even before.

’Assad ready for peace, if he gets what he wants’
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 11/17/2008
Military Intelligence chief outlines army’s analysis of threats facing Israel in 2009. Speaking at Tel Aviv University, Maj. Gen. Yadlin says probability of war seen as low, election of Barack Obama provides opportunity to pressure Iran, and sees a rare chance to change history with Palestinian moderates -"(Syrian) President Assad is willing to reach a peace agreement, if Israel and the United States give him what he wants," IDF Military Intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, said on Monday evening. Speaking at a conference in honor of the late Moshe Dayan at the center named after the late defense minister at Tel Aviv University, Yadlin presented the key points of the army’s intelligence estimates of the challenges Israel will face this coming year. What Assad wants, said Yadlin, "is for Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders and a package from. . .

SYRIA: Rice import snag leaves some Iraqi refugees short
Julian Weinberg/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 11/18/2008
DAMASCUS, 17 November 2008 (IRIN) - The World Food Programme (WFP) has said it is "hopeful" of resolving a Syrian ban on imported rice that has left 30,000 Iraqi refugees facing much reduced food rations. "We are very hopeful for a positive outcome from the negotiations," a WFP source told IRIN, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the ongoing negotiations. Syria prevented the unloading of 8,000 tonnes of rice at Lattakia port on 6 November because officials said the percentage of cracked rice in the Vietnamese shipment was too high to meet national standards. Around 194,000 Iraqi refugees in Syriaare reliant on the distribution of food aidby WFP and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which began in November 2007. The rice arrived in Lattakia on 1 November and was in the process of being unloaded, transported and stored in warehouses, when port authorities called a halt.

Miliband tries to coax Syria in from the cold
Ian Black Rory McCarthy, The Guardian 11/18/2008
Push to uphold trade deals from West Bank and Israel - Britain is launching its most ambitious attempt yet to coax Syria back into the international fold with a meeting today between the foreign secretary, David Miliband, and President Bashar al-Assad. Miliband, who flew to Damascus last night after talks in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, has hailed "an important change" by Syria and the "constructive role" it could play in the search for peace in the Middle East. By engaging with Syria the UK hopes to encourage signs that US President-elect Barack Obama will reverse the Bush-era policy of boycotting and sanctioning the Assad regime, Iran’s only Arab ally. Syria is delighted with the visit - a speedily arranged return fixture after its foreign minister was in London three weeks ago. It feels things have been going its way since the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, broke the ice in the summer by inviting Assad to an EU summit in Paris.

Ultra-Orthodox kick rabbi in unholy row
Middle East Online 11/18/2008
JERUSALEM - A Jewish ultra-Orthodox MP was assigned a bodyguard on Sunday after death threats from his own party’s supporters blaming him for the loss of the mayorship of occupied Jerusalem to a secular Israeli. Rabbi Yakov Litzman, a prominent leader in the Hasidic movement, was on Saturday cursed and kicked in a synagogue in the reclusive ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighbourhood in the centre of occupied Jerusalem. According to witnesses, young ultra-Orthodox pelted the 60-year-old rabbi with cakes and threw his black fur hat on the floor. Following the Saturday incident, parliament’s security officer assigned Litzman with a bodyguard after he was said to have received anonymous death threats, an aide to Litzman said. The tensions surfaced when Litzman was accused of telling his followers not to vote for occupied Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox mayoral candidate Meir Porush and even urging them to back secular candidate Nir Barkat.

US wins early round over Iraq
Sami Moubayed, Asia Times 11/18/2008
DAMASCUS - Following his cabinet’s approval of a draft Status of Forces agreement with the United States regulating the US presence in Iraq, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has the hardest sell of all to convince Iraqis the pact is in their "best interests". Deep down, though, and with Iran looking over his shoulder, he could well be banking on parliament rejecting the pact. On Sunday, 38 ministers, including Maliki and his two deputies, finally signed the controversial draft security arrangement with the US. In essence, it says that the 152,000 US troops will withdraw from cities and towns throughout Iraq by June 30, 2009, and pull out completely from the war-torn country by December 31, 2011. Parliament will vote next week to either accept or reject the pact - it cannot make any changes. President Jalal Talabani had tried, via US ambassador Ryan Crocker, at the last minute to get President

IRAQ: NGOs concerned about detainees’ rights
DVIC, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 11/18/2008
BAGHDAD, 17 November 2008 (IRIN) - Local NGOs are concerned about the rights of detainees in US military custody due to be transferred to the Iraqi authorities in 2009 in line with a draft US-Iraqi security pact. "There are fears among human rights activists, NGOs and parliamentarians about what the situation of these detainees will look like when they are transferred to the Iraqi authorities," Iraqi activist Basil al-Azawi said. "As parliament represents the Iraqi people, it should act in line with the interests of Iraqis. . . Absolute justice must be achieved and Iraqi and international laws must be implemented when dealing with those detainees in Iraqi prisons," he told IRIN. Al-Azawi, who heads the Baghdad-based Commission for Civil Society Enterprises, an umbrella group of over 1,000 NGOs, urged parliament to amend the agreement to ensure the rights of the detainees.

Sadr fails to block US-Iraq pact in Parliament
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/18/2008
BAGHDAD: Prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s camp on Monday failed to halt the first reading in Parliament of a controversial Iraq-US military pact which has been passed by the Iraqi Cabinet. The Sadrist movement has vigorously opposed the wide-ranging agreement, which would replace a UN mandate that expires at the end of this year and allow US forces to remain in the country until the end of 2011. The current UN mandate was not acquired until after the fact of the 2003 US-led invasion. When Parliament convened to discuss the pact, the 30 Sadrist deputies demanded that the body instead examine another draft law on treaties and conventions, an AFP reporter present in the chamber said. "We want the law on treaties and conventions to be the only thing discussed today, not the accord with the United States," said Aqil Abdel-Hussein, head of the Sadr group.

Top judge: US and UK acted as ’vigilantes’ in Iraq invasion
Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian 11/18/2008
One of Britain’s most authoritative judicial figures last night delivered a blistering attack on the invasion of Iraq, describing it as a serious violation of international law, and accusing Britain and the US of acting like a "world vigilante". Lord Bingham, in his first major speech since retiring as the senior law lord, rejected the then attorney general’s defence of the 2003 invasion as fundamentally flawed. Contradicting head-on Lord Goldsmith’s advice that the invasion was lawful, Bingham stated: "It was not plain that Iraq had failed to comply in a manner justifying resort to force and there were no strong factual grounds or hard evidence to show that it had. "Adding his weight to the body of international legal opinion opposed to the invasion,. . .

GA conference / JA assembly reaffirms support for nearly all conversions
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
It was a smooth voting session yesterday at the resolutions meeting that concluded the Jewish Agency’s annual assembly in Jerusalem - for a whole 15 minutes. The meeting quickly hit its first road bump after the 120-strong plenum heard a proposal to call for Israel to immediately recognize all conversions to Judaism by all religious streams. The proposal, brought forth by a representative from Los Angeles, was eventually rejected. The plenum voted instead to amend and eventually pass a less comprehensive proposal on the same subject by Professor Yaakov Ne’eman, the head of a state committee on conversions, "to urge the government of Israel to recognize and accept as Jews all individuals who have converted to Judaism under the supervision of Rabbinic authorities associated with Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist movements.

Olmert smiles upon ’covert’ rescue plan
Tal Levy, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday approved the economic stimulus package compiled by the Finance Ministry, but refused to release details to the public at this stage. This will come once the plan goes through the Socio-Economic Affairs cabinet and then the Knesset Finance Committee, Olmert ruled. Details can then be published, but the plan will still need Knesset approval. Finance Minister Roni Bar-On had been expected to announce more details of the plan, but will now have to wait, probably for just a matter of days. Last week Bar-On officially announced that the ministry is preparing a plan to stop Israel from sinking into recession along with the West. It is known that the Finance Ministry means to facilitate credit for small to medium-sized businesses, which provide 99% of services in Israel, and to toughen regulation governing the local financial system.

Labor Party closes Knesset list with 41 candidates
Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
"I’m proud of our team," said Labor chairman Ehud Barak at a ceremony introducing the new candidates. "You are a refreshing and important addition to our list. The party is more deep-seated and principled than any of its members and certainly of its detractors. "Barak’s comments came after Friday’s launching of a new left-wing party modeled after Meretz. Each Labor candidate paid NIS 8,000 and submitted candidacy forms for the party primary, which is scheduled for early next month. Most of the Labor ministers and many of the veteran party members did not appear at the ceremony yesterday. Over and over again, speakers described the forlorn state of the party, but said they were determined to fight for it during the general election campaign. "These are tough days, troubled times, but we will be saved from it," said Labor secretary general Eitan Cabel.

Labor’s poisoned fruit
Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
The initiative to create a new leftist movement uniting Meretz, non-politicians and disappointed Laborites has raised hackles among the Labor Party leadership. Party heads competed among themselves in attacking cabinet minister Ami Ayalon, who announced his resignation from Labor and said the party "does not seek political life and does not fight for its life. "Labor chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the new initiative "escapism of the left" and a "mood. "His deputy at the ministry, MK Matan Vilnai, called it a "trend," as opposed to the Labor Party, which he called "a place with a vision and values. " In Friday’s Hebrew edition of Haaretz, Uri Blau offered an assessment of the choices made by Labor under Barak in the past few years: The defense minister recently approved dozens of construction plans and the marketing. . .

Gaydamak’s party to run for Knesset
Ofer Petersburg, YNetNews 11/17/2008
Despite crushing defeat in Jerusalem municipal elections, Israeli-Russian businessman won’t give up political aspirations - Despite his crushing defeat in the Jerusalem municipal elections, billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak is turning to the national level. The Israeli-Russian businessman decided Sunday that his Social Justice party will run for Knesset in the upcoming general elections. Who will head the party’s roster? Following his disappointment at the Jerusalem Municipality election results and his decision to freeze his activities in the Beitar Jerusalem football club, Gaydamak has yet to decide whether he should be placed first on the party’s Knesset list. The businessman, who invested millions in the Jerusalem elections and ran with his party in 70 local councils (with elected representatives in about 32 councils), still has election headquarters, including a team deployed across the country and rented property.

Court orders state to thoroughly probe leaks from Lieberman investigation
Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
The Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Department must conduct an "intensive investigation" of leaks allegedly made by police regarding the criminal investigation of Israel Beiteinu party leader Avigdor Lieberman, the High Court of Justice ordered on Monday. "It is inconceivable that police who leak information will sleep peacefully at night," said presiding Justice Edmond Levy. "They must pay a price for their actions. " Lieberman’s lawyer, Yaron Kostelitz, said that by demanding an investigation of the leaks, the court had already given the petitioners what they wanted. In March, Lieberman, represented by attorneys Ya’acov Weinroth and Kostelitz, petitioned the High Court against the refusal of the police to investigate who leaked sections of a report filed by the head of the police team investigating allegations against Lieberman to outgoing police chief, Insp.

Histadrut chief demands pensions safety net
Shay Niv, Globes Online 11/17/2008
Ofer Eini also called for government intervention to prevent layoffs. Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) chairman Ofer Eini has rolled up his sleeves to respond to the financial crisis. He is now threatening that the Histadrut will not stand idly by if the Ministry of Finance fails to provide a safety net for the pension funds and provident funds, and if it does not publish a substantial plan for preventing worker layoffs. In a letter sent to Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On this morning, he implores him to enter into immediate negotiations on these two matters. "The Ministry of Finance eliminated the safety net for workers in 2003, because it wanted a free market, and it sent us to the stock exchange. But the free market has now finishing the workers’ funds, and it is up to the Ministry of finance to restore the safety net," said Eini, talking to "Globes".

Moshe Ya’alon decides to join Likud
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
Former IDF chief of General Staff Lt. -Gen. Moshe Ya’alon made his long awaited decision about his political future on Monday evening when he told Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu that he would run for the Knesset with his party. Ya’alon had been contemplating for weeks whether to enter politics or remain in his current position as a senior distinguished fellow at the Shalem Center’s Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem. But he said he could no longer remain on the sidelines during such a critical time for Israel. "Only in politics can I be involved in making key decisions for the country and have real influence and responsibility," Ya’alon told The Jerusalem Post when asked why he made his decision. "The current way is not working and it must be changed. " RELATEDLandau joins Israel Beiteinu because he. . .

US again misfires on Iranian arms in Iraq
Gareth Porter, Asia Times 11/18/2008
WASHINGTON - Last April, top George W Bush administration officials, desperate to exploit any possible crack in the close relationship between Iraq’s Nuri al-Maliki government and Iran, launched a new round of charges that Iran had stepped up covert arms assistance to Shi’ite militias. Secretary of Defense Robert M Gates suggested there was "some sense of an increased level of [Iranian] supply of weapons and support to these groups". And Washington Post reporter Karen DeYoung was told by military officials that the "plentiful, high quality weaponry" the militias were then using in Basra was "recently manufactured in Iran". But a US military task force had been passing on data to the Multi-National Force Iraq (MNFI) command that told a very different story. The data collected by the task force in the previous six weeks showed that relatively few of the weapons found in Shi’ite militia caches were manufactured in Iran.

THE ROVING EYE A pact with the devil
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times 11/18/2008
WASHINGTON - The big bang is not that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s majority Shi’ite/Kurdish 37-member cabinet in Baghdad has approved the draft of a security pact with the George W Bush (and Barack Obama) administrations allowing the US military to stay in Iraq for three more years; it’s that the 30-strong Sadrist bloc will move heaven and Earth - including massive nationwide protests - to bloc the pact in the Iraqi National Assembly. The proposed Status of Forces Agreement not only sets a date for American troop withdrawal - 2011 - but also puts new restrictions on US combat operations in Iraq starting on January 1 and requires a military pullback from urban areas by June 30. The pact goes before parliament in a week or so. Sadrist spokesman Ahmed al-Masoudi stressed this Sunday that the pact "did not mean anything" and "hands Iraq over on a golden platter and for an indefinite period".

IRAQ: Nuclear contamination in northern province of Ninevah?
IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 11/18/2008
BAGHDAD, 16 November 2008 () - Fears are growing in the northern province of Ninevah, about 400km north of Baghdad, of a possible radiation leak and contamination from a former nuclear plant. According to two local officials, the plant - which was built in the early 1980s by a group of European and Russian companies for the government of former president Saddam Hussein - is suspected of causing a number of cancers and deformities among babies and adults. "The province’s health authorities have registered a number of deformities among newborns as well as a number of cancers among adults. The health authorities suspect that a radiation leak and contamination from a former nuclear plant is the cause of the deformities and cancers," Governor Duraid Kashmola said. About four years ago, the abandoned Edayah nuclear plant, about 35km west of Ninevah’s provincial capital, Mosul,. . .

RIGHTS-US: Activists Seek Executive Order Banning Torture
Wolfgang Kerler, Inter Press Service 11/18/2008
NEW YORK, Nov 17(IPS) - Shutting down the infamous detention centre at Guantanamo Bay is just one of a series of measures to reform U. S. counterterrorism practices being urged by the watchdog organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW). In a report released Sunday, the New York-based HRW urged President-elect Barack Obama to quickly repudiate the abusive policies put in place by the George W. Bush administration in its "global war on terror". "The Obama administration is going to have a difficult task to restore America’s standing in the world," Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counterterrorism programme director at HRW, told IPS. "The Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies deeply damaged the reputation of the United States. " HRW’s 11-step action plan -- entitled "Fighting Terrorism Fairly and Effectively: Recommendations for President-elect Obama" -- suggests how the U.

Iraq and US sign forces agreement
Al Jazeera 11/17/2008
Iraq and the US have signed a security accord requiring Washington to withdraw its forces by the end of 2011. The Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa) pact was signed on Monday by Hoshiyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, and Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador, at a ceremony in Baghdad. Under the deal, a system will be provided for Iraqi courts to try US soldiers for serious crimes committed while off-duty, but only under very tight conditions. "Definitely, today is a historic day for Iraqi-American relations," Zebari said. The two men also signed a long-term strategic framework, which Crocker said would define the countries’ ties for years. ’Historic day’"It reminds us all that, at a time when US forces will continue to withdraw from Iraq in recognition of the superlative. . .

British FM: Syria ’essential’ to Mideast stability
Middle East Online 11/18/2008
DAMASCUS - Syria has an "essential role" to play in encouraging stability in the Middle East, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on arrival in Syria on Monday, state news agency SANA reported. He will meet President Bashar al-Assad and other Syrian leaders on Tuesday, in the first high-level British visit since the 2005 killing in Beirut of Lebanon’s former premier Rafiq Hariri in which Damascus has denied charges of involvement. On the Palestinian situation, the foreign secretary said all parties must play their part in encouraging stability. The first port of call on his arrival in Damascus was a visit to the Omeyyad Mosque in Old Damascus. In London last week, Miliband welcomed Syria’s "new approach", saying it could help stabilise the region. He started his Middle East tour on Sunday when he arrived in Tel Aviv for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

IAEA chief confirms traces of uranium found at Syria site
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohammed ElBaradei confirmed for the first time on Monday that samples taken from a Syrian site bombed by Israel last year, suspected to have been a nuclear facility, contained traces of uranium. ElBaradei said that the UN nuclear watchdog needs more transparency from Syria and other nations to determine whether traces of uranium found at the site indicate Damascus was building a nuclear reactor there. "It’s not highly enriched uranium. It could have come from so many different ways," ElBaradei told reporters in Dubai. "That’s why we’re looking at so many different scenarios. "Uranium can be found naturally in low concentrations and must be enriched before it can be used in either power plants or nuclear weapons.

ElBaradei: Uranium found at Syrian site
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog said Monday the agency needs more transparency from Syria and other nations to determine whether traces of uranium found at a site reportedly bombed by IAF planes indicate Damascus was building a nuclear reactor there. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei confirmed that the radioactive material was found at the site, but said the source was inconclusive. "It’s not highly enriched uranium. It could have come from so many different ways," he told reporters in Dubai. "That’s why we’re looking at so many different scenarios. " Uranium can be found naturally in low concentrations and must be "enriched" before it can be used in either power plants or nuclear weapons. Highly enriched uranium is the type used in atomic bombs. RELATEDSyria blames IAF for uranium traces. . .

After Sderot stop, Miliband heads for Syria
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/17/2008
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband left Israel Monday for Syria and Lebanon, where he intends to seek support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. His visit to Damascus is the first by a senior British official since 2001. He plans to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday. On Sunday, after he met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, he told The Jerusalem Post that he had no plans to carry a message from Israel to Syria. Both he and the Prime Minister’s Office have affirmed Turkey’s role as a mediator in the indirect talks between Israel and Syria. The PMO is currently pressing for a fifth round of indirect talks. During his time in Syria and Lebanon, Miliband said Monday during a Ramallah press conference, "I will certainly be explaining to my hosts in Damascus and in Beirut the important responsibilities that exist on all states in. . .


Articles


Encyclopaedia of Race and Racism under Zionist Attack
Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 11/17/2008
      Earlier this year, Macmillan Reference USA - a leading publishing house - published "The Encyclopedia of Race and Racism".
     The Encyclopaedia is the first such work examining the anthropological, sociological, historical, economic, and scientific theories of race and racism in the modern era. The set delves into the historic origins of ideas of race and racism and explores their social and scientific consequences. Some of the nearly 400 articles address broad theoretical topics that have helped to shape modern ideas about race and racism; others address more specific subjects in the larger fields. Zionism is one of those racist ideas explored in this book. It was written by Dr. Noel Ignatiev.
     In October 2008, the American Jewish Committee objected to the encyclopedia article on Zionism that Dr. Ignatiev wrote for "The Encyclopedia of Race and Racism". In an effort to hide the truth behind Zionism, Zionist lobbies are now putting huge pressure on the publishing house to remove the article in which Dr. Ignatiev described Israel as a racial state, where rights are assigned on the basis of ascribed descent or the approval of the superior race and likened it to Nazi Germany and the Southern United States before the civil rights movement.

Dark days in Gaza: Residents worried about winter

Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
      The sound of generators on the sidewalks of Gaza on the weekend made it hard for pedestrians to hear one another. Even though only a few of the well-kept stores on Omar el-Mukhtar Street, one bank and two carpentries, used generators, the noise was still great. The power outage meant most stores were dark, but it did not matter much anyway: There were no shoppers on the street.
     Traffic was also sparse, much less than what one might expect on a Saturday that is followed by a national holiday: 20 years since Yasser Arafat’s declaration of Palestinian independence.
     Many of Gaza’s neighborhoods experienced power cuts at different times of day. In the neighborhood surrounding the square named after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, where the Fatah politician’s empty house still stands, the electricity was interrupted six times over the course of 24 hours. Power went out for two, four and then six hours. After a while people stopped counting.
     In fact, this neighborhood is one of the luckier ones - it is connected to both the Israeli and Palestinian electricity grids. The power outages in those neighborhoods that are not connected to the Israeli grid last between eight to 12 hours. Some areas have no running water: The Sheikh Radwan refugee camp has had no running water for two days.

The real meaning of hope

Dina Elmuti writing from Nablus, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 11/17/2008
      That day, I expected to see sights that would reside with me for a while, but little did I know that they would continue to haunt me every day since. Stepping out of the taxi cab and onto the gravel road, I walked towards the notorious Huwwara checkpoint near Nablus in the northern West Bank. To my left, I passed throngs of people waiting in lines barely inching along in the blistering summer heat, awaiting the apathetic wave of an Israeli soldier’s hand to be let through.Caged like animals in a zoo, they waited, and waited, and waited some more. Whether or not they would be let through, well, that was subject to the jurisdiction of indifferent, bored soldiers, texting on their phones, idly passing the time away.
     Past the checkpoint, I walked a very short distance before I was startled by a roaring behind me, that of an armored military vehicle rumbling. Standing there transfixed, I watched the monstrous contraption swiftly take a detour to the right and roll on down the path. I stood there for a minute in sheer disbelief and awe, watching until it was nothing more than a small dot in the distance. Before I could formulate a thought or muster a word, a woman along with her children, carrying bags of groceries, came up behind me. "Aadi, aadi ... it’s normal, normal," she said, "but don’t worry, they don’t cause trouble. They just patrol the area." By whose definition was it normal to have such intruders patrolling an area? Less than an hour into my trip, I was already having trouble digesting what I had seen.

''Occupied Space 2008'' adds Palestinian color to London’s art world

Isabelle Humphries, Electronic Intifada 11/17/2008
      Using what they call the "simplest language," the Eltiqa Group for Contemporary Art seeks to challenge the harsh obstacles of life in their native Gaza: "we color life for the others." In the past month some of their work has reached London as part of a new exhibition organized by the UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in association with the A.M. Qattan Foundation. Occupied Space 2008: Art for Palestine brought together over 100 works not only from Palestinian artists, but from those across the globe from Algeria, Tunisia and Jordan to the UK to China. Beautifully curated by Nicola Gray, it is the first exhibition to be put on in the Qattan’s new West London exhibition space, the Mosaic Rooms.
     Raeda Saadeh ( Occupied Space 2008 Palestinian exhibits crossed different styles, generations and locations of the Diaspora. Basel El Maqousy, of the "Windows from Gaza" group and an art teacher at the Jabaliya Rehabilitation Centre, contributes a photograph showing boys looking out towards a setting sun as they duck under waves crashing on the Gazan shoreline. Crossroads is the work of Raeda Saadeh, one of the million Palestinians living inside Israel but whose work speaks across human-imposed borders. In the photograph, she stands at a front door, suitcase on the floor to her right, her left foot encased in a block of concrete. In entirely different forms both El Maqousy and Saadeh speak eloquently of Palestinian imprisonment as the same time as vividly expressing Palestinian dreams.

Gaza Expecting The Worst

Hiyam Noir – Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 11/17/2008
      Protesting power cuts in Gaza. (Fady Adwan/PalestineFreeVoice) Last Friday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Israeli government to keep in mind its legal responsibility to deliver urgent and steady supply of sufficient fuel and humanitarian aid to Gaza Strip. The Israelis have blocked fuel delivery and turned away trucks with food distributed by UNRWA. Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that he is deeply concerned about the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the risk of a possible humanitarian disaster.
     The Israelis have blocked the shipment of fuel to Gaza for over 10 days; as a result of the fuel embargo, a large part of the coastal Palestinian territories has plunged into darkness. Loud speakers from police cars and from Mosques across the Gaza Strip warned the residents on Friday that electric generators from the only local power plant would soon cease. In the northern and central parts of Gaza Strip, including Gaza City, the residents have spent the night in total darkness. The electric power in Gaza Strip will remain turned off until the Israel military allows fuel to pass into the area.

Open Appeal to Australian Prime Minister: Help Gaza

Syd Walker, Palestine Chronicle 11/17/2008
      Mr. Rudd: ’Please act with great urgency’
     Dear Prime Minister, I am writing to you about the situation in Gaza and the urgent need for the world community -- including Australia -- to require Israel to relieve the immediate humanitarian crisis.
     It may be objected that Gazans are, in some way, to blame for their own appalling plight. That is false for several reasons.
     First, such a claim betrays utter contempt for democracy. The Hamas leadership in Gaza won government through the ballot box, by a solid majority in elections widely acknowledged as free and fair. It ill-behooves ’democratic nations’ such as Australia to reject the democratic choice of others..
     Second, the root cause of continuing conflict in Palestine (including Gaza) is continuing occupation and control by the Zionist regime. There is a long-established principle that resistance to occupation is legitimate. Australia applauded the French Resistance during Word War Two -- who opposed, often with violence, a less brutal and much more short-lived occupation.

What if It Happened to Them?

Joharah Baker – The West Bank, Palestine Chronicle 11/17/2008
      ’What would have happened if a Jewish family were evicted from their home in Tel Aviv..’
     For the Jews, certain words have become taboo, especially when used by non-Jews. These include Holocaust, Apartheid and Nazism. Because of the atrocities that took place against Jews throughout history, namely the killing of six million during World War II, political Judaism has allowed itself a near monopoly over human suffering. What is worse, anyone who dares parallel this to the atrocities now carried out by the Jewish state of Israel against Palestinians risks being branded as "Anti-Semitic", a "Jew hater", or an "Israel basher."
     Perhaps this fear of being ostracized and branded with such ugly labels is Israel’s most clever tactic because it gives it a guise under which to implement its own schemes, unhindered and largely un-judged. This must be the case in Jerusalem, where so many injustices and racist policies are being carried out on a daily basis against its Palestinian residents, with the world community hardly batting an eyelid.

The real goal of Israel’s Gaza blockade

Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada 11/17/2008
      The latest tightening of Israel’s chokehold on Gaza -- ending all supplies into the Strip for more than a week -- has produced immediate and shocking consequences for Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants.
     The refusal to allow in fuel has forced the shutting down of Gaza’s only power station, creating a blackout that pushed Palestinians bearing candles on to the streets in protest last week. A water and sanitation crisis are expected to follow.
     And on Thursday, the United Nations announced it had run out of the food essentials it supplies to 750,000 desperately needy Gazans. "This has become a blockade against the United Nations itself," a spokesman said.
     In a further blow, Israel’s large Bank Hapoalim said it would refuse all transactions with Gaza by the end of the month, effectively imposing a financial blockade on an economy dependent on the Israeli shekel. Other banks are planning to follow suit, forced into a corner by Israel’s declaration in Sept 2007 of Gaza as an "enemy entity."

Inside Hebrons H2 Area

Palestine Monitor 11/17/2008
      A tour with the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence revealed the zealousness of the reputed settlers in Hebron.
     The city of Hebron is a ’hot potato’ politically; it is disputed among Israelis, it arouses indignation among Palestinians, it is contested in the international community. It is also one of the focal points for any future peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, especially because of the some 800 Israeli settlers living in the midst of the ’former’ city center, in the area carved out by the Hebron Protocol of 1997 as Hebron H2.
     Hebrons H2 is often filled with a certain mystique about what actually goes on ’in there’ as it is not the easiest place to access.
     Palestine Monitor took on a quest to try to unravel at least some of this curious mystique of the city - and what better way to start than by a guided tour? Two reporters went on the tour that The Independent’s Donald MacIntyre has described as ’a unique and tragical history tour’.

Is Israel deliberately strengthening Hamas?

Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 11/18/2008
      Let’s not be dragged into calculating how many tons of rice, flour and cooking oil there are in the Gaza Strip 10 days after Israel once again hermetically sealed all the crossings into the enclave. Let’s not count the number of children who wait for a nutritious meal at UN Relief and Works Agency schools, and the number of families to whose doorstep Hamas delivers boxes filled with grocery staples. (There are those who swear that these groceries are only given to Hamas members and supporters.) Let’s not calculate the number of people dependent on their families for sustenance. There is food in the Gaza Strip, and there will continue to be. Does anyone really think that Israel, the state of the Jews, would allow 1.5 million people to be tossed, crowded and crammed, behind the barbed-wire fences and watchtowers surrounding the narrow strip and starve to death.
     Let’s leave aside the stories of darkness, of how children do (or don’t do) their homework by the light of a candle or kerosene lantern. Let’s even put off the discussion on the serious environmental hazards - pollution of the groundwater and sea - posed to the people of Gaza and Ashkelon alike as a direct consequence of the intentional fuel shortage, or of Israel’s refusal to permit the entry of pipes to upgrade the water and sewage infrastructure. Let’s not go now into descriptions of how the sewage flows directly into the sea because there’s not enough electricity to operate the sewage treatment plant. Let’s not talk about fears that sewers will back up in the winter and flood residential neighborhoods because parts needed to fix the treatment plant were not brought in.