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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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20 November, 2008

Essential health facilities at the Al Shifa medical center stopped functioning
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/20/2008
Dr. Hussein Ashour, head of the Al Shifa medical center in Gaza, one of the biggest medical centers in the Gaza Strip, stated that main facilities at the center stopped functioning due to the lack of fundamental equipment and tools. Ashour added that the Oxygen Department, the Heart Unit, Physical Therapy Unit and the main laboratory completely stopped functioning as they lack fundamental equipment and tools. He also said that the main power generator also stopped functioning due to the ongoing siege and Israeli blockade as the generator needs fuel to run. The closure of border crossings barred the entry of fuels to the Gaza Strip forcing the main power plant to stop functioning. Gaza residents spend 12-18 hours a day without power.

Settlers desecrate mosque and cemetery in Hebron
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/21/2008
HEBRON, Occupied West Bank: Jewish settlers angry at an Israeli court order for their eviction from a house they occupied in Hebron desecrated a mosque and tombs in the Occupied West Bank city before dawn on Thursday, witnesses said. The settlers scrawled "Mohammad is a pig" and "Death to the Arabs" on the front of a mosque and drew the Israeli emblem, the Star of David, on several gravestones in a Muslim cemetery, the witnesses said. The mosque and cemetery both lie near the Hebron house where dozens of hard-line Jewish colonists are defying the order by the Israeli High Court setting last Wednesday a deadline for them to leave or face eviction. Israeli soldiers are on round-the-clock patrol in the tense neighborhood. 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 unsanctioned outposts in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in 1967.

Three jail international activists declare hunger strike demanding hearing
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Three international solidarity activists declared a hunger strike inside an Israeli prison on Thursday seeking a court hearing. The three were seized from a fishing boat by the Israeli navy on Tuesday along with 15 Palestinian fishermen about 7 miles from the coast of Gaza. They are part of a program to accompany Gazan fishermen who face harassment by Israeli naval forces. Thirty-four-year-old Andrew Muncie from Scotland, 33-year-old Darlene Wallach from the United States and 57-year-old Vittorio Arrigoni sent a text message to their supporters on Thursday evening declaring the hunger strike. The activists are facing deportation and are held in an immigration detention center in the city of Ramla, inside Israel. They say they have still not received a hearing. The three are also demanding that Israel return three fishing boats it confiscated during Tuesday’s interdiction off the Gaza coast.

State to compensate wounded ISM activist
Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
The state will pay human rights activist Brian Avery NIS 600,000 in damages in an out-of-court settlement reached Wednesday with his Israeli lawyer, Shlomo Lecker. Avery, a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was shot in Jenin on April 5, 2003 and suffered severe facial wounds. He has undergone at least six operations so far and has more to go. "The sum does not reflect the injuries Avery suffered," Lecker told The Jerusalem Post. "On the other hand, it’s one of the very few times the state has awarded damages to anyone hurt by the IDF during the Second Intifada. " According to the description of events given by Avery and ISM volunteers who were with him, Avery and his flatmate, Jan Tobias Karrson, heard shooting near the apartment where they lived. They called other volunteers and went out to see if anyone needed medical help.

Nobel laureate Maguire: UN should suspend Israel membership
Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire said Thursday the United Nations should suspend or revoke Israel’s membership. Maguire said Israel should be punished for ignoring a series of United Nations resolutions over the years. Maguire won the 1976 peace prize for her work with Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. She is visiting the Palestinian territories to protest Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. In October this year she arrived on a boat that sailed into the Gaza Strip carrying international protesters who wanted to bring attention to Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory. Israel virtually sealed off the territories after the Islamic militant Hamas took over there in 2007. The closure tightened two weeks ago in response to Hamas rocket fire on Israeli border communities.

PA arrests over 250 Hamas terrorists
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
Less than a month after deploying in Hebron, a US-trained battalion of Palestinian policemen has arrested over 250 terror suspects affiliated with Hamas, defense officials revealed to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. In addition to the terror suspects, the battalion has also arrested over 140 Palestinians defined as "criminal suspects" and wanted for a wide range of criminal activity. The Palestinian policemen underwent US-directed military training in Jordan prior to deployment in Hebron in late October, which was approved by OC Central Command Maj. -Gen. Gadi Shamni following a request from the Palestinian Authority to allow the contingent into the city as part of an effort to crack down on Hamas terror infrastructure in the West Bank. "There is growing satisfaction with the current operation in Hebron," a senior defense official told the Post. "The battalion began its operations in the outlying Hebron villages and this week entered the city, where it began conducting arrest operations as well as seizing terror funds.

Hamas gunman killed in Gaza explosion
Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
Palestinian sources on Thursday claimed that a Hamas man had been killed by an IDF tank shell near the Karni crossing, in the Gaza Strip. Gaza factions claim they will honor truce with Israel Hamas said the man was a member of the organization’s lookout unit and had been "killed in action. " The IDF denied the report, saying that there had been no shooting incidents in the area and that the man had probably been killed by an errant Palestinian mortar shell. Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had met with the leaders of the various armed Palestinian factions in the Strip. [end]

Qassam hits Negev as Ashkelon residents protest Gaza rockets
Haaretz Service, Reuters and the Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Palestinian militants fired a Qassam rocket into the western Negev on Thursday as Ashkelon residents protested against an upsurge in cross-border attacks from Gaza. The Qassam attack was the latest violation of a five-month Israel-Hamas truce in the Gaza Strip. The rocket, which struck an open area in the Sha’ar Hanegev regional council, caused neither casualties nor property damage. Dozens of Ashkelon residents held the protest at the entrance to the southern city. "I call on every parent in the state, on every mother and every father, to cooperate with us, to join our protest, and to demand that the government promise [us] quiet and security," said one of the demonstrators, speaking to Israel Radio. Gunmen from Gaza have fired dozens of rockets at Israel in the past two weeks after Israel launched a raid it said was. . .

Peres praises Britain as democratic role model after being knighted
Hagit Klaiman, YNetNews 11/20/2008
President joins ranks of distinguished world leaders in receiving honorary knighthood from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, urges Prince Charles to aid efforts to secure Red Cross visit for Shalit -LONDON -Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed an honorary knighthood on Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday. Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was escorted into Buckingham Palace by the Queen’s Guard and the Household Cavalry. The Queen stepped towards Peres and shook his hand before appointing him Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) - the United Kingdom’s sixth highest honor. As Peres is not a subject of the Commonwealth, he did not kneel upon receiving the honor and may not employ the title ’sir. ’After the ceremony the Queen met Peres in private.

Arise Sir Shimon: Peres receives honorary knighthood from Britain’s Queen
Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz correspondent, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II awarded President Shimon Peres honorary knighthood on Thursday in an official ceremony in Buckingham Palace in London. Peres met the queen at the ceremony after which the two held a private meeting, where they reportedly discussed the Middle East in general, and Iran’s nuclear program and abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit in particular. Peres will not be able to use the title "sir," as he is not a British national. Peres also met with Prince Charles on Thursday, and he asked for his help in securing access for the International Red Cross to kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip for over two years. The International Red Cross has not visited Gilad Shalit, and have not been allowed to make an assessment of his condition.

Prof. Avi Shlaim: Settlements turned Israel into apartheid state
Haaretz Staff and Fora.tv, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
British-Israeli Professor Avi Shlaim joined a handful of academics in London earlier this month to debate the future of Zionism, in a panel entitled "Israel at 60: What happened to the Zionist dream? " Shlaim, a historian of the Arab-Israeli conflict at Oxford University, made headlines last year when he decided to speak at an Oxford Union debate in favor of the motion, "This house believes that one state is the only solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. " But Shlaim, an opponent of campaigns pursued by some of his British colleagues to boycott Israeli universities, has always been a fervent supporter of the two-state solution, a stance he repeated in this month’s event, which was organized by the Institute of Ideas. He continues, he said, to believe in Israel’s legitimacy to exist within its pre-1967 borders, but "rejects uncompromisingly the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line.

IOF Prevent Representatives of 20 International Humanitarian Organizations from Entering Gaza to Witness Humanitarian Conditions
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11/20/2008
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the decision of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) to prevent a delegation representing more than twenty international humanitarian organizations from entering the Gaza Strip on 18 November 2008. The delegates were on mission to observe the current humanitarian situation in Gaza, which is deteriorating due to the unprecedented siege and closure policy imposed by IOF on the civilians of the Gaza Strip. PCHR views this latest IOF decision as a continuation of the overall IOF policy of collective punishment being imposed on approximately 1. 7 million Palestinian civilians inside Gaza. PCHR views this latest IOF decision as a continuation of the overall IOF policy of collective punishment being imposed on approximately 1. 7 million Palestinian civilians inside Gaza.

Israeli forces again demolish protest tent in east Jerusalem, Palestinian resident of Sheikh Jarrah remains in Israeli custody
International Solidarity Movement 11/20/2008
Jerusalem Region - 9:30 am 20th November, Occupied East Jerusalem: Israeli forces have again demolished the protest camp in Sheikh Jarrah, set up after the eviction of the al-Kurd family on the 9th November. A bulldozer arrived at the private property at 8:45am with orders to destroy the tent and the surrounding fence where the al-Kurd family has been living since they were evicted from their home on the 9th November 2008. The camp is situated on Palestinian-owned private property. The Israeli bulldozer later created a wall surrounding the residents who remained on the site of the protest tent. The wall that the Israeli forces are creating is on Palestinian owned private land. Yesterday the tent was also demolished, and one Palestinian and four internationals were taken into Israeli police custody. The Palestinian resident of Sheikh Jarrah continues to be held.

CRC anniversary attests to child rights deterioration in Occupied Palestinian Territories
Defense for Children International, International Middle East Media Center News 11/20/2008
[RAMALLAH, 20 November 2008] -- Today, DCI-Palestine is marking the 19th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), ratified by Israel in 1991 and endorsed by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in 1995. Despite these commitments, Palestinian children’s rights continue to be violated on a daily basis in the midst of the conflict with Israel and the internal fighting dividing Palestinians in the occupied territory, through the ugly innards of the Israeli occupation apparatus, and as a result of the many shortcomings of the Palestinian child protection system. This year, from 27 February to 3 March 2008, the Israeli military operation codenamed ’Operation Warm Winter’ brought untold destruction and devastation to the Gaza Strip. During these few days, Israeli air strikes and ground military operations caused the deaths of approximately 117 Palestinians, including 33 children.

El Khodary: ''The Occupation fights Palestinian children by aggression and siege''
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/20/2008
Independent Palestinian Legislator, head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, Jamal El Khodary, stated on Thursday that the number of Gaza Strip children who died due to the Israeli siege is now more than 100, while Arab, international and Muslim countries continue their "deadly silence". El Khodary stated in a press release on Thursday, that as the word marks the International Children’s Day, the Israeli army killed more than 1000 Palestinian children since the beginning of the Intifada in late September of 2000. He added that nearly one hundred children died due to the ongoing siege on the Gaza Strip. El Khodary further said that hundreds of children suffer from different disabilities in addition to anxiety attacks and other psychological conditions due to the ongoing Israeli violations, repeated invasions and shelling.

Israel puts off sending limited aid to Gaza
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 11/20/2008
GAZA, Nov 20, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network)-- Israel on Thursday put off sending limited amounts of aid into Gaza due to the continuation of rocket- fire from the Hamas-controlled territory, said a Palestinian source. Raed Fatouh, head of a private-sector committee that connects with Israel, noted that "Israel retreated from opening the (Kerem Shalom) crossing under the pretext that Palestinian rockets have landed on Israeli settlements surrounding the Gaza Strip. " Kerem Shalom crossing point in southeastern Gaza Strip was scheduled to open Thursday to allow 35 trucks of food into the enclave. Among the 35 trucks, 20 loaded with aid were supposed to go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which reduced food distribution to 750,000 refugees due to the lack of rations, according to Fatouh.

UNRWA suspends financial assistance to refugees in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 11/20/2008
AMMAN, (PIC)-- The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees has announced that it would be forced to suspend its financial assistance to refugees in the Gaza Strip due to the lack of Israeli currency in Gaza banks. UNRWA said that financial assistance to 90,000 Palestinians would be halted because of the Israeli siege that stopped entry of Israeli shekels to the Palestinian banks in Gaza. Karin Abu Zaid, the UNRWA commissioner general, told the agency’s annual meeting in Amman on Wednesday that her agency’s’ basic services would suffer an 87 million dollars deficit, which would lead to an overall 160 million dollars deficit when other un-financed and suspended projects are added.

Hamas’s agriculture ministry warns of a nutrition crisis due to the Israeli blockade
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/20/2008
The Hamas-run agriculture ministry warned today of a nutrition setback in the coastal Strip, unless the commercial crossings are reopened. In a statement, emailed to media outlets, the ministry said that the sharp shortage of cooking gas would lead to complete closure of livestock pens and poultries across the coastal Strip. Also, the statement read that because of the two-week-old total closure of Gaza’s crossings, needed quantities of fodder and other food items for livestock have not been allowed in , threatening nutrition for the Gaza’s population. The ministry’ press release came after few owners of poultries and livestock pens have been forced recently to damage thousands of chicks in their farms due to their inability to feed them or ensure needed heating, because of reduced electricity supply as well as shortage of cooking gas and fodder.

Rights group blasts Israel for ’collective punishment’ in Gaza
Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
The human rights organization Gisha charged on Thursday that the refusal of the army to allow fuel, cooking gas and other commodities into the Gaza Strip constitutes collective punishment of 1. 5 million civilians. Israel sealed the border crossings into Gaza on November 4 in response to the renewal of rocket and mortar attacks against civilian targets in Israel by Palestinian terrorist groups. These attacks followed an IDF operation inside Gaza to destroy a tunnel built by Hamas, allegedly to kidnap a soldier. Four armed Hamas members were killed during the operation. Israel allowed 30 truckloads of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip on November 17. It has also allowed the entry of 650,000 liters of diesel fuel, which is required to operate the Gaza electric plant. Gisha pointed out that the state promised the High Court of Justice to supply 2.

UN Secretary-general phones Olmert, expresses concern over the deteriorating conditions in Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/20/2008
United Nations Secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, phoned on Tuesday the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and expressed deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip. He also urged Olmert to allow UN personnel into the Gaza Strip. The office of Ki-Moon issued a statement saying that the UN secretary general phoned Olmert and urged him to ease the entry of humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip. The UN secretary-general said that he is deeply concerned as the humanitarian situation In Gaza continues to deteriorate. Israel kept all border crossings sealed but on Monday and after repeated warnings issued by the UNRWA regarding a humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip, Israel only allowed the entry 33 trucks filled with food and aid. In spite of the disastrous condition in Gaza and the power blackout, Olmert said during his meeting with the Palestinian. . .

De facto Agriculture Ministry: Gaza blockade killing livestock
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Gaza Strip’s de facto Ministry of Agriculture warned on Thursday that the ongoing Israeli blockade could cause "a real food disaster" as the absence of feed and fuel starves farm animals, according to a statement. The ministry’s assistant undersecretary, Ibrahim Al-Qidrah, wrote in a statement received by Ma’an that "owners of such farms will sustain heavy losses if natural gas and feed are not shipped into Gaza. " Al-Qidrah also noted that newly hatched chicks "cannot survive cold weather," predicting that poultry farms would be the first to go as fuel runs dry. Warming uses 150 tons of natural gas per month, aside from basic caring and feeding on the farms. Owners of incubators and poultry farms were forced to euthanize hundreds of thousands of chicks faced with the ongoing fuel and feed depletion since Israel’s near-total closure of the Gaza Strip, which is now entering its 17th day.

Gaza pilgrims rally at Rafah crossing, call for allowing them to travel to Makka
Palestinian Information Center 11/20/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- Hundreds of Gaza pilgrims marched to the Rafah border crossing to demand the concerned Arab countries to expedite the opening of the crossing and facilitate the procedures necessary to perform the pilgrimage rituals. The pilgrims appealed to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdelaziz to intervene to save the pilgrimage season, holding the PA in Ramallah responsible for delaying their travel visas to Makka. For his part, Abdullah Jarboua, the assistant deputy minister of religious affairs, held the PA in Ramallah responsible for putting obstacles in the way of Gaza pilgrims, accusing it of seeking to take the Strip’s share of the number of Palestinian pilgrims specified by Saudi Arabia. In the same context, a Saudi Islamic scholar revealed that there are tireless contacts between scholars and their leadership in Saudi Arabia in order to facilitate pilgrimage for Gaza citizens.

Barghouthi: IOA measures against Gaza war crime
Palestinian Information Center 11/20/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- MP Dr. Mustafa Al-Barghouthi has charged that the Israeli occupation authority’s measures against the Gaza Strip, siege and closure of crossings, constituted a war crime and a blatant violation of the international laws and the Geneva Convention. The MP also denounced the Israeli occupation forces’ detention of Palestinian fishermen and foreign activists off the Gaza coast, describing it as "a kidnapping". He said in a press statement on Wednesday that the deteriorating conditions in the Strip herald a humanitarian disaster as the IOA was blocking the entry of fuel, foodstuff and other basic materials into the Strip for more than two weeks. The IOA has turned Gaza into a big prison and is exercising collective punishment against it, Barghouthi said. The lawmaker called for an immediate end to the IOA "crimes" against the Palestinian people and urged the world not to treat Israel as a "state above the law".

Elections 2009: Latest poll gives Likud big edge over Kadima
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud have had a good three weeks, with no major slips, with brand new faces and with a good press, while Kadima is bleeding and Labor is disintegrating. The opinion polls are responding in kind: Likud opened a large, decisive lead of six MKs over Kadima. The right-wing bloc, led by Likud, is also firming up in comparison to previous polls, with 64 MKs versus 56 for the center-left. In effect, the right is much stronger than the center left, since its count also includes 11 MKs from the Arab parties: They will not be asked to join the governing coalition and in the current political climate their only use will be as part of a "preventive bloc" in the Knesset. These numbers are from a Haaretz-Dialog poll of a representative sample of the Israeli public conducted Tuesday under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University’s statistics department.

Defense Min. turns blind eye as Israelis sell arms to enemies
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Israeli arms dealers have negotiated and sold military equipment to a number of countries defined by Israeli law as enemy states in recent years with the full acknowledgment and approval of the Defense Ministry, Haaretz has learned. The ministry has okayed negotiations and sales between Israeli dealers and several Arab states including Iraq, Libya and Yemen, say the sources. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz recently approved the Tel Aviv District State Prosecutor’s Office decision to close an investigation against dual Israel-U. S. citizen Shlomi Michaels, whose company, the Kurdistan Development Organization (KODO), was suspected of illegal arms deals with Iraq. A police spokesman confirmed they had opened an investigation into Michaels dealings in 2006.

Shas: Livni will sell country to Arabs
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 11/20/2008
Ultra-Orthodox party lashes out after Kadima chairwoman pledges she ’won’t sell country to haredim,’ warns it will share fate of the anti-religious Shinui - "Sure, Kadima won’t sell the country to the haredim - seeing as they’ll sell it beforehand to the Arab though concessions in Jerusalem," said an irate Yakov Margi, chairman of the Shas party’s Knesset faction. Margi was referring to comments made by Kadima chairwoman, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, earlier Thursday evening at a meeting of Kadima’s board. In a particularly harshly-worded speech, Livni first went after her former political home, calling the Likud "a party that knows how to say no about every topic. Kadima will be representative of Israel and will determine its identity as a Jewish state, without selling the country to the haredim along the way.

Israeli prosecutors charge Islamic leader over Syrian flag
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Jerusalem - Ma’an - Israeli prosecutors charged the head of an Islamic organization in Israel over his waving of a Syrian flag at a demonstration in Jerusalem on Thursday, according to a news release from the Islamic Movement. Israeli prosecutors charged Sheikh Raed Salah, who is the head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, with "lifting the Syrian flag" at a Jerusalem march, the organization said. The Israeli prosecution reportedly upheld the charge on Thursday. Sheikh Salah was carrying the Syrian flag during a protest of Israeli plans to demolish a street leading to the Al-Magharbeh Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. As several of the participants were Syrians from the occupied Golan Heights, a number of protestors carried Syrian flags. Sheikh Salah said that the charge "expresses the Israeli policy that tends to keep us far from defending our holy mosque in Jerusalem.

Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 13 - 19 Nov. 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11/20/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and Serious Humanitarian Crisis Emerges in the Gaza Strip Due to the Closure of Its Border Crossings*IOF killed 4 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. *6 Palestinians, including a child, were wounded by the IOF gunfire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. *IOF launched mock air raids against the Gaza Strip. *IOF conducted 30 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and one into the Gaza Strip. *IOF arrested 44 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, in the West Bank. *IOF arrested 15 Palestinian fishermen and 3 international solidarity activist while sailing opposite to the Gaza Strip.

Barak: Gaza Strip crossings to remain closed Thursday
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed Israeli forces to keep crossings into the Gaza Strip closed on Thursday, following his reevaluation of the current situation with concerned parties. Meanwhile, the Jordanian Islamic Front Party in Amman received an official permit to protest the Rafah closure. At the demonstration, the party called on Egypt to open the crossing and end Egypt’s role in the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Second Saudi food aid shipment arrives in Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A convoy of food aid donated by the Saudi Arabian monarchy arrived in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, loaded with hundreds of tons of rice. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) received a previous convoy of flour last week, also from the Saudis. UNRWA’s director of aid programs, Kathy Heward, praised Saudi Arabia’s role in delivering aid, particularly "its continued efforts to alleviate poverty among the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. " Executive director of the Ar-Raya International Group, Mubarek Bakermom, said that "these supplies came in a package of Saudi aid, supervised by the Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinians. ”[end]

Palestinian rights group warns of humanitarian disaster in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) warned in a report on Thursday that the Gaza Strip is facing "disaster" as a result of the "endless siege. " PCHR also blamed Israel for the ongoing clashes in Gaza. According to the center’s weekly report, Israeli troops made 30 incursions into the West Bank and Gaza, where 44 Palestinians were seized. Among them were two children from the West Bank, 15 fisherman off the coast of Gaza and three solidarity activists onboard a ship, the center claimed. PCHR also condemned Israel’s demolition of houses and lands "for the sake of the separation wall" in the West Bank. This month, soldiers took over large swaths of land in Hebron and allowed settlers to attack Palestinians, the Palestinian human rights group alleged on Thursday.

OPT: Moroccan humanitarian caravan to Gaza reaches Cairo
Maghreb Arabe Presse - MAP, ReliefWeb 11/20/2008
Cairo, 20 Nov. 2008 (MAP)- The Moroccan humanitarian caravan carrying two tons of medicine and paramedical equipment destined to the people of Gaza reached Wednesday Cairo on its way to the Palestinian territory. Initiated by several ngos, including the Moroccan medical committee for support to Iraq and Palestine and the action group for support to Iraq and Palestine, the caravan will dispatch humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip through the Rafah border crossing point. Secretary general of the Pan-Arab congress, Khalid Sefiani, who is leading the Moroccan delegation, said this initiative reflects the unanimous support of the Moroccan people to the Palestinian people. This caravan is a "Moroccan cry" against the silence surrounding "the blockade imposed on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip," Sefiani told MAP bureau in Cairo.

Israeli army detains several Palestinians in the West Bank
International Middle East Media Center News 11/20/2008
Israeli military detained late on Wednesday night more than 20 Palestinian residents in the occupied West Bank, as it dismantled a sit-in tent in the occupied east Jerusalem. Palestinian security sources and witnesses said today that the Israeli troops attacked a number of West Bank cities , such as Nablus, Qalqilia, Tulkarem and Ramallah, detaining 21 residents. In the occupied east Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers rampaged a sit-in tent in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem, erected by a Palestinian family. The tent was erected by the Alkurd family after Jewish extremist groups had displaced them from their home. Hatem Abdelqader, a Palestinian lawmaker for Jerusalem, said that the tent was erected in a bid of protest at the their displacement some time ago. Witnesses said that tension is currently overwhelming in the area.

Palestinian tries to stab soldier at checkpoint
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 11/20/2008
Troops manning crossing west of Nablus manage to subdue man who lunged at female soldier with knife, take him into custody - A stabbing attack was thwarted at the Beit Iba checkpoint on Thursday evening after soldiers were able to prevent a Palestinian man from harming one of their female colleagues. The man arrived at the crossing, located northwest of the West Bank city of Nablus, withdrew a knife and lunged one of the female soldiers manning the checkpoint. The soldiers were able to subdue the attacker before any injuries were caused. In a subsequent search of the man’s belongings troops uncovered an improvised explosive device (IED) and several rifle bullets. The explosives were disposed of in a controlled manner by Border Guard sappers. The would-be stabber was arrested and taken for questioning.

IDF troops thwart stabbing attempt
Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
IDF troops foiled a stabbing attempt north of Nablus on Thursday evening. A Palestinian reached a checkpoint and pulled out a Stanley-knife while undergoing a security check conducted by a female soldier. Before the Palestinian managed to stab the soldier soldiers of the Shimshon Battalion who were on the scene overpowered the Palestinian. An improvised explosive device was found in the Palestinian’s belongings, as well as several 5. 56mm bullets. The improvised bomb was detonated by sappers and the man was taken for interrogation by security forces. Earlier, a Palestinian was arrested in the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus, carrying a knife with a 10-centimeter blade in his belongings. He was also taken for questioning.

Israeli forces raid north Tulkarem, storm Palestinian home
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the neighborhood of Qaffin in northern Tulkarem at dawn on Thursday, according to witnesses. Local sources reported that 15 military vehicles stormed the northern West Bank village, an operation conducted under "intensive shooting of bullets and sound bombs. " Israeli sources also stormed the house of Sami Mustafa Tu’mah in the eastern neighborhood of the village, destroying property inside. No arrests or detentions were immediately reported. Palestinian youths threw stones and empty glass bottles at Israeli soldiers during the confrontation. No injuries had been immediately reported by Thursday morning. [end]

Israeli forces seize two Tamoun residents
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli military forces detained two residents of the West Bank town of Tamoun early on Thursday morning, according to witnesses. Local Palestinian sources told Ma’an that “Israeli troops invaded the town at dawn, broke into several homes and arrested Akram Bani A’udah and Ahmad Bsharat. ”The two were taken to an undisclosed location. It was not immediately clear why Israeli forces abducted the two men, and the military spokesperson did not announce whether or not the two were charged with crimes or under what pretext, if any, they were seized from their homes. [end]

Tubas governor visits homes slated for demolition in Aqaba
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – The governor of the West Bank region of Tubas visited the village of Aqaba on Thursday to survey houses slated to be demolished by the Israeli military. Governor Sami Musalem visited the town, which could potentially be wiped out if the military carries out demolition orders for 35 structures of the 45 in the village. Musalem visited the houses of Saleh Abed Al-Karim, Salem Jaber and Jameel Subeih, all of which have pending demolition orders. He also visited a new agricultural access road in the village. [end]

Israeli army raids agricultural aid office near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers raided a municipal agricultural assistance office in the village of Tuqu, south of Bethlehem, on Thursday, local sources said. Israeli troops destroyed the interior of the office and seized farmers’ documents. On Wednesday Israeli soldiers also invaded the village, arresting 30 people and placing the town under curfew. [end]

Palestinian indicted for Jerusalem stabbing
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 11/20/2008
Muhammad al-Badan, 21, from Tekoa charged with murdering 86-year-old Avraham Ozeri in Jerusalem last month -A Palestinian man from the village of Tekoa was indicted at the Jerusalem District Court Thursday for murder, attempted murder and staying in Israel illegally. The man, 21-year-old Muhammad al-Badan, stabbed 86-year-old Avraham Ozeri to death in the city last month. According to the indictment, about a month ago al-Badan decided to carry out a terror attack against Jews. He bought a knife in Bethlehem for this purpose and then entered Israel illegally through the village of Beit Jala in east Jerusalem. Al-Badan arrived at the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo and wondered the streets in search of a potential victim. At some point he was spotted by a police patrol, and the officers approached him and asked to examine his papers.

IDF troops foil attempted stabbing attack near Nablus
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Israel Defense Forces troops on Thursday prevented a Palestinian from stabbing an IDF woman soldier near the West Bank city of Nablus. Troops overpowered the assailant and in a subsequent search, found an explosive device on his person. The incident occurred at the Beit Eiba checkpoint. Another Palestinian was arrested on Thursday at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus, after troops discovered he was carrying a knife with a four-inch blade. In September, an IDF soldier lost his vision in one eye after a Palestinian woman threw acid in his face at the Hawara checkpoint. [end]

Al-Aqsa Brigades launches projectile toward Kfar Azza
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for a projectile launched toward the Israeli town of Kfar Azza, east of Gaza City, on Thursday, according to a statement sent to Ma’an. The statement from Al-Aqsa announced that the internal Ayman Jude Group had fired the projectile. It claimed the shelling was in response to "Israeli massacres against our people in the Gaza Strip," according to the statement. [end]

DFLP affiliate launches projectile toward Ashkelon
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A group affiliated with the National Resistance Brigades, the militant wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), claimed responsibility for launching a projectile at Ashkelon, Israel late on Wednesday night. A group within the National Resistance Brigades, calling itself the "Projectile Unit," sent a statement to Ma’an claiming responsibility for the attack. The Brigades-affiliate launched the attack in retaliation for "ongoing Israeli atrocities" in the Gaza Strip, according to the statement. [end]

Qassam fighter killed in ''Jihad mission''
Palestinian Information Center 11/20/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- A member of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas Movement, died on Thursday while on a "Jihad mission" in Gaza, the armed wing said. The QB said in a communiqué that Mohammed Al-Ar’ir, 20, was killed when he was on a "Jihad mission" east of Gaza city but would not elaborate. It underlined that he had an honorable record in lines of the armed wing. The Israeli occupation forces killed 17 Palestinian fighters, mostly affiliated with the QB, since 4/11/2008 in a series of aerial raids and incursions into the Gaza Strip in violation of the calm agreement signed over five months ago between the Palestinian factions and the IOF. [end]

Israeli soldiers ordered to travel in convoys on Egyptian border amid abduction fears
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers on the Egyptian border have been ordered to travel only in convoys, underlining fears that soldiers might by captured by Palestinian fighters, Israeli media reported on Thursday. Soldiers in the border area are now banned from travelling alone, underlining Israeli concerns that a new abduction could take place, similar to the one carried out by Hizbullah in 2006 that lead to that year’s Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Israeli soldiers serving in outlying border posts have also complained about a lack of basic services, including garbage collection, and insufficient food and water. Troops fear that the mandatory convoys will worsen their situation.

Cabinet finds funds to reinforce homes in Sderot region
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
The cabinet made a U-turn yesterday regarding anti-missile reinforcements for communities near the border with Gaza. One week after the cabinet rejected a proposal by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his deputy to increase protection against rocket damage in the area, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the High Court of Justice that he intends to find the money to carry out the work. The new funding source: Finance Minister Roni Bar-On’s new national economic stimulus plan. On November 12 the cabinet discussed a proposal made by Barak and Deputy Defense Minister MK Matan Vilnai (Labor) to increase by about NIS 500 million the budget for reinforcing Israeli homes near the border with the Gaza Strip. In February, the cabinet approved the first stage of the program, including reinforcing communities within 4.

Mofaz calls for resuming assassination policy against Hamas leaders
Palestinian Information Center 11/20/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Israeli transport minister Shaul Mofaz, a prominent figure in the Kadima party, called for resuming the policy of assassinations against the leaders of Hamas Movement, adding that Israel witnessed a sharp decline of its deterrence against Hamas during the past 18th months. "Israel must stop talking and launch a personal targeted killing policy against the Hamas leaders," Mofaz told the Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot. He added that Israeli officials should prepare a plan for the assassinations and bring it to the cabinet for approval, noting that the assassinations must include all leaders of Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip. At a ceremony for appointing a new commander, outgoing commander of the Israeli Aza brigade Moshe Tamir described Hamas as the "fiercest enemy" he had ever encountered.

Livni: If fired upon, we’ll fire back
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/20/2008
UN chief calls foreign minister to voice concerns over claims of humanitarian crisis in Gaza; Livni says international community must denounce rocket fire on Israeli towns -United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Thursday, and voiced the UN’s concerns over Palestinian reports of a humanitarian crisis in the Strip. Ban also told Livni that the UN was displeased with the latest Israeli decision toclose the goods crossings with the Strip - a decision made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak following the continued rocket fire on the western Negev from armed Palestinian groups in Gaza. Sources in the Foreign Ministry described the conversation as strident, with Livni reportedly telling Ban at one point that "anyone who thinks we will not fire back when fired upon in mistaken.

Tamir: Hamas is heavy burden on our soldiers
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
Tensions eased along the Gaza Strip border yesterday, after two weeks of exchanges of fire. However, military sources said the situation still remained far from a return to a full cease fire. The Israel Defense Forces had orders to act with restraint yesterday as commanders gained the impression that Hamas wants to resume the truce and is reining in the smaller militant Palestinian factions, the sources said. Two Qassam rockets landed in an open area south of Ashkelon yesterday and a mortar shell fell in the western Negev. Shots were fired at an IDF unit close to the border in the northern Gaza Strip. Nobody was hurt. Outgoing Gaza division commander Brigadier General Moshe Tamir yesterday described Hamas as the cruelest, most fanatic enemy he had ever encountered. Tamir spoke at the ceremony for incoming division commander Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg.

Ashkelon: Hundreds protest Qassam barrages
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 11/20/2008
Residents of southern city rally against government inaction in face of increased, improved rocket attacks from Gaza -Hundreds of people gathered at the main junction at the entrance to Ashkelon, Thursday afternoon, to rally against the lack of fortifications in the city to protect residents from ongoing barrages of rockets launched from Gaza. Dozens of rockets have been launched at the western Negev in the past two weeks, one of which was a longer-range Grad rocket that wounded 15 in an Ashkelon shopping mall last Wednesday. Residents of the southern city had previously been largely out of rocket range. Children in the crowd dropped to the ground as protest organizers blared a Color Red alert. Other protesters carried signs reading, "Don’t abandon children in the field," "Who will save my house? " and "Ashkelon deserves to have quiet. "

Explosion kills Hamas man in Gaza
Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/20/2008
Palestinians say Hamas member Muhammad al-Arir killed by IDF fire in Gaza. Israel denies carrying out attack, says explosion was internal incident - An explosion in the Gaza Strip killed a member of the Hamas Islamist group on Thursday, hospital staff and witnesses said. Palestinian sources reported that Muhammad al-Arir was killed from IDF fire near the Sajiya neighborhood east of Gaza City. According to the sources, al-Arir was killed from an Israeli tank shelling and was transferred to Shifa Hospital. An Israeli army spokesman said Israel was not involved in the blast and had not carried out any attacks in the area. Israeli sources believe al-Arir was killed in an internal incident. On Saturday Palestinians reported a gunman was killed in an IDF aerial attack in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, and another gunman was critically wounded.

A Hamas fighter killed by an Israeli tank shell
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/20/2008
The Alqassam brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Hamas party announced on Thursday that one of its fighters was killed by an Israeli tank shrapnel to the east of Gaza city. Palestinian medical sources said that Mohammad Alaraeer, 21 , was killed instantly after having been shot with tank sharpenl just close to the Nahal Auz fuel terminal in eastern Gaza city. Dr. Mo’awiya Abu Hasanin, chief of emergency and ambulance service at the Hamas-run health ministry confirmed no other casualties in the area. From his part, spokesman of the Alqassam brigades, Abu Obaida, told media outlets in Gaza that the latest killed fighter planted yesterday night an anti-tank explosive device on the eastern Gaza-Israel border lines" " While the fighter was heading today morning back to the area to dismantle the device, an Israeli tanks shot a shell on him, dismembering his body and making the device explode", Abu Aobaida explained.

Hamas: We’re Prepared to End Cease-Fire and Confront Israel
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, MIFTAH 11/20/2008
Hamas’ military wing announced Tuesday it was "prepared for a confrontation with Israel" and for the end of the cease-fire with Israel. But political sources said the cease-fire was expected to go on. Hamas’ Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades threatened to "turn the cease-fire tables on the heads of the Zionists," they said in a statement. Abu Obeida, the alias of a spokesman for the military wing, threatened that Hamas would "retaliate fiercely" should Israel resume its targeted-killings policy, as some defense officials have said were advisable after the cease-fire. By contrast, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza, said that since the cease-fire was not a unilateral move, both sides should honor their part. Meanwhile, in what could be seen as an indication of relative calm in the area, the Gaza regional division of the Israel Defense Forces received a new commander Tuesday in a military ceremony near the border with the Strip.

Islamic Jihad calls on Hamas to press Israel to comply with truce
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Hamas government in Gaza came under pressure on Thursday from the Islamic Jihad movement to press Israel to comply with last June’s Egyptian-brokered truce agreement. Senior Islamic Jihad Leader Nafez Azzam met with senior Hamas officials, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza to dicuss the truce and efforts at restoring Palestinian unity. Azzamsaid truce should “not be a sword aimed at the Palestinians. The resistance will not give it unilaterally, so the involved sides should place real pressure on Israel to abide by the requirements of the truce and open the crossings, including Rafah. ”Under the terms of the ceasefire, Israel was to ease its closure of Gaza, eventually allowing all border crossings to open, including the Rafa border between Gaza and Egypt. Two weeks of renewed Israeli incursions, blockade, and the launch of Palestinian homemade rockets have thrown the truce into question.

Qassam lands in western Negev, no injuries
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 11/20/2008
Palestinians fire rocket from northern Gaza towards Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, no injuries or damage reported - Palestinian gunmen fired a Qassam rocket from northern Gaza towards the western Negev on Thursday afternoon. The rocket landed in an open area in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, no injuries or damage were reported. Earlier in the day Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed the current situation in the region, saying "the recent waves of rocket attacks are a result of our operations, which have resulted in the killing of 20 Hamas gunmen. We will continue to operate with determination, but if the other side works towards restoring the calm, it will find us willing to do the same. "In recent days the relative calm has been restored to the communities in southern Israel, though the week began with a series of rocket barrages that endangered the shaky ceasefire with Gaza’s armed groups.

IDF envisions army of animal robots for rescue missions, military ops
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
A cat-bot that climbs the walls using its claws, a dog-droid that responds to human movements, and a robot which releases glue through its wheels while scaling buildings met Wednesday in Herzliya. This might sound like the beginning of a joke or a description of the scene of a science fiction movie like Star Wars. In reality though, this was the scene at a robot exhibition held on Wednesday at a conference in the central coastal town. The wall-scaling robot may look like a small mechanical toy, but in practice it is quite a sophisticated device: it is capable of crawling up vertical walls, can turn corners without falling, and successfully navigate through obstacles without difficulty. The robot is the offspring of a family of robots which were developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ? a project which was launched following. . .

Palestine Today 112008
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 11/20/2008
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 Thursday November 20 2008 The Hamas-run agriculture ministry in Gaza warned on Thursday of an imminent nutrition crisis in the Gaza Strip due to the continuation of the Israeli closure of Gaza’s border crossings. In the West Bank, the Israeli military detained more than a dozen of Palestinian residents. These news and more are upcoming, stay tuned. United Nations Secretary Genearl, Ban Ki-Mooon, voiced on Thursday his concern over the growing humanitarian difficulties in the Gaza Strip, due to Israeli closure of Gaza’s border crossings. Ki-Moon phoned Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, calling on the Israeli government to ease entry of goods and basic commodities to the coastal territories.

Security forces brace as settlers arrive in droves to Hebron
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 11/21/2008
Tens of thousands expected to enter West Bank city over weekend, with many planning to remain in disputed house intended for evacuation. Settler violence against troops has escalated sharply over past few days, rattling nighttime footage captures rioting mob attacking security forces - Security forces deployed throughout Hebron on Thursday evening in anticipation of another night of public disturbances in the West Bank city by extreme-right activists. Although the High Court’s ruling on the evacuation of the disputed house near the Tomb of the Patriarchs has not yet been carried out, tensions between Jewish settlers and law enforcement are at a boiling point. The IDF, Border Guard and the police have all reinforced their men on the ground in preparation for the arrival of some 20,000 people to Hebron ahead of the reading of the ’Chayei Sarah’ weekly portion (lit.

VIDEO / Peres warns evacuation of settlers may lead to civil war
Anshel Pfeffer, and Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
LONDON - President Shimon Peres told members of the British Parliament Wednesday that Israel would have difficulty dismantling West Bank settlements without causing a civil war in Israel. On the second day of his state visit to Britain, Peres Wednesday became the first Israeli leader to address members of both houses of Parliament in the House of Lords’ Robing room. "The State of Israel began to take shape as Great Britain, under the leadership of Winston Churchill, saved the world from the Nazi threat. It was a time when many countries closed their gates to Holocaust survivors," Peres said. "My family arrived in Israel when it was still under British mandate. In our pockets were British Palestinian passports. In our hearts was the Balfour declaration. Israel would not have a vibrant democracy if it hadn’t been for the British legacy.

Hebron settler mob caught on video clashing with IDF troops
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Human rights group B’Tselem released footage on Thursday showing a mob of settlers clashing with Israeli security forces in the West Bank town of Hebron. During the clashes that erupted early Thursday, some settlers began to attack Palestinian locals while others wounded an IDF soldier by pouring turpentine on him as he tried to stop them from throwing stones at Palestinians. The B’Tselem footage, featured below, also appears to show the settlers puncturing the tires of an army jeep stationed nearby, which they did to a number of other military vehicles during the clashes. The violence erupted early Thursday at a disputed house slated for evacuation in the West Bank city of Hebron. Israeli and Palestinian officials alike called for legal action in light of the clashes.

Dichter: Disputed Hebron house will be evacuated
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 11/20/2008
In meeting with senior police, Shin Bet and IDF officials, internal security minister says High Court’s decision to evacuate disputed Hebron House will be carried out in full. IDF soldiers spent morning painting over anti-Muslim graffiti sprayed by settlers on Hebron mosque - Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter announced on Thursday that the High Court’s ruling regarding the evacuation of the disputed house in Hebron will be carried out in full. During a meeting with police Commissioner Dudi Cohen and representatives of the IDF and the Shin Bet, Dichter said that "the rule of law in Israel is not a recommendation but rather an objective that must be achieved in its entirety. "This message must be conveyed to the police and all other security branches," he added. Meanwhile, IDF soldiers spent the great part of the day painting over anti-Muslim graffiti sprayed by settlers on a local mosque.

Settler Rabbi: The State of Israel is an Enemy of the People
Nadav Shragai, MIFTAH 11/20/2008
"The state of Israel has become the enemy of the people and the land of Israel," settler rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe said Tuesday during an emergency meeting on the state’s plan to evacuate a house in Hebron whose ownership has been at the center of a bitter dispute for over a year. 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. Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday said the settlers will be evacuated from the building, but that defense officials will sit down with them first to try to persuade them to leave voluntarily. The Supreme Court has given the settlers until noon Wednesday to leave the house. They say they aren’t budging. The court says if the settlers do not leave willingly they will be evicted within 30 days.

Hebron: Rightists injure soldier, desecrate graves
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 11/20/2008
Tensions surrounding disputed Hebron house continue to run high as settlers clash with local Palestinians, pour turpentine on soldier, spray ’Muhammad the pig’ graffiti on mosque - Dozens of Right-wing activists clashed with Palestinians Wednesday night near a disputed house in Hebron, injured an IDF soldier and desecrated Palestinian graves. None of the rioters was arrested, but security sources vowed to bring the offenders to justice. The High Court of Justice ruled this week that the house, which is inhabited by settlers, should be evacuated until the question of its ownership can be established. In recent days the settlers’ violence in Hebron has increased, and activists at the place have turned throwing stones on Palestinians and their houses into a routine thing. During a confrontation that erupted at the place tonight, IDF and police forces. . .

Legal aides find loophole for Defense Ministry action on Hebron house
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
The Israel Police and Israel Defense Forces have more than 30 days to comply with a High Court decision to remove settlers from a house in Hebron whose ownership is claimed by Palestinians, according to government legal aides. Government legal aides are expected to submit their interpretation of the court’s ruling today to Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Earlier this week the High Court ruled that settlers must leave the house within three days or be removed from it by the state. "I call on everybody involved [in the affair] to act responsibly and in accordance with the state’s essence and judicial institutions," Barak said yesterday in an interview with Army Radio. "It’s the fundamentals of the country and we will insist on it. "The security establishment originally believed that the court’s ruling required it to evacuate the settlers within a month.

Soldier hurt in Hebron settler violence
Yaakov Katz And Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
The defense establishment will respond harshly to attacks by far-right activists in Hebron, a senior officer in the IDF Central Command said Thursday after activists clashed with security personnel overnight and vandalized a nearby Muslim cemetery. Tensions reach boiling point in Hebron - "Violence against security forces cannot be allowed to continue," the officer said. "We will respond with the means that are at our disposal. " Also on Thursday, Rabbi Col. Moshe Hagar-Lau, a battalion commander in reserve duty and head of the Yatir pre-military yeshiva academy in the South Hebron Hills, speaking from Hebron, said that any attempt to forcibly evacuate settlers from a disputed building in the city would be met with severe violence. "The political echelon has no mandate to do anything controversial right now," Hagar-Lau said.

Gush Katif petitioners seek to replace ’biased’ judge
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
Attorneys representing dozens of Gush Katif evacuees last month appealed to Jerusalem Magistrate Court President, Judge Amnon Cohen, with a request to remove Judge Anna Schneider from the handling of petitions relating to the Evacuation-Compensation Law. A similar letter was sent to Cohen by the Committee of Gush Katif Residents. They argue that Schneider, who until three years ago served as the Knesset’s legal adviser, took part in 30 sessions of Knesset committees between 2004 and 2005 dealing with the law. She also took part in a tour of the Gaza Strip prior to the evacuation organized by the Knesset’s Finance Committee. In September, Judge Cohen determined that Schneider exclusively would handle appeals of the Sela Disengagement Administration’s eligibility committee decisions relating to compensation for evacuees.

Palestinian, Israeli officials alarmed by Hebron settlers’ attacks
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian and Israeli officials voiced concern on Thursday after Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians and Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron. During a rally on Thursday, settlers attacked Palestinian locals while others wounded an Israeli soldier by splashing turpentine on him as he tried to prevent them from throwing stones at Palestinians. Settler groups have been outraged at a court ruling allowing the Israeli army to remove settlers from a Palestinian-owned house they have illegally occupied in Hebron since 2007. The house belongs to the Rajabi family. The court gave the settlers until noon on Wednesday to leave, and the Defense Ministry has been attempting to persuade the settlers to leave peacefully. The settlers have vowed to resist the eviction order.

Two Molotov cocktails hurled at Israeli cars near Hebron; none wounded
Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
Palestinians hurled two Molotov cocktail bottles at a military vehicle and an Israeli car near Hebron on Thursday night. No one was wounded and the cars were not damaged. [end]

Interview: Palestinians in Europe
Firas Al-Atraqchi in Stockholm, Al Jazeera 11/20/2008
Zaid Tayem says Palestinians in Europe should be more politically active - On November 16, delegations representing Palestinian communities in EU countries gathered in Stockholm, Sweden to pave the way for a conference to be held in a European capital in May 2009. Zaid Tayem, the head of the cultural division of the Union of Palestinian Minorities in Europe and a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), says the May meeting will solidify Palestinian ranks and push for political representation in European parliaments. Tayem, who is based in the Netherlands, says he sees no reason why a Palestinian academic living in Europe as an EU citizen cannot become a member of parliament. However, he warned that the Palestinians must unite their ranks and work to overcome their political differences.

Top media executives protest Israel’s ban on journalists’ entry to Gaza
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Leaders of the world’s biggest media organizations filed a protest with Israel’s prime minister Wednesday criticizing the government’s decision to ban journalists from entering the Gaza Strip for the last two weeks. The protest was the latest in a chorus of international criticism of Israel’s Gaza closure, tightened after a five-month truce began unraveling about two weeks ago in a flurry of Israeli airstrikes against militants and Palestinian rocket barrages targeting Israeli towns. Those signing the letter included Associated Press Chief Executive and President Tom Curley, Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, ABC News President David Westin, BBC News Director Helen Boaden and other top executives from CNN, the Canadian TV network CTV, the German broadcaster ZDF, and the French news service Agence France Presse.

Foreign Reporters’ Group Fights Israeli Prohibition on Entering Gaza
Isabel Kershner, MIFTAH 11/20/2008
An association representing international news organizations is campaigning for an end to an unusual Israeli policy barring foreign reporters from entering Gaza that has lasted for almost two weeks. The local Foreign Press Association, which represents reporters working for foreign news companies in Israel and the Palestinian territories, asked presidents of major news organizations on Tuesday to sign a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel protesting the policy. The association said it was also enlisting the help of a number of foreign governments and was consulting with lawyers regarding possible legal action. Israel has almost sealed the crossing points along its border with Gaza since a five-month cease-fire with Hamas, which controls the strip, began to unravel on Nov. 4. At least 15 Palestinian militants have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces since, and about 140 rockets and mortar shells have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel, the Israeli military said.

Media organisations complain to Israel over Gaza press blockade
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 11/20/2008
International media companies have sent a letter of protest to Israel’s prime minister challenging a decision to ban journalists from entering the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government has come under strong international criticism this week, including from Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, over itsblockade of the overcrowded strip of Palestinian territory. A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that won Palestinian elections nearly three years ago and controls Gaza, effectively broke down two weeks ago after an Israeli raid killed six Hamas militants. Since then there have been more Israeli raids, killing around 17 Hamas gunmen, and Palestinian militants have fired dozens of rockets into southern Israel, injuring several people. Israel has kept its crossings into Gaza largely closed, allowing in only limited amounts of food and aid and keeping journalists out.

Abdullah II warns Olmert, Barak: Gaza action could snowball into Jordanian instability
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Jordan’s King Abdullah warned Israeli leaders this week that a military offensive in Gaza would destabilize the region, a Jordanian political source said Thursday. The source said the monarch urgently summoned Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak for secret talks in Amman on Tuesday. "His majesty warned [Israel] against any escalation of military operations and said these measures will not bring Israel the security it seeks," the source, who was familiar with the talks, told Reuters. "Any unilateral Israeli action in Gaza would fuel regional tension," he also quoted Abdullah as saying. "The key to stability in the region is Palestinian-Israeli peace. "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also met Abdullah on Thursday in the Red Sea port of Aqaba after the king invited him for talks as part of stepped up diplomacy to avert wider bloodshed in Gaza.

Jordanian king hosts Abbas after secret talks with Olmert
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/21/2008
AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah II held talks on Thursday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas two days after Israeli leaders made a clandestine visit to the kingdom, a senior Jordanian official said. The king and Abbas, who met at the kingdom’s southern Red Sea resort of Aqaba, discussed "means of pushing ahead with peace negotiations with Israel on the basis of a two-state solution," the palace said. Israeli public radio reported on Thursday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak made a secret visit to Jordan on Tuesday and met the king. The palace declined to comment on these talks. A senior government official toldAFP in Amman that the king told Olmert and Barak about "the need to stop all unilateral measures in the Occupied West Bank and in Gaza. " The Jordanian king also told the Israeli leaders "not to launch military operations because. . .

Olmert reportedly in Jordan Tuesday for secret talks with king
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was in Jordan on Tuesday, where King Abdallah received him in Amman, according to diplomatic sources in London. Both heads of state reportedly discussed ongoing Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. The event had not been previously scheduled. Olmert brought Abdallah up to speed on the outcome of his latest meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Al-Hayat newspaper in the United Kingdom. Sources claimed that Olmert had conveyed to Abbas the terms of a comprehensive agreement before the conclusion of his term of office. However, Abbas insisted on an agreementthat included “a halt to the atrocities in Gaza,” sources reported. King Abdallah confirmed to Olmert the need to continue negotiations and to achieve progress on the two-state solution, “which is the only choice to achieve peace in the region,” the king reportedly said.

Abdullah holds secret summit with Olmert, Barak
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 11/20/2008
King Abdullah summons Israeli PM, defense minister to his palace in Amman, implores them not to launch operation in Gaza, stresses peace between Israel, Palestinians also a strategic interest of Jordan -Jordan’s King Abdullah summoned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert andDefense Minister Ehud Barak to his palace in Amman on Tuesday night and implored them not to launch a military operation in Gaza, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday. According to the report, the king is concerned that such an operation might have dire consequences for his country as well. However, despite Abdullah’s request, Olmert and Barak made it clear to the Jordanian leader that if the rocket attacks on the Gaza-vicinity communities continue, Israel would be forced to respond. The London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat reported that during the secret meeting, the three leaders. . .

Jordanian king urges Israel not to invade Gaza during secret meeting
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Jordan’s King Abdullah summoned Israel’s prime minister and defense minister for a secret meeting in Amman on Tuesday to urge them not to escalate military action in the Gaza Strip. Israeli leaders are considering a large-scale operation in Gaza to stop the fire of homemade rockets from the tiny coastal territory. Israel broke a truce agreement with Gaza’s Hamas government on 4 November, invading Gaza and provoking renewed rocket fire. Sources with knowledge of the meeting told reporters that Abdullah said that an escalation in Gaza could destabilize the region. Israeli political sources said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak made no guarantees that Israel would refrain from a major invasion, saying “Israel cannot restrain itself for long. ”Jordan has had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1994, but there have. . .

Israel urged to avoid Gaza escalation
Middle East Online 11/20/2008
TEL AVIV - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak made a secret visit to Jordan on Tuesday and met with King Abdullah II, Israeli public radio reported on Thursday. During the meeting the king urged the Israeli leaders not to launch a large-scale military operations in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the democratically elected Hamas, the radio reported citing a senior Israeli official. Olmert’s press secretary declined to comment on the report. Jordanians demonstrated in Amman on Wednesday against the Israeli blockade on Gaza. The radio station said the Jordanian monarch took the initiative to seek to avoid a confrontation that might also cause trouble in his country, home to many Palestinians. Meanwhile, a Palestinian resistance fighter was killed by an Israeli tank shell east of Gaza City on Thursday, a doctor said.

Israel: We won’t topple Hamas soon
Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak assured Jordan’s King Abdullah this week that Israel does not intend to launch a major offensive to bring down the Hamas regime in Gaza in the near future, Jordanian sources told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. The two Israeli leaders did not rule out a range of less dramatic military operations against Hamas and other terror operatives in the Strip. Olmert and Barak, who met with Abdullah in Amman on Tuesday, told the king that Israel greatly values its peace partnership with Jordan and would bear the interests of the Hashemite leadership in mind as it grapples with the dilemmas posed by Hamas’s rule in Gaza. Abdullah on Thursday briefed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Aqaba on the results of the secretive Tuesday meeting.

Abdullah, Abbas condemn Gaza blockade
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 11/20/2008
Jordanian king, Palestinian president meet in Jordan, emphasize ’military means not the way to Israeli security’ -Following a clandestine meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, King Abdullah of Jordan invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a chat in Aqaba, Thursday. The two warned against any unilateral Israeli actions in Gaza or the West Bank and emphasized that an increased blockade of Gaza would only lead to increased Palestinian suffering and escalating tensions. According to Jordanian newsagency ’Petra,’ the Jordanian king asserted that the only way to achieve peace and security is by ending the conflict based on a two-state solution. He said that "

Khudari: Gaza out of wheat
Palestinian Information Center 11/20/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular anti siege committee, has affirmed that the flour mills in the Gaza Strip have come to complete halt due to the Israeli closure of all crossings for 16 days running. Khudari, who visited the Palestinian flour mill company along with foreign activists on Wednesday, said that the company’s stores were empty, noting that they could accommodate up to 200,000 tons of wheat. He told a press conference after touring the facility that the company used to produce 230 tons of flour daily and worked 24 hours a day but it reduced working to 8 hours a day then stopped completely on Wednesday. The MP recalled that the company met 50% of the Gaza Strip needs, and underlined that it was the first time for the company to completely stop functioning, which indicates that the current siege and closures of crossings is the toughest against the Strip.

Inventions ''Heating Up'' With Gaza Siege
Rami Almeghari & Islamonline.net, International Middle East Media Center News 11/20/2008
Mud, straw, cement bricks, two sheets of glass, and the rays of the Gazan Sun. These are the needed ingredients to cook a meal of meat, rice, beans or macaroni for siege-stricken Palestinian families. An oven that uses the Sun’s heat to cook food is the latest invention to come out of Israel’s 17-month-old siege of Gaza which has deprived the coastal territory of fuel and natural gas by closing off Gaza’s border crossings. Earlier this year, a Gazan engineer showed off his electric-powered car which he converted away from running on fuel. According to Yousef Abu Tawahina, the idea behind the oven was pretty simple and easy to apply. What you need is 15 cement bricks, mud mixed with straw and two sheets of glass," he told IslamOnline. net. "One sheet is incorporated into the top part of the oven and the other into the front side, and finally a metal sheet is placed at the base. . .

Issuance of building licenses down 0.2% in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The total number of building licenses issued in the West Bank decreased by 0. 2 percent in the third quarter 2008 compared to the second quarter, according to a report released Thursday by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). But the total number of licensed dwellings increased 3. 8 percent, compared with the second quarter 2008, when total licensed areas decreased by 14. 9 percent, again compared to the second quarter, PCBS reported. The total number of issued building licenses decreased by 2. 6 percent in the third quarter 2008 compared with the third quarter 2006 and 3. 3 percent compared with the same quarter in 2007. The PCBS report noted that Thursday’s report’s data for building licenses do not include dwellings within the Gaza Strip as the Israeli blockade prevented analysts from taking measurements this quarter.

PA Customs seizes 2.5 tons of expired dates in Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority (PA) Customs Office in Tulkarem reported Thursday that it had seized 2. 5 tons of expired pressed dates on in a northern West Bank store on Wednesday night. The head of the PA Customs Office, Nidal Abu Sa’id, said in a telephone interview with Ma’an that officials had "received information from (PA)Intelligence about the expired quantity (of dates). " "Based on the information we had, we went to the site and seized the quantity. The owner of the store is now under investigation. " The official added that the pressed dates looked "expired and smelled bad. " [end]

Islamic Jihad: Hamas to announce Abbas replacement in January
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Hamas plans to appoint a new Palestinian Authority president in January at the end of Mahmoud Abbas’ four-year term, according to Mohammed al-Hindi, a leader of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. Hindi said the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Sheikh Aziz al-Dweik, will probably be named to the post. Dweik is currently jailed in Israel. A fierce disagreement erupted recently between Hamas and Fatah regarding when Abbas’ term is to end. Hamas claims the president’s tenure ends on January 9, 2009 while Fatah argues that it is supposed to continue until January 9, 2010. Fatah bases its claim on an amendment to the election law stipulating that the presidential and parliamentary elections are to be held together, and the parliamentary elections are scheduled for January 2010.

Al Hindy: ''Hamas will declare a new president after January 9''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/20/2008
Senior Islamic Jihad leader, Mohammad Al Hindy stated in an interview with the Maan News Agency that the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, will most likely declare a new Palestinian president replacing Mahmoud Abbas after January 9 of 2009 which marks the end of Abbas’ term in office. Al Hindy added that Abbas will find a legal "exit from this dilemma" and will receive Arab, European, American and Israeli recognition. He also stated that Hamas will name the new president and the internal crisis will increase as the Palestinians will have two presidents, one in Gaza and one in the West Bank. Al Hindi added that Israel plays an essential role in increasing the gap between Fateh and Hamas as it benefits from the ongoing rift and internal Palestinian divisions. Furthermore, Al Hindy said that Hamas and Fateh must find a solution to bridge this gap and must end internal divisions as the current situation only benefits Israel.

Sources: Arabs tending to find a mediator other than Egypt
Palestinian Information Center 11/20/2008
GAZA/DOHA, (PIC)-- Informed Palestinian political sources revealed a tendency among Arab political leaders active in the Palestinian issue to find an alternative mediator in the inter-Palestinian dialog instead of Egypt on the grounds that its mediation failed before it started and its bias was apparently in favor of Fatah against Hamas. Quds Press quoted these sources as saying that the focus is on the parties, which have successful experience in managing the dialog between local rivals (alluding to Qatar). The sources added that the new mediator would deal not only with the issue of Palestinian dialog but also with the issue of the prisoner swap deal, pointing out that Egypt failed to accomplish anything in these two files and also failed to pressure Israel to respect the truce. In Doha, political science professor Dr Mohamed Al-Mesfer told Quds Press that Egypt is no longer

Jihad: Political detention obstacle before dialog
Palestinian Information Center 11/20/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Khaled Al-Batesh, a prominent Islamic Jihad leader, has said that political detention and persecuting resistance fighters in the West Bank posed as an obstacle before national dialog that should be removed. Batesh told the PIC on Thursday that such arrests impede dialog and deepen the crisis and are of no use to the people. The Jihad leader, who was commenting on the West Bank PA preventive security apparatus’ summoning of Hamas political leader Adnan Asfour, said, "We regret such practices against strugglers and Mujahideen in the West Bank". Asfour should be honored for his struggle especially when he spent three years in Israeli occupation jails, Batesh said, adding that such measures only deepen and complicate the internal crisis. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said on Thursday that the security apparatuses’ practices in the West Bank had crossed all red lines and were in full harmony with the Zionist goals.

Hamas: PA detained 12 loyalists across West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces detained 12 Hamas loyalists across the West Bank in recent days, according to a Hamas statement released on Thursday. Hamas claimed that PA forces abducted the affiliates in several West Bank cities, among them Jenin, Nablus, Qalqilia, Salfit and Ramallah. Ma’an obtained the names and governorates of residence for the alleged abductees. Jenin: Mo’tassem SteitiNablus:Bader Al-AmoudiAshraf GhaziHassan ZahranMaher Matar, whose personal computer was confiscatedAnas Khaled, a student at An-Najah National UniversitySalfit: Jamal Al-KhatibRamallah:Khaled Salamah, a Ministry of Labor consultantBaha Al-Farah, a communications director at the office of Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)-member Aziz Dweik.

Fayyad, US consul inaugurate Jericho tourism project
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Jericho – Ma’an – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad claimed that security and stability in the country had increased tourism this year, according to a speech in Jericho on Thursday. In an address at the inauguration of a public project to develop the Hisham Palace hotel in Jericho on Thursday, Fayyad said that as many as one million tourists have already visited the West Bank this year, with an expected 1. 5 million visitors by the end of 2008. The Hisham Palace project was funded by the United States Department of State, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and "other insitutions concerned with prserving heritage. " The Palestinian prime minister also criticised recent Israeli excavations in Jerusalem, "which threaten the heritage of the Holy Land as well as the peace process. "

PLO Central Council to host Ramallah summit
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) will meet in Ramallah on Sunday, where 120 members are expected to attend a summit to discuss negotiations with Israel, a PLO official said in a telephone interview with Ma’an. According to the head of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), Bilal Ash-Shakhshir, the talks will center on unity, national dialogue and “Israeli threats. ”Ash-Shakhshir added that invitations had been sent to “some” Hamas members to join in the meeting, and that they are expected to be represented by about 10 to 15 members. [end]

Abbas to shun Arab League Cairo meet
Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is "extremely disappointed" with the Arab countries over their refusal to hold Hamas responsible for the failure of Egyptian efforts to end the Islamic movement’s dispute with Fatah, PA officials said Wednesday. The officials said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas had decided to boycott the upcoming meeting of the Arab League Foreign Ministers in Cairo in protest against the Arab countries’ position. Abbas was hoping that the Arab League would put pressure on Hamas to participate in an Egyptian-sponsored conference that was due to be held in Cairo last week to settle the Hamas-Fatah power struggle. Abbas aides said that Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa had promised to publicly condemn Hamas for boycotting the gathering, but failed to keep his pledge.

Prisoners’ Ministry opens investigation into NIS 960,000 theft
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The attorney general for the Palestinian Authority (PA) opened an investigation into allegations of theft at the Prisoners’ Affairs Ministry’s “cantina,” a deputy within the ministry announced on Thursday. The investigation is in cooperation with the attorney general, Palestinian police and monetary officials. The case revolves around the recent theft up to NIS 960,000 from the Prisoners’ Ministry. The investigation aims “to establish the facts” and determine how one person could “withdraw this amount of money through 15 transfers within four months. ”PA sources said that the de facto attorney general and police department in the Gaza Strip have detained one person, though it was not immediately clear whether he was jailed over the alleged theft or something unrelated. In any case, his name was not made public.

Senior Palestine People’s Party official says Hamas police barred him from leaving Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – A senior official in the Palestinian communist party said that Hamas-allied police prevented him from leaving the Gaza Strip on Thursday. Walid Awad, a member of the political bureau of the Palestine People’s Party said that de facto government stopped him on his way to the Erez border crossing at the northern end of the Gaza Strip. Awad was on his way to a meeting of the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Awad told Ma’an that police seized some of his documents after preventing him from proceeding to the crossing. 120 members of the PLO Central Council are planning to meet on Sunday to discuss efforts at restoring Palestinian unity. Earlier on Thursday a PLO official said that members of Hamas, a group that is barred from the PLO had been invited to the meeting.

Waqf minister calls on Hamas to respect Hajj pilgrimage
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Jericho - Ma’an - Sheikh Jamal Bawatneh, the Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs within the Palestinian Authority (PA), said on Thursday that the ministry hopes to overcome obstacles related to the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The minister called for Hamas to "return under the umbrella of Palestinian legitimacy," adding that the pilgrimage "should be respected. " The PA minister said that 8,500 Palestinian pilgrims had travelled for Hajj this year. Bawatneh expressed thanks to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for "standing with the Ministry of Waqf to ensure the participation of Palestinians in the Hajj. " The Waqf minister also thanked the Saudi and Jordanian governments for their efforts. Bawatneh added that the ministry had one all that was needed in cooperation with both Jordanian and Israeli officials to facilitate the pilgrimage.

Albawaba: Despite Ban, Leviev to Sell Jewelry at Grand Opening of Atlantis Hotel in Dubai
International Solidarity Movement 11/20/2008
Unconfirmed Report says Leviev to Attend Atlantis Opening - Al-Bawaba - November 18 - Adalah-NY has learned that the jewelry of Israeli billionaire and settlement-builder Lev Leviev will be on sale at this week’s gala opening of the luxury hotel Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai. Despite Leviev’s on-going construction of Israeli settlements and claims by United Arab Emirates officials that Leviev would receive no license to sell his jewelry there, the New York-based human rights coalition Adalah-NY has confirmed that Leviev’s jewelry will be on sale at the Atlantis branch of the Levant Jewelry chain on the fabled Palm Jumeirah island. Adalah-NY has also heard from a Dubai source that Leviev will attend the grand opening events in person, but the group has been unable to corroborate this report. A press release on the Atlantis web site claims that the opening gala, set for November 20-21st, “will

Settlement financier to sell jewelry at Dubai hotel despite ban
Press release, Adalah-NY, Electronic Intifada 11/20/2008
Adalah-NY has learned that the jewelry of Israeli billionaire and settlement-builder Lev Leviev will be on sale at this week’s gala opening of the luxury hotel Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai. Despite Leviev’s ongoing construction of Israeli settlements and claims by United Arab Emirates officials that Leviev would receive no license to sell his jewelry there, the New York-based human rights coalition Adalah-NY has confirmed that Leviev’s jewelry will be on sale at the Atlantis branch of the Levant Jewelry chain on the fabled Palm Jumeirah island. Adalah-NY has also heard from a Dubai source that Leviev will attend the grand opening events in person, but the group has been unable to corroborate this report. A press release on the Atlantis website claims that the opening gala, set for 20-21 November, "will culminate in a giant fireworks display," and that guests will include "prominent CEO’s, business leaders, politicians, actors and musicians and members of the Dubai Royal family. "

Global: UN launches record appeal for humanitarian aid
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Integrated, ReliefWeb 11/20/2008
GENEVA, 20 November 2008 (IRIN)- The UN is asking for a record US$7 billion to help 30 million people in Africa and the Middle East. "The money is being used to keep people alive," said John Holmes, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, at the Consolidated Appeals Process launch in Geneva on 19 November. The fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country suffering from conflict for more than a decade, for which $831 million is being asked, and the ongoing plight of Sudan, where the UN and aid agencies need just over $2 billion, weighed heavy on the appeal, along with Somalia, needing $919 million. "More than 100,000 children are on the run in the Kivus, along with their families," said Hilde Johnson, deputy head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), referring to the troubled region of the DRC.

Churches to Deliver Christmas Notes to Bethlehem
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 11/20/2008
The World Council of Churches will help deliver Christmas messages and prayers of peace to the biblical birthplace of Jesus. Christianity’s largest ecumenical movement says messages e-mailed before the Jan. 7 Christmas celebrated by Orthodox Christians will be printed and handed out at schools and places of worship in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The council said Tuesday the messages are appreciated by people in Bethlehem who refuse to give up hope for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. It said e-mails should be sent to the Arab Educational Initiative, which does social work in Bethlehem. The council brings together about 350 Protestant, Orthodox and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians.

Ban reports Israeli, Lebanese violations of 1701
Daily Star 11/21/2008
BEIRUT: Violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 continue to take place and additional progress toward fulfilling obligations is overdue, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his eighth report on the resolution’s implementation. "I am pleased to report that all parties continue to express their support for and commitment to Resolution 1701 [2006]," Ban said, according to a copy of the report obtained by The Daily Star. "However, further progress in the implementation of the resolution is increasingly overdue. " The secretary general’s report also expressed concern over the residual security threats facing Lebanon and the recent political uncertainty in Israel after Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni failed to form a coalition government. As in his prior reports, the UN chief thoroughly catalogued Lebanon’s and Israel’s compliance with obligations detailed in the resolution,. . .

Israel to negotiate pullout from divided village of Ghajar
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
Israel will begin negotiations with the United Nations over an Israel Defense Forces withdrawal from the northern section of the border village of Ghajar, the government decided Wednesday. The move comes after consultations held in Jerusalem on Wednesday between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and senior officials from the defense establishment. Officials in Jerusalem said the goal of the negotiations is to ensure that any agreement takes Israel’s security concerns into account. The officials said any deal must include working guidelines that would define the IDF’s cooperation with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, without which Israel will not pull its forces out of northern Ghajar. Hezbollah victoryThe discussion on Wednesday was aimed at formulating an official Israeli response to the UN’s proposal. . .

Trial begins for 68 LAF men accused in January deaths
Daily Star 11/21/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s military court on Thursday started trying three officers and 65 soldiers from the Lebanese Armed Forces over their alleged roles in the deaths of seven civilians during an anti-government protest in a Beirut suburb last January. Eight of the 65 soldiers have been in custody since the incident after being accused of having a direct role in the deaths of the seven civilians. The three officers and their troops were part of an LAF force which was sent to the Shiyyah-Mar Mikhael area in order to contain protests that included the burning of tires and blocking roads. Most of the protesters were supports of Hizbullah and the Amal Movement. Judicial sources told The Daily Star that investigations were still under way to determine the owner of a rifle that was used to kill Amal member Ahmad Hamza. Hamza was shot down during the protest by an unidentified assailant.

French PM lauds calm following Doha Accord
Daily Star 11/21/2008
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon urged Lebanon on Thursday to press ahead with the process of national reconciliation, saying the Doha Accord had put the country on a "promising path. "Fillon made the comments shortly after arriving in Lebanon for a two-day visit, accompanied by Defense Minister Herve Morin and a delegation of businessmen and officials, including writer Amin Maalouf and legislator Elie Abboud, both French citizens of Lebanese origins. The French were welcomed at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, Finance Minister Mohammad Shatah, Agriculture Minister Elias Skaff and Social Affairs Mario Aoun. In remarks at the French Embassy, Fillon also called for the still-unidentified assassins of former Premier Rafik Hariri to be punished.

350 Muslim pilgrims leave Jenin for Mecca
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Jenin –Ma’an – The first convoy of 350 Palestinian pilgrims left the West Bank city of Jenin on Thursday en route to Mecca for the Hajj. The governor of Jenin, Qadura Mousa, attended a farewell ceremony for the pilgrims. Every year thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza travel to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, joining Muslims from around the world. The pilgrimage to Mecca is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation for all Muslims who can afford to make the journey. The Palestinian Authority helps pay the expenses of the pilgrims. [end]

In Gaza coffee shops, men and women break strict taboos
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
GAZA CITY - A womens association celebrating the end of a management course, combined with a party for the 20th anniversary of the Palestinian declaration of independence is no big deal in itself. In Gaza, however, the combination of these events last Saturday, at a beachfront event hall, was more than the sum of its parts. It was an overt display of mixing between men and women, both at the tables and on the dance floor. During the holy month of Ramadan, a number of parties with mixed participation and singing took place at this restaurant, spurning police pressure on the owners to put a stop to them. The womens association is headed by a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Many of the guests were members and supporters of the PFLP. The choice of this restaurant was a statement of their position, and a show of support for the owners.

Palestinians to publish first-ever ads in Hebrew explaining Arab peace plan
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
The Palestinian Authority is publishing for the first time on Thursday advertisements in the Hebrew-language Israeli press that present the details of the Arab peace plan. The Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said Wednesday that the ads are aimed at explaining the details of the Arab League initiative to the Israeli public in an effort to persuade Israelis to support it. Abed Rabbo added that Israelis are totally unfamiliar with the details of the plan, which is also known as the Beirut plan. He said they have heard only partial, distorted explanations of it from senior Israeli officials who have in the past attacked every peace initiative, Arab or Palestinian. According to Abed Rabbo, the PA will make it clear to anyone in Israel who desires normalization with. . .

Peace plan adverts target Israelis
Al Jazeera 11/21/2008
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has placed advertisements in Israeli newspapers in an attempt to increase interest in an Arab peace plan for the region. The full-page advertisements were published in Hebrew in four Israeli newspapers on Thursday. The initiative, which offers Israel normal relations with Arab countries, was first proposed in 2002, but has not been acted on depite Israel’s president saying in October that he was open to the plan. The text of the advertisement read: "Fifty-seven Arab and Islamic countries will establish diplomatic ties and normal relations with Israel in return for a full peace agreement and an end to the occupation. " It also lays out the concessions that Israel would have to make for Arab states to put the plan into force, including full withdrawal. . .

ANALYSIS / Obama embrace of Arab peace plan could benefit Livni
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
President Shimon Peres related that Barack Obama was "very impressed" by the Arab peace plan, when Peres told him about it during their meeting in Jerusalem. Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu says Obama was very impressed by Netanyahu’s "economic peace" plan. There’s a contradiction here: The Arab League plan that Peres is promoting calls for Israel’s withdrawal from all the territories, including East Jerusalem, and for a "just and agreed" solution for the refugees, in exchange for normalization. Netanyahu’s proposal calls for the economic development of the West Bank, with Israel continuing to control the territories, and postponing the final-status arrangement until the Palestinians forgo the right of return and recognize Israel as a Jewish state - in other words, until the Messiah comes.

PA touts Arab peace plan in Hebrew press advertisements
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority (PA) published newspaper advertisements explaining an Arab-league peace in Israeli newspapers on Thursday. The full-page announcements in Hebrew are a first-ever attempt by the Palestinian leadership to speak directly to the Israeli public in their own language. The advertisements also appeared in Arabic in the Palestinian press. PA leaders had asked Ahmad At-Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, to implement the concept after consultations held in the Palestinian president’s office. “This significant initiative, which is unprecedented, has been accomplished with the help of international and Arab journalists,” At-Tibi said at a news conference in Jerusalem. The plan, which relies on the principle of complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories in exchange for a comprehensive peace. . .

Netanyahu: Economics, not politics, is the key to peace
Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu told the closing plenary of the United Jewish Communities General Assembly Wednesday that the peace process needs to focus on economic issues and not political disagreements. Instead of talking about contentious issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the first step to a lasting peace needs to be the fostering of the Palestinians’ economic situation, he said. "Right now, the peace talks are based only one thing, only on peace talks," he said. "It makes no sense at this point to talk about the most contractible issue. It’s Jerusalem or bust, or right of return or bust. That has led to failure and is likely to lead to failure again. "Netanyahu used much of his 40-minute speech to delineate his own plan for the future of the peace process, which he said will be based on areas that are already agreed on.

Palestinians push Arab peace plan in Israel
Middle East Online 11/20/2008
TEL AVIV - The Palestinian Authority published a full-page ad in Israeli newspapers on Thursday promoting a peace plan calling for Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for an end to the occupation. Yediot Aharonot, Maariv and Haaretz, the three leading Israeli dailies, printed the advertisement, which is headed by the Palestinian and Israeli flags. The text, in Hebrew, states that "57 Arab and Muslim countries will establish diplomatic relations with Israel in exchange for a full peace accord and the end of the occupation. " The full text of the seven-point initiative is published in the papers, framed by the flags of 50 Arab and Muslim countries. The ad is aimed "at explaining the Arab peace initiative to public opinion" in Israel, said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Record Number of Jews slated for next U.S. Congress
Brett Lieberman and Rebecca Spence, The Forward, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
When the new Congress debuts in January 2009, a record 45 Jews will take the oath of office: 32 in the House of Representatives and - regardless of the outcome in the still-contested Minnesota election - 13 Jews in the Senate. Among the three newcomers to the House are a young, gay, multimillionaire entrepreneur; a seasoned veteran of New Jersey’s rough-and-tumble politics, and a wealthy attorney who poured $2 million of his own money into a raucous campaign that now gives him the right to say he represents Mickey Mouse. And even with all that, the record is bittersweet for those who work to elect Jews to public office. Some high-profile races fell short: Losers included Ethan Berkowitz at the hands of longtime Rep. Don Young in Alaska, blind rabbi Dennis Shulman in New Jersey and Josh Segall in Alabama.

Olmert heads to Washington for farewell meeting with outgoing Bush
Tovah Lazaroff and Hilary Leila Krieger, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
Under the cloud of an increasing Iranian nuclear threat and escalating violence in Gaza, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert heads to Washington Saturday to part from outgoing President George W. Bush. When Olmert meets with Bush on Monday he plans to discuss Iran and Syria as well as other regional issues. Olmert will also update Bush on the continued bilateral talks that he has been holding with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, with whom he met prior to his departure. Olmert also held a conversation with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday. Olmert and Abbas plan to meet again upon Olmert’s return. "The prime minister will keep working until his last day in office to make sure that he can transfer to the next prime minister the best possible situation in the peace process and the best possible. . .

Second Committee approves text calling on Israel not to exploit, damage, endanger natural resources in occupied Arab lands
United Nations General Assembly, ReliefWeb 11/20/2008
Sixty-third General Assembly Second Committee 28th Meeting (AM) The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved four draft resolutions today, including a text that would have the General Assembly call upon Israel not to exploit, damage, deplete or endanger the natural resources of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan. By other terms of that text -– approved by a recorded vote of 139 in favour to 6 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with 4 abstentions (Côte d’Ivoire, Fiji, Haiti, Nauru) -– the Assembly would call upon Israel to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, with respect to altering the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Barak: West must unite with Russia, China against Iran
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has called on Western powers to set aside their differences with China and Russia to create a united stance against Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons, in an interview published Thursday with Bloomberg. com. "The triad of nuclear proliferation, radical Muslim terror, and rogue states, epitomized in the Iran case, can be defeated only through a paradigm shift in international relationships," Barak told Bloomberg during the interview. Barak said that U. S. and European concern over Russian military presence in Chechnya and Chinese human rights violations was proving an obstacle to unified action against Iran’s nuclear program. He also told Bloomberg that the U. S. should rethink its plan to deploy missiles in Eastern Europe considering Moscow’s opposition to such a move.

Iran using ’fraud and evasion’ to promote nuclear agenda
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/20/2008
Foreign Ministry warns international community against complacency, says recent IAEA report on Islamic republic’s nuclear program does nothing to lessen concern over Tehran’s nuclear program - Israel accused Iran of continued "fraud and evasion," pursuant to a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and said that "there is nothing in Iran’s response that should lessen the concern of the international community vis-à-vis its nuclear program. "According to the IAEA report, the Islamic republic was continuing to defy United Nations demands to suspend uranium enrichment - a process used to make both nuclear fuel and the fissile material for an atom bomb. Regrettably, as a result of the lack of cooperation by Iran in connection with the alleged studies and other associated key remaining issues of serious concern, the agency has not been able to make substantive progress on these issues," said the restricted report.

’Iran has enough material for one bomb’
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
Iran will have enough highly enriched uranium by the end of 2009 to produce its first nuclear weapon, a former top official in the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission told The Jerusalem Post Thursday, refuting a New York Times article which claimed that the Islamic Republic already had sufficient nuclear material to create a weapon. Both the article and veteran Israeli nuclear expert Ephraim Asculai’s remarks came in response to a report released Wednesday by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in which the United Nations nuclear watchdog claimed that, as of early this month, Iran had amassed 630 kilograms of low-enriched uranium (LEU). According to the IAEA report, Iran was enriching uranium with the just over 3,800 centrifuges it had installed in an underground facility in Natanz, and was working to install another 2,200 in the near future.

Analysis: Does this mean it’s too late?
Meir Javedanfar, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
According to an article published Thursday in the New York Times, "Iran has now produced roughly enough nuclear material to make, with added purification, a single atom bomb, according to nuclear experts. " And where do the experts get their information from? "The figures detailing Iran’s progress were contained in a routine update on Wednesday from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been conducting inspections of the country’s main nuclear plant at Natanz. The report concluded that as of early this month, Iran had made 630 kilograms, or about 1,390 pounds, of low-enriched uranium. " However, all hope is not lost. [end]

Livni vows Kadima won’t ’sell’ Israel to the ultra-Orthodox
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Foreign Minister and Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni on Thursday reiterated her vow not to "sell" Israel to ultra-Orthodox parties in return for parliamentary support. "Kadima will represent Israel and will determine its identity as a Jewish state, without doing so by selling the state to Haredim," she said. In September, Livni won a Kadima primary and replaced outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as leader of the centrist party. But not managing to recruit enough parties to join a coalition, she was forced to go to general elections instead of taking over from Olmert as premier as well. Livni said she chose not to accede to the coalition demands of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, saying "I refuse to pawn Israel’s future for the prime minister’s chair. " Also on Thursday, the Kadima party approved a motion to cement Transportation. . .

Livni slams Likud as Kadima slides in polls
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni attacked the Likud in a speech at Kadima’s council meeting Thursday night, kicking off a negative campaign intended to boost the party in the wake of polls indicating that it has fallen far behind the Likud. Responding to the recent additions of well-respected public figures to the Likud’s roster of Knesset candidates, Livni said that Kadima had the best leadership team while the Likud had not really changed. "I left the Likud because of its internal management problems and its inability to advance any plan on any issue," Livni said. "It’s a party that can only say no on every issue. The Likud is still the same Likud, it still has no direction and the people are the same people. " Kadima strategists said the attacks on the Likud would intensify next week with Internet advertisements highlighting historical inaccuracies and extremist statements Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu had made in the past.

Survey: Likud growing in strength, Labor collapsing
Ynet, YNetNews 11/20/2008
Benjamin Netanyahu’s list of prominent recruits, including former MKs Begin, Meridor, former IDF chief and former police commissioner, apparently boosting Likud’s popularity -If the general elections were held today, the Likud would win with 32 Knesset seats, whereas Kadima would receive only 26 mandates, a new survey published in Yedioth Ahronoth on Thursday revealed. The poll, conducted by the Dahaf Institute among a representative sample of 500 respondents, gave the Labor Party a mere eight mandates. The survey was held several days after Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu presented a list of prominent public figures who decided to join the party, including former Knesset members Dan Meridor and Benny Begin, former IDF chief Moshe Yaalon and former Police Commissioner Assaf Hefetz. A previous Dahaf poll, held in October 27, gave the Likud 27 Knesset seats, Kadima 29 and Labor 11.

Poll indicates Likud Party preference among Israeli voters
Ma’an News Agency 11/20/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - If general elections were held today, the Israeli Likud Party would win 32 Knesset seats, while Kadima would gain just 26, according to a survey published in the Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth on Thursday. The poll was conducted by the Dahaf Institute, which sampled 500 Israeli respondents. The results showed the Labor Party with a smaller share of seats, just eight in a hypothetical election. The results came several days after Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu offered a list of Israeli figures who recently joined the party, including former Knesset member Dan Meridor and Benny Begin, former head of the Israeli army, Moshe Yaalon, and former Israeli Police Commissioner Assaf Hefetz. A previous Dahaf Institute poll, conducted on 27 October 27, gave the Israeli Likud Party 27 Knesset seats, Kadima 29 and Labor 11.

Revealed: Police used mole to probe sex for favors case at gov’t ministry
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Police used an undercover agent over the last year within the Israel Lands Authority as part of an investigation into allegations of bribery, it emerged on Thursday. The case represents the first time in history that police used an undercover agent to infiltrate a government ministry. The investigation revolved aroundfour ILA workers who are suspected of receiving payment vouchers for discounted capitalization fees; amending land area dimensions on which tax levies were based; amending primary and secondary valuations by forging official seals; amending digital rights registration. In exchange, the officials are suspected of accepting bribes, including sexual favors that were allegedly provided with the brokering of lawyers and assessors. All of the suspects have denied the allegations against them.

Continuous decline
Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
The Israeli labor movement has been in a steady decline for many years. Key values such as "solidarity" and "mutual responsibility" have become meaningless currency in a society that has adopted the prevalent norms of the industrialized democratic world. The Labor Party was founded on broad popular support. But unlike the Herut party, made up of individuals, Labor was built on collective support, brokered by the Histadrut labor federation, workers unions, collective agricultural communities and youth movements. When these brokers encountered profound political or socioeconomic crises, when the community of workers was sacrificed on the altar of privatization, when ideological fulfillment in the kibbutzim lost its role as the ethos of the youth movements - Labor found itself in an electoral, structural and organizational regression.

Meimad breaks with Labor ahead of elections, will run separate list
Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
Ending a nearly decade-long partnership with the Labor Party, the dovish religious party Meimad met late Thursday to vote through a decision by party chairman MK Rabbi Michael Melchior to run as a separate list in the upcoming national elections, with former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Chief Ami Ayalon replacing him at the top of the party list. The move was approved by 66 votes to 2. The decision comes as a pair of public opinion polls indicate that the once-dominant Labor Party will suffer a stinging blow in the February 10 elections, garnering only 8-10 Knesset seats and, in a humiliating defeat, becoming the fifth-largest party in Israel. According to a 1999 agreement between Labor and Meimad, the latter was allocated the 10th seat on a joint Labor-Meimad parliamentary list, which was filled by Melchior for the past nine years.

Alive and kicking
Yossi Beilin, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
The Israeli left has won twice. From a political standpoint, it has moved the whole political map leftward. The Labor Party is talking like Meretz, Kadima is talking like Labor, Yisrael Beitenu is ready to carve up Jerusalem, and the Likud is divided between a minority that believes in a Greater Israel and a large bloc that whispers or even speaks openly about "two states" as the only solution. Among all the Zionist parties, only one small party continues to cling to the ideology of a Greater Israel - the National Union. Such a thing has never happened before. From a social perspective, the social-democratic or liberal-socialist left is now the spokesman of mainstream thinking in Israel, advocating support of a free market that combines supply and demand with taking significant responsibility for those unable to play the market game, in the form of guaranteed health, education, housing and pension-related services.

Micha Astrachan: Israel is highly exposed
Uzi Blumer, Globes Online 11/20/2008
"The Finance Ministry’s plan won’t help - we’re like a flea on the dog’s tail. " "The crash on world financial markets has reached the freefall stage. The financial system is collapsing further daily, but the bottom is in sight," economist Micha Astrachan told Globes TV today. Astrachan was lecturing at Tel Aviv University in a conference on the financial crisis organized by The MIT Enterprise Forum of Israel Astrachan, who correctly predicted the recovery of the markets after the high-tech bubble burst in 2000-2002, says, "Israel is in a worse situation than the rest of the world. "You have to remember that Israel, like other export-orientated countries, has an especially large part of its economy exposed to international developments, and so the damage will be much more severe than in the countries to which we export, such as the US and Europe.

Bank of Israel cuts 2009 growth forecast to 1.5%
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 11/20/2008
The new forecast means negative GDP per capita growth next year. The Bank of Israelsaid today that 2009 economic growth is now forecast to be only 1. 5%. This is the central bank’s third reduction of its growth forecast in recent months, including its previous reduction to 2. 7%. "Globes" reported earlier this week that the Bank of Israel would likely cut its growth forecast. The new growth forecast is due to sharp cuts in growth forecasts for developed countries by the IMF and OECD. Earlier this month, the IMF published a grim outlook. It was followed by the OECD last week, which cut growth forecasts for member states by up to one percentage point, in other words, an economic contraction in many cases. According to the latest IMF and OECD projections, the US economy will shrink by 0. 7-0. 9% in 2009, the Eurozone economy will shrink by 0.

Africa-Israel warns of large losses
Erez Wollberg, Globes Online 11/20/2008
The company revalued property holdings in Israel and overseas. Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:AFIL ; Pink Sheets:AFIVY. PK ) has warned that it expects a third quarter loss of NIS 1. 7-2 billion. The company said the loss is expected to stem from the revaluation of its property holdings in Israel and overseas. The company said it analyzed its property values in light of the worsening global financial crisis and its growing effect on the global economy. The company lowered the valuations on investment properties and housing units. The firm said the lower valuations effected properties in the US and Eastern Europe, especially Russia. Africa-Israel operates in Russia through AFI Development plc (LSE:AFID ) which yesterday reported a net loss of $69. 3 million on $9. 1 million revenue for the third quarter.

Thu: Late dive halts trade
Yael Schwartzbart, Globes Online 11/20/2008
Trading on the TASE was suspended near the close after the Tel Aviv 25 Index plunged 11. 1%. When it resumed, the index pulled back to a mere 4. 9% drop. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) fell today. The Tel Aviv 25 Index fell 4. 91% to 633. 72 points, the Tel Aviv 100 Index fell 5. 33% to 554. 23 points, and the Tel-Tech fell 9. 06% to 123. 08 points. Turnover was NIS 1. 54 billion. A dismal day on the TASE took a dramatic turn at 4 pm with a wave of sales that had an aura of panic about it. There were no buyers until the Tel Aviv 25 Index fell 11%, which resulted in the TASE shutting down the market 15 minutes before the end of the session. Speculation about the identity of the sellers ranged from a foreign institution that had decided to liquidate its position to manipulation by parties aimed at seeding panic in order to induce the government to intervene.

IEC seeks more gas
Lior Baron, Globes Online 11/20/2008
The company is looking at the option of purchasing additional quantities of natural gas from suppliers besides BG Group. Israel Electric Corporation(IEC) (TASE: ELEC. B22) is looking at the option of purchasing additional quantities of natural gas from suppliers besides BG Group (NYSE: BRG; LSE: BG). Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that the company recently approached BG Group, Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) subsidiary Yam Tethys Ltd. and Egypt’s East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) with an offer to begin talks on the purchase of a further quantity of gas from 2012. As reported by "Globes", the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructure recently IEC the green light to begin talks with BG Group on the purchase of natural gas from its offshore reserve in Gaza, but the quantity of gas it can buy was limited to 800 million cubic meters a year, half the reserve’s total capacity.

Background: The tools to battle organized crime are there; the will is not
Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
On June 9, 2003, the Knesset, with much fanfare, passed the Fight Against Crime Organizations Law by a vote of 43-4. Introducing the bill for its second and final readings, Law Committee Chairman Michael Eitan said, "The phenomenon of organized crime is perhaps inseparable from modernization in human society. As technologies advance, as the positive capabilities of mankind advance, there is also organization and capabilities for promoting negative goals. "One of these phenomenon is crime - crime which now, through the ability to organize using technological means, can be a much, much more influential and harmful factor. This obliges society to wage total war on crime, and particularly when this crime turns into organized crime. " According to Haifa University criminal law professor Emmanuel Gross, the main aim of the law was to convict senior members of a crime organization. . .

JPMorgan, Citi to lead IEC bond offer
Lior Baron, Globes Online 11/20/2008
IEC will look to raise $1 billion overseas. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) will be the lead underwriters in a bond issue by Israel Electric Corporation(IEC) (TASE: ELEC. B22) overseas. Lehman Brothers was also supposed to be an underwriter for the offering, which became irrelevant when the investment bank went bankrupt. Citigroup and Lehman Brothers led IEC’s last bond offering in the US. IEC aims to raise $1 billion in a bond offering to institutional investors in the first quarter of 2009. The company wants to use the proceeds to help finance its development plan and to recycle part of its debt, which is due to mature next year. IEC is due to repay NIS 5. 9 billion next year, compared with NIS 1. 5 billion this year. Four months ago, IECraised $1 billion in a bond offering in the US.

Histadrut threatens general strike
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
The Histadrut Labor Federation threatened on Wednesday night to call a general strike to protest the lack of a pension safety net in the Treasury economic stimulus plan unveiled earlier in the day. Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On presents economic stimulus plan to Knesset Business leaders and Knesset members also blasted the NIS 21. 7 billion economic stimulus plan aimed at moderating the effects of a global slowdown and creating 10,000 jobs. Pressure has been growing on the government in recent weeks to provide a safety net for pension funds, a measure that the Histadrut has set as a condition for its support of the plan. Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini warned that unless the plan was amended to include pension funds, which have suffered huge losses as a result of the global meltdown, the labor federation could launch painful economic sanctions.

Mystery seller crashes TASE
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
Trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange was suspended shortly before the scheduled 5:30 p. m. closing on Thursday after a panic sell-order from a major trader pushed the benchmark TA-25 Index down 11 percent. The market then bounced back to close 4. 9% down. Financial expert Pinhas Landau: Treasury’s economic stimulus plan insufficient - "In the late afternoon before the closure of the market, a very large sell-off of a TA-25 stock basket order by a big player sent the market diving 11%, prompting the stock exchange to halt trading," Yair Alek, CEO of Axioma Investment House, told The Jerusalem Post. "There is still much speculation about the identity of the seller. " At 5:07 p. m. , an order to sell all of the unidentified party’s stocks covered by the TA-25 Index of highest-capitalization companies in a single transaction for a price of NIS 35.

Iraqi Parliament poised to approve US security pact despite Shiite opposition
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/21/2008
BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Parliament appeared likely to approve a comprehensive US military pact that would see all troops leave by the end of 2011 despite a loud and contentious debate of the measure on Thursday. MPs succeeded in holding a second reading of the agreement after hard-line Shiite nationalists had shouted it down Wednesday but the raucous session was punctuated by yelling, interruptions, and desk-pounding. Followers of prominent Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are fiercely opposed to any agreement with the US "occupier" and his loyalists in Parliament have struggled to derail the deal by stalling the discussion of it. But the measure appeared to have won the support of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the largest bloc in the 275-member assembly with 85 seats, and the two Kurdish blocs, which hold 58 seats.

Sistani demands Iraqi MPs vote on US pact
Middle East Online 11/20/2008
NAJAF, Iraq - Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani, Iraq’s highest Shiite religious authority, on Thursday lashed out at lawmakers who had left on a pilgrimage instead of voting on a divisive US military pact. "Sistani is very angry at the parliamentarians who went on the Haj and ignored the call of the Guide to assume their national and historical responsibility to give their opinion frankly about the agreement," an official from Sistani’s office said. His remarks came hours before parliament was to hold a second reading of the wide-ranging accord, which would allow US troops to remain in Iraq for three years after December 31. The agreement was approved by Iraq’s cabinet on Sunday, but has drawn fire from many MPs, including those loyal to the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The reclusive Sistani - who usually communicates through close advisors and other associates. . .

Hezbollah to Iraqi lawmakers: Reject ’damaging’ U.S. pact
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah group on Thursday called on Iraqi lawmakers to reject a security pact with the United States that would keep American troops in the country for another three years. A statement issued by the militant Shi’ite Muslim group said the pact infringes on Iraq’s sovereignty and would cause further damage to the country. It says the pact, which still needed to be approved by the Iraqi parliament, would provide unwarranted legitimacy to the U. S. occupation. Iran has also criticized the pact but seems to have softened its stance somewhat since the Iraqi Cabinet approved the pact this week. #newsletterLink a {text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer;} #newsletterLink img {border:0px;} #newsletterLink{width:470; margin-bottom:20px;} .

US seeks 300 billion dollars from Gulf states
Middle East Online 11/20/2008
KUWAIT CITY - The United States has asked four Gulf states for close to 300 billion dollars to help it curb the global financial meltdown, Kuwait’s daily Al-Seyassah reported Thursday. Quoting "highly informed" sources, the daily said Washington has asked Saudi Arabia for 120 billion dollars, the United Arab Emirates for 70 billion dollars, Qatar for 60 billion dollars and was seeking 40 billion dollars from Kuwait. Al-Seyassah said Washington sought the amount as "financial aid" to face the fallout of the financial crisis and help prevent its economy from sliding into a painful recession. The daily said the United States plans to use the funds to help the ailing automobile industry, banks and other companies suffering from the global financial turmoil. The four nations, all members of OPEC, produce together 14 million barrels of oil per day, around half of the cartel’s production and about 17 percent of world supplies.

Gaydamak shops Jerusalem hospital
Shay Niv, Globes Online 11/20/2008
The tycoon bought the Bikur Holim hospital about a year ago. Arcadi Gaydamak has put the Bikur Holim hospital up for sale, barely a year after buying the central Jerusalem property. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that he has been in talks with Dr. Shmuel Levinger and Ronit Levinger, the owners of the Enayim Eye Clinic, who had made a bid for the hospital. Bikur Holim was one of Gaydamak’s more emotional and political acquisitions because the hospital is associated with Jerusalem’s haredi (ultra-orthodox) communities and because the hospital’s pensioners were harmed by the liquidation of the NPO than operated it. When Gaydamak bought the hospital, many people saw this as part of his run for the city’s mayor. However, the utter failure of his candidacy apparently put an end to the romance with the hospital. The Levinger family confirmed the reports, but said that the talks were at a very early stage.

When crime becomes terror
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
Six hundred criminals. That is the rough estimate of a senior Israel Police officer concerning the number of members - both commanders and soldiers - in the family gangs known as "crime organizations. "That is equal to one army battalion, divided into several companies and platoons that fight each other, declare truces and execute preemptive strikes and retaliatory acts, of which Ya’akov Alperon, the crime boss murdered this week, will not be the last fatality. A battalion whose internal struggle, admits Police Commissioner David Cohen, "claims the lives of innocent citizens and affects the public’s sense of security. "This is the regular battalion; a reserve battalion of similar size is currently incarcerated in local jails. Confronting these few hundred are 30,000 members of the Israel Police, whose number amounts to three to five army divisions.

Histadrut, manufacturers unite against Treasury
Shay Niv and Adrian Filut, Globes Online 11/20/2008
Eini and Manufacturers Association president Shraga Brosh are looking for Knesset legislation for a safety net for savings in pension and provident funds. Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini and Manufacturers Association president Shraga Brosh are planning to bypass the Ministry of Finance with the goal of Knesset legislation for a safety net for savings in pension and provident funds. Both men made comments to this effect at the Kibbutz Industry Associationconvention today. Eini said that he would turn to every Knesset faction to gain a majority for such a measure. Eini and Brosh’s joint initiative follows their confrontation with the Ministry of Finance Budget Director Ram Belnikov yesterday. Today, Eini announced that he will declare a labor dispute unless the Ministry of Finance deploys a safety net for pension and provident funds.

Livni criticizes Treasury rescue plan
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 11/20/2008
"The Finance Ministry’s plan does not address the financial crisis. "Kadima chairwoman and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni today criticized Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On’s economic stimulus plan. She said that it was an inadequate response. During a tour of the Tefen industrial zone in the Galilee, Livni said, "Although this plan is essential, it is an inadequate response, and is not intended to respond to the financial crisis. "During the tour, she met industrialist Stef Wertheimer, who announced that he was joining Kadima. Livni’s said that the plan of Bar-On and Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer responded to urgentconcerns of a slide into recession and unemployment. Livni’s aides said that she felt that a complementary plan should be presented soon to address the erosion of provident funds.

State of the Economy Index falls again
Michal Yoshai, Globes Online 11/20/2008
To make it worse, the index readings for July, August, and September have been revised downward. The Bank of Israel reported today that the composite State of the Economy Index fell 0. 4% in October. The decrease follows a drop of 0. 3% in September. The two consecutive months of negative results point to a continued slowdown in the economy, which began toward the end of the second quarter. The fall in the index was the outcome of a fall in the indices of goods exports and manufacturing production, partly offset by a rise in trade and services revenue, services exports and goods imports. The indices for July, August, and September have each been revised downward by 0. 1%.

Cabinet Secretary: Haredim torpedoing state conversion system
Shahar Ilan Haaretz correspondent, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
Cabinet secretary Oved Yehezkel on Wednesday blasted ultra-Orthodox rabbis for torpedoing Israel’s conversion system. Yehezkel charged that the Rabbis, who set the laws regarding the conversion process, are hindering the system for purely political reasons. He said this was making the system nearly impossible to maintain. Yehezkel, who was appointed by the Prime Minister to head the governmental conversion system, made the comments statement during the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors convention. Furthermore, Yehezkel lamented the treatment of some 300,000 immigrants to Israel who had been promised conversion upon arrival. "This group of people has been completely abandoned," he said. "The conversion system, which is monopolized by a group of extremist ultra-orthodox rabbis, does not convert anyone.

Syria and Britain all ears now
Sami Moubayed, Asia Times 11/21/2008
DAMASCUS - Former British prime minister Tony Blair showed personal interest in the domestic reform program begun by Syria’s new President Bashar al-Assad in 2000. Blair wrote an article at the time, saying that Syria was "a power in the Middle East, a leader of Arab opinion, central to any comprehensive peace deal with Israel, and a member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council". He visited the capital Damascus shortly after September 11, 2001, to recruit Syria into the international "war on terror" that was being launched on Afghanistan. The two men could not agree on a definition of terrorism; with Assad saying, "We should differentiate between combating terrorism and war. We did not say we support an international coalition for war. We are always against war. "The Syrian leader added, "We, and I personally, differentiate between resistance and terrorism. Resistance is a social, religious and legal right that is safeguarded by UN resolutions. "

Russia will not sell Iskander missiles to Syria in near future
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
Months after offering Russia to deploy long-range ballistic missiles in his country, Syrian President Bashar Assad was informed this week that Moscow will not sell Iskander missiles to foreign clients due to production delays. According to a report by the Russian news agency Novosti, the state arms exporter Rosoboronexport has decided that despite interest from a number of countries - including Syria, the United Arab Emirates and India - Moscow will not export the Iskander missile until the Russian Armed Forces are fully equipped with the system. The Iskander missile - also known as the SS-26 Stone - is a long-range, solid fuel- propelled, theater quasi-ballistic missile system. According to reports, the missile has only been subject to test firing and will likely only become operational in four years.

Experts: Fresh evidence for Herod’s tomb site
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
Israeli archaeologists excavating what they believe is the tomb of biblical King Herod said yesterday they have unearthed lavish Roman-style wall paintings of a kind previously unseen in the Middle East and signs of a regal two-story mausoleum, bolstering their conviction that the Roman-Jewish monarch was buried here. Ehud Netzer, head of the team from Hebrew University, which uncovered the site at the king’s winter palace in the Judean desert in 2007, said his latest finds show work fit for a king. Netzer said that what the digger have found, spread all around, are architectural fragments that enabled them to restore a very elegant monument 25 meters high that fits Herod’s taste and status. He added that since finding fragments of one ornately carved sarcophagus in 2007, he and his team have found two more, suggesting that the monumental tomb may have been a royal family vault.

J’lem festival says no to ’women only’ screening for Orthodox film
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
The Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival has rejected a film created by Orthodox women after the film director demanded screening for female audiences only in accordance with Halacha. The film, "A Light For Greytowers," directed by Robin Garbose, was initially accepted by the festival on the basis of its artistic merits. The film was slated to be screened during the festival, which takes place between December 13 and 19 at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. However, the festival’s management refused to acquiesce to Garbose’s demand, made at the time the film was first presented for consideration, that screening would be billed as "by women, for women. " "We tried to explain that our festival doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, nationality or gender," said Aryeh Barak, spokesman for the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

Cartoon of the day
Rabia Al Iridi, Syria, Palestine Think Tank 11/20/2008
Rabia Al Iridi, Syria [end]


Articles


Gaza: a Dire Life Zone Still Clings to Hope
Sameh A. Habeeb, Palestine Think Tank 11/20/2008
      Gaza Strip, 20, Nov, 2008- Following Israeli raids that killed around 15 Palestinians within one week, many rockets were fired into Israel in a reprisal of Israeli’s provocation. As usual Israel started to blame Palestinians despite it was the one who initiated with violence again. The Israeli assault was an obvious breach of an agreed calm held with Palestinian fighting groups 5 months ago. It has provoked some Palestinians to fire some light rockets into Israel. Afterwards, Israel started a new phase of collective punishment and began more violent prevocational measures against 1.5 million people.
     With the last Israeli maneuvers’ of tightening the siege imposed on Gaza, more life necessities vanished. The key power plant shut down 8 days ago and resulted in tremendous direful outcomes. More than 75% of the Gaza strip faces severe power cuts and some other areas completely plunged into darkness.
     Power cuts and daily blackouts resulted in hindering of all facilities depending on power. The remaining power shares provided by Israel and Egypt are not enough to cover the whole costal strip. Pumped fresh water is not reaching all living places, farms and central water wells. Sewage and treatment water machines are halted. Additionally around 40 million tons of sewage water leaked into the Mediterranean contaminating it and damaging fish resources.

Historical oversight

Tom Segev, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
      ....Aryeh Kizel, a lecturer in the Oranim Academic College and the Gordon College of Education, and a fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute, read all of the textbooks on general history published in Israel from the state’s establishment to up until two years ago - about 75 in all. His study, entitled "Historia meshuabedet" ("Enslaved History," published by the Mofet Institute) identifies three generations of writers and discusses substantial changes in writing. The bottom line: Just as was the case in my youth, the books broadcast narrow-mindedness and do not encourage critical thinking.
     According to Kizel, the Zionist narrative has consolidated opinions about the history of other countries, too, and tends to harness it for own its purposes. This is reflected in the fact that the books emphasize national movements and just wars. The state is more important than the individual, politics supersede everyday life.
     The French Revolution, for example, is considered "good for the Jews," which is why textbooks fail to discuss many of its murderous phases. The textbooks of 1950s’ socialist Israel also tended to praise the Russian Revolution.

Protest fundraiser for agency that abets Israeli land confiscation

Press release, Independent Jewish Voices - Canada, Electronic Intifada 11/20/2008
      The Jewish National Fund (JNF) of Canada is holding its annual Negev Dinner at Canada’s Museum of Civilization on 24 November 2008.Canadians trust that the incumbent president/CEO and board of the museum will faithfully safeguard and honor the museum’s guiding principles for its choice of activities -- i.e. "that activities are informed by respect" and "that we will not engage in activities or present materials which may promote intolerance."
     In hosting the JNF event, the Museum of Civilization is violating principles which it is charged with safeguarding on behalf of all Canadians. Approximately 500,000 out of almost 625,000 acres owned by the JNF were confiscated from Palestinians fleeing war in 1948, and were not purchased with contributions from Jews around the world, as the JNF commonly claims.During 1948-53, the Israeli state transferred ownership of this land to the JNF for the sole use of Jews -- as per the JNF’s governing articles -- without any compensation to its rightful Palestinian owners.This confiscation violates international law and is an ongoing source of grievance inside Israel amongst its Palestinian citizens and amongst Palestinian refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and neighboring Arab states.

British charity aiding Palestinian refugees ordered to close

Assed Baig, Electronic Intifada 11/20/2008
      Interpal, a British charity providing development and relief for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, has been served notification from the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) that the charity’s account will be closed as of 8 December. This comes as a result of Lloyds TSB, the Islamic Bank’s clearing bank, serving notice to "cease all dealings with Interpal," according to a statement released by the charity.
     The notice comes into effect as of 8 December 2008, during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, a time when Muslims are encouraged to give charity.
     The charity said "all transactions into or out of Interpal accounts will be blocked and IBB will be at further risk of all its customer payments being suspended," also stating: "This is not only an attack on Interpal, a leading British charity, but on all other Muslim charities, all charities working in politically-sensitive regions, all customers of IBB and the Palestinian people, 80 percent of whom are completely dependent on international aid for survival."

Shameless in London, obscene in Israel, stupid in Ramallah

Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Jerusalem, Palestinian Information Center 11/20/2008
      The decision by the Buckingham palace to bestow an honorary knighthood on Israeli President  Shimon Peres  should be viewed as a  blatant disregard for propriety and moral conduct by Queen Elizabeth II  and the British government.  It is also a definitive sign of the decadence of our time.
     The symbolic honorary title, we are told, is accorded  to people who have made distinguished accomplishments in various fields, ranging from world peace to scientific achievements.
     In the past few decades, however, the honorary knighthood was often bestowed on decidedly evil people who carry on their hands the blood of thousands, if not  hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
     For example, in the early 1990s, Queen Elizabeth bestowed the honorary knighthood upon  Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf who was responsible for the annihilation of tens of thousands of retreating Iraqi troops north of Kuwait.

Dividing Jerusalem, one wall at a time

Bradley Burston, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
      JERUSALEM - There is a new wall in the downtown heart of the Holy City. It is, in fact, a new security fence. It is not tall, nor built to last. But the wall, and what it protects, may do more to undermine Israel’s moral claims to Jerusalem than the huge concrete structure that has marred the city’s Arab eastern half for years.
     There is no sign on the wall. There is no explanation for the need of a uniformed guard posted at its entrance. There is no indication, therefore, that it protects construction on a quarter-billion dollar monument to insensitivity.
     It is a testament, as well, to the principle that Israel’s only reliable natural resource is irony. The walled area is a construction site where a Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights organization dedicated to instilling the lessons of the Holocaust and combating hatred, is building a Museum of Tolerance and Center for Human Dignity atop an ancient Muslim cemetery.

Economy first in Palestine?

Ben White, The Guardian 11/20/2008
      With Israeli domestic politics focused on the election early next year, the various players are busy manoeuvring themselves into positions they feel will count in their favour come voting day, including Likud’s strong contender, Binyamin Netanyahu.
     On Sunday, Netanyahu repeated his belief that the best way forward with regard to Israeli-Palestinian peace was to prioritise helping the Palestinian economy from the bottom up. Insisting this was not an "alternative" to negotiations, ’Bibi’ argued that "economic prosperity significantly reduces terror and the foundations of war".
     This was not the first time Netanyahu had staked out his "economy first" position. previous occasions have included an interview with the Financial Times last month. But these most recent comments drew a strong reaction from veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who denounced Netanyahu’s talk of "economics and fragmentation" as "closing the door to any chance for peace".

Poor showing

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
      Between Tyre and Gaza, there isn’t a single Arab town or village on the coast, except Acre, which is actually a mixed city, and Jisr al-Zarqa. There’s no other place like this. It may be the poorest and most wretched of all Israel’s Arab towns, this fishing village on the banks of Nahal Taninim and the Mediterranean coast. Can there be a better location? But location isn’t everything where there are years of poverty and ignorance, filthy streets and overcrowding, unemployment and crime-in stark contrast to the neighboring villas of Caesarea and the fish ponds of Kibbutz Ma?agan Michael, along the main road to Haifa.
     Jisr al-Zarqa is a tough place. And like other municipalities, it held elections last week. The voting public of Jisr isn’t an easy one. Indeed, the celebration of democracy here is a disaster. Base instincts, hate, family rivalries -all rise to the surface on Election Day. Not for nothing did the current council head, Murad Amash, a former imam, say that the first thing he would do when reelected would be to try to help mend the town’s wounded electoral system. He wasn’t reelected.

Arabs have heard Western promises before, Mr. Miliband

Editorial, Daily Star 11/20/2008
      It is telling that some of the loudest applause during British Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s hour-long question-and-answer session at the American University of Beirut on Wednesday could be heard when the visiting official came under fire over his government’s policies in the Middle East. Considering that most members of his audience were students under the age of 22, their reactions offer clues about where the region is heading - and about the results of efforts to win over the hearts and minds of members of the very generation that Al-Qaeda and other terrorist outfits tend to target for recruitment.
     Miliband had come to AUB with an optimistic message: that his tour of Syria, Lebanon Israel and the Palestinian Territories, along with recent events such as the election of Barack Obama as US president, had given him a sense of hope that 2009 could be a "decisive year" that might see a comprehensive peace agreement between feuding Arabs and Israelis. But this positive message was largely drowned out by the critics, who pointed to British policies that serve to perpetuate conflict, such as the UK’s refusal to embargo products made in illegal Israeli settlements, or its support for Israel’s barbaric war on Lebanon in 2006. Moreover, his audience members are old enough to have heard similar empty promises, including George W. Bush’s pledge to oversee the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005 - a target that he later pushed back to 2008 and now appears to have abandoned altogether.

Born in sin

Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
      The Israeli peace camp was born in sin and died because of a lie: It was born as the legitimate son of the sin of occupation, and died the illegitimate son of the lie that "there is no partner" with whom to negotiate on the other side. Between September 1967 and October 2000, it spent 33 years waging the brave and determined struggle of a minority against a majority, "traitors" against "patriots," "defilers of Israel" against "lovers of Israel," David against Goliath. Today, we must painfully admit that it was struggle that did not produce much.
     The peace camp was born of a small ad - a statement bearing only a dozen mostly unknown signatures - addressed to the general public, and then began to die a pathetic death, which is lamented by no one. Since then, its body has laid in public squares that are void of protesters, in streets empty of struggle and in public discourse free of ideas. On occasion, it lets out a desperate and dying gasp from the direction of a group of determined but marginalized groups, near the separation fence in Na’alin or in Gush Shalom’s advertisements in the Friday paper.
     On occasion, it wraps itself in the guise of a mass demonstration, mostly at deceptive memorial rallies for Yitzhak Rabin - also featuring pop stars Aviv Geffen and Ninet - and in public opinion polls in which the majority claims to adopt its positions. But the interim balance sheet of history is clear and razor sharp: The occupation, the settlements, the police thugs and the brutality have been victorious over everything else. Never have so many people said we need to put a stop to things, and never have so few done anything about it.

End the siege of Gaza

Azzam Tamimi, The Guardian 11/21/2008
      For five months, until the first week of November, the Gaza Strip and its neighbouring Israeli towns to the north and the east enjoyed unprecedented peace that was the product of the hudna, or truce, agreed between Hamas and Israel through Egyptian mediation. Despite the continuation of the siege that denied the population of Gaza much of what other people around the world may consider life necessities, men, women and children could walk the streets of the Strip without fear and spend hours of their free time enjoying the beach. On the other side of the divide, Israel saw tourism flourish.
     Then, suddenly, the Israeli government decided to authorise the army to act against perceived threats within what it calls the "security parameter" - a several hundred-metre strip beyond the border between Gaza and Israel.
     On November 4 the Israeli army penetrated Gaza, killing six Hamas officers under the pretext of having discovered a tunnel close to the Kisufim roadblock. Since then, and despite statements made by spokespeople on both sides that they still wished to observe the hudna, Israel forces have crossed the border several times and Hamas, joined later by other Palestinian factions, resumed shelling nearby Israeli towns.

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