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

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21 November, 2008

UNRWA chief: Gaza on brink of humanitarian catastrophe
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/22/2008
Gaza faces a humanitarian "catastrophe" if Israel continues to prevent aid reaching the territory by blocking crossing points, the head of the main UN aid agency for the Palestinians said on Friday. Karen AbuZayd, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said the human toll of this month’s sealing of Gaza’s goods crossings was the gravest since the early days of a Palestinian uprising eight years ago. "It’s been closed for so much longer than ever before. . . and we have nothing in our warehouses. . . It will be a catastrophe if this persists, a disaster," said AbuZayd, whose agency is the largest aid body providing services to Palestinian refugees. Israel closed the crossings after Palestinian militants responded with daily rocket salvoes to an Israeli army incursion on Nov.

Wall build sparks West Bank clashes
Al Jazeera 11/21/2008
Israeli soldiers have clashed with Palestinians protesting against the construction of a giant wall in the West Bank town of Naalin. Mairead Maguire, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, attended the demonstration on Friday by residents who say the wall will cut them off from their farmland. Maguire told Al Jazeera: "This apartheid system is cruel and inhumane and these peaceful people are asking for the right to live here in their land and not have walls built around their land. "The international community must move because these Israeli policies are destroying the Palestinian people," he said. Israeli troops fired tear gas at demonstrators, some of whom threw stones and set an Israeli flag on fire. Rocket attacksIsrael also said on Friday it will maintain its closure of the Gaza Strip. . .

Israeli military on alert as 20,000 settlers descend on Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Hebron - Ma’an - Backup Israeli soldiers were called to the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday as thousands of settlers arrived to visit the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque for an annual Jewish holy feast. But the timing of the tradition this year could escalate an already hostile environment, as soldiers were previously deployed to support police attempting to evacuate an illegal outpost within a Palestinian’s home. An Israeli high court issued the order earlier this week, but so far the Jewish settlers inside have refused to leave. Israeli sources within the military declared a state of alert upon the arrival of the estimated 20,000 settlers from outside the city on Saturday, with plans to spend time at the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque, which was closed to Palestinians for two days in light of the festivities. Sources inside the settlement outposts in central Hebron told Ma’an that several. . .

Human Rights Observers start hunger strike in Israel
International Solidarity Movement 11/21/2008
Gaza Region - Massiyahu Prison, Lida, Israel (20 November, 2008) - Three Human Rights Observers (HRO) with the International Solidarity Movement began a hunger strike today in protest over the illegal confiscation of Paestinian fishing boats by Israel. The three HROs, Darlene Wallach of the U. S. , Vittorio Arrigoni of Italy, and Andrew Muncie of Scotland, were forcibly abducted by the Israeli Navy on Tuesday, while accompanying unarmed Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip. According to Wallach, "We were fishing about 7 miles off the shores of Gaza. The Israeli soldiers came on board the three boats via four Zodiacs. The frogmen came up and over each boat. They used a taser on Vik while he was still on the boat, then tried to push him backwards onto a sharp piece of wood. He jumped into the sea to avoid being hurt more than he already was and was in the water for quite a while.

Hamas slams exclusion from Arab talks Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/21/2008
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh slammed Egypt and the Arab League on Friday night, for failing to invite Hamas to a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo next week. The conference will discuss ongoing rivalry between Hamas and Fatah. Haniyeh told press in the Gaza Strip that foreign ministers of the Arab world need to hear Hamas’s position in order to solve disputes between Palestinian factions. Earlier in the day however, he denied tension with Egypt following the collapse of Egyptian-mediated talks between his group and Fatah. "In day-to-day relations there may be differences, this is true, but it does not mean that there is a strategic tension with our brothers in Egypt," Haniyeh had said. Haniyeh also declared that armed Palestinians factions are committed to the Gaza truce, just hours after terrorists fired a Kassam rocket and two mortar shells at southern Israel.

Ten protesters injured at Jenin anti-settlement march
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli troops attacked a peaceful demonstration protesting the continued construction of Israeli settlements and the separation wall on Friday morning, south of Jenin. The protest took place near the evacuated settlement of Homesh, which is located between Jenin and Nablus in the northern West Bank. When demonstrators reached the abandoned area, Israeli soldiers attacked them with rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and percussion grenades, it was reported. Ten people were injured, among them 16-year-old Saddam Ragheb Salah, 45-year-old Abed Al-Salam Salah and 40-year-old Imad Shawqat Seif. Palestinians held Friday prayers at the site of the evacuated settlement, as well.

Password Suspends Hajj for Thousands of Gazans
Ola Attallah – Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 11/20/2008
’Hajj should not be linked to political differences. ’Political wrangling and divisions threaten to hijack the hajj dream of 2200 people in the Gaza Strip and prevent them from joining millions of fellow Muslims in making the spiritual journey. " We are falling prey to political differences and divisions," said a tearful Suhaila Raafat, 46. " We just want to perform hajj," she told IslamOnline. net. Raafat joined hundreds of fellow would-be pilgrims who marched on Wednesday, November 20, to demand their hajj visas. " Don’t deprive us of hajj" and "keep hajj from politics" they chanted, carrying pictures of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Hamas-led government in Gaza accuses the West Bank government of President Mahmoud Abbas of denying visas to Gaza pilgrims. " Saudi Arabia and the West Bank government refuse to give us the password to process and register our pilgrims," Abdullah Abu-Garboua, the undersecretary of the Gaza Awqaf Ministry, told IOL.

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.

Israel in new bid to strip ex-MP Bishara of citizenship
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/22/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit launched proceedings on Friday to revoke the citizenship of Palestinian-Israeli former MP Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel last year amid claims he had spied for Lebanon’s Hizbullah movement, a ministry spokesman said. The move came less than three months after the Israeli High Court rejected a previous bid to strip Bishara of both his nationality and his parliamentary pension and drew an angry reaction from the ex-MP’s political party. "The minister asked in a letter addressed to [internal security service] Shin Beth chief Yuval Diskin and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to give their advice on the case as soon as possible," the spokesman said. In his letter, Sheetrit said the move was necessary as Bishara had "visited enemy states [Lebanon and Syria], assisted the enemy in exchange for money and had contacts with the Lebanese terror organization Hizbullah.

Israel shuts down East Jerusalem theater over PA backing
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli police ordered the closure of a local theater in East Jerusalem on Friday under the pretext that it was sponsored by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Israeli officials also accused the owners of the Al-Hakawati Theater of having failed to obtain written permission to operate it, as is required under Israeli law. Schoolchildren were expected to participate in an extracurricular activity sponsored by a local Palestinian organization, "Juthur," or "Roots," along with participants from a number of other organizations in East Jerusalem. The theater’s activities have been disrupted at least eight times during 2008. ***Updated 20:51 Bethlehem time

Haniyeh says Gaza groups want calm with Israel
Reuters, YNetNews 11/21/2008
’Armed factions stated their position clearly: They are committed to truce as long as Israel abides by it,’ Hamas leader in Gaza says -Palestinian armed groups in Gaza remain committed to a truce with Israel if the Jewish state reciprocates, Hamas’ Gaza leader said on Friday, even as militants launched more attacks from the coastal territory. They fired a rocket and two mortars onIsrael, continuing an almost daily series of attacks over the past 17 days, none of which has inflicted major casualties. " I have met with armed factions over the past two days and they stated their position clearly: they are committed to calm as long as (Israel) abides by it," said Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ most senior representative in Gaza. Both Israel and Hamas have sent signals they want to restore the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, which began on June 19. . .

IOF troops raid the central Gaza Strip, the resistance shells Kisufim
Palestinian Information Center 11/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- IOF troops conducted an incursion Friday morning into the Wadi al-Salaqa to the east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses confirmed to the PIC correspondent that a number of Israeli armoured vehicles invaded the eastern area of Deir al-Balah amidst random firing at Palestinian homes. Palestinian resistance confronted the invading forces which tried to raid a house. The Naser Salah al-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees declared firing a mortar at the Kisufim military post while the Nosoor Falastine Brigades decalred firing three home made missiles at the same position and said that the firing of the missiles was in response to "Zionist occupation aggressions. "The IOF has seriously violated the truce on 4th November and killed six resistance fighters. Since then the IOF killed 17 Palestinians.

Barak maintains Gaza closure as projectiles fired on Israeli targets
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel maintained the closure of commercial crossings into the Gaza Strip for the 17th day in a row on Friday as Palestinian resistance groups continued to launch projectiles toward Israeli targets nearby. The head of the de facto Finance Ministry told Ma’an that the closure is causing untold human suffering on the local population. De facto Minister Hatem Owedah told Ma’an that "the closure of these crossings is causing endless suffering to Gazans. ”Israeli military sources said that Defense Minister Ehud Barak had decided to keep the borders closed Friday as a result of continued attacks on Israeli sites. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, a militant wing affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claimed responsibility for launching three projectiles against Sderot, Israel on Thursday night, according to a statement sent to Ma’an.

20,000 Jewish pilgrims to descend on Hebron amid settler violence
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/22/2008
The security forces are gearing up for trouble this weekend when 20,000 Jews are expected to descend upon Hebron for an annual pilgrimage. Officials fear the combination of the crowd and tensions over the planned evacuation of the so-called House of Contention could prove to be an explosive mix. On Thursday, angry settlers attacked Israel Defense Forces soldiers, vandalized Palestinian property and scrawled "Mohammed is a pig" on a local mosque after the High Court of Justice ruled earlier this week that the house must be cleared of its Jewish residents until another court decides whether Jews or Palestinians are the legal owners. Coming at the same time,this weekend’s planned pilgrimage will commemorate the death of the Matriarch Sarah, whom the Bible says was buried in Hebron.

Jewish pilgrims stoke tensions caused by illegal colonists in Hebron
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/22/2008
HEBRON, Occupied West Bank: Israel beefed up security on Friday as 25,000 Jewish pilgrims were expected in the Occupied West Bank city of Hebron amid fears of violence as a group of colonists defied an Israeli eviction order. Dozens of police and troops took up positions outside the house where about 100 settlers and their supporters have vowed to resist any attempt to enforce the High Court order. From the roof of the four-storey building, which houses a small army observation post, armored vehicles could be seen patrolling the road leading from the Kiryat Arba settlement to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the city center, both about 500 meters away. "We have almost doubled our forces," an officer said in reference to the police and army deployment in Hebron, as pilgrims flocked into the volatile city to mark the biblical story of Abraham’s purchase of the land that now houses the Tomb of the Patriarchs, holy to both Jews and Muslims.

Jewish settlement in Hebron bans rioting youths
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 11/21/2008
Hours before Chayei Sarah Shabbat begins with thousands expected to attend reading in Hebron, Jewish settlement spokesperson says troublemakers sent away - "We have evacuated a number of rioting youths. We are making great efforts to put an end to recent events and I hope we will succeed," Noam Arnon, spokesperson for the Jewish settlement in Hebron said on Friday ahead of the reading of the ’Chayei Sarah’ weekly portion (lit. ’The Life of Sarah,’ Genesis 23:1-25:18). Around noon heavy traffic was felt in Hebron and the surrounding areas. According to estimates, some 20,000 people are expected to spend Shabbat in the city. Security forces have been preparing for the weekend since Thursday, and while the night passed without any irregular incidents, tensions between Hebron’s right-wing activists and security forces in the area have been felt.

Hilltop youth not impressed by calls for passive resistance to Hebron house eviction
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
When residents of the so-called House of Contention in Hebron awoke yesterday, they were shocked to learn of the previous night’s clashes between settlers and Israel Defense Forces soldiers. They were equally shocked by the graffiti proclaiming "Mohammed is a pig" that had been scrawled on the walls of a nearby mosque and Palestinian houses. But it did not take them long to figure out who was responsible: dozens of teens from the northern West Bank who had relocated to the Hebron area earlier this week to participate in the struggle after the High Court of Justice ordered residents to vacate the house until another court decides whether Jews or Palestinians own it. The residents promptly gathered the teens for a stiff lecture. "We don’t intend to wage our struggle this way, or through any kind of violence," declared one.

Livni on disputed Hebron house: Entire public defying court order
Ynet, YNetNews 11/21/2008
’Situation in which rightists are defying High Court’s ruling is intolerable,’ Kadima chairwoman says -While a tense calm is prevailing in Hebron, Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni lashed out again at extreme right-wing activists who have said they would defy the High Court’s ruling on the disputed house in the West Bank city and resist any attempt to evacuate it. " This situation is intolerable in my opinion. There is an entire public that is not respecting the court’s ruling and the government’s decisions; they are also harming IDF soldiers," Livni told Channel 2 Friday evening. "I hope the authorities act in unison against this phenomenon, be it in Hebron, Arab communities in the Negev or anywhere else. We mustenforce the norms, values and the law. "Around noon heavy traffic was felt in Hebron and the surrounding areas ahead of the reading of the ’Chayei Sarah’ weekly portion (lit.

Israel wastes 250 million shekels on settlement roads to nowhere
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/22/2008
Just a few minutes drive from the West Bank settlements of Ofarim and Beit Aryeh lies a unique Israeli invention. A complex network of roads, kilometer after kilometer of pavement, leading to - well, that’s sort of the thing: it doesn’t lead anywhere. The casual visitor must use his imagination. What ancient civilization operated here, paving such long roads, only to leave them entirely abandoned, completely unused? Was there some higher force involved that stopped the paving work of each road just a few dozen meters from where it should have met another road? The explanation is far more prosaic. The separation fence, six years into the apparently endless project, leaves in its wake no small number of absurdisms, the network of roads around Beit Aryeh is just one of them.

Gaza urges Cairo to allow US delegation into Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 11/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA government committee to break the siege, on Friday, called on Egypt to allow a US parliamentary delegation to visit the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. In a statement on Friday the committee said that the delegation has already arrived in Cairo on Thursday and was trying to reach the Gaza Strip, but was stopped by the Egyptian authorities, adding that the aim of the visit was to see for themselves the adverse effects of the Israeli siege on the lives of ordinary people in the Strip. The committee added that the Gaza Strip is living its most difficult days under siege after the Israeli occupation tightened the siege further plunging the Strip into darkness and resulting in dire shortages in food and medicine. Meanwhile, Palestinian medical sources said that Sheikh Said Abu Jlidan died on Friday after he was barred from leaving the Gaza Strip to seek medical treatment.

Israel keeps blockade imposed on Gaza, militants fire more rockets
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 11/21/2008
GAZA, Nov 21, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) --Israel has kept on Friday a strict blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for 17 consecutive days, while Gaza militants continued launching homemade rockets at southern Israeli towns and communities. Palestinian officials warned that the ongoing strict siege imposed on 1. 5 million people in the Gaza Strip for more than two weeks "would cause a severe humanitarian crisis due to the shortage of basic needs of food and fuel. " Hatem Eweida, an official in the Hamas-ruled ministry of economics, said in a statement sent to reporters that the ongoing blockade imposed on Gaza "would mount the population’s suffering. " "Due to the ongoing siege, we have severe shortage of basic food products in addition to the shortage of medicines, fuels, cooking gas and the industrial diesel used for operating Gaza main power station," said Eweida.

Anti-siege committee urges Egypt to permit US delegation to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto government’s Committee for Breaking the Gaza Siege urged Egyptian authorities on Friday to allow an American parliamentary delegation into the Gaza Strip. The media office of the committee said in a statement that “the American delegation has been in Cairo since Wednesday in a bid to reach the Gaza Strip, but Egyptian authorities prevented them from doing so. ”The statement indicated that American delegates had intended to visit Gaza to "see firsthand the suffering of the Palestinians due to the blockade and the closure of the crossings. " A media spokesperson for the committee, Alaa’ Al- Bata, praised "the efforts and solidarity action" with the Gaza Strip, which has been carried out by international parliamentarians and organizations, urging the international community to visit Gaza.

Israeli gunboats kidnap Gaza fisherman, peaceworkers
Eva Bartlett, Electronic Intifada 11/21/2008
On the evening of Tuesday 18 November Khalid al-Habeel sat surrounded by his wife, family, and other concerned fishermen. Until the early hours of the following day, they had no idea what charges were being laid against 15 fishermen, including two of al-Habeel’s sons, Adham (21) and Mohammed (20), after they were nabbed from Gaza’s territorial waters earlier that morning and taken to an Israeli interrogation center at Ashdod port. Nor did they know when or if their boats -- their livelihoods -- would be returned. Khaled Al-Habeel, or Abu Adham (father of Adham) explained the events leading up to the fishermen’s arrest. "Shortly after 10am, I got a panicked call from Adham, who was captain today, saying their boat was surrounded by Israeli naval boats. " "There are many ships around us; there’s no way to leave," said Adham to his father.

Dozens suffer teargas inhalation at Bil’in anti-wall march
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Dozens of Palestinian and international demonstrators choked on teargas at a Friday demonstration in the West Bank village of Bil’in, near Ramallah, as Israeli forces fired on the crowd, according to a statement received by Ma’an. A Palestinian anti-wall organization reported that the rally had been generally peaceful as Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists waved Palestinian flags, banners and posters before the army attacked. The group’s report claimed that Israeli soldiers "showered [protesters] with rubber-coated metal bullets, injuring dozens" during the protest. Most reported injuries were due to teargas inhalation, the report added. Marking World Children’s Day, demonstrators reflected on Israel’s "aggression and occupation" against and of Palestinian children, claiming that "hundreds of Palestinian kids" had been shot and killed. . .

Villagers destroy Wall during popular protest in Jayyous
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 11/21/2008
A massive demonstration was held in Jayyous today to protest the rerouting of the Wall and the permanent isolation of 5,582 dunums of village land for the expansion of Zufim settlement. Villagers destroyed sections of the Wall, sparking confrontations with the Occupation military and the invasion of the village. Following the Friday prayer, more than 500 protestors advanced on the Wall’s gate in the south of the village. The army was not present, and villagers proceeded to destroy the gate and the surrounding Wall. Occupation forces arrived on the scene after the Wall was destroyed, firing on the crowd with tear gas and sound bombs as well as rubber bullets. Upon pushing the villagers away from the Wall, the army forced its way into the village, where the demonstration continued in the village. Jeeps entered from all directions and imposed a curfew on the village.

Five popular protests renew momentum against the Wall and settlements
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 11/21/2008
On Friday, popular mobilization occurred across the West Bank. In addition to the ongoing demonstrations in Ma’sra, Ni’lin and Bi’lin, the two new weekly actions in Jayyous and against the Homesh settlement to the north of Nablus gained momentum. All demonstrations were forcefully repressed by Occupation forces, resulting in numerous injuries. In the north, the new weekly actions in Jayyous (Qalqiliya district) and at the Homesh settlement (Nablus district) continued. The demonstration against the return of settlers to the dismantled settlement saw the participation of 250 people from the nearby villages of Burqa, Bazariya, and Silat ad-Dhaha. The demonstration began after Friday prayers, and villagers marched to the site of the evacuated settlement. Settlers were not present, but the military was called in, with soldiers outnumbering demonstrators.

Soldiers detain PLC members at anti-wall demonstration near Qalqilia
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Qalqilia – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers reportedly shut down a peaceful demonstration in the village of Jayous, north of the West Bank city of Qalqilia on Friday, according to local witnesses. Soldiers detained Waleed A’saf and Tayseer Khalid, both members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), two witnesses told Ma’an. A number of peace activists and residents of the village were also shortly detained. Soldiers arrived firing teargas canisters, live bullets and percussion grenades, witnesses said. Cases of teargas inhalation were also documented by Palestinians and internationals, alike. During the incursion, five residents were reported injured and olive trees were uprooted. Meanwhile, witnesses are reporting that Israeli forces are still patrolling the village, having imposed a curfew on the town.

Al-Watan TV cameraman injured at Ni’lin demonstration
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - An Al-Watan TV cameraman was injured on Friday when Israeli forces launched tear gas during his coverage of a peaceful march in the village of Ni’lin, west of Ramallah, witnesses said. Witnesses claimed that Israeli forces launched teargas canisters and targeted members of the media during the march "to prevent journalists from reporting the truth. " [end]

Gaza activists ’on hunger strike’
BBC Online 11/21/2008
The ISM says the Palestinian vessels were in the permitted offshore zoneThree International Solidarity Movement activists detained with 15 Palestinian fishermen off Gaza by the Israeli navy say they have gone on hunger strike. Briton Andrew Muncie, Vittorio Arrigoni from Italy, and American Darlene Wallach are being held in a prison near Tel Aviv and face possible deportation. Mr Muncie, from Lochaber, told the BBC their protest would continue until the impounded fishing boats were returned. Israel said the boats had deviated from the zone where fishing was permitted. The ISM disputes the allegation, saying the Palestinian vessels were 12km (7 miles) from shore when confronted by the Israeli navy - well within the fishing limits outlined by the 1994 Oslo peace accords. ’Harassment and intimidation’Speaking to the BBC from prison, Mr Muncie. . .

Three internationals imprisoned by Israel declare hunger strike
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/21/2008
Three international peace activists imprisoned by Israel after the Israeli Navi abducted them as they were accompanying Palestinian fishermen, stated on Thursday that they are on hunger strike until the Israeli authorities return the three Palestinian fishing boats the Navy confiscated and is holding at the Ashdod port. The National Campaign Against the Siege issued a press release stating that the Scottish activist, Andrew Muncie, 34, the Italian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni, 33, a scottish British citizen, and the American activist, Darlene Wallach, 47, imprisoned at the Al Ramla Israeli prison, are currently awaiting trial and Israel intends to deport them. They started a hunger strike demanding Israel to return the confiscated boats without causing any damage to them as the boasts are the only source of livelihood to dozens of Palestinian families.

Israel transfers Scottish activist to isolation cell
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Scottish solidarity activist has been transferred to solitary confinement in an Israeli detention center on Friday after he and two others declared a hunger strike. British citizen Andrew Muncie relayed a message via his jailed colleagues that he has been isolated and his mobile phone confiscated. Muncie was arrested along with an American, Darlene Wallach, and an Italian Vittorio Arrigoni, along with 15 Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza. The three activists were accompanying the fishermen, who face daily harassment by the Israeli navy. The three declared a hunger strike on Thursday night, demanding that Israel return three fishing vessels it seized during Tuesday’s raid in Gazan waters. The solidarity campaigners say that the Palestinians who own the boats rely on them for their livelihoods.

Democracy Now!: U.S. activist detained in Israeli jail condemns blockade of Gaza
International Solidarity Movement 11/21/2008
Gaza Region - Israel’s tightened blockade of a million and a half Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is now entering its third week. On Monday the Israeli Navy seized 15 Palestinian fishermen and three international activists off the coast of Gaza. The fishermen were released but the activists remain in an Israeli jail. We speak to Darlene Wallach from inside the Masiyahu prison near Tel Aviv. Israel’s tightened blockade of a million and a half Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is now entering its third week. Tel Aviv rebuffed calls Thursday from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to re-open the crossings into Gaza for humanitarian aid. Israeli government officials cited continuing Palestinian rocket fire as the reason for closing the crossings.

This Week in Palestine Week 47
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 11/21/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 11 m 00s || 10. 00 MB || This Week in Palestine, Week 47 This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for November 15 through 21, 2008. GENERAL LEDE: As the senior Palestinian and Israeli Politicians meet for talks, Israel tightens the siege on the Gaza Strip and continue its attacks on the West Bank obstructing any chances to advance peace talks, these stories and more are coming up, stay tuned. Nonviolent Report Let us begin our weekly report as usual with nonviolent actions in Palestine. Palestinians mark the International Children Day with nonviolent demonstrations in several parts of the West Bank, in addition to the protests against the wall and settlements. Maasara A woman and a child were wounded during an anti-wall nonviolent protest in the village of Al-Ma’asara near Bethlehem on Friday.

Israeli police yet again demolish East Jerusalem protest tent
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli police on Friday removed a tent for the third time this week in East Jerusalem, where it was erected in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood to protest the demolishing of a house owned by a Palestinian family. Local witness Nasser Al-Ghawi said that at 9:30 am, representatives of the municipality came with an order evicting the tent, which read: "Within two hours, the tent will be destroyed and its contents will be confiscated. " Ten minutes later, a bulldozer reportedly arrived, backed by a "massive number of Israeli soldiers," to remove the tent and demolish a wall surrounding the land, which Al-Ghawi said belonged to a Palestinian family, despite that Israel claimed it as public property. Adnan Al-Huseini, the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, denounced the incident, describing it as "immoral.

Israeli soldiers abduct the head of the Popular Committee in Bil’in
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/21/2008
The "Friends of Freedom and Justice" committee in Bil’in village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, reported on Thursday that Israeli troops abducted Iyad Burnat, head of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bil’in. Burnat was kidnapped by the soldiers on Thursday morning, approximately at 09:30 a. m. He was on his way to visit the village of Naalin, also near Ramallah, and was accompanied by a group of American peace activists. Troops stationed at the entrance of Naalin barred Burnat and the activists from entering the village under the pretext that "it is a closed military zone". Soldiers detained Burnat for several hours and released him later on. [end]

Israeli police release Jerusalem Islamic Movement adviser
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli police released an adviser to the Islamic Movement for Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Affairs on Friday and without conditions, according to a statement from the organization received by Ma’an. An Israeli court in Jerusalem rejected a petition filed by the Israeli police to extend Sheikh Ali Abu Sheikha’s arrest. A lawyer for the Islamic leader said that "the Central Court judge rejected the petition filed by Israeli police" on the decision taken by a conciliation court on Thursday, in which police had requested that Abu Sheikha’s petition be postponed. The lawyer claimed that the police’s motivation for arresting the Islamic leader was "political--not legal. " Upon his release, Abu Sheikha accompanied a delegation to a tent erected in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where an evicted Palestinian family has protested its house demolition for several days this week.

Report: Israeli Interior Ministry to strip former MK of citizenship
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli Interior Ministry will take urgent measures to remove a former member of the Knesset’s Israeli citizenship, according to a report in the Hebrew-language newspaper Ma’ariv on Friday. Israeli Interior Minister Meir Shetrit is leading the charge to strip Azmi Bishara of his citizenship as to avoid paying for his retirement, according to the paper. Bishara was the head of Israel’s Arab Balad Party in the Israeli Knesset until he fled Israel in the summer of 2006 at the height of the Israel-Hezbollah War. Israel accuses the former MK of providing classified information to Hezbollah, a charge he denies. According to Shetrit, the government’s legal advisor, Mini Mazuz, and the head of the General Security Services, Yuval Diskin, have asked the Interior Ministry to intervene in the matter “as soon as possible,” the paper reported.

Sheetrit: Revoke former MK Bishara’s citizenship Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/21/2008
Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit has petitioned Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz and Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) head Yuval Diskinrequesting that they look into the possibility of revoking former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara’s Israeli citizenship, Army Radio reported Friday. According to a document obtained by the radio station, Sheetrit asked Mazuz and Diskin to turn their attention to the subject as soon as possible after the Supreme Court ruled that responsibly for the issue lay with the interior minister. Bishara is suspected of treason and espionage for allegedly aiding Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War. He is also accused of money laundering. After fleeing the country in 2007, the former Balad chairman now resides in Jordan and uses his Israeli passport for his travels, even though he has described Israel as an "apartheid state.

UN says Gaza on brink of humanitarian disaster
Reuters, YNetNews 11/21/2008
Aid agency’s commissioner-general says human toll of Israeli blockade gravest since early days of Palestinian uprising in 2000. ’Strip’s children not eating well enough to be bigger than their parents,’ Karen AbuZayd says -Gaza faces a humanitarian "catastrophe" if Israel continues to prevent aid reaching the territory by blocking crossing points, the head of the main UN aid agency for the Palestinians said on Friday. Karen AbuZayd, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said the human toll of this month’s sealing of Gaza’s goods crossings was the gravest since the early days of a Palestinian uprising eight years ago. "It’s been closed for so much longer than ever before. . . and we have nothing in our warehouses. . . It will be a catastrophe if this persists, a disaster," said AbuZayd, whose agency is the largest aid body providing services to Palestinian refugees.

Action Against Hunger calls for unimpeded humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip
Action Against Hunger-UK, ReliefWeb 11/21/2008
Action Against Hunger, together with the Association of International Development Agencies, calls on the government of Israel and the leaders and senior officials of the international community to ensure a transparent and accountable system of unimpeded humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip so that high quality, effective and sustainable essential services are delivered to the people who need them. Vital humanitarian work of international humanitarian and development agencies in the Gaza Strip is being impeded by access restrictions imposed on international and local Palestinian staff by Israeli authorities. Emergency programmes to make sure people in Gaza have safe drinking water and sewage services, effective health care and sufficient nutritious food to eat are being undermined by Israeli authorities preventing the full and unimpeded humanitarian access that is demanded by international. . .

Muslims, Christians stand against the Gaza siege
Palestinian Information Center 11/21/2008
AMMAN, (PIC)-- The Muslim-Christian Committee and the General Islamic Conference for Jerusalem have called on the international community and human rights organizations to immediately move to end the crippling unjust siege on Gaza Strip. "You should play an active role in halting the [Israeli] aggression against an unarmed people to avoid a human catastrophe that could lead to massive exodus of thousands of Palestinians out of the country", asserted the two groups in a joint statement they issued in this regard. They also urged Arab and Muslim peoples and governments to express stronger solidarity with the Palestinian people, and to extend them all means of moral and material support. Moreover, the two organizations accused the Israeli occupation of accelerating efforts to judaize the occupied city of Jerusalem by means of distorting its Arab and Muslim landmarks, and by initiating. . .

Israeli envoy say UN filled with ’hostility and hypocrisy’
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 11/21/2008
Behind the scenes she hears a lot of appreciation for Israel, but on the stage the remarks are poisonous. Talking to Ynet, Prof. Gabriela Shalev speaks of her Algerian counterpart, her new friend from New Zealand, and expresses her anger over accusations that she is a leftist - WASHINGTON -It happened overnight. From a professor and an international expert in contracts law, she became a diplomacy student. At the age of 67, Prof. Gabriela Shalev sprang from the slow and protected course of the academia to a fast-pace race, with zero days of grace. The criticism began before she landed in New York. They wrote that she was unfit for the job, that she was appointed by her friend Tzipi Livni (whom she had only met once before), that she was a leftist and a member of the B’Tselem organization. PredecessorGillerman bids UN farewell: Israel will prevail /. . .

Skek warns of looming catastrophe in Gaza Strip due to lack of electricity
Palestinian Information Center 11/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Head of the electricity distribution company in Gaza Strip Suhail Skek has warned Thursday that the tiny Strip is threatened with a human catastrophe as a result of the sharp shortage of electricity supplies in the Strip. In a press conference he held in Gaza city over the matter, Skek asserted that the electricity crises was worsening every day, revealing that the Strip was currently receiving 40-50% of its need of electricity. He pointed out that lack of maintenance equipment, the suspension of the main electricity generation plant in Gaza due to lack of fuel, in addition to using electricity in cooking due to lack of gas have aggravated the problem and pushed it to alarming levels that could affect hospitals, sewerage system, and all aspects of life. "Gaza is depending on 10 electricity distribution lines coming from the Israeli occupation that supply the Strip. . .

PLC member warns of Gaza uprising as blockade enters 17th day
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege on the Gaza Strip announced on Friday that closures are actually beginning to threaten Palestinian’s lives, warning that residents would soon attempt to breach the borders with Egypt and Israel. Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Jamal Al-Khudari said that Palestinians “seek a breakthrough—not a popular explosion. ”Pointing out that “it is unreasonable that half a million people in Gaza could die because they are stranded in one place, deprived from food, electricity, medicine, water and all aspects of life,” Al-Khudari said that the situation could lead to a united outburst of resistance against the siege and blockade. The PLC member called on the international community to “pressure [Israel] to stop their harsh practices against Gazans. ”***Updated 20:20 Bethlehem time

Gaza on brink of humanitarian disaster - UN
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 11/21/2008
By Suleiman al-Khalidi AMMAN, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Gaza faces a humanitarian "catastrophe" if Israel continues to prevent aid reaching the territory by blocking crossing points, the head of the main U. N. aid agency for the Palestinians said on Friday. Karen AbuZayd, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said the human toll of this month’s sealing of Gaza’s goods crossings was the gravest since the early days of a Palestinian uprising eight years ago. "It’s been closed for so much longer than ever before. . . and we have nothing in our warehouses. . . It will be a catastrophe if this persists, a disaster," said AbuZayd, whose agency is the largest aid body providing services to Palestinian refugees. Israel closed the crossings after Palestinian militants responded with daily rocket salvoes to an Israeli army incursion on Nov.

Palestinian scholars, University professors condemn siege, political arrests
Palestinian Information Center 11/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Prominent Palestinian scholars and University professors have condemned Thursday the persistent Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, and the unwarranted political arrests by the PA security forces in the West Bank. Dr. Younis Al-Astal of the Palestine scholars’ league explained that Islam prohibits political arrests carried out at the hands of the PA security forces in the West Bank in coordination with the Israeli occupation security departments. "This is clear allegiance to the Israeli occupation, and big crime against the Palestinian people that neither Islam nor our Palestinian people would accept", said Astal of the political arrests. He also accused the PA government in Ramallah city of "stealing" the quota of Gaza pilgrims who won the draw, and of passing it to people loyal to them although they didn’t participate in the draw.

UN Humanitarian Affairs official slams Gaza blockade, calls victims hostages
Palestinian Information Center 11/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes on Wednesday slammed the continued Israeli closure of the Gaza border-crossings and  described the situation as "desperate" and "unacceptable. " No fuel, humanitarian supplies or commercial commodities were allowed into Gaza on Wednesday, according to the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO). Mr. Holmes - who is also Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs - told journalists in Geneva that the closure was seen as collective punishment. Half the population of Gaza was under 15 and were being held hostage by the situation. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Tuesday to urge him to facilitate the freer movement of urgently needed humanitarian supplies and of UN personnel into Gaza.

UN humanitarian chief urges immediate resumption of humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 11/21/2008
(New York, 21 November 2008): United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes today urged all parties to the conflict in the Gaza Strip to refrain from violence and to allow the immediate and sustained reopening of border crossings. "Measures which increase the hardship and suffering of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip as a whole are unacceptable and must cease immediately," he stated. "The Secretary-General has repeatedly called on Israel to facilitate the delivery of steady and sufficient fuel and humanitarian assistance, and is disappointed that his call has not yet been heeded. " On 5 November, following an Israeli Defense Forces operation in Gaza and the resumption of Palestinian rocket firing into Israel, the Israeli military closed all border crossings to Gaza.

Secretary-General, in support of statement just released by UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, underscores urgent need for delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza
United Nations Secretary-General, ReliefWeb 11/21/2008
The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: The Secretary-General continues to express his concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza. He has underscored the importance of having Israel urgently permit the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Gaza, and regrets that his calls have not yet been heeded. The Secretary-General has been briefed on the humanitarian situation in Gaza by the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, and supports the statement just released by his office. The Secretary-General reiterates his condemnation of rocket and other attacks by Palestinian militants against Israeli civilian targets. He calls for an end to such attacks and urges full respect by all parties for the calm that has been in effect since 19 June.

Israel maintains Gaza closure
Middle East Online 11/21/2008
JERUSALEM - Israel said on Friday it will maintain its closure of the Gaza Strip despite international concern over a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the aid-dependent Palestinian territory. "This decision was taken because of the continuation of Palestinian rocket attacks against southern Israel," said Peter Lerner, a defence ministry spokesman. A flare-up of violence on November 4 prompted Israel to tighten a blockade it has imposed since the democratically elected Hamas movement seized power in Gaza in June 2007. Since the recent surge in violence, only 33 truckloads of basic supplies as well as limited quantities of fuel have been allowed into the impoverished coastal strip. The United Nations has urged Israel to reopen the crossings, saying the closure of Gaza contravenes international law.

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".

RIGHTS: Landmines Banned, And Still Kill Thousands
David Cronin, Inter Press Service 11/22/2008
BRUSSELS, Nov 21(IPS) - Ten years after an international ban on the use of landmines was agreed, the weapons still claimed thousands of lives during 2007, a new report has calculated. Even though only two countries -- Burma and Russia -- continue to use landmines, deaths and injuries are still being caused by those set during a large number of conflicts around the world, and that have never been deactivated. According to the annual Landmine Monitor report, landmines and other ’explosive remnants of war’ such as grenades, mortars and cluster bombs killed 5,426 people last year. Stan Brabant, a spokesman for Handicap International, which launched the report in Brussels Nov. 21, described this finding as "very scary". The true number of lives lost is likely to be considerably higher. Nonetheless, he noted that steady progress has been made in reducing casualties caused. . .

Stockholm metro passengers give Veolia a red card
Stop The Wall 11/21/2008
On November 15 in Stockholm, the Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC) declared a day of action against Veolia. Palestinian solidarity activists asked passengers using the Stockholm metro to attach a red card to their clothes as a protest against Veolia´s involvement in the Jerusalem Light Railway system that links Jerusalem with the settlements that surround it. Veolia is currently in charge of operating Stockholm’s metro system, and it is in the process of bidding for a second eight-year contract with the Stockholm County Council. The corporation has recently come under significant pressure in Sweden due to protests organized by different civil society organizations, as well as negative media attention and political opposition in the Stockholm County Council. These opponents of Veolia demand that it be excluded from the procurement process because of its complicity in the construction of apartheid infrastructure in Palestine.

Dutch activists picket parliament to protest the Apartheid Wall
Stop The Wall 11/17/2008
As part of the Week Against the Apartheid Wall, some 30 Palestinian solidarity activists in the Netherlands participated in a two-hour picket in front of the parliament in The Hague on November 11. Organized by the Netherlands Palestine Committee (NPK) and the Friends of Palestine, the activists also delivered a petition to the representatives of the parties, calling on them to support Palestinian rights and to end Israeli Apartheid. The protesters placed their emphasis on the Dutch parliament because the Week Against the Apartheid Wall coincides with the start of the parliamentary debate on foreign affairs, including the Netherlands’ role in the Middle East. As such, in order to call attention to the 60 years of injustice since the Nakba, the NPK also gave the chairperson of the parliament a copy of a book that it put together, entitled “The Destruction of Palestine.

De facto government arrests Prisoners’ Ministry theft suspects
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto Ministry of the Interior in the Gaza Strip, in partnership with the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s Prisoners’ Ministry in Ramallah, announced the arrests of a number suspects in their ongoing theft investigation on Friday. The de facto ministry affirmed in statements that “the suspects were transferred to interrogation centers to be interrogated on the crime of stealing around US $300,000 from a prisoners’ allowance fund. 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 was initiated in cooperation with the attorney general, Palestinian police and other monetary officials. The investigation aims “to establish the facts” and determine how one person could “withdraw this amount of money through 15 transfers within four months.

Haniyeh proposes meeting with Arab foreign ministers
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian de facto Prime Minister Ismail Hanieyah proposed holding a meeting between the Hamas movement and other Arab ministers of foreign affairs before a summit expected on 26 November. Hanieyah proposed the dialogue to "update [foreign representatives] on the situation and events and Hamas’s vision for a proposed solution on the basis of dialogue and real conciliation. " Hanieyah made the comments following weekly prayers in Gaza City, adding that "if the Arabs want to form a balanced vision on what is happening in Palestine, they should listen to both sides. " He described the movement’s relationship with Egypt as strategic and stable, insisting that "disagreements on views could occur in our daily relations, but this does not mean that there is strategic tension with Egypt. " He concluded by saying that "over the past two days, we held meetings with Palestinian factions.

Report: Israel allows Fatah men return to West Bank
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 11/21/2008
Nazareth-based newspaper reports Jewish state to let Fatah members enter West Bank for movement’s special conference -Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has received permission fromIsrael to allow Fatah officials living abroad to enter the Palestinian Territories for the organization’s sixth conference that is scheduled to be held in Ramallah, Nazareth-based al-Sinnara newspaper reported on Friday. According to the report, officials who asked to remain in the territories after the conference will also be allowed to do so. The agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is similar to the one reached with Yasser Arafat during the National Council meeting in Gaza in 1996, when Israel allowed the entrance of many wanted Palestinian officials. " Abbas notified the organizing committee that in this matter it was agreed that they would receive the same. . .

Palestine Investment Conference II to begin Saturday in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - Leading Palestinian and Arab investors arrived in Palestine via Jordan on Friday, preparing for the opening of the second round of the Palestine Investment Conference, set this time to begin in Nablus on Saturday. The conference is expected to focus on the northern West Bank as a follow-up to the one held in Bethlehem over the summer. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad plan to attend. Palestinian businessman Ziad Al-A’nabtawi told Ma’an that the conference "will be held for two days in Nablus and will be attended by 240 Arab investors, six of them from the Gulf and fifty [others] from inside Israel. " Al-A’nabtawi noted that the total cost of projects under discussion is upwards of US $700 million, which will be spent in several fields but that overall is intended to financially "break the siege on Nablus.

Hamas leader weighs in on unity obstacles during Ma’an interview
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas leader Ismail Radwan affirmed on Friday that the movement is ready for a Palestinian internal dialogue "whenever the reasons behind its obstruction are removed. " In an interview with Ma’an, Radwan praised Egyptian mediation efforts in closing the gap among Palestinians, hoping that "these efforts will lead to a positive outcome. " "Egypt could improve the atmosphere for dialogue by (encouraging the) release of all political prisoners in the West Bank, allowing a Hamas delegation to participate in the dialogue and by taking care of the arrangements for the dialogue, in addition to issues related to the Egyptian draft proposal,” Radwan suggested. Meanwhile, one well-informed source said that "ending political division between Fatah and Hamas requires finding a mediator other than Egypt.

Palestine participates at Mediterranean health conference in Cairo
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Palestinian Ministry of Health was represented at an international conference on health held in the Egyptian capital this week. Representing the ministry at the EuroMed conference was A’nan Al-Masri, along with 41 European and other Mediterranean delegates. The event was sponsored by EuroMed, which was following up its 1995 Barcelona conference of the same nature. Delegates discussed health issues such as contagious and chronic diseases, as well as international and regional protocol for health system cooperation between Mediterranean counties. Attendees praised the active participation of the Palestinian delegation, approving some of the members’ recommendations and urging that they be put into practice soon.

Morocco-based think tank awards Saeb Erekat with annual prize
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Amadeus Institue, a Moroccan intellectual organization, gave the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s top negotiator its annual award on Friday at its yearly conference. Amadeus chose the PLO’s Saeb Erekat for "his contributions to the peace process" and "intellectual activities," which include numerous academic and humanitarian contributions. The institute also honored Erekat for his new book, "Life and Negotiations," which has been warmly received by academics and intellectuals. It is also slated for inclusion in the institutes’s Library of Arab Diplomacy, according to a statement. [end]

PA aids Israeli citizen who accidentally entered Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - An Israeli citizen who entered the West Bank city of Ramallah by mistake on Friday was helped back to Israel by Palestinian Authority (PA) police officers, according to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. PA police reportedly saw the Israeli citizen in Ramallah and coordinated with the Israeli Civil Administration and Israeli army before transferring the individual to Israeli police custody. Ramallah is part of the West Bank’s Area A, which is forbidden for Israelis to enter. [end]

Kuwait donates USD one mln to ''Bayt Mal Al-Qods'' aid agency
Mustafa Al-Sofi, Kuwait News Agency, ReliefWeb 11/20/2008
RABAT, Nov 20 (KUNA) -- The State of Kuwait has donated on Thursday USD one million to the Rabat-based Bayt Mal Al-Qods Acharif, a fundraising agency active in the Holy City of Jerusalem. "His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah instructed offering the donation to back the efforts of the agency aiming to preserve the Islamic and Arab identity of the holy city," Kuwait Ambassador to Morocco Salah Al-Ba’ijan said. He made the statements to KUNA here after he handed the grant to the agency’s director general Abdul-Kabir Al-Olwi Al-Madghari. "The agency, chaired by Moroccan King Mohammad VI, plays a pivotal role in helping the brotherly people of Palestine and supporting the fair Palestinian question," Al-Ba’ijan underscored. "The Moroccan monarch is doing praiseworthy efforts to ensure a better life for the Palestinian people.

European campaign to collect meds for besieged Gaza residents
Ma’an News Agency 11/21/2008
Brussels - Ma’an - The European Campaign Against the Gaza Siege plans to collect medicine and medical equipment for the Gaza Strip’s besieged population, according to a statement received by Ma’an on Friday. For the past 17 days, Israeli authorities have denied shipments of medication into Gaza while patients seeking treatment abroad have not been permitted to leave. According to the European campaign,"Since the beginning of November, we started collecting medicine and medical equipment from different parts of Switzerland, Italy and several other European countries. " Anwar Al-Gharbi, the head of the Rights For All Society, said that "the objective of this campaign is to offer support and assistance, no matter how small, for the 150,000 people who are under siege. " The continued closure has already led to the deaths of 260 patients because of the lack of medical treatment, Al-Gharbi added.

Qassam hits Ashkelon’s industrial zone
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 11/21/2008
Rocket fired from northern Gaza Strip lands in open area in seaside city; two mortar shells fired at Kissufim area in southern Israel. No injuries or damage reported in both incidents - A Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip on Friday morning landed in an open area in the city of Ashkelon’s southern industrial zone. There were no reports of injuries or damage. Two mortar shells were fired at the Kissufim area in southern Israel. There were no injuries or damage in this incident as well. The Salah al-Din Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committee’s military wing, claimed responsibility for the mortars fired at Kissufim. Workers at the Ashkelon industrial zone told Ynet they heard the explosion very well. One of them said, however, that "in recent days there have been a lot of blasts and supersonic explosions and one can no longer know if it’s a Qassam or an IDF activity.

Gaza groups ready to restore truce with Israel - Haniyya
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/22/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The Islamist government of the Gaza Strip said Palestinian resistance groups were willing to lay down their arms and go back to a five-month-old truce - if the Jewish state did likewise. The head of the Hamas administration in Gaza, Ismail Haniyya, said all Palestinian factions in Gaza were prepared to respect the truce if Israel kept to its side of the bargain. "Over the past two days, we’ve had meetings with the Palestinian factions and we have arrived at a clear position - to respect the truce as long as the occupier does too," he said. "But so far the occupier has not honored its commitments, indeed it has closed the border crossings and tightened the blockade," he added. After Hamas won legislative elections in 2006, the Jewish state imposed a crippling siege on the territory, which it tightened when the Islamists ousted their Fatah rivals from Gaza in 2007.

For now, Israel and Hamas both seek to maintain Gaza calm
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 11/22/2008
Jordan’s King Abdullah can calm down. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who were called in the middle of the night to the royal palace in Amman, did leave some room for ambiguity regarding a large scale military action in Gaza, but in fact the chance of such an action seem quite slim. If nothing extreme takes place, such as a mass-casualty attack against Israelis, the Israel Defense Forces will be in no hurry to enter Gaza. Barak does not want it and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi objects to it without clear diplomatic aims to be defined ahead of time. As for Olmert, it seems he would prefer to be remembered for promoting peace with the Palestinians or the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. When Olmert said Sunday he had instructed the IDF to prepare plans, the chief of staff responded that the plans were ready and had already been presented to the cabinet.

Shalit’s friends rally outside Netanyahu’s home
Roni Gal, YNetNews 11/21/2008
Dozens of demonstrators stage protest near Jerusalem home of Likud chairman, who walks out and talks to them. ’I guess all he cares about at the moment is getting elected,’ one protestor says - Dozens of people staged a protest Friday morning outside the Jerusalem home of Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding that he work for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. "Netanyahu came to us and told us, unequivocally, that Gilad Shalit was not an election slogan," said Miki Leibovich of the campaign for Shalit’s release. "We expect him, as a premiership candidate, to let us know what he plans to do operatively on the Gilad issue. " [end]

Report: Prospect of Israeli strike in Iran more likely
Ynet, YNetNews 11/21/2008
On backdrop of IAEA report pointing to possibility that Tehran has already obtained enough enriched uranium to make one atomic bomb, intelligence sources tell The Times chances of Jewish state taking preemptive military action against Islamic republic’s nuclear facilities appear to have become significantly higher in recent weeks - Intelligence sources have told the London-based The Times newspaper that the prospect ofIsrael taking preemptive military action to knock out Iran’s nuclear facilities appears to have become significantly more likely in recent weeks. A report published this week by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) points to the possibility that Tehran has already obtained enough enriched uranium to make one atomic bomb. Warning to the WorldIran using ’fraud and evasion’ to promote nuclear agenda / Roni Sofer Foreign. . .

Olmert eyes new commitments on Iran during US visit
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/22/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert heads to Washington on Sunday for a "farewell" meeting with President George W. Bush, as the two leaders prepare to hand over the reigns of government. With Bush leaving office on January 20 and Olmert heading a caretaker government ahead of February elections, the two leaders were unlikely to take any major decisions on any of the outstanding issues. "The prime minister wants to use the meeting as an opportunity to express his appreciation for President Bush’s friendship and support for Israel," spokesman Mark Regev said. The two will discuss "a range of bilateral issues, the peace process as well as issues of regional stability," he said, referring to Iran. Israel has repeatedly said that "all options are on the table," alluding to a military strike, to halt Iran’s nuclear drive.

Iran accuses IAEA of ’2-sided stance’ Staff And Ap, Jerusalem Post 11/21/2008
A leading Iranian cleric accused the UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei of delivering ambiguous remarks about Iran’s nuclear program. Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said that ElBaradei "unfortunately" speaks in a "two-sided" manner about the issue. Speaking during a Friday prayers ceremony in Teheran, the influential Rafsanjani said the International Atomic Energy Agency should be "neutral" on Iran. The IAEA said this week Iran is continuing to enrich uranium, which can be used for either nuclear fuel or weapon. Iran claims it’s only for electricity production. RELATED’Iran will have enough uranium by end of 2009’ Rafsanjani referred to what he described as recent remarks by ElBaradei saying the IAEA "cannot confirm what Iran has not disclosed.

Olmert to bid Bush farewell
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 11/21/2008
Prime minister heading for Washington next week for one last business meeting with US president, to be followed by intimate goodbye dinner. Outgoing leaders to discuss Israel-US relationship, Mideast peace process, Iranian nuclear threat - WASHINGTON - United States President George Bush is preparing a friendly intimate farewell meeting for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the latter’s last visit to Washington at the start of next week. Bush and Olmert will hold a work meeting at the White House on Monday and afterwards will be joined by their wives, Laura and Aliza, for a special dinner. Washington greatly appreciates Olmert’s visit to the US to bid farewell to Bush and thank him for his special treatment towards

PM welcomes PA ads in Israeli newspapers
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
Declaring that Israel is willing to talk with "all of its Arab neighbors" on the basis of 2002’s Arab League peace initiative, the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday said it welcomed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s move in which he appealed to the Israeli public to support the plan by publishing a copy of the initiative in four Israeli dailies. PA buys ads in Israeli press to promote Arab peace initiative The ad appears on page 11 of today’s Jerusalem Post. Israel has already held talks about the Arab League plan with some of its neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan and the PA, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s spokesman Mark Regev told the Post. Israel has balked at accepting the plan, in part because it provides for the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to within the Green Line.

Syria: No more UN visits to alleged nuclear site
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/22/2008
Syria’s nuclear energy chief on Friday said a UN watchdog report on the alleged secret Syrian nuclear site bombed by Israel proved nothing and the investigation should be closed. The Syrian official said Damascus would stick by a deal with UN inspectors that permitted only one visit to the Al-Kibar site - which took place last June - and "we will not allow another visit. " An International Atomic Energy Agency report issued on Wednesday said a Syrian complex destroyed in a 2007 Israeli air strike bore a number of characteristics resembling those of a nuclear reactor and UN inspectors had found a significant number of uranium traces in desert sands there. The findings, based on satellite pictures and soil and water samples taken by UN investigators, were not enough to conclude a reactor was there but the findings were serious and warranted more investigation and Syrian transparency, the IAEA said.

Syria nuke agency chief: We won’t allow another IAEA visit
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/21/2008
A senior Syrian official on Friday all but ruled out new visits by UN inspectors probing allegations that his country had a covert program that could be used to make nuclear weapons. Syrian refusal to allow inspections could doom the International Atomic Energy Agency’s efforts to follow up US assertions that a site reportedly bombed by Israel last year was a nearly finished reactor that could have produced plutonium. Syria allowed the IAEA to visit the site near the desert town of Al Kibar in June but has since turned down requests for more inspections. "We will not allow another visit," said Ibrahim Othman, the head of Syria’s atomic agency. He said the IAEA had agreed with Syria that there would be only be one visit. The IAEA has said it agreed to make one initial visit, but has requested others.

African refugees face deadly trek
Liam Stack in Cairo, Al Jazeera 11/21/2008
Egypt’s border with Israel in the Sinai desert has in the past few years been transformed from a remote outpost to a major thoroughfare for human traffickers and desperate refugees. It is a route that Sadiq Sahour, a Sudanese refugee, and his family know all too well. Sahour and his wife, Hajja Abbas Haroun, fled Sudan’s troubled Darfur region in 2004 after a government militia burned their village and killed several family members. They came to Egypt in search of a more secure life for themselves and their infant daughter, but once in Cairo they discovered they could not find work and were offered little assistance from the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). In 2007, they paid a smuggler $250 per person to help them traverse a dangerous route across the border to Israel.

Netanyahu hires 2 of Obama’s advisors
Yuval Karni, YNetNews 11/21/2008
After designing website similar to that of US president-elect, Likud chairman recruits Obama’s consultants to help him in his election campaign - After designing a website similar to that of Barack Obama, Likud ChairmanBenjamin Netanyahu has now hired two of the US president-elect’s advisors to help him in his election campaign. On Thursday the opposition leader finalized the employment of Bill Knapp and Josh Isay, who have worked in recent years with candidates of the Democratic Party in the United States, as well as former President Bill Clinton, Senator Joe Lieberman, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and president-elect Obama. The man who mediated between Netanyahu and the American consultants was Ron Dermer, one of the Likud chairman’s strategic advisors who formerly served as Israel’s minister for economic affairs in Washington.

Ramon tells Livni: I’ll run in primary Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/21/2008
Vice Premier Haim Ramon informed Kadima chair Tzipi Livni Friday afternoon of his intention to run in the party’s upcoming primary, disproving recent reports that he would leave both the party and political life altogether. The Kadima party, according to Ramon, will continue as the ruling part after upcoming general elections "under the leadership of Livni. " Ramon said that the upcoming general election, scheduled for February 10, 2009, is significant because of the many "political, security and economic challenges" that Israel faces, and avowed, "I intend to continue to contribute from my experience and my abilities. " After meeting with Ramon at his house, Livni praised him "for his decision to stay with the party. " "Haim Ramon was and will be an important and central force in Kadima and in the battle against the Likud," she said, adding that she expects Ramon gain a high position on the party’s Knesset list.

Livni: Voting for Netanyahu equals selling out to Shas
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/22/2008
In an interview on Friday with Channel 2, Kadima chair Tzipi Livni criticized the negotiations between Likud chair Benjamin Netanyahu and ultra-Orthodox party Shas. "Whoever is willing to sell everything in an attempt to reach the prime minister’s seat isn’t worthy of that position," Livni said. She added that despite being unable to form a coalition, she is proud of the fact that she didn’t compromise her principles during negotiations with Shas. "At the point that I was required to pay an impossible price, I said that it is not possible, knowing that Bibi would have given in," said the foreign minister, adding, "I have no doubt that Shas knows what it can get from me and what it can get from Bibi. If anyone in Israel wants the country to look like that, he should vote for Bibi.

Ramon to Livni: I’m not quitting Kadima
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 11/21/2008
Vice premier informs party chairwoman he will run in Dec. 17 primaries, assist in election campaign. ’It is extremely important that Kadima continue leading the country,’ he says -Knesset Member Haim Ramon has informed Kadima Chairwoman and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Friday that he will not be quitting politics and plans on running in the party’s primary elections, scheduled for December 17. Despite recent reports saying the vice premier was considering leaving politics, Ramon assured Livni that he plans to assist in Kadima’s election campaign. "As someone who helped found Kadima and initiate the ’political bang’, I consider it extremely important that Kadima under Livni’s leadership continue to lead the country after the general elections (February 10)," he said during a meeting at the chairwoman’s Tel Aviv home.

Report: Hillary Clinton accepts U.S. secretary of state post
Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/22/2008
Hillary Clinton has decided to relinquish her U. S. Senate seat and accept the job of secretary of state in president-elect Barack Obama’s administration, the New York Times reported Friday on its Web site. "She’s ready," one of the sources told the newspaper, which said Clinton came to her decision after additional discussions with Obama about the nature of her role as the top U. S. diplomat and his plans for foreign policy. Clinton emerged as a frontrunner for the secretary of state job late last week, transfixing a country which had seen her compete hard against Obama to win the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Obama clinched that nomination in June and then beat Republican John McCain in the Nov. 4 election. Democratic Party sources have recently said Clinton, was on track to be nominated, with an official announcement expected after the Nov.

Advisers: Obama must address Israel-Palestinian conflict at once
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 11/21/2008
Former national security advisers, to Ford, Carter and Bush say resolving Palestinian issue would liberate Arab governments to support US leadership in dealing with regional problems ’’as they did before the Iraq invasion’. Add: Solution would dissipate much Hizbullah and Hamas’ appeal - WASHINGTON -Two former US national security advisers have called on President-elect Barack Obama to pay immediate attention to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, as this would "cement the goodwill" that his election engendered. In an op-ed published by the Washington Post on Friday, Brent Scowcroft, former adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, former adviser to President Jimmy Carter said, "Not everyone in the Middle East views the Palestinian issue as the greatest regional challenge, but the deep sense of injustice it stimulates is genuine and pervasive.

Young Judaea sees steep rise in early registration
Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
The Young Judaea youth movement, which runs the nation’s largest post-high school program for young Diaspora Jews, announced last week a 40 percent increase in early registration. In the first two weeks of official registration for the 2009-10 Year Course program, 108 high school students started the application process, compared to 83 applicants at the same time last year, a Young Judaea official told Anglo File. "This is our biggest year ever," said Keith Berman, director of the program. "We keep saying this every year," he added laughingly. In 2008, 541 teenagers are participating in the gap year program. Last year, the number was at 497. In 2002, during the height of the al-Aqsa intifada, only 127 youth enrolled in the program. The surge may be part of a larger trend, though it is too early to tell, according to an official from Masa, which supports Israel programs.

Israelis cheer record number of Jewish legislators in US
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/21/2008
A number of editorials in Israeli newspapers over the last two weeks have celebrated the fact that the November 5th elections resulted in a record number of Jewish legislators elected to the U. S. Congress. According to the Jerusalem Post, there are now 45 Jewish legislators serving in the US Congress -- 32 Congressmembers and 13 Senators. Jewish legislators have traditionally been strong supporters of the Jewish state, but with the growing movement for Palestinian rights within the Jewish community, analysts report that the traditional uncritical support for Israel may be shifting. As Israeli commentator Eitan Haber wrote in an op-ed in the Israeli paper Yedioth Ahranoth, "American Jewry is not what it used to be when it comes to its attachment to Israel, and the generation of the children and grandchildren no longer blindly follows Israel’s leadership, its speeches and demands.

Jews, Muslims partner to fight Islamophobia, anti-Semitism
Ynetnews, YNetNews 11/21/2008
Throughout weekend, 50 mosques and 50 synagogues representing over 100,000 Muslims and Jews throughout US, Canada will join together to confront Islamophobia and anti-Semitism - Jewish and Islamic leaders from across the United States and Canada will confront anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in a first-of-its kind twinning event this weekend. The first-ever Weekend of Twinningsm will be held on November 21-23, and comes on the heels of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia’s visit to the United Nations. The Weekend of Twinningsm resulted from a resolution passed at the National Summit of Imams and Rabbis held last year in New York and hosted by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU). The success of the National Summit led organizers to expand the interfaith dialogue model to include congregations across North America to directly confront instances of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

U.S. Jews, Muslims launch unprecedented drive against anti-Semitism, xenophobia
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 11/22/2008
Dozens of synagogues and mosques across the United States and Canada are to take part in a first-of-its-kind three-day joint public relations campaign against anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim xenophobia beginning on Friday. The initiative, which was given the code-name "Twinning," calls for close cooperation between rabbis and imams based in some of the largest cities in North America, including Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Palm Beach, St. Louis, and Washington DC. Organizers say the venture, which will encompass an estimated 100,000 Jews and Muslims, will feature rabbis appearing before Muslim congregants in mosques while imams address Jewish worshipers at synagogues. In addition, workshops and symposiums will be held to examine ways to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Islamic hatred.

Clinton ’to be secretary of state’
Al Jazeera 11/22/2008
Hillary Clinton, the former Democratic presidential rival of Barack Obama, the US president-elect, has accepted his offer to become secretary of state in his new administration, US media has reported. The New York Times newspaper said on Friday that Clinton, senator for the state of New York, came to her decision after discussions with Obama about the nature of her role and his foreign policy plans. Her reported decision comes after days of speculation that Clinton, who spent months in an often bitter battle with Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination before conceding in June, had been offered the role. On Friday Philippe Reines, a spokesman for Clinton, denied that she had accepted the job offer, although he told AP that the discussions were "very much on track.

Embattled challenger to lead local Democrats backs down
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
The main challenger to chair the Democrat Party’s Israel branch withdrew his candidacy this week following allegations he had "harmed the interests" of the party. Eyal Raviv, 32, resigned on Tuesday from his position as member of the executive committee and left the organization, thereby withdrawing his candidacy for chairman. "I wanted to run for chair in an organization which allows a democratic election, but I have come to realize this will not happen," he said this week. "I had no choice but to leave. "As reported by Anglo File last week, Democrats Abroad Israel’s executive committee convened this week to review Eyal’s removal in light of allegations that he sent out messages containing the results of controversial poll. The poll showed that 76 percent of those who voted in Israel in the recent presidential elections chose Republican John McCain and not Democrat president-elect Barack Obama.

Treasury and Histadrut seek compromise
Meirav Arlosoroff and Haim Bior, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
The treasury and Histadrut labor federation have begun preliminary contacts to find an acceptable compromise that will allow them to reach a comprehensive package agreement for the entire economy. Finance Ministry director general Yarom Ariav met yesterday with Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini. At the same time the treasury is preparing to examine the Histadrut’s demands and which of them the treasury is willing to accept. Unlike past negotiations, this time the treasury hopes to reach an understanding with Eini as an agreement with labor would save the state large sums. For example, if Eini agrees, in exchange for a safety net for pension savings the treasury will ask for a freeze on public sector wages, though without cuts. This would save the state NIS 2. 6 billion in the first year and NIS 7 billion over two years.

TASE shed almost half its value in 2008
Natan Sheva, Ha’aretz 11/21/2008
yesterday to close at 554 points, and was off 7% for the week. The TelTech-15 dropped 9%. Turnover was NIS 1. 5 billion. Besides troubles all over the globe and in particular bad economic news from the United States, Israeli markets reflected pessimism over the treasury’s economic plan announced a day earlier, and threats of a general strike over the Histadrut labor federation’s plan because the plan does not include protection for pension savings. In addition, the Bank of Israel cut its economic growth forecast for 2009 almost in half. A year and a half since the beginning of the world financial crisis the TA-25 is now back where its was in February 2005. The TA-100 has dropped to where it was four years ago - after losing half its value since the beginning of the year.

Thousands of Iraqis protest in Baghdad against US military pact
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/22/2008
BAGHDAD: Thousands of Shiite followers of the firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gathered in Baghdad on Friday to protest a security accord that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq until 2011. The crowds swarmed into central Baghdad’s Firdoos Square, where a statue of executed President Saddam Hussein was torn down by US troops a few weeks after the March 2003 invasion that toppled him. The protestors hung an effigy of US President George W. Bush carrying a suitcase labeled "security agreement" from the abstract statue that now stands in the center of the square. A sign pinned to the effigy - which was later pelted with plastic bottles and torched along with US and British flags - reflected the mood of the protestors: "The security agreement is shameful and humiliating. " The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), approved by the Iraqi Cabinet on Sunday after nearly a year. . .

Shi’ites gather in Baghdad to protest US-Iraq pact
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/21/2008
Thousands of followers of Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr converged on a central Baghdad square Friday for a mass prayer to protest a proposed US-Iraqi security pact. The demonstrators waved Iraqi flags and green Shi’ite banners, chanting, "No, no to the American agreement!" and, "No, no to the agreement of humiliation!" Iraq’s parliament is expected to vote Monday on the plan to keep US forces in Iraq for another three years. But the noisy opposition by the Sadrists indicates that even if it is approved, the deal could remain divisive in a country struggling for reconciliation. Opponents view the security deal as a surrender to US interests despite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi’ite, saying the pact would eventually lead to full sovereignty. "Let the government know that America is and will not be of any use to us because it is the enemy of Islam,". . .

’Aides say Clinton decided to accept secretary of state position’ Staff And Ap, Jerusalem Post 11/22/2008
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to accept the position of secretary of state under president-elect Barack Obama and give up her Senate seat, two confidants were quoted as saying by the New York Times on Friday. Reportedly, one of the confidants explained that Clinton came to the decision after discussing with Obama "the nature of her role and his plans for foreign policy. "Another Clinton associate told the Times that her camp believes they have a done deal. The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the report, and although spokesmen for both Obama and Clinton confirmed serious discussions were underway, they said the position had yet to be formally accepted.

Report: Hillary Clinton accepts US secretary of state post
News agencies, YNetNews 11/21/2008
New York Times quotes associates as saying senator has accepted Obama’s offer to become top US diplomat. ’She’s ready,’ one of them says - New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has accepted an offer from President-elect Barack Obama to become US Secretary of state, the New York Times said on Friday, quoting two Clinton associates. "She’s ready," one of the sources told the newspaper, which said Clinton came to her decision after additional discussions with Obama about the nature of her role as the top US diplomat and his plans for foreign policy. Democratic Party sources have said Clinton was on track to be nominated, with an official announcement expected after the Nov. 27 Thanksgiving holiday. Clinton has been rumored for weeks to be the top candidate for the job and has been going through an extensive vetting process by the Obama transition team, along with her husband and former president Bill Clinton.

Inside Iraq: security pact
Al Jazeera 11/21/2008
After months of stalemate, painstaking negotiations, and political poker play, the US and Iraq have finally agreed on a definite date - to end the US-led occupation of Iraq by 2011. Iraqi negotiators consider the firm withdrawal date a victory after the outgoing Bush administration had long insisted it would rely on conditions on the ground rather than be tied down to a timetable. Senior US military officials, on the other hand, have been quoted as privately criticising US President George Bush for giving Iraq more control over American military operations for the next three years than it had contemplated. Some critics say Bush gave in to Iraqi demands to avoid leaving the decisions to his successor, President-elect Barack Obama However, the security agreement approved by the Iraqi Cabinet by a resounding majority last week could still be derailed by the Iraqi parliament.

Thousands of Iraqis protest US military pact
Middle East Online 11/21/2008
BAGHDAD - Thousands of Iraqis, mainly Shiite followers of the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, gathered in Baghdad Friday to protest a security accord that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq until 2011. The crowds swarmed into central Baghdad’s Firdoos Square, where a large statue of executed President Saddam Hussein was torn down by US troops a few weeks after the March 2003 invasion. The protestors hung an effigy of US President George W. Bush carrying a suitcase labelled "security agreement" from the abstract statue that now stands in the center of the square. A sign pinned to the effigy reflected the mood of the protestors, "The security agreement is shameful and humiliating. " The agreement, which was approved by the Iraqi cabinet on Sunday after nearly a year of hard-nosed negotiations, would govern the status of some 150,000 US at the end of the year.

Iraqis hold protest against US pact
Al Jazeera 11/21/2008
Thousands of followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, a prominent Shia leader, have protested in central Baghdad against a security pact with the United States. The deal, which was signed by US and Iraqi officials earlier this week and is currently being debated by parliament, would allow US forces to stay in Iraq for another three years. Demonstrators waved Iraqi flags and green Shia banners while chanting "No, no to the American agreement’’ and "No, no to the agreement of humiliation" following Friday prayers. The protest was held on Friday in Firdous Square, where US marines tore down a statue of Saddam Hussein during the US-led invasion in 2003. In Video Iraqis protest security actOrganisers placed an effigy of George Bush, the US president, holding a sign that said "the security agreement.

No post-withdrawal guarantees
Salah Hemeid, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/20/2008
Iraq’s security pact with Washington hardly signals an end to the country’s woes. After months of tireless negotiations, tough bargaining and countless drafts, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker signed a security pact on Monday that will allow thousands of US troops to stay in the country until the end of 2011. The signing took place a day after the Iraqi cabinet approved the deal. The agreement has been hailed by both Baghdad’s government and the Bush administration as a "historic" deal, necessary to help sustain stability and security until Iraq is able to build its own army and police force. Officially renamed the Agreement on the Withdrawal of US Troops instead of the original Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), it determines the role of US military forces after their UN mandate expires on 31 December.


Gaza’s hospitals struggle to save lives amid Israeli siege
Rami Almeghari writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 11/21/2008
      Over the past two weeks, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have faced a sharply deteriorating humanitarian situation as Israel further tightened its closure of the border crossings. Virtually no food, medicine or other vital supplies have been allowed in to the territory that is home to 1.5 million people. The impact of the siege is most directly observed in Gaza’s health sector. Despite desperately needed medication, equipment, supplies, and spare parts, doctors continue to try to save lives and look after their patients at the European Gaza Hospital, one of territory’s largest medical centers.
     Dr. Zaki Azzaq Zouq, an oncologist, explained, "There is a widespread shortage of essential medicines which we used to give to patients prior to the blockade. Currently, there are no tools for physicians to treat patients who suffer from lung, stomach, colon or brain cancers."
     The situation is just as dire in Gaza’s other hospitals. Unable to get life-saving treatments close to home, Israel also prevents patients from Gaza leaving the tiny coastal territory to receive medical care. Nael Alfaqawi, 28, has kidney problems, but was denied entry to Israel so he could seek treatment abroad. Instead, he is now being treated at the Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza.

''Tales from Gaza'': Dr. Mustafa Barghouti and Mairead Maguire returns from the Strip and call for international solidarity with the Palestinian people

Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 11/21/2008
      Ramallah, 20-11-08: Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, held today a joint press conference with Mairead Maguire, the Irish Nobel Peace Laureate. Late October, they both were member of the crew of the SS Dignity, the second boat that sailed and broke the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.
     The deputy and the peace activist reported what they witnessed in Gaza, as the Strip being totally isolated from media coverage and the rest of the world, tales from the grounds are rare.
     The deputy emphasized on the importance of a international solidarity movement that supports the Palestinian people as a whole, as Palestinians are suffering from occupation conditions whether they are living in the West Bank, Gaza or Jerusalem.
     During her stay in Palestine, Mrs. Maguire was invited by Dr. Barghouthi to discover –in order to witness- the multiple aspects of the Palestinian peaceful resistance, by supporting the popular resistance against the apartheid wall along with Ni’lin residents, house demolitions in Jerusalem, or the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as a result of the siege.

Only feeble protest over family’s eviction

Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada 11/21/2008
      The middle-of-the-night eviction last week of an elderly Palestinian couple from their home in East Jerusalem to make way for Jewish settlers is a demonstration of Israeli intent towards a future peace deal with the Palestinians.
     Mohammed and Fawziya Khurd are now on the street, living in a tent, after Israeli police enforced a court order issued in July to expel them.
     The couple have been living in the same property in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood since the mid-1950s, when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control. The United Nations allotted them the land after they were expelled from their homes in territory that was seized by Israel during the 1948 war.
     Since East Jerusalem’s occupation by Israel in 1967, however, Jewish settler groups have been waging a relentless battle for the Khurds’ home, claiming that the land originally belonged to Jews.
     In 1999, the settlers occupied a wing of the house belonging to the couple’s son, Raed, though the courts subsequently ruled in favor of the family. The eviction order against the settlers, unlike that against the Khurds, was never enforced.

Bearing out the betrayal

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/20/2008
      Hassan Karim, 34, has been making the rounds of real estate offices in the hope of finding an apartment to rent in the western part of Gaza city. He is doing all in his power to move out of the Shajaiya neighbourhood in the eastern part of the city where he and his family currently live. It has become too risky to stay there now that the Israelis have reverted to attacking border areas of Gaza adjacent to Israel. "It took a full year for my daughters to recover from the trauma they experienced from the quaking of our house during the last wave of Israeli bombardments," he told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that one of his daughters feared that if they remained where they lived under those conditions she would suffer a nervous breakdown.
     The staff in the real estate office said that hundreds of people living in the eastern part of the city have been making inquiries into the availability of apartments in the western districts, which are regarded as somewhat safer. The rise in cross-border assaults by Israeli death squads targeting Palestinian militants guarding the roads leading to residential quarters has triggered growing alarm among people in Gaza. An eerie suspense prevails as pilotless Israeli reconnaissance planes constantly patrol the skies, relaying back to IDF headquarters images of the damage caused by the strikes and gathering intelligence on the movements of Palestinian resistance forces.

Come January

Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/20/2008
      Hamas is determined that if Mahmoud Abbas is to remain president beyond 9 January 2009, it is only through "a package agreement".
     Moussa Abu Marzouk Moussa Abu Marzouk, the Damascus-based deputy chief of the Hamas politburo, is non-committal about the fate of Palestinian national reconciliation talks that were called off before they began in Cairo earlier this month. He is, however, clear about one thing: on 9 January the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah and an angry adversary of Hamas, ends. Any attempt to extend it by force, direct or indirect, will create a serious political problem on the Palestinian scene -- much serious than what has been unfolding over the past two years of animosity between Hamas and Fatah.
     Intimating Hamas’s possible reaction, "Yes, we could have two presidents," Abu Marzouk stated in his Damascus residence this week.
     For Hamas, and some argue for the Islamic Jihad and other Islamist and leftist Palestinian factions, Abbas will automatically lose his legitimacy on 9 January. "Any attempt to re-interpret Palestinian basic law to extend his term in office would be simply void of legitimacy. We will not acknowledge him as a president one day beyond 9 January. So he has [less than two months] to go," Abu Marzouk said.

The gas conundrum

Sherine Nasr, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/20/2008
      Time will only tell what effect this week’s court ruling freezing Egyptian gas exports to Israel will imply, reports The Cairo Administrative Court ordered a halt on Egyptian gas exports to Israel on Tuesday.
     The ruling came in favour of former diplomat Ibrahim Yosri and members of the opposition who filed the case a few months ago as public criticism against a 15-year gas export deal with Israel was mounting.
     "National resources belong to current and future generations and the executive must first get parliament’s approval on gas export deals," AFP quoted a source at the court as saying.
     But before the ink had dried, the state’s Cases Authority yesterday announced that it was taking the necessary procedures to appeal against the Administrative Court’s earlier ruling.
     Ibrahim Yosri’s lawsuit, filed in May 2008, is one of some other six cases raised against the Egyptian government and the Ministry of Petroleum to stop decision 100/2004 which allowed Egypt to pump Egyptian gas to Israel starting May 2008. The Egyptian government has been under fire since then as opposition parties and members of the People’s Assembly described the deal as corrupt and unfair.

Assassination as Official Israeli Policy

Stephen Lendman – Chicago, Palestine Chronicle 11/20/2008
      ’Just war principles rule out gratuitous violence, assassinations ..’
     Extra-judicial killings are indefensible, morally abhorrent, and illegal under international laws and norms. Article 23b of the 1907 Hague Regulations prohibits "assassination, proscription, or outlawry of an enemy, or putting a price upon an enemy’s head, as well as offering a reward for any enemy ’dead or alive.’ "
     Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." UDHR also recognizes the "inherent dignity (and the) equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family."
     So do "just war" principles that rule out gratuitous violence, assassinations, especially if premeditated, war against civilians, and so on, despite the difficulties of distinguishing between combatants, those who’ve laid down their arms, and the innocent in times of war - let alone dealing with "terrorism" or what one analyst calls the "twilight zone between war and peace." Others say it’s justifiable resistance or "blowback" in response to state-sponsored violence and other crimes of war and against humanity.

Journalists shouldn’t

Hussain Abdul-Hussain, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/20/2008
      Syrian propaganda is behind stories of Lebanese terror in Syria, and some journalists are playing along.
     Seymour Hersh, investigative reporter with The New Yorker, concluded a two-week trip to Damascus during the first half of October, according to The Guardian. The British daily reported that Hersh was in the process of writing a piece on Syria, yet one can only wonder what Hersh will reveal this time, more than a year after publishing one of his most uninformed pieces on terrorism in Lebanon.
     Hersh’s expected report fits perfectly, with or without his knowledge, into a concerted Syrian propaganda campaign to prove that Saudi-funded terrorism is taking hold of northern Lebanon and, consequently, spilling over to Syria. The Syrian campaign started in early September when President Bashar Al-Assad, upon receiving his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, accused unnamed Arab countries of instigating terrorist groups in northern Lebanon. For this purpose, Al-Assad called on his Lebanese counterpart Michel Suleiman to deploy Lebanese army units north.

Invisible casualties of war

Ramzy Baroud, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/20/2008
      Women may not be regularly fixtures of the front line but inevitably they form the bulk of the victims of any conflict.
     Qurban-Bibi and Nahil Abu Rada are two women, one Afghan, the other Palestinian, whose tragic plight has made news. Their losses also help delineate the plight of millions of other women in war zones and poor countries.
     The United Nations news service reported on the troubles of Qurban-Bibi, a pregnant woman who needed to reach a hospital. Doctors had instructed that she must deliver in an equipped medical facility. Her desperately poor family opted for a delivery at home, citing the unaffordable taxi ride. The woman almost bled to death. When the delivery went wrong the family rushed her to Faizabad hospital in a nearby province. Her life was saved but not that of her baby.

Gazans Resist by Surviving

Ramzi Kysia - Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 11/20/2008
      ’The greatest act of nonviolent resistance in Gaza has been simply surviving.’
     "I will send fire upon the walls of Gaza’" -- Amos 1:7 In a small cafe in Gaza City, Amjad Shawa, the coordinator for the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), sips black coffee and ruminates on the Israeli blockade of Gaza. "This siege isn’t about ’security’ or even about Hamas," he says. "Israel’s ultimate aim is to separate Gaza from the West Bank and kill the Palestinian national project."
     The Gaza Strip, a 25-mile-long narrow coastal plain wedged between Israel and Egypt, is home to 1.5 million Palestinians. Despite its small size, Gaza in many ways encapsulates the essence of two of the world’s major conflicts: the rise of political Islam and the use by the West of collective punishment and economic coercion as a brutal counterweight.
     Since Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006, Israel has subjected Gaza to an increasingly severe blockade. In June 2007, after Hamas defeated militants aligned with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and forcibly asserted control of Gaza, Israel tightened the blockade to include everything except occasional deliveries of humanitarian goods. The local economy has shattered as a result, leading to steep increases in unemployment, poverty and childhood malnutrition rates.

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