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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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25 November, 200

UN General Assembly president calls for boycott of Israel
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 11/25/2008
After his controversial embrace with Iran’s Ahmadinejad, UN General Assembly president sparks Jerusalem’s ire once more after calling for international boycott on Israel - WASHINGTON -Israel filed a formal complaint with the United Nations on Tuesday over statements made by UN General Assembly President, Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, who called for an international boycott of Israel after accusing it of being an apartheid regime. D’Escoto went on to decry the plight of the Palestinians, describing the failure to create a Palestinian state as "the single greatest failure in the history of the United Nations. " The United Nations is currently marking its annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which is set on the anniversary of the 1947 date it adopted Resolution 181, calling for the partition of the land under British control into two states - Jewish and Arab.

Israeli reseals Gaza Crossings
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/25/2008
Israeli sources reported that Israel sealed the Gaza Strip crossings once again on Tuesday after claiming that two homemade shells were fired on Sunday at an Israeli area adjacent to the Gaza Strip. On Monday Israel allowed 42 trucks filled with humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip and some foreign media agencies were allowed into the coastal region. Yet, media blackouts imposed by Israel remains in effect. Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said that the crossings leading to Gaza were closed "due to security concerns", and added that media outlets would not be allowed into Gaza because "Israel does not want to take responsibility for the safety of the reporters". Olmert is currently in an official visit to Washington.

US National Lawyers Guild Calls for Freedom of Dweik, Sa’adat
Palestine Media Center – PMC, Palestine Media Center 11/25/2008
The US National Lawyers Guild called for the freedom of Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian political prisoners held in the jails of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on the occasion of the November 25, 2008 meeting of the Israeli military trial against Sa’adat. DPA reported Monday that an IOF trial of the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Abdelaziz Dweik, scheduled for Tuesday in the IOF detention center of Ofer west of the West Bank city of Ramallah, was again delayed. Israel currently holds over 11,000 Palestinian men, women and children as political prisoners. Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), has been imprisoned by Israel for over two and one-half years, after being abducted from the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) prison at Jericho on March 14, 2006 during a 10-hour siege by the IOF.

Palestinians petition to dismantle Amona
Dan Izenberg And Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
The issue of Amona returned to the High Court of Justice on Tuesday, when 10 Palestinian farmers who own land on the site of the illegal outpost filed a petition, demanding that the government evict the 40 families living on the outskirts of Ofra. "This petition involves an illegal site which was established without permission and in gross violation of the law," wrote the petitioners’ attorney, Michael Sfard. "The site includes a large number of mobile structures, a number of wooden structures, sheds, agricultural storehouses and one stone building. The trespassers on the petitioners’ land declared that it was a settlement named Amona without a permit and in violation of the law. "Sfard also accused the legal authorities of doing nothing to prevent the illegal takeover. "The earthwork to level the ground, the laying of the infrastructure, the fencing of the outpost and its. . .

Israeli forces destroy Palestinian greenhouses and farms in Gaza
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/25/2008
Local sources report that a group of Israeli-armored bulldozers and tanks invaded the al-Fukhari neighborhood east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Tuesday morning, and bulldozed a number of farms. According to eyewitnesses, the bulldozers crushed a number of Palestinian greenhouses and razed potato fields belonging to Palestinian farmers. The invasion was the first in several days, after a calm that followed a two week assault on all parts of Gaza. That assault threatened to break a ceasefire that had allegedly been in place for three months (Israeli forces had violated the ceasefire dozens of times, but the two week assault was the first flagrant violation). The local sources reported that nine tanks and two bulldozers invaded the neighborhood at dawn, with the soldiers firing machine guns from the tanks.

Piracy in the Red Sea: Saudi points towards Israel
Habib Trabelsi – PARIS, Middle East Online 11/25/2008
Columnists fear that a plan is underway for ‘internationalization’ of security in the Red Sea. - Not only do columnists and analysts openly accuse Israel of sponsoring acts of piracy that multiply off Somali waters, but they also do not hide their fears of an internationalization of security in the Red Sea, where Israel plays a decisive role. “What is happening in the Horn of Africa is not a simple case of piracy. These acts of piracy raise various questions about the capabilities and equipment of simple outlaws who are seeking ransoms,” wrote Tuesday (November 25) Nawaf Al-Meshal Sabhan in the Saudi daily Al-Iqtissadia. “These acts triggered statements on the internationalization of the Red Sea, in which the enemy state of Israel would be a crucial element,” he adds. “Who has got an interest in such an internationalization? ” Asks the analyst, echoing “another disturbing development represented by the decision of a shipping company (AP Moller-Maersk, the world’s largest. . .

Gaza power plant shuts down in spite of fuel shipment
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Gaza – Ma’an/Agencies – The Gaza Strip’s sole power plant shut down on Tuesday afternoon, a day after Israel allowed a crucial shipment of fuel into the besieged territory. Energy officials said plant’s electricity-generating units broke down because of frequent shutdowns. The plant has been forced to close down several times in two weeks because Israel refuses to allow regular shipments of industrial fuel. There are also no spare parts available in Gaza to repair the generators. Kanan Ubeid, the assistant director of the Palestinian Energy Authority said refuses to allow in the necessary parts and the plant cannot restart without them. " The shutdown means that Gaza was plunged into darkness even sooner than expected. It also means that more pressure will be placed on the electricity grid bringing power overland from Israel and Egypt.

Israel tanks invade east of Khan Younis
Palestinian Information Center 11/25/2008
JABALIYA, (PIC)-- A number of Israeli tanks and bulldozers invaded Tuesday morning east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, and destroyed Palestinian agricultural lands. Palestinian eyewitnesses told the PIC that about seven tanks and a number of bulldozers stormed the Fakhari area in Khan Younis and flattened vast tracts of agricultural land. In another development and during a ceremony held to honor the families of Palestinian martyrs, MP Fathi Hammad that his Movement would remain adherent to the path of resistance until the liberation of the whole Palestinian land. Hammad highlighted that Al-Qassam Brigades would enhance its battle against the Israeli occupation, warning that the Grad rockets would be ready to teach Israel unforgettable lessons if it persisted in its aggression on the Palestinian people.

Shortages force Gaza residents to return to basic living
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Gaza Strip residents have been reduced to primitive ways of living in order to cope with the basic necessity shortages they have been experiencing since the Israeli siege began in June 2007. Gazans waiting in long lines for hours to buy bread at the bakery have become a familiar scene. The same goes for residents waiting at the store to purchase candles or pharmacy to attain headache pills used to cope with the loud roar of the electric generators. To deal with the lack of kerosene, Gazans are adding white salt to diesel smuggled in from Egypt through underground tunnels, in order to light old kerosene lamps. Falafel restaurants are only able to operate once a day (either in the morning or at night) in order avoid wasting gas. The residential towers in the Gaza Strip witness daily fights between guards and residents over the elevator’s inability to operate with electricity interruptions and cuts.

ISM Gaza Strip: Shots against farmers and internationals in Al Faraheen
International Solidarity Movement 11/25/2008
Gaza Region - In the morning of Sunday the 23rd of November, several international human rights observers accompanied Palestinian farmers to plough their field close to the green line, in the village of Al Faraheen, east of Khan Younis. At about 10 o’ clock Israeli soldiers behind the fence started to shoot. A tank could also be seen moving in the area behind the fence. The international HROs used their megaphones to communicate the international presence and to demand that the shooting cease immediately. The Palestinian farmers decided to postpone the work. The international HROs remained in their positions till the moment that it seemed that the shooting has stopped. Then they accompanied the Palestinian farmers towards their houses. At some point there was some more shots, probably against one of the Palestinian residents who had left the group, following the path to his house, cross the field.

Gazan fishermen protest for their rights
International Solidarity Movement 11/25/2008
Gaza Region - Photos - Monday 24th November, 2008 - Gaza City - The ISM Gaza Strip team joined over 50 Palestinian fishermen on a demonstration to call for an end to the siege of Gaza - both on the land and in the sea. As Israel’s stranglehold tightens day by day, Gazan fishermen and farmers struggle to provide a local food source for a population under siege. This is in the face of arbitrary restrictions imposed on them by Israeli occupation forces. Israel has declared a six-mile limit on the Gazan fishing zone, contrary to prior agreements and international regulations. This limit is dictated solely by the gun and Gazan fishermen endure daily aggression from Israeli naval gunboats, resulting in injuries and damage to their boats. 15 fishermen have been killed by the Israeli navy since 2000. The fishermen also protested against the abduction of 15 of their colleagues from. . .

Fuel allowed in Gaza generates electricity for 30 hours only
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/25/2008
Palestinian petroleum officials in Gaza announced on Tuesday that the quantities of fuel, Israel allowed in yesterday, can generate electricity for 30 hours only. Mahmoud Alkhuzendar, chairman of the fuel stations society in Gaza, called on Israel to allow larger quantities, saying the crisis would surely persist unless the needed quantities are allowed in. Alkhuzendar warned of much bigger crisis in Gaza, especially Israel did not allow any other type of fuel such as Benzene or gasoline or cooking gas. Following three weeks of restrictive Israeli closure of border crossings, Israel reopened temporarily three of Gaza crossings, allowing some food and medicine shipments as well as nearly 53,000 gallons of crude industrialized fuel to generate electricity as many parts of Gaza suffer prolonged blackouts.

Israel postpones trial of a Palestinian leader
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/25/2008
An Israeli military court postponed on Tuesday trial of the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmad Sa’adat, who has been jailed by Israel for the past two years. Sa’adat was accused by Israel of orchestrating the assassination attempt of late Israeli tourism minister, Rahb’am Zaivi, in response to the Israeli army assassination of former PFLP leader Abu Ali Mustafa in the West Bank city of Nablus in the same time period. The Israeli army arrested Sa’adat and other Palestinians after attacking the Palestinian Authority-run jail of Jericho in the Jericho city in March 2006. By then, Sa’adat and other Palestinians accused by Israel were jailed under British and American supervision, within an Israeli-Palestinian deal. Noteworthy, Sa’adat has been a Palestinian Member of Parliament since 2006 and his trial has been delayed several times by Israel since he was jailed.

PFLP holds rallies in support of jailed leader Sa’dat
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza rallied in support of Ahmad Sa’dat, the jailed leader of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Sa’dat’s deputy, Abd-Ar-Rahim Mallouh addressed a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah, saying that prisoners in Israeli jails should be viewed as freedom fighters. He said Israel’s maltreatment of prisoners amounts to “state terrorism. ”Sa’dat was locked in a Palestinian Authority (PA) prison in Jericho when Israeli forces seized him in 2006. The PA imprisoned him in 2002, following the PFLP’s assassination of the Israeli tourism minister and right-wing figure Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001. “The Palestinian Authority, resistance factions, organizations and average citizens must stand to protect what prisoners have been imprisoned for and what historic leaders such as [PFLP founder] George Habash,. . .

Bardawil: Israeli trial of Hamas lawmakers is purely political
Palestinian Information Center 11/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, the spokesman for the Hamas parliamentary bloc, strongly denounced the Israeli trial of two Hamas lawmakers Mahmoud Al-Khatib and Nayef Al-Rajoub on Monday, considering it a purely political trial aimed at removing the Movement from the political arena. In a press statement received by the PIC, Dr. Bardawil said that his Movement rejects everything decided by the Israeli courts, highlighting the parliamentary immunity enjoyed by the Palestinian lawmakers imprisoned in Israeli jails. For its part, the Hamas-affiliated change and reform bloc said that the trials conducted by Israel against the imprisoned lawmakers are groundless and lack legal basis. The bloc underlined that the kidnapping and holding hostage of one third of PLC members for nearly 30 months exposed the democracy which Israel brags about, adding that Israel is no longer able to. . .

Report: Only 6% of abuse claims against IDF lead to charges
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
Just 6 percent of the 1,246 investigations opened by the military police regarding offenses against Palestinians and Palestinian property in the territories during the first seven years of the second intifada have led to indictments, according to a report to be released today by the human rights organization Yesh Din. The report, which bases its data on information provided by the military prosecution, also found that although some 2,000 Palestinian civilian noncombatants were killed by Israel Defense Forces fire during that time, according to human rights groups (defense officials say the number is far lower), only five soldiers and officers have been convicted of killing civilians, four of them on negligence charges. A total of 13 have been indicted. "A soldier who hits a bound Palestinian detainee or shoots an unarmed civilian knows the chances he will. . .

Olmert hints: No forced evacuation of Hebron house; Barak to review army
Aluf Benn and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hinted yesterday that the government will not forcibly evacuate settlers from the so-called "House of Contention" in Hebron, but will instead settle for preventing settler attacks on their Palestinian neighbors. Speaking with reporters during his trip to Washington, Olmert said: "I read the High Court of Justice’s decision closely. It ordered the house’s occupants to vacate within three days, and if they do not, [it said], the government will have to do so. But it did not explicitly order the government to do so. There is something less than completely unequivocal in the wording the court chose. "However, he added, "The repeated attacks on Palestinian civilians and property are clearly intolerable, and we will have to act against them with full force.

Al-Kurd Family Becomes Symbol of Palestinian Struggle
Palestine Media Center – PMC, Palestine Media Center 11/24/2008
Mohammad al-Kurd, 62, also known as abu-Kamal, the father of a Palestinian family who were evicted from their home in East Jerusalem on November 9 by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) died at the weekend of sorrow after his family’s eviction from the house where they had lived for more than 50 years. Abu-Kamal, a 1948 refugee from Jaffa, left behind his wife Fawzieh al-Kurd (umm-Kamal), five children and their families. Al-Khad for weeks been hospitalized due to diabetes and related health problems. People around him for the last couple of months stated that before the evacuation of his family from their home in Sheikh Jarrah, he was in a better condition than he had been for a long time. However, the Israeli authority’s forceful evacuation of him and his family from their house, where they had been. . .

US court jails leaders of Islamic charity
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/26/2008
DALLAS, Texas: The leaders of what was once the largest Muslim charity in the United States were found guilty late on Monday of acting as a front for Palestinian militants in the largest terrorism financing prosecution in American history. The verdict gave a rare victory to the White House’s legal "war on terror" and comes after a mistrial was declared last year in the case involving the now defunct Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, charged with funneling $12 million to Hamas. Family members could be heard sobbing in the Dallas courtroom as guilty verdicts were read on all 108 charges of providing material support to "terrorists," money laundering and tax fraud. One woman cried out: "My dad is not a criminal! He’s a human!" Holy Land was one of several Muslim organizations the Bush administration closed in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks for allegedly raising money for overseas Islamic extremists.

Muslim charity in US ’guilty of funneling $12m. to Hamas’
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
A Muslim charity and five of its former leaders were convicted Monday of funneling millions of dollars to Hamas, finally handing the government a signature victory in its fight against terrorism funding. US District Judge Jorge A. Solis announced the guilty verdicts on all 108 counts on the eighth day of deliberations in the retrial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, once the nation’s largest Muslim charity. It was the biggest terrorism financing case since the attacks of Sept. 11. "Money is the lifeblood of terrorists, plain and simple," US Attorney Richard Roper said. "The jury’s decision attacks terrorism at its core. " The convictions follow the collapse of Holy Land’s first trial last year and defeats in other cases the government tried to build. President George W Bush had personally announced the freezing of Holy Land’s assets in 2001, calling the action "another step in the war on terrorism. "

Texas-based Muslim foundation convicted of ’supporting Hamas’
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Dallas, Texas federal jury found a large Islamic charity and five of its former employees guilty on all 108 charges related to channeling more than 12 million US dollars to Hamas on Monday. The Texas-based Holy Land Foundation was the largest Islamic charity in the US and one of several Muslim organizations the Bush administration closed in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks for allegedly funneling money to overseas Islamic organizations. After the verdict, the men were detained until sentencing. "This prosecution demonstrates our resolve to ensure that humanitarian relief efforts are not used as a mechanism to disguise and enable support for terrorist groups," said Patrick Rowan, assistant attorney general for national security said in a statement highlighting the verdict as a victory for the outgoing Bush White House.

Israeli military invades Jenin, erects a checkpoint in another area
International Middle East Media Center News 11/25/2008
Israeli military invaded on Tuesday the West Bank city of Jenin and erected a checkpoint on the entrance of the Yamoun town. Witnesses said that a large Israeli military contingent invaded the Jenin city, deploying soldiers in many streets amidst a barrage of heavy gun fire and sound grenades firing. In the Yamoun town, near Jenin, the Israeli soldiers erected a checkpoint and begam searching passing cars and residents. [end]

Jewish Agency panel urges sweeping changes to improve lives of new Ethiopian immigrants
Vered Lee, Ha’aretz 11/25/2008
A Jewish Agency panel on Tuesday recommended a series of sweeping internal changes intended to improve the lives of immigrants residing in a state-run absorption center in the Jezreel Valley. The recommendations, which the panel expects to be implemented immediately, were made in specific reference to the absorption center at Kibbutz Beit Alfa, in the Jezreel Valley. Earlier this month, 120 people from the center - mostly Ethiopian immigrants - set up a permanent protest vigil opposite the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem to complain that life in the center, situated five kilometers from the kibbutz, offers no employment opportunities. The immigrants complained that the meager stipends and the distance of the kibbutz from industrial centers have brought them to penury.

Israel to expel 2,000 Africans refugees who fled to Eilat
Ruth Sinai, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
The Interior Ministry has decided to expel from Eilat some 2,000 asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea, and prohibit them from working if they do not hold work permits. They are among some 11,000 asylum seekers in Israel who will continue to live in the country since they are exempt from deportation while the United Nations decides whether to recognize them as refugees, though they will not be able to earn money legally. Human rights groups condemned the "Interior Ministry’s unrestrained conduct" Tuesday. "This draconian decision contravenes international and Israeli law on impairing basic human rights, and prevents healthy and industrious people from having the possibility of earning their own livelihood," several groups involved in protecting migrants’ rights said in a joint statement.

Israeli forces detain four civilians in the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained four civilians across the West Bank at dawn on Tuesday. Israeli sources claimed that the four are from the list of “wanted” resistance fighters in Bethlehem, Hebron and Qalqilia, and confirmed that they have been been taken in for interrogation. [end]

Eight treated for possible poisoning in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Eight residents of the West Bank city of Nablus were treated for possible poisoning on Tueday, medics said. Sources in the Palestine Red Crescent society in Nablus confirmed that medical staff transferred transported eight people for severe diarrhea and abdominal pain to the National Hospital in Nablus. The eight are members of the Ad-Dala and Muna families from the Old City in Nablus. Dozens of others have been treated for poisoning from the same neighborhood in the last few days, causing speculation of water pollution. The Nablus municipality however says that the water is clean and that the cases of illness in the area are unrelated to the water supply.

Palestine Today 112508
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 11/25/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 30s || 3. 22 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Tuesday November 25 2008 Petroleum officials in Gaza complained today that the fuel allowed by Israel yesterday was not enough to generate electricity as other types of fuel are still lacking in the Strip. This news and more are coming up, stay tuned. Mr. Mahmoud Alkhuzendar, head of the petroleum stations society in Gaza , announced today that nearly 53,000 gallons of crude oil , Israel allowed in yesterday only generates electricity for 30 hours. Alkhuzendar added that other needed types of fuel like cooking gas, Benzene or gasoline are still lacking in the Strip for three weeks now. In the West Bank, Israeli military invaded today the Jenin city and deployed soldiers in many streets, with no causalities or arrests reported.

Egypt deploys 400 policemen along Rafah crossing
Palestinian Information Center 11/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hebrew radio reported that the Egyptian authorities on Monday deployed 400 additional policemen along the Rafah border crossing lest it is breached by the besieged Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. This deployment happened in light of the suffocating Israeli siege imposed on Gaza and the UN warnings of an imminent humanitarian disaster if Israel continued to close the crossings. The Hebrew radio also said Tuesday that amid complete secrecy, a high-ranking US security delegation accompanied by Egyptian officers visited and inspected on Monday the Egyptian side of borders with Gaza and the Rafah crossing. John Ging, the director of UNRWA operations, had stated Monday that the people of Gaza are in not in need of words of sympathy but rather need tangible action. The Israeli Haaretz newspaper said Tuesday that the Israeli government softened its position. . .

Qassam fired from Gaza
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 11/25/2008
Ceasefire broken once again as rocket lands in Eshkol Regional Council; no injuries or damage reported -Despite attempts at prolonging the ceasefire with Hamas, a Qassam rocket was fired Tuesday from the southern Gaza Strip. The rocket fell near a kibbutz in Eshkol Regional Council, near the border fence. No injuries or damage were reported. In response to the fire Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced that the border crossings into the Strip would remain closed on Wednesday. On Monday Barak addressed the issue of the fragile ceasefire in a speech before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "In the months before the truce there were 500 incidents of high-trajectory fire every month. Since the beginning of the lull, we’ve had about 10 such incidents a month," he said, adding that "I don’t regret one month of calm.

Egypt parliament warns of heavily armed Beduin
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
The Egyptian parliament’s defense committee says the situation at the border with Israel is dangerous because of heavily armed Beduin and police inability to control smuggling tunnels. The state-owned Al-Gomhuria daily, in its early Wednesday edition, said committee members warned parliament of increased smuggling operations through the tunnels and the unrestricted spread of weapons among the Beduin. The committee which visited northern Sinai after last week’s violent clashes between angry Bedouin and police said the situation "threatens Egypt’s national security at the borders with Israel. " The clashes flared last week after police killed a Beduin smuggler. Three more Bedouin died in the subsequent fighting.

Palestinian fighters ’shell Israeli position’ from Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian fighters said they shelled an Israeli special forces position east of Al-Maghazi Refugee Camp, midway down the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday morning. The An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, said they fired four mortar shells at the post at dawn. The group said the shelling was in retaliation for “ongoing Israeli atrocities in Gaza and the West Bank. ”[end]

Israel asks Bush to explain its ’special relationship’ with U.S. to Obama
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
WASHINGTON - Israel is asking U. S. President George W. Bush to describe to his successor, Barack Obama, the American commitment to ensure that its strategic deterrence is not compromised. The subject was the focus of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s farewell meeting in the White House on Monday with Bush and top administration officials. "I discussed with the president and his most senior staff issues connected to the core of the special relationship between Israel and the U. S. , strategic matters of the utmost importance, and the ability to preserve those ties in the coming years," Olmert told reporters Tuesday. Top administration officials told Olmert there was no point in a presidential letter from Bush, since it would not bind Obama. The sides decided instead on a list, compiled by the White House and delivered to Obama’s transition team, that reviews all understandings and agreements.

General Assembly President: Lack of Palestinian State ‘Single Greatest Failure’ in United Nations History
United Nations, Palestine Media Center 11/25/2008
Committee on the Inalienable Righ of the Palestinian People - 314th Meeting (AM) November 24, 2008 - General Assembly President Says Lack of Palestinian State ’Single Greatest Failure’ inHistory; Urges Breakthrough in Political Deadlock. After 60 years of having been deprived their basic rights, the Palestinian people deserved to make progress towards statehood in the coming year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was observed at Headquarters today. Addressing the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Mr. Ban said that "2009 must be the year that these preparations bear fruit", referring to the negotiations that had been carried on between Israelis and Palestinians since the Annapolis talks one year ago.

Text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Remarks on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
United Nations, Palestine Media Center 11/25/2008
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in New York today, 24 November: It is a pleasure to join you for this annual observance. Every year on this day, we express our solidarity with the Palestinian people. For my part as Secretary-General, I underscore my commitment to doing my utmost in the search for a just, lasting, comprehensive, and urgent settlement of the question of the Palestinians. The Palestinians have been deprived of their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination and statehood, for more than 60 years. Israelis live with an ever-present sense of insecurity. There is only one way to address such legitimate rights and fears: a peace agreement that results in an end of occupation, an end of conflict,. . .

Vision of Palestinian state ’alive’
Al Jazeera 11/25/2008
The outgoing US president has declared that the vision of a Palestinian state remains alive despite failure to achieve his goal of a Middle East peace deal this year. In farewell talks on Monday with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, George Bush reiterated that the eventual creation of a democratic Palestinian state alongside Israel would help end decades of Middle East conflict. "I believe that vision is alive and needs to be worked on," Bush told reporters as he and Olmert, who will also step down early next year, held a final meeting at the White House. The United States, Israel and the Palestinians have all acknowledged they will not have a peace accord in place before Bush makes way for Barack Obama on January 20, missing a target date set at an Annapolis peace conference a year ago.

UNGA head accuses Israel of apartheid
Allison Hoffman, Jpost Correspondent In New York, Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
A top UN official has called for "concrete action" against Israel over the country’s treatment of Palestinians. General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann said the international community should consider sanctions against Israel including "boycott, divestment and sanctions" similar to those enacted against South Africa two decades ago. D’Escoto, who told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview last month that he "loved" Israel but disagreed with its policies, reiterated in his speech Tuesday that he had "great love for the Jewish people. " But he went on to say that the Holocaust and other historical crimes against the Jews didn’t give Israel "the right to abuse others, especially those who historically have such deep and exemplary relations with the Jewish people. "

Israel closes Gaza crossings again after humanitarian supplies let in
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
Israel has closed its crossings with Gaza again because of Palestinian rocket fire at Israel, just a day after allowing vital humanitarian supplies in. Palestinian militants fired two Qassam rockets at Israel on Sunday, one on Monday and another on Tuesday, and the crossings were subsequently closed on Tuesday. Even though they were opened to allow 42 truckloads of supplies in on Monday, foreign correspondents were not allowed in. The ban on reporters has been in effect for more than two weeks. In Washington, visiting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was asked about the ban. He said, "The reason the passages are closed is completely related to security matters. . . we didn’t want to take responsibility for the safety of journalists passing through. " #newsletterLink a {text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer;} #newsletterLink. . .

Israel seals Gaza again after retaliatory rocket fire
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/26/2008
GAZA CITY: Israel again sealed the borders of the impoverished Gaza Strip on Tuesday following rocket fire, with Palestinian officials saying the territory’s sole power plant was forced to shut down because of the crippling blockade. Palestinian fighters in Gaza fired a rocket at southern Israel on Monday, causing no casualties or damage, an Israeli military spokesman said. Gaza’s power plant, which provides 25 to 30 percent of the energy used in the territory, ground to a halt on Tuesday, according to Kanaan Obeid, assistant director of the enclave’s energy authority. "Despite deliveries of fuel on Monday, the power plant stopped functioning because of breakdowns in the production units," he said. He said the frequent shutdowns of the plant caused by fuel shortages damaged parts that cannot be replaced because of the blockade.

Berri calls for unified Arab stance on Gaza siege
Daily Star correspondent, Daily Star 11/26/2008
BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri urged Arab states on Tuesday to come up with a unified stand to break the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza strip. "The atrocious Zionist siege imposed on Gaza will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe," Berri said in a statement. The speaker described Israeli tactics against Gaza as "terrorist practices par excellence. ""Exerting pressures on Palestinians in Gaza by the closing down of cargo crossings and forbidding basic supplies such as food and medication from getting through to the Palestinians is sinking too low," he added. Berri called on Arab countries to take a "unified and clear-cut stand to end the sufferings of the Palestinians in Gaza. . . Arabs should not take sides and issue a unified decision against Israeli practices. "

Jordan’s king Abdullah II: Israel’s Blockade Creates ‘Humanitarian Catastrophe’ in Gaza
Palestine Media Center – PMC, Palestine Media Center 11/25/2008
Jordan’s king Abdullah II on Sunday told a meeting of EU ambassadors to Jordan that Israel’s continue blockade creates a "humanitarian catastrophe" with destructive impact on Palestinians, according to Xinhua on Monday. He urged international community to move quickly to break the Israeli blockade and facilitate entry of humanitarian aids. The Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, called on the UN Security Council on Monday to pass a resolution that would force Israel to lift the siege it imposes on the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Jordan on Monday sent aid convoys to the Gaza Strip to help ease the suffering of Palestinians caused by the Israeli blockade, according to the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO). Secretary General of the charity group Mohammad Majid Aitan said the 10-truck convoy is laden with medicine and food.

UNRWA: Words of sympathy not enough, Gaza needs practical steps to lift siege
Palestinian Information Center 11/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- John Ging, the director of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip, has said that the people of Gaza are in not in need of words of sympathy but rather need tangible action. Ging, speaking to Al-Jazeera TV network last night, said that the closure of all Gaza crossings was "political", and described what is happening in Gaza as "shameful". He said that Israel should retain Gaza crossings completely open and not just to allow limited quantities that do not meet the people’s needs. The 30 trucks of food allowed by Israel on Tuesday constitute only 10% of UNRWA’s daily needs, Ging said, adding that the amounts were not enough to keep people alive. He explained that people in the streets of Gaza can not find bread to eat. The UNRWA official said that shortages are rampant in all foodstuffs and 70% of Gaza is without power other than the bad conditions of hospitals and potable water.

oPt: Siege is ''shameful'' and unprecedented - An appeal for action
Missionary International Service News Agency - MISNA, ReliefWeb 11/25/2008
"To leave 1. 5 million people without food, medicines, fuel and basic goods is a very harsh and unprecedented state of affairs in the history of international law", said the director of UNRWA, John Ging, to MISNA, referring to the humanitarian situation in Gaza, which has been worsening very quickly since Israel imposed a total blockade of imports last November 5. "What is happening in Gaza is shameful – said a very indignant Ging – especially for the countries of the region and the international community that are aware of the situation, doing nothing to prevent it". In the past weeks, humanitarian agencies have tried on many occasions to raise the attention of international public opinion on the tragedy that is being consumed in that stretch of land between Egypt and Israel (360 square km. of surface) and which constitutes one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Barak closes crossings and health disaster in Gaza due to chlorine depletion
Palestinian Information Center 11/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Israeli war minister Ehud Barak decided late Monday to retain the Gaza crossings closed on Tuesday at the pretext of Palestinian rocket attacks, while the popular committee against the siege warned of an imminent health disaster due to the depletion of chlorine used to disinfect drinking water. Palestinian and international officials warned that the humanitarian crisis would be aggravated if Israel continued to close the crossings. Despite the small quantities of fuel and food trucks allowed in the Gaza Strip, the humanitarian situation is worsening, where the power station and sewage treatment plants have shut down because of lack of fuel and a health disaster is looming on the horizon after chlorine pumped into water wells ran out. Dr. Bassem Naim, the health minister, said that Gaza faces a real humanitarian crisis which cannot be mitigated through such. . .

PLO Official calls on Israel to end Gaza Blockade
IMEMC & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/25/2008
An official in Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Sunday called on Israel to end the complete blockade on the narrow enclave of the Gaza Strip that has been for 18 days. Dr. Saeb Ereikat, head of negotiations’ affairs at the Palestinian Authority said in a statement that Israel should show real commitment to a mutual truce and has to be committed to ending the blockade and reopening the closed crossing points. Following the homemade shells attacks on southern Israel , the latter closed down all Gaza commercial crossing points on Nov. 15, which led the poor densely populated enclave to a real humanitarian crisis. "President Mahmoud Abbas is exerting every possible effort to reinforce the Egyptian-brokered truce which came into effect on June 19, because this would serve the national Palestinian interests," said Ereikat.

Foreign press: Israeli journalist ban ‘unacceptable’
Middle East Online 11/25/2008
TEL AVIV - The Foreign Press Association for Israel and the Palestinian territories submitted a petition to the Israeli supreme court on Monday against a defence ministry ban on entry to the Gaza Strip. The FPA, which represents resident journalists of all foreign media including AFP, sought an urgent hearing on its petition against what it described as an "unacceptable situation. " The heads of the major international media that belong to the FPA have already written a letter of protest to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert demanding free access to Gaza for journalists. Israel argues that it cannot open the crossings even to journalists because of the danger to its staff at the terminals. On Sunday, Israel prevented the Vatican’s envoy to Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco, and two priests from entering Gaza to celebrate mass.

EU gives five million Euros to help poorest refugees in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The European Union (EU) announced an additional five million Euro donation to help poor Palestinian refugee families in the Gaza Strip, the organization announced on Tuesday. The EU donation to the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) will fund cash assistance for those refugees who are unable to meet “basic minimum nutritional requirements. ”These subsidies are provided in addition to the food and cash aid these refugees receive under UNRWA’s Special Hardship Case program. The cash subsidies give families the flexibility to make purchases according to their primary needs and to increase the likelihood of their buying fresh foods. The EU is UNRWA’s largest donor for food aid and the only donor contributing to the cash component of UNRWA’s Special Hardship Case program.

oPt: On the anniversary of the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, the suffering of Gaza women doubles due to the siege and its repercussions
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - PCHR, ReliefWeb 11/25/2008
Today, 25 November, 2008, women worldwide celebrate the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, that had been officially adopted by the UN in 1999, as part of the effort exerted to eliminate violence against women, and to urge countries to take actions necessary to ensure women’s enjoyment of necessary protection. This year, on the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, the suffering of the Palestinian women continues due to the violence of the Israeli Occupation Forces and internal Palestinian violence. PCHR’s documentation during 2008 indicates that 19 Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip were by Israeli violence, including shelling; shootings and incursions. This number includes women who were killed in their homes and many cases that show Israeli disregard of the civilian life.

Palestinian journalists meet with Arab league chief in Cairo
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Cairo – Ma’an – The head of the Palestinian union of journalists, Na’im At-Tubasi on Tuesday called on the international community to intervene to lift the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. At-Tubasi headed a delegation of journalists to Egypt on Tuesday met with Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Mousa. After the meeting, At-Tubasi held a press conference during which he described the siege on Gaza as “tyrannical” as its victims are unarmed civilians, children and Palestinian institutions. At-Tubasi said the meeting addressed the dire situation of Palestinian journalists under Israeli occupation and the siege on the Gaza Strip. He described Mousa’s attitude towards the question of Palestine as “positive,” thanking him for his efforts to heal the rift between the Palestinian rivals, Hamas and Fatah.

Olmert: U.S. never advised Israel to use restraint against Iran
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday the United States has not advised Israel to restrain itself from taking any action it deemed necessary against Iran’s nuclear program. But the outgoing Israeli leader, who held farewell talks with U. S. President George W. Bush on Monday, stopped short, in a briefing to reporters, of making any threat to strike Iran. "I can’t recall that anyone in the [U. S. ] administration, including in the last couple of days, advised me or any of my official representatives not to take any action that we will deem necessary for the fundamental security of the state of Israel, and that includes Iran," Olmert said. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday that Iran has been sneaking terror elements into South America with the intention of expanding its field of ideological, political and economic activity, Israel Radio reported.

VIDEO / Iran seeks death penalty for 3 accused of spying for Israel
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
An Iranian prosecutor said on Tuesday he would seek the death penalty for three Iranians accused of spying for Israel, the ISNA news agency reported on Tuesday. The prosecutor told ISNA that the network was formed after the Mossad spy agency recruited one of the detainees, a man previously involved with Iran’s elite Revolutionary GuardsIt was not immediately clear whether the three were members of an alleged Israeli-linked spy network which state media on Monday said had been broken up by Guards. IRNA quoted Tehran General Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi as saying theHe said the three members of the network were trained by Israeli intelligence agents, but detained before they could relay any information to Israel. Mortazavi added that the spies, who planned to bomb military sites and assassinate military experts, now face capital punishment.

Iran seeks death for alleged Israeli spies
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
TEHRAN - A prosecutor said yesterday he would seek the death penalty for three Iranians who he said had been sent on a mission by Israeli intelligence to carry out assassinations and military sabotage in Iran, media reported. It came three days after Iran’s judiciary said an Iranian businessman convicted of spying on the military for Israel, the Islamic Republic’s arch foe, had been executed. "The mission of this team was to assassinate, bomb and kill some of the country’s military scientists and also blow up the country’s military, missile and important strategic bases," ISNA news agency quoted Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazevi as saying. Iran’s Al-Alam television station said the three accused spies were members of an alleged Israeli-linked network which Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Monday said they had broken up.

Iran seeks death penalty for ’Mossad spies’
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 11/25/2008
After announcing it uncovered an espionage ring working for Israel, Islamic Republic says ring composed of three Iranians trained by ’senior Mossad agents’ in technological warfare, explosives -Tehran’s attorney general, Saeed Mortazavi, has said he intends to seek the death penalty for three Iranian citizens accused of spying on Israel’s behalf, Iranian news agency ISNA reported. Mortazavi said during a press conference that the three had been trained in Tel Aviv "by senior Mossad agents. "He was quoted as saying that the accused men "used very advanced communication and satellite equipment in order to contact the Mossad. " The men had been caught with digital cameras, which they had allegedly used in order to document different sites in the country, as well as satellite GPS equipment and laptop computers outfitted with special programs used to send and receive messages.

Iran: Detained Mossad spy tied to Guards
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
One of the detained members of an alleged Israeli-linked espionage network was involved with Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, the official state news agency said Tuesday. IRNA quoted Teheran General Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi as saying the network formed after Israel’s Mossad spy agency recruited a man who had "previously been in connection with the Guards. " He said the three members of the network were trained by Israeli intelligence agents, but were detained before they could relay any information to Israel. Mortazavi added that the spies, who planned to bomb military sites and assassinate military experts, now face capital punishment. "Since Israel is the enemy of the Iranian people, the prosecutor’s office will ask for their execution," he said, adding that their trial would start after the Guards finish its investigation.

Khamenei for Lebanese unity vs. Israel
Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Tuesday on Lebanon’s disparate ethnic groups to unite against their common enemy - Israel - the Iranian IRNA news agency reported. "The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the power of all Lebanese groups should be at the service of the country’s national unity to counter the danger of the Zionist regime," Khamenei told visiting Lebanese President Michel Suleiman. Khamenei, lauding the Maronite Catholic Suleiman’s support of Islamic militancy and his efforts to establish unity in Lebanon, promised that Iran would always side with Beirut, and stressed the high significance of Lebanon enjoys despite its small size. One such instance of "exemplary" coexistence of religious groups in Lebanon, he said, was the "historic victory" over Israel in 2006’s Second Lebanon War.

Noam Shalit to Olmert: Redeem your failures and bring Gilad home before you leave office
Yanir Yagna, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
Noam Shalit, father of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, called on outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday to do everything within his powers to help free Gilad before leaving office in February. Shalit addressed Olmert directly, saying "Now is the time to bring back Gilad so that you will not go down as the person who failed to free him. I call on the prime minister to act before it is too late. " Noam Shalit made his address as part of a conference held in Sderot on Tuesday, and urged Olmert three months before stepping down as prime minister to "do what you haven’t done in the past two years. "Shalit denounced the government for its "prisoner release gestures" and for failing to conduct "serious negotiations to free Gilad. " Shalit also referred to a recent report in which former chief of staff Moshe. . .

Report: Israel makes concessions towards Shalit prisoner swap; PRC denies new offer
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel recently agreed to release 220 of the 350 Palestinian prisoners Hamas wants freed in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Israeli media reported on Tuesday. The move, reported by the newspaper Haaretz, marks a modification of Israel’s stance, as it had previously agreed to release only 150 prisoners on the list submitted by Hamas on behalf of Shalit’s captors. A spokesperson for the Palestinians who are holding Shalit prisoner denied that they had received word of the Israeli concessions. Abu Mujahid, the spokesperson of the Popular Resistance Committees, said Shalit would only be released when Israel releases all the prisoners the PRC wants released, in a deal brokered by the Egyptian mediators. He warned Israel not to delay the issue further. In total Hamas has demanded the release of 1,400 prisoners in exchange for. . .

’Olmert, don’t leave Gilad to the next PM’
Ilana Curiel, YNetNews 11/25/2008
Gilad Shalit’s father accuses prime minister of failing to bring his son home from Gaza. ’Who would have believed that Israel, with all it has at its disposal, is incapable of freeing kidnapped soldier for nearly three years now,’ he says -Noam Shalit, father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, said Tuesday during a Sderot conference for society that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has failed because he has not been able to release his son from captivity in Gaza. "Gilad is being held by Hamas in an isolated dark pit, for 900 days and nights now he hasn’t seen daylight. Who would have believed that Israel, with all it has at its disposal, is incapable of freeing an IDF soldier kidnapped to Gaza for nearly three years now," he said. Addressing Olmert personally he said, "You didn’t do it - I guess you failed.

Hamas-Fatah clashes break out at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Up to 30 students were wounded in clashes between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah on the campus of Al-Aqsa University in the city of Khan Younis on Tuesday, A Fatah student group said. The Hamas-led government of Gaza denies this account. The Fatah-affiliated student accused Hamas allied police of using “excessive force” to break up fighting students. “Islamic student bloc at the university insisted on holding a celebration to distribute honor and dean list awards despite the fact that all student activities have been banned at the Gaza Strip universities,” said Ibrahim Qannan, a Fatah leader youth in the Gaza Strip. He also accused Hamas spokesperson Hammad Ar-Ruqab of making provocative statements, sparking clashes between Fatah and Hamas-affiliated students. He added that de facto government police opened fire on campus injuring several students, most of whom were women.

PA: No date set for elections; Hamas must agree to early poll
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A date for new Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections has not yet been set, a senior Palestinian official said on Tuesday, correcting an earlier report. Yasser Abed Rabbo, the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), denied that he said that elections would be held in April 2009, as was reported earlier. In a telephone interview Abed Rabbo, who is also an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the reports, which cited remarks he made earlier at a press conference, were the result of a misunderstanding. “I talked about the Palestinian president calling elections at the beginning of 2009, and explained that according to Palestinian law, the preparatory committee takes three months to arrange for elections. But, the exact date for elections is the jurisdiction of Palestinian president,” Abed Rabbo told Ma’an.

Fatah condemns Syria for hosting Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah slammed Syria for allowing Hamas to attend a conference on Palestinian refugees’ right of return on Tuesday. “I don’t understand how those mutineers are welcome in Damascus after they rebelled against Palestinian legitimacy,” said Fatah spokesperson Ahmad Abd-Ar-Rahman referring to the Arab International Forum on the Right of Return. “Palestinian decisions will remain in the hands of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) despite attempts to control it by masters of [Syria-based Hamas leader] Khalid Mash’al. They will not succeed in their attempts to lift Hamas from the lowest level it fell to in the Gaza Strip,” Abd-ar-Rahman added. Mash’al, the director of Hamas’ political bureau, has his offices in Damascus. Abd-Ar-Rahman described Syria’s actions as ‘rudely intervening’ and stated that circumventing ‘Palestinian legitimacy’ must come to an end.

Abbas: Elections will be held in West Bank and Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an –Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that presidential and early legislative elections will take place in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and called for the outcome of the elections to be respected. Abbas suggested on Sunday that he would call simultaneous elections at the end of his term January, angering Hamas, the party that controls the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The PLC’s term does not end until 2010. Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting in Ramallah, Abbas said: “They [Hamas] need to realize that sooner or later elections have to be performed and if they do not succeed this time then they should accept it as we had before. ”There has been speculation that the Palestinian Authority might hold elections only in the West Bank if Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, does not agree to the poll.

Hamas asks Arab FMs to adopt balanced stands towards inter-Palestinian discord
Palestinian Information Center 11/25/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Tuesday asked the Arab foreign ministers scheduled to meet in Cairo on Wednesday to adopt balanced stands towards the inter-Palestinian rift and not to take sides. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said that his Movement calls on the Arab foreign ministers to adopt practical steps to break the oppressive siege on Gaza in implementation of their previous resolutions in this regard. He asked the Arab chief diplomats not to allow any party to exploit the Arab League to condemn resistance forces, which would affect the issue of Palestinian conciliation. Abu Zuhri underlined his Movement’s rejection of the official Arab silence over the "murderous siege" of Gaza, saying that such a position is "not justified" while appreciating efforts launched by certain Arab parties.

Ahmad Hillis, who fled Gaza in August fighting, plans return home
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A senior leader in the Fatah movement will return to Gaza on Tuesday after fleeing to the West Bank amid intense fighting with the Hamas government of Gaza. Ahmad Hillis fled Gaza in August 2008 through the Israeli border. Hillis and some 200 other members of his family fled Gaza following a gun battle with Hamas forces. Israeli forces shot him twice, then arrest him upon his arrival in Israel. Hillis was ultimately released to Jericho along with family members who also left Gaza. Nine people were killed in those clashes, which began when de facto government police raided the Hillis family compound in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza. Ihab Al-Ghussein, spokesperson of the Interior Ministry in the de facto government said that Hillis’ return came after much coordination and mediation between the ministry and the rival Palestinian government in the West Bank.

Fatah clan leader returns to Gaza after four months in exile
Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
The head of a Fatah-aligned clan who fled the Gaza Strip into Israel four months ago following a bloody gunbattle with Hamas has returned home. Ahmad Hilles was greeted by family Tuesday and taken away in a small sedan. Hilles fled Gaza in early August after his clan was routed by Hamas security forces. He escaped into Israel along with 180 others, mostly members of his heavily armed extended family. The clash left 11 dead and marked the end of one of the last pockets of potential opposition to Hamas rule in the territory. Most of the others have already returned to Gaza with Hamas’ permission. Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab Ghussen said the group welcomes Hilles’ return and hopes he will help bring about reconciliation. Related articles: 150 Fatah men enter Israel after fleeing Gaza violenceIsrael. . .

Fatah leader returns to Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 11/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA interior ministry in the caretaker government announced on Tuesday that Fatah leader Ahmed Hillis is to return to Gaza on Tuesday and asked him to play a role in inter-Palestinian conciliation. The ministry spokesman Ehab Al-Ghussain said in a press statement that mediators contacted the government and asked for the return of Hillis to Gaza. He said that his government welcomes the arrival of any Palestinian to the Strip, and would only bring to account those responsible for crimes against the people. Hillis has reportedly returned to Gaza from the West Bank via the Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing in northern Gaza. Ghussain then denied press reports that his government was about to outlaw Fatah in Gaza, adding that publishing such erroneous information was part of the Fatah media campaign against the Hamas-led government and to cover up for PA security apparatuses crimes in the West Bank.

Hamas categorically denies reports on internal differences
Palestinian Information Center 11/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas on Tuesday categorically denied Israeli press reports claiming that differences existed between its leaders within and outside the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said that Hamas believes in democracy and listens to all opinions before adopting decisions through its official institutions. He charged Zionists and their agents of attempting to distort the Movement’s image through fabricating lies, describing these attempts as "desperate". The spokesman noted that Zionist media similar to Fatah-affiliated media publish such fabricated reports every now and then or try to incite the public opinion against Hamas. Hebrew daily ’Ha’aretz’ claimed on Tuesday in a press report that Hamas leaders in Damascus were in disagreement with those in the Gaza Strip on attending the national dialog proposed by Egypt to heal the inter-Palestinian rift.

Arab FMs to meet in Cairo to evaluate Palestinian situation
Brenda Gazzar, Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
Arab foreign ministers are set to meet Wednesday in Cairo to discuss Fatah-Hamas dialogue, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the blockade on the Gaza Strip. The meeting, convened by Arab League chief Amr Moussa, will evaluate the "very difficult" Palestinian situation in its entirety, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said on Tuesday. "The [Israeli-Palestinian] negotiating track so far has not yielded the results that were expected by the end of 2008, the internal Palestinian situation is still fragmented and the situation is Gaza is very precarious and fragile," Zaki told The Jerusalem Post. Egypt’s major concerns were Palestinian reconciliation, restoring calm to Gaza and accelerating negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, he said. "Any stop in the negotiations and in the peace talks will definitely have a negative impact on the. . . "

Israeli army storm Hebron college and arrests eight students
Report, Addameer, Electronic Intifada 11/25/2008
On 30 October 2008, at 10:15am, the Israeli army stormed the faculty of the Palestine Technical College in Arroub refugee camp, Hebron and arrested students from some of the classrooms. The students were blindfolded, shackled, and then repeatedly beaten, slapped, and punched all over the body. They were then taken to Gush Etzion military detention center. At 9:00pm two of the boys were released, however, eight of them are still in detention in Ofer Prison. None of the boys are older than 16. Hatem is a teacher at the Palestine Technical College. He was the only teacher present in the playground area at that time. One of the soldiers shouted at him, "Where are the boys that threw stones? "This was in response to an allegation that stones had been thrown at an Israeli civilian car by a person who came from the refugee camp and who had been wearing a black jacket.

IDF to leave historic Jerusalem camp next week
Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
A historic central Jerusalem military camp which was used by the IDF since the establishment of the State of Israel sixty years ago and dates back to the middle 19th century is being converted into a haredi residential complex, with the compound’s historic Ottoman buildings to be preserved as public sites. The Schneller Camp, named after the German Lutheran missionary who originally established the complex 150 years ago, is now most commonly known for its military health clinic, although it has housed an array of army units over the last decade and a half, including the district military headquarters of the Home Front Command. The land on the compound, which is located on the edge of the city’s Mea Shearim neighborhood, was sold by the Defense Ministry to haredi entrepreneurs four years ago at over NIS 80 million for the construction of a 620-unit haredi residential complex, said Col.

Anti-Wall organizer injured by Wall
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/25/2008
At 5:20 pm on Saturday Bi’lin Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements member, EmadBurnat, was admitted to the hospital in a very serious condition after his tractor flipped over against Israel’s Wall. The wall -- which in Bil’in is composed of metal fence and barbed-wire -- cuts through the village’s farmland. The video documenter of the Bi’lin’s anti-wall struggle was returning with his children from plowing his fields when he was forced to detour down a steep hill in order to return to the village because the wall separates his home from his land. Loosing control of the tractor on the sharp decline, it overturned directly into the metal mesh and razor wire. While his children were taken to hospital in Ramallah, the army medic who treated Burnat decided to send him to the Tel Aviv hospital out of fear that he wouldn’t make it to Ramallah alive.

Palestinian peace activists prevented passage to leave the country
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 11/25/2008
The Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI) manager Nidal Abu Zuluf was rejected passage through the King Hussein (aka Allenby) bridge going to Jordan, as to fly to Egypt for attending the Christian Aid partners meeting, a statement by the JAI said. "The Israeli border authority officers refused Nidal’s passage and forced him to return home and meet their intelligence office later," the statement added. Apparently, Abu Zuluf, a resident of Beit Sahour, was summoned to an interview with the Israeli security forces upon his return from Jordan last September. He went according to the set appointment; however, they refused to meet him after waiting more than five hours. Abu Zuluf had to hand in his Identification card upon arrival to the Gosh Etzion military base and settlement south of Bethlehem.

Jordanians visit relatives in Israeli jails
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/26/2008
AMMAN: More than 30 Jordanians left the kingdom for Israel on a rare trip on Tuesday to visit their relatives who are imprisoned in the Jewish state, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. "A bus left for Israel this morning, carrying 37 people who are relatives of 16 Jordanian prisoners in Israel. They will visit the inmates on a one-day trip," Nassar Habashneh said. The visit, the second in two years and the third since Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994, was due to take place on November 18, but it was postponed by Israel for "procedural issues," the ministry has said. In 2006, 37 Jordanians representing 16 families visited their relatives in Israeli jails during a trip organized by the Foreign Ministry. Opposition groups, including the Islamic Action Front, accuse the Jordanian government of "negligence" in its handling of the prisoner issue.

On the Anniversary of the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Suffering of Gaza Women Doubles due to the Siege and its Repercussions
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11/25/2008
Today, 25 November, 2008, women worldwide celebrate the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, that had been officially adopted by the UN in 1999, as part of the effort exerted to eliminate violence against women, and to urge countries to take actions necessary to ensure women’s enjoyment of necessary protection. This year, on the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, the suffering of the Palestinian women continues due to the violence of the Israeli Occupation Forces and internal Palestinian violence. PCHR’s documentation during 2008 indicates that 19 Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip were by Israeli violence, including shelling; shootings and incursions. This number includes women who were killed in their homes and many cases that show Israeli disregard of the civilian life.

B’Tselem: Israeli police headbutt Palestinians
Middle East Online 11/25/2008
TEL AVIV - Israeli human rights watchdog B’Tselem released video footage on Monday of a helmeted Israeli policeman headbutting a Palestinian woman during a house demolition in Arab east Jerusalem. The video shows the policeman headbutting the white-headscarfed woman who is engaged in a heated discussion with officers. Seconds later he is seen to also headbutt a male resident. "On November 5, the Jerusalem municipality demolished a house in Silwan," B’Tselem said in a statement accompanying the video. "During the eviction of its residents, a helmeted policeman headbutted two of the residents," it added. "What happened was filmed by a B’Tselem member. The footage was handed to the military police who have opened an inquiry but B’Tselem has yet to be notified of its findings," the watchdog said, adding that it considered police violence to be unacceptable.

VIDEO - Israeli policeman headbutts woman in Palestinian demolition clashes
Owen Bowcott, The Guardian 11/25/2008
An Israeli policeman wearing a hard helmet is shown headbutting a Palestinian woman in a video released by a human rights group today. The short film was recorded by the Israeli group B’Tselem during a protest against the demolition of Palestinian homes. The Jerusalem municipality destroyed two houses because, it said, they had been built without permission. The pictures, taken on November 5 but not released until today, show the actions of one policeman whose reinforced visor is pushed back above his helmet. At one point he grasps the hands of a Palestinian woman and slams against the top of her head with his protective headgear. She reels back, clutching her head. Other residents object, and the policeman is seen grabbing the wrists of a Palestinian man and headbutting him as well.

Palestinians petition against Amona outpost
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 11/25/2008
Yesh Din organization demands evacuation of West Bank outpost, claims Amona built on Palestinian private property; says authorities do nothing to prevent settlers’ invasion on their land - Ten Palestinians filed a petition to the Supreme Court on Tuesday demanding the Amona outpost that stands on what they claim to be their land be evacuated. In the petition, filed through the Yesh Din organization, against the defense minister and the head of the IDF Central Command, the Palestinians demanded the outpost be evacuated and the fence surrounding part of it be removed, as it blocks the Palestinians’ access to their land. "This petition pertains to the shameless invasion of Israeli citizens on the private property of the petitioners, who are all Palestinian," the petition said. " This invasion has been going on for over a decade without any effective enforcement. . .

Jews desecrate cemetery, IOA flattens Palestinian house in occupied Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 11/25/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority on Monday demolished the home of Mohammed Mizro in Alezariye, east of occupied Jerusalem, at the usual pretext of lack of construction permit. The UN office coordinating humanitarian affairs said after meeting the Mizro family members that they completed building the house in 2007 and that it was fully furnished. The office said that the family members were planning to move to the house soon. Nidal Mohammed Mizro said that the house cost them around 60,000 dollars and that his father was suffering kidney failure and the mother was suffering from diabetes. He said that the house was his father’s dream. Nidal told the UN office that they did not receive any demolition notification from the IOA and that they tabled a construction permit with the PA. He denied knowledge that he had to obtain a permit from the IOA.

Olmert: Peace agreement with Palestinians is possible soon
Hilary Leila Krieger, The Jerusalem Post, Washington, Jerusalem Post 11/26/2008
It will soon be possible to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday, the morning after a farewell visit with US President George W. Bush and other administration officials who conceded a deal was not likely to materialize in the short term. "In principle there is nothing to prevent us from reaching an agreement on the core issues in the near future," Olmert said during a briefing with Israeli reporters. "I believe it is possible. I believe it is timely. A declaration is needed. I am ready to make it. I hope the other side is. " He also stressed the US had not tied Israel’s hands when it came to military operations in the waning days of the Bush administration, despite media reports to the contrary. "I don’t remember that anyone in the administration, including the last couple of days, advised me or any of my official. . .

Olmert to Bush: Peace deal still possible this year
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has asked U. S. President George W. Bush to convince Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to accept Olmert’s suggestion to establish a Palestinian state and sign a peace deal with Israel by the end of the year, Olmert told reporters Tuesday. "We have reached the moment of decision, and now we need to decide. We don’t need months for that," said Olmert, who met with Bush during a farewell visit to the White House on Monday. "The decision is tough, but I am ready to make it and hope that the other side will make it. "Olmert said he told Bush his proposal to Abbas was more far-reaching than any previous offer the Palestinians have received from Israel. He said that time was pressing because the American administration and Israeli government would soon be replaced, and Abbas is due to complete his term on January 9.

Top UN official: Israel’s policies are like apartheid
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
NEW YORK - United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann yesterday likened Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians to South Africa’s treatment of blacks under apartheid. Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were like "the apartheid of an earlier era," said D’Escoto, of Nicaragua, speaking at the annual debate marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. He added: "We must not be afraid to call something what it is. "Israeli ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev in September called D’Escoto an "Israel hater" for having hugged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a vocal enemy of Israel. Meanwhile, other diplomatic attacks against Israel were expected today on the second day of the annual debate.

US Consulate staff donate food to Bethlehem orphanage
Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Employees at the US Consulate in Jerusalem and their spouses made a donation to the Holy Family Orphanage in Bethlehem on Tuesday. The donation was comprised of 270 cans of milk and 15,000 Israeli Shekels worth of food for the 116 children at the orphanage. It was made in honor of the upcoming US Thanksgiving holiday. Caroline Nolan, who supervised the collection of the gifts, said the staff and their families have been gathering money for two weeks to have enough for more than 120 children. She explained that the donated milk and food will be sufficient for the months of December and January. The delegation also toured the orphanage and was informed by education supervisor Jeries Allawi about the services offered to the orphans. Allawi explained that the children range between 3 months and 5 years.

Livni warns El Salvador against Iran
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
Israeli concern about Teheran’s inroads into Latin America emerged at a meeting Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni held with her visiting El Salvadoran counterpart on Tuesday, during which she warned that South America was fast becoming a platform for spreading Iranian ideology. Iran is searching for openings, and countries it can penetrate, to compensate for the vulnerability created by the [economic] sanctions [against it]," Livni told Marisol Argueta de Barillas. "We are witness to the disturbing phenomenon of Iranian infiltration into South America, so much so that Latin America has become a convenient base for spreading Iranian political and economic ideology," Livni said. "The strengthening of ties between South American guerrillas and the Iranian terrorism activists is plain to see. " Livni said there was a need for the international community to cooperate to push-back against Iran’s international efforts.

Birthright screening out Messianic Jews
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
Trip organizers for Birthright have begun screening American candidates interested in free trips to Israel to prevent Messianic Jews from participating. A questionnaire of a Birthright (Taglit) trip organizer that was obtained by The Jerusalem Post includes a question regarding applicants’ religious faith. Under a category entitled "eligibility rules," applicants are asked to declare that they are Jewish. They are also asked to declare that "I do not subscribe to any beliefs or follow any practices which may be in any way associated with Messianic Judaism, Jews for Jesus or Hebrew Christians. " The questionnaire stipulates that if the applicant lies about any of the questions that confirm eligibility he or she will be immediately dismissed from the program and will lose a $250 deposit. In addition, he or she might be obligated to pay the full cost of the trip - valued at $2,500 to $3,000 - paid by Birthright.

Israeli pullout from Ghajar ’just a matter of time’
Daily Star 11/26/2008
United Nations spokeswoman Michele Montas said in comments published Tuesday the world body expects Israel to withdraw from the northern part of the village of Ghajar the "very soon," adding that only a pullout "mechanism" was delaying the move. "The world body is still consulting with concerned parties to implement a decision for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Lebanese side of Ghajar, Montas told An-Nahar newspaper. She said Israel will withdraw "sooner or later" because it is "obliged under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 to pull out of the region. "Israel has defied such resolutions for decades. UNIFIL has suggested a mechanism to facilitate Israel’s pullout and "discussions are ongoing," she told the newspaper. "The problem is only over a mechanism. We are seeking a solution. "Asked about UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s reaction to the recent threats of Israeli Defense Minister. . .

Iran’s Khamenei: Lebanon needs unity to ’confront the Zionist regime’
DPA, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday told visiting Lebanese President Michel Suleiman that to stand against Israel, Lebanon needed to maintain unity among various groups. "Iran believes that the strength of all Lebanese groups lies in national unity for effectively confronting the Zionist regime," the ayatollah said in his meeting with Suleiman. Suleiman arrived in Tehran on Monday for a two-day state visit. He is the third Lebanese president to visit Tehran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. "Iran will always stand beside Lebanon and I hope that the summit in Tehran will lead to expansion of bilateral ties," said the ayatollah, who according to the constitution has the final say on all state matters. While referring to the Lebanese anti-Israel militia group Hezbollah, Khamenei said the Lebanese resistance succeeded. . .

Israel says Hezbollah more powerful
Middle East Online 11/25/2008
TEL AVIV - Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told parliament on Monday that the Shiite militant group Hezbollah is three times stronger now than it was during the 2006 Lebanon war. "The firepower of Hezbollah has grown threefold since the Second Lebanon War," he told MPs. "It has missiles that can reach the towns of Ashkelon, Beersheba and Dimona (in southern Israel more than 200 kilometres or 125 miles from the Lebanese border). Today Hezbollah has 42,000 missiles. " Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets at communities across northern Israel during the 34-day war in the summer of 2006. Barak renewed warnings issued by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert earlier this year that in any new war Israel would take tougher action against civilian infrastructure than it did in 2006, when a power station and Beirut airport were hit and in all more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, were killed.

Factionalism at Ain al-Hilweh delays handover of ’Prince of Al-Qaeda’ to LAF
Daily Star 11/26/2008
Analysis - BEIRUT: The capture of Abdel Rahman Awad, the elusive Fatah al-Islam fugitive, is being delayed due to the delicate politics that govern life in the sprawling Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp where he is thought to be hiding, Palestinian sources have told The Daily Star. Lebanese authorities have issued a warrant for Awad’s arrest for his alleged involvement in a series of deadly bombings which targeted the army in Tripoli over the summer. The militant, who is known as the "Prince of Al-Qaeda" for his ties to international Islamist networks, has also been linked to a suicide bombing in Damascus in September. Security forces have asked their Palestinian counterparts, who are responsible for law and order in the camp, to capture Awad as quickly as possible, but despite promises that action will be taken no substantial progress in bringing him to justice appears to have been made.

Sleiman meets Khamenei to close visit to Tehran
Daily Star 11/26/2008
President Michel Sleiman wrapped up a two-day visit to Iran on Tuesday after holding talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other officials. In a joint press conference with Ahmadinejad hours before ending his visit, Sleiman reiterated that relations between Tehran and Beirut were "good" and that his visit was aimed at "meeting senior Iranian officials and strengthening bilateral ties. " Sleiman said he also agreed with Ahmadinejad on implementing previously signed agreement between the two countries. The pacts included cooperation on the political, economic, and cultural level. For his part, Ahmadinejad said that his talks with Sleiman had covered political and economic issues. "We will create a joint committee to fortify and expand our relations. We also agreed to reactivate previous bilateral agreements," he said.

DEATH PENALTY-LEBANON: Public Must Wait for Full Abolition Plan
Mona Alami, Inter Press Service 11/26/2008
BEIRUT, Nov 25(IPS) - The Lebanese government will use television to gain maximum attention for its plan to abolish the death penalty, giving one station the first right to question Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar about the details of an abolition bill which will be eventually presented to parliament. "In the coming weeks, the minister will unveil the draft law on a TV station which has been granted exclusive broadcasting rights," the office of the justice ministry told IPS. The ministry refused to discuss the proposed law until this interview has been granted. No official date has been set for the parliamentary debate. News of plans to abolish the death penalty was first made public on Oct. 10, the World Day against the Death Penalty. On the same day, Najjar informed the cabinet of the details. A brief official press statement said then that the proposal was to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment with hard labour.

VIDEO - Gaza hip-hop trio overcomes many obstacles to transmit music to world
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for November 25, 2008 Three young Gaza residents harboring no small amount of frustration have found a creative outlet to transmit their message to the world. The three comprise "Black Unit Band," a hip-hop trio making music in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, not always the friendliest breeding ground for Western culture. But even getting music made depends on Israel’s goodwill. The studio in which Black Unit Band was recording their first album closed down recently due to power outages, brought on by Israel’s refusal to let fuel into the coastal territory. But they plan on heading back to the studio soon, and there’s no doubt that current events will continue to provide excellent fodder for new material.

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No 36
Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies, MIFTAH 11/25/2008
Background After the Egyptian preparations and the intensive communications with the Palestinian factions to hold a conference for reconciliation in Cairo, and after even sending out invitations to all Palestinian factions and other independent personalities to attend the conference, Hamas and other Palestinian factions declared their boycotting of the conference. Hamas submitted a group of requests and conditions and asked for executing them before the conference convenes. Such conditions aborted the Egyptian efforts and the efforts to hold the conference failed. The Palestinian political arena is still divided between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; the division is even intensified by the war of words between the two sides. As for the truce (hudna) in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and the Israeli Government, several evasions occurred. The Israeli Army penetrated some border line areas in the Strip and some Palestinian factions responded by firing rockets against Israel.

Palestinian filmmaker among laureates of Prince Claus Award
Middle East Online 11/25/2008
AMSTERADAM – Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman was selected among the eleven laureates for the 2008 Prince Claus Award. The Prince Claus Foundation, created in 1996, each year awards a number of prizes to artists and cultural organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development has announced its 2008 awards on the theme ‘Culture and Conflict’, where 10 laureates receive a prize of €25,000 each. The eleventh laureate, the winner of the Principal Prince Claus Award, is granted €100,000. The Awards honour artists and organisations that have worked to counteract the destructive power of conflict by opposing beauty to devastation, opening spaces and forms of dialogue, restoring respect for others and enhancing dignity and self-esteem. Suleiman is awarded for the creative structure, innovative vocabulary and superb. . .

From Gaza with love
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 11/25/2008
Ashkelon residents find bottle containing love letter written by Palestinian man to his lover - Israelis are used to rockets being launched from Gaza at southern communities, but Ashkelon residents were in for a surprise Monday, after finding a wholly different "Gaza delivery. " Residents of the southern town who were engaging in a beach cleanup operation found an Arabic-language letter in a bottle. The letter read: "I love you, I’m crazy about you, and I pray that God never separates us. You changed my life"¦you’re my life, you’re my eyes. " The letter’s content makes it impossible to ascertain whether it arrived from the Gaza Strip or from an Arab state, but based on past experience it likely originated in Gaza. Ashkelon residents are used to large quantities of waste from Gaza making their way to their beaches, but this is the first time such letter was found.

72% of public sees high level of corruption
Shira Horesh, Globes Online 11/25/2008
The public’s perception of corruption has risen steadily over the past three years. 72% of the public says that government corruption is very high, according to the 2008 Corruption Index for the Sderot Conference for Society of the Sapir Academic College. The comparative percentage of the public who that government corruption was very high was 69% in the 2007 survey and 68% in 2006. Only 1% of the respondents said that government corruption was very low, down from 9% in 1997, 3% in 2006, and 6% in 2005. In the current survey, 45% of respondents said that the general level of corruption in Israel’s government was very high and 40% said that it was much greater than before, similar to the figures in the 2007 survey, but 1. 5 times the 28% in the 2006 survey. The public perceives political parties, ministries, and the Knesset as especially corrupt.

72% of public rate gov’t as corrupt
YNetNews 11/25/2008
Poll conducted ahead of Israel-Sderot Conference on Social Issues shows political parties viewed as most corrupt bodies in Israel with 69% rating, followed by government offices at 46%. IDF, defense establishment receive highest score, with only 11% viewing them as corrupt - Seventy-two percent of the Israeli public rated the general level of corruption in the Israeli government as "high to very high," a corruption index poll taken ahead of the Israel-Sderot Conference on Social Issues revealed. The poll, published on Tuesday, showed that only 1% of the public rated the corruption level as "low to very low," compared to 9% in 2007. The political parties were perceived as more corrupt than in the past two years - a 10% rise to 69% this year, compared to 59% in 2007 and 58% in 2006 was recorded.

Survey: 72% of public think Israel is rife with corruption
Yanir Yagna, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
The institutions that are perceived as the most corrupt are the Knesset (46 percent), government ministries (44 percent) and political parties, which 69 percent of the people surveyed think they are inherently corrupt - a 10-percent increase since last year. Among the institutions perceived as having a low level of corruption are the Israel Defense Forces, the judicial system, the healthcare system, the National Insurance Institute, and - despite the current financial crisis - banks. The President of the Sderot Conference for Society, Maj. Gen. (retired) Uzi Dayan, said that, "the survey shows that governmental corruption is the most prominent enemy of the public. ""The overwhelming majority says that the corruption of state institutions is the primary factor preventing them from taking pride in their country," he added.

Dr Ali Dabbagh to Launch First Mobile Eye Clinic in West Bank*
Melanie Swan, The National, Palestine Media Center 11/24/2008
DUBAI // When Dr Ali Dabbagh, a Dubai-based ophthalmologist, set off for the Palestinian Territories to launch the West Bank’s first mobile eye clinic, he knew he had a job on his hands but hoped he could make a difference. After six weeks tending to patients and preparing the groundwork for the clinic, the size of the challenge he had set himself was beginning to sink in. “Honestly, I didn’t realise the task in hand would be so enormous. It was utterly overwhelming and I completely underestimated the need which existed there,” said the doctor, who works at the Imperial Healthcare Institute in Healthcare City. Following his summer trip to the West Bank, he has now implemented the first phase of his mission. So far, he has given talks on glaucoma as well as an introductory course to Medical Aid for Palestinians, the British charity, and plans many more.

As Election Day approaches there’s no doubt: It’s the economy, stupid
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
As Israel increasingly feels the effects of the world financial crisis, the economy is becoming a main theme in the campaign before the February general election. While Labor plans to revive its Social-Democratic image and attempt to pin social woes on Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party plans to make its first-ever appeal to the middle class and pledge to protect the poor from within the governing coalition. Kadima under Tzipi Livni intends to attack Netanyahu for the pension-fund crisis and present an alternative program, which Livni and a team of experts are putting together. Likud, for its part, will try to portray Netanyahu as a reformer who enjoys high esteem abroad for his handling of the economy when he was finance minister under Ariel Sharon. Labor plans to go back to some of its Social-Democratic roots.

Key figure in Hirchson trial convicted of stealing NIS 3 million
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 11/25/2008
Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday convicted Amatzia Bonner, the former treasurer of Nili - a nonprofit organization associated with the National Workers Histadrut Union. In a plea bargain, Bonner was convicted of stealing NIS 3 million. Bonner is a key figure in the fraud and theft affair alongside former finance minister Abraham Hirchson, who is on trial separately. As part of his plea bargain, Bonner was convicted of embezzlement, fraud and aggravated fraud, money laundering and breach of trust. The prosecution will demand that he be sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to return the money he had stolen. Hirchson was indicted in June this year in the Tel Aviv District Court on charges of stealing between NIS 2 million and NIS 2. 5 million from two organizations he headed between 1998 and 2005 - the National Workers Organization and its subsidiary, Nili.

The economic plan / Livni’s trap
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
Kadima, the ruling party that polls are predicting will be ousted in February, breathed a sigh of relief yesterday: Finally, the Kadima-controlled Finance Ministry is doing something about the economic crisis. Maybe that will halt the hemorrhage of electoral support. Maybe that will convince a frightened public that economic leadership does not exist only in the Likud. This, in brief, is the trap in which Kadima’s prime ministerial candidate, Tzipi Livni, is now caught: She is not viewed as an authority on economics, while Kadima’s finance minister, Roni Bar-On, is controversial. The only Kadima member who could implement a dramatic economic move is Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - and he is Livni’s enemy. She does not want to be seen in his company, and he has no interest in helping her. In Washington last night, Olmert announced that he, too, has a plan, which he will present to the treasury today.

Braverman threatens Treasury plan
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 11/25/2008
The Finance Committee chairman will not pass the plan unless it includes the pension safety net. Knesset Finance Committee chairman MK Avishay Braverman (Labor) has said that he will not convene the committee to approve the Ministry of Finance’s economic stimulus and finance plans, unless it includes a safety net for pensions. The Ministry of Finance today asked Braverman to approve its economic plan. However, Braverman placed conditions on approving the plan. He said he would only convene the committee, "if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will approve a safety net for provident and pension funds, and after the committee members a concrete and clear plan before them. " He stressed that the plan in its present form would not be approved. "If they want to solve the crisis for 2009, it is up to the Ministry of Finance to change two disks: to enlarge the budget and stop seeing the Bachar Commission as sacred.

Budget director: 2009 budget deficit will be high
Roy Goldenberg, Globes Online 11/25/2008
Ram Belnikov at the Sderot Conference for Society: "Poverty is relative. " "It is already clear to us that the 2009 budget deficit will be very high. We planned a deficit of NIS 1 billion, but it will be double-digit and I hope that the first digit won’t be larger than 2," Budget Director Ram Belnikov told the Sderot Conference for Society of the Sapir Academic Collegetoday. He added, "The meaning of the deficit is a higher debt-to-GDP ratio. " Commenting on the National Insurance Institute’s 2007 Poverty Report, published yesterday, Belnikov said, "Poverty is relative. Absurdly, I feel that at the next year’s conference or the one after that, Israel’s poverty index will improve, even though the country’s condition will worsen. The blow to expectations is greater among the wealthy than the poor. " Ministry of Social Affairs director general Nahum Itzkovich said, "Investment. . .

Israelis implicated in billion-dollar drug smuggling case
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 11/25/2008
Two Israelis suspected of operating international smuggling ring; affair is largest of its kind in Israel’s history - Israeli police detectives and customs officials are currently looking into the largest drug smuggling case in the country’s history. Authorities, who have also been cooperating with law enforcement officials in Peru and other Latin American countries, thus far seized almost a ton and a half of cocaine worth NIS 2 billion (roughly $500 million. )A police source said "there is no doubt this will temporarily dry up the Israeli illicit drug market. " The smuggling ring uncovered by police is allegedly headed by 40-year-old Moshe Algarbeli, a former soccer referee nicknamed "the referee. "He is believed to have cooperated with 51-year-old Moris Abdelhak, nicknamed "the welder," as he was in charge of hiding the drugs inside pieces of heavy machinery.

Cops nab 1.5 tons of cocaine, smash int’l smuggling ring
Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
Police have seized 1. 5 tons of cocaine, worth an estimated NIS 2 billion, in three raids targeting what is believed to be a major international cocaine ring, police revealed yesterday. Several Israelis from the Haifa area were arrested yesterday, in the wake of Israeli police and customs coordination with their Spanish and Peruvian counterparts. Alleged ringleader Moshe Elgrably, a former soccer player and referee from Moshav Magadim, is still at large, and police believe he is abroad. The investigation began about six months ago. "Our assumption was that enormous quantities of drugs were coming in through the ports, and we began tracking known criminals and other figures," Central District Police Commander Roni Attiya said yesterday. Police investigators and their South American and European colleagues discovered an international network allegedly run by Elgrably, 40.

Two Israelis drug smugglers sentenced to death in Thailand
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Thailand was likely to ease the death penalty it had served to two Israeli nationals convicted of smuggling drugs, if the two were to appeal the sentence. Vladimir Akronik and Alon Makhlouf were arrested about a year ago during a large-scale police operation on Bangkok’s Kao San road, a popular destination for Israeli tourists. They were caught with 23,000 ecstasy pills in their possession that they had smuggled from Europe. They had planned to take the drugs from Thailand to sell in Japan, Australia and the United States. Thai police also arrested a number of other Israelis in the same operation, but they were later released when it became clear they had no connection with the incident. The Foreign Ministry said it is aware of all developments in the affair and is in contact with the pair’s families.

Livni to appeal to Thai counterpart on condemned Israelis’ behalf
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/26/2008
Foreign Ministry announces it will speak to Thai king if necessary in effort to save Israelis sentenced to death for drug offenses. Relatives of one trafficker worried ill mother may die if she receives news -Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has become personally involved in the case of the two Israelis who were convicted of drug trafficking in Thailand and sentenced to death. Her office said Tuesday that "Livni will act on all levels and if necessary she will even speak to the king to clarify our stance to the Thais. " Livni has announced that she plans to speak to her Thai counterpart after he returns from a visit to Peru. Her office said there was time to appeal the sentence, though no progress had been made yet. Vladimir Akronik, 34, and Alon Mahluf, 37, were arrested one year ago for possession of 23,000 ecstasy pills.

FM may ask Thais to nix death sentences
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday she might approach authorities in Thailand about commuting the death sentences handed down there Tuesday against two Israelis convicted on drug-smuggling charges. The two men, Alon Mahluf, 37, and Vladimir Agronik, were arrested last year in a drug bust on Bangkok’s Kao San Road, a destination popular with Israeli tourists. They were charged and later convicted of possessing some 23,000 Ecstasy pills that Thai police said were destined for Italy and the US. During the large-scale operation, coordinated with US police, a number of other Israeli citizens were arrested, but most were subsequently released when it was determined they had no connection to the drug ring. The Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that the families of the two men were informed of the sentence, and that the ministry was following. . .

Thailand: 2 Israeli drug offenders sentenced to death
Yael Levy, YNetNews 11/25/2008
Thai court sentences two Israeli men to death; Vladimir Akronik, Alon Mahluf convicted of drug trafficking after being arrested a year ago but plan to appeal sentence, friends and family cry for help from Israeli authorities - Two Israelis convicted of drug trafficking were sentenced to death Tuesday by a Thai court. The two men plan to appeal the sentence. The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem confirmed the report. Later, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni confirmed that she may intervene in the affair should the sentences not be changed. Ministry officials noted that similar sentences were annulled in the past. The two Israelis, 34-year-old Vladimir Akronik and 37-year-old Alon Mahluf, were detained in the vicinity of Bangkok’s Kao San Road in possession of 23,000 ecstasy pills about a year ago.

Israel Chemicals reports largest ever profit by an Israeli firm
Erez Wollberg, Globes Online 11/25/2008
The profit figure broke the record the company itself held. Net profit jumped at Israel Chemicals Ltd. (TASE: ICL ) which reported its third quarter results today. Consolidated net profit more than quintupled, and rose to $846 million. The figure does not include one-time charges, including a $400 million provision for the lower inventory value at its ICL Fertilizers unit due to lower sulphur prices, a $24 million provision for voluntary retirement benefits for employees at its ICL Industrial Products unit, and an $18 million provision for disputed VAT payments at its ICL Performance Products unit. The profit is the largest ever for an Israeli company, breaking a record the company itself held. Revenue more than doubled to $2. 18 billion. The company is a subsidiary of Israel Corp. (TASE: ILCO )

Third of manufacturers see two years until market rise
Yael Gross-Englander, Globes Online 11/25/2008
Half predict a TASE rebound in 1-2 years. Half of the top manufacturers predict that the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) will rise again within one to two years, and 30% predict that more than two years will pass, according to a survey of 80 executives by the Manufacturers Association of Israel. 10% of the respondents predict that the TASE will rebound within a year and another 10% predict a rebound within six months. 17% of the respondents advise investing in the TASE now. 33% of the respondents are reducing stock holdings in their companies’ investment portfolios, another third are making no changes, and 6% are increasing the stock holdings. 17% of respondents are reducing the bond holdings in their companies’ investment portfolios, 43% are making no changes, and 3% are increasing the bond holdings. When asked where to invest NIS 100,000 today,33% of the respondents. . .

Treasury sets NIS 11 billion to support financial system
Stella Korin Lieber, Michal Yoshai and Hadas Magen, Globes Online 11/25/2008
The move is likely to support holders of corporate bonds when the bonds mature. The Ministry of Finance has announced a series of intervention measures in the capital market. The ministry said it will provide a total of NIS 11 billion in capital and guarantees, of which NIS 6 billion will be made available as guarantees to the banking sector for the raising of capital. A further NIS 5 billion will used to set up investment funds in partnership with the pension funds, which will focus on the provision and recycling of non-bank credit. The move is designed to support holders of corporate bonds when the bonds mature. The Ministry of Finance said that measures aimed to strengthen the Israeli capital market and that they were supplemental to the economic stimulus package unveiled last week. A joint Ministry of Finance, Bank of Israel, and Israel Securities Authority team formulated the financial plan.

Treasury proposal is modest
Avi Temkin, Globes Online 11/25/2008
Yet that is all the market needs now. In comparison with other plans around the world that are intended to rehabilitate financial markets, the plan that the Israeli government unveiled today is both small in scope - just $2. 5 billion - and more modest in its goals. It does not aim to be a wholesale rescue of troubled banks, because there is no need for this, nor a rescue of insolvent financial institutions. The new Israeli government plan is based on more ordinary measures taken from the toolkit owned by every finance ministry. The government basically assumed the usual role of helping deal with risk by means of commitments and guarantees and to solve market failures, and to give small firms the means to deal with a difficult situation by providing credit. Ultimately, there is no direct and immediate expenditure, but the granting of state guarantees for bank loans in order to create an incentive to increase credit.

OECD report sees slow GDP growth for Israel
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 11/25/2008
However, its forecast is higher than that of the Bank of Israel. The OECD today published its first growth and demand forecast for Israel, as part of its general review. The OECD predicts 2% GDP growth for Israel in 2009 and 3. 8% growth in 2010. The 2009 forecast is higher than the latestBank of Israel prediction of 1. 5% growth. The OECD says, "Global financial turmoil is deepening the slowdown, with the pace of economic activity not expected to pick up substantially before the latter part of 2009. The central bank has already cut its policy rate in reaction to the crisis in financial markets. "Monetary policy should remain biased towards easing in the near term. Further ahead, assuming a relatively trouble-free recovery from the financial crisis, the policy stance should tighten. Consideration of an increase in the fiscal spending ceiling should be put on hold in light of the increased economic uncertainty.

Bank of Israel: zero per-capita growth in 2009
Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
Per-capita economic growth in 2009 will be 0%. The signs of an economic slowdown are already here. The industrial production index, the results of the Bank of Israel’s survey of companies and the Employment Service figures - all point to a slowdown led by a drop in exports and investments," said Dr. Karnit Flug, director of the Bank of Israel’s Research Department. The slowdown will last as least another year, said Flug, speaking yesterday at a conference on insurance and pension savings. The main cause of the extended slowdown comes from Israel being an integral part of the global economy. World trade, which increased 7% annually in recent years and contributed to Israeli economic growth, will rise only 2% in 2009. Demand will fall for Israeli exports. She called on the treasury to focus its safety-net plan only on provident funds for older citizens, noting that this plan will hit the budget.

IAEA chief ElBaradei: Let Syria have nuclear aid
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/26/2008
Syria’s bid for aid in planning a nuclear power plant poses no bomb-making risk and a Western move to block the project threatens to discredit the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA’s director said in remarks released on Tuesday. Major Western nations want the project shelved because Syria is under International Atomic Energy Agency investigation over U. S. intelligence indicating it tried secretly to build a nuclear reactor designed to make plutonium for atomic bombs. Their push has met resistance in the IAEA’s board of governors from Russia, China and developing states who see no grounds for "politicizing" IAEA nuclear energy development aid without proof a country has violated non-proliferation rules. An IAEA report last week said a Syrian building demolished in an Israeli air raid last year bore similarities to a nuclear. . .

’Don’t prejudge Syrian nuclear program’
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
The chief UN nuclear inspector has urged caution against prematurely judging Syria’s atomic program by reminding diplomats about false US claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, comments released Tuesday show. The bluntness of remarks by Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reflected tensions over whether Syria should be given potentially sensitive nuclear guidance at a time it is being investigated for alleged secret atomic activities. Speaking at a closed meeting of the IAEA’s board on Monday, ElBaradei did not mention the United States by name. But his reference to claims that Saddam had a secret chemical, nuclear and biological weapons program - assertions that helped form the US rationale for the invasion of Iraq - made it clear that his criticism was directed mostly at Washington.

IAEA divided over Syrian nuclear aid issue
Middle East Online 11/25/2008
VIENNA - The UN atomic watchdog’s member states were trying to hammer out agreement Tuesday over whether to provide aid to Syria in the possible construction of a nuclear reactor, much contested by the US, diplomats here said Tuesday. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee (TACC), holding its annual meeting here, adjourned until the afternoon so that member countries could try and strike a compromise on the Syrian request, diplomats said. "People aren’t wholly pessimistic that a deal can be reached," a diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The TACC’s annual meeeting does not usually elicit much interest outside the agency. But this year, Syria has asked for the help of the IAEA in studying the technical and economic feasibility of a nuclear power plant, as well as possible site selection.

Jordan seals nuclear deal with China
The Media Line News Agency, Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
Jordan signed a civilian nuclear cooperation deal with China on Monday, as part of its efforts to develop its nuclear energy capabilities. Under the protocol, China will help Jordan mine and enrich uranium, as well as assist in training and studies to build a nuclear station, head of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, Khalid Tuqan, said, according to news reports. A preliminary cooperation deal was signed between the two countries in August. Jordan imports nearly all of its energy needs but is said to have large reserves of uranium, which is one of the base products of a nuclear reactor. [end]

Iraqi supporters of US deal try to build broader majority
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/26/2008
BAGHDAD: Iraqi MPs made a final push on Tuesday to assemble a commanding majority to approve a controversial military pact that would allow US troops to remain another three years. The 275-member assembly is expected to vote Wednesday by a show of hands on the wide-ranging accord, which would require US troops to withdraw from Iraqi cities by the end of June and from the rest of the country by the end of 2011. The measure enjoys the support of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Kurdish alliance, and a number of independent MPs - enough for it to pass with slightly more than the requisite simple majority of 138 votes. But Deputy Speaker Khaled al-Attiya said the government and the UIA were making a last-minute push to assemble a broader coalition. "We do not want to pass this agreement with a difference of two or three or four votes," Attiya told AFP in an interview in his Baghdad office.

UN expert: Iraqi women subjected to violence
Middle East Online 11/25/2008
GENEVA - Iraqi women are the victims of violence from US-led foreign troops, insurgents and militants after five years of occupation, a UN independent expert said Tuesday. "The ongoing conflict, high levels of insecurity, widespread impunity, collapsing economic conditions and rising social conservatism are impacting directly on the daily lives of Iraqi women," said Yakin Erturk, the UN’s special rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. "Violence against Iraqi women is committed by numerous actors, such as militia groups, insurgents, Islamic extremists, law enforcement personnel, members of the family as well as the community," she said in a statement to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Women are victims of rape and sex trafficking, with many driven or forced into prostitution, and they are also victim to the. . .

''Ma’ariv'' publisher seeks funds after loss
Avi Shauly, Globes Online 11/25/2008
The losses were incurred despite far-reaching efficiency measures, lowering operational expenses, and layoffs. Ma’ariv Holdings Ltd. (TASE: MARV), controlled by Israel Land Development Co. (TASE: ILDC)ended the third quarter of 2008 with a loss of NIS 23. 4 million and negative cash flow of NIS 11. 8 million. This follows a loss of NIS 78. 4 million in 2007. The company has warned that the continuation of operations on the current basis, and its ability to meet its commitments, is dependent on obtaining suitable sources of finance, receiving credit from the banks and a substantial improvement in business results. Over the past year Ma’ariv has implemented a number of measures in order to survive in Israel’s competitive media market, which it seems have not been especially successful. Firing employees and other cuts have not influenced the newspaper’s circulation - revenue fell by 14.

Previous rate cut by Fischer was minority decision
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 11/25/2008
Four of the five narrow monetary forum members said that an early rate cut would not affect the markets. The Bank of Israeltoday published the minutes of the mid-November 50-basis point interest rate cut, a day after Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer made another similar cut, this time on schedule, on the last Monday of the month. Fischer made the decision to cut the interest rate on November 11 over the objections of four of the five members of the narrow monetary forum. Since the outbreak of the global financial crisis, the Bank of Israel has held a large number of monetary discussions each week. In the discussions that preceded the November 11 rate cut, four forum members said that there was no advantage in bringing forward the interest rate decision because it would have no material effect on the market.

Pray for an end to financial collapse, chief rabbis say
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 11/24/2008
The country’s chief rabbis are calling for a mass prayer rally Thursday in the hope that heavenly intervention will stem the global financial crisis. With Jewish philanthropists reeling and Israeli businesses preparing to make major layoffs, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger and Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar have decided that this Thursday, the first day of the Jewish month of Kislev, will be a special day of prayer. "Education and Torah institutions are failing to make ends meet, and many are in danger of closure," wrote the two rabbis in a statement. "Factories and businesses are firing workers, and many household heads are no longer able to support their families. Therefore, we call on the public to pray one hour before mincha [the afternoon prayer] on Thursday in synagogues across the nation.

Barak: I’m not afraid to sit in the opposition
Attila Somfalvi and Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/26/2008
Livni? A qualified woman surrounded by thugs; Netanyahu? The surefire route to a confrontation with the entire world; The Saudi peace plan? I’m willing to go meet the king in Riad. Labor Chairman Ehud Barak sits down with Ynet as he embarks - yet again - on the fight of his life, but this time fully prepared for the opposition wilderness - "I’m not a magician and I’m not perfect," Labor Chairman Ehud Barak concedes during his interview with Ynet, "I’m not blind - surely I’ve made a few mistakes. On the political level, in how I conducted myself, by focusing on making peace or reasserting Israel’s might based on the lessons of war. I focused on that and ignored other things - this was a mistake. " But the hefty price exacted on the party he leads, watching it tumble in the polls to the single digits in projected Knesset seats in the upcoming general elections, that, for Barak, is very disproportionate.

Likud Anglos point to US as a model
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 11/25/2008
Israel can learn a lot from the United States about how to improve the country, the four American citizens running for Knesset in the December 8 Likud primary told an audience at the capital’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center on Tuesday night. Yechiel Leiter, who is originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania, spoke about how Israel could cut down on crime by reorganizing its police using New York as a model. Yossi Fuchs, who is from Brooklyn, said that as an MK, he would push to change the political system so that all 120 lawmakers would be elected regionally, and for a cabinet of professionals in every arena. Danny Seaman, who considers himself a New Yorker, said Israeli politicians could learn how to better serve the public from the civil servants of the US. And Tal Brody, who is from Trenton, New Jersey, said the Knesset needed to learn parliamentary decorum from Congress.

Protestor to Bar-On: You’re taking food from my children
Yael Branovsky, YNetNews 11/25/2008
Finance minister greeted at Sderot conference by demonstrators protesting withdrawal of gov’t funds from copper mines. ’You are being sold illusions about cash hoards,’ minister tells public -Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On spoke Tuesday at a society conference in Sderot, but was interrupted by a resident of Eilat, who accused Bar-On was "stealing food" from his children. The offender was unceremoniously discharged from the hall, and the minister continued his speech. The disturbance was preceded by a protest held by dozens of demonstrators, who greeted Bar-On in the city. Most of the participants were copper miners from the Timna mines, who were protesting the Finance Ministry’s decision to terminate government funding for their place of employment. The protestors were ignored by the minister, who offered no comment on his way to the conference hall.

Spamming illegal in Israel from December 1
Michal Raz-Chaimovitz, Globes Online 11/25/2008
Consumers receiving ads without their prior written consent can sue the spammer. Israel’s anti-spam law - Amendment 40 to the Communications Law (Telecommunications and Broadcasting) 5742-1982 - will come into effect on December 1, banning advertising by e-mail, fax, or telephone text messaging without the prior written consent of the recipient. Courts will have the right to order spammers to pay compensation of NIS 1,000, regardless of any damage caused, for each piece of spam sent, until they stop. In extreme cases, the law allows for fines of up to NIS 200,000. If an addressee withdraws his or her consent to receive spam, but the spammer persists in sending it, the fine is NIS 67,000. Adv. Shahar Welner of the Altshuler Welner law firm and editor of Psakdin Websites Ltd. said, "The deterrent does not come from the state, but from the consumer.

A brave new world awaits
David Isenberg, Asia Times 11/26/2008
WASHINGTON - If nothing else, the latest report of the United States National Intelligence Council (NIC) makes a prophet of Kishore Mahbubani. His book, The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East published at the beginning of the year foreshadowed one of the main conclusions of the NIC report released last week. (See Asia pushes, West resists, Asia Times Online, April 19, 2008. )Among the assessments of the report, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World, is that "the unprecedented transfer of wealth roughly from West to East now underway will continue for the foreseeable future". This projection coincides with US president-elect Barack Obama’s announcement of an economic team with deep experience of managing international economic crises in the past decade. His string of appointees, including Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary, may be a strong indication

Book Review: Hamas vs. Fatah
Jim Miles, Palestine Chronicle 11/25/2008
’Schanzer writes almost as if Israel did not exist as part of the problem. ’Hamas vs. Fatah -- The Struggle For Palestine. Jonathan Schanzer. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2008. I’m not sure where to start with this volume -- other than to say it is a history so out of context and so biased in its language that it is essentially meaningless. If a scientist were to isolate human blood cells and study them under a microscope -- and only blood cells under a microscope -- they could learn and report about all sorts of facts about the cells, how the chemicals work, how different chemicals block certain other chemical reactions, how different components of blood will attack certain other components of blood, how the cells became less responsive to stimuli and ultimately die. In that out of context scenario, without considering other interactions and engagements with the hundreds of other

Jordan celebrates its first Emmy
Middle East Online 11/25/2008
AMMAN - Jordanian television producers were on Tuesday celebrating the kingdom’s first ever International Emmy Award for a 2007 series on a love story during Israel’s 2002 incursion into a West Bank city. Al-Igtiyah (The Invasion) won Emmy’s new telenovela category, with producer Talal Awamleh accepting the award in New York on Monday night. "It’s a very well-done and successful work," Yasser Qbeilat of Jordan’s Arab Telemedia Productions, which is owned by Awamleh, said. "As a private production company, it was a big challenge to produce such a work. " The winners of what are known as the Oscars of the television industry were selected from among 40 nominees of 16 countries competing for 10 International Emmy categories, excluding US productions. The series on the Israeli incursion into the Palestinian city of Jenin was shot on location in Syria, with Jordanian, Syrian and Palestinian actors, Qbeilat said.

Study: Attending prayers cuts risk of death
YNetNews 11/25/2008
Study conducted at Yeshiva University finds that regular attendance of religious services reduces risk of death by 20%. Researchers say further study needed to determine why - A study published by researchers at Yeshiva University and its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, strongly suggests that regular attendance at religious services reduces the risk of death by approximately 20%. The findings, published in Psychology and Health, were based on data drawn from participants who spanned numerous religious denominations. The research was conducted by Eliezer Schnall, Ph. D. , clinical assistant professor of psychology at Yeshiva College of Yeshiva University, and co-authored by Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph. D. , professor of epidemiology and population health at Einstein, as an ancillary study of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI).


Appointing Hillary Clinton Secretary of State
Bill and Kathleen Christison, Palestine Chronicle 11/25/2008
      ’Appointing Clinton secretary of state would be utterly disastrous.’
     In 2005 Hillary Clinton stood in Palestine and praised the apartheid wall that the government of Israel was building with large amounts of U.S. aid in furtherance of the Zionist goal of destroying one of the world’s peoples -- the Palestinians. This is the wall that the United Nations’ World Court has declared contrary to international law. And this is just one example of Hillary Clinton’s total support for all of Israel’s policies to oppress and eventually expel whatever elements of the Palestinian population remain west of the Jordan River.
     On the evening of November 14, 2008, we sent a message to Barack Obama’s transition website urging him not to name Mrs. Clinton as his secretary of state. The text of our message said:
     "Appointing Hillary Clinton secretary of state would be utterly disastrous. Combined with the earlier appointment of Rahm Emanuel, it would be seen by all Palestinians, all Arabs, all Muslims, and many others around the world as the ultimate insult, eliminating any hope of a just resolution of the Palestinian situation during the presidency of Barack Obama.It would reduce any good will toward Obama that has built up among Muslims in recent months and would spell finis to hopes for an end of the global hatred that continues to grow against America and its allies.More and more, the "War on Terror" would become a never-ending part of our existence and over time would introduce further limitations of our domestic liberties and of living standards everywhere in the world.

Photo essay: A dark night in Gaza

Sameh A. Habeeb writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 11/25/2008
      Over the past few weeks, Israel has tightened its inhumane siege of the Gaza Strip’s 1.5 million residents. Ignoring international appeals, Israel closed all border crossings with Gaza thereby preventing basic supplies from entering the tiny coastal strip. This included industrial fuel for Gaza’s sole power plant leaving roughly one million people without power as well as food supplies for the UN Agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, despite the call by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to end the siege.
     The recent power blackout has pervaded every Palestinian house.Several hospitals have been forced to suspended surgeries and medical treatment. Today, at Shifa hospital, Gaza’s largest medical center, one of the generators stopped working leaving parts of the hospital without power. In addition, prices of alternative sources of fuel have increased dramatically and are unaffordable to most in the impoverished Strip.
     Without power, Palestinian homes and farms do not have access to fresh water, forcing Gazans to travel long distances for potable water. Moreover, sewage water is not being treated and officials fear that it will leak into and contaminate groundwater wells, spreading disease across Gaza.

Likud Rising

Uri Avnery, Palestine Chronicle 11/25/2008
      ’For several months now Netanyahu has been behaving like a model pupil.’
     Israel Two documents appeared side by side in Haaretz last week,on November 21: a giant advertisement from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the results of a public opinion poll. The proximity was accidental, but to the point. The PLO ad sets out the details of the 2002 Saudi peace offer, decorated with the colorful flags of the 22 Arab and the 35 other Muslim countries which have endorsed the offer.
     The public opinion poll predicts a landslide victory for Likud, which opposes every single word of the Saudi proposal.
     The PLO ad is a first of its kind. At long last, the PLO leaders have decided to address the Israeli people directly.
     The ad discloses to the Israeli population the exact terms of the all-Arab peace offer: full recognition of the State of Israel by all Arab and Muslim countries, full normalization of relations - in return for Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders and the establishment of the Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

What Preoccupies Young Palestinian Minds

Daoud Kuttab, Palestine Media Center 11/25/2008
      The occupation is foremost on Palestinian youth’s mind. This was made clear in the Palestinian village of Beita, near Nablus, at an event held on November 17: the opening of the youth development resource centre, funded by USAID and some private international technical companies.
     The audience included US Undersecretary of State James K. Glassman, responsible for public diplomacy and public affairs, Ziad Asali, president of the American Task Force on Palestine, Jean Case, chief executive officer of the Case Foundation (the two are co-chair of the US Palestinian public-private partnership), senior Palestinian officials, town leaders and practically all 8,000 residents of Beita.
     After the speeches of the minister of youth, the governor of Nablus and a senior USAID official, Iqab Attari the chair of the youth centre reminded donors of the larger problem facing the Palestinians.

Gazans unable to use newly-issued IDs due to Israeli closure

Ma’an News Agency 11/25/2008
      Gaza – Ma’an – Nairouz Qarmout has not seen her husband since their wedding three years ago.  
     Qarmout lives in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip. Her husband lives in the West Bank. The two were married when he travelled to Gaza through the Egypt-controlled Rafah crossing.     
     Making her situation more complex, Qarmout was one of thousands of Palestinians who had no identification card, making it nearly impossible for her to obtain an Israeli-issued permit to leave Gaza and travel to the West Bank.     
     Israel places limits on the number of ID cards the Palestinian Authority can issue, making it difficult for Palestinian families to reunite. This is often a problem for West Bank and Gaza residents who were exiled during the 1967 occupation and then returned to their homeland after the creation of the Authority in 1994.

Olive Culture in Palestine

Dr. T. Jayasinghe, Asian Tribune, Palestine Media Center 11/24/2008
      Olive branch is a universal symbol of peace. This was highlighted when Chairman Yasser Arafat raised the olive branch in UN assembly and declared that he is for peace in Palestine. Unfortunately olive tree continues to be an object of conflict in Palestine.
     Olive tree is an inseparable part of Palestinian culture while playing a vital role in its agriculture, economy and national identity. As in the case of paddy cultivation in Sri Lanka there is a culture woven around the olive tree along with many rituals associated with harvesting. In Palestine olive picking season is traditionally considered a joyous and important time specially in the villages. There are olive harvesting festivals held all over Palestine. Olive picking or harvesting usually commences by end September and goes on till end November.
     In Sri Lanka teachers in paddy cultivation regions complain that children do not attend schools during the paddy harvesting season but in Palestine children are given time off so that they can help their parents in this "time honored endeavor".

Without Unity, Palestinians Have No Way to Fend off Israeli War Crimes

Editorial, The Daily Star, Palestine Media Center 11/25/2008
      No sane person can look at the tragedy unfolding in the Gaza Strip and not mourn the passing of Palestinian unity. At a time when a coherent message demanding statehood might help create public pressure for Western countries to finally stop allowing Israel to break international law, the Palestinian people have been reduced to the point where the United Nations is begging on their behalf for permission to bring food into the besieged enclave. Zero progress has been made on liberating Palestine Hamas’ way, which is to fire ineffective rockets that only give the Israelis a pretext to maintain their attacks and starve children. In addition, even Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah has now acknowledged that his way - that of engaging in negotiations with the occupier - has also achieved nothing after a whole year of talks initiated by the Annapolis summit.
     Far from appearing ready for the necessary compromises, both Hamas and Fatah have willfully sabotaged efforts to reconcile them, including preconditions for talks, abuse of constitutional mechanisms, and arrests of one another’s members. Unfettered by any consistent Palestinian opposition, the Israelis have therefore been granted a free hand to have their way with Gaza - and, when it pleases them, to prey on innocent people in Occupied Jerusalem and the Occupied West Bank as well. Collective punishment is being carried out against their people on a mass scale, and the two principle Palestinian parties are more concerned with their own feud than with bringing the enemy to account.

Organize to stop apartheid dance troupe’s North America tour

Michelle J. Kinnucan, Electronic Intifada 11/25/2008
      The Batsheva Dance Company of Tel Aviv is touring the US and Canada in January, February, and March, 2009. A recipient of public financing since the 1990s, the dance troupe is clearly an Israeli apartheid cultural institution. Writing October 26, 2008, in The Independent of London, Jenny Gilbert reports that the dance company is "funded by Israel’s government, its performers include none of Arab extraction, and it is ’proud to be considered Israel’s leading ambassador.’"
     Ohad Naharin, the dance company’s current Director, served in the Israeli army. In a 2005 interview with a Canadian newspaper, Naharin stated that "I continue to do my work, while 20 km from me people are participating in war crimes ... the ability to detach oneself from the situation -- that is what allows one to go on." Needless to say, the victims of Israeli "war crimes" cannot avail themselves of the luxury of detachment.
     In the summer of 2006, Israel turned Lebanon into a free-fire zone and killed over a thousand Lebanese civilians and wounded thousands more. Just a few weeks later, in October 2006, Dance Magazine asked Naharin: "How does the current conflict between Israel and Lebanon affect you as an artist?" He responded that "I don’t separate my artistry from my life. My life and my work is all one thing. I’m affected by what’s going on, of course." Later in the same interview Naharin noted, "We have two Israeli soldiers in our junior company." and "I don’t like that people think Israel: war, guns, army."

Completing the task of evicting Israel from Lebanon

Franklin Lamb, Northwest of Ghajar Village, South Lebanon  , Palestine Think Tank 11/25/2008
      A job for the UN or Hezbollah?
     "We, as Lebanese, are here to confirm that we cling to freeing every grain of our soil. We will not abandon the great national cause, which is the continuation of the liberation of our land. The resistance looks forward to hoisting the flags of victory again over the Kfarshuba hills, Shebaa Farms, Ghajar and Abbasieh where 80 percent of the land is still occupied" - Sheik Nabil Qwork, Hezbollah leader addressing villagers at Abbasieh Village, 10/2008
     Under pressure from the lame duck Bush Administration to withdraw from territory that the Lebanese Resistance (moukawamah Lubnaniyah) did not liberate during its May 2000 rout of the Israel army and its surrogate SLA militia, Israel to date remains unwilling to budge.
     One reason is that it claims the Bush Administration reneged on secret pledges to bomb Iran.
     As the blind eyes turned by five consecutive US administrations to Israel’s 22 year brutal occupation of South Lebanon (1978-2000) make plain, Israel remaining on Lebanese territory normally would not be of much concern to Washington even as it is learning that its own hard-line policy in the region did not succeed.

Don’t Suppress Carter (or Opportunities for Middle East Peace)

Ralph Nader, Palestine Chronicle 11/25/2008
      ’Silencing Carter involved behind the scenes tensions..’
     Now that the season of electoral expediency is over, Barack Obama owes Jimmy Carter an apology.
     At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the Party denied Jimmy Carter the traditional invitation to speak that is accorded its former presidents.
     According to The Jewish Daily Forward, "Carter’s controversial views on Israel cost him a place on the podium at the Democratic Party convention in late August, senior Democratic operatives acknowledged to the Forward."
     Silencing Carter, who negotiated the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement, involved behind the scenes tensions between supporters of the hard-line AIPAC lobby and those Democrats who argued both respect and free speech to let Carter join Bill Clinton on the stage and address a nationwide audience.
     First, there was a compromise offer to let Carter speak but only on domestic policy subjects. This would have kept him from mentioning his views on securing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians through a two-state solution essentially back to the 1967 borders. He previously elaborated his analysis and recommendations in his 2006 bestseller titled Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

Praying at the Wall

Dr. Bernard Sabella, MIFTAH 11/25/2008
      In the Holy Land there are many walls and of all kinds. Palestinians often ask themselves if being walled in or out is the way of life since for many of them, particularly the young, the Wall has become part of their physical and psychological setting. Someone just told me that the best thing the Palestinian Authority can do, aside from unifying the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, would be to announce a hefty prize for practical ideas to bring down the Separation Wall. Anyone or any interested companies and parties worldwide can apply and an international board would determine the winner. When I asked my ingenious acquaintance on what to do with the concrete that would be left out when the Wall is brought down, he suggested shipping it to Holland to make more land and/or examine the possibility of making more land off Gaza shore.
     Ideas like this, though they may appear out of touch with reality, simply emphasize that Walls are not and cannot be the way to live out our lives, not now and not in the future. Irrespective of the pretenses, pretexts, justifications presented for building “political and psychological” walls, they remain unconvincing. Similarly, embargoes or sieges that wall in people and deny them basic necessities are also obsolete in terms of political return. The example of Gaza tells of a 1.4 million convincing reason why the Israeli siege on the Strip has failed miserably. An American Jewish rabbi on a visit to the Holy Land went to Bethlehem and as he saw and stood by the Wall, he started crying. I could not believe his reaction and I thought he was feigning it to please me and the other Palestinians around. No, he said, it is simply a horrible barrier and I could not have imagined it so. Some would say that the example of this Rabbi is simply one of out of million but in reality it is an example that says what any decent person would say: no future for Israelis and Palestinians with this Wall.

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