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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.

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
1 December, 2008

Israeli navy blocks Gaza aid ship
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 12/1/2008
The Israeli navy today prevented a Libyan ship carrying 3,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid for Palestinians from docking in Gaza. The al-Marwa, carrying food, blankets and powdered milk, attempted to challenge Israel’s tight economic blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has worsened in recent weeks. But as the ship approached Gazan water at dawn, an Israeli naval ship ordered it to turn back. The al-Marwa headed south and has reportedly docked at al-Arish, an Egyptian port in the northern Sinai just south of Gaza. An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said there was no physical contact with the ship but it was ordered back by radio. "This is a policy we have had for a long time: if somebody wants to bring in humanitarian aid they can do it through the border with Egypt or the Israeli passages into Gaza," said the spokesman, Andy David.

Settler stone throwers injure five Palestinians in Hebron, one rights activist
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Hebron – Ma’an - Five Palestinian citizens were left cut and bruised after falling victim to an attack by Israeli settlers north east of the old city of Hebron. The settlers are currently occupying the home of the Rajabi family, who are pursuing the matter in the Israeli High Court and disputing the settlers’ claim that the home was sold to the group in 2007. A researcher for the Israeli Human Rights group B’tselem was also injured as he attempted to contact Israeli police in the area and ask them to prevent the settlers from assaulting locals. While in the area the researchers was also hit with a rock, and the soldiers he spoke with took no action against the violence. Settlers claim the building, “Beit Hashalom,” was purchased from a Palestinian family for 700,000 US dollars in 2007, and have been using the facility as a residential, religious and educational site ever since.

UN accuses Israel of punishing aid workers
Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor, The Independent 12/1/2008
The UN official responsible for the welfare of 4. 6 million Palestinian refugees has accused Israel of extending its collective punishment of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip to include international humanitarian staff. Karen AbuZayd, who is based in Gaza City, said that Israeli authorities have within the past month stopped UN staff based in Gaza from using the diplomatic pouch. They gave no reason for the move, which is a clear breach of international law. "We can’t send the mail out or get any mail in. I don’t think they could give a reason because there is no way they could justify it," said Mrs AbuZayd, an American who is commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency. UNRWA is the main provider of basic services -- such as education and health -- to registered Palestine refugees, includin. . .

Fatah operative killed by IDF in Nablus
Ali Waked and Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 12/2/2008
Muhammed Abu Driyah dies of his wounds after being shot during arrest attempt. Palestinians say he had been granted clemency by Israel as part of amnesty agreement, but Israel asserts he had returned to terrorism - The Fatah operative who was shot this evening in Nablus by IDF forces trying to arrest him has died of his wounds. Palestinian sources told Ynet that Muhammad Abu Driyah had been granted clemency by Israel as part of a deal with Fatah. Abu Dria had belonged to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the military wing of Fatah. In return for his pledge to relinquish terrorism he was released from prison and was allowed free movement throughout the West Bank. The army said troops identified Abu Driyah and called on him to stop, when he did not do so they proceeded with the arrest procedure which included gunfire when he continued to flee.

Fayyad asks EU not to upgrade ties with Israel
Associated Press, YNetNews 12/1/2008
Palestinian prime minister asks diplomats not to improve EU-Israel relations as long as latter expands West Bank settlements -The European Union should not upgrade ties with Israel as long as the latter expands West Bank settlements, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in a meeting with EU diplomats on Monday. Fayyad called together all EU heads of mission today ahead of the European Council meeting on December 8 and the plenary session of the European Parliament on December 4 at which the EU is expected to make a decision about whether to upgrade its relations with Israel. Palestinian Information Minister Riad Malki said Fayyad gave the diplomats a letter that refers to the dangers of an upgrade of EU-Israel relations as long as settlement construction continues. In a press statement, Luisa Morgantini, the Vice President of the. . .

Ill woman denied medical treatment as she awaits trial in Israel; family appeals for help
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The family of 25-year-old Sana Salah, who stands accused of attempting to stab an Israeli soldier, is appealing to have Sana released from Israeli custody so her medical conditions can be treated. Sana, from the village of Al-Khader south of Bethlehem, suffers from weak eyesight and severe psoriasis in her feet. She has been held in Israeli custody for four months awaiting her trial, and has received no medical treatment. “She told me last Thursday during a court hearing that prison wardens keep beating her,” said Sana’s mother. “As a result [of the beating],” her mother added, Sana “has lost complete eyesight in her left eye. ”Israeli authorities expect Sana to be given a five-year sentence for attempting to stab an Israeli soldier near Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.

Al Mezan Center demands a probe into the killing of a Palestinian man in Gaza
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 12/1/2008
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights demanded the Hamas-controlled Palestinian police in Gaza to probe the fatal shooting of a 41-year old man in Al Maghazi refugee camp after he was arrested by the police. The Palestinian Ministry of Interior said that Kamel Nofal (Ashour) 41, was shot by accident. Field investigation conducted by Al Mezan revealed that a number of policemen arrived on Sunday at an area near Al Da’wa Mosque, in AL Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza. The area is used as a peoples market every week on Sunday. The policemen stepped out of their vehicle and forced resident Ashour, who was selling rabbits, to accompany them. They took him to their jeep, 70 meters away, and attempted to force him into the jeep but he resisted. He was pushed onto the ground and one policemen held him from his neck before his pulled his gun and fired one round into the air, when the policeman. . .

Anti-Wall organizer remains in coma after tractor crash with Wall last week
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 12/1/2008
Emad Bornat, documentary film maker of Bil’in, Palestine, who toured throughout Puerto Rico and the North East US with Tito Kayak, has been in a coma in Tel Aviv Hospital for about a week now. He sustained critical injuries when the brakes and gears of his tractor failed, and he collided into the barbed wire fence of the Israel’s occupation wall that cuts his village land in two. According to his wife Sorya, he is still in serious condition, but the doctors have hope of his recovery, because he is young and was healthy before this accident. He will need to undergo further surgery, and will be weaned off a respirator in the next few days. Sorya said that he opened his eyes for a few minutes only, yesterday but cannot speak yet. She added that the family’s youngest son Gabreal was treated for a head wound at Ramallah hospital, but had returned home.

Next to Hebron’s ’House of Contention,’ Palestinian neighbors live in fear
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
It’s afternoon and there is a lull in the fighting between Jewish settlers and Palestinians. In a few hours, thousands of Jews will arrive to prevent the evacuation of the "House of Peace," also called the "House of Contention," which the High Court of Justice ruled must be returned to the Palestinians who claim ownership of it. Meanwhile, a group of youths is on the rooftop of the building listening to a rabbi speak. Others are kept on guard scouting for any changes in the movements of Israel Defense Forces or Palestinian bystanders. Nearby, a Palestinian youth walking home from school keeps his eye on the rooftop of the building. He knows a stone may be thrown at him from there at any moment. Mohammed al-Jabari, 46, who just finished praying at the Cave of the Patriarchs, said the youths on top of the building throw stones at every Palestinian passing on the street below.

Four Palestinians hospitalized in Hebron after attack by settlers’ dogs
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Hebron - Ma’an – Israeli settlers’ dogs attacked and injured four Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday, medical sources confirmed. Local sources said the four were attacked on Al-Sahleh street in the Old City of Hebron, near the Ibrahimi Mosque. Medical sources at the Hebron Government Hospital identified the victims as 44-year-old Muhammad Zaid Abdul-Rahim Abu Sneineh, 16 year-old Ahmed Ashour and 14 year-olds Abdel Hadi Mustafa Abu Madi and Asad Ghanem. Half of Hebron’s old city is inhabited by militant Israeli settlers, who are protected by Israeli soldiers. Tensions have been high in the city after the Israeli high-court ordered the eviction last week of a settler-occupied house.

Hebron protests turn violent
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 12/2/2008
Settlers say nearly a thousand activists have flocked to disputed house in bid to prevent eviction; 11 rightists arrested for allegedly attacking Border Guard officer - Following rumors that security forces are set to evict the disputed house in Hebron late Monday night, hundreds of right-wing activists increased protest activities in the area, some of which became violent and resulted in arrests. "Everything that’s happening now is the result of the defense minister’s unjust and irresponsible behavior," Noam Arnon, the spokesman for the Jewish community in the West Bank, told Ynet. According to settlers in the area, nearly a thousand people have gathered around the disputed house in order to prevent the eviction of its Jewish occupants. Earlier in the evening community leaders sent text message appeals to right-wing activists, urging them to head to house.

Five Palestinians hurt in clashes with settlers in Hebron
Nadav Sharagi, and Reuters, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
Jewish settlers and Palestinians threw stones in clashes on Monday that injured five in the West Bank city of Hebron where Jews are vowing to halt the evication of settlers who have taken refuge in a home not far from the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Five Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy, were injured, Palestinian medics in the flashpoint city said. At least two Palestinian cars also were set ablaze in what an Israeli security source described as a riot beside the building where the Jewish families facing eviction have been living for a year and a half. The High Court of Justice earlier this month ordered the so-called House of Contention vacated within three days, after settlers presented forged ownership claims. A loophole was found allowing them to remain for a full 30 days before any government force could be taken.

100s in Hebron amid evacuation rumors
Jerusalem Post 12/1/2008
Hundreds of right-wing activists flocked to Hebron Monday night in the wake of rumors that IDF and police were preparing to evacuate the building. "Emergency - the destruction and eviction forces have reached ’Beit Hashalom’," stated an urgent message sent out by Hebron settlers Monday evening. "Everyone is requested to arrive immediately. This is the moment of truth for the settlement movement. " The IDF would neither confirm nor deny the rumors. The settlers’ claimed that police and border policemen are streaming toward the center of Hebron and called upon supporters to come and "prevent the disgrace. " They predicted that the evacuation would take place Monday night. As the rumors started to circulate, youths began blocking various transportation routs in order to prevent the forces from reaching Hebron.

Al-Maliki: PA will keep security forces in Hebron despite Israeli call for withdrawal
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority security expansion into Hebron will move forward despite Israel’s call for the new forces to be withdrawn, said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki. In a Ramallah press conference on Monday Al-Maliki assured that the gradual expansion of PA security forces would continue, and said he looked forward to the forces’ continued success at maintaining law and order in all regions of Palestine. Al-Maliki explained that Israeli officials had first off refused to recognize the authority of Palestinian police and security forces in Hebron, and then followed up with a request for their removal. The request was made, said Al-Maliki, because the Israeli settlers occupying homes and settlements in the city were annoyed at the presence of the new forces. He added that Palestinian Prime Minister Dr Salam Fayyad spoke with the. . .

MPs warn: Settlers attacks in Al-Khalil could have serious consequences
Palestinian Information Center 12/1/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Two Palestinian lawmakers have warned that the continued Israeli settlers’ attacks on Palestinians and their property in Al-Khalil could lead to a popular explosion in the city. The two MPs, of the Hamas affiliated parliamentary bloc, Basim Za’arir and Samira Halaika said on Sunday that the inhabitants of Al-Khalil district were particularly provoked by the fact that the Israeli occupation forces remained silent and even escorted those settlers during their attacks. They held the IOF responsible for life of citizens especially in the Old City since the assaults are conducted before the very eyes of the IOF soldiers. [end]

Settlers rampage as rumors of Hebron house eviction fly
Amos Harel and Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
Right-wing activists yesterday stepped-up preparations to resist an operation by security forces aimed at evicting them from a disputed house in Hebron in accordance with a ruling by the High Court of Justice. More, Page 3. Right-wing activists flocked to the building, whose ownership is claimed by both Jews and Palestinians and is known alternatively as the Peace House or House of Contention, as rumors spread that the operation was imminent. In addition, they briefly blocked roads in the West Bank near the settlements of Itzhar and Mitzpe Yeriho as well as the Bar Ilan junction within the 1967 borders of Israel to protest against the anticipated eviction. The house is located in a key strategic location between the settlement of Kiryat Arba and the Cave of the Patriarchs, a holy site for Jews and Muslims.

Right of Kahane
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
Meet Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, head of the World headquarters to Save the People and Land of Israel (SOS Israel), director of the Chabad educational institutions in Kiryat Gat, author of more than 40 books on a wide range of topics in rabbinical law and Torah and the man who a few days ago said that "the state of Israel is the enemy of the Jewish people," before softening his stance a bit. He is further to the right than the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, a person who thinks Ariel Sharon is "Haman" and a "false Messiah" and that the foreign minister is "the second Isabella," perhaps the successor to the first Isabella, who is credited with the Inquisition and the expulsion of Jews from Spain. Now Wolpe, one of the heads of the Messianic faction of Chabad, is registering a new political party, "Eretz Yisrael Shelanu - A United Jewish Party for the Wholeness of the Torah, the Land and the People.

Court rules Federman can return to W. Bank
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court yesterday rejected the State Prosecutor’s request to bar extreme right activist Noam Federman from the West Bank until the end of his trial. Federman was charged in the beginning of November with assaulting an officer and disrupting his work during the evacuation of Federman’s house from an illegal outpost near Kiryat Arba at the end of October. Federman was arrested during the incident but was released after the prosecution couldn’t find a judge who would extend his remand. The state then asked the court to bar Federman from the West Bank until the end of his trial and impose bail on him to ensure his court appearance. The Magistrate’s Court rejected the request for restrictions on Federman and said it would rule on November 10 whether to bar him from the West Bank. The state then appealed to the District Court, which last week dismissed. . .

Tulkarem man denied Jerusalem permit; wife and premature son alone in hospital
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli authorities denied a Palestinian man permission to enter Jerusalem to see his wife and new born baby at the Al-Maqasid Hospital. Saed Badran, from Deir Al-Ghusun north of Tulkarem appealed to the head of the Palestinian Civil Affairs department, Hussaain Ash-Sheikh for help getting a permit to enter Jerusalem. “I applied for permission through the District Coordination Office,” Bardan explained, “but my application was rejected three times. ”Badran, who works at Thabit Thabit Hospital in Tulkarem, has been married for seven years. He and his wife Manal Badran were finally able to conceive through fertility treatments. Manal’s pregnancy was difficult from the beginning and she was hospitalized at the Thabit Thabit Hospital for 12 days when she was six months pregnant. When Manal’s condition worsened she was transferred to the Al-Maqasid Hospital. . .

Haaretz writer held for entering Gaza
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass was detained by Sderot police last night for having entered the Gaza Strip without a permit. By order of the army, Israeli journalists have been barred from entering Gaza since the abduction of soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006. Hass was stopped by soldiers at the Erez Checkpoint, on the Gaza-Israel border, as she was returning to Israel from the Strip. Upon discovering that she had no permit to be in Gaza, the soldiers transferred her to the Sderot police. When questioned, Hass pointed out that no one had stopped her from entering the Strip, which she did for work purposes. Chief Superintendent Shimon Nahmani, commander of the Sderot police station, said Hass had entered Gaza by sea three weeks ago. Hass was released with certain restrictions, and Nahmani said her case will be sent to court in the coming week.

IEC in talks on substations for Palestinian Authority
Lior Baron, Globes Online 12/1/2008
The turn key project will cost several hundred million shekels. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ thatIsrael Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE:ELEC. B22 ) is in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority to jointly build five substations in its territory. The new substations will improve the reliability of electricity supplies. The turn key project will cost several hundred million shekels, based on an agreed upon fee for IEC. Last Thursday, an IEC delegation visited Egypt to meet representatives of the World Bank, which may partly finance the project. Former IEC VP customer relations, Yigal Ben-Arie, who used to be responsible for IEC relations with the Palestinian Authority, headed the delegation. The Palestinian Authority is almost totally dependent on Israel for its electricity supply, except for a single 110-megawatt power station in the Gaza Strip, which supplies about half of the area’s electricity.

Gaza: UN relief officials still lack Israeli bank notes to aid nearly 100,000 poor
United Nations News Service, ReliefWeb 12/1/2008
United Nations refugee officials are still unable to get shekel notes into banks in Gaza, where Israel has imposed closures or restrictions on crossing points, leaving 94,000 of the poorest people without their regular cash assistance. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) warned almost two weeks ago that it would have to suspend cash distributions due to the lack of Israeli shekel notes in banks there. The agency reported today that its school feeding program for 200,000 children also required 200,000 shekels per day. Schools are currently operating on credit with vendors, but are sounding alarm bells that they will be forced to stop shortly if they do not receive the cash. Last week, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory, Maxwell Gaylard, appealed to donors to provide urgent funds to address the deteriorating. . .

Hope for resurrection of closed PLO offices in East Jerusalem under new EU pressure
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The European Union is tabling a plan to pressure Israel into allowing the Orient House, the former headquarters of the Palestinian government in Jerusalem, to reopen in 2009. The proposal was revealed on Monday in the Israeli daily paper Haaretz, though officials from the office of the Palestinian President in Jerusalem said the EU had been in touch with the President’s office on the issue for years, and continuously indicated their support for the re-opening of the Palestinian institution. The Haaretz report said Israeli officials were “deeply concerned” over the proposal’s suggestion, and presumed the idea of reopening the institution would cause a “clash” between the EU and “whatever new government Israelis elect in February. ”In previous years the United States looked for ways to secure the opening of the Orient House offices, but without satisfactory results.

EU Wants the Orient House Re-opened
Palestine Media Center – PMC, Palestine Media Center 12/1/2008
Document Outlines EU Action Strategy for Peace in Middle East - Israeli officials are deeply concerned over an internal European Union document written by the French Foreign Ministry and titled "The EU Action Strategy for Peace in the Middle East: The Way Forward,” which calls for increased pressure on Israel to reopen Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem, including Orient House, which formerly served as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s headquarters in the city. A copy of the document was obtained by the Israeli daily Haaretz. It outlines the EU’s plans for advancing an Israeli-Palestinian deal in 200. It is slated to be discussed next week at a meeting of the EU’s foreign ministers, and Israel is trying to get various elements changed before then, Haaretz reported on Monday. The document proposes various steps the EU should take in 2009 on both the Palestinian and the Syrian tracks, with emphasis on the former.

Netanyahu assures Czech FM he’s committed to PA talks
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 12/1/2008
Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu assured Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg on Monday that he would continue diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians Authority if he wins the election in February and that those negotiations would take place alongside what he has called efforts to achieve "economic peace. " Netanyahu met in Jerusalem with Schwarzenberg, whose country is to assume the rotating presidency of the European Union in January. According to Zalman Shoval, the head of the Likud’s foreign relations department who was in on the meeting, Netanyahu stressed that his idea for "economic peace" was not a replacement for the political talks, but rather meant to create a foundation and positive atmosphere that would augment those talks. Shoval said the overarching idea was to create a better livelihood for the Palestinians and try to solve their day-to-day economic. . .

Qassam lands near Ashkelon; no injuries
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 12/1/2008
Rocket explodes in open area near local kibbutz. Crossings to Gaza remain closed due to ongoing rocket fire -A Qassam rocket exploded Monday afternoon in an open area near a kibbutz south of the city of Ashkelon. There were no reports of injuries or damage. Palestinian gunmen launched a rocket from the northern Gaza Strip at around 3 pm. Residents in the area reported hearing a loud explosion. On Sunday, a Qassam rocket launched from northern Gaza landed in an open area in the southern town of Sderot. Paramedics treated one woman for shock, although she refused to let them evacuate her to a hospital for additional treatment. Another rocket landed in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. In addition, a barrage of five mortar shells landed in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council. Following the ongoing rocket fire,Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed. . .

Report: Israel warns Hamas of major Gaza incursion
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel reportedly warned Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Monday of a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip if they continue firing rockets at Israeli towns. Hamas leaders responded by calling for a halt to shelling. Anonymous Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials told the Kuwait based Al-Jaridah newspaper that the warning was relayed to senior Hamas leader Muhammad Nazzal by Qatari officials. Despite Hamas’ appeal, Palestinian sources in Gaza say Hamas failed to convince other armed groups to stop firing projectiles and go ahead with the ceasefire. Their military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, for example, refuses to follow directives related to halting projectiles from their political echelon. Hamas has called on their leaders in Damascus to convince Hamas leaders in exile to help stop Gaza-based military organizations from shelling Israeli towns.

Al-Quds Brigades: Using prisoners as human shields will lead to shelling deep inside Israel
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The use of Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners as human shields protecting Israeli targets will precipitate the use of long-range shells reaching deep into Israel, said a statement by the Al-Quds Brigades on Monday. The Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, were responding to a statement made earlier this week by Member of the Knesset (MK) with the center-right Likud party Gilad Arden who was quoted in the Israeli daily paper Maariv calling for the use of Islamic Jihad and Hamas prisoners as human shields to protect Israeli sites from projectile attacks. Arden was responding to the reports of eight injured Israeli soldiers on Friday after several projectiles were launched from the Gaza Strip. “Such statements explain the Israeli political failure,” said Al-Quds Brigades spokesperson Abu Hamza.

Israel turns Libyan ship away from Gaza; uses no force
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
The Israel Navy yesterday prevented a Libyan vessel from breaking the blockade around the Gaza Strip. The ship was carrying pro-Palestinian activists and a large supply of food and humanitarian aid. Israel had allowed three European ships carrying leftist activists to reach Gaza over the past three months. Security sources said the difference this time was that the ship was flying an enemy flag, was relatively large and could have been smuggling weapons. The recent escalation on the Gaza border may also have contributed to the decision. The sources said the navy used no force against the Libyan ship, but called over a loudspeaker for the vessel to leave the area, which it did, heading for Egypt. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday that Israel had "no intention of letting ships into the Gaza Strip," but that "portions" of humanitarian aid were being allowed through "to preserve a minimum standard of living in the Strip.

Qatari charity plans aid mission to besieged Gaza
Daily Star 12/2/2008
A Qatari charity said on Monday it plans to ship one ton of medical aid to the Gaza Strip this week in a bid to defy an Israeli blockade on the tiny Palestinian territory. "We intend to send a boat in a symbolic gesture, carrying a ton of medicine to our brothers in Gaza," said Abdallah al-Nimaa, vice president of the Qatar Charity Organization. Nimaa told AFP the ship is set to sail from Doha on Friday, although he said he expects the Israeli authorities to stop the vessel from reaching Gaza, where most of its 1. 5 million inhabitants depend on foreign aid. "We expect Israeli warships to bar the Qatari aid ship, however we are determined," he said, adding that the group did not request an Israeli permit. Nimaa’s doubt over the ultimate success of the trip was highlighted on Monday by Israeli authorities, who blocked a Libyan ship trying to deliver aid to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said.

Dr Barghouthi condemns the Israeli refusal to allow the Libyan ship to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 12/1/2008
Ramallah, 01-12-08: Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, the Secretary General of the , today strongly condemned the Israeli refusal to allow the Libyan vessel carrying humanitarian aid to dock in Gaza. Said Dr Barghouthi, "We condemn the Israeli action preventing an Arab ship carrying food and medicine for the children and people of Gaza from arriving in Gaza. This proves that, contrary to their claims, Israel is still completely occupying the Gaza Strip. " "Israel is in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention which obliges the occupying power to provide humanitarian needs to the occupied people. But not only is Israel in violation of the Geneva Convention, they have also created the worst form of collective punishment by subjecting 1,5 million Palestinians to a severe humanitarian crisis. By limiting the access of Gazans to food, medicine and healthcare, Israel is practically committing a war crime", Dr Barghouthi added.

Mishaal thanks Qaddafi and his people for their humanitarian gesture
Palestinian Information Center 12/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, expressed his thanks on behalf of the besieged Gaza people to Libyan leader Muammar Al-Qaddafi and his people for sending a relief ship to the Gaza Strip during a telephone call on Monday. During his telephone conversation with the Libyan leader, Mishaal stressed the need for continuing such Arab relief efforts to help the impoverished Gaza people and break the siege once and for all. In a statement received by the PIC, the governmental committee to break the siege strongly denounced Israel for blocking the Libyan relief ship from docking at the Gaza port, calling on the international humanitarian organizations to pressure Israel to allow the ship to reach Gaza. The committee urged Libya not to surrender to the Israeli obstacles and to make further attempts to send humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian people in Gaza.

Assad urges EU to help lift Gaza blockade
Middle East Online 12/1/2008
DAMASCUS - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad held talks with two French envoys on Sunday and urged Paris and the European Union, currently headed by France, to work to lift the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Claude Gueant, secretary-general of the French presidency, and Jean-David Levitte, chief diplomatic advisor to President Nicolas Sarkozy, arrived in Damascus earlier in the day and discussed "Franco-Syrian cooperation and the situation in the Middle East," said the official Syrian news agency SANA. Assad praised the "efforts made by France with countries in the region, aimed at finding solutions to different problems. " He urged Paris and the European Union to "work to lift the blockade imposed on the Palestinian people in Gaza which worsens the humanitarian situation" in the territory. On Sunday, Israel -- the major ally of the United States in the region -- said it was. . .

Hamas: The Libyan ship’s attempt to reach Gaza is a brave step
Palestinian Information Center 12/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement hailed Monday the attempt by the Libyan ship to reach the Gaza Strip as a courageous move of challenge, highlighting that this move shows a sense of responsibility from Libya towards one and a half million people besieged by Israel in full view of the whole world. In a press release received by the PIC, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the Israeli interception of a ship loaded with humanitarian aid to the impoverished people of Gaza confirmed the criminal image of the Israeli occupation which is trying to beautify it through negotiations, normalization and security coordination. Barhoum urged the crew of the Libyan ship to show determination and reach Gaza despite the challenges they may face. The spokesman underlined that in light of the increased suffering of Gaza people and the international attempt to break the siege through the sea. . .

Israel turns back Libyan ship bound for Gaza
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 12/1/2008
GAZA, Dec 1 (Reuters) -A Libyan ship trying to deliver aid to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Monday turned back in the face of an Israeli naval blockade, Palestinian officials said. The ship, Al-Marwa, sailed instead to a port in neighbouring Egypt. It left Libya last Monday, carrying 3,000 tonnes of food, medicine and other aid, Palestinian and Libyan officials said. Imposed to generate political pressure on Islamist Hamas, the blockade has been stepped up in recent weeks amid a surge in border clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants. Israel, which has in the past allowed ships carrying humanitarian goods to dock in Gaza to avoid a public confrontation, said Al-Marwa had turned back without incident. "They understood that the navy was there and decided to turn around," said Andy David, a Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman.

IOA shuts down Gaza crossings for 27th day, power plant closed
Palestinian Information Center 12/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority announced on Monday that the Gaza Strip’s commercial crossings with Israel would remain closed for the 27th day today as Gaza’s sole power plant was shut down due to lack of fuel, spare parts. The Hebrew radio reported that war minister Ehud Barak ordered the continued closure of all crossings with Gaza at the pretext that locally made missiles and mortars were still being fired from the Strip at Israeli targets. The Israeli occupation forces said that a missile was fired Sunday night at the Sderot settlement causing material damage. Palestinian resistance factions declared adherence to the calm with the IOF but said would respond to any IOF incursion or shelling. The Gaza power plant was shut down on Sunday night after it ran out of fuel that was supplied by the IOA in limited quantity last week.

Israeli naval vessels intercept a Libyan aid ship
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/1/2008
Israeli naval vessels intercepted on Monday a Libyan aid ship, while en-route to the besieged Gaza Strip, after sailing from a Libyan port one week ago. Lawmaker and head of the local popular committee to break the Israeli siege on Gaza, Jamal Alkhudari, stated today morning in a press conference on Gaza sea port that the Israeli naval boats turned the ship back. " the ship is now in the territorial waters of the nearby Egyptian sea town of Al-Arish, while coordination is underway to ensure delivery of the aid to Gaza via the border crossing of Rafah on Gaza-Egypt border lines". Alkhudari decried the Israeli measure ’in a time Gaza is starving because of the restrictive Israeli blockade in place for more than 19 months now’. He called on the Arab and Islamic nations, to intervene immediately to break the Gaza siege.

Libyan aid boat to Gaza blocked by Israeli warships; docks in Egypt
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Libyan aid ship destined for Gaza and turned away by Israeli warships landed in the Egyptian port of Al-Arish Monday afternoon. The boat, carrying 3,000 tons of aid, entered Gazan coastal waters at 6:20am and was immediately ordered to turn around. The ship altered its course to Al-Arish, from where it is hoped supplies can be transferred into Gaza through the Rafah border in the south. During a gathering at the Gaza port meant to receive the diverted ship Head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege Jamal Al-Khudari said he spoke to the Libyan Minister of Health by phone in order to review the situation. He called on the international community to pressure Israel to allow the ship access to the Gaza port. Three ships have brought aid and international activists into Gaza since August.

Libyan aid ship blocked from Gaza
Al Jazeera 12/1/2008
Israeli boats have obstructed the path of a Libyan cargo ship en route to the Gaza Strip. The ship was said to be carrying about 3,000 tonnes of goods for residents of the Strip in defiance of an Israeli sea and land blockade of the territory. Monday’s scheduled docking was the first attempt by a foreign government to break the blockade. "Navy ships approached the Libyan boat and ordered it on the radio to turn back, and so it did," Yigal Palmor, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, said. "Anyone wishing to transfer humanitarian aid into Gaza is welcome to do it in coordination with Israel and through the regular crossings. They can also contact Egypt. "The crew of the ship said that they would study other options to deliver the supplies onboard to Gaza.

Libya slams Israel’s blocking Gaza-bound boat
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 11/30/2008
The Navy turned away a Libyan ship heading to the Gaza Strip on Monday, ending the first effort by a country to break the blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory. Libya slams Israel for preventing Libyan boat from breaking Gaza blockade The Al Marwa was stopped as it approached Gaza after leaving Port Said in Egypt on Sunday. The Navy radioed the vessel and ordered it to turn back, officials said, noting that force was not used. In Gaza’s small port, spectators, journalists and dozens of porters had assembled to await the arrival of the Libyan ship. A senior Libyan government official told the Associated Press that the ship would return to Libya. "The Israeli warships are making it difficult for the ship to reach the Gaza coast, in spite of the fact that this is a civilian ship sent to help Palestinians during the siege," the official said.

Czech foreign minister to Haaretz: Armed action against Iran would be ’catastrophe’
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
"I understand why Israel is saying that all the options [against Iran] are on the table, but I do think that any armed action or any war would be really a catastrophe," Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told Haaretz yesterday while on a 30-hour visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. Schwarzenberg, whose country will become the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in a few weeks, has been in office since January 2007 and is considered a firm supporter of Israel. The 71-year-old foreign minister was a leader of the anti-Communist opposition and spent many years in exile before the Iron Curtain fell. During those years he was a close aide of Vaclav Havel, who later became president of the Czech Republic, and at one time even served as the head of his office. The Czech Republic is one of Israel’s strongest allies within the European Union, and as. . .

Hamas welcomes release of prisoners, warns of trading their cause
Palestinian Information Center 12/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Sunday welcomed the liberation of any Palestinian prisoner from Israeli jails, warning at the same time of trading the issue of prisoners with the security coordination and the liquidation of resistance. Commenting on the Israeli decision to release 250 Fatah prisoners, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum expressed his Movement’s rejection of dwarfing the issue of Palestinian prisoners through releasing them within the context of the security coordination and normalization between PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and Israel and also with the aim of beautifying Israel’s image. Barhoum highlighted that his Movement would do its utmost to force the Israeli occupation to release the largest number of prisoners from Israeli jails without discrimination according to the Palestinian conditions and criteria.

Report: Israel to release 250 while it kidnapped 330 Palestinians last month
Palestinian Information Center 12/1/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The international Tadhamon (solidarity) for human rights said that despite the Israeli endorsement of releasing 250 Fatah prisoners, the IOF troops escalated their kidnapping campaigns and abducted 330 Palestinians during last November. In a monthly report received by the PIC, the society said the Palestinian citizens kidnapped during the last month included more than 60 children and a number of women from Gaza, faction leaders, activists, journalists and students. The reports added that the Israeli police also kidnapped a large number of Jerusalemite Palestinians either because they protested for demolishing their houses or because they boycotted the municipal elections in occupied Jerusalem.    Eight foreign activists were also locked up in Israeli jails, three of them were kidnapped along with dozens of Palestinian fishermen as they were fishing in the Gaza waters.

Israel to free 250 in bid to bolster Abbas
The Independent 12/1/2008
Israel is to free 250 Palestinian prisoners in a bid to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his power struggle with Hamas Islamists who control the Gaza Strip. The prisoners, a fraction of the 11,000 Palestinians held by Israel, will be released in the occupied West Bank, where Mr Abbas’s government holds sway, before next week’s Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Israel’s outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had promised to free the prisoners during a meeting this month with Mr Abbas, who launched peace talks with Israel a year ago after Gaza’s violent takeover by Hamas. The freed prisoners will be from Mr Abbas’s secular Fatah faction and other non-Islamist groups. A senior Palestinian negotiator said that Israel has yet to tell the Palestinians whether it would consider freeing high-profile Fatah inmates such as uprising leader Marwan Barghouthi, who is seen as a possible successor to Mr Abbas as president.

Hamas rebuffs Israel offer on prisoner swap
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Hamas’ armed wing said on Monday that it would not consider a prisoner with exchange with Israel unless all its conditions are fulfilled. In a statement Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson of the Al-Qassam Brigades said, “The statements issued by Israeli leaders on the release of those arrested after the capture of [Israeli soldier Gilad] Shalit are internal ploys trying to collect votes and for personal and partisan reasons. ”“It is simple, they have to fulfill our needs or it is better to forget Gilad Shalit," the statement added. On Sunday the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Israel will soon release dozens of Palestinian lawmakers who were seized after Palestinian fighters captured Gilad Shalit. The “bargaining chip” prisoners are nearing the end of their sentences, and will be released regardless of whether Shalit is freed.

Thursday final day for Gaza pilgrims to leave for Hajj; no solution in sight
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an –Thursday will be the last opportunity for the Gazan Hajj pilgrims to leave the Strip for Saudi Arabia through the Rafah crossing, said Head of Hajj Transportation Companies Awad Abu Mathkur on Monday. Abu Mathkur accused the West Bank Fatah government of depriving Gaza pilgrims from performing the Hajj in a press conference in Gaza City. The pilgrim issue should not become part of political rivalries, he added. Many Palestinian pilgrims registered for Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, but only those who registered with authorities in Ramallah were granted Saudi Arabian visas. Those who registered in the Gaza office, which was able to issue permits last year, were not given visas. Hamas condemned Egyptian and Saudi failure to coordinate with Gazan de facto government officials on the matter and responded by keeping the Rafah crossing closed for all pilgrims.

Saudi Arabia Denies Hamas Allegations over Haj Visas
Palestine Media Center – PMC, Palestine Media Center 12/1/2008
A spokesman for the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday denied allegations by the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas that Saudi Arabia refused Haj visas to pilgrims from Gaza. “We treat all Palestinians equally,” the Saudi daily in English quoted the spokesman as saying. He dismissed the allegation by a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) as false and said Saudi authorities issued Haj visas for thousands of Palestinians from all occupied Arab territories, including Gaza. “We have issued the visas to the Palestinian Authority and have even increased the number of Haj visas for Palestinians considering their situation,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted the Foreign Ministry official as saying. “All of the Kingdom’s entry points are ready to welcome Palestinian pilgrims who will be given all facilities to perform their Haj rituals comfortably,”. . .

Fatah praises Saudi Arabia for dealing with PA regarding the Hajj
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - The head of the Fatah parliamentary bloc expressed his appreciation on Monday that Saudi Arabia helped Palestinian pilgrims make the Hajj to Mecca in coordination with the Palestinian Authority (PA). Fatah engaged in a struggle with its rival, Hamas, over whether the Ramallah-based PA or the Hamas government in Gaza would facilitate the passage of pilgrims from Gaza to Mecca. Azzam Al-Ahmad, the Fatah parliamentary leader, praised Saudi Arabia for its commitment to "the legitimacy of the Palestinian unity and not succumbing to Hamas’s interruptions. ”Saudi Arabia’s apparent refusal to deal with Hamas’ de facto government was a shift from 2007, when hundreds of pilgrims traveled to Mecca from Gaza through Egypt, with the cooperation of Saudi and Egyptian officials, to the embarrassment of the Ramallah-based government.

The Two Governments in Gaza & Ramallah Must Work to Ensure Pilgrims’ Immediate Travel to Al-Hejaz
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11/30/2008
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) gravely views the suffering of Gaza pilgrims that has been caused by the actions taken by both governments in Ramallah and Gaza. Till the moment, these actions prevent the travel of Gaza pilgrims to a-Hejaz to perform Hajj. PCHR calls upon the two governments to respect the neutrality of religious affairs, particularly Hajj, away from the political harassments. The Centre calls upon the two governments to take all necessary measures to ensure and facilitate the immediate travel of all Gaza pilgrims, including providing access to Rafah border crossing without creating obstacles on their way, and avoiding the actions that caused suffering to the pilgrims during the last Hajj season. According to PCHR follow-up of the issue of Gaza pilgrims, 70 travel and tourism offices in the Gaza strip. . .

PA to pay salaries of civil and military servants on Wednesday; no back payments this month
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The salaries of civil and military public workers will be paid on Wednesday, said Head of the Public Workers Union Bassam Zakarnah. The Union Head will meet with Director General of Salaries in the Palestinian Authority (PA) Abed Nasser in advance of Eid Al-Adha to discuss the method by which national taxes and electricity bills are automatically deducted from paychecks. This month’s salaries do not include any of the back payments owed by the PA since 2006. The government was forced to cut and postpone the payment of civil servant salaries after the election of Hamas when the international community cut off payment to the new government. Zakarnah said that in February 20 million US dollars in back payments would be added to salaries. He added that civil servants in the West Bank and Gaza would both be paid according to the Ministry of Finance.

Court rejects Federman W. Bank ban
Jerusalem Post 12/1/2008
Far-right extremist Noam Federman will not be prohibited from entering the West Bank during his trial as the state requested, according to a decision handed down on Monday by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. Federman is on trial for attacking policemen on the night of November 26, when police and soldiers evicted him and his family from their illegal home before demolishing it. Judge Shulamit Dotan ruled that Federman did not pose a threat to public safety, as the police had claimed, and therefore they did not have an acceptable reason for keeping him out of the territories. Dotan wrote that the nature of the crimes he allegedly committed according to the indictment were "on the lower end of the scale," since he had not taken the initiative and his purpose had not been to disturb the peace.

Court rules rightists won’t be banned from home
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 12/1/2008
Following indictment filed against Noam Federman for assaulting police officers during evacuation of his house, State Prosecutor’s Office asks to remove him from West Bank. After District Court criticizes appeal, Magistrate’s Court rejects it -The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Monday rejected the State Prosecutor’s Office’s petition to have extreme right-wing activist Noam Federman banned from the West Bank. The petition followed an indictment that filed against Federman for assaulting police officers during the evacuation of his house about six weeks ago. In her ruling, Justice Shulamit Dotan criticized the police and State Prosecutor’s Office, saying the nature of the actions ascribed to Federman was not severe and that the circumstances of the offense did not imply that he is dangerous.

Jewish National Front announces date for Umm el-Fahm march
Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post 12/1/2008
Reigniting controversy over the expression of free speech, prominent right-wing activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir have announced that their Jewish National Front organization will embark on a "Jewish Pride" march through the Arab Israeli city of Umm el-Fahm on December 15. The duo made headlines in October when the High Court of Justice ruled in favor of their petition to hold such a march, which the court said could not be held until after municipal elections on November 11. On Sunday, police confirmed that they had reached an agreement with the activists regarding the rules and regulations that applied to the demonstration. The chief of police must still sign off on the march before it will be allowed to proceed, as the demonstration will require a large police deployment to secure the participants and prevent the outbreak of violence.

Palestine Today 120108
IMEMC News - audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 12/1/2008
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 imemc. org for Monday December 01 2008 The Israeli naval vessels intercepted today a Libyan ship, loaded with food and medicine assistance to the besieged Gaza Strip. These news and more are coming up. Stay tuned. The Israeli naval boats intercepted today morning a Libyan ship while on board near the shores of Gaza Strip. The Israeli naval forces turned back the ship , which was supposed to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Jamal Alkhudari, a Gaza lawmaker and head of the local popular committee to break the Israeli siege on Gaza, decried the Israeli denial of access and called for Arab and Islamic intervention to lift the Gaza blockade.

Last of Ze’evi killers gets life in prison
Jerusalem Post 12/1/2008
The last of the six Palestinians charged with the assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001 was convicted on Monday of murder and membership in a terrorist organization and sentenced to life imprisonment plus five years. The defendant, Ahad Olma, who was the commander of the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was found guilty of planning and organizing Ze’evi’s murder at Jerusalem’s Hyatt Hotel on October 17, 2001 and providing a safe haven for the killers. The assassination was in revenge for the IDF killing of PFLP leader Ali Tzabri (Abu Ali Mustafa) two months earlier. Olma claimed during the trial that he had nothing to do with Ze’evi’s murder and that he was not a member of the PFLP but of a human rights organization called Damir. He was originally arrested by the Palestinian Authority in February 2002. . .

Palestinian accused of 2001 assassination sentenced to 30 years in Israel
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – The fourth Palestinian charged in the assassination of Israeli Minister of Tourism in 2001 was sentenced to life plus five years in prison by the Israeli Military Jerusalem District Court on Monday. Although the court did not find Ahed Ghalmah guilty of active involvement with the assassination of Rehavam Zeevi, he was found to be one of the instigators of the killing, specifically in attending meetings where ‘details of the attack were finalized. ’The 40-year-old Ghalmah was a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and head of the PLFP’s military wing at the time of the assassination, was also found guilty of membership in a “terror organization. ”Three other PFLP members were tried and convicted for their involvement in the assassination, including:Basil Asmar, found guilty of plotting to kill Zeevi. . .

PCHR Condemns Attacking Journalists and Media Institutions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11/30/2008
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the attacks against two journalists and a media institution in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These attacks were arresting the journalist Na’el Nakhla by the General Intelligence Service in al-Bireh on Wednesday, 26 November, 2008, attacking the journalist Ala’a Salama in Rafah on Friday, 29 November, 2008 and warning Ramattan News Agency by the Ministry of Interior in Ramallah and detention one of its crews. PCHR views these attacks as assaults on press freedoms and on the right to freedom of opinion and expression that are guaranteed by the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights covenants. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at about 13:00 o’clock on 29 November, 2008, members of the police stopped Ala’a Salama (25), journalist from Rafah city and reporter for al-Quds Radio,

After PCHR Filed a Lawsuit to the Israeli Supreme Court, IOF Release Three Confiscated Fishing Boat
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11/30/2008
The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) returned, on 27 November, 2008, three fishing boats owned by Palestinian fishermen from the Gaza strip. IOF returned the confiscated fishing boats to the sea off Gaza City coast and informed the owners to go and retrieve them. On behalf of the owners of the confiscated fishing boats and in cooperation with the office of advocate Leah Tsemel, PCHR filed a lawsuit to the Israeli Supreme Court against the Israeli Defense Minister and Navy Commander. In its lawsuit, PCHR demanded the restoration of the three boats. IOF released the three confiscated boats before a decision was issued by the Court, especially because there was no legal justification of the actions committed by IOF against the fishermen and their boats. The three boats were stopped under IOF Navy fire 18 November 2008 as they were sailing in the open sea off Deir al-Balah coast in the center of the Gaza Strip.

Mumbai victim’s father urges PM not to evict Hebron house
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 12/1/2008
Hundreds of right-wing activists gather around building slated for evacuation amidst rumors security forces planning to act tonight. Father of Rabbi Holtzberg, who was killed in Mumbai’s Chabad center, asks prime minister to refrain from damaging ’the mourning of the great tragedy’ - Rabbi Nahman Holtzberg, father of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, who was killed in the Chabad center in Mumbai, sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday evening asking him not to order the eviction of the disputed house in Hebron during the period of mourning for those murdered in the terror attack. "With reports in the media speaking of the possibility of evicting the house of peace in Hebron these coming days, we implore you not to commit any act that will polarize and create a schism within the people, at a time when all of the people of Israel are mourning a great tragedy," Holtzberg wrote to Olmert.

''Let Gaza live'' demonstration in Oslo
Stop The Wall 12/1/2008
On Saturday, 50 people braved the rain and zero degree weather in Oslo to protest inhuman treatment of the people of Gaza. Demonstrators gathered in front of the Norwegian Parliament building under the slogan “Let Gaza live,” calling for an end to both the collective punishment of the population and the international acquiesce that allows it to continue. The demonstration, which was organized by the Palestinian Association in Norway and the Palestinian Youth Network, began with speeches in front of the parliament building and ended in front of the Israeli Embassy. Organizers denounced the Occupation’s isolation and siege of Gaza, while representatives from the Socialist Youth League of Norway called for the implementation of the Palestinian BDS call.

Medvedev Congratulates Abbas on Intl Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People
Daily News Bulletin; Moscow – English, Palestine Media Center 11/30/2008
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he is certain that the restoration of Palestinian national sovereignty will contribute to the stabilization of the Middle East region. "I would like to confirm Russia’s principled position of supporting the Palestinian people, its legitimate national aspirations, including the right to create an independent and viable Palestinian state," Medvedev said in a letter of felicitation sent to the President of the Palestinian National Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas over the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Russian presidential press service reported on Friday. The Russian president is certain that "the restoration of sovereignty will contribute to stability in the region, safe co- existence and non-conflict, mutually beneficial cooperation of all countries and peoples.

Israel’s right to exist basic tenet of new Italian party
Lisa Palmieri-billig, Jpost Correspondent, Rome, Jerusalem Post 12/1/2008
Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-born Italian journalist and writer of Muslim origin who was baptized by Pope Benedict XVI last Easter, said Sunday that he has founded a political party that will run in next summer’s European Parliament elections. Allam said his "Protagonists for Christian Europe" party would work to defend Europe’s Christian values, which he sees as being threatened by secularism and moral relativism. While the name of the new party conveys an impression of a rightist, traditionalist front, beneath the surfaces lies the authentic Magdi Allam - the Magdi Allam who was honored two years ago by Israel, and in the US by the American Jewish Committee, for his book, Viva Israele! ("Long live Israel"). "Israel’s right to exist" is a basic tenet of Allam’s political ideology that derives from his belief in the religious principle of "the sacredness of life.

Iran dismisses Israeli military threats as ’psychological warfare’
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Monday sought to downplay efforts by Israel to halt its nuclear program, saying that while Tehran does not take military threats emanating from Jerusalem seriously, it is fully prepared to respond in the event of an attack. There has been much speculation that Israel will seek to strike Iranian nuclear targets before U. S. President George W. Bush leaves office in January. "The global and regional situation and especially the confusion inside the Zionist regime [Israel] itself do not give military strikes any serious ground," spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi told reporters in Tehran. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said last month that Iran was still trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and that Israel and the world must make every effort to prevent it from doing so.

Analysis: J’lem mostly pleased with Obama choices
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 12/2/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued a perfunctory congratulatory statement Monday night following the selection of Hillary Clinton as President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for secretary of state. "Sen. Clinton is a friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish People and I am sure that - in her new position - she will continue to advance the special Israel-US relationship. " It is a statement that, with a name change, Olmert probably would have issued had the choice been John Kerry or Bill Richardson, two men who earlier were in the secretary of state sweepstakes. But while the statement was rather generic, the sentiment was genuine: Jerusalem - still not yet quite sure what exactly to make of Obama - is pleased with the choice of Clinton. Indeed, with the possible exception of Susan Rice, who was named the new US envoy to the United Nations and who, one official. . .

Obama mulls ex-ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, as special Mideast envoy
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
President-elect Barack Obama is considering the appointment of Daniel Kurtzer, former American Ambassador to Egypt (1997-2001) and Israel (2001-2005), to become his administration’s presidential envoy to the Middle East, a senior Israeli diplomatic source said this week. Obama’s decision to appoint a special envoy reporting to him directly, rather than to the secretary of state, indicates that the president-elect attaches special importance to the regional peace process. Reportedly, several of Obama’s advisers recommended the appointment. The special envoy job could infringe on the prestige of Hillary Clinton, who was appointed secretary of state on Monday. On the other hand, it could ease any apparent conflict because of Bill Clinton’s close ties with the Gulf States.

Obama: Iranian threat and Israel-PA peace to top agenda
Hilary Leila Krieger, Jpost Correspondent In Washington, Jerusalem Post 12/1/2008
President-elect Barack Obama named the Iranian threat and the effort to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians as two of the top three issues facing the incoming US secretary of state, in announcing Hillary Clinton as his choice for the post Monday. He also tapped General James Jones, who has served in the Bush administration as security coordinator between the Israelis and Palestinians, as his national security adviser, and asked current Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stay on, as was widely expected. Rounding out the national security team Obama introduced at a Chicago press conference were Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as secretary of homeland security, Eric Holder as attorney-general and Susan Rice as ambassador to the UN, which will become a cabinet-level post. All, save Gates and Jones, will need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Clinton chosen for state department
Al Jazeera 12/2/2008
Barack Obama, the US president-elect, has confirmed his nomination of Hillary Clinton, his former presidential rival, as secretary of state in his new administration. Robert Gates, the current US defence secretary who has served two years in the Bush administration, is also set to continue in his post, Obama said at a news conference in Chicago on Monday at which he announced a number of senior administration posts. Obama also named Eric Holder, who served as deputy attorney-general in Bill Clinton’s administration, as attorney-general and Janet Napolitano, Arizona’s governor, as homeland security secretary. He also announced two senior foreign policy positions outside the cabinet - Susan Rice, his campaign foreign policy adviser, as UN ambassador, and retired General James Jones as national security adviser.

Labor holds primary as poll predicts its collapse
Shelly Paz And Staff, Jerusalem Post 12/1/2008
Under the shadow of a new poll predicting that the party will win only six seats in the February 10 national elections, almost 60,000 Labor Party members will vote in the party’s primary on Tuesday, After weeks of internal turmoil, threats by MKs to leave the party and unflattering polls, party members will choose their list for the 18th Knesset. According to a poll published on Monday and conducted by ’Panels Ltd. ’ for Channel 2, were elections held today, Labor, headed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, would crash to only six Knesset seat. Labor won 19 seats in the last election. According to the new poll, the Likud would gain 33 seats as opposed to Kadima’s 25. The poll finds that Labor would be replaced as the largest party on the Left by Meretz - predicted to receive seven seats. United Torah Judaism and the Green Party would both get four seats, according to the poll.

PM refuses to heed Kadima call to resign
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 12/1/2008
The rift between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and members of his Kadima Party is widening, with Olmert apparently working behind his finance minister’s back by trying to come up with his own pension safety net plan. Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On, who has been trying to present the ministry’s economic stimulus package for government consideration, is probably the only Kadima minister or MK not calling on Olmert to step down - although he feels that the prime minister is undermining his authority. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who took over from Olmert as party leader several weeks ago, called on Olmert to resign during a party meeting on Thursday. This was followed over the weekend by a television interview with Vice Prime Minister Haim Ramon - one of Olmert’s closest friends - who called on him to resign "for his own sake.

Pension funds clash holds up economic stimulus plan
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 12/1/2008
Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On lambasted the Knesset Finance Committee for boycotting the approval of the economic stimulus package because of disagreements over the proposal of a pension safety plan. Finance Committee chairman Avishay Braverman declared at the meeting on Sunday that "the committee will not vote on the economic and financial stimulus package. The plan that has been presented to us is flawed since it does not include a solution for pension savings and it is unclear whether the measures suggested will be implemented quickly. Thus, it is not sufficient as an emergency plan to cope with the demands of the economy. " He continued, "I have been updated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Histadrut Labor Federation chairman Ofer Eini regarding the progress made on the discussions for formulating a pension safety net plan.

Poll: Religious parties trigger antagonism towards religion
Ynet, YNetNews 11/30/2008
Most Israelis believe religious, haredi parties cause general public to feel alienated from Jewish religion, survey finds -A large majority of Israeli public, and particularly non-religious Israelis, believe that the religious and ultra-Orthodox parties create an antagonism towards the Jewish religion, a new survey revealed Sunday. The survey was conducted forand the Gesher Institute by the Panels Institute, and included 500 respondents that are a representative sample of the adult Jewish population in the country. The margin of error is 4. 5%. In the first part of the poll, participants were presented with two statements regarding the religious parties, and were asked to say with which of the two they identified more. Fifty-eight of them agreed with the statement that the parties created a sense of antagonism among the public regarding religion, while 42% agreed. . .

Smart ID project underway
Niv Lillian, YNetNews 12/1/2008
Ministry of Interior awards HP with new contract, tasks company with manufacturing five million cards. Project estimated at $67. 49; pends Knesset approval of biometric database bill - After a decade of deliberations and tenders, the Ministry of Interior has finally decided to award Hewlett-Packard with the "smart ID card" contract. The smart ID is meant to allow every Israeli citizen to perform a variety of online functions pertaining to government bureaus, including signing forms using a digital signature. The project, however, requires the Knesset to pass the identification card, travel papers and biometrics database bill, first. The bill suggests Israel make the switch to "smart" identification methods, using fingerprints and digital photographs on documents such as identification cards and passports; making them harder to forge.

Olmert ponders offer for hearing
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s attorneys are weighing how to respond to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz’s offer to hold a hearing for Olmert prior to charges being filed against him in the Rishon Tours double-billing affair. The attorneys have yet to pick up the investigative material from Mazuz’s office which is meant to assist them if they choose to have Olmert appear for a hearing before Mazuz. A source close to Olmert said the prime minister could either choose to proceed with a hearing right now on the Rishon Tours charges, forgo a hearing or tell Mazuz that Olmert is willing to attend a hearing on condition that it includes all charges likely to be filed against the prime minister. In the Rishon Tours affair, Olmert is suspected of double- and even triple-billing organizations, as well as the state, without the other organizations knowing he was billing any other body for his travel expenses when he went abroad in their service.

Labor goes to primary as party vets fear for their spots
Roni Singer-Heruti and Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
The Labor Party will hold its primary today under the shadow of polls predicting that it will lose as many as half its seats in the upcoming Knesset election. These polls have turned the primary into a battle for survival among Labor’s leading politicians: Anyone who does not make it into the top 10 faces a real chance of being left out of the next Knesset. Though the party’s Knesset slate is not likely to turn any heads, as few new faces are running in the primary, today’s vote will still feature an innovation - the first Israeli election conducted with touch-screen voting rather than paper ballots. Polls will open for the party’s 60,000 eligible voters at 10 A. M. , and will remain open until 9:30 P. M. Voters will be able to cast their ballot for up to eight candidates from the national list, out of 19 who are running, and the 10 candidates who earn the most votes will occupy slots 2 to 11 on the slate.

Cabinet to vote on Olmert’s safety net
Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert plans to bring his alternative safety net proposal for pension savings to a vote during the cabinet session Sunday - whether or not the Finance Ministry is on board. Ministry officials are meanwhile incensed at the prime minister’s moves undercutting the plan they forged. The negotiating teams of the treasury, Bank of Israel and the Prime Minister’s Office have yet to reach any kind of accord on the nature of a rescue plan. However, after meeting with Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer yesterday, the prime minister says he’s confident that consensus could be reached within hours. In fact the negotiating teams met for the first time on Sunday. The models presented by the treasury and Olmert are similar in basic principles, but differ over items such as age of pension savers to be protected, the date of the plan’s application and prerequisites for inclusion in the plan.

Fischer supports treasury plan
Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer called a rare press conference yesterday, apparently designed to inspire optimism and to show support for the Finance Ministry’s economic stimulus plan. "I have a feeling that we are on our way out of the financial crisis. We have moved into positive ground. There are ups and downs, but the overall is positive. This is a gut feeling, not a fact," Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer told a press conference in Jerusalem yesterday. Unlike his predecessors, Fischer rarely holds press conferences. Yet he met with the press at his office yesterday to speak about the state of the economy, and also, about the Finance Ministry’s plan to spread a safety net for retirement savings. The Bank of Israel, he says, supports the ministry’s plan, which "offers a low-cost solution for the relevant savers.

Mazuz: Lawyer leaking investigative material liable to jail
Jerusalem Post 12/1/2008
A lawyer who receives investigative material from the police to prepare for a hearing on behalf of a client facing possible indictment will be liable to a year in jail if he leaks it, according to a new provision enacted by Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz. The provision coincides with the handing over to the defense of the material gathered by police during the investigation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in connection with the Rishon Tours affair. Olmert is suspected of double billing non-profit organizations on whose behalf he spoke at money-raising affairs abroad. Not long ago, a bitter argument broke out between the prime minister’s lawyers, Eli Zohar, Nevot Tel-Tzur and Ro’i Blecher and the police and state prosecution over who leaked information about the investigation of Olmert in the Moshe Talansky affair, in which Olmert is suspected of receiving large sums of money from the US businessman.

Likud primaries may be postponed following Feiglin appeal
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 12/1/2008
Internal party court accepts claim of Moshe Feiglin camp only central committee eligible to change primary election system, however senior Likud officials warn move puts already tight schedule at risk - The Likud primary elections, which are set to be held on December 8th, may be postponed to a later date. This following the decision of the party’s internal court on Monday to accept the appeal made by Moshe Feiglin, according to which any change to the Likud’s primaries process must be approved by the central committee. Senior Likud officials noted that the reason for the possible postponement would be the tight schedule the Likud may find itself in if the central committee is indeed forced to convene. Two weeks ago the central committee authorized the primary election system. But then the party’s internal court ruled to allow the Likud’s constitutional committee. . .

Netanyahu warns Likud MKs: Don’t support Feiglin
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu threatened yesterday that any party MK who rallies support for far-right activist Moshe Feiglin in Likud’s primary for its Knesset list would not be appointed minister. "Placing Feiglin on Likud’s Knesset list would harm Likud’s strength. Feiglin is not Likud. He is extreme right," Netanyahu said. Likud’s central committee convenes today to determine whether an immigrant candidate will be elected to the party’s list in a special process. This would prevent Feiglin’s representative Asia Antov from gaining a spot on the list. Netanyahu is mustering all his power to prevent Feiglin, head of Likud’s Jewish Leadership faction, from being elected to a slot on the Knesset list that might get him into parliament. Feiglin commands a bloc vote of 6,000 to 7,000 Likud members, so any deal another Likud camp might make with him would be effective.

15 mayors mull returning to Likud from Kadima
Yanir Yagna, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
Fifteen local authority heads who quit Likud for Kadima in 2006 are thinking of returning to their old party, as national elections approach. "We are disappointed with Kadima’s leader and prime ministerial candidate, [Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni," one mayor said. "We don’t believe she can lead the country. We all came from Likud, so it’s only natural we go back. " This comes after recent polls put Likud ahead of Kadima, indicating it may return to power after the elections in February. Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to bank on his popularity in the polls by personally inviting mayors to return to his party. Likud officials said much of Kadima’s strength in the last election came from its recruitment of 94 local authority heads. They said that unlike lawmakers who left for Kadima, mayors who decide to return to the Likud will be welcomed, and won’t be considered traitors.

Counter-terror chief dismissed
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
The head of the Counter-Terror Bureau, Brig. Gen. (res) Nitzan Nuriel, was dismissed from his post yesterday. Nuriel received word of his dismissal at a meeting with National Security Council chairman Danny Arditi to discuss his professional future. Nuriel had served in his present post for one year. According to the Prime Minister’s bureau, he had been appointed for a trial period. The two agreed that the date of the end of his posting would be decided upon later. Personal and professional disputes between Nuriel and Arditi are apparently behind Nuriel’s dismissal involving actions Nuriel is said to have taken contrary to Arditi’s orders. Nuriel sounded very surprised yesterday when he was asked about the matter and refused to comment. Sources said Nuriel privately commented that Arditi had "ambushed" him and rejected claims that he had merely been working during a trial period that had ended.

Head of Counter Terror Bureau fired
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 12/1/2008
Brig-Gen (retired) Nuriel not to extend trial period, head of National Security Council decides -The head of the Prime Minister’s Counter Terror Bureau Nitzan Nuriel was removed from his position on Monday. The Prime Minister’s Office emphasized that Nuriel was merely serving in the position for a test period, which was not renewed, following a decision by National Security Council Chief Danny Arditi. Nuriel served in the Golani Infantry Brigade for several years, as well as senior commander in the Liaison and Foreign Relations Division. He was discharged with the rank of brigadier general. The Counter Terror Bureau was founded in March, 1996, following a rash of terror attacks and falls under the auspices of the National Security Council in the Prime Minister’s Office. Its current set-up was approved by the cabinet in December 2005.

Israeli security accidentally intrudes on live Livni interview
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 12/1/2008
A suspected break-in at Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s home on Monday intruded on her electioneering when bodyguards accidentally broadcast an alert over her telephone line as she gave a live radio interview. Livni, who took over as Kadima chairman following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s resignation and hopes to become premier herself in a February 10 ballot, laughed as an unidentified man’s voice was repeatedly heard summoning police to her house in Ramat Hahayal, a Tel Aviv suburb. "Everything’s okay, I’m here," she told Army Radio by phone, speaking from her office while the messages "Intruder alert" and "foreign minister’s house at Ramat Hahayal" sounded in the background. "You see - all this security, and now everyone knows where I live," Livni quipped. She then offered to call back on her cellphone so the interview could go on uninterrupted.

Dichter slammed for attempt to delay decision on Bar-Lev
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 12/1/2008
In what is being described by opponents as a politically-motivated play for time, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter requested on Monday that the High Court delay an upcoming scheduled session on the fate of police Southern Chief Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev by three weeks, to a date which falls after the December 17 Kadima primaries. "Due to the constraints of time and the sensitivity of the topic of the appeal, the minister for public security has not managed to formulate his decision by the specified time," the request to the High Court read. Bar-Lev, who is credited with a significant reduction of crime in the southern district, was summarily dismissed by Israel Police Commissioner Insp. -Gen. David Cohen in August in a highly controversial decision. The dismissal came after Bar-Lev, who holds two degrees, turned down Cohen’s offer of a study leave.

VIDEO - Inspired by Obama, Israeli politicians take campaigns online
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for December 1, 2008. Israeli politicians these days are taking lessons from U. S. President-Elect Barack Obama, who maximized the use of the Internet in unprecedented ways in order to broaden his support network. As politicians gear up for party primaries ahead of February general elections, even previously unknown contenders are taking advantage of a form of airtime they can afford by releasing online videos on YouTube and opening accounts on Facebook. And as soon as the last primary votes are counted, the Israeli web surfer will surely be able to count on equally entertaining party-wide online endeavors.

All Israelis missing in India located
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 12/1/2008
Last Israeli defined as missing person following Mumbai terror offensive has contacted his family, Foreign Ministry says; six Jews murdered at Chabad center - The last Israeli defined as a missing person following the terror offensive in the Indian city of Mumbai has contacted his family, the Foreign Ministry said Monday morning. The Israeli national was not in the Mumbai area and was unaware of the grave events that took place in the city last week. The Foreign Ministry initially feared for the lives of 17 Israelis, most of whom were located shortly afterwards. On Sunday, the search was still on for Amir Efrati, 26, of Tzur Hadassah, who was in Mumbai at the time of the murderous attack. This wasn’t the first time his parents feared for his life following a disaster. Only last May they breathed with relief after their son was located safe and sound in Myanmar following the cyclone that hit the country.

Israel Actively Engaged in India
Dr Farooq Adil, Pakistan Observer, Palestine Media Center 12/1/2008
Israelis are reportedly in active engagement with India in providing high tech equipment and doctrinal counsel to its armed forces primarily aimed at suppressing the Kashmir Freedom Movement and fuelling insurgency in FATA and Balochistan. Hi-tech surveillance equipment includes Long Range Reconnaissance and Observation System (LORROS), Battle Field Surveillance Radars, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Electronic Warfare equipment for deployment along the Line of Control and Working Boundary and interior regions of Held Kashmir. India’s Special Forces are also being equipped with Israeli-made Tavor Assault Rifles. Indo-Israel engagement dates back to many decades. In 1992 when Indo-Israeli ties were openly established, the two countries were having secret relationship. The disclosures of Israeli ambassador to India, Mark Sofer during his interview to India Outlook published on February 18, 2008 surprised Pakistan, China and the Middle East.

Satmar family: No State involvement in son’s funeral
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 12/1/2008
Hasid killed in Mumbai attacks recognized as terror victim by Israel, but his family begs government not to send representatives to funeral, cover his coffin with national flag, saying he belonged to anti-Zionist haredi stream -The State has decided to recognize the Israelis murdered in the Mumbai terror attacks as victims of terrorism and pay for their funerals, but not all are happy with this decision. The family of slain Hasid Aryeh Leib Teitelbaum has informed the government that it would like the State not to intervene with his funeral. According to a family member, "Holding a Zionist funeral for Teitelbaum, who was a Satmar Hasid, would desecrate the dead man’s honor. "The family demanded not to have a government representative at the funeral and that the casket, which will be flown intoIsrael today, would not be covered with the Israeli flag.

Who’s who in corporate debt
Nathan Lipson, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
A mountain of corporate debt is coming due in the near future. Specifically, NIS 18. 6 billion worth of it in the space of 13 months, and that’s leaving the banks out of it. All that is debt not to the banks, but to bondholders, according to Tel Aviv Stock Exchange data. The market has been evincing deep worry about the "tycoons’" ability to repay their gargantan debts. Single companies turn out to be owing billions upon billions of shekels and some of them are mere branches inside much greater empires. Who will repay? We can’t know right now. Who owes how much? That we can say. First of all, this NIS 18. 5 billion is supposed to be repaid in about 1,000 payments (of principal and interest) between December 2009 and December 2009. The figures are based upon up-to-date balances of bond series, adjusted for the consumer price index for October, which was published on November 15.

Incoming tourism breaks record
Orli Peleg-Mizrahi, Globes Online 12/1/2008
The tourism industry generated NIS 25 billion in 2008, 9% more than in 2007. Minister of Tourism Ruhama Avraham-Balila today announced that three million tourists visited Israel in 2008, 30% more than in 2007. She made the announcement at a press conference summarizing the year in tourism. Ministry of Tourism figures show that the tourism industry generated NIS 25 billion in 2008, 9% more than in 2007. Indirect output from the tourism industry is estimated at NIS 40 billion. The increase in tourists boosted employment by the industry by 10% compared with last year, to about 90,000 people. Avraham-Balila said that she has approached her Jordanian and Palestinian counterparts to convene a regional tourism conference. "I’m aware of the bureaucratic hurdles involved in investing in Israel, which is why we’re now setting up an assistance office for investors, which will advise them. . .

Shekel-dollar rate jumps after Bank of Israel announcement
Yael Gruntman, Globes Online 12/1/2008
The central bank will continue buying dollars. Foreign currency trading opened this morning with the shekel-dollar rate rising by 1. 9% to NIS 3. 995/$. The shekel-euro rate also rose in interbank trading, before the start of trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE). The sharp gain in the shekel-dollar rate was already reflected in yesterday’s options trading, following the announcement from the Bank of Israelthat it would increase Israel’s foreign currency reserves to $40-44 billion. Since March 24, the Bank has purchased about $10 billion, raising the current level of Israel’s foreign currency reserves to about $37 billion. The Bank of Israel has said that it will continue purchasing foreign currency at the rate of about $100 million per day, which means it is likely to reach the target sum within one to three months.

Fuel prices in Palestine
Ma’an News Agency 12/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian finance ministry on Monday announced prices of fuel and cooking gas across Palestine as follows:One liter of diesel = 4. 6 NIS (1. 16 US Dollars)One liter of benzene 95 Octane = 4. 8 NIS (1. 21 US Dollars)One liter of benzene 96 Octane = 4. 8 NIS (1. 21 US Dollars)One liter of benzene 98 Octane = 5. 05 NIS (1. 28 US Dollars)On liter of kerosene = 4. 6 NIS (1. 16 US Dollars)[end]

Qassem urges ’calm’ talk over ’stark differences’
Daily Star 12/2/2008
BEIRUT: Hizbullah’s second in command said on Monday that his group’s plan for Lebanon was the establishment of a "fair and capable" state. Sheikh Naim Qassem said the party was committed to the Taif Accord, adding that federalism was equivalent to the "destruction of the country. "The proposal of administrative decentralization, he said, had been raised in Parliament, but discussions were delayed due to political tensions. Qassem emphasized that decentralization was different from federalism and "cantons" divided by sects. "We reject any form of cantons," he said. On Lebanon’s defense strategy, he said the national dialogue table was necessary as there were "stark disagreements concerning that matter. ""We do not deny that there are two visions in Lebanon, but differences are not solved through the media, demonstrations, political harassment.

Security Council states receive report on probe into Hariri assassination
Daily Star 12/2/2008
BEIRUT: The new report from the UN commission investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will most likely be released on Tuesday, while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s office began distributing the report on Monday to UN Security Council members, a UN official told The Daily StarThe report comes only days after Ban announced the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, to try suspects in Hariri’s killing and other political crimes, was expected to be established on March 1 next year in The Hague. The UN will make the progress report public only after all Security Council member states receive a copy, said Farhan Haq, spokesman for the secretary general’s office. The Security Council will meet on Tuesday to set a date to review the report, while the council has made tentative plans to deal with the report around December 15, Haq added.

Nearly all victims of cluster bombs worldwide are civilians
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 12/2/2008
OSLO: Like land mines, cluster munitions are deadly not only during conflicts but also for years after they have ended. But although they kill and maim over long periods, and primarily claim civilian lives, cluster munitions have so far been neither banned nor regulated by an international treaty. Following the summer 2006 war with Israel, South Lebanon was carpeted with millions of unexploded bomblets, most dropped during the last days of the conflict when a cessation of hostilities was in the offing. The following are a few basic facts about the weapons, ahead of the signature on Wednesday by around 100 countries of an international treaty on banning cluster munitions: l What they are: A category of ordnance - dropped from planes or fired from artillery via a shell, missile or rocket. Cluster bombs spread hundreds of tiny sub-munitions, or "bomblets," over a wide area.

JORDAN: First all-female demining team in Middle East
ICRC, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 12/2/2008
AMMAN, 1 December 2008 (IRIN) - An all-female team of 24 deminers, the first of its kind in the Middle East, started its official duties on 30 November, working alongside dozens of men who have been combing a mine-infested area on the Syrian border. The group graduated on 25 November after intensive training in the border town of Jaber conducted by specialists from the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), which is funding demining in northern Jordan. "It is a challenge that I take with pride," said Fida, one of the graduates. "Fida could have worked in any office job thanks to her university degree, but she chose to be a member of the first demining team to help residents of this town," said NPA spokeswoman Lina Gazi. "We want to show everybody that women can do anything men can do. " In a statement on 25 November, NPA said 38 women aged 20-36 from villages in the northern area of Mafraq began training in October 2008.

Rumors fly over fugitive Fatah al-Islam leader
Daily Star 12/2/2008
BEIRUT: Conflicting reports were circulated in the media on Monday concerning wanted Fatah al-Islam leader Abdul Rahman Awad. Al-Liwaa newspaper said that Awad may have headed to Turkey to live with a Lebanese extremist known as Abu Bakr Aqida. Al-Liwaa said Awad was last seen last week in what is known as the Taware neighborhood of the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in Sidon. Conversely, An-Nahar newspaper said Monday that another militant group, Osbat al-Ansar, had played a role alongside a leading Palestinian figure in hiding Awad and his aides. It said Lebanese security forces have confirmed information that Awad was still inside Ain al-Hilweh. Meanwhile, a Lebanese security official told Al-Akhbar daily on Monday that Osbat al-Ansar knows Awad’s hideout, adding that the group was in the process of cutting a deal with Lebanese authorities for the arrest of Awad or his handover based on a. . .

SOFA not sitting well in Iraq
Sami Moubayed, Asia Times 12/2/2008
DAMASCUS - Iraqis today are sharply divided over the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), ratified by the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki then approved by parliament in late November. It is now final; the 140,000 US troops in the country will withdraw from Iraqi cities and towns by June 30, 2009, and from all of Iraq by December 31, 2011. President George W Bush has gone down in history as the US president who invaded Iraq, and incoming president Barack Obama will make his name as the man who pulled out from Iraq. Many rumors and speculation surrounded the exact nature of the pact, until its official text was published on November 28, but it is now clear that it gives the US the right to use Iraqi airspace, waters and land and train Iraqi personnel, while the US pledges to protect Iraq from any revolution, coup or attack from an outside force.

More than two dozen dead in Baghdad, Mosul attacks
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 12/2/2008
BAGHDAD: A spate of attacks targeting security forces in the heart of Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul killed around 30 people on Monday - the bloodiest day in Iraq in three weeks. The bloodshed coincided with the release of official Iraqi figures showing that violence across the nation climbed in November, with 340 Iraqis killed compared with 317 in October. In Baghdad, 15 people died and dozens were wounded, including young police recruits and civilians, when a suicide bomber and a car bomb exploded in quick succession near a police academy, the Interior Ministry said. The office of the Baghdad security plan, which coordinates Iraqi Army and police operations in the capital, said that 11 people were killed in the blasts. The attack took place on a stretch of road that reopened just two months ago after being closed for two years following a previous suicide attack.

Suicide attacks kill 32 in Iraq
The Independent 12/2/2008
At least 32 people were killed and scores injured in a series of bomb attacks on US and Iraqi security forces in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul yesterday. At least 16 were killed and 46 wounded in a double bombing near a police academy in eastern Baghdad. A suicide attacker detonated an explosives vest packed with ball-bearings at an entrance to the academy, then a car bomb exploded 150 yards away. The Iraqi military said 11 were killed and 34 wounded, while the US military said 15 Iraqi police were killed and 35 people were injured. In Mosul, a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives as a joint US-Iraqi convoy drove by, police said. At least 15 -- mostly civilians -- were killed and 30 injured. Earlier, a senior Defence Ministry official was injured in a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad that killed one of his bodyguards.

Blasts target Iraqi police recruits
Al Jazeera 12/1/2008
At least 16 people have been killed and another 45 wounded in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, in a double bomb attack. Iraqi officials said a teenage suicide bomber blew himself up as police rushed to respond to a prior car bomb blast on Monday. The two blasts occurred within minutes of each other on Palestine Street outside the heavily fortified police academy in eastern Baghdad, where recruits had gathered, according to police and witnesses. Those killed included five policemen and 11 recruits, while the 46 wounded included 11 policemen and 35 recruits, according to police and hospital officials. Bloodied police uniforms were scattered with the crumpled metal hulk of the car bomb on the charred street in the aftermath of the bombing, footage from the Associated Press Television News showed.


The Holy Land Foundation and the War on Charity
Stephen Lendman – Chicago, Palestine Chronicle 12/1/2008
      ’Until shut down, HLF was the largest Muslim charity in America.’
     The Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) was the largest American Muslim charity until the Bush administration falsely declared it an enemy of the state and shut it down.
     On December 4, 2001, the Treasury Department declared HLF a terrorist group, froze its assets, and falsely claimed they were being used to funnel millions of dollars to Hamas. HLF appealed at the time but in court was denied.
     On January 25, 1995, Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 12947 - Prohibiting Transactions With Terrorists Who Threaten To Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process. The same year Hamas was declared a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). It’s still one today, so any individual or group charged with providing it material support (true or false) becomes a convenient target for prosecution.
     Post-9/11, many have been, and HLF is one. For the Department of Justice (DOJ), a big one because of their prominent charitable activities. Shut it down and chill out all others while at the same time providing open-ended billions for Israeli state terrorism as a partner in its commission.

Cutting off aid to Gaza

Abdurahman Jafar, The Guardian 12/1/2008
      With an injection of up to £5.5bn of taxpayer funds you’d think Lloyds TSB would be far more transparent and accountable, but that’s not the case.
     The bank’s increasingly anti-democratic activities took an alarming turn last week when, without warning or prior consultation, it delivered an abrupt notification to the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) to cease all dealings with British charity Interpal by December 8 2008 (the date was subsequently revised to 30 January 2009) or "all transactions into or out of Interpal accounts will be blocked and IBB will be at further risk of all its customer payments being suspended". Interpal is one of the few remaining sources of humanitarian assistance in an increasingly beleaguered occupied Gaza.
     Interpal wrote to Eric Daniels, Chief Executive Lloyds TSB, on November 13 requesting an explanation, but to date no response has been sent. I contacted the PR department for an explanation and was informed "Lloyds TSB never comment on individual client relationships and so are unable to comment on our relationship with IBB."

Einab junction: inside Israel’s new terminals

Anna Baltzer writing from Einab junction, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 12/1/2008
      When I first visited the West Bank in 2003, checkpoints were controlled by young Israeli soldiers, nervously clutching their weapons and yelling at Palestinians to stay in line. When I returned in 2005, I found many checkpoints replaced by metal turnstiles into which Palestinians were herded to wait for soldiers to push a button, letting them through one by one or sometimes not at all. Each year I return, the method of control over Palestinian movement is further institutionalized, most recently Israeli terminal-style buildings, entirely separating soldiers from the Palestinians whose movement they are controlling.
     I first encountered one of these terminals after visiting a women’s cooperative in Tulkarm to purchase embroidery to send home. Because there are no reliable postal services in the West Bank, and because I did not want to risk the products being damaged or confiscated by Israeli airport security if I transported them in my luggage, I knew I would have to send them to the United States from a post office in Israel. I had traveled from Tulkarm to Tel Aviv once in the past by taking a shared taxi to the nearby Einab junction, where I had walked from the Palestinian road to the Israeli one and caught transport into Israel.

A Kuffiyeh of a Different Color

Joharah Baker - The West Bank, Palestine Chronicle 12/1/2008
      On a recent trip to Milan, Italy, I spotted three teenage girls strolling through the famed Duomo area of the city. For the most part, the girls looked like any typical group of teens, decked out in skinny jeans and ponytails, all carrying their cups of iced coffee, coke or whatever drink was popular that day. There was one thing, however, that caught my eye. Around their necks, each had a colorful checkered scarf - one blue, one green and one pink, all of which strikingly resembled an accessory I know all too well -- the kuffiyeh.
     At first, I was pleasantly surprised. These young Italians were wearing my national scarf, albeit with a fashionable twist, since the kuffiyeh (or hatta as we so fondly like to call it), is traditionally black and white. All the same, for me, it still symbolized a level of awareness among non-Arabs that I believed was a step in the right direction.
     After a moment of contemplation, I realized I had gotten way ahead of myself. I knew the colored kuffiyehs had become somewhat of a fashion trend over the past few years, with colored scarves ranging from yellow to purple to hot pink adorning the necks of men and women alike. Still, I had not realized how much controversy it had actually elicited until I heard of a campaign against colored kuffiyehs being launched in Palestine. The campaign is calling on Palestinians to halt the sale and purchase of these kuffiyehs, which they say is an insult to our national heritage. Palestinians say Israel has also jumped on the bandwagon, creating blue and white kuffiyehs (the colors of the Israeli flag), some even with the Star of David embossed on them. This, of course, is where Palestinians will have to draw the line. There is enough controversy over the Israeli takeover of hummus and falafel without having to battle over our checkered scarf.

African Americans, Peace and the Plight of Palestinians

Cynthia McKinney, Black Agenda Report special feature, Palestine Think Tank 12/1/2008
      The former congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate charges that "Israel’s lockdown of Gaza is keeping food, fuel, and medicine from civilians." But that’s just the most recent atrocity in a human rights catastrophe that began 60 years ago, in Palestine, the same year that birthed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration is prime evidence that a civilized world is possible, but "Palestine is the place that the Universal Declaration forgot."
     Former Georgia congresswoman and recent Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney was scheduled to give the following address in Damascus, Syria at a Conference to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She notes that this year also marks “the 60th year that the Palestinian people have been denied their Right of Return, enshrined in that Universal Declaration.” However, Delta Airlines personnel prevented Ms. McKinney from boarding her flight. She describes the incident as “a dispute over my paperwork.” - The editors

     A funny thing happened to me while at the Atlanta airport on my way to the Conference: I was not allowed to exit the country.
     I do believe that it was just a misunderstanding. But the insecurity experienced on a daily basis by innocent Palestinians is not. Innocent Palestinians are trapped in a violent, stateless twilight zone imposed on them by an international order that favors a country reported to have completed its nuclear triad as many as eight years ago, although Israel has remained ambiguous on the subject. President Jimmy Carter informed us that Israel had as many as 150 nuclear weapons, and Israel’s allies are among the most militarily sophisticated on the planet. Military engagement, then, is untenable. Therefore the exigency of diplomacy and international law.

What Israel hasn’t tried

Mohammed Naim Farhat, Ha’aretz 12/2/2008
      After the breakdown of the cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians, people are talking about the possibility of Israel retaking the Gaza Strip. This possibility is not desirable for Israel, but it continues to be the main alternative to the temporary calm. It shows the fixed idea both sides have that in the end violence and shows of force are the only way to solve the conflict.
     The statements here are made from the viewpoint of a fair adversary - someone who lives on the other side and is aware of what is happening there; someone aware of the risks and opportunities. What we, the Palestinians, see is an attempt by the Israeli occupation to reshape its control over the West Bank and Gaza, with the goal of leaving them under military attack. The result is a lost opportunity to create a more comfortable climate on the way to an agreement. The damage in political, economic, human, moral and security terms of this choice is obvious; it harms the chances for an agreement, which in any case is complex and difficult. From the Palestinians’ point of view, retaking Gaza will mean an increase in the violence they experience every day. The victims are not only people losing their lives, but those increasingly losing hope.

Urgent Action Needed – No New EU-Israel Action Plan!!

Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 12/4/2008
      The European Parliament (EP) has recently announced that a vote will be held on December 4 to enter into force the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which will enable far greater Israeli participation in European Community programs.Originally, the EU had stated that the vote on this issue would not take place until 2009, but it seems clear that the EU and Israel are attempting to minimize the voice of international civil society by suddenly announcing that it has been moved up to December 4.
     The proposed agreement offers to Israel full access to the EU scientific, academic, research and technical programmes, and will significantly deepen EU-Israeli cooperation and integration in many important sectors. It ignores the fact that these sorts of cooperation agreements that increase Israel’s relationships with the international community are one of Israel’s primary means of its ongoing occupation, the displacement of and systematic racial discrimination against the Palestinian people. By engaging in this agreement, the EU sends the message that it effectively condones the Israeli apartheid regime, and that it will not challenge Israel on its massive violations of Palestinian rights.

Rebuilding a General Union of Palestinian Students

Raja Abdulhaq, Electronic Intifada 12/1/2008
      From the very beginning, students have played an active role in the Palestinian national movement. Their enthusiasm, motivation, and hard work help them to overcome even the most daunting tasks. Organizing rallies, academic events, political debates, fundraising, cultural programs, students demonstrate the great influence they are able to assert on societies divided by war, engrossed by political strife, and weakened by economic turmoil.
     The General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) has been driven by the goal of organizing and uniting student activists devoted to helping achieve justice and freedom for the Palestinian people. GUPS is a student founded organization dedicated to presenting agenda that informs and educates people about Palestine, Arabs, and the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
     Historically, GUPS has always played a significant role in the Palestinian cause. Officially launched in 1959 in Cairo, Egypt, there were more than 100 GUPS branches worldwide, and more than 100,000 students were involved. GUPS was active in coordinating with other student groups and raising awareness about the Palestinian. However, it collapsed after the Oslo Accords in the mid-1990s.

Law Over Gun

Rami G. Khouri, Middle East Online 12/1/2008
      BEIRUT - One of the great weaknesses in the modern Middle East that explains much of the chronic violence and political thuggery of the past half century is the thin state of the rule of law in comparison with the rule of the gun.
     Three separate developments now taking place in different parts of the Arab world might have real consequences for this region’s future: the International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment against the Sudanese president Omar Hassan Bashir, the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) approved by the Iraqi parliament to see the United States withdraw fully by the end of 2011, and the mixed Lebanese-international special tribunal that will try those to be accused of killing former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and a dozen other public figures.
     These three very different dynamics have one thing in common that is unusual and crucial for the Arab World: They bring into play law and accountability as antidotes to runaway homegrown political killings and brutality, and foreign military interference. They may well reveal whether we are destined long to remain plagued by political violence and dictatorship, or can anticipate a better future where citizens and entire societies are protected by the rule of law.

Israel Becoming Greater and Greater Cause for Concern

Editorial, Jordan Times, Palestine Media Center 11/30/2008
      Israel, the “only democracy in the Middle East” (trademark), is becoming a greater and greater cause for concern.
     There is its inability and unwillingness to abide by international law and international norms. For 41 years, the country has illegally occupied land it seized in war and refused to contemplate giving this back to its rightful owners.
     There is the country’s appalling human rights record. Nearly half the people under its control, i.e., the 5 million Palestinians of the occupied territories and the one million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, suffer varying degrees of outright discrimination.
     In Israel, a poverty-stricken community is denied fair allocations of land and resources, while being underrepresented in a polity that defines itself while excluding them.