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

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4 December, 2008

Israeli forces drag illegal settlers from Hebron house
Donald Macintyre in Hebron, The Independent 12/5/2008
Israeli police were last night using stun grenades to disperse rioting Jewish settlers after security forces unexpectedly stormed and evacuated a house the settlers had commandeered in the West Bank city of Hebron. The protests -- and others mounted with sporadic violence elsewhere in the West Bank -- came after 100 border police with visors and riot shields used clubs and tear gas to drag out what police said was 30 or so settlers, some kicking and throwing stones and eggs, who had been in the building at the time. As night fell, angry young settlers -- some masked -- stoned an isolated Palestinian house in an orchard below the evacuated building which was lit up by fires started by protesters who set alight to the family’s laundry and some of the orchard’s olive trees. The area remained tense as security forces jostled with crowds of mainly teenage settlers infuriated. . .

Gaza banks face cash crisis
Al Jazeera 12/4/2008
Banks across the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have closed because of a shortage of bank notes in their vaults, caused by the Israeli blockade of the territory. Bank branches across Gaza shut their doors on Thursday, while Israel announced it would let some humanitarian aid - limited to food, fuel and medical supplies - into the territory for the first time in a week. "The bank is closed because of the occupation’s ban on cash entry," signs read at several branches in Gaza City. It was unclear when Israel would allow cash into the Gaza Strip to replenish currency stocks. Israel also said on Thursday that it would allow foreign journalists to enter, lifting an effective media blackout for the first time since November 4.

Hebron colonists attack Palestinians after eviction
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 12/5/2008
HEBRON, Occupied West Bank: Mobs of colonists rampaged through the Occupied West Bank on Thursday after Israeli police enforced an eviction order of settlers squatting illegally in a Palestinian house. Rabid colonists set fire to Palestinian homes and fields, fired weapons, hurled rocks, clashed with security forces and carried out other forms of vandalism to Palestinian property following the eviction carried out by about 100 officers. Relatives said three Palestinians suffered gunshot wounds and were evacuated by helicopter, while police said five civilians and two policemen were wounded during the eviction itself. Medics said there were further injuries during ensuing clashes. A cloud of black smoke covered much of the neighborhood as militant supporters of the colonists set Palestinian olive fields alight and torched two homes and a dozen cars.

Settlers riot across Palestine as part of ‘price-tag’ campaign following eviction of settlers from Rajabi house, Hebron
International Solidarity Movement 12/4/2008
Qalqilya Region - Nablus Region - Hebron Region- Salfit Region - UPDATE: Settlers are attacking Palestinian residents and property around the West Bank in a coordinated outbreak of aggression following the eviction of settlers from the occupied Rajabi house in Hebron. Attacks against Palestinians have been reported from Turmas’ayya, Burin, Huwarra, Beit Iba, Azzoun, al-Funduq, Assira-al-Qabliya and Susiya, as well as the mass settler riots in Hebron. 10:30pm 4th December: Settlers have thrown molotov cocktails at a house in Assira-al-Qabliya, Nablus region, setting the house alight. Widespread damage has been reported by Palestinian firefighters who have now put out the blaze. In Susiya, the tent of Hajet Sarra Nausaja has been burnt down by settlers who have stormed through the area. One Palestinian man has been taken to hospital in Qalqilya after his car was attacked by settlers close to al-Funduq.

2 Jewish teens arrested for stabbing Arab man in J’lem
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Police arrest two 17-year-old youths on suspicion they were involved in stabbing of east Jerusalem resident on Tuesday. Suspects deny allegations - The Jerusalem Police arrested two Jewish youths, both aged 17, on suspicion of being involved in the stabbing of an Arab man in the capital’s Meah Shearim neighborhood on Tuesday night. The man was moderately to seriously injured and was hospitalized at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center. The two suspects, who deny the allegations against them, will be brought before a judge for a remand hearing later Thursday. The 31-year-old Arab resident of east Jerusalem, Khamed Khamed, was stabbed by four Jews on Tuesday night, near the city’s Mandelbaum Gate, which is adjacent to the Meah Shearim neighborhood. The man reportedly managed to walk for a while after being stabbed and eventually encountered several police officers.

Israel Is Not Above the Law - The European Parliament Suspends the Vote on the Upgrade of EU – Israel Relations
Luisa Morgantini, MIFTAH 12/4/2008
The European Parliament(EP) today postponed thevote on the proposal by the EU Commission and Council for the draft recommendation to conclude a Protocol to the EU-Israel Association Agreement and on the general principles governing the State of Israel’s participation in Community programmes. The vote was originally scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, December 4, in the EP in Brussels. This vote wouldhave been an important step in the process of upgrading EU-Israel relations,which wasrequested by the Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tzipi Livni, duringher hearing in the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs,within the framework of the Protocol for the Association Agreement between EU and Israel. However, the European Parliament voteddifferently :the majority ofparliamentarianscalled forapostponement of the vote to another date yet to bedetermined, as requested by the GUE/NGL and Greens groups, with agreementfromthe Socialist Party,some of the Liberals (ALDE) and some MEPsfrom the Popular Party.

Petition in support of UN General Assembly President to boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel
Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 12/4/2008
Petition in support of call by United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D’escoto Brockmann for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel - During the 57th Plenary Meeting on the Question of Palestine, President of the General Assembly Miguel D’escoto Brockmann broke a diplomatic taboo by describing Israeli policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as similar to those of the defunct apartheid regime in South Africa. Brockmann also urged the United Nations to use the term "˜apartheid’ without fear, and recommended that the United Nations"…. should consider following the lead of a new generation of civil society, who are calling for a similar non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to end its violations. -- See also: Petition

ANALYSIS / No other word than ’pogrom’ for settler acts in Hebron
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 12/5/2008
An innocent Palestinian family, numbering close to 20 people. All of them women and children, save for three men. Surrounding them are a few dozen masked Jews seeking to lynch them. A pogrom. This isn’t a play on words or a double meaning. It is a pogrom in the worst sense of the word. First the masked men set fire to their laundry in the front yard and then they tried to set fire to one of the rooms in the house. The women cry for help, "Allahu Akhbar. "Yet the neighbors are too scared to approach the house, frightened of the security guards from Kiryat Arba who have sealed off the home and who are cursing the journalists who wish to document the events unfolding there. The cries rain down, much like the hail of stones the masked men hurled at the Abu Sa’afan family in the house. A few seconds tick by before a group of journalists, long accustomed to witnessing these difficult moments, decide not to stand on the sidelines. They break into the home and save the lives of the people inside.

Israel demolishes dozens of Bedouin and Palestinian houses within own borders
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli government demolished dozens of houses inside its own borders on Wednesday, including an entire Bedouin village which has been destroyed over 20 times. Sources at the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages (RCUV) said the Bedouin village of Twail Abu Jawal, home to between 50 and 100 people living in 10 houses, was flattened by Israeli construction vehicles. An additional 21 structures were demolished in another unrecognized village, Al-Makimen. Witnesses said three bulldozers and scores of police destroyed the buildings, which were not inhabited at the time. Local sources said the Abu Trash family had left the area because of a local dispute, possibly involving a murder perpetrated by a member of the family. The two communities are among of 45 unrecognized Bedouin villages in Israel, home to a total of 84,000 people.

Barak orders destruction of Jerusalem terrorists’ homes
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Central Command chief instructed to raze homes of east Jerusalem residents who plowed into pedestrians with bulldozers in two separate attacks in capital. Families have week to appeal decision -Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed Central Command Chief Major-General Gadi Shamni on Thursday to demolish the east Jerusalem homes of the terrorists who plowed into pedestrians with bulldozers in two separate attacks in the capital, pending a hearing. The order was given once Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and the State Prosecutor’s Office green-lighted the move. The families have been given one week to appeal the decision. Should the Central Command reject the appeal, they would have a week to file another appeal with the High Court of Justice. Dawiath home in east Jerusalem (Photo: Dudi Vaaknin) Three people were killed and 40 others. . .

The young men from Kiryat Arba exact their ’price’ in the valley
Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post 12/5/2008
As security personnel swarmed into Hebron’s Beit Hashalom on Thursday afternoon, Jewish youths from nearby Kiryat Arba launched a counterattack - breaking down a metal fence in front of the Nir Yeshiva and going down into the valley between them and the evacuation, lighting fires, stoning Palestinian homes, knocking down satellite dishes and torching olive trees. Making good on their "price tag" policy - exacting a price in Palestinian property whenever security forces evacuate Jewish homes - the teens ran through the valley with their faces covered by T-shirts and masks, causing as much damage as possible in the shortest amount of time. The Palestinians responded by comingout of their homes and throwing rocks back at the youths. Soldiers, busy with the evacuation on the other side of the valley, were slow to respond.

IN PICTURES / The evacuation of ’House of Contention’ in Hebron
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 12/5/2008
Swiftly and without immediate warning, Israeli security forces on Thursday removed dozens of settlers from the site of a house in Hebron, to which the settlers claim ownership, but whose evacuation has been ordered by the Israeli High Court of Justice. The evacuation itself was completed within about an hour, but irate settlers later rampaged through the West Bank city, some settingPalestinian property alight and opening fire on local residents. [end]

VIDEO - Israeli forces evict settlers from disputed Hebron home
Rory McCarthy in Hebron, The Guardian 12/4/2008
Israeli riot police forcibly evacuated a house filled with dozens of Jewish settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron today in the most public showdown between the government and the increasingly violent settler movement for more than two years. Hundreds of police mounted a surprise raid on the three-storey house, which had become the latest symbol of defiance for Israeli settlers. Troops fired tear gas into the crowds and dragged settlers from the house one-by-one. Around 30 people were injured, including one policeman who had acid thrown in his eyes. Although the house was emptied within an hour, the operation triggered broad settler protests across the occupied West Bank and in Jerusalem, which continued into the night. In Hebron masked settlers set fire to Palestinian trees and attacked buildings. The Israeli military declared the southern West Bank a closed military zone, setting up roadblocks to prevent more settlers descending on the city. -- See also: Israeli settlers: ''This looks to be an aggressive operation''

PLO to UN: Curb settler attacks; protect West Bank Palestinians
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – A senior negotiator within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s main negotiation body on Thursday called on the United Nations (UN) to intervene in what he called ongoing settler attacks against Palestinian residents in the West Bank. A negotiator of the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department, Ahmad Qurie, warned on Thursday of the "explosive situation" in Hebron and urged the UN to intervene "to curb settler attacks" and do a better job "protecting the residents" of Hebron. Qurie held the Israeli government responsible for the attacks in the West Bank, calling for all senior Israeli officials to denounce the attacks carried out on the Palestinians. He urged the international community, including the UN, International Quartet and the European Union to work toward protecting Palestinians from the settlers, noting that "these attacks are carried out under the protection of the Israeli army.

Qurei calls for international protection against Israeli settlers attacks
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/4/2008
Yesterday, top Palestinian negotiator, Ahmad Qurei, called for an international protection against repeated armed Israeli settler attacks against Palestinian residents in the occupied West Bank. During a Fatah party meeting in Ramallah, Qurei regarded the Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians as illegal, for these settlers exist on occupied Palestinian territories. The Palestinian peace negotiator urged the Quartet Committee (United States, United Nations, Russia and European Union) for peace in the Middle East and to put in place a special mechanism to stop the illegal settlement activities on occupied Palestinian lands. Qurei’s statements came under the backdrop of a series of attacks by armed Israeli settlers against Palestinian residents in various parts of the West Bank, as well as East Jerusalem, causing the injury of unarmed civilians and damage to Palestinian-owned properties.

Jews storm Palestinian home in Hebron
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Palestinian residing near Federman Farm outpost says rightists set fire to his fields in protest of disputed house eviction. ’I fear it will end in disaster,’ he says -Several dozen right-wing activists stormed the grounds of a Palestinian house located near the Federman Farm outpost in Hebron, Palestinian sources reported Thursday evening. The activists, who were protesting the eviction of the disputed house in the West Bank city earlier in the day, also set Palestinian homes and vehicles ablaze. Halifa Da’ana, the owner of the house near the Jewish outpost, told Ynet that the assailants also torched an agricultural field that he owns and also began cutting the wire fence separating his home from the Federman Farm. "They began hurling stones, pieces of metal and anything else they could get their hands on while setting fire to my fields," he recalled.

Baby lightly hurt by stones in West Bank
Raanan Ben-Zur, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Stones hurled at vehicle traveling Nablus bypass road wounds woman, her two-month old daughter - A 45-year-old woman and her two-month-old baby girl were lightly injured Thursday afternoon by stones hurled at vehicles traveling on the Nablus bypass road in the West Bank. Another girl who was in the car was unharmed. The woman and her two daughters were traveling in an unshielded vehicle on the Nablus bypass road. The baby was sitting in a safety chair in the front seat, near the driver, and her four-year-old was sitting in the back seat, belted. When the car reached a junction near Hawara, a large stone was hurled at the vehicle, hitting the windshield on the baby’s side. The window was smashed and the baby was lightly injured by shrapnel. The mother suffered from light wounds to her head. Magen David Adom crews were evacuated to the scene and tended to the passengers.

’Surprise led to swift evacuation’
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
Some six hundred troops participated in the evacuation of a disputed building in Hebron on Thursday afternoon, in an operation that police commanders said was smoother and quicker than the evacuation of the Amona outpost in February 2006, due mainly to security forces surprising the settlers inside. "Had we not acted by surprise there would have been different results and more violence," Dep. -Com. Avshalom Peled, commander of Hebron Police said. Peled said that security forces found rocks, different chemicals, acids and tires, as well as paint-filled glass light bulbs in the house, all of which the settlers prepared in advance to fight the evacuating forces. On the second floor of the house potatoes with nails in them were found. Peled added that he was expecting people to try to return to the building, and said that in such a case Border Police would prepare and act accordingly.

VIDEO - Hebron evacuation completed within hour
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 12/4/2008
(Video) Security forces take settlers by surprise as they storm disputed Hebron house in broad daylight, remove activists barricaded inside. MDA reports about 20 people injured in clashes. In response, right-wing activists clash with police at entrance to Jerusalem; 20 arrested - VIDEO- Security forces stormed the disputed Hebron house on Thursday and completed its evacuation within less than an hour after taking settlers totally be surprise. Heavy clashes ensued throughout the operation and the Magen David Adom emergency services reported that 20 people were lightly injured during the evacuation. Anotehr two people sustained moderate injuries and were evacuated to hospital. Clashes in Hebron (Video: Infolive. tv) According to some reports, special police units entered the house and removed the right-wing activists that barricaded themselves inside.

Palestine Today 120408
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 12/4/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 00s || 2. 74 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for Thursday December 04 2008 In the Gaza Strip, all Palestinian banks have been closed down today as Israel has cut off all money transfers en route to Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel allowed some shipments of goods, commodities and fuel for electricity into Gaza. These stories and more are coming up, stay tuned. According to the Palestinian Monetary Authority, the closure of Gaza banks came after Israel has denied delivery of Israeli Shekel currency and U. S dollars into Gaza banks for more than a week now. A statement by the Authority read that efforts are underway now with many international concerned bodies, including the World Bank, to urge Israel to allow flow of funds to the besieged Gaza Strip.

Settlers in Nablus set fire to fields, vehicles in retaliation for Hebron eviction
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Settlers invaded the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday afternoon, furious that the Israeli army evacuated the so-called House of Contention in Hebron. Israeli extremists set fire to fields and vehicles in the city as dozens were injured in Hebron as soldiers evicted 13 families that were illegally occupying a house that belongs to a Palestinian family. In the ensuing chaos, settlers set fire to Palestinian homes while Israeli soldiers arrested several Jewish settlers in the area. Palestinians and Israelis alike are reported to have suffered numerous injuries, including teargas inhalation and heavy bruising, medical sources told Ma’an on Thursday. Israeli forces forcibly removed 250 right-wing settlers from a Palestinian house in the West Bank city of Hebron, weeks after the Israeli High Court ordered their eviction.

Settlers to Ethiopian troops: Niggers don’t expel Jews
Danny Adino Ababa, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Border Guard officers of Ethiopian descent report rising number of racially motivated verbal attacks from Hebron youths; Druze officers also suffer racist remarks - Not only do they serve long and tiring hours in the reserve forces, and not only are they forced to deal with violent clashes with settlers, but now, Border Guard officers of Ethiopian descent are also faced with rising racism. "Niggers don’t expel Jews! This isn’t what we brought you to Israel for!" are just some of the degrading slurs Border Guard officers reported hearing from masked settlers. During the violent clashes between Israeli forces and settlers in Hebron on Tuesday "a bunch of veiled people started yelling at us: Who are you to expel us from our home? An Ethiopian does not expel a Jew! A nigger does not expel a Jew!" one Border Guard officer of Ethiopian descent recounted.

Hebron burning: Settler fire injures Palestinians
Ali Waked, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Palestinian sources in Hebron say father and his son shot by settlers after security forces clear disputed Hebron house; right-wing activists announce launching of ’price tag’ policy, damage Palestinian property in West Bank. Qureia demands international intervention - Palestinian sources in Hebron reported Thursday evening that two Palestinians - a father and his son - were seriously injured from gunshots fired by settlers during the clashes that followed the swift evacuation of the disputed house in the West Bank city. Both were taken to the Hebron hospital in serious condition. Their neighbor was also reportedly injured from settler gunfire, but his condition remains unclear. The Palestinians said 12 people have been injured by settlers since the evacuation, adding that at least 15 cars were torched in areas near the house, as well as several houses.

PM on Hebron riots: We’ll protect Palestinians
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Minister Yishai says following Hebron evacuation that defense minister ’acted in complete disregard of the law and threw people out of their home’. Barak in response: State’s ability to enforce laws was put to the test. Olmert says won’t allow settlers to won’t allow anyone to ’undermine democracy and rule of law’ - Deputy Prime Minister and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai said Thursday that the timing of the evacuation of the disputed Hebron house was "more than puzzling". Harshly slamming- Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Yishai said that "it’s a shame that for rating purposes, the defense minister chose to halt the dialogue process, act in complete disregard of the law and throw people out of their home. Making political use of defense issues will not make the Labor Party more relevant and reinvent something that is outdated.

Abbas reimburses Palestinian after settlers steal horse
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior Fatah members reimbursed a Palestinian resident of Al-Khader, near Bethlehem, for a horse stolen by Israeli settlers. Ibrahim Salah had previously appealed to Abbas, through Ma’an News Agency, to compensate him for a horse stolen by settlers one week before. Salah has been attacked repeatedly by settlers while working on his land adjacent to the Israeli constructed separation wall and an illegal settlement in his village. Salah also filed a complaint with Israeli police at the Israeli settlement of Gush Atzion, but it was ignored, despite the presence of witnesses, who saw the settlers stealing the horse and fleeing the scene, he said.

Police restrict Friday Muslim prayers on Temple Mount
Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
Jerusalem police announced late Thursday that they will be imposing restrictions on Muslim entrance to the Temple Mount on Friday due to skirmishes and protests over the eviction of Jews from a disputed property in Hebron. All Arab men under the age of 45 will be barred from Friday midday prayers due to security concerns, police said, with only those above 45 with Israeli ID cards - as well as women of any age - allowed into the ancient compound. Police sporadically close off the bitterly contested holy site to younger male Arabs on Fridays during times of high tension, and following multiple alerts over possible violence at the site. [end]

2 Jewish teens held for J’lem stabbing
Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
Two Jewish teens were arrested Thursday for alleged involvement in the stabbing of an Arab resident of east Jerusalem a day earlier, police said. The two 17-year-old suspects, who could not be named because they are minors, are haredi residents of the Beit Yisrael neighborhood. Police believe that the two were involved in the Wednesday-morning stabbing of 31-year-old Wadi Joz resident Hamad Hamad in Mea She’arim. Hamad, who was seriously wounded in the attack, was in stable condition Thursday at a Jerusalem hospital. A manhunt is still under way for the prime suspects in the attack, which police said was apparently ideologically motivated. Hamad told police investigators that he had been making his way home when four young Jews wearing kippot approached him and asked him for the time - apparently to verify that he was an Arab - before repeatedly stabbing him in the back.

Health Work Committees call for end to settler violence in West Bank; request PA protection
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – The continued attacks on Palestinians perpetrated by Israeli settlers in the West Bank are unbearable and the Palestinian Authority should provide protection for its people, said a statement by the Palestinian Health Work Committees on Thursday. The violence, said a statement from the Committees, is the last straw in the progressive antagonism exacted against Palestinians by settlers, who confiscate Palestinian property and demolish homes. The beatings and violence, said the Committees, are a real threat to the lives of farmers and school children, who are most often the victims of the attacks. The Israeli government is covering up the violent acts by the settlers for political gain, and say it has gotten worse now that the run-up to the next Parliamentary election has begin, said the statement.

Israeli settlers stab, seriously wound, a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/4/2008
A group of extremist Israeli settlers attacked and stabbed a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem on Tuesday at night in an area close to Me’ah Sh’arim neighborhood in the city. The resident was moved to Hadassah Ein Karem Israeli hospital suffering from serious wounds. The Israeli police conducted initial investigations in the attack, and stated that four fundamental Jews asked the Palestinian youth about the time, and when they found that he was an Arab they stabbed him several times in his back. The police did not conduct any arrests and is awaiting, according to Israeli sources, the outcome of the claimed probe. Last April, several settlers violently attacked two Arab youths in Pisgat Zeev neighborhood.

Israel criticized at top UN human rights forum
Reuters, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Syria, Egypt and Iran raise concerns about ’racist and discriminatory practices’ against Palestinians; western countries urge Israel to lift blockade -Israel drew fire regarding its human rights record on Thursday at a United Nations forum where its neighbors accused it of committing systematic violations against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Delegations from Syria, Egypt and Iran raised concerns about Israel’s security wall, its detentions of young Palestinians, and what they called "illegal" Jewish settlements during the regular review by the UN Human Rights Council. Western countries, including Australia, Britain, Canada, France and Germany, urged Israel to lift its blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip which they said had led to a worsening humanitarian situation.

EU: Israeli government must ''stop considering itself above the law and start respecting it''
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The European Parliament (EP) suspended its vote on whether or not to upgrade EU-Israel relations on Wednesday in the wake of increasing unrest around Israeli settlement building policies and the continued Gaza siege. Vice President of the European Parliament Luisa Morgantini issued a statement about the decision saying "It’s time for the Israeli Government to stop considering itself above the law and start respecting it. ”The suspended proposal was submitted by the EU Commission and Council and recommended the completion of a set of guidelines by which Israel would participate in programs set up by the European Community. The vote was scheduled to take place Thursday. According to Morgantini the vote would have been an important step in the process of upgrading EU-Israel relations.

’New teams must proceed with Annapolis’
Haviv Rettig Gur, Jerusalem Post 12/5/2008
A new Israeli government and the new American administration must continue the Annapolis peace process to "ensure that it comes to fruition," said Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process on Thursday. Serry, who represents UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in peace discussions, told a Tel Aviv University crowd that "it is in my view vitally important that a new Israeli government continue this process to its end, in accordance with Israel’s commitments. " He insisted the Annapolis process "has made important progress in 2008, and we must keep it going in 2009 and ensure that it comes to fruition. " It is also "essential" that the incoming Obama administration in the United States "engage in support of what Israelis and Palestinians are trying to do from the first day.

PA ministry: Israel delaying release of 250 Palestinian prisoners
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The 250 Palestinian prisoners slated for release for the Islamic Al-Adha holiday this month may not see freedom before the actual holiday, according to the Palestinian Authority (PA) Prisoners’ Affairs Ministry on Thursday. Prisons’ Minister Ashraf Al-A’jrami told Ma’an that he could "not rule out" delaying the release of the 250 Palestinians, as the list made available by Israel "has still not been made available"Last week, the Israeli government approved the release of 250 Palestinians in a goodwill gesture to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, claiming that the prisoners would be released in advance of the Muslim holiday which begins on Monday. The list is expected to be released 24 hours in advance of the prisoners but as of Thursday evening, it had not yet been provided to the PA, Al-A’jrami said.

Security Council refuses to condemn Israeli ’piracy’ against Gaza-bound Libyan aid ship
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 12/5/2008
UNITED NATIONS: Libya protested in vain Wednesday before the UN Security Council over Israel’s interception of one of its cargo ships attempting to offload aid in the impoverished Gaza Strip. Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi told an emergency council session that Israel was guilty of "piracy in the high seas," and called for "effective action that will ensure compliance of Israel with international humanitarian law and the law of the seas. " His complaints, however, failed to elicit a formal condemnation of Monday’s actions by Israel, which needed unanimous consensus by the council’s 14 members - Libya is one of the 15-strong council’s 10 rotating members. Israeli warships on Monday prevented a Libyan cargo vessel, the Al-Marwa, from reaching Gaza with 3,000 tons of humanitarian aid for the impoverished Palestinian territory, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since Hamas won legislative elections in 2006.

Libya accuses Israel of piracy for blocking Gaza aid ship
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies - Libya accused Israel of piracy at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday for blocking a Libyan ship from delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip earlier this week. Libya reportedly called for an emergency session of the Security Council to protest Israel’s interdiction of the ship, which officials said contained 3,000 tons of basic supplies. Israeli warships forced the vessel to reroute its course to Egypt. Libyan UN Ambassador Giadallah Ettalhi told the 15-nation council that the Israeli action was "an act of piracy" as defined by the UN law of the sea. He asked the council "to take the necessary urgent actions to allow the. . . ship to enter the port and unload its cargo. "He added that Libya would allow the United Nations or other organizations to confirm that its cargo was purely humanitarian.

Ship from Qatar to land in Gaza during Eid; Two million USD in medical supplies on board
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Two million US dollars in medical supplies and a delegation of Qatari dignitaries will be on board the next ship that attempts to enter Gaza waters, said member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Jamal Al-Khudari. The ship, according to Al-Khudari, will land in Gaza during Eid Al-Adha, and the delegates will spend the holiday with Gazans. They will distribute supplies and tour the area in order to get a sense of what life in the besieged area is like. Some of the delegates set to be on board the Qatari ship are members of the Qatar Charatible Organization including its secretary and general director. The Governor of Qatar Nasser Al-Qa’bi will sail on the ship as well as member of the charitable organization Hassan Abdel Rahim.

Israel to allow shipment of urgent aid into Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel will momentarily ease its siege of the Gaza Strip to allow urgently-needed aid through the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Thursday, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. Nasser As-Serraj, the assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of National Economy in the Gaza-based Palestinian government confirmed that 40 truckloads of food and medicine would be allowed through the terminal. As-Serraj added that 20 truckloads are destined for humanitarian programs, 9 for private sector merchants, 2 for the agriculture sector, 5 for the Ministry of Health and 4 truckloads of chlorine used in the treatment of water. An Israeli security source however said that this decision remains dependent on any developments that may occur. Israel has rebuffed calls from top Palestinian and United Nations officials to lift its blockade of Gaza.

Israeli reporter: Hamas stronger after siege
Middle East Online 12/4/2008
PACIFICA – Award-winning Israeli journalist Amira Hass said that the Israeli blockade on Gaza has strengthened the position of Hamas in the Strip, Democracy Now! reported Tuesday. “It doesn’t weaken Hamas, the contrary, people say, ok, so Hamas is one of us. We are all targeted by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. ” But Hass warned that the health system in Gaza is worsening. “There has always been a problem with the health system, there has always been but it is deteriorating very fast,” said Hass, during an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!. Hass, a correspondent for Ha’aretz, was also concerned about the education system in the Strip. “The same is true of the education system; it is really heartbreaking to see how it is not only the blockade and the siege, which as you remember started in 1991 and not just four months ago, it is an ongoing process from Israeli policy,” she noted.

Blair calls for ’new strategy’ on Gaza, warns window for two-state solution is closing
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 12/5/2008
WASHINGTON: Middle East envoy Tony Blair called late Wednesday for a new strategy to bring the Gaza Strip back into the peace process and warned a proposed two-state solution risked slipping away. Blair offered few details for the future of Gaza but entertained the idea that the Islamist Hamas could either be ousted from power in elections there or could even join the political process if it drops its anti-occupation stand. "We need a new strategy for Gaza," Blair told foreign policy specialists at a gathering in Washington hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think tank. "You will not get a peace deal while Gaza remains as it is," said the former British prime minister who has served for 15 months as Middle East envoy for the so-called Quartet of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia.

Aoun uses Syrian stage to accuse UN of coddling Israel
Daily Star 12/5/2008
Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader Michel Aoun accused the United Nations on Thursday of "covering up all harms committed by Israel against the Palestinian people," adding that the world body "resolves world problems based on the will of great powers. ""The United Nations has always failed to condemn Israel due to the veto right and we see it in oil fields with or without a resolution," Aoun said during a lecture at Damascus University. "Some [powers] are exerting pressures to abrogate the Palestinians’ right of return to their homeland," he added. He also accused "major powers of playing a role in preventing the return to normal relations between Lebanon and Syria. "Aoun did not identify these powers by name. The FPM leader also defended his memorandum of understanding with Hizbullah, which was signed in early 2006, saying it "reflected on our community, enabled us to maintain. . .

Child Martyrs
International Solidarity Movement 12/4/2008
Gaza Region - Photos - ISM Gaza Strip - On Tuesday 2nd December 2008 Gaza Strip, Palestine added two more child martyrs to its already long list of thousands of dead children, the products of U. S. tax-payer money providing the ways and the means for Israel to continue its genocidal occupation and siege. Omar Abu-Hamad - 15 year-old Omar Abu-Hamad, born 28th January 1993 and 19 year-old Ramzi El Dahini were blown to bits standing in the street outside their homes - they both lived in the same neighborhood and were also cousins. Two other children were seriously injured and taken to Al-Najar hospital in Rafah, Gaza Strip. Their injuries were so serious that they are being transferred to a hospital inside Israel, since the hospitals in Gaza are so very limited in the treatment they can give to those who need urgent emergency care.

Due to Israeli ban, Gaza banks lack cash for PA workers
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – An Israeli ban on cash transfers to the Gaza Strip means that employees of the Palestinian Authority (PA) were not able to receive their salaries this week. Normally, when the PA, Palestine’s largest employer disburses salaries, banks are crowd with public sector employees. This week the banks were closed, the streets empty. On Wednesday the PA announced it would pay its workers after a donation by the European Union. The balance was sufficient, but there were simply not enough banknotes. One PA employee, Abu Abdullah, said “If there are no dollars or shekels we will get our money in dinars or Euros and we want our salaries before Eid Al-Adha to buy our needs. ”Abu Omar, another PA employee said, ”We wait for the end of the month to take our salaries. ”Abu Omar appealed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to put pressure on Israel to transfer the money to Gaza.

Palestinian banks in Gaza close as Israel blocks delivery of funds
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 12/4/2008
The Palestinian Monetary Authority in Gaza announced on Thursday that all Palestinian banks in the Gaza Strip will be forced to shut down due to the authority’s inability to deliver funds to the besieged Gaza Strip. In a statement, emailed to IMEMC, Minister of the Authority, Dr. Jihad Alwazir, stated that funds are ready to be transferred, but due to Israel’s ban on sending funds to Gaza, the authority is unable to ensure those funds. " Due to such conditions, all Gaza branches of Palestinian banks are forced to close on Thursday, while the Monetary Authority will be exerting every possible effort to ensure the funds as the Palestinians mark major holidays in few days time", the minister made clear. The statement also indicated that the Monetary Authority has contacted various worldwide bodies, including the World Bank, the Quartet Committee and the Israeli Central Bank, in order to solve the standoff.

No cooking gas for Eid; industrial fuel being transfered into Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel allowed a shipment of 50 thousand liters of industrial diesel into Gaza on Thursday afternoon, with another 400 thousand liters expected after the partial opening of the Nahal Oz crossing in northern Gaza on Wednesday. Shipments of cooking gas for Gaza, however, were blocked for the 29th consecutive day, leading most locals to assume they will not be able to prepare the traditionally large Eid Al-Adha meals. During the month of Ramadan no extra supplies of cooking gas were transferred into Gaza, and aid organizations reported that supply for the last 17 months has satisfied about 30% of demand. For the last 29 days, however, no cooking fuel has been allowed into Gaza despite urgent humanitarian appeals from local and international human rights organizations. Bakeries and restaurants have largely shut down since no fuel was available to power. . .

Nablus hospital reopens after renovation
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Rafidia Hospital in Nabulus reopened on Thursday after being renovated by the Ministry of Health and USAID. The opening celebration was attended by Fathi Abu Mughli, the Palestinian minister of health and Howard Sumka, the head of USAID in Palestine along with senior Palestinian and international figures. Abu Mughli praised the US’ continued support for the Palestinian health sector through USAID which covered the hospital’s renovation expenses and supplied beds and medical equipment. Abu Mughli also discussed the obstacles to better health services caused by Israel’s siege of Gaza and the installation of checkpoints and the separation wall in the West Bank.

Palestinian charity distributes winter clothes to Gaza children
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - A Palestinian charitable organization launched a program for the distribution of winter clothes to children in the Gaza Strip on Thursday. The campaign, "Warm Winter for the Children of Palestine," brought 200 bags of winter shoes, socks and gloves for children under the age of 12, particularly orphans, in Gaza City. The campaign also provided 1,000 schoolbags for 12-year-olds in a bid to encourage school attendance in spite of the ever-increasing difficulties of life in the Gaza Strip. Their efforts are intended to "ease the suffering of children in Palestine," according to a statement from the group. [end]

Alsarraj: 40 trucks of goods to enter Gaza today
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/4/2008
Deputy-minister of economy, Nasser Alsarraj, stated on Thursday that the Israeli side has informed the Palestinian side that 40 trucks of goods and commodities will be allowed into Gaza today. [end]

Islamic Jihad: Division between Palestinians runs deep
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The continued force with which the two-year-long internal Palestinian division continues is proof that the division is “very deep” between Palestinians, said a prominent leader of Islamic Jihad on Thursday. Jamil Yousef said in a press briefing that “the common ground between rivals is becoming narrow and the division ball is still rolling” adding that the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its representation are one of the major sources of division. As long as the factors keeping the Palestinian people apart persist, he said, “The division will not end between Fatah and Hamas. ” He further accused the Arab countries of failing to bridge the gap between the parties.

Egypt FM blames Hamas for unity talks’ failure
Middle East Online 12/4/2008
CAIRO - Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit has blamed the democratically elected Palestinian movement Hamas for the failure of Egyptian-mediated unity talks with its Fatah rivals, official media reported on Thursday. Abul Gheit said the talks between Hamas and Fatah have not been successful because of "Hamas’s lack of enthusiasm toward reconciliation," Al-Ahram daily quoted him as saying. Cairo has tried to reconcile the two parties since Hamas seized Gaza last year, routing Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah from the coastal strip, but talks came to a standstill after Hamas boycotted a Cairo meeting last month. Hamas protested that Fatah, which remains in control of parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was detaining its members. Egypt had proposed a unity government composed of members whom the rival parties could agree on, and reforms to Palestinian security services overseen by Arab experts.

Hamas says movement supports Egyptian role in unity talks
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas insisted on Thursday that it supports unity talks, denying accusations that the movement intends to establish an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip, according to leader Ayman Taha. The recent statements came amid criticism from Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit, who blamed Hamas for the failure of unity talks. The Egyptian-sponsored dialogue was originally set to take place in Cairo in early November. Ayman Taha insisted that Hamas has been interested in conciliation "since the beginning of the talks," but demanded that Egypt "create an atmosphere" conducive to success. He also insisted that Egypt pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to "release the political prisoners and to stop chasing Hamas leaders in the West Bank. " Hamas has recently accused the PA of detaining hundreds of Hamas members in a bid to consolidate power in the West Bank.

Addameer accuses Palestinian factions of harming Palestinians; Free Gaza movement promises more aid
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Gaza –Ma’an – Palestinian factions are harming the Palestinian cause, said Head of the Addameer organization for human rights Khalil Abu Shamalah on Thursday. While Shamalah refused to name which parties he felt were at fault, he did say that parties’ self interest was taking advantage of the tragic situation in the Gaza Strip. The comments came in a joint press conference with members of the Free Gaza movement. The aim of the statements was to stress that the goals of the Free Gaza movement were to assist distressed Gazans and not to promote geographical separation between the West Bank and the Strip. One international solidarity activist who arrived to Gaza on the latest Free Gaza ship said the activists were there to bear witness to the illegitimate siege. She stressed that the group was in contact with solidarity activists in several countries, and that they hoped to arrange more convoys of aid to the area in the coming weeks.

Fayyad: We are ready to fly Gaza pilgrims to Saudi Arabia; Hamas: Egypt did not tell us Rafah was open
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian caretaker government is ready to transfer Gaza pilgrims to Saudi Arabia by air, at its expense, if Hamas allows them to leave through Rafah, the Palestinian prime minister pledged on Thursday in Ramallah. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad expressed sorrow for the suffering of Gaza pilgrims and stressed his willingness to aid in the situation in any way possible. Earlier on Thursday, Palestinian Minister of Social Affairs for the caretaker government Mahmoud Al-Habash said Gazan pilgrims would not be able to perform the Hajj this year because there is not enough time to travel to Mecca and perform the necessary rituals before the Eid celebration begins. “Travelling from Gaza to Mecca takes four days over ground,” Al-Habbash stated, “there is no chance they will make it there on time.

Ramallah government sends medicine to Hamas-ruled Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah sent two trucks containing three million US dollars worth of medicine and medical equipment to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Thursday. The truck contained “75 types of medicines and medical equipment” some of which are meant for “chronic diseases like cancer,” Fathi Abu Mughli, the minister of health indicated. The Ministry received permission from the Israeli government on Thursday after submitting an application to dispatch these trucks more than a month ago. The trucks were obstructed for four hours by Israeli soldiers at the Ofer checkpoint in Betuniya, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Abu Mughli hopes that Hamas will hand the medicine and medical equipment to warehouses distributing to hospitals and health centers instead of confiscating them as it has in the past.

PA tells Red Cross: No political prisoners in Jenin prisons
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority (PA)’s head of security forces in Jenin denied that there are political detainees in Jenin prisons, according to statements made during a meeting with an International Red Cross (IRC) delegation on Thursday. Commander Radhi Asidah insisted that all prisoners in Jenin prisons were originally fugitives wanted for other crimes. The Red Cross delegation reportedly praised the security forces’ performance, despite its challenges. Asideh spoke about efforts being made to establish "a modern and developed military and security" establishment. The IRC offered to train national security personnel by offering its expertise on human rights issues, according to a statement received by Ma’an.

Palestinian jailers can be worse than Israelis, ex-prisoners say
Reuters, Ha’aretz 12/4/2008
Allegations of torture, arbitrary arrest and other abuses of due legal process have long been common from Palestinians in the West Bank. But lately more such accusations are leveled not at Israeli forces but at fellow Palestinians, part of the bitter factional rivalry that has divided families and made the two Palestinian territories fiefdoms of the warring camps - Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip and secular Fatah in the West Bank. To make sense of statistics provided by human rights groups,interviewed people in the West Bank city of Hebron about their complaints. Following are three of those in detail: L. , FACTORY WORKER At the height of an uprising against Israeli rule a few years ago, Hamas recruiters tried to persuade L. to sign up as a suicide bomber.

Three journalists accused of fabricating anti-Hamas news released from Gaza prison
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto government released three journalists from the Gaza Strip on Thursday after a month in prison on charges of fabricating anti-Hamas news. The release of journalists with the Palestine Press in Gaza Yousef Fayyad, Hani Ismail and Akram Al-Loh followed what a Hamas security officer called "intense intervention by fellow journalists" who appealed to senior Hamas leader and de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The Palestinian Journalists Bloc said they were relieved by Haniyeh’s decision saying, “The release of those three journalists is a step for the better and also a call for journalists to commit to their jobs and be objective. ”[end]

Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupie Palestinian Territory Nov 27 - Dec 03 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 12/4/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) amidst a Humanitarian Crisis in the Gaza Strip Due to the Closure *3 Palestinians, including 2 children, were killed by IOF in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. *The two children were killed by an air raid, while the third victim was extra-judicially executed by an IOF undercover unit. *10 Palestinians and 3 international human rights defenders were wounded by IOF in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. *IOF conducted 45 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 into the Gaza Strip. *IOF arrested 28 Palestinian civilians, including a child, in the West Bank. *IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT.

More than 200 protest Israeli waste dump at Deir Sharaf
International Solidarity Movement 12/2/2008
Nablus Region - Photos - On 2nd December, more than 200 Palestinian, international and Israeli activists marched to the Palestinian lands on which Israeli settlers are preparing to dump solid waste. Organised jointly by the Palestinian Ministry for Environment; the Nablus coalition of political parties; Nablus governorate together with the villages of Deir Sharaf and Qusin, the demonstration called for an end to plans of Israeli settlers from nearby Qedumim settlement to construct a waste dump on Palestinian land. Children carried placards stating "We Want Freedom and a Pure Environment" - outlining the two main political objections to the nascent waste dump. The first is the refusal to tolerate the attempted land-grab by the settlement, with the municipalities from Qusin and Deir Sharaf affirming that the land in question has not been sold to Qedumim council - a claim currently being made by the council.

PFLP boycotts meeting with Hamas on Gaza truce
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) refused to meet on Thursday with the Hamas government of Gaza regarding the future of a shaky truce with Israel. The PFLP accused Hamas of seeking to extend the agreement over the objections of the other factions that signed on to the Egyptian-brokered truce in June. The truce is due to expire on 19 December if Israel and Hamas do not both agree to prolong it. Many of the other armed factions in Gaza, including Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, have expressed reservations about continuing the agreement, which has already been eroded by weeks of violence. Hamas will meet on Thursday with another left-wing group, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) as a part of a series of consultations on the ceasefire with Palestinian factions.

Qassam, mortar shell land in south
Ilana Curiel, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Palestinians continue to attack Gaza vicinity communities; alert system in western Negev kibbutz fails to go off -A Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed in an open area near Sderot on Thursday evening. There were no reports of injuries or damage. On Thursday morning, a mortar shell fired from Gaza landed in an open field near a western Negev kibbutz. No injuries or damage were reported in the attack. Mickey Levy, who serves as the deputy security officer of the local regional council told Ynet: "The alert system did not go off. Unfortunately, people here have become used to the mortar shells. " Multiple mortar shell barrages at the Gaza-vicinity communities have been registered in recent days. At least 15 mortar shells were fired at the region on Wednesday, as well as several Qassam rockets.

Israel: Mortar shell lands in Negev; projectile in Ashkelon claimed by Al-Aqsa Brigades
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Bethlehem/Gaza – Ma’an – A mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the western Negev on Thursday afternoon, Israeli sources reported. The shell landed in an empty field an no injuries or damages were documented. On Wednesday evening the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for launching a homemade projectile from Gaza into the Israeli city of Ashkelon, on the coast north of Gaza. The projectile came in retaliation for “onoing Israeli attrocities against Palestinians” the group said in a statement. ***Updated 13:11 Bethlehem time[end]

VIDEO - Gilad Shalit’s parents reportedly contact PIs to acquire information
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 12/5/2008
The parents of abducted Israel Defense FOrces soldier Gilad Shalit are reportedly working with private investigators in an attempt to acquire information about the fate of their son, who was abducted by Palestinian militants a year and a half ago on the Gaza Strip border. The Shalit family has regularly expressed frustration over what they say is a lack of government effort to locate their son, who is believed to be held captive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Noam Shalit has apparently been in contact with several private investigators regarding the possibility of securing information through agents operating in the Gaza Strip. [end]

IDF preparing options for strike at Iran without US assent
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
The IDF is drawing up options for a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities that do not include coordination with the United States, The Jerusalem Post has learned. While its preference is to coordinate with the US, defense officials have said Israel is preparing a wide range of options for such an operation. "It is always better to coordinate," one top Defense Ministry official explained last week. "But we are also preparing options that do not include coordination. " Israeli officials have said it would be difficult, but not impossible, to launch a strike against Iran without receiving codes from the US Air Force, which controls Iraqi airspace. Israel also asked for the codes in 1991 during the First Gulf War, but the US refused. "There are a wide range of risks one takes when embarking on such an operation," a top Israeli official said.

NATO chief: We can’t intervene on Iran
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Talking to Israeli reporters in Brussels, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says he hopes international dialogue will yield solution to Iranian nuclear issue. North Atlantic Treaty Organization has no plans to get involved in Israeli-Palestinian talks, he adds - The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has no mandate to engage in political matters like the Iranian nuclear issue, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told Israeli reporters in Brussels on Thursday. " I do not belong to the optimistic camp which believes there is a solution for the Iranian nuclear issue. I hope, however, that the international dialogue yields a solution," he said. Scheffer also rejected any NATO involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian talks. " NATO is not a player in this matter. I believe NATO has no mandate to operate on the Israeli-Palestinian issue unless an agreement is reached,. . .

Strange Israeli phone calls alarm Syrians
Middle East Online 12/4/2008
DAMASCUS - Syrians continue to wonder who was behind a recent barrage of recorded phone messages asking people for information about missing Israeli soldiers in exchange for a ten 10 million US dollar reward. “If you have any reliable information about the fate of missing Israeli soldiers, we guarantee you a cash reward of ten million dollars,” the caller says in Arabic. “Your information will remain confidential and we will guarantee your safety. ” The message concludes by urging recipients with relevant information to dial two numbers, both of which start with a British area code. Some think the messages come from the Israeli intelligence services and are designed to recruit agents, while others believe the Syrian authorities may have orchestrated the calls in order to fuel antagonism between the two countries, or else to justify imposing greater restrictions on telecommunications.

Report: Syria waiting for Israel for talks
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Al-Hayat newspaper reveals Turks planned to have Jerusalem, Damascus answer each other’s questions regarding borders, security before going to direct talks. Syria reportedly responds while Israel gives no reply - Damascus is waiting for responses to six questions sent to Israel through Turkish mediation regarding the future of the Golan Heights, the London-based Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper reported on Thursday. According to the report, Turkey proposed a plan to both parties that would help the talks progress. According the plan, Israel would presentSyria with six questions regarding security matters and the Syrians would pose six questions to Israel regarding borders.

Turkey: More Israeli-Syrian talks possible before elections
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
Israel and Syria may hold a fifth round of indirect talks before the general elections on February 10, Turkish sources said Thursday. The last round of indirect talks were held in July, and a scheduled fifth round has been repeatedly postponed since then. It was not immediately clear when the talks would take place, and whether they would come before the scheduled visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gul in January. Although the Gul visit has not been officially announced, diplomatic officials said it would likely take place before the Israeli elections. It would be a reciprocal visit for one that President Shimon Peres made to Ankara in November 2007. Although Gul made three trips to Israel as foreign minister, this would be his first as president. The Syrian track is expected to be high on the agenda of those talks, as are the Palestinian negotiations and bilateral Turkish-Israeli ties.

Palestinians living in Israel now permitted travel into northern West Bank without permits
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Starting Friday Palestinian residents of Israel will now be permitted to travel to Nablus without a permit, said Chief of the Palestinian Civil Liaison Office Louay As-Sa’di. The announcement came Thursday amidst a barrage of adjustments to current Israeli military procedure in the area that will change the travel situation for thousands of northern West Bankers and those wishing to visit the area. Most significantly, Palestinian residents of Israel over 50 will be allowed to drive their private cars into Nablus starting Thursday, and military checkpoints around the city will remain open until midnight to allow for the return of the vehicles. As-Sa’di noted that the Shave Shomeron checkpoint between Sabastiya and Nablus will only be open to nine o’clock. Trucks will also be permitted to pass into the area via Awarta checkpoint just east of the main Huwwara military area.

State Prosecutor closes Olmert Leumi investigation
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 12/4/2008
It was decided that there was not enough evidence to convict the prime minister. State Prosecutor Moshe Lador today closed the investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert over the privatization ofBank Leumi (TASE:LUMI ) on the grounds of insufficient evidence for an indictment. The primary suspicion against Olmert in this affair was based on claims by former Accountant General Yaron Zelekha that, in the second half of 2005, Olmert, who was minister of finance at the time, tried to use his influence to bring about the sale of the state’s holding in Bank Leumi to a group of buyers that included a personal friend, Frank Lowy. Article continues after advertisements The Ministry of Justice stated that no evidentiary basis was found for Zelekha’s accusations. No evidence was found that Olmert leaked information about the sale to Lowy.

Olmert’s Leumi probe case closed
Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
The state prosecution has closed the file against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the Bank Leumi affair, State Attorney Moshe Lador announced on Thursday. This is the first of the six criminal investigations against Olmert to be closed so far. Three others are still being investigated by police, one is under consideration by the state prosecution, and Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has decided to indict the prime minister pending the outcome of a hearing on the sixth. In the Bank Leumi affair, Olmert was suspected of having intervened in the sale of part of the government’s shares in the bank on behalf of a potential buyer, a business friend of his. The friend in question was represented in Israel by a law office previously owned by the father of Olmert’s daughter-in-law, and a consultant for the office who was a personal friend of the family.

’Netanyahu can work well with Obama’
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
There is no doubt US President-elect Barack Obama could work well with Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu, should the latter become Israel’s next prime minister, Congressman Robert Wexler, one of Obama’s most prominent early supporters in the Jewish community, told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday. Prefacing his comments with the caveat that he did not want to meddle in Israeli politics, and that it was up to Israelis to pick their leader, Wexler said, "I know that Obama and Netanyahu have met on at least two occasions. I was with Barack when he met with Netanyahu at National Airport in Washington a year-and-a-half ago. "I am confident that should he become the prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu would get along very well with Barack Obama, and the two of them would work in concert toward the achievement of mutual interests.

Herzog, Pines lead in Labor primaries
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 12/5/2008
Party’s 175 polling stations report 58% voter turnout; official results from 25 stations show Minister Herzog, MKs Pines-Paz, Braverman poised to take top three spots on roster after Barak -Labor held its primary elections on Thursday to determine the party’s Knesset roster in the nextgeneral elections. With Tuesday’s computerized fiasco still resonating, Labor’s second attempt at the primaries was deemed uneventful. Voting stations opened at 12 pm and were closed for the count at 10 pm. The party’s 175 stations reported a 58% voter turnout. Official results from 40 of the 195 polling stations indicated that Minister Issac Herzog and Knesset members Ophir Pines-Paz and Avishay Braverman were poised to take the top three spots on Labor’s roster after Chairman Ehud Barak, whose position is secured.

New conversions chief will only exacerbate problems, critics charge
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
The controversial appointment of a new administrative head to the state’s Conversion Authority Wednesday is expected to hamper efforts to encourage tens of thousands of non-Jewish Israelis to embrace Judaism. Muli Yeselson, an employee of the Joint Institute for Jewish Studies, which employs Orthodox, Conservative and Reform teachers who educate potential converts before conversion, was chosen by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Civil Servants’ Commission. However, various sources connected with the conversion authority expected Yeselson’s appointment to further exacerbate already charged and complicated relations among groups within the authority. "I believe that Yeselson will not bring about a change," said outgoing administrative head Rabbi Moshe Klein. "Unless he succeeds in removing from the authority elements that are destroying the system, nothing will change in the world of conversions.

Labor primaries underway, yet again
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Concerned about low voter turnout following Tuesday’s primaries fiasco, Labor chairman calls on registered members to once again show up atpolling stations and help party elect ’best possible team’ ahead of general elections - After a failure in the computerized voting system forced the Labor party to cancel its primary elections on Tuesday, polling stations opened yet again on Thursday and party heads called on registered members to come out and cast their ballots. Some 59,000 members are eligible to participate in the primaries and vote in any of the 175 polling stations throughout the country. Voting commenced at 12 pm and stations will remain open until 10 pm. The concern regarding low voter turnout prompted Labor Chairman Ehud Barak to call on the party’s registered members on Wednesday evening to come and vote: "We will elect the best possible team and. . .

High voter turnout for Labor’s second primary this week
Mazal Mualem Roni Singer-Heruti and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 12/4/2008
A 50% voter turnout was recorded at the Labor Party primary by late Thursday evening, an unexpectedly high turnout. Labor party members voted on Thursday at 175 polling stations that opened throughout Israel from midday and will remain open until 22:00. In Arab and Druze areas, a 30-40 percent turnout was reported by late afternoon, but the percentage was expected to rise towards the end of the voting. MK Shelly Yechimovitz cast her vote on Tel Aviv’s Zamenhof Street, where she called on the Labor leaders to save their party. "Precisely because of the tough crisis, the crowds came to the polling stations and voted for a strong and principled list that can handle the battle to save the party and make it succeed," she said. Earlier Thursday,National Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. . .

''It’s goodbye to alternative energy''
Lior Baron, Globes Online 12/4/2008
Infrastructures Ministry director-general Hezi Kugler has condemned Finance Ministry footdragging over solar energy. Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler has roundly condemned the Ministry of Finance over its opposition to the program for promoting alternative energies in the Negev Arava Valley. Speaking yesterday at the 25th Convention of Electrical & Electronic Engineers in Eilat Kugler said, "The national infrastructures minister recently contacted the Finance Ministry and wanted to know where alternative energies were in the program. The answer he got was that it needed an effective program that generates revenue rather than taking up subsidies. So that means we can say kaddish for the renewable energy program. The Finance Ministry is more interested in penny pinching than seeing the bigger picture.

Bank Hapoalim sees zero or negative growth
Michal Yoshai, Globes Online 12/4/2008
"Forecasts are becoming more pessimistic as time goes on, and the prospect of an early recovery from the recession looks increasingly unlikely. ""The effect exerted by the factors that have stabilized the Israeli economy until now is receding, and we feel that growth in Israel over the coming quarters is likely to be zero, and perhaps even negative," writeBank Hapoalim (LSE:80OA ; TASE:POLI ) analysts in their macroeconomic review for December. "The forecasts are becoming more pessimistic with the passage of time, and the prospect of an early recovery from the recession looks increasingly unlikely," add the analysts. "The sentiment coming out of Washington now is that the new administration will invest however much is necessary to prevent a further deterioration. Policy makers are turning their attention to the slowdown in growth in emerging markets, with. . .

Manufacturers head Brosh lambasts Bar-On
Yael Gross-Englander, Globes Online 12/4/2008
"Every person laid off now should be hung around the finance minister’s neck. ""An committee of inquiry should be set up to investigate the conduct of the Ministry of Finance during 2008, when the warning lights were already flashing about the harm to the competitiveness of exports resulting in the drop in growth,"Manufacturers Association of Israel president Shraga Brosh told "Globes" today. Brosh continued, "Throughout the year, the finance minister’s conduct was irresponsible and dangerous to the economy and society. Every person laid off now should be a hung around the finance minister’s neck. Most of the layoffs are not the result of an unpredictable crisis that reached us, but the result of severe damage to exports that began a year ago, a crisis caused by a man who could have prevented it. I sounded the alarm back in January 2008.

The microphone is the weapon
Noam Ben-Zeev, Ha’aretz 12/4/2008
BETHLEHEM, the end of November - "The European-Palestinian Hip Hop Tour" arrives after gigs in Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah. At 7 P. M. the Al Nadwa Cultural Center is already buzzing. Palestinian-German rapper Wassim Taha, aka Massive, is thrilling the audience, Palestinian-Danish rapper Mohammad Marwan, aka Marwan - symbolically dressed like an injured person, using crutches - both sings and moderates the evening and also talks on the phone to PR, the Gazan rapper who was not allowed to leave the Strip to join the concert. Everyone is waiting for the international star, Shadia Mansour - the British Palestinian who mixes rock and Arab folk music and whose voice shifts from hard rap to nearly operatic lyricism. Her coming on stage is greeted by huge applause and her set has everyone dancing.

Cartoon of the day
Juan Kalvellido for Tlaxcala, Palestine Think Tank 12/4/2008
Juan Kalvellido for Tlaxcala [end]

VIDEO - Footage released of Palestinian militant reenacting murder of Israeli lawmaker
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 12/5/2008
Footage released on Wednesday depicts a reenactment of the murder of slain minister Rehavam Ze’evi, who was assassinated in 2001 by militants from the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Bassel Asmar, one of Ze’evis assassins, retraced the steps he took before the murder at Jerusalem’s Hyatt Hotel, where he and another militant had rented a room the night before. On the morning of the murder, the two retrieved their weapons from the hotel parking lot, and took the stairs to the eighth floor, where Ze’evi was staying. Ze’evi, nicknamed Gandhi in Israel, was eating breakfast with wife at the time. After breakfast, he took the elevator alone to the eighth floor, and was shot after exiting the elevator. Ze’evi, a former army general and leader of a small ultranationalist party, advocated the eviction of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza.

Interests come first
Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 12/3/2008
Maintaining close ties with Riyadh and containing disagreements with Damascus is a lynchpin of Egypt’s current regional policy, reportsEgypt and Saudi Arabia appear determined, at the highest level of executive power, to prevent any serious mutual misunderstanding. The leaders of the two states, according to Egyptian officials, are well aware of the value of their bilateral relationship, not only for mutual interests but also for the wider Arab benefit. " President [Hosni] Mubarak and his brother, King Abdullah [of Saudi Arabia], are always working to bypass any misunderstanding that might occur in a bilateral relationship as multi-layered and deep as the Egyptian-Saudi relation. When it comes to Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- two leading Arab nations with many responsibilities towards the Arab world -- there is no room for deep or prolonged misunderstandings," said a senior Egyptian official.

Hopes for conciliation
Amirah Ibrahim, Al-Ahram Weekly 12/3/2008
The authorities appear to be softening their tone towards Sinai’s Bedouins following unrest across the peninsula, reports A change in the official tone vis-à-vis recent clashes between security forces and the Bedouin population of Sinai is being seen by observers as a victory for North Sinai’s Bedouins who have succeeded in unifying tribesmen from across the peninsula. In the wake of the confrontations between the police and Bedouin the initial response of the authorities was to denounce the Bedouin as treasonous. They were accused of working for foreign elements and threatened with relocation to unspecified areas. Then the People’s Assembly National Security and Defence Committee arrived in Sinai and began a series of meetings with tribal elders. " The Bedouins of Sinai are patriotic Egyptians and heroes of the past and present.

Syrian ambassador to Egypt leaves Cairo
The Media Line News Agency, Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
The Syrian ambassador to Egypt has left Cairo in what some observers note is an indication of tension in Syrian-Egyptian relations. Ambassador Yousuf Ahmad left for Damascus on Wednesday with his wife and five large suitcases, according to a UPI report. The ambassador is ostensibly taking time off for the upcoming Id al-Adha Muslim festival, but rumors suggest Syria is in fact recalling its ambassador from Cairo over tension between the two countries. Syria has expressed displeasure with Egypt over Cairo’s handling of the internal Palestinian conflict, alleging that Egypt, which has been mediating between Fatah and Hamas, has not taken a balanced approach in the dispute.

Torture blamed for US deaths in Iraq
Middle East Online 12/4/2008
PACIFICA – A former US special intelligence operations officer who led an interrogations team in Iraq two years ago said that the number of Americans killed in Iraq because of the US military’s use of torture is more than 3,000, Democracy Now! reported Wednesday. During an interview with Amy Goodman, Matthew Alexander (pseudonym) said torture techniques used in Iraq consistently failed to produce actionable intelligence and that methods which rest on confidence building, consistently worked and gave the interrogators access to critical information. Alexander’s nonviolent interrogation methods led Special Forces to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Alexander, author of How to Break a Terrorist: The US Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq, has served for fourteen years in the US Air Force and has conducted special missions in more than thirty countries.

Iraq presidential council ratifies US security pact
Middle East Online 12/4/2008
BAGDAD - Iraq’s presidential council on Thursday gave its blessing to a landmark security pact with the United States which calls for American combat troops to withdraw by the end of 2011. The controversial agreement, which replaces a UN mandate covering the presence of foreign forces which is due to expire at the end of the year, was approved by Iraq’s parliament last month after months of wrangling. "Nothing has been changed (in the accord)," presidency secretary Nasir al-Ani said after it was reviewed by the three-member body. The White House hailed Iraq’s presidency council giving its blessing to the security pact, saying it put relations on a "strong footing. " The council is made up of President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and two vice presidents, a Shiite and a Sunni Arab. "They recognize that they’re going to continue to need our help for the next little while,". . .

Double attack rocks Iraq’s Fallujah
Middle East Online 12/4/2008
FALLUJAH, Iraq - At least 15 people were killed and 147 hurt by two suicide vehicle bombs in the former rebel bastion of Fallujah on Thursday, an interior ministry official said. Earlier, a defence ministry official said at least 10 people were killed in the bombings, which he said targeted Iraqi police posts. Policemen were among the wounded in the near simultaneous blasts, which damaged police posts in western and eastern Fallujah, the defence ministry official said. A media correspondent said several bodies were left splayed out on the ground. A curfew was imposed in the two districts immediately after the blasts. Police officer Omar Mohammed said: "Al-Golan police station was completely destroyed by the explosion of a lorry driven by a suicide bomber, which broke through a police barrier and blew up against the station.

Blasts hit Iraqi city of Falluja
Al Jazeera 12/4/2008
At least 15 people have been killed and over 145 people, including school children, injured in two suicide car-bomb attacks in the western Iraqi city of Falluja. A senior police officer said that the blasts on Thursday were caused by explosives-laden lorries that were detonated near the concrete barriers surrounding two separate police stations. The children were hurt when a school near one of the posts collapsed following the explosion, an interior ministry official said. The first bomb exploded near the Tawhid police station close to a school, while the second blast occured in the north of the city, also near an Iraqi police facility. Falluja is one of the main cities in Anbar province, which was the centre of the Sunni-led fight against US forces in the months following America’s March 2003 invasion.

Firm denies Iraq labour ’abuses’
Al Jazeera 12/4/2008
A Kuwaiti subcontractor working for the US military in Iraq has denied accusations that it confined workers without money for up to three months in warehouses at the Baghdad airport. The UK’s Times newspaper reported the allegations on Thursday, saying that about 1,000 workers had protested at their alleged poor treatment and that Iraqi guards had fired over their heads to disperse them. Deborah Haynes, the Baghdad correspondent from The Times who filed the report, told Al Jazeera: "I was only in there [the camp] very briefly before I was hustled out by guards, but it did look a very grimy, dreary, rundown place. ""It was nothing like the much cleaner accommodation provided on military bases," she said.

Iraq Kurdish party hits out at former leader
Middle East Online 12/4/2008
The party of Iraqi president Jalal Talabani has accused an influential former leader of fomenting factional unrest. Senior officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, PUK, say Nawshirwan Mustafa, a co-founder of the party, encouraged a dissident faction to criticise the leadership. The Rag faction – named after the Kurdish acronym for democratic change – emerged earlier this month, demanding PUK top brass make way for new blood. Its members, who were subsequently expelled from the party, deny any link to Mustafa, saying they merely share some of his objectives and do not have his support. Their swift dismissal from PUK ranks was seen by some critics as an overreaction, and prompted warnings that the leadership’s inflexibility could force the party to fragment. However, a senior PUK official, speaking to IWPR on condition of anonymity, said the faction was ejected because it was seen as a proxy for Mustafa.

DEVELOPMENT: Richest Countries Also the Stingiest
Wolfgang Kerler, Inter Press Service 12/5/2008
UNITEDNATIONS, Dec 4(IPS) - As the biggest economy in the world, the United States is hardly living up to its potential to promote global prosperity and boost development in poor countries, according to the 2008 Commitment to Development Index (CDI) released Thursday. Other major economies are doing only slightly better. The CDI, which ranks 22 of the richest countries on their development-related policies, shows that "with the exception of Britain, the countries with the most potential to help -- by virtue of the size of their economies -- are all in the bottom half of the index", as David Roodman, research fellow at the Centre for Global Development (CGD) and architect of the index, told IPS. Britain was the sole member of the G7 -- the group of the seven largest industrialised economies -- to make it into this year’s top 10.

Israeli settlers ''on war'' with the Palestinians in Hebron
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/5/2008
Palestinian sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, reported on Thursday that extremist Israeli settlers carried out a series of violent attacks against the residents and set on fire a number of homes, cars and olive trees. The attacks were escalated after the army evacuated the settlers from the home of Al Rajabi Palestinian family after the settlers illegally occupied the property last year. The sources stated that settlers, stationed in five illegal outposts in the Old City of Hebron, set ablaze two Palestinian homes and one shop in Wad Al Hasseen area, close to Al Rajabi home. The settlers also violently attacked a number of residents. In Tal Romedia area, the settlers chased dozens of Palestinian children and hurled stones and empty bottles at a number of homes. The settlers also attacked and attempted to break into another Palestinian home in an area. . .

Police declare high state of alert after Hebron riots
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 12/5/2008
Violent disturbances following eviction of disputed house in West Bank city prompt police to order mass forces be deployed, Jerusalem -Police have declared a heightened state of alert across Israel on Friday in the wake of the violent events which followed Thursday’seviction of the disputed house in the West Bank city of Hebron. Fearing right-wing activists will continue to block roads, as well as Palestinian riots, large police forces will deploy in Hebron and Jerusalem, especially in the vicinity of the Temple Mount. Right-wing activists have called on their supporters to embark on a week-long retaliatory spree in wake of the eviction. "We will choose the time and place to retaliate," they told Ynet. The activists also urged people to continue arriving at the house. Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen held a conference call with his top. . .

Israel braces for settler violence following Hebron evacuation
Nadav Shragai and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 12/5/2008
The Israel Defense Forces and police are preparing for a wave of violence by extremist West Bank settlers against Palestinians after Thursday’s evacuation of Hebron’s so-called House of Contention. Settler violence erupted Thursday in protest against the eviction. Settlers torched fields, olive groves and yards in a wadi between Hebron and the settlement of Kiryat Arba. They also opened fire on Palestinians, wounding three. Settlers hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles on a number of roads in the areas of Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron. In Bitin, north of Ramallah, settlers broke into a home and vandalized Palestinian property, and in several other West Bank villages, anti-Muslim graffiti was sprayed on mosque walls. In the northern West Bank, security forces closed some 10 junctions and roads around Yizhar, Kedumim, Karnei Shomron, Hawara and Kochav Hashahar.

Hebron settlers say will spend Shabbat at evicted house
Meital Yasur-Beit Or, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Settler leader Matar says force exerted against barricaded rightists ’should have been used to free Shalit’; vows to return to disputed house ’by tomorrow’ -"God willing, we’ll return (to the evicted house). After I get out of the hospital we’ll set up a new encampment there," said Shlomo Levinger, considered the "father" of the Jewish settlement in Hebron. Levinger, the son of prominent rabbi Moshe Levinger, was injured during Thursday’s swift evacuation of barricaded rightists from the disputed house in the West Bank city. He was admitted to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center in light condition. The Palestinians said dozens were injured during confrontations with settlers throughout the West Bank. "I took my wife and son out of the house, and then a Border Guard officer grabbed me and threw me to the ground," Levinger recounted.

Extremist settler youths escalate their attacks in Hebron, Barak to meet their leaders on Thursday
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/4/2008
Extremist settler youths who fortified themselves in Al Rajabi Palestinian home, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, escalated on Wednesday their attacks against the Palestinian residents and vowed further violence if the Israeli army forcibly evacuates them. Israeli sources reported that Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, intends to hold a meeting with settler leaders in Hebron on Thursday in an attempt to reach an agreement before the scheduled evacuation date. The Israeli High Court of Justice issued the evacuated order last months and gave the army three days to implement it. The settlers occupied the property in 2007 and claimed that they purchased it from its Palestinian owner, Fayez Al Rajabi. Resident Al Rajabi denied the claim. Nearly 300 riot policemen were deployed in the city while dozen of settlers hurled stones at them and at Palestinian residents and homes near Al Rajabi home.

DFLP slams the ongoing settler attacks in Hebron, calls of the Security Council to intervene
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 12/4/2008
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) slammed the ongoing settler attacks carried against the Palestinian residents in the West Bank, especially in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and called on the Security Council to intervene. The DFLP said that the International Community must act and put pressure on the Israeli occupation to respect international law and stop the violent and ongoing attacks carried out by extremist settlers against Palestinian residents. The Front also said that the settlers receive a lot of support from the Israeli government, as consecutive Israeli governments have always supported settler activities and financed illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. A spokesperson of the DFLP said that all international resolutions denounce settlements and deem them illegal, while the settlers in Hebron are escalating their assaults. . .

PA praises evacuation of Hebron home
Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday welcomed the evacuation of the settlers from Hebron’s Beit Hashalom building, but expressed deep concern over the increased attacks on Palestinian residents of the city. Meanwhile, a number of armed Palestinian factions threatened to launch attacks on settlers in the West Bank in response to the violence in Hebron. The PA issued strong condemnations against the settler violence and urged the international community to intervene with the Israeli government to stop the attacks. The PA also called on the government to evacuate all the settlers from Hebron and warned that their continued presence in the city would trigger more violence. PA officials in Ramallah said the swift evacuation had caught them by surprise. They said the Israeli authorities had not notified the PA of the operation in advance, thus denying the. . .

Police clear House of Contention in Hebron
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 12/4/2008
Police battled rioters after clearing the building. Large Police and Border Police forces today stormed the House of Contention in Hebron and cleared it of the settlers and supporters who had barricaded themselves inside. Zaka rescue service said that about 20 people on both sides were injured, one seriously in the head. Eight people were taken to hospital. Settlers subsequently rioted in Hebron, vandalizing local Palestinian homes. Police used stun grenades and tear gas to subdue them. Article continues after advertisements The police were enforcing a court order that the house should be evacuated. The settlers claim the house was lawfully purchased and that they therefore have the right to occupy it. Police arrested six right-wing activists who tried to block the Western entrance to Jerusalem at the Bridge of Strings and threw rocks at the police.

Qurei: Settler attacks signal Israel’s rejection of peace
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – The head of the Palestinian negotiating team, former Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei said on Wednesday that widespread settler violence in the West Bank amounts to an unannounced rejection of a two-state peace agreement. Qurei was referring specifically to rioting by Israeli settlers in the city of Hebron, which has left dozens injured. Settler groups have descended on Hebron over the last week fearing that the Israeli military will implement a court order to evacuate one settler-occupied house. His remark came during a meeting with Swiss and Australian diplomats in Qurei’s office in the town of Abu Dis, in East Jerusalem. The chief negotiator said that his team would not accept any agreement with Israel that does not fulfill Palestinians’ rights, specifically the right of return, self-determination and an independent Palestinian state.

Army evacuates the settlers from Al Rajabi home in Hebron
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/4/2008
Israeli sources reported that under-cover Israeli forces and border-guard units evacuated on Thursday, at noon, the Israeli settlers from Al Rajabi Palestinian home in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The Israeli High Court of Justice issued the evacuation order last month and gave the army three days to implement it. The settlers occupied the property in 2007 and claimed that they purchased it from its Palestinian owner, Fayez Al Rajabi. Resident Al Rajabi denied the claim. The sources added that border-guard policemen closed the area surrounding the property, broke into the home from several directions and fired gas-bombs and concussion into the home. Later on, hundreds of settlers rushed to the area and violently clashed with the soldiers. At least twelve settlers and soldiers were wounded. The settlers also attacked dozens of Palestinian homes.

High alert in West Bank following Beit Hashalom evacuation
Yaakov Katz, Yaakov Lappin And Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
Israeli security forces went on high alert across the West Bank Thursday night as Jewish extremists embarked on an unprecedented rampage through Hebron in response to the afternoon’s unexpected and speedy evacuation of the city’s disputed Beit Hashalom. Defense officials were concerned that Israeli-Palestinian violence would spread to other parts of the West Bank and even to the Temple Mount, where thousands of Muslims are due to gather Friday morning for weekly prayers. As a consequence, Jerusalem police announced late Thursday that they will restrict entry at the Mount: Only men over 45 with Israeli ID cards - and women of any age - will be allowed to the enter the compound for midday prayers. Soon after the evacuation, settler youths took over a Palestinian home in the nearby valley between Kiryat Arba and Hebron, causing extensive damage.

Dozens injured as Israeli army removes settlers from Hebron house
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli forces forcibly removed 250 right-wing settlers from a Palestinian house in the West Bank city of Hebron, weeks after the Israeli High Court ordered their eviction. The evacuation touched off violent settler attacks accross the West Bank. Witnesses said that there are Palestinian families "who are besieged in their homes" that were set on fire by Israeli settlers, while the Israeli army prevented Palestinian medics from reaching the homes. Ten Palestinians were reported injured as a result of the army’s inaction. Settlers have repeatedly attacked Palestinian homes in the city over the past few days. Prior to the evacuation, Israeli settlers fired randomly at Palestinian homes. Settlers set fire to two Palestinian homes and a store, later attacking a number of residents in the Wadi Hussein area of Hebron.

Yishai: Barak playing politics in Hebron
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
Shortly after police began evacuating Hebron’s Beit Hashalom Thursday afternoon, Shas chairman Eli Yishai slammed the timing. "It is a pity that out of concern for his ratings, the defense minister [Ehud Barak] cut off the negotiation process, showed contempt for the law and threw people out of the structure," Yishai said. "Not even exploiting security issues for political ends will make the Labor Party relevant or help to reinvent something whose time has past," he said, in a reference to Thursday’s Labor primary. After weeks of criticism for not condemning settler violence in Hebron, Likud leader Binyamin Nentanyahu issued a statement: "We must respect the law and implement it. I call on all parties and those who are being evacuated to put the dispute aside and to resolve it peacefully while respecting the law.

Spiritual divide over use of force to fight evacuation
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 12/4/2008
As in past clashes such as the Gaza disengagement and the Amona evacuation, settlement rabbis were split Thursday on whether force should have been used against security troops to try to prevent the evacuation of the disputed Beit Hashalom building in Hebron. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva in the Arab Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, said after the Hebron house was evacuated that when Jews fight Jews, it causes a desecration of God’s name. "When a secular Jew does not adhere to Halacha, when he desecrates the Shabbat and eats non-kosher food, this is very unfortunate," said Aviner, who is also the rabbi of Beit El. "But there is nothing that religious Jews can do about it. However, when Jews fight Jews and they use violence against one another, that is the worst.

Israel evicts settlers in Hebron
Al Jazeera 12/4/2008
Grenades and gunfire have been heard in the West Bank city of Hebron after Israeli forces stormed a disputed building to remove Jewish settlers following days of clashes with Palestinians. Fires are burning across the city and witnesses said the settlers had put a Palestinian home on fire. Palestinian medics said two Palestinians were treated in hospital after settlers opened fire on them. Israeli army declared the entire Hebron region a "closed military zone" on Thursday evening, barring entry to non-residents. Up to 20 Israeli settlers and police were injured when Israeli police were dragging settlers out of the building which they have been occupying since March 2007. The eviction took less than an hour to complete and was far less violent than anticipated beforehand.

Settlers graffiti racist slogans on buildings, vandalize cars in northern West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Qalqilia – Ma’an – Settlers graffitied racist slogans about Islam and the Muslim Prophet Mohammad on buildings in the West Bank villages of Azzun, An-Nabi Elyas, Kafr Laqif, Jinsafut, Immatin and Al-Funduq east of Qalqilia on Thursday. Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank escalated over the summer, and several instances of riots and vandalism occurred in the northern West Bank near Nablus, and in the south near Hebron. Eyewitness to the Thursday attacks reported seeing four settlers write abusive words and signs on buildings, break car windows and slash tires in An-Nabi Elyas. Israeli forces have reportedly spread throughout the village of Azzun, though no clashes have been reported.

Palestinian armed groups denounce Hebron settler attacks
Ma’an News Agency 12/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Two Palestinian armed groups denounced settler attacks on the West Bank city of Hebron’s residents on Thursday. Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades, as well as the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), warned that they would respond to settler attacks on Palestinians and expressed sorrow "for not supporting Hebron residents," according to a statement from Al-Aqsa. Meanwhile, the PRC said in a statement that settler attacks amount to "an ethnic cleansing" in Hebron and that such actions "will escalate the Intifada, making the resistance stronger. " [end]

State prosecutor closes Leumi case against Olmert
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 12/4/2008
Lador decides evidence gathered in case of sale of Bank Leumi’s controlling shares does not warrant filing charges against prime minister, says Olmert’s involvement in questionable bid minor -State Prosecutor Moshe Lador decided Thursday to close the Bank Leumi case against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The Leumi casecentered on suspicions that Olmert, while being the locum tenens for the finance minister in Ariel Sharon’s government, used his influence to make sure an Australian businessman, Frank Louie, won the bank’s privatization tender. After a lengthy investigation, the police recommended the case be closed. "The manner in which Olmert conducted himself in this case, according to the evidence gathered, indicate that his actual involvement in the events was minor," said Lador’s final brief, adding that the evidence at hand fail to substantiate any of the suspicions in the case.

Labor Party holds primary, after first attempt suffers technical glitch
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 12/4/2008
Polls opened on Thursday to give 60,000 Labor Party members a chance to choose their party’s parliamentary list. When Labor first tried to hold its primary this week, it proudly touted its pioneering use of a new computer touch-screen voting system. But just three hours into the voting, the system crashed, delaying the primary until Thursday, when party members began choosing candidates for a Feb. 10 parliamentary election expected to hand Labor a humiliating defeat. This time, voters were using paper ballots. The computer breakdown was a fitting metaphor, emblematic of how the movement that led the country to independence, dominated politics for decades and produced such luminaries as David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Rabin has fallen from grace. Critics say that despite its illustrious past, today’s Labor doesn’t have a clear agenda or appealing leadership.

Top rightist MKs won`t head new national-religious party Habayit Hayehudi
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 12/4/2008
The Knesset’s most prominent rightist lawmakers will not head the newly formed "Habayit Hayehudi" national-religious party, party officials announced on Thursday. The public council that runs the party, whose name translates as "Jewish Home," said that instead of MKs Zevulun Orlev, Uri Ariel and Benny Elon, another three people were likely candidates for the role of party chairman. These were Avi Wortzman, head of the "From the beginning" movement, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, the director general of Israel’s rabbinical courts, and Rabbi and Professor Daniel Hershkovitz of the Technion in Haifa. Habayit Hayehudi announced recently that it would not hold primary elections for its Knesset list and leadership, instead allocating that task to its 40-person public committee - headed by Major General (Res.

State Prosecutor closes Bank Leumi probe against Olmert
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 12/4/2008
State Prosecutor Moshe Lador informed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s lawyers on Thursday that the investigation against him over the Bank Leumi affair would be closed due to lack of evidence. The probe was over suspicions that while serving as Trade and Industry Minister, Olmert interfered in the privatization of the bank in order to benefit his friend, Australian tycoon Frank Lowy. At the end of the investigation, the National Fraud Investigation Unit presented a detailed opinion which recommended closing the file in the absence of sufficient proof to bring Olmert to court. The probe was one of a number of police investigationsand allegations of improprieties have Olmert in recent years, the most recent of which have forced him to step down as prime minister.


Spy tactics
Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 12/3/2008
      Israel’s attempts to take advantage of the destitution it creates include bribing Palestinians to spy on Palestinians. Those who refuse starve or die.
     Khaled Abu Shamala, 38, was in a taxi heading to the crossing point of Erez that links Gaza to Israel. He was trying to phone his daughter, Fedaa, who was asleep when he left home, to tell her that he wouldn’t forget to bring her a doll. He was on his way to have heart surgery in Jerusalem. When he reached the crossing point, an Israeli soldier escorted him to a room in the administrative building and told him to wait. An hour passed, then two, then three. Another soldier came to escort him to another room. Waiting for him was an officer of the Israeli domestic intelligence service, Shin Bet. The soldier told Abu Shamala that he could not proceed to Jerusalem unless he cooperated with Israeli intelligence and provided information on Palestinian factions.
     Abu Shamala refused directly, condemning the immorality of the request. The officer laughed and started calling him names. Abu Shamala returned home depressed and exhausted. Two weeks later, on 28 October 2008, he died.
     Khawla Arshid, 49, was a liver cancer patient. She underwent several chemotherapy sessions in an Israeli hospital. Three weeks ago, she was due for another chemotherapy session. She was stopped at the Erez Crossing and asked to collaborate with Shin Bet. She refused and was turned back. A week later, she died.

Action, not words

Karen AbuZayd, The Guardian 12/5/2008
      The noble spirit of the universal declaration of human rights is betrayed by a lack of help for Gaza
     As we approach the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the steadily rising death toll in Gaza highlights the painful gap between its peaceful rhetoric and the desperate reality for Palestinian people.
     The declaration was a pivotal statement in which the world community recognised the "inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world". True to its nobility of spirit, it declares "the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom from fear and want as the highest aspiration of the common people".
     Sixty years on, the fate of the Palestinian people should be a cause for universal soul-searching. The need to give substantive meaning to the protection of Palestinians has never been greater. The former high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson has said that in Gaza, nothing short of a "civilisation" is being destroyed. Desmond Tutu has called it "an abomination". The humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Maxwell Gaylard, said that in Gaza there was a "massive assault" on human rights. Most recently, the European commissioner, Louis Michel, described the blockade of Gaza as a "form of collective punishment against Palestinian civilians, which is a violation of international humanitarian law".

Twilight Zone / Out of prison

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 12/4/2008
      Osama wakes up early every morning these days and goes to work in his well-kept garden. Afterward he goes for a walk. It’s hard for him to sit at home. "It’s hard for me to stare at walls," he says. He is 45 years old, and 19 of those years were spent behind walls, bolts and locks. Ten years ago, when we were first introduced through the letters he wrote me from prison, using green ink and in excellent Hebrew, he wrote that he dreamed of taking his other pen pal, a young man named Hagai Matar, horseback riding around his village.
     Since then, Matar has grown up - he was a conscientious objector and is now a journalist at the weekly paper Ha’Ir - and Osama Barham has left jail and returned to jail. He was released this past summer, and we met again this week. "You look good," I told him as we embraced. "I dye my hair," he told me.
     The house in the village is better kept than it used to be, and Osama is more muscular. In the time that has passed, so has another intifada, along with the disengagement from the Gaza Strip. When he was released from prison the first time, I was invited to join him at a large celebration his family held. The entire village came. I found it strange that the person to whom Israel attributes militant involvement with Islamic Jihad should make a point of seating an Israeli alongside him. "For five years, you’ve been telling me that I’m part of Jihad; for five years, I’ve been telling you that I’m not," he once wrote me from prison. I later was invited with my children to his home for lunch.

It’s Grim in Gaza

Anne Penketh, MIFTAH 12/4/2008
      I met Karen AbuZayd, the head of UNRWA, when she was sitting in the basement dining room of a trendy London hotel beside a mirror on which an artist has written in gold letters: "this is shit."It is understandable that Mrs AbuZayd, whose UN agency looks after the welfare of Palestinian refugees, did not wish to be photographed in front of the art work. But the message on the mirror aptly sums up the dramatic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, as she was the first to point out.
     The Israeli blockade has caused an ever worsening crisis for the 1.5m Palestinians in Gaza since it was imposed after the election of Hamas in January 2006. Israel has refused to lift the blockade for as long as the Palestinian militants’ rockets come over the fence.
     With the press barred from crossing into Gaza for the past month, Mrs AbuZayd brought me up to date with the current misery and hardship for the Palestinian population trapped inside.
     Ninety five percent of the private sector has collapsed since June. Of the 1.1m registered Palestinian refugees in Gaza, 800,000 need food distribution. Electricity supplies are on for eight hours a day. 120,000 people have not had water for a week. They are cooking with wood in high rise apartments, which is an obvious fire risk.

Apartheid Must Not Be Tolerated or Promoted

Michael Severson, Palestine Chronicle 12/4/2008
      This is the picture I see but the picture that won’t be in The Smithsonian.
     Advertising finances a magazine’s publication. The higher the readership, the higher the cost to place an ad on its pages; evidently, the higher the readership, the higher the exposure for the advertiser. So, imagine the potential of The Smithsonian at over seven million readers, according to its web site. Now imagine a full page color advertisement in the December issue, proclaiming, "You’ll love Israel from the first "Shalom," its history, unpolluted beaches, and so on.
     The readers of the magazine were exposed to half truths, if not an entirely fabricated reality. What the ad failed to tell them is that the serenity of Israeli beaches and the thrill of its history hide behind them an untold story of tears and blood, and a version of history to which they will not be exposed. What the magazine doesn’t show is the 27 foot high apartheid wall, the military checkpoints, the confiscated land, the ruined orchards, the waterless wells, the demolished houses, and to its neighbors to the north, the destroyed, cluster-bombed wasteland.

Share Space, Defy the Wall

Mohammed Abu-Nimer – Washington, Palestine Chronicle 12/4/2008
      Arabs and Jews were separated for decades before the separation wall was built in the West Bank and around Gaza. When former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat travelled to Israel in 1977, he declared before the Knesset (parliament) that such separation can only bring devastation and alienation to Arabs and Jews alike. He came to meet the Israelis in their homes to challenge their fears.
     The physical wall between the West Bank and Israel reflects how current political leaders and ideologies have deepened the Israeli-Palestinian moral, mental, physical, economic, and psychological divides. However, history shows that such divides between enemies in neighbouring and interdependent geographical areas fail to bring about genuine peace or stability (e.g. Northern Ireland, South Africa, or Germany).
     There are many strategies for reducing the adverse effects of the wall. In my view, the most important approaches will address separation by creating more shared Israeli and Palestinian space.

The Other, Older Palestinian Coup D’etat

Nicola Nasser, Middle East Online 12/4/2008
      Failing to substantiate for the President of the autonomous Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas, a credible “legal” basis to extend his term from the Basic Law, which is the constitutional terms of reference that govern the rotation of power and the renewal of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the PA, Abbas in his capacity as the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) convened the rubber stamping Fatah –dominated Central Council (CC) of the PLO in the West Bank city of Ramallah to elect him also President of the State of Palestine on November 23.
     The move could have been the last “constitutional” resort to extend his term as PA president before it expires on January 9 next year in order to secure himself as the supreme “legitimate” authority on Palestinian decision –making in the context of the “make - or – break” bloody wrangling with the rival Hamas on the leadership of the Palestinian national movement.

Tales from within: An eye on Nablus Balata Refugee Camp

Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 12/3/2008
     As you walk through the old city of Nablus the vibrancy of the bustling markets is an inescapable feature. As you walk through the cobble stoned streets, you encounter a collage of sights and smells. The pungent aroma from the spice shops followed by the sweet smell of Knaffe is a riot for the olfactory senses. Frenetic activity on the streets is contrasted by the nonchalance of shopkeepers. People, young and old are welcoming and one is filled with a sense of warmth walking through the narrow winding streets that are a photographers delight. Everything seems effortless and the pulse of the town is set at a comfortable pace. Life appears normal. However, further scrutiny would reveal that normality in this town has been an ephemeral feature. The old city of Nablus has experienced more incursions during the second intifada than most other West Bank cities or residential areas. The city being one of the former strongholds of the second intifada experienced heavy battles on its streets and parts of the old city has been re-built numerous times after being bulldozed and bombarded.
     Strolling through the narrow streets of the old city a parallel universe somehow emerges when trying to imagine the numerous violent clashes and battles between Israeli forces and local Palestinian resistance groups. As you walk across Martyr’s square walls are adorned with posters of young men in soldiers uniform, brimming with pride as they stand in unison holding their rifles. Inscriptions in bold letters inform the readers which brigade or military wing to which the “shahid” (martyr) belonged. On closer inspection one realizes that these seemingly proud soldiers are mere teenage boys in oversized uniforms. The numerous deaths of such fighters during the second intifada have left clear scars on this city that is perpetually recovering.

Ship Intifada and pilgrim lottery

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 12/3/2008
      Her suitcase is still on the sofa by the front door to her home in the eastern quarter of Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza Strip. Attaf Al-Sumuh, 47, still hasn’t lost hope that she can perform the pilgrimage this year, even though this year’s pilgrims from the world over are already in Mecca. Al-Sumuh can’t accept the fact that political quibbling between the Ramallah and Gaza governments might mean that she won’t be able to perform this religious duty she’s anxiously been anticipating. She was supposed to perform the pilgrimage with her brother Akram, and says that she had sworn to perform it when she was cured from the illness she had suffered for three years, and registered with the Ministry of Religious Endowments under the Ismail Haniyeh government. "I can’t believe this is happening, that I might not be able to perform the pilgrimage rituals due to differences between the political organisations," she told Al-Ahram Weekly. "This is madness."
     Khaled Bareim, 53, lives in the village of Al-Qarara in southern Gaza Strip, and he registered for the pilgrimage with the Ministry of Religious Endowments under the Ramallah government. He was supposed to leave last Saturday with 200 other pilgrims via the Rafah crossing for Saudi Arabia, but the Haniyeh government’s security forces prevented that from happening, as they don’t have entry visas for Saudi Arabia.

UN assembly head hailed for slamming Israel

Thalif Deen, Electronic Intifada 12/3/2008
      UNITED NATIONS (IPS) - The president of the United Nations General Assembly, Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, dropped a political bombshell last week when he lashed out at Israel for its repressive actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the recent blockade of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
     "What is being done to the Palestinian people seems to me to be a version of the hideous policy of apartheid," he told delegates, during a meeting commemorating the "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People."
     A senior UN official told IPS: "I cannot remember any Assembly president so publicly vocal in denouncing Israel."  D’Escoto damned both the Israelis and the UN for the plight of the Palestinians. "And he was on target," the official added.  "I believe," d’Escoto said, "that the failure to create a Palestinian state as promised is the single greatest failure in the history of the United Nations."  Nadia Hijab, senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for Palestine Studies, told IPS that d’Escoto’s comments are a welcome reminder of the reality on the ground, and "a valiant attempt to hold the international community responsible for its posturing on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and siege of Gaza."

The Lady Between the Queen and the Tribe

Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 12/3/2008
      In spite of the fact that I monitor Israeli press and Jewish activism on a daily basis, I must admit that almost once a day I come across something new and refreshing about my ex-brethren.
     As it happened, yesterday I learned about an organisation named the "International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists" (IAJLJ). An association with such a name didn’t take me by complete surprise.  
     By now I am used to the concept of  "˜primarily-Jewish’ organisations and associations. 
      At the end of the day, it shouldn’t take any of us by surprise, Israel, as we know, is the  "˜Jews-only’ state. Furthermore, Israel’s very few sporadic vocal opponents within the Jewish world tend for some reason to operate also in similar racially orientated primarily Jewish political settings such as "˜Jews For Peace’,  "˜Jews for Justice in Palestine’, "˜Jewish Independent Voice’, etc.

Renegotiating the Ceasefire

Ghassan Khatib, Palestine Media Center 12/2/2008
      CContrary to the expectations of many analysts, the ceasefire that was agreed in June between Hamas in Gaza and Israel and lasted longer than any other ceasefire since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, has been facing serious difficulties in recent weeks.
     The past month witnessed a return to violence that included rocket fire from Gaza at Israeli areas and Israeli air raids and shelling that left many casualties on the Palestinian side, in addition to the tight blockade Israel has imposed that has seen only four shipments of humanitarian goods reach Gaza since November 4.
     Why does a ceasefire that lasted successfully for five months face these problems only a month before it was due to end or be extended? The answer would seem rooted mainly in domestic Israeli politics and to a lesser extent in Gaza. This is primarily because Israel is the determining factor in deciding the state of relations with Gaza, whether peaceful or violent. Hamas, furthermore, has benefitted from the ceasefire and is clearly interested in renewing it, particularly because the calm enabled the Islamist movement to consolidate its power in Gaza.