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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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8 December, 2008
Settlers storm mosque, attack imam on Muslim holy day
Ma’an News Agency 12/8/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Dozens of settlers stormed Duma Mosque, opening fire on the building and attacked the Imam early Monday morning in the south of Nablus. More than 20 cars loaded with settlers from the nearby Migdalim settlement barged into the village at 4:30am, broke into the mosque and attacked Imam Mohamed Hassan Dawabsheh, who was trying to stop them. Israeli forces intervened more than an hour and a half after the settlers entered the mosque. No one was injured during the incident, which lasted more than two hours and took place on the Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Adha. [end]

Free Gaza activists set sail from Cyprus for 4th time
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 12/9/2008
A group of international activists said that one of their boats had left Cyprus bound for Gaza carrying medical supplies and trying to break an Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory. Free Gaza Group spokesman Ramzi Kysia confirmed that the 66-foot yacht SS Dignity, carrying a dozen passengers, left Larnaca Monday evening. He said it was due to arrive in Gaza on Tuesday, carrying a ton of medical supplies. The group has previously made three successful boat trips to Gaza. Kysia said the group’s intention is not solely to supply Gaza. "Gaza doesn’t need charity, it needs an end to the siege," Kysia said. "We are taking political action to break the siege and to encourage other countries to take similar action. "

Officials: Abbas wants to keep prisoners in jail until his return from hajj
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 12/8/2008
Israeli officials on Monday said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had requested that they delay the release of 230 Palestinian prisoners until he returns from a Muslim pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. The officials, who acceded to Abbas’ request, said the Palestinian leader wanted to be back in the West Bank to greet the freed prisoners. But Rafiq Husseini, a top Abbas aide, said the Palestinian president had not sought any delay. "I can assure you Abu Mazen [Abbas] doesn’t want to see these people imprisoned for one single day," he said, adding that Israeli officials had not contacted his office over the delay. The release had been set to take place on Tuesday. Israel has said the release is a goodwill gesture to Abbas meant to coincide the Muslim feast of the sacrifice.

EU presidency to boost ties with Israel
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
The EU’s foreign ministers approved a significant upgrade in the body’s diplomatic relationship with Israel on Monday, despite Palestinian opposition and some calls in Europe that this should be linked to developments on the ground. The approval of the upgrade by the 27 EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels as the General Affairs and External Relations Council, came less than a week after the European parliament indefinitely postponed a scheduled vote on the upgrade. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who pushed for the upgrade in ties some 18 months ago, called the development a "significant achievement for Israeli diplomacy, which opens up a new chapter between Israel and the countries of the EU. This new chapter faithfully reflects the strengthening cooperation between the sides based on common values and similar world views. -- See also: Morgantini to Livini: Israel is not above the law

Negroponte here for ’stock-taking’ as Bush term ends
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte arrived in Israel Monday night for what was described as a "stock-taking visit" before US President George W. Bush hands over the reins to President-elect Barack Obama in some six weeks. One diplomatic official said Negroponte is coming to "take the pulse of the relationship, as the Bush Administration glides out and the new administration moves in. "A lot of initiatives here will continue in one form or the other," the official said. "I don’t think there will be any dramatic change in the issues that are currently on the table. " The official said that given Negroponte’s experience as America’s first director of national intelligence, a cabinet-level position responsible for coordinating the US intelligence community, the visit may focus more on intelligence issues.

PA security shoot and capture wanted man near Nablus; family denies political affiliation
Ma’an News Agency 12/8/2008
Nablus - Ma’an – A man wanted by the Palestinian Authority (PA) police was injured on Sunday during clashes with PA security forces in the Balata refugee camp east of Nablus. The 25-year-old, identified as Mu’ayad Sharay, was said to be affiliated with Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades has been wanted by PA police for over a year after an incident where he shot at police. Sharay’s family, however, have denied that their son has any affiliation with Palestinian factions. As he was apprehended Sharay was shot twice by Palestinian police. He was taken to hospital for treatment, where he is under heavy security watch. Medical sources said his surgery was successful and he is currently in good condition.

Hamas member wounded by PA Security fire
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 12/8/2008
A Palestinian security source reported on Monday that a Hamas member was shot and wounded by security personnel as he attempted to fire at them as they were trying to arrest him in Balata refugee camp, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The sources added that Moayyad Rabay’a, wanted for more than eighteen months, was moved to Rafidia governmental hospital in Nablus. According to the sources, Rabay’a attempted to use his weapon against the Palestinian security personnel which forced them to open fire at him. He was wounded in his pelvis and is currently in stable condition. Rabay’a, 25, is from the Balata refugee camp, south of Nablus, and is a member of Hamas. The Palestinian security forces claim that he is wanted for "attacks that harm the general security situation". The website of the Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said that four masked members of the. . .

Qatar asks Israel for permission to land in Gaza; Olmert and Barak refuse
Ma’an News Agency 12/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The aid ship from Qatar bound for Gaza was refused entry into both the Gaza and Ashdod ports after Qatari officials requested permission to land from Israeli officials. According to Israeli media reports Sunday Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni indicated she would look into the issue of the Qatar ship, while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak made the call to prevent the ship from entering what they see as Israeli waters. The ship sailed from Qatar to Cyprus and planned to sail from there to the port in Gaza City, following the path blazed by the Free Gaza movement ships. The ship was delayed by what it called ‘Israeli attempts to stop the voyage. ’It appears that Livni told the Qatari ship it might be able to dock in Ashdod, though it is not clear what would then become of the aid cargo, since all crossings into Gaza are still closed.

A Joyless Eid in Gaza
Shaimaa Mustafa - Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 12/8/2008
Every year, Abu Lu’ai used to participate with six of his family members in buying a calf to slaughter as a sacrifice marking the four-day Palestinian feast (Eid al-Adha). " This year, there will be no calf. I can not afford the price anymore," the father of seven told IslamOnline. net. " I may buy a turkey instead," a sarcastic Abu Lu’ai added bitterly. Most Gazans have been forced to abandon the Sunnah (Islamic tradition) of sacrificing animal to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail to Allah as an act of obedience and submission. A long-running Israeli blockade, already crippling supplies of everything from food to medicine, is leaving the people of Gaza with few, if any, animals to sacrifice. Cattle merchants affirm that while the territory usually consumes some 80,000 heads during Eid, only 10,000 are available this year.

Gaza plunged into darkness on the eve of Eid
Palestinian Information Center 12/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, announced on Sunday that the sole power station in the Gaza Strip had to shut down because of lack of fuel after the total closure of the Gaza crossings for the sixth week running. In his press statement, Khudari added that the power station was working for the past three days at 20% its capacity after a day’s supply was allowed in. He said that the people in Gaza received Eid al-Adha in darkness, poverty, shortage of fuel, shortage of water and all that is essential for a dignified life stressing that the electricity blackout multiplied the suffering of the people in Gaza. Khudari called on everyone to act to help break the siege that is destroying the lives of one and a half million people who aspire for a dignified life free from occupation.

Barak tells Fayyad Israel would allow deploying PA forces in Bethlehem during Christmas
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/8/2008
Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, met on Sunday at night with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salaam Fayyad, and informed him that Israel agreed on the deployment of Palestinian Security Forces in the Palestinian West Bank city of Bethlehem especially during Christmas Celebrations. Barak claimed that Israel would ease some restrictions on the Palestinians during the feasts. Israeli sources reported that Barak said that Israel is seriously considering the deployment of Palestinian Security forces in Bethlehem during Christmas, at the end of this month and at the beginning of next year. Lieutenant Omran Abu Hadeed, head of the Palestinian Security Forces in Bethlehem, told the Palestine News Agency (PNN) that there is nothing new in the statements of Barak as the security forces were officially informed of this decision but did not receive an official O.

45 fighters awaiting Israeli ''pardon'' gain freedom on Eid
Ma’an News Agency 12/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Forty-five Palestinians listed as “wanted” by Israel, who have volunteered to live at Palestinian Authority detention centers in order to escape the constant threat of Israeli assassination or arrest, have been pardoned by the Israeli government. Those pardoned, mostly affiliated with Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades, will be able to travel freely in the West Bank and be able to apply for permits and visas to travel to Jordan and beyond. Most of those pardoned were asked to hand in their weapons and swear that they would no longer participate in armed resistance against Israel. At the end of November thirteen men involved in the pardoning program began a hunger strike in protest of the year and a half they spend in PA prisons waiting for their “pardon” to come through.

Palestinian prisoner release delayed
Herb Keinon And Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post 12/7/2008
The release of 230 Palestinian prisoners is being delayed until next week, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Monday, citing a request by the Palestinian Authority. Government officials delay the release of 230 Palestinian prisoners - The release, originally set for Tuesday, will now take place on December 15, the statement said. Government officials said their Palestinian counterparts had asked for the delay because PA President Mahmoud Abbas was out of the country and wanted to be back in the West Bank to greet the freed prisoners. Ya’acov Edri, the minister of Negev and Galilee Development, told Israel Radio it seemed Abbas wanted to be in the Palestinian Authority when the prisoners were released to "reap the benefits" and get a public relations boost. RELATEDBarak presents list of holiday gestures Video:Palestinian. . .

VIDEO - Israel worried by report Iran has tripled its missile arsenal
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 12/9/2008
Reports on Monday suggesting Iran has recently tripled its missile arsenal have exacerbated concerns that the Islamic Republic remains tireless in its efforts to step up defensive capabilities against Israel. The number of Shihab-3 missiles in Iran’s possession has gone from roughly 30 at the start of 2008 to more than 100. The long-range Shihab-3 missiles are capable of striking any point in Israel. At this point, they are armed with one-ton conventional warheads, but are also capable of carrying nuclear warheads. [end]

’Iran rocket arsenal tripled in 2008’
Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
In a sign that Iran is taking military measures to ward off the threat of an attack on its nuclear facilities, the country has tripled the number of long-range rockets in its arsenal, Channel 10 reported on Monday. According to the report, Iran possessed 30 Shihab-3 missiles at the beginning of 2008. Currently, the country claims to have over 100 over long-range missiles capable of hitting Israel. While the ability of the Islamic Republic to strike any point in Israel has long been known, this latest build-up potentially points to an Iranian intent to launch a protracted counter-strike against those who seek to destroy its nuclear program. The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the report. RELATED’Iran test-fires sea-to-sea missile’Last summer, Iran held a massive missile exercise during which. . .

Netanyahu: Obama told me he views Iran nukes as unacceptable
Reuters, Ha’aretz 12/8/2008
The man many tip to be Israel’s next leader said on Monday he saw Barack Obama as serious about denying Iran nuclear arms, even though the U. S. president-elect made no mention of a military option in a weekend interview. Benjamin Netanyahu, whose right-wing party leads in polls before a February 10 election, was responding to concerns raised by Israeli analysts that Obama did not explicitly say in televised remarks on Sunday that he could resort to force against Tehran if it did not bow to U. S. demands over its nuclear program. "President-elect Obama spoke to me about his view that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons is unacceptable," Netanyahu toldin a brief interview. "I say that what counts is the goal and the result that he envisions and the way that he achieves that goal is less important," said Netanyahu, a former prime minister.

Billionaire, politician and priest launch campaign for Palestinian unity
Ma’an News Agency 12/8/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – A billionaire, a charismatic former Fatah lawmaker, and a priest launched on Monday a new initiative to bring together the bitter Palestinian rival factions, Hamas and Fatah. Among the key figures in the campaign are three men from the northern West Bank city of Nablus: billionaire Palestinian businessman Munib Al-Masri, Melkite Priest Yousef Sa’adeh, and Fatah lawmaker Husam Khader. Al-Masri, who built “Beit Filistine” a mansion on the hills overlooking Nablus. Al-Masri, recognized as the most wealthy man in Palestine, announced that he would meet with several Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, the Gaza Strip and Damascus in an effort to reunite the divided parties. “The Palestinian masses will be the judge of our efforts,” Al-Masri said during a press conference at the Ramattan news agency headquarters in Nabulus.

Gaza closure hits 34th day, Palestinian dialogue expected after Eid Al Adha
Palestine News Network - PNN, International Middle East Media Center News 12/8/2008
Egyptian security sources said Monday that high-level contacts were made yesterday with the political bureau of Hamas to discuss resuming the Palestinian dialogue. The internal dialogue was postponed after Hamas announced it would not attend the talks due to reservations to the Egyptian outline. Since that time, the Palestinian Authority and Ramallah government have levied severe criticism against Hamas, accusing the party of "playing with the fate of the people. "Critics accuse Ramallah and the PA of "serving as mouthpieces for Israel and the United States. "A high ranking source in Egyptian security told the Saudi Arabia Medina, "The results of Sunday’s talks signal positive change in Cairo. The political bureau of Hamas is more flexible now especially as Cairo is seeking to break the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Israeli settlers storm mosque, assault Imam
Palestinian Information Center 12/8/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- Tens of extremist Jewish settlers on Monday raided the village of Doma to the south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus and opened fire in the air according to local sources. No injuries were reported. The sources said that around 20 cars laden with extremist settlers, believed to be from the nearby Magdoleme settlement, raided the village of Doma, broke into the mosque and assaulted the Imam who tried to block their entry at the door. Locals added that the IOF troops took their time to arrive at the scene. The Ministry of Awqaf in the Gaza government has warned a few days ago that the extremist settlers might commit massacres at West Bank mosques. Hundreds of extremist armed settlers have launched a campaign of assaults against Palestinian residents of the West Bank, mostly in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil.

Family appeals for Palestinian detainee infected with hepatitis
Ma’an News Agency 12/8/2008
Jenin - Ma’an – The family of a Palestinian detainee who contracted hepatitis in prison appealed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as well as international institutions to secure the release of their son and provide him with proper medical care. Othman Abu Kharj, from the town of Az-Zababida town south of Jenin, is sentenced to life plus 20 years. He has served five years to date and became infected with hepatitis two years ago when he received an injection with a needle infected by another detainee. According to doctors and specialists, Abu Kharj keeps losing weight because he is unable to eat healthy food and drink sufficient fluids. [end]

Parents want Arabs out of TA school
Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
Parents in south Tel Aviv who are seeking to prevent two Arab girls from attending their children’s school are denying accusations of racism, saying they’re worried about academic standings. The conflict centers around the Hagalil Elementary School in the Hatikva quarter and began when the Tel Aviv school board decided to enroll the girls, both of whom are neighborhood residents. Even in the country’s handful of mixed cities, Jews and Arabs generally prefer to live - and learn - apart. Hatikva has long been a low income area suffering from crime and drug-related ills. An influx of immigrants and foreign workers within the past decade has put long-time residents on guard, and the enrollment of many of the foreign workers’ children into area schools has added to the tension. Dismissing charges of racism, a core group of Hagalil parents said they’re concerned that. . .

Palestinian killed in Fateh-Hamas clashes in refugee camp in southern Lebanon
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/8/2008
The Maan News Agency reported on Monday that a supporter of the Fateh movement was shot and killed during clashes between Hamas and Fateh supporters in Al Miyeh refugee camp, east of the Lebanese Saida (Sidon) town, in southern Lebanon. At least one other Palestinian was wounded. The agency said that the slain Fateh member was identified as Walid Zeidan. A Fateh official in Beirut told the BBC that the incidents are not political in nature and that the conflict was between family members who support both Fateh and Hamas movements. The official added that calm had returned to the alleys of the camp, and that officials are acting to apprehend the assailant in order to hand him over to Lebanese security forces. One Hamas member was wounded and was handed over to Lebanese security forces outside of the camp. The Associated Press quoted an official stating that the conflicting members used automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.

Clash in Palestinian camp in Lebanon kills 1
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
A dispute between family members on Monday in a small refugee camp in southern Lebanon escalated into a deadly gun battle between rival Palestinian factions using automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, Palestinian officials said. One person was killed and another wounded in the fighting, which first began when a dispute broke out between Zeidan family members loyal to opposing Palestinian factions - Hamas and Fatah - in the small Miyeh Miyeh Palestinian camp near the southern port city of Sidon, the officials said. The fighting intensified into a larger gun battle between Palestinians affiliated with Hamas and the more moderate Fatah faction, said the officials. Three rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons were used in the 15-minute shootout, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

Political and economic troubles mean quiet Eid for Jerusalem
Ma’an News Agency 12/8/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – A subdued feeling prevailed on the normally bustling streets of Jerusalem, the putative Palestinian capital, as the city marked its forty-first Eid Al-Adha under Israeli occupation on Monday. The holiday is a celebration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son before God, traditionally marked by slaughtering of sheep and goats. Most Palestinians, like Muslims everywhere, exchange gifts and spend time with family during the feast. In addition to an economic crisis and a homeland bitterly divided among political factions, some Palestinian Jerusalemites voiced concern that decades on, the persistence of the occupation spoils what should be a festive mood. “Under occupation there is no Eid like in other Islamic countries. The children have no room to play. The [Israeli] army is everywhere.

European children donate Eid/Christmas gifts to Gaza children
Palestinian Information Center 12/8/2008
LONDON, PARIS, (PIC)-- Children in the UK and France have been donating toys and other gifts for Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip to be presented to them on the occasions of Eid and Christmas. The campaign was organised jointly by the UK based Justice for Gaza (JFG) and the French-Palestinian Friendship Society amidst calls on the Egyptian President to open the Rafah border for the donated gifts to be delivered to Gaza. JFG has already tried to deliver, in August, donated medicines to the Gaza Strip when they sent a van loaded with medicines which passed through 12 European countries on it route to the Rafah crossing, but the van was stranded for a month at the Rafah crossing and the Egyptian authorities would not allow it in. A truck carrying the donated gifts left London on Friday and arrived in Paris where it was received by a huge rally in support of Gaza children.

Israeli government denies Qatari request to allow its ship into Gaza port
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/8/2008
On Sunday, the Israeli government denied an official request from Qatar to allow their aid ship to dock in the Gaza port. Yet Israel said that it would consider the possibility to allow the ship to dock in Ashkelon port and to carry the aid by land to Gaza. Israeli officials said that they fear that this issue could develop into a political crisis between Israel and Qatar. Yet, Israeli sources said that Livni’s, Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister, acceptance to allow the ship to dock in Ashkelon port angered the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and Defense Minister, Ehud Barak. Both slammed Livni for not informing them of the details of her talks with the Qatari official. The Ynet Israeli news website reported that the offices of Olmert and Barak said that Livni promised the Qatari officials to allow the ship to dock in Ashkelon without coordinating the issue with the offices of Barak and Olmert.

Occupation decides to keep tight closure on Gaza on Eid
Palestinian Information Center 12/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation decided on Monday, the first day of Eid, to keep all crossings in the Gaza Strip closed for the sixth consecutive week threatening the Strip with unprecedented humanitarian, health and environmental disasters. The Hebrew radio quoted political sources that the Israeli war minister Ehud Barak decided to keep all crossings with the strip closed because Palestinian home made missiles continue to fall on nearby Israeli settlements. Furthermore, Barak met Thursday night with Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minster of the Ramallah government, where he showed Fayyad a number of Israeli measures to bolster Fayyad’s government. Barak also told Fayyad that the occupation government is studying allowing the deployment of Palestinian police in the city of Bethlehem in time for Christmas. For his part, Salam Fayyad asked Barak to stop the settlers’ attacks on. . .

Fourth Free Gaza ship to depart from Cyprus Monday night
Ma’an News Agency 12/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The fourth Free Gaza ship will set sail from Cyprus on Monday evening, with a cargo of medical volunteers, activists, academics and one ton of medical supplies including high-protein baby formula. The last two ships bound for Gaza have been prevented from reaching the port; the first - from Libya - forcibly after it was halted by Israeli warships and the second – from Qatar - is now mired in diplomatic uncertainty after Israel refused entry. On the chances of the latest Free Gaza boat reaching the Strip, group organizer Lubna Masarwa said "We have no intention of turning around, and so we’re confident that we will reach Gaza. We are unarmed civilians carrying desperately needed supplies to other unarmed civilians. It would be obscene for Israel to use violence to stop us. " The Free Gaza movement has landed three ships in Gaza since August, and sees the. . .

Egypt police interdict livestock set for Gaza
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
Egyptian police have confiscated whole herds of sheep and cattle set to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip ahead of a major Islamic holiday through the tunnels running underneath border, a security official said Saturday. The official said that 17 sheep were confiscated on Saturday just as smugglers began to introduce them into the tunnel in an area just north of the divided border city of Rafah. In two other incidents over the past 10 days, a total of 32 calves and 45 sheep were seized by police from smugglers, added the official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. A blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel has created a vibrant smuggling trade through tunnels of everything from food and cigarettes to weapons from the Egyptian side. With the advent of the Muslim feast Eid al-Adha in which a sheep is traditionally sacrificed, livestock is in high demand.

Palestine Today 120808
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 12/8/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 4 m 00s || 3. 66 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for Monday, December 08 2008 On Sunday, the Israeli government denied an official request from Qatar to allow their aid ship to dock in the Gaza port. Yet Israel, in an earlier statement, said that it would consider the possibility to allow the ship to dock in Ashkelon port and to carry the aid by land to Gaza. These stories and more are coming up, stay tuned. Israeli officials said that they fear that this issue could develop into a political crisis between Israel and Qatar. The Ynet Israeli news website reported that the offices of Olmert and Barak said that Livni promised the Qatari officials to allow the ship to dock in Ashkelon without coordinating the issue with the offices of Barak and Olmert.

Israel to release 231 detainees instead of 250
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/8/2008
The office of the outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, issued a press release stating that Israel will release 231 Palestinians detainees instead of 250 after it canceled the names of 19 detainees from the Gaza Strip. All of the detainees who would be freed are from the West Bank and are members of Fateh movement and other "non-Islamic factions". Olmert’s office said that the detainees who would be freed "do not have bloody hands" and that freeing them is a "gesture of good will to the Palestinian Authority". Meanwhile, Ziad Abu Ein, in charge of the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, said that the Israeli Prison Administration started transferring the detainees to Ofer prison in preparation for their release before the end of this week. The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Freed Detainees, in Gaza, said that in November Israel abducted more than 390 Palestinians in 300 invasions carried out in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian prisoners slated for release will wait until 15 December
Ma’an News Agency 12/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The prisoner release Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was announced as “postponed” to 15 December by Israeli press sources on Monday. The release, which Palestinian sources said had been cancelled on Saturday, seemed to be going forward on Sunday when a list of those to be freed was passed by the Israeli government in the weekly Ministers Meeting. Though Olmert had initially promised 250 prisoners to Abbas, the final list was 231, after 19 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were taken off the list at the request of some ministers. According to press sources, many did not want Palestinian prisoners released into a volatile Gaza. The announcement came as a surprise to skeptical Palestinians, who saw Olmert as unable to deliver on his promise.

Morgantini to Livini: Israel is not above the law
Justin Theriault, International Middle East Media Center News 12/8/2008
Last Wednesday, the European Parliament (EP) postponed a vote that could largely upgrade EU-Israeli relations through a proposal by the European Union 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 programs. The vote, originally scheduled for Thursday, December 11, in the EP in Brussels was postponed to another date yet to be determined, the majority of European Parliamentarians ruled on Wednesday, at the request of the GUE/NGL and Greens groups, with agreement from the Socialist Party, some of the Liberals (ALDE) and some MEPs from the Popular Party. "It’s time for the Israeli Government to stop considering itself above the law and start respecting it, beginning by freezing all settlement building activities and ending its siege on the Gaza Strip. . . " -- See also: EU presidency to boost ties with Israel

Israeli envoy to UN: Obama must take care of U.S. before focusing on Mideast
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 12/8/2008
Israel’s first woman ambassador to the United Nations has some advice for U. S. president-elect Barack Obama when he takes office in January: Leave the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to the parties themselves. "To start with, Obama will have so much to deal with inside [the U. S. ] that the Middle East, including the important country of Israel. . . this will have to wait which I think is for the better," Gabriela Shalev told reporters recently. "That’s because we have to deal with our own problems without any pressure - not of the UN, not of the U. S. , but it should be bilateral between the parties. This is our attitude," Shalev said. Shalev also sees cracks in the longstanding Arab cold shoulder and animosity directed at Israel. She pointed to the UN interfaith conference in mid-November, held at the initiative of Saudi. . .

Barhoum of Hamas: ''We are ready for all options in countering the Zionist enemy''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/8/2008
Hamas media spokesperson, Fawzi Barhoum, stated on Monday that the Hamas movement is ready to consider all options and available means in countering the Israeli occupation and its ongoing aggression. His statements came after the outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said that Israel will retaliate to the firing of Qassam shells. Barhoum added that the Israeli occupation is not interested in ending the aggression against the Gaza Strip as different Israeli leaders called for further offensives into the coastal region. He also said that Israel did not implement its side of the Egyptian-mediated truce and continued its aggression against the Gaza Strip. "We held meetings with different factions in order to evaluate the truce, Barhoum said, "what is happening does not encourage us to extend it as the occupation is not interested in it".

Hamas congratulated the Muslim Ummah on the occasion of Eid
Palestinian Information Center 12/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- In a statement issued on Sunday, Hamas greeted the Palestinian people as well as the Arab and Muslim Ummah on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, praying for the liberation of Palestine, Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque. The movement sent its most special greetings on the occasion to the families of martyrs and captives who have sacrificed so much in the struggle for freedom and called on the population to make a special effort to visit those families on Eid. The movement also took the opportunity to renew its commitment to Palestinian rights; to liberate their land, build their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of refugees to their homes. On the issue of the Gaza pilgrims; the movement held President Mahmoud Abbas and his Ramallah team responsible for the pilgrims being denied their right to perform their pilgrimage this year.

Fayyad prays at Ibrahimi mosque in solidarity with Hebron residents
Ma’an News Agency 12/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad prayed the Eid Al-Adha prayer Monday morning in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, as a gesture of solidarity with the harassed and violated local population. The Ibrahimi Mosque, or Tomb of the Patriarchs, is minutes south of the site where two Palestinians were shot Thursday by an angry Israeli settler participating in a riot targeting the indigenous population. In a press conference following the morning prayers Fayyad noted the importance of making an effort to show solidarity with the people of Hebron and reinforce their strength against the settler attacks. Fayyad put flowers on graves in Hebron and visited those injured in Thursday’s attacks. He congratulated all Palestinians celebrating the Eid and wished people and the land would be blessed, the blockade is lifted and the people released from suffering.

Lebanese sources: Lebanon, Iran draw up framework for bilateral cooperation
DPA, Ha’aretz 12/8/2008
Lebanon’s Western-backed Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has agreed with Iranian officials to draw up a framework for bilateral cooperation between the two nations ahead of a possible visit by Siniora to Tehran, a Lebanese government source said Monday. Mohammad Shibani, Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon, met with the prime minister over the weekend and renewed his invitation for Siniora to visit Tehran, the source, who requested anonymity, said. "The renewal of the invitation does not mean the trip is going to take place anytime soon," the source said, noting that any decision is "pending a visit by an Iranian delegation to Beirut to draw up the frame of bilateral cooperation between the two countries. "The source stressed that Siniora had no objection to visiting Iran.

No political conditions on Russian arms supplies for Lebanon - officials
Daily Star 12/8/2008
BEIRUT: Russia will not attach political conditions to any future supplies of military hardware to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), senior defense officials said over the weekend. Speaking after a meeting on Saturday with Mikhail Dimitriev, Russia’s military co-operation chief, Defense Minister Elias Murr said: "There are no obstacles in terms of equipping the army. We prepared for my visit to Russia next week. " Murr said the path was clear for discussing with his Russian counterpart in Moscow "what could be provided to the LAF. "A senior Defense Ministry source told The Daily Star the types of weapons that could be supplied have not yet been discussed, but insisted there would be "no political conditions" attached to any arms deals between Russia and Lebanon. The source said LAF commanders are currently deciding what weapons they would like to obtain from Russia, and said. . .

India warns that Al-Qaida targeting Goa
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
The Indian beach resort of Goa, a major destination for Israeli backpackers and holidaymakers, is at risk of being struck by al-Qaida, a local politician warned over the weekend. "Today, Goa faces serious threat from terrorists and there were specific inputs that al-Qaida would target certain [tourist] installations in Goa. Goa has a coastline of 105 km. , major sea ports and beaches," the state’s chief secretary, J. P. Singh, wrote in a memo, according to the Indian Express website. The warning comes after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in which 188 people were killed, including six Israelis who were slain in the city’s Chabad House. "This is the first time that the Goa government has admitted that the state was on the al-Qaida radar," the report said, adding that Goa’s state government had until now denied the existence of a major terrorist threat.

American Consul congratulates Palestinians on Eid Al-Adha
Ma’an News Agency 12/8/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The US Consul General Jacob Walles congratulated the Palestinian people on the day of Eid Al-Adha in a statement sent to media outlets. As Muslims around the world begin their celebrations of the Eid, said the letter, I would like to extend my sincere greetings to all Palestinians. "I would like once again to express my deep admiration for the dedication of Muslim pilgrims,” he said, adding that Islamic traditions are for him a symbol of good values. "As you know,” he continued, “the United States was founded on the principle that all human beings are created equal and we continue to support peace and freedom on this point and assist Palestinian institutions [to this end. ]”Walles pledged to “continue efforts to achieve better for Palestinians. ”"I would like to wish you all the best and hope for better conditions in the coming years,” he concluded.

Olmert announces launch of pension fund safety net
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 12/9/2008
The safety net for Israel’s bruised pension savers is vaguely taking shape, after being pushed through by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday night in a meeting with the country’s economic leaders. Although Finance Minister Roni Bar-On is on board, it seems that some of his officials are less than enthusiastic: The program was accepted because of political pressure, not merit, they complained. The "safety net" will provide only partial protection for savings. It will, however, apply to people aged 57 and older, which is a younger age than originally envisioned. "I thought that a team of professionals should be tasked with preparing the correct pension protection plan, which ultimately aims to protect the citizens of the State of Israel, those who saved up for a long time," Olmert said during a press conference held at his Jerusalem office.

Treasury, Manufacturers trade barbs
Stella Korin-Lieber, Globes Online 12/8/2008
Bar-On: "Brosh is Netanyahu’s puppet. "Brosh: "The finance minister is sitting and doing nothing. ""[Manufacturers Association president] Shraga Brosh is [Likud MK Benjamin] Netanyahu’s puppet and an expert panic-monger. His only goal is to support Netanyahu’s election campaign, even at the expense of Israel’s industry and economy, said Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On today in response to Brosh’s attacks against him. Brosh said, "The finance minister is sitting and doing nothing. I can’t rely on the finance minister. I don’t believe that he will provide more oxygen to the economy when the crisis worsens, because that’s a process that will take years. " Brosh expressed his support of Netanyahu when he said that Netanyahu would be a prime minister who take significant measures to support the economy.

Cable damage disrupts Likud primaries
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 12/8/2008
A tractor damaged the Bezeq fiber optic cable in Jerusalem. Today’s Likud primaries were disrupted at several voting places today, a week after a computer crash halted the Labor Party primaries. In Jerusalem, the voting booths at Binanyei Ha’Uma were opened 90 minutes late after a tractor apparently damaged the fiber optic cable ofBezeq The Israeli Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (TASE:BEZQ ) severing cellular and landline communications to the city. The breakdown also affected voting places in Mevasseret Zion and Beit Shemesh. Article continues after advertisements MK Yehiel Hazan claimed that at voting booths in Netanya, Nazareth, Karnei Shomron, Beit El, and Shilo failed to record his name. He is demanding a recount. By 2 pm, only 11% of the 99,000 eligible Likud voters had voted. Party chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu then decided to visit the voting center at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds to encourage voters.

Likud polling stations close after earlier computer glitches
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
The Likud Party suffered an embarrassing blow on Monday when problems with its computer system and long lines at polling stations forced the party’s legal advisers to extend the voting in its primary race. Likud members cast their ballots in the party’s primaries - At 1 a. m. , polling stations closed, and results were expected by 2:30 a. m. Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu wanted to resume the voting for at least a few hours on Tuesday afternoon, but his nemesis, party activist Moshe Feiglin, threatened to petition the High Court of Justice, and the party’s legal advisers decided that there was no legal basis for allowing the vote to go on for another day. The head of the Likud’s election committee, retired judge Yehoshua Gross, said he made the decision to extend the voting in an effort to enable as many Likud members as possible to vote.

Sneh insists new party can fill void left by Labor
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
Former MK Ephraim Sneh says his Strong Israel Party can fill the "political void" brought on by changes in the Labor Party, which he left when he resigned his Knesset seat in May. "The Labor Party has lost its power to lead," Sneh, 64, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. "I believe that Israel needs a new Labor Party and we will be it. " Strong Israel’s 250 members come from a variety of professional backgrounds. Its list for the upcoming Knesset elections includes economist Omer Sela, former Shinui MK Erela Golan, education specialist Mahmoud Zahalka, former Labor MK and Ben-Gurion biographer Michael Bar-Zohar and physician Gal Ifargan. For 21 years, Labor was home to Sneh, a physician and former senior IDF officer who served in four top political posts - as health minister, transportation minister and twice as deputy defense minister.

Labor campaign: Barak is no ’Mr. Nice Guy’
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
Only days after putting together its list of candidates for the 18th Knesset, the Labor Party launched a "negative" election campaign for party chairman Ehud Barak on Sunday, portraying him as a leader who doesn’t waste time on being nice. One of the new Labor campaign banners which reads: Not sympathetic. A Leader The party hired publicist Mordi Amar to create its campaign, the first part of which has already been publicized with billboard ads that claim Barak is not trendy, is not a friend and is not a chum. The second part of the campaign, unveiled on Sunday evening, involved the addition of the word "leader" to each of these ads - a strategy meant to emphasize Barak’s abilities as a leader over his less successful side as a politician. "We are done marketing the wrapping, and we are moving to the content.

Jerusalem’s new secular mayor Barkat brings Haredim into coalition
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 12/8/2008
Jerusalem’s new secular mayor Nir Barkat has brought an ultra-Orthodox faction into his coalition, two weeks after forging one without any Haredi members and one week after taking office. Barkat’s mayoral campaign was galvanized in part by the fight against what many secular Jerusalemites branded the creeping ’haredization,’ or ultra-Orthodox takeover, of the capital. On Monday, he expressed satisfaction with the addition of United Torah Judaism party members to his coalition. "This is another stage en route to a broad, all-encompassing coalition that will enable [us] to embark on a struggle for the future of Jerusalem in a united manner," said Barkat. The new mayor added that his coalition would focus on achieving budgets, fundraising and reforms. He said it would do this by "channeling great energy into joint ventures to save Jerusalem, and not on internal disputes.

Treasury agrees to pension safety net compromise
Stella Korin-Lieber, Adrian Filut, Lilach Weissman, and Shay Niv, Globes Online 12/8/2008
The safety net will cover investors older than 57. The decisive meeting on the model for the safety net for pension savings was held this afternoon at the Prime Minister’s Office. Ahead of the meeting, discussions were held on the precise features of the proposed safety net, with the goal of reaching agreement and obtaining the prior consent of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On, and Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer before the meeting started. "Globes" is the first to disclose the model of the safety net agreed upon today. It is a compromise between the broad plan proposed by Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini and the narrow plan proposed by the Ministry of Finance, which is why Olmert agrees to it. Article continues after advertisements The final version of the safety net was agreed upon by representatives from the Ministry of Finance. . .

Banks regulator: We haven’t reached bottom
Sharon Baider, Globes Online 12/8/2008
Rony Hizkiyahu: We cannot allow a bank failure in Israel. "We cannot allow a bank failure in Israel. The economy is small and the contagion could cause the financial system to collapse. Our goal at the Bank of Israelis to preserve all Israeli banks," said Supervisor of Banks Rony Hizkiyahu at TheMarker conference today. He was the keynote speaker at the banking panel. Hizkiyahu added, "The 9% capital adequacy ration is the safety cushion that enables the banks to survive during the current crisis. "He said that the conservatism of Israel’s banks and the fact that they did not extend credit overseas contributed to the stability of the banking system. Hizkiyahu said, "One of the risks to the banking system is Israeli customers with international business who borrowed money from Israeli banks.

Bar-On: Crisis measures needed urgently
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On on Sunday reiterated his call for the immediate approval and fast implementation of proposed economic and financial measures to spur growth in the economy. The Treasury already sees the need for additional steps, he said. "In light of the deterioration of the global crisis, this government, even though it is a transitional government, must advance the approval and implementation of a number of steps to strengthen the economy," Bar-On said at the weekly cabinet meeting. "We have demanded the approval of a number of dramatic steps to catalyze economic growth, repair the market failure in the credit sector and support bondholders. These measures will work to cope with the root challenges of the crisis and most importantly protect the saving public. We need to let these measures operate, and fast. "

Merrill warns of ugly fourth quarter for Israeli firms
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 12/8/2008
A slowing economy will weigh on local consumer demand, the investment bank says. Investment bank Merrill Lynch sees a weak fourth quarter for Israel’s leading companies following a poor third quarter, as the economy increasingly feels the local effects of a global slowdown. Merrill expects the shekel to weaken in the fourth quarter, which should help exporters such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: TEVA; TASE: TEVAIsrael Chemicals Ltd. (TASE:ICL NICE Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: NICE; TASE: NICE), and Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT Article continues after advertisements So far in the fourth quarter, through Friday’s representative rate setting, the shekel has weakened - reflected by a higher shekel-dollar exchange rate by 16.

IEC to be reimbursed for Gaza equipment
Lior Baron, Globes Online 12/8/2008
The company will be compensation for fixed assets left behind during the disengagement in 2005. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ thatIsrael Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE:ELEC. B22 ) is due to receive NIS 75 million compensation for equipment left behind in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria during the disengagement in 2005. A special committee set up by SELA Administration for Assistance to Settlers from the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria has approved the amount of the compensation in principle after consulting with Public Utilities Authority (Electricity) chairman Amnon Shapira. In 2006, IEC asked the SELA Administration for compensation for fixed assets left behind in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria settlements. The compensation approved is based on a report by an auditor that examined the cost of the infrastructures left behind.

No salary hikes, no bonuses for workers next year
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
Overshadowed by expectations of a significant slowdown in economic activity over the coming year, almost half of local industrial companies have canceled employee pay increases and bonuses planned for next year. In light of the difficult economic situation, 46 percent of industrial companies have canceled employee pay hikes planned for 2009, and 40% of companies have canceled bonuses, according to a survey by the Manufacturers Association of Israel. The survey was conducted among dozens of factory personnel and human-resources managers at 50 industrial companies from all manufacturing sectors. The Manufacturers Association was pessimistic, saying the cost-cutting measures were only the tip of the iceberg. The situation at the companies and factories would continue to deteriorate, it said. Manufacturers Association head of labor and human resources Avi Barak. . .

Police mum on subject of raided mafia meeting
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Monday extended the remand of Nissim Alperon, brother of the slain mobster Ya’acov Alperon, and three other suspects by seven days, following Alperon’s dramatic arrest in a Ramat Gan cafe on Sunday evening. Tel Aviv Police detectives swooped on the cafe and arrested Alperon and 18 other men, recovering a gun from a moped belonging to one of the suspects. Police remain very concerned about possible attempts by surviving Alperon family members to violently avenge Yaacov Alperon’s car bomb assassination last month. Alperon and three suspects have been charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and possession of a gun. Since the arrests Sunday, police have been cagey over what had been going on at the meeting they raided. A Tel Aviv police source told The Jerusalem Post said he did not know whether Alperon and the suspects were plotting a revenge attack.

Netanya rocked by another mob slaying
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
Netanya was rocked by yet another criminal assassination on Monday evening when a man identified as 27-year-old Nati Ohion, said to be linked to the Abutbul crime family, was gunned down in his car. A second man, Rami Meimon, 40, sustained moderate to serious wounds. Several shots were fired at Ohion’s car, incapacitating its driver and causing the vehicle to slam into a wall on Netanya’s Jilber Street. Local residents and relatives of Ohion reportedly flooded the crime scene in the minutes following the shooting, with Ohion’s sister crying out for her brother. According to media reports, Ohion married into the Abutbul family one month ago. A Sharon Police source told The Jerusalem Post that "common sense" dictated that Ohion had likely been warned he was the target of an assassination plot.

Another gangland killing as underwold figure shot dead in Netanya
Yuval Goren, Ha’aretz 12/8/2008
Nati Ohayon, a 27-year-old underworld figure with known ties to the reputed Abutbul crime family was shot dead in Netanya on Monday by an unknown assailant who fled from the scene on a motorcycle. Ohayon’s friend Rami Maimon was moderately hurt in the shooting. The police fielded a report of gunfire at around 7:15 P. M. Monday evening. Large police forces arrived at the scene to find the two victims, having both been shot at close range, in a vehicle. A team of paramedics pronounced Ohayon dead at the scene and evacuated his friend to the Laniado Hospital in Netanya for treatment. An initial investigation revealed that the motorcyclist had apparently ambushed his victims while they exited the home of a friend, also known to police for organized crime ties.

Banks to cancel dividends in 2009
Eran Peer, Globes Online 12/8/2008
The Bank of Israel has sent an unambiguous message that dividends are undesirable so long as the banks do not comply with its capital adequacy ratio criteria. Israel’s banks will cease paying dividends, at least for the next year. Although Supervisor of Banks Rony Hizkiyahu has not yet issued explicit orders on the matter, he has sent a clear and unambiguous message that dividends are undesirable so long as the banks do not comply with the Bank of Israel mandated capital adequacy ratio criteria. In order to meet the 12% capital adequacy ratio threshold, and given the slump in profits because of the economic crisis, the banks will reportedly distribute no dividends based on 2008 results, or in 2009. The banks have distributed an aggregate NIS 11 billion in dividends since 2005, including NIS 3. 5 billion in 2007.

’Vast amounts of sewage water going to waste’
Ehud Zion Waldoks, Jerusalem Post 12/8/2008
Millions of cubic meters of treated sewage water are being pumped into the sea rather than diverted to agriculture or gardening, Zalul, which monitors Israel’s seas and waterways, charged Monday. The Herzliya waste treatment plant was upgraded in November and now produces high-quality wastewater which could be used for agriculture or gardening, but instead it flows straight into the sea, Zalul central district coordinator and lawyer Shahar Brinenberg wrote, in an urgent letter to the Water Authority. Seven million cubic meters of water per year flow through the treatment plant. "According to the Environmental Protection Ministry, the reason the treated water flows into the sea lies with the Water Authority, which has yet to find a suitable use for the water and has not yet found a reservoir in which to store it," Brinenberg wrote.

Better Place unveils recharging station prototype in Tel Aviv
Dubi Ben-Gedalyahu, Globes Online 12/8/2008
It was developed in Israel and designed in San Francisco. Better Place today unveiled the prototype of its electric car recharging station at the Cinema City parking lot in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Hasharon. The station was developed in Israel and designed in San Francisco. It has two sockets for the simultaneous recharging of two cars. Better Place, launched by Shai Agassi, plans to deploy 400 recharging stations across Israel in parking lots, workplaces, and residences as part of a six-month pilot program. The pilot will also include the prototype electric car, based on the Nissan Rouge crossover SUV, which is sold in Europe and Israel as the Qashqai. At the moment, Better Place only has the import franchise for the electric car version of the Renault Megane sedan. So far as is known, Better Place does not have a franchise to import Nissan Motor Co.

US guards charged over Iraq deaths
Al Jazeera 12/8/2008
Five US security guards employed by the Blackwater firm have been charged over the killings of at least 14 Iraqi civilians and injuries to 20 others in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad. In a 35-count indictment, the five men were charged with manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter and weapons violations, the US justice department said on Monday. "The government alleges in the documents unsealed today that at least 34 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, were killed or injured without justification or provocation by these Blackwater security guards in the shooting at Nisoor Square," said Patrick Rowan, assistant attorney-general for national security. The five had handed themselves over at a federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah, earlier on Monday.

RIGHTS: Bipartisan U.S. Panel Offers Blueprint to Prevent Genocide
Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service 12/9/2008
WASHINGTON, Dec 8(IPS) - A bipartisan task force of former top national security policymakers is calling on the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama to make the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities overseas a top U. S. foreign policy priority. In a report released here Monday, the group, which was co-chaired by former President Bill Clinton’s Pentagon chief, William Cohen, and secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, argued that mass atrocities threaten core U. S. national interests and that the national security bureaucracy should be reformed to reflect that priority. Its release came on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the U. N. ’s adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the 20th anniversary of its final ratification by the United States.

Pilgrims perform symbolic stoning
Al Jazeera 12/8/2008
Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims have taken part in a symbolic mass stoning as the annual Hajj reached its climax. The ritual in Mina, in which pebbles are thrown at a wall outside Mecca, symbolises the rejection of temptation. More than two million pilgrims were expected to visit the Jamarat bridge, which has been the scene of some of the most serious accidents during previous pilgrimages. At least 362 people were crushed to death there in 2006 in the worst Hajj tragedy since 1990. IN VIDEO Blockade dampens Gaza residents’ spirits"Let’s make the accidents at the stoning part of history, may it never return," state-run Saudi television reported in a programme about improvements to the bridge facilitates.

IDF soldier lightly hurt as tank overturns in Golan training accident
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 12/8/2008
A soldier from Brigade 188 of the Armored Corps was injured lightly Monday in a training accident in the Golan Heights. The accident occurred at a training field near Katzrin after a Merkava tank entered a ditch and rolled over onto its side. One of the soldiers was injured in the accident, while the rest of the soldiers inside got out of the tank unharmed. The Israel Defense Forces said its Northern Command would investigate the incident. In November last year, two soldiers were killed in separate accidents involving army vehicles. Staff Sergeant Yariv Amitai was killed when his army vehicle overturned near the Gaza border. Sergeant-Major Asaf Waxman was killed when he was crushed to death while driving an armored personnel carrier.

Southern farmer harvests monster potato
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 12/8/2008
’He was "very proud" the super spud grew on his farm, given that it suffered a pounding during Israel’s 2006 summer war on Lebanon. ’ - TYRE: A South Lebanon farmer couldn’t believe his peeled eyes when he discovered he had grown a massive potato, he said on Saturday, adding that he now hopes to enter the Guinness Book of World Records book. "This giant weighs 11. 3 kilos," Khalil Semhat told AFP at his farm in the Tyre area, 85 kilometers south of Beirut. "I’ve been working the land since I was a boy, and it’s the first time I’ve seen anything like it. " Semhat, 56, said he had not done anything special to inspire the monster spud. "I didn’t use any chemicals at all," he insisted, adding that he had to ask a friend to help him haul the huge tuber from the ground. Now he hopes the find will get a mention in the famous Guinness book, and said he would send in the details for possible inclusion next year.


Musical resistance against the siege
Sameh A. Habeeb, Electronic Intifada 12/8/2008
      On 27 October, a group of young Palestinians, none of them over the age of 25, organized the first music concert of its kind in the Gaza Strip, called Gaza Concert ’08. Regardless of the awful conditions in the Gaza Strip brought on by the 19-month Israeli siege, the youth sang for freedom, peace and ending the unjust siege. Thousands of people came from all over Gaza while several international and local media outlets covered the event that was sponsored by Action for Peace Italia. A mixture of traditional Palestinian debka dance, rap, and nationalist anthems were performed calling for lifting the siege and ending Israeli occupation.
     Ahmed, one of the dabka dance performers, lost his hand in an Israeli military operation in 2006 in the Jabaliya refugee camp when he and his friends were hit by Israeli shelling. "I came here to express my readiness and willingness for peace. I lost my hand but I want a just peace with Israelis if they give me my full rights."
     Hatem Shurab, a 24-year-old singer based in Gaza and one of the concert organizers, is a another victim of Israeli siege. He is involved in a journalism training program in the US. However, due to the closure, Shurab was trapped in Gaza and missed his chance along with some friends who were also supposed to participate. He explained, "I came here to sing for peace and freedom. I came here to make the suffering of people heard through songs and music. I sang for Sarah who was sick and unable to get treatment due to the siege. The words of my song say: ’A girl called Sarah, innocence in her eyes, because of no medications she is about to die. Don’t let Sarah feel the pain, let her fly like a bird in the sky, take the siege away.’

The Gaza truce faces a potentially lethal situation

Yossi Alpher, Daily Star 12/8/2008
      In and around the Gaza Strip we confront a potentially lethal situation. The current cease-fire is due to end in barely 10 days unless new terms can be negotiated between Israel and Hamas. Ten days of fighting last month demonstrated just how easily the two sides can slide back into conflict. In parallel, both Israeli and Palestinian politics are becoming increasingly volatile, with Gaza almost beckoning as an arena where ambitious and even ruthless politicians can seemingly prove their mettle to the voters.
     Israel is moving into an election campaign in which Minister of Defense Ehud Barak is running at the head of one party while the former head of another, the soon-to-be-indicted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, remains in power with nothing to lose and no one to account to for his decision-making. Judging by his advocacy of caution, the beleaguered Barak, whose standing has plummeted in the polls, does not want to fight an election while fighting in Gaza. In parallel, Olmert appears increasingly capable of negotiating a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, mediated by Egypt, that releases hundreds of hardened militants in exchange for a single Israeli soldier and boosts Hamas’ popularity in the Arab world in general and among Palestinians in particular.

Breaking Through Israeli Blockade for Fourth Time

Free Gaza Movement - Cyprus, Palestine Chronicle 12/8/2008
      ’The ship will also be carrying in one ton of medical supplies ..’
     The Free Gaza Movement announced today that it would send a delegation from Cyprus to Gaza aboard their blockade-busting ship, the Dignity, at 11pm, Monday, 8 December. The Free Gaza Movement has successfully challenged the siege on three previous occasions this year, landing missions in Gaza in August, October, and November. Free Gaza ships are the first to dock in Gaza Port in over 41 years.
     Israel maintains absolute control over Gaza’s borders and airspace, and has imposed an increasingly brutal blockade on its 1.5 million civilians for over two years, drastically increasing poverty and malnutrition rates. Over 700 students are currently trapped in Gaza, while Israel denies their right to attend universities abroad.
     In a statement released by Drs. Jonathan Rosenhead and Mike Cushman, of the London School of Economics, the academics stated that they were pleased to be traveling to Gaza aboard the Dignity, and that, "This siege is an affront to any idea of academic freedom or human rights. We, working for a British university, have the freedom to teach and study, this must be a universal right, not at the discretion of an occupying power. "

Israel besieges Gaza’s fishing industry

Mel Frykberg, Electronic Intifada 12/8/2008
      RAMALLAH, West Bank (IPS) - Israeli naval commandos recently hauled off three international peace activists off Palestinian fishing boats seven nautical miles off Gaza’s coast. They were accompanying 15 Palestinian fishermen attempting to complete a day’s fishing without being shot at or arrested by the Israeli navy.
     Darlene Wallach (57) from the US, Andrew Muncie (34) from Britain and Italian Vittorio Arrigoni (33), members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a pro-Palestinian rights organization, were attempting to protect the fishermen when their three boats were surrounded by two Israeli gun boats and five smaller naval boats.
     Twenty naval commandos boarded the vessels. Using tasers and guns, they forced the ISM members and Palestinian fishermen into their naval vessels. Despite being in Palestinian territorial waters, and nowhere near Israeli territorial waters, the solidarity activists were taken to a detention center at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv from where they were subsequently deported. The Gazans were interrogated before being sent back to Gaza.

Israel’s ''Auschwitz borders'' revisited

Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada 12/8/2008
      In 1969, Israel’s legendary diplomat Abba Eban warned that withdrawal from the territories his country occupied in June 1967 would be a return to "Auschwitz borders." Since then some Israeli politicians have used these provocative words to attack almost anyone who defies them.
     In 1992, for instance, the George H. W. Bush administration briefly suspended US loan guarantees to Israel to protest settlement construction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A symbolic sanction that cost Israel little, it was nevertheless unprecedented for the US to condition aid on Israeli behavior. Israel’s then Deputy Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the move as an American effort to force Israel back within the "Auschwitz borders." He later attacked then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for signing the 1993 Oslo Accords which, he alleged, would also take Israel "back to Auschwitz." Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by an Israeli Jew brought up on such rhetoric. Netanyahu served as prime minister from 1996-1999 and may do so again following elections next February.

Despite all odds, Palestinians carry on with living in the Heart of Hebron

Reham Alhelsi, Palestine Think Tank 12/7/2008
      Hebron, or Al-Khalil, lies 30 km south of Jerusalem and is the second largest Palestinian city with a population of 163,000 Palestinians. Hebron is one of the commercial centres of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and several industries emerged in Hebron and continue to find their home there. Like the rest of Palestine, the cancer of illegal settlements has set its lethal teeth in Hebron. This city is not only surrounded by settlements like other Palestinian cities and towns, but has settlement points in its heart. In 1968 a group of Israelis rented a hotel room in Hebron for 48 hours, after which they refused to leave, and 6 months later the establishment of a Jewish neighbourhood in Hebron was approved by the Zionist state, to be followed in 19070 by another approval to establish the illegal settlement Kiryat Arba. In 1980 the Israeli government decided to add a floor to the Beit Hadassah point, to be used as a school, the corner stone for a settlement in the heart of the old city of Hebron. 4 years later, a Jewish settlement point was established in Tel Rumeida. In 1994 a fanatic Jewish settler entered the Ibrahimi mosque and opened fire on the worshippers there killing 29 Palestinians. According to the Protocol concerning the Redeployment in Hebron, signed 1997 between the PLO and Israel, Hebron was divided into 2 sections: H1 and H2. H1, forming 80% of the city (18 square km), is home to some 120,000 Palestinians, and is under Palestinian control. H2 covering the old city with the commercial centre and the Jewish settlements (4.3 square km), where around 40,000 Palestinians are forced to live with some 600 fanatic Jewish settlers, fell under Isreali control.... -- See also: Reham Alhelsi''s Photos

Hebron settlers take their fight into Israel

Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada 12/7/2008
      Extremist settler groups currently involved in violent confrontations with Palestinians in the center of Hebron have chosen their next battleground, this time outside the West Bank.
     A far-right group know as the Jewish National Front, closely associated with the Hebron settlers, is preparing to march through one of the main Arab towns in northern Israel. The march, approved by the Israeli high court back in October, is scheduled to take place on 15 December, the group announced this week.
     The police are expecting to deploy thousands of officers to prevent trouble, and have limited the number of Front members participating to 100. The march will not enter the heart of the city, say police, though it is not yet clear whether Front members will be allowed to carry the guns most have been issued as settlers.
     The Front says it will wave Israeli flags in what the group has dubbed a demonstration of "Jewish Pride" through Umm al-Fahm, home to nearly 45,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel.

UN recieves low score on Palestine

Ulrich Knapp, Electronic Intifada 12/7/2008
      UNITED NATIONS (IPS) - People in seven majority Muslim countries favor a more active United Nations with broader powers, while simultaneously viewing the world body as dominated by the US and failing to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a new poll by, a global network of research centers.
     The survey was conducted in Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Iran, Indonesia, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Azerbaijan. Nigeria, which has a 50 percent Muslim population, was also polled.
     The survey found conflicted attitudes towards the UN. There was, however, clear support for a UN with much broader powers than it has today. Asked about a number of options for giving the UN greater powers, nearly all received strong support.
     Steven Kull, director of, told IPS: "If we compare the results in Muslim-dominated countries to those in other regions, there is virtually consensus around the world on giving the UN more powers. This consensus is rather striking."

Obama’s Middle East Challenge

Yinon Cohen and Neve Gordon – Israel, Palestine Chronicle 12/8/2008
      ’Obama has a crucial advantage over his predecessors.’
     As Barack Obama enters the oval office he will face a series of daunting challenges. One of these is confronting the age old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been seriously, yet unsuccessfully, tackled by every American president since Jimmy Carter. The inability to reach a peaceful solution has not only had fatal repercussions for the people residing in Israel and the Occupied Territories, but has also been detrimental to Middle East stability and to vital US interests in the region.
     In recent years, some of the hurdles facing those political leaders who want to reach a peace agreement based on the two-state solution have only grown. The Palestinians are in the midst of an internal fray between the old-guard of Fatah and the fundamentalist Hamas ideologues, and currently there is no agreed upon leadership with which one can negotiate. The Israeli political arena has also become much more polarized, and, it will be practically impossible for whichever party wins the upcoming elections to sign a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians, not least because the settler movement and its supporters will control a critical block in the Knesset.

End the Gaza Blockade

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Palestine Chronicle 12/8/2008
      Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) sent a letter urging Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to ensure that Israel ends the blockade of Gaza. The letter was sent (Dec 2) in support of the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay’s call for the immediate end of the blockade.
     Dr. Condoleezza Rice Secretary U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, D.C. 20520-0099
     Dear Dr. Rice:
     I am writing to urge you to ensure that Israel complies with international humanitarian law and end its blockade of Gaza. Last week, the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called for its immediate end. In response, Israel renewed the blockade and dismissed Ms. Pillay’s assessment for being “one-sided.” While there are many political considerations to be made in this volatile region, we can not tolerate the collective punishment of 1.5 million people. Moreover, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza undermines Israel’s political and security goals.
     Israel has a right to defend itself and its citizens. This includes taking action against Hamas for its abominable mortar attacks into southern Israel. However that action should not and cannot amount to collective punishment against the Palestinian people, prohibited by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as it does today.

One Eid Al-Adha in Palestine

Ma''an, Ma’an News Agency 12/8/2008
      Bethlehem – Ma’an – It is the custom of Palestinians to wake up at dawn on Eid Al-Adha, dress in their best often new clothes, and head to the mosque to perform the Eid prayer.
     In Duma, south of Nablus, the Mosque’s Imam was awoken at 4:30am by settlers from the nearby Migdalim colony who shot at the building and physically attacked the religious leader.
     In Hebron, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council Dr Mustafa Barghouthi performed the Eid prayer at the Ibrahimi Mosque in an act of solidarity with the city’s civilians, targeted by settlers in a week of attacks.
     Following the Eid prayer it is the duty of all Muslims who are able to slaughter their best farm animal, cook the meat and offer portions to neighbors and the poor.
     Buying a lamb costs between 2,000-3,000 shekels, (500-750 US dollars); lean times all over the West Bank meant many families did without this year.