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

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19 February 2008

News

Palestinians: Child killed in IDF operation in Gaza
Ali Waked and AP, YNetNews 2/19/2008
Sources in Gaza say 10 year-old boy killed after IDF force clashes with Hamas gunmen in Khan Younis area; IDF says unaware of any child casualties - A 10 year-old boy was killed by IDF fire during an army operation in central Gaza Tuesday afternoon, Palestinian sources in Gaza reported. The sources identified the dead child as Tamer Abu Sha’ar. According to the sources, several other people were wounded after soldiers opened fire at Palestinians in the Khan Younis area. Earlier, medics said that the boy underwent surgery and that his condition was critical. The boy later succumbed to his wounds, the Palestinians said. Palestinian officials told the Associated Press that an army squad took over a house in the area and came under heavy fire from Hamas. The troops shot back and the children were apparently shot in the crossfire, the officials said.

U.S. urged to spend more on missile defense system
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee urged a delegation of U.S. congressmen yesterday to increase American funding for development of the Magic Wand system for defense against medium-range rockets and missiles. Committee members argued that this is of mutual interest, since American army bases in the Middle East and Afghanistan are as vulnerable to such rockets as Israeli towns are. The four senators and representatives, headed by Senate minority leader Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), arrived earlier this week for Congress’s semiannual dialogue with the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. The Israeli team was headed by committee chair Tzachi Hanegbi (Kadima) and former committee chairman Yuval Steinitz (Likud), who founded the dialogue along with Kyl. The delegation also met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Mossad chief Meir Dagan, and also took a tour of Sderot.

OPT: Israel has cut off the northern West Bank
B''Tselem, ReliefWeb 2/18/2008
Since February 5, Israel has imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the northern West Bank (Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarm districts) and prevents all Palestinian men between the ages of 16-35 from leaving this area without special permits, which are rarely granted. Testimonies taken by B’Tselem indicate that during some of this period, these restrictions have also been imposed on women of this age group. In the past few days, similar restrictions have been imposed on Qalqilya. In order to enforce these restrictions, the army has erected many new physical obstacles in this area. Dirt piles and boulders block passage of cars and enable them to travel only via staffed checkpoints, where the age restrictions on movement are enforced. These restrictions disrupt daily life for tens of thousands of people and particularly harm the wage-earning population and those in need of medical care.

ISRAEL-OPT: House demolitions cause Palestinians to leave village
Shabtai Gold/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2/20/2008
The structure on top of this cistern, which protected the water inside, was destroyed by the Israeli military as it said the villagers lacked a building permit. Since then, the cistern is no longer used as the water gets dirty - BEQAA, WEST BANK, 19 February 2008 (IRIN) - A small, overcrowded Palestinian village in the southern West Bank, under threat from Israeli-conducted house demolitions and land confiscations, is rapidly becoming poorer. "Every house here has one child at least who left because we can’t build new homes. Some went to Hebron, but others left for Amman [Jordan] and places abroad" said Ghassan, a young man from Beqaa village, who is a refugee registered with the UN. Bilal Jaber, who recently received papers saying his house was illegal, is worried it will be destroyed. "I saved money when I worked as a labourer to build my home," the now unemployed man said.

Report: IDF general dodged U.K. arrest as police feared shootout
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
An Israel Defense Forces general escaped arrest for alleged war crimes at London’s Heathrow airport in 2005 because U. K. police feared an arrest would spark a shootout with Israeli security officials, the BBC reported Tuesday. Major General (res. ) Doron Almog, planning to visit Jewish communities in the U. K. , refused to deplane for two hours, after receiving a warning from the Israeli embassy of the imminent arrest. He then returned to Israel. Palestinian groups had pressed U. K. authorities to arrest Almog over his alleged role in the destruction of more than 50 homes in the Gaza Strip in 2002, prompting a British judge to issue an arrest warrant. Almog commanded the IDF southern command between 2000 and 2003. Police waiting to arrest the Israeli general on the ground did not board the plane due to concerns that a clash with Israeli air marshals or armed personal security would erupt on board.

98 Palestinian patients, including 17 Children, die due to the Gaza siege
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 2/19/2008
Palestinian medical sources announced on Tuesday evening that one child died at a Gaza hospital after the Israeli Authorities barred his transfer to a hospital abroad for further medical treatment as the siege on Gaza continued to cripple all hospitals in the coastal region. The child was identified as Sa’id Al Ayidy, 2, from Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. He suffered from a kidney infection. His death raised the number of Palestinian patient who died due to the siege to 98, including 17 children. Following are the names of children who died due to the ongoing blockade; 1. Sa’id Al Ayidy, 2. 2. Fatin Majdi Al Hafnawi, 10. 3. Ibrahim Abu Nahil, 1year and four months old. 4. Sana Mohammad Al Hajj, six months. 5. Rawan Diab, 13 months. 6. Hala Zannoun, 3 months. 7. Yousef Eyad Abu Mariam, 5 years old. 8. Razan Mohammad Ata, 6 years.

Hamas lawmakers convene Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas lawmakers convened the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) on Tuesday for the first time this year in the Gaza Strip. The legislators unanimously reaffirmed support for a law, passed by the Hamas-controlled chamber last year, that prohibits the surrender of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. According to article 70 of the Palestinian basic law, the new law should be submitted to the Palestinian president for ratification, and if he does not respond within 30 days, the law goes into effect and will be published in the official newspaper. Acting PLC Speaker Ahmad Bahar opened the session with a speech in which he extended his greetings Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, especially PLC speaker Dr Aziz Dweik and other PLC members. He also saluted the Palestinian people for what he sees as steadfastness in the face of the Israeli aggression.

Israel detains dozens of Gazans
BBC Online 2/18/2008
The Israeli military says it has taken about 80 Palestinians to Israel for questioning following a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the army had a "free hand" to target militants in Gaza. He faces growing pressure to put an end to rocket attacks from the territory. Three Palestinian militants and a civilian were killed in the incursion on Sunday morning. A fifth person died of his wounds on Monday. Separately, the military said it had detained 16 suspected militants in overnight raids across the West Bank. The Palestinian news agency reported raids in Hebron, Tulkarm and in the Jenin area, and said several people were injured when Israeli troops stormed their houses. Israel and the Fatah faction - in charge of Palestinian-administered areas in the West Bank - are pursuing a renewed peace effort launched at a US-hosted conference last November.

Acting PLC head demands Abbas to stop meetings with Israeli officials
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 2/19/2008
Dr. Ahmad Bahar, acting head of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), demanded the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, to stop all meetings with the Israeli side, and stated that these meeting are giving Israel more reasons to continue the attacks and siege against the Palestinian people. Bahar saluted the Palestinians who died during Israeli assaults in recent days and saluted the detainees imprisoned by Israel, including the head of the PLC Dr. Aziz Dweik. He slammed the ongoing Israel attacks against the Palestinian people, especially the latest attack n Al Boreij refugee camp as nine residents were killed and more than sixty others were injured. He also slammed that assassination of Imad Mughaniyya, one of the prominent leaders in the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party. Dr. Bahar addressed the Palestinian president stating that "the arbitrary meetings with the Zionist...

Israel: U.S. agrees to delay talks on J’lem
Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoffs, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice agreed to defer talks on Jerusalem to the final stage of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. However, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas insisted yesterday that discussions on the status of the city must not be postponed. A senior Jerusalem source said Olmert and Rice had talked on the telephone about a week and a half ago, and that Rice accepted Olmert’s position that discussing Jerusalem at the very beginning could jam the negotiations and obstruct them. Speaking to a Jordanian newspaper, Abbas also said that the issue of Palestinian refugees must remain on the agenda of the talks, which he said were proceeding too slowly. Olmert and Abbas are to meet in Jerusalem this evening to continue their regular meetings, if the weather permits.

PM meets Abbas, but Jerusalem not on agenda
Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoffs, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem Tuesday evening. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who heads the Israeli peace negotiations team, and the head of the Palestinian team, Ahmed Qureia, were also present at the meeting. The two leaders did not discuss the sensitive issue of Jerusalem during their meeting, despite Abbas’ earlier calls not to postpone addressing the contentious issue, a senior official at the Prime Minister’s Office said. "The issue of Jerusalem did not come up in the discussion. I’m not aware of changes in the Israeli position," the official said. Israeli officials said the leaders had agreed to accelerate peace talks. However, senior Abbas aide and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat disputed the report that Jerusalem was not...

Abbas aide: ’No progress in negotiations and a new Intifada is not an option’
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – No progress has been made in ongoing meetings between Palestinian and Israeli officials, a Political Advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Nimr Hamad said on Tuesday. Hamad added that there is no truth to Israeli media reports about an agreement regarding the drafting of an agreement on the shape of a future Palestinian State. "These are all speculations and their objective is to cause confusion and to send a message that it is useless to continue the negations." Hamad added. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met in Jerusalem on Tuesday. He added that the Palestinian side will persist in their pursuit pf negotiations to prove to the international community that Israel is refusing to cooperate and that its actions against the Palestinian people are getting more excessive everyday.

5 Qassams land in Gaza vicinity communities
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 2/19/2008
Five rockets fired at Sderot, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. One hits chicken coop, causing heavy damage; no injuries reported - A Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning hit a chicken coop in one of the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council communities, causing heavy damage. There were no reports of injuries. Earlier Tuesday, a rocket landed in an open area within the regional council, two other rockets hit an open area near the southern town of Sderot and one landed near a factory in the city. There were no reports of injuries or damage in all incidents. Chicken coop hit by Qassam (Photo: Kobi Tom Friedman) Ofer Beider, who owns the chicken coop hit by the rocket, told Ynet that he was at the place only minutes before the attack. "Large parts of the structure were destroyed, at exactly the same spot where the workers were sitting only a short time earlier," he described.

Home Front Command: Qassam fire dropped in 2007
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 2/19/2008
Home Front Command chief tells Knesset committee decrease in rocket attacks registered in 2007 compared to previous year; presents plan for fortification of some 3,000 homes in Sderot region - A decrease in the number of Qassam rockets fired from Gaza at Israel was registered in 2007, compared to the previous year, Home Front Command Chief Brig. -Gen. Yair Golan said Tuesday. According to data presented by Golan during a meeting of the Knesset’s State Control Committee, 1,488 rockets landed in Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities in 2006, compared to 1,150 in 2007. Home Front officials told Ynet that some 400 rockets have been fired at the area surrounding Gaza since the beginning of 2008. Golan briefed the MKs on the Home Front’s plan for the fortification of the region, which includes building secured rooms in 3,180 houses in Sderot and its neighboring communities.

News in Brief II
Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of nine Qassam rockets at the western Negev yesterday, one of which struck the yard of a Sderot house. There were no injuries, but one woman was lightly hurt when she fell on her way to take shelter. Two of the rockets struck near an infirmary in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council kibbutz. The strike caused some damage, and four people were treated for shock. Two more rockets struck open fields in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, causing no injuries or damage. (Mijal Grinberg) Mauritanian authorities have released eight people who had been detained in connection with an attack this month on the Israel Embassy in this northwest Africa nation, officials said yesterday. Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa claimed responsibility for the Feb. 1 shooting attack. (AP) Foreign Ministry Director General Aharon Abramowitz yesterday accused visiting...

The Israeli army kills a 10 year old boy in central Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 2/19/2008
A Palestinian child was shot and killed when the Israeli army opened fire at Palestinian homes located in the central Gaza strip city of Dier Al Balah on Tuesday evening. Medical sources identified the child as Tamer Abu Sha’ar, 10 years old. Witnesses said that Israeli troops invaded the area, when confronted with local resistance men troops opened fire at nearby homes and killed the child. Israeli army sources told the media that a small group of troops invaded Dier Al Balah and took over rooftops of local homes, where the soldiers said that they opened fire at Palestinians. Sha’ar is the second Palestinian to be killed by Israeli army fire in the coastal region today. A Palestinian resistance fighter of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s armed wing, was shot dead and another was wounded on the central Gaza-Israel border early on Tuesday.

Resistance fighter killed in clashes with Israeli forces in Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A 25-year-old resistance fighter was shot dead during clashes with Israeli forces, east of Dir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday, Palestinian medical sources said. Mu’awiyya Hassanein, head of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian ministry of health told our correspondent that fighter Ismail Jadallah was taken to Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Hospital in Dir Al-Balah. The National Resistance Brigades, the military wing of the Democratic Front, confirmed that Jadallah was one of their members and he was killed during armed clashes with Israeli forces. Meanwhile, the National Resistance Brigades and the Abu Rish Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, claimed they clashed with an Israeli special force east of the Kisufim Israeli military base. They said they attacked the force, firing bullets and homemade bombs on Tuesday at dawn.

Resistance fighter killed while confronting IOF incursion
Palestinian Information Center 2/19/2008
DEIR AL-BALAH, (PIC)-- A Palestinian resistance fighter was killed and another was injured in confrontations on Tuesday with IOF special units trying to infiltrate east of Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza Strip. Medical and security sources told PIC correspondent that Ismail Jadallah, 22, of the Ahmed Abul Reesh Brigades, an offshoot of the AMB the armed wing of Fatah, was killed while another affiliated with the National Resistance Brigades, the DFLP armed wing, was wounded. Both armed wings issued a joint communiqué affirming that their fighters engaged an infiltrating IOF unit with machineguns and grenades while trying to plant an explosive device east of Kissufim in central Gaza at dawn Tuesday. Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, Egypt has reportedly summoned the Israeli ambassador to Cairo to protest the firing of an IOF bomb at its territory.

IDF kills Palestinian gunman in Gaza
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 2/19/2008
Terrorist opens fire at Givati fighters operating in Strip; soldiers shoot him to death - Givati Brigade fighters killed an armed Palestinian who opened fire at them Tuesday morning, near the Kissufim crossing in the central Gaza Strip. The force fired back at the terrorist, attacked and killed him. A Kalashnikov rifle and a vest were found on his body. This is the brigade fighters’ first encounter with a terrorist after not operating in the area for several months. The soldiers, who are more familiar with the Gaza Strip than any other IDF brigade, have recently been training in the Golan Heights, as part of the lessons being drawn from the Second Lebanon War. The Givati fighters replace Golani soldiers who had been in charge of most of the IDF’s activity in the Strip until recently.

Al-Aqsa Brigades claim responsibility for shooting at a settler bus near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Nablus - Ma’an – The Al-Aqsa Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, took responsibility Tuesday evening for shooting at a settlers’ bus near Beta intersection, South of Nablus, in the northern West Bank. In a telephone call to our reporter in Nablus, Al-Aqsa Brigades spokesperson Abu Mujahed said that one of the Brigades’ groups was able to fire shots at a red bus, with the license plate number "101." Abu Mujahed claimed that the bus was full of settlers, and that some of the passengers were injured. Abu Mujahed also said that the group returned to their base safely. He also added that this operation comes as a response to what he sees as ongoing crimes committed by the occupation against the Palestinian people. The occupation authorities confirmed the incident and claimed that the bus was hit and some material damage was caused.

A Palestinian home-made shell lands in an Israeli poultry
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 2/19/2008
Israeli media sources reported Tuesday that a Palestinian homemade shell landed in an Israeli poultry in the southern Israeli settlement of Ashkelon beach, causing a great deal of damage. The Mojahideen Brigades, a Gaza-based resistance group, claimed responsibility for firing a homemade shell onto the Ashkelon town, which Palestinians call Asqalan, on Tuesday morning. In a statement, faxed to press, the Mojahideen brigades said that this homemade shell fire was a retaliation to the continued Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Israel has placed Gaza under a strict closure of border crossings since June of last year, causing Gaza’s economy to sink in deep recession, with more than 90 percent of local industries closed, leaving 7000 local laborers jobless, according to the Palestinian economy ministry.

Palestinian security arrest 7 Hamas members
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Hamas said on Tuesday that the Palestinian security services, affiliated to the Fatah-led government based in the West Bank, arrested 7 Hamas affiliates on Monday evening. They said in a statement that four arrestees were from the village of Atteel near Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, and three from the village of Talluza near Nablus in the northern West Bank. The statement added that Palestinian security services stormed mosques in the northern West Bank village of Deir Al-Ghusoon and confiscated computers and Hamas flags. [end]

ISRAEL-OPT: UN humanitarian chief says Gaza situation "grim"
JC Tordai/OCHA, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2/20/2008
JERUSALEM, 19 February 2008 (IRIN) - John Holmes, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, has said he is shocked by the "grim and miserable" situation in the Gaza Strip, and he called for the opening of crossing points into the enclave and for Palestinian militants to stop rocket fire into Israel. Wrapping up a five-day trip on 18 February, he said he had come to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) to see the situation on the ground and do what he could to increase movement into and out of Gaza. "The conditions in Gaza are grim and miserable and are not in accordance with the standards of human dignity," Holmes told reporters in Jerusalem. He expressed concern about the quality of nutrition, especially amongst children, noting that 73 percent of the population received food aid, and levels of dependency were rising. Water quality and availability had declined, he said.

Woman dies after being denied passage through Israeli checkpoint
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 2/19/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have started enforcing stringent restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, which hasn’t witnessed such restrictions in years. It has become noticeable that movement between different West Bank governorates is nearly impossible. This renewed siege has led to the death of a Palestinian woman by heart attack after IOF prevented the ambulance carrying her from reaching its hospital destination. In addition, IOF prevented the woman’s relatives from reaching the ambulance. PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that in the evening hours of Wednesday, 13 February 2008, IOF closed tens of roads and agricultural roads with large boulders and earth barriers. In addition, IOF erected checkpoints on main roads, especially in the northern West Bank. Furthermore, IOF redeployed in old checkpoints such as the Bathan checkpoint northeast of Nablus and the Itzhar settlement checkpoint south of the city.

Petition accuses Israel of blocking Gaza kids from joining parents in Ramallah
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Israel is preventing four children in the Gaza Strip from joining their parents in Ramallah. The children, aged 3 to 16, have been alone in the Gaza Strip since September 2007 when their mother went to the West Bank for medical treatment and did not return. The High Court of Justice is now debating a petition filed at the end of January by the Center for the Defense of the Individual against the Interior Ministry and IDF, to enable the children to join their parents. Mohamed and Amal al-Adaluni lived in Gaza from 1994. In 2002, al-Adaluni was diagnosed with Behcet’s syndrome, an infectious disease that affects the body’s immune system. In the absence of treatment for her condition in the Strip, she received permits from the Israeli authorities to travel to Ramallah for treatment. In January 2007, the father, an employee of the Palestinian aviation ministry, was moved to a Ramallah position.

Report: IOF troops killed more than 195 Palestinians at military checkpoints
Palestinian Information Center 2/19/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The international Tadamun (solidarity) society for human rights revealed that IOF troops had killed more than 195 Palestinians at military checkpoints spread in Gaza Strip and the West Bank since the beginning of the Aqsa Intifada in September 2000 as a result of its arbitrary measures especially against patients and elderly people. The Tadamun society pointed out that the IOF troops deliberately delay the Palestinian citizens at its barriers at the pretext of security measures. The society underlined that these Israeli violations are classified as war crimes against the Palestinian civilians because they are contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians at wartime. The society stated that the repeated calls and appeals of human rights organizations did not alleviate the suffering of Palestinian citizens stuck at Israeli barriers,...

Israeli peace activists bring in food assistance to the besieged Gaza
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 2/19/2008
A convoy of food assistance, provided by a group of Israeli peace activists, entered Gaza on Tuesday, through the Israeli-controlled commercial crossing of Sufa in southern Gaza. The convoy, which is made up of food assistance and water filters for hospitals, has been sent by Israeli peace activists and human rights groups in Israel, as Gaza faces a crippling Israeli closure since June of last year. Israeli activists who escorted the convoy to the borders of Gaza, such as Uri Avneri, former Israeli lawmaker, said that the purpose of such a convoy ’ is breaking the Israeli siege of Gaza’, branding such a siege as ’ immoral and inconsistent with the humanitarian international law. In Gaza, Dr. Iyad aL-Saraj, chairman of Gaza’s mental health program and in charge of the international-Palestinian campaign for breaking the siege, was quoted by media outlets as saying " we in Gaza...

London School of Economics student union votes for divestment
Press Release, LSE SU Palestine Society, Electronic Intifada 2/19/2008
The London School of Economics Students’ Union (LSESU) on 14 February voted overwhelmingly to call on its university and the National Union of Students (NUS) to divest from companies that provide military and commercial support for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, condemning the decades of human rights abuses and systematic oppression that has occurred as a result. A motion, brought to the weekly Union General Meeting of more than 400 LSE students by the LSESU Palestine Society, resolved to lobby the LSE and NUS to divest from companies that provide military support for the Israeli occupation, facilitate the maintenance of the illegal "annexation" wall or operate on illegally occupied land or within Jewish only settlements. With a six to one margin, the Union voted to support the aim of targeted divestment until companies cease such practices or until Israel ends its discriminatory oppression and colonization of Palestinian communities.

Zionist Council of Israel: Israeli Arabs must be ’unswervingly’ loyal to state
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Israel’s Arab citizens must be unswervingly loyal to the state, condemn anti-Israeli terror and fulfill their duties through national civilian service, the Zionist Council in Israel contends in a draft document on Israel’s policy toward its Arab minority. The council also proposes Israeli Arabs enjoy cultural autonomy and budgets appropriate to their population. In the coming months, the document will be sent for discussion to Jewish Agency institutions and the Zionist Executive, with the object of formulating a unified policy on Israel’s relations with its Arab minority. It was written by the director-general of the Zionist Council, Moshe Ben Attar, for discussion by members of its strategic forum. The council is the main executive arm of the World Zionist Organization, and was founded in 1970 to strengthen the Zionist elements of Israeli society.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator ends Middle East mission
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ReliefWeb 2/18/2008
John Holmes, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, today concluded a five-day visit to the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel with a series of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah to discuss the situation in Gaza and the closure regime in the West Bank. In Jerusalem, Mr. Holmes met the Director of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, in Ramallah, he held meetings with the Chief of Staff of the Palestinian President and with the Palestinian Prime Minister. He also held a meeting with United Nations humanitarian partners to discuss the strengthening of aid coordination. ’Medical services in Gaza are deteriorating, private industry has more or less collapsed, and there are real worries about education,’ Mr.

UNRWA Commissioner-General’s statement: 60 years later - The challenge of Palestine refugee camps within their Arab host communities
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 2/12/2008
American University of Beirut, 12 February 2008 Friends, colleagues and students of the American University of Beirut, the Issam Fares Institute and the Center for Behavioral Research: Thank you for inviting me to this inaugural event for your research project on "Public policy and governance challenges of Palestinian Refugee Camps in the Arab World". I commend you for taking this initiative to address a topic that demands attention in this part of the world. With the everyday pressures of delivering services to refugees, we in UNRWA tend to have little time to give to important questions lying beneath the surface of our daily tasks. However, we fully recognize the value of research and intellectual inquiry. As our resources do not allow us to do much of this ourselves, we grasp every chance to support and encourage-and share the results of--this kind of work.

EU Envoy slams Israel for not easing West Bank restrictions
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 2/20/2008
The European Union Ambassador to Israel, Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal, criticized Israel on Monday for not easing the restrictions on the occupied West Bank, and added that Israel should have more faith in the Palestinian Authority. The French Press Agency reported that Cibrian told reporters in Jerusalem that the "European Union is not comfortable with the Israeli actions in the West Bank". The agency added that the Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salaam Fayyad, is an exceptional partner for peace but the Israel army is not easing the restrictions in the West Bank. "We would like to see Israel at least thinking about lifting some of the restrictions in the West Bank". He stated, "We would like to see a sort of relations with the Palestinian Authority". Fayyad was appointed as a PM by president Abbas after the Hamas movement overtook the Gaza Strip last June.

Olmert and Abbas agree to pick up pace of peace talks
Daily Star 2/20/2008
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed on Tuesday to accelerate peace talks, despite differences over how quickly to tackle the thorny issue of Occupied Jerusalem, Israeli officials said. "Israel is committed to discussing all core issues," Olmert spokesman Mark Regev said after the leaders met in Jerusalem, adding negotiators would meet on an "almost daily" basis. Regev said Olmert was "very clear" earlier this week when he asserted that Abbas had accepted an Israeli suggestion to delay talks on Jerusalemuntil the end of negotiations on Palestinian statehood. He declined to say whether the prime minister had changed his position after Palestinians this week insisted that Abbas had made no such commitment. An Israeli source familiar with the talks said: "The issue of Jerusalem did not come up in the discussion.

Hamas reiterates opposition to Abbas-Olmert meetings
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 2/19/2008
The ruling Hamas movement in Gaza reiterated Tuesday its opposition to meetings between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert. Hamas’s spokesperson in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, cast doubts to concrete results out of such meetings, saying in a statement to press, that the meetings are only intended at bolstering Abbas’s position vis-à-vis Palestinian resistance groups, which reject recognition of Israel. Barhoum’s remarks came few hours before the two leaders meet later today in the Jerusalem’s residence of Olmert. The Hamas’s spokesman viewed Abbas’s repeated meetings with Olmert as ’ a hegemony by Abbas over Palestinian politics, reinforcement of underway division of Palestinians as well as recognition of Israel as a ’Jewish state’. Barhoum also confirmed that such meetings happen to be held right after an Israeli crime whether in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, in order to have such crimes covered.

With negotiations taking place in secret, analysts left guessing about the outcome
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - There have been at least 20 meetings between the Palestinian delegation headed by former Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei and the Israeli delegation headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni since the Annapolis conference that was held in the United States last November. In addition, there were at least five meetings held between the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during the same period. This means that 50 hours of negotiations have been held between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Now the question on political analysts minds is, did the two parties achieve anything in these meetings? With the meetings taking place in secret to shield the negotiations from day-to-day political pressure, one Israeli television station made the following analogy: "Olmert and Abbas are cooking the chicken and are hiding it in the freezer because the table is not yet ready for the meal.

The Islamic Jihad: Abbas-Olmert meeting beautifies the occupation
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 2/19/2008
The Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine opposed Tuesday’s meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The movement said that only Israel will benefit from the meeting due to the state of internal division among Palestinians, and the lack of a unified Arab and Palestinian political agenda. Khalid Al Batsh, a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the Abbas-Olmert meeting "only enhnces the occupation and weakens the resistance",. He demanded Abbas to immediately stop such meetings because they (the meetings) are not producing any good and only further weakening the Palestinians". Al Batsh’s statement also made clear that the meeting "will not lift the siege Israel is imposing on Gaza or stop the attacks by the Israeli army against the coastal region, therefore it is the Palestinians who loose and the Israels who gain".

Hamas: Abbas-Olmert meetings are futile
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas reiterated its view on Tuesday that the bilateral meetings between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prim Minister Ehud Olmert will yield no meaningful results. Abbas and Olmert are scheduled to resume their meetings on Tuesday. Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said, "These meetings support the line of thinking that president Abbas tries to get Israeli support to maintain superiority over Hamas and other resistance factions which refused to recognize Israel." According to Barhoum, "Abbas’ unilateral decisions on core Palestinian issues benefit the Israel-American attempts to maintain the state of disagreement between the Palestinians for the best of the Israeli entity." He added that the Abbas-Olmert meetings usually follow criminal Israeli acts against the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip seeking to provide political cover for those Israeli violations.

Caretaker gov’t calls on Abbas to stop his frivolous meetings with Olmert
Palestinian Information Center 2/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The caretaker government headed by Ismail Haneyya called on PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, who is due to meet with Olmert on Tuesday, to stop his frivolous meetings with the Israeli occupation which persists in its crimes against the Palestinian people and in its schemes to judaize occupied Jerusalem. In a statement to the Palestine newspaper published on Tuesday, Taher Al-Nunu, the spokesman for the government, stated that this meeting is a continuation of the useless meetings that give the Israeli occupation the pretext to continue its aggression and terrorism against the Palestinian people. For his part, Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, the spokesman for the Hamas parliamentary bloc, opined on Monday that Abbas’s repeated meetings with Israeli premier Ehud Olmert despite the ongoing Israeli aggression on Gaza and the West Bank are part of the Zio-American agenda to eliminate the Palestinian resistance.

Fayyad: Palestinian-Israel negotiations will not reach a peace deal this year
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 2/19/2008
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad stated his doubts on Tuesday over the progress Palestinian-Israeli talks will achieve in reaching a peace deal this year. Prime Minister Fayyad revealed that his doubts stem from the slow pace of the talks. His statement came during a meeting with American Jewish leaders in the US capital, Washington DC. The prime minister began an official visit to the USA last week, in an attempt to speed up the US$ 7. 4Bn financial support pledged to the Palestinian Authority during December"™s donor conference in Paris. In a related issue, Prime Minister Fayyad announced that the conference for international investors, called for by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown several months ago, will take place in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem in mid March 2008. "œThe aim of the conference," said Prime Minister Fayyad, "œis to empower the Palestinian economy".

Prime minister Haniyeh of Hamas appeals to the Arab league’s chief
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 2/19/2008
Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haaniyeh of Hamas, appealed yesterday to the chief of Arab states league, Amr Mousa, for the sake of supporting the besieged Gaza Strip, where Hamas holds sway. In a letter, sent out to Amr Mousa, Haniyeh maintained " you are well-aware of the Israeli crimes being committed against our people in Gaza, the latest of which was leveling a residential building and further reducing fuel shipments to population". The Palestinian PM confirmed that his cabinet has been closely following up a series of Arab league’s meetings and decisions, particularly the latest Arab foreign ministers’ meeting. "We wonder as to why such meetings and decisions have not so far helped lift the suffering of the Palestinian people under the Israeli occupation aggression?" , Haniya wondered in his letter.

Haniyeh calls on Arab League to support besieged Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Deposed Palestinian Prime Minister of the Gaza-based de facto government Isma’il Haniyeh on Tuesday called on the Arab League to offer support to the besieged Gaza Strip. Haniyeh’s demand came in a letter he sent to the Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Mousa describing "the daily Israeli atrocities along with the siege imposed on the Strip." "We watched the last meeting between the Arab foreign minister and the decisions which came out of that meeting regarding Palestine in general and the Gaza Strip in particular. Our question in this regard is: What is the Arab League’s standpoint on the daily killing of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as well as the Israeli preparation for a major invasion against the Gaza Strip? How will the Arab League react if they need to leash the Israeli occupation’s aggression against the Gaza Strip? " Haniyeh’s letter read.

Haneyya asks Mousa for urgent aid
Palestinian Information Center 2/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, has asked Arab League secretary general Amre Mousa to expedite assistance to the Gaza Strip after the League’s ministerial council declared it a "disaster area". Haneyya in a message to Mousa on Monday evening asked about the League’s plan to implement this decision and the earlier one of breaking the siege on Gaza. "Our people are looking forward to their Arab brothers and waiting for their support," he said, hoping that the League decisions would not be shelved. The premier had started his letter with a review of the Israeli daily aggressions on the Palestinian people that culminated in the murder of entire families other than the gradual reduction in supply of electricity and fuel. Haneyya asked what the League would do in face of such unending IOF "savagery" and plans of invading the Strip.

Hamas ’slams Kuwait’ for approval of Mughniyya assassination
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hamas is aggressively criticizing the government of Kuwait for expressing approval of the assassination of Hezbollah’s military leader, Imad Mughniyya, last week, the Kuwaiti daily newspaper Alseyassah reported on Tuesday. According to the newspaper, Hamas said in a statement: "While the war of extermination against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli occupation go on, the stupid people in Kuwait came up with a declaration in public expressing their extreme happiness over the assassination of the Muslim Arab leader Hajj Imad Mughniyya, who offered support to Palestine and the Palestinian people more than the whole Arab world." The Kuwaiti newspaper added that Hamas’ statement slammed the Emir of Kuwait arguing that the Kuwaiti people have been known for diverging from an ideology of resistance against Israel and the United States.

Livni: I think of Temple Mount prayers during negotiations
Neta Sela, YNetNews 2/19/2008
Foreign minister tells Jerusalem Conference she approaches talks with Palestinians with ’tears of paratroopers at the Western Wall’ in her mind. ’Time is not on Israel’s side, and we will eventually have to concede parts of the country,’ she adds - The tears of the paratroopers at the Western Wall and the Temple Mount prayers accompany me in the negotiations room, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday at the opening session of fifth annual Jerusalem Conference held at the Hyatt Hotel in the capital. During the session, which was dedicated to the Jerusalem issue, the minister said that "as the person holding negotiations on behalf of Israel, I do not accept the distinction between Right and Left. "We all have a common denominator, and I do not accept the differentiation between those who seek peace and those who love the Land of Israel.

Khater: IOA uninterested in reaching real, reciprocal calm with the Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 2/19/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Senior Hamas political leader and member of its political bureau Sami Khater has asserted on Tuesday that the Palestinian resistance factions were ready to positively deal with any serious initiative to reach reciprocal Tahdea (truce) with the Israeli occupation government. But he explained that the Israeli occupation government was the party that always rejects to reciprocate the truce and insists instead to continue its aggressions against the Palestinian civilians. "May be [Israeli premier Ehud] Olmert has a personal interest in calming it down with the Palestinians; but he wanted that truce to be at the expense of the Palestinian people which the Palestinian people will never accept as we have all the right to defend ourselves against the Israeli terrorism in the West Bank and Gaza Strip", said Khater in an interview with the PIC.

German intellectuals: Israel’s creation made Palestinians victims of Holocaust
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
A group of visiting German intellectuals called on Berlin on Monday to change what they termed its Holocaust-rooted blind support of Israel, saying the creation of the State of Israel turned Palestinians into victims of the Nazi Holocaust as well. The four, Dr. Reiner Steinweg, Prof. Gert Krell, Prof. Georg Meggle, and Jorg Becker, took part in a debate Monday evening at the Netanya Academic College on the future of German-Israeli relations. They were among 25 signatories to a petition on the issue that was circulated in the German media following the Second Lebanon War. According to the manifesto, German responsibility toward the Palestinians is "one side of the consequences of the Holocaust which receives far too little attention." The paper goes on toargue that it was the Holocaust which Germany perpetrated that brought about "the...

German professors: No more preferential treatment for Israel
Natasha Mozgovaya, YNetNews 2/19/2008
In debate held at Netanya Academic College, professors state modern day Germany "˜has paid its debt in full to the Jewish people"™ - These are words that have been brewing just below the surface in Germany for quite a while, and now they were uttered aloud, right here in Israel. In a conference held Monday at Netanya"™s Academic College, German professors asserted that their country "œshould stop giving the Sate of Israel preferential treatment". This statement comes at the heels of a manifesto, recently published by 25 German scholars, which maintained that Germany must be more "˜balanced"™ in its political relations with Israel and its Arab neighbors. The aforementioned professors stated that Germany helped strengthen the burgeoning State of Israel by deporting 160,000 German Jews during the Nazi reign.

IDF: Reinforcing private homes in Sderot is our last priority
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Israel Defense Forces GOC Home Front Command Yair Golan said on Tuesday that reinforcing private homes in Sderot and other Gaza border communities is at the bottom of the IDF’s priority list. Golan, who was speaking at a Knesset State Control Committee discussion, told the committee members that the IDF attempted to list the priorities clearly. "First and foremost, we are investing in our ability to alert [ahead of the Qassams], and after that, reinforcing public areas," according to the NRG website. He presented the committee with statistics, including the fact that during 2006, 1,488 Qassam rockets were fired towards Israel in contrast to the 1,150 that were fired in 2007. Golan maintained that the twelve people killed by the Qassam rockets over the years were hit while exposed in open areas, and not in their private houses.

VIDEO - "Hizbullah planning to murder Israeli minister"
Itamar Eichner, YNetNews 2/19/2008
(Video) Following assassination of senior organization commander Imad Mugniyah, Shin Bet decides to increase security around Israeli ministers during official visits abroad, as well as private vacations - VIDEO - The Shin Bet has decided that Israeli ministers will be accompanied by security guards during their private vacations abroad, following the assassination of Hizbullah commander Imad Mugniyah last week, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday. Video courtesy of Infolive. tv The General Security Service has improved the ministers’ security procedures for fear that Hizbullah would attempt to avenge the killing, and the new instructions have been relayed to security officers at the various government offices. The main fear is that the Shiite Islamic fundamentalist organization would target a minister, a Knesset member or a current or former defense official.

Palestine Today 021908
Ghassan Bannoura- Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center 2/19/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Tuesday February 19th, 2008. As the Palestinian and Israeli leaders meet in Jerusalem, the Israeli army clashes with the Palestinian resistance in Gaza and kills one, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast A Palestinian resistance fighter of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s armed wing, was shot dead and another was wounded on the central Gaza-Israel border line early on Tuesday. Medical sources identified the killed as Ismail Jadallah, and the democratic front confirmed he was killed during an armed clash with the Israeli soldiers manning the border line. In a statement, faxed to the press, the democratic front said that Jadallah was shot dead whilst...

IRAQ: No solution in sight for Palestinian refugees stranded at border
Google Maps, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2/20/2008
BAGHDAD, 19 February 2008 (IRIN) - Palestinian refugees trapped in three makeshift camps along the Iraqi-Syrian border are living in very precarious conditions and their situation is deteriorating by the day, a senior Palestinian diplomat said on 18 February. "œThe Palestinian refugees"¦ along the Syrian border are experiencing a very grave social, health and humanitarian situation," Dalil al-Qasous, the Palestinian chargé d"™affaires in Baghdad, told IRIN. "œAs they enter their third year of living on the borders, they continue to face low desert temperatures during the winter and [now] the coming sandstorms"¦ and no solution is in sight," al-Qasous said. The three camps are: al-Walid camp on the Iraqi side of the border where about 1,560 Palestinians have sought shelter; al-Tanf in no-man’s-land between Iraq and Syria which currently accommodates some 489; and al-Hol camp in al-Hassekeh Governorate, just inside Syria, which was set up in May 2006 and home to over 300.

The Islamic Jihad slams human rights groups over reports on aL-Buraij blast
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 2/19/2008
The Islamic Jihad group in Gaza slammed Tuesday two Gaza-based human rights groups over reports on the latest bombing of a residential building in the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of aL-Buraij. " what has been reported by the aL-Mizan center and the human rights center over the latest Israeli massacre in aL-Buraij camp, is totally untrue", Abu Ahmad, spokesman of the Saraya aL-Quds, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, said in a statement, faxed to press. Abu Ahmad attacked the two human rights groups by saying that their recent reports aimed at pressuring the Palestinian resistance with every possible means, alleging that all indications stress that the bombing of aL-Buraij’s house was done by the Israeli occupation. In their reports, both human groups called for opening an investigation to the circumstances of the bombing, casting doubts over Palestinian claims that the house was shelled by the Israeli army warplanes.

Islamic Jihad, Palestinian rights groups at odds over deadly Gaza blast
Reuters, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Islamic Jihad criticized Palestinian human rights groups on Tuesday for saying they found no evidence that the Israel Defense Forces was responsible for a blast that killed eight people, including a commander of the group, in Gaza last week. "There is no evidence to confirm that the explosion was caused by rocket or aerial bombardment by Israeli occupation forces, as mentioned in some media outlets," the Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR) and al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said in a joint statement on Monday. "It is more likely that it was an internal explosion - the circumstances of which are unclear as of yet," the two groups said. Senior Islamic Jihad commander Ayman al-Fayed and seven other people, including his wife and two children, were killed in a blast on Friday that destroyed his home and two other nearby houses in Gaza’s al-Bureij refugee camp.

Egypt police kill Sudanese migrant on Israel border
Reuters, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Egyptian police shot dead a Sudanese migrant and detained eight others trying to cross Egypt’s border illegally and enter Israel, security officials said on Tuesday. Sinai is the main route for traffickers trying to take mainly African migrants into Israel for work or asylum. Security officials said, on a customary condition of anonymity, that police shot Ermeniry Khasheef in the back as he attempted to cross the border south of the Sinai peninsula town of Rafah, ignoring orders to stop. Police also detained a Nepalese man and woman, two Eritreans and four Chinese also trying to cross into Israel illegally, the officials said. Police fatally shot an Eritrean woman on the border last week and detained her two daughters. Related articles: Eritrean refugee killed trying to enter Israel illegally from Egypt...

YMCA headquarters attacked in Gaza City
Press Release, Various undersigned, Electronic Intifada 2/16/2008
The undersigned civil society organizations utterly condemn an attack on the YMCA headquarters in Gaza City in the early hours of the morning of 15 February 2008. Unidentified militants broke into the YMCA headquarters, planted explosive devices and subsequently completely destroyed the library. The undersigned organizations ask the dismissed government to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into this crime, which is a continuation of a number of similar attacks targeting national, cultural and civil society organizations in the Gaza Strip. This crime also represents a continuation of security chaos across the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). The YMCA is considered one of the outstanding national institutions in the OPT, and is also one of the most prominent civil society organizations offering social, cultural and sports facilities.

European humanitarian official from DG-ECHO visits UNRWA’s job creation programme in West Bank
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 2/12/2008
West Bank, 12 February 2008 - A winding road through verdant hills of sprawling cactus leads to Budrus, a small village northwest of Ramallah near the Green Line. Budrus was the first destination of a visit by Mr. Steffen Stenberg, Director of Operations of the European Commission’s humanitarian arm, DG-ECHO, to view UNRWA emergency operations in the West Bank. Several villagers were busy at work on a second floor addition to an elementary school when Mr. Stenberg arrived to meet with UNRWA officials and the head of the village council. Twenty local workers are employed here on one-month rotations by UNRWA’s emergency Job Creation Programme (JCP). Adjacent to the school stands a green-domed mausoleum and a well upgraded for drinking water, both of which are the result of JCP projects. Looking out from the roof top the Barrier is clearly visible, the construction of which has caused land to be confiscated from the village.

Israel fears Hizbullah will target officials abroad
Daily Star 2/20/2008
Israeli Cabinet ministers will now be escorted by security guards during private visits abroad after Hizbullah warned it would retaliate to avenge the killing of its top commander, the Israeli Yediot Ahronot daily reported Monday. It said the domestic security agency Shin Beth, which is also responsible for protection abroad, ordered the measures for fear Hizbullah would target a minister, an MP or a current or former defense official. The report carried by Ynet news, the English-language Web site from Yediot Group, said the new security procedure has already been put in place. Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah threatened during the funeral of the Shiite group’s top commander Imad Mughniyeh Thursday to fight Israel anywhere in the world. Mughniyeh was killed in a car bombing in Damascus last week. Israel’s anti-terrorist office has already advised citizens abroad to take extra precautions after Nasrallah’s threats.

Lebanon bracing itself for possible Hezbollah attack against Israel
Yoav Stern Yuval Azoulay and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Tensions are growing in Lebanon over the possibility of renewed fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. Bracing itself for the likelihood of Hezbollah retaliation for the assassination of terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyah in Damascus last week, Israel yesterday deployed Patriot air defense missiles near Haifa. Rhetoric between rival factions in Lebanon has reached a new peak with Druze leader Walid Jumblat accusing Hezbollah in an editorial to be published today in his party’s journal, Al Anba, of serving Syrian interests at Lebanon’s expense in its war against Israel. "Lebanon continues to be the arena where wars break out according to their [Hezbollah’s] calculations, interests and circumstances, as if the occupied Syrian territory [Golan Heights] is not suitable for such campaign." The recent statements by Hezbollah’s secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, that the Second Lebanon...

Lebanon tensions grow amid specter of renewed Israel-Hezbollah fighting
Yoav Stern Yuval Azoulay and Barak Ravids and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Tensions are growing in Lebanon over the possibility of renewed fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in the wake of the assassination of terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyah in Damascus last week. Bracing itself for the likelihood of Hezbollah retaliation, Israel on Monday deployed Patriot air defense missiles near Haifa. Rhetoric between rival factions in Lebanon has reached a new peak with Druze leader Walid Jumblat accusing Hezbollah in an editorial to be published Tuesday in his party’s journal, Al Anba, of serving Syrian interests at Lebanon’s expense in its war against Israel. "Lebanon continues to be the arena where wars break out according to their [Hezbollah’s] calculations, interests and circumstances, as if the occupied Syrian territory [Golan Heights] is not suitable for such campaign."

Olmert: We didn’t discuss Jerusalem; Palestinians: Yes we did
Ali Waked, YNetNews 2/19/2008
Prime minister says Jerusalem wasn’t discussed during Tuesday’s meeting with Abbas; Palestinian version completely different - Who’s telling the truth? Despite Israeli claims that the issue of Jerusalem was not discussed in Tuesday’s meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian officials presented a completely different version. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that "the meeting dealt with all the issues pertaining to a final-status agreement, including Jerusalem." A senior Palestinian source added that "we’re not talking about the snow in Jerusalem, but rather, we’re talking about the settlement activity in Jerusalem." Erekat said the meeting featured in depth discussions and stressed that Israel reiterated its obligation to discuss the so-called "core issues" "“ borders, Jerusalem, settlements, and refugees.

Hamas: Abbas-Olmert meetings carry catastrophic results on Palestinian rights
Palestinian Information Center 2/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Tuesday warned that meetings between PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli premier Ehud Olmert carry catastrophic results on the Palestinian people’s rights and constants, noting that each time they follow an IOF crime in an apparent attempt to cover it up. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said that Abbas is seeking Israeli backing to strengthen his position against Hamas and other resistance factions that refuse to recognize occupation or to negotiate with it. Abbas is taking unilateral decisions during those meetings in a way serving Israeli and American projects that target deepening inter-Palestinian rift and endorsing Israel as a "Jewish state", he elaborated. For its part, the Islamic Jihad Movement stressed its absolute rejection of such meetings, underlining that the "Zionist enemy" is the sole party benefiting from those meetings in the...

UN holds conference on humanitarian assistance for Palestinians
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 2/19/2008
AMMAN, Feb 19, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX) - The United Nations (UN) opened a conference here on Tuesday to discuss humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians and ways to aid the development of a future Palestinian state. The conference, which was hosted by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Jordanian government, was held in accordance with a UN General Assembly mandate to mobilize assistance and international support for the Palestinian people, a UN statement said. In the last several months, political, economic and social conditions have continued to deteriorate in the occupied Palestinian territories. More than half of all Palestinians live in poverty and basic humanitarian needs continue to be unmet, the statement said. Palestinian aid is crucial not only on a humanitarian level, but also to support the political...

PLC criminalizes any relinquishing of Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 2/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PLC unanimously approved on Tuesday in its second reading a bill criminalizing and prohibiting the relinquishing of Jerusalem and referred it in accordance with article 70 of basic law to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas for approval. According to the same article of basic law, if the bill is not responded to during a legal period of one month, it becomes legally binding and will be published in the official journal. In the opening session, Dr. Ahmed Bahar, the acting speaker of the PLC, strongly denounced the Israeli excavations under the Aqsa Mosque and the settlement activities in occupied Jerusalem with the aim of Judaizing it and emptying it from its native people. Dr. Bahar called on the PA chief to respect the blood of the Palestinian martyrs and to stop his frivolous meetings with the Israeli occupation which provide it with a cover up for committing more...

Olmert - Abbas met in J’lem, Livni: "Israel shouldn’t play any role in the refugees issue"
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 2/19/2008
Following the Abbas-Olmert Tuesday meeting in Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister, head of the Israeli Negotiations Team, Tzipi Livni, stated that Israel should not play any role in resolving the issue of the Palestinian refugees. This statement observed as an official attempt by Israel not to recognize its responsibility for the displacement of the refugees, and violates all related security council and general assembly resolutions. In a conference in Jerusalem, Livni said that any final solution with the Palestinians should lead to a Jewish State and a Palestinian state, but Israel should not do anything regarding the return of the Palestinian refugees. She added that the Palestinian State should be the final and comprehensive solution to the refugees wherever they are and Israel will be the "National House for All Jews".

Egyptian officials meet with Hamas on Gaza-Egypt border security
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
EL-ARISH, Egypt - A Hamas delegation met Tuesday with Egyptian officials at the Rafah border terminal in an effort to try to open the border and tighten security, officials said. The meeting was held approximately a month after Palestinian militants blew holes in parts of the wall separating Egypt from the Gaza Strip, prompting hundreds of thousands of Gazans to pour across the frontier out of the blockaded Strip. Egypt’s attempts to reseal the border spread out over nearly two weeks. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the two sides were discussing security arrangements along the border and possible ways to allow Palestinians still stuck in Egypt to cross back into the Gaza Strip. Egyptian security officials would only confirm that the meeting - the second one in a week - took place, but they would not provide details.

Secretary-General, in message to Amman seminar, says historic progress can be made towards Middle East peace with right mixture of wisdom, realism, political courage
United Nations Secretary-General, ReliefWeb 2/19/2008
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People, delivered by Robert H. Serry, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, in Amman, 19-20 February: I am delighted to send greetings to the participants in this United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People. You meet in the early months of a very important year for the Palestinian people and their long-denied legitimate aspirations for a viable, independent, sovereign, democratic State of Palestine in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, based on an end of the occupation that began in 1967.

Olmert puts Jerusalem ’last’
Al Jazeera 2/19/2008
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, are due to meet on Tuesday in an effort to renew peace talks. It has been less than three months since an attempted relaunch of the peace process in the US city of Annapolis, where the Bush administration pushed for a "commitment" to try to reach a deal by the end of 2008. But negotiations have stalled and violence is continuing in Gaza. In January, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators began talks on the "core issues" at the heart of the Middle East conflict - Jerusalem, borders and the continued building of settlements, refugees and the "right of return". Both sides have failed to agree on a deal that is suitable for Israel, and will contribute to the building of a Palestinian state.

Egypt sends 334 Palestinians back to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – 334 Gazan citizens, who had been held by the Egyptian authorities in the city of Al-Arish for more than ten days, returned to the Gaza Strip on Monday evening. Egyptian police had arrested them after they did not return to Gaza when the Rafah border was re-sealed earlier this month, following a brief period of unrestricted cross-border movement. Egyptian security sources said on Monday that police have arrested 500 people from the Gaza Strip in the northern Sinai district over the past four days, and that they would also be sent back to Gaza. The sources also added that the Egyptian police discovered 100 kilograms of explosives hidden in three plastic bags under the sand near the Egyptian city of Sheikh Zweid.

Fayyad announces entrepreneurs’ conference in Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Ramallah-based Palestinian government plans to hold a conference for entrepreneurs in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem in mid-May, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced on Tuesday. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had announced last January that the British and the US governments will participate in the conference. [end]

Positions clouded as Olmert-Abbas set for meeting
Mohammed Assadi, ReliefWeb 2/18/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Israeli and Palestinian leaders will meet for another session of peace negotiations in Jerusalem on Tuesday but conflicting statements by both parties have clouded the state of progress in the talks. Disputing comments by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the Palestinians say they have not agreed to put off talks on the future of Jerusalem until the end of the process, a senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday. Officials in the West Bank also responded sharply to the latest assurance by an Israeli minister, aimed at right-wingers in Olmert’s coalition, that the government had plans to press on with building Jewish settlements on Arab land around the city. Olmert said on Sunday Abbas had consented to hold off discussing any possible division of Jerusalem until the end of the negotiating...

Agha: PA decision to sell lands one of its most dangerous illegal decisions
Palestinian Information Center 2/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mohamed Al-Agha, the agriculture minister in the PA caretaker government in Gaza, strongly denounced on Tuesday the PA unconstitutional government in Ramallah for its decision to allow foreigners to purchase Palestinian plots of land, considering it one of its most dangerous illegal decisions. In a press release received by the PIC, Dr. Agha called for taking strong action to confront this decision, urging the Palestinian lawmakers, institutions and masses to organize protests to express their rejection of selling and brokering Palestinian lands. The minister lashed out at some officials in the PA government who alleged that the decision was issued in order to promote foreign investment and reclamation of agricultural lands.   The minister called on the Palestinian farmers in the West Bank to guard against this scheme and not to submit to the PA brokers who are...

’Maybe they’ll build it on moon’
Tani Goldstein, YNetNews 2/19/2008
Government official announces location of planned new Arab town, but MKs pessimistic - The new Arab town to be constructed in northern Israel will be built near the community of Jadida near Highway 70 in the Western Galilee region, Housing and Construction Ministry official Ilan Taichman announced Tuesday. Taichman said the plan includes the construction of 7,000 residential units and has already been approved by the district committee for planning and construction. He added that the plan to build a new Arab town near Highway 70 has been discussed for five years now, but it’s unclear why authorities delayed its implementation. However, several Knesset members said that even though they are lauding the initiative, they are skeptical on the prospects of the new town actually being built. Hadash Knesset Member Hanna Swaid said that "perhaps they’ll find...

Abbas meets with director of monitoring bureau
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with the director of the financial and administrative monitoring bureau Mahmoud Abu Ar-Rub and a delegation from the bureau on Tuesday. Abu Ar-Rub told the Palestinian News Agency WAFA that his bureau handed their yearly report to the Palestinian President. He emphasized that the report was focused on systems rather than individuals. The bureau made efforts in its Gaza-based and West Bank-based headquarters despite many impediments. The most noticeable results of the report was that their was no budget for 2006, which is unprecedented since the beginning of the Palestinian Authority. Furthermore, 58% of the Palestinian institutions did not respond to the bureau’s report during the era of the tenth Palestinian government (Hamas-led government) in 2006.

Metzger to resume position despite AG’s accusation of graft
Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger will end his suspension and return next month to his position as both a member of the Supreme Rabbinical Court and a member of the committee that appoints religious court judges, the Justice Ministry decided yesterday. The Justice Ministry’s appointments committee, headed by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, decided to ignore Attorney General Menachem Mazuz’s advice and unanimously endorsed Metzger’s decision to end his voluntary suspension. Metzger is expected to succeed Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar as president of the Supreme Rabbinical Court in six weeks. Metzger had been forced to suspend himself in April 2006, following the Ometz nonprofit’s petition to the High Court of Justice to order the justice minister to remove Metzger, as recommended by the attorney general.

January coldest in last 15 years
Tamara Traubmann, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Despite the current storm, this is not the harshest winter Israel has experienced in recent years, weather forecasters and climatologists agree. The forecasters were predicting snow in Jerusalem last night; if this indeed happened, it would be Jerusalem’s third snowfall of the season. But according to Nahum Malik of the Meteotech forecasting service, while "this is not something especially common, something that happens every year, neither is it exceptional." Amos Porat of the Israel Metorological Service said that Jerusalem gets two snowfalls a year about every five years. In the winter of 2000-2001, he noted, the city had snow three times, and in 1999-2000, it had four snowy days. In 1991-1992, an especially harsh winter, the capital had 10 days of snow. Both Malik and Porat attributed the general feeling that this winter has been especially severe not to the precipitation, but to last month’s unusual cold.

Jerusalem braces for rare snow rerun as storm approaches; Hermon ski site closed
Jonathan Lis and Zohar Blumenkrantz, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
Jerusalem yesterday braced for a rare second winter snowfall, as a storm that has blanketed parts of Greece and Turkey reached the Israeli coast yesterday evening. Today will start off cold and stormy with bursts of rain and hail across the country, but the weather will moderate as the day progresses. Snow was expected to fall last night on all mountains above 600 meters in the north and center of the country, and even in the Negev. The Jerusalem municipality is to announce this morning whether schools will be open today, after examining last night’s snowfall. The first flakes began falling in the north and in the Judean Hills yesterday afternoon, as temperatures across Israel dropped sharply. "It will come in force, in one gust," said meteorologist Boaz Dayan of the storm, which was forecast to send temperatures plunging as snow began to fall in the Hermon region and the Galilee highlands.

Heavy snowfall in the southern West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 2/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Snow began to fall on Monday evening at high altitudes and continued to fall on Tuesday morning across the southern West Bank. Snow fell heavily in Bethlehem, Hebron and Jerusalem. Ramallah and Al-Beira also woke up to a white world. Meanwhile, in the northern districts it is raining heavily, and the weather there is very cold. According to the forecast department, the weather will continue to be cold, cloudy and rainy with snow at higher altitudes until Tuesday afternoon. In the evening on Tuesday, the weather will moderate gradually with chances of scattered showers. Winds will be southwesterly to westerly and brisk. The sea will be moderate to rough. The Palestinian weather department warned of floods in valleys and at low altitudes. On Wednesday, the weather will be partly cloudy and cold with a chance of rain, especially in the northern districts.

Lawyer sentenced to 12 years in prison
Zeev Klein, Globes Online 2/19/2008
The victims in the "German Pension Affair" included many holocaust survivors. The District Court of Tel Aviv today sentenced attorney Israel Perry to 12 years in prison over the embezzlement of 320 million German marks in the "German Pension Affair." Perry was also fined NIS 21 million and given an additional five and a half year suspended sentenced. Perry has been given a stay of his sentence in pending his Supreme Court appeal. Perry and his Association for Implementing the Social Security Covenant between Israel and Germany, through which Israelis meeting certain criteria could benefit from West Germany’s social security pensions, pocketed more than NIS 800 million in premiums and loan insurance payments from people who are now elderly and from holocaust survivors, in connection with applications to join the pension plan.

Explosion rocks Alon USA oil refinery
Ron Dagoni, Globes Online 2/19/2008
The blast shook Big Spring, Texas. A strong explosion rocked the oil refinery of Alon USA Energy Inc. (NYSE: ALJ) near Big Spring, Texas. The cause of the blast, which occurred on Monday at approximately 4:15 pm (Israel time), was not known. By yesterday evening, the fire had been contained and was in the process of being extinguished. A thorough investigation will begin as soon as reasonably possible. Four workers were injured but their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening and are being treated at area hospitals. Alon USA president and CEO Jeff D. Morris said, "We are concerned by this unfortunate accident, and our main focus right now is on the welfare of the injured workers and their families as well as on ensuring that the refinery is safe for investigators to begin determining the source and cause of the explosion."

Eight Israeli firms in Singapore Air Show
Yael Gross-Englander, Globes Online 2/18/2008
UAVs are expected to attract attention. Eight Israeli companies are attending the 2008 Singapore Air Show , which opened today and will continue through February 24. The companies include Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT ; TASE: ESLT Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI), Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. Rada Electronic Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: RADID Orbit Alchut Technologies Ltd. (TASE: ORBI ), and Bental Motion Systems Ltd. . This year’s Singapore Air Show is expected to draw 80,000 visitors to the more than 900 displays from 42 countries. The participating Israeli companies will display a number of developments, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), most of which have operated in combat conditions; avionics systems for combat jets, helicopters, and UAVs; and hybrid UAV engines.

State seeks death penalty for Abssi, three others
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 2/20/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s chief prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for the fugitive Palestinian leader of an Islamist militia over a twin bus bombing a year ago that killed three people, his office said on Tuesday. Prosecutor Said Mirza has accused Shaker al-Abssi, head of the Fatah al-Islam group which fought a 15-week battle against the army in a Palestinian refugee camp last year, of "incitement to murder," over the attack. He is seeking the same penalty for three Syrian members of the Al-Qaeda inspired Fatah al-Islam who are accused of carrying out the February 13, 2007, attack in the mountain village of Ain Alak. The Syrians behind bars in the case, for which a trial date has yet to be announced, were identified as Mustafa Siou, Kamal Farid Nassan and Yasser Shukeiri. The charge sheet accuses Siou of having planted the explosives on one of the buses, while fellow assailant Omar...


Articles


A blog where borders don’t matter
Ronit Roccas, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
      They used to meet in Sderot. It seems like ages ago. They were a group of Palestinians from Gaza and Israelis, most of whom were from Sderot. A siren could go off at any moment, but they continued to try to understand how sanity could be returned to the region. They thought of starting joint summer camps for children from Gaza and Sderot, and above all they tried to create a dialogue that overcame prejudices and deceptions. But it’s been half a year since they last met in a Sderot living room.
     "We have given up on persuading the authorities to let them leave Gaza," says Danny Gal, one of the dialogue’s organizers. "These people do not constitute a security threat. On the contrary, they are a positive and calming element, but the closure on Gaza is sweeping. So we decided to meet online and let the world hear a different voice, from both Gaza and Sderot."
     The result is a joint blog, in English, which began in January. It centers around two personas: Peace Man from Gaza and Hope Man from Sderot. The two have refused to disclose their identities or give interviews, and Gal speaks on their behalf. -- See also: Gaza-Sderot Blog

The good, the bad and the ugly fence

Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
      The fate of the Judean Desert’s separation fences have apparently been decided. The recent terror attack in Dimona placed added pressure on green groups to withdraw their objections. Opposition to a barrier in the southern area, near the Dead Sea, has in particular diminished, and some activists are even starting to see advantages to having a fence. The defense establishment has yet to decide where and when a fence will be built in the northern desert, near Ma’aleh Adumim; there, too, it will surround at least part of the desert. The Palestinians will once again find themselves facing a new fence. Meanwhile, the security establishment is planning to pave a bypass road dubbed "the fabric of life."
     A year ago, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) headed a solid green front that opposed the construction of the fence in the southern Judean Desert. In the wake of its action on the matter and appeals from Knesset members, then defense minister Amir Peretz agreed to suspend work on the fence and the bulldozers that had begun to damage the desert landscape were stopped.

The environmental price of injustice

Nehemia Shtrasler, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
      Last Tuesday should have been a day of mourning for those who love nature and the environment. But for some reason, it passed quietly. On that day, two decisions were made. One was widely publicized: to establish a new Arab city in the Galilee. The second passed easily, with no media fanfare: to establish a new town in the eastern part of the Lachish region.
     ...Given our reality (a declared policy of "Judaizing the Galilee" and ministers who are replaced every two to three years), it seems we will have peace with the Palestinians before a new Arab city arises...
     ...It is true that since the founding of the state, no new community has ever been built for Israeli Arabs, much less a city (aside from the seven towns built for the Bedouin in the Negev). Indeed, the opposite occurred: Private Arab land was expropriated for public needs, and the "public" in question was the Jewish public. But one should not correct one injustice by creating a new injustice - this time, to quality of life and the environment.
     The problems that young Arab couples face and the lack of Arab industrial zones could be solved quickly and efficiently by approving master plans for modern high-rise construction within existing towns. And in any case, why build a special city just for Arabs? Will this racist worldview of ours persist forever?

A demographic threat on the wane

Meron Benvenisti, Ha’aretz 2/19/2008
      The publication of the census results by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, which found that the population in the occupied territories has reached approximately 3.8 million people, was not widely discussed among the Israeli media - although the data (along with other figures published earlier this year by the Central Bureau of Statistics in Israel) shows that the number of Jews and Arabs living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is close to parity. If we subtract the 200,000 East Jerusalem residents, who were counted twice, the number of Jews stands at about 5.4 million and the number of Arabs - both Israeli citizens and those living in the territories - at approximately 5.2 million.
     These figures indicate that the "demographic revolution" - the Arabs becoming the majority in the area west of the Jordan River - will happen in a year or two. Such a dramatic development cries for a comment by those politicians and analysts who continuously nourish the idea of a "demographic threat," which they believe threatens the existence of the Jewish Zionist state.

The ’known unknowns’ of the Mugniyah killing

Ramzy Baroud, Asia Times 2/20/2008
      We know well who killed top Hezbollah commander Imad Mugniyah on February 12 in Damascus.
     Although in the US media only journalists like Seymour Hersh have the nerve to point out the obvious, the Israeli media has not shied away from evidence of Israeli intelligence’s involvement in this well-calculated assassination.
     The major Israeli daily newspaper Maariv shared the views of many others when it concluded that: "Officially, Israel yesterday denied responsibility for the killing. But experts say the brilliant execution of the attack was characteristic of the Mossad."
     The Financial Times reported on the "triumphant mood" of the Israeli press which hailed "the demise of one the country’s most feared adversaries" and quoted an Israeli paper stating "the account is settled".
     The Financial Times also quoted a most telling analysis offered by one Israeli commentator: "Mugniyah’s assassination is perhaps the hardest blow Hezbollah has taken to this day. Not just because of his operational abilities, his close ties to the Iranians, and the series of successful terror attacks that he carried out. But because he was a symbol, a legend, a myth."

Israel’s 2006 bombing of Lebanon could spur cluster bomb ban

Report, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 2/19/2008
      BEIRUT, 18 February (IRIN) - As some 100 nations meet on 18 February to discuss a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has raised its estimate of the bombs and bomblets Israel showered over southern Lebanon in the 2006 war, to as many as 4.6 million.
     HRW’s estimate -- an increase on the UN figure of about four million -- is based on information gathered from Israeli soldiers who re-supplied Multiple Launch Rocket System units with cluster bombs during the July-August 2006. The number is more than were used in recent conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq combined, it said.
     Israel fired cluster bombs, either US-supplied or manufactured in Israel, on nearly 1,000 individual strike sites across 1,400 square kilometers of southern Lebanon, an area slightly larger than the US state of Rhode Island.
     Each cluster bomb can release up to 2,000 bomblets, and about a quarter of the bomblets failed to explode on impact in Lebanon. Since the war, unexploded bomblets have killed at least 30 people and injured some 200 others.

Sarkozy: The Extraordinary Zionist

Khalid Amayreh in Occupied E. Jerusalem, Palestinian Information Center 2/19/2008
      Est-ce Sarkozy est Sioniste extraordinair? Is French President Nicolas Sarkozy an extraordinary Zionist.? Well, his behavior so far indicates that he is.
     Last week, Mr. Sarkozy was quoted as saying that he wouldn’t shake hands with anyone that didn’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The gravity of his statement is very real, since accepting Israel as an exclusively Jewish state amounts to condoning and embracing racism in its most fundamentalist forms. It is very much like insisting that France should belong exclusively to the Catholics and that the non-Catholic citizens of France would have to come to terms with their inferior status as lesser citizens who eventually would have to choose between embracing Catholicism or expulsion.
     Moreover, Sarkozy recently suggested that France wouldn’t attend an anti-racism conference scheduled to take place in South Africa this year if Israeli apartheid came under attack.