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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.

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
20 February, 2008

Peres taps Netanyahu to head next Israeli government
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 2/21/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Hawkish Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu was tasked on Friday with forming a new Israeli government, fuelling concerns that a right-wing coalition could torpedo the slow moving Middle East peace process. Accepting the nomination from President Shimon Peres, the former premier claimed that Iran was the main threat to Israel’s existence and made no direct reference to peace talks with the Palestinians. Netanyahu is pushing for a broad coalition, evidently keen to avert a repeat of the situation in 1999, when his government collapsed following the defection of far-right parties that accused him of making concessions to Palestinians. Livni, the outgoing foreign minister, emerged from talks with Peres saying she would have nothing to do with a right-wing coalition. "I will not be a pawn in a government that would be against our ideals," she said.

Aid allowed into Gaza; fuel and grain barred
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel allowed some humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through one crossing point on Friday, while two other crossings remained closed, officials in Gaza said. Raed Fattouh, a Palestinian border official, told Ma’an that 85 trucks were scheduled to pass through the Kerem Shalom terminal, but that Israel reduced the number at the last minute, allowing just 56 trucks through. This shipment is well under the average number of trucks allowed into Gaza in recent weeks. Ten of the vehicles delivered goods to the private sector, eight to the agricultural sector, and the rest to aid agencies. The main crossing for liquid fuels, the Nahal Oz terminal, was closed. The Karni crossing for grain and animal feed was also closed. Fattouh said that humanitarian goods were delivered to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and the World Food Programme.

The Fourth Anniversary of Bil’in’s weekly protest: Dozens Suffered Teargas Inhalation and Five Injured
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/20/2009
The residents of Bil’in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah,gathered today after the Friday prayer to mark the 4th anniversary of the struggle against building the wall and settlements. Party members and supporters of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) also celebrated its 40th anniversary. The Palestinian Prime Minister, Mr. Salam Fayad, visited the village of Bil’in today joining the Friday prayer in the village. This visit comes in solidarity with the residents in their 4th anniversary marking the popular struggle against the wall. Mr. Fayad expressed his support to the village and the residents who carried a struggle in the past four years against the wall. He also supports the village to continue until the end of the occupation. Representatives from many of the national parties also joined the protest, and members of the Palestinian Legislative. . .

Israeli forces uproot newly-planted olive trees near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli police and soldiers uprooted more than 100 newly-planted olive trees from privately-owned Palestinian land in the West Bank village of Al-Jab’a, southwest of Bethlehem. According to witnesses, between 10am and noon on Thursday, Israeli personnel uprooted each of the young trees individually, along with plastic protective tubes and wooden stakes. The trees had been planted by a crew of American and European volunteers last Sunday with a program organized by the Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI) of the YMCA of Palestine. A JAI campaign officer visited the land on Thursday, confirming to Ma’an that the trees had been uprooted and taken away. The land is owned by a farmer named Abu Firas, who has documents dating to the Ottoman era proving ownership of the land. After the planting session on Sunday, Israeli authorities declared the south of Jab’a, including the planted area, a “closed military zone".

Mitchell could support PA unity gov’t
Hilary Leila Krieger, Jerusalem Post 2/19/2009
US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell expressed support for Egyptian efforts to forge a Palestinian national unity government, indicating that America could take a new tack on Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, during a conference call Thursday with Jewish leaders. In sharp contrast to the Bush administration, which opposed a Palestinian national unity government, Mitchell said that should Egypt bring the sides together it would be "a step forward," and that until now divisions among the Palestinians have been a major obstacle to bringing peace to the region, according to representatives of Jewish organizations who participated in the call. The 45-minute call was on the record but not open to the media. Mitchell said that Hamas would still need to adhere to the Quartet’s demands that it halt violence, recognize Israel and accept previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements in such. . .

Jerusalem ’offers’ to ’voluntarily relocate’ 1,500 Palestinian residents
Nir Hasson, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
The Jerusalem municipality may offer to voluntarily relocate some 1,500 Palestinian residents of the city’s Silwan neighborhood - currently living on top of an archaeological site - to alternative lots in East Jerusalem, residents say. The option was brought up by city council and East Jerusalem portfolio holder Yakir Segev, in meetings with the residents. The 88 houses at issue were constructed without permits in the Al-Bustan area of Silwan and are slated for demolition. They stand in an area known as the King’s Garden, defined as being of great archaeological importance by the Israel Antiquities Authority. According to attorney Ziad Qa’awar, the last meeting took place early February and saw Segev proposing two alternative locations, one on a different hill in Silwan, and the other in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina, in the northeast of the city.

Israeli police dog attacks elderly man during arrest raid
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Tubas – Ma’an – An Israeli police dog attacked an elderly, paralyzed man during an arrest raid in the northern West bank village of Tammun on Friday morning. According to witnesses, Israeli forces raided the house of 105-year-old Salem Fadel Bani Odeh, suspecting that “wanted” Palestinian men were inside the house. The dog jumped on Odeh, biting his chest and ear. Odeh was taken to Rafidia Hospital in the city of Nablus. Odeh’s son said that Israeli soldiers also smashed the windows of his car. During house-to-house raids in Tammun, Israeli soldiers seized Na’el Odeh Bani Odeh, 23, and his cousin, Muhamad Mustafa Bani Odeh. [end]

Israeli forces seize 11 Palestinians overnight
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized 11 Palestinians during overnight raids in the West Bank, Israeli media reported on Thursday. Most of the detentions were in the cities of Ramallah, Jenin and Hebron. Palestinian sources have not yet confirmed who was detained. [end]

Egyptian man dies while smuggling gasoline into Gaza
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
An Egyptian security official says a man allegedly smuggling gasoline into Gaza burned to death in a tunnel. The official says police saw flames and smoke coming from what later turned out to be a tunnel entrance. They pulled two men from the tunnel. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. A medical representative in North Sinai, Imad Kharboush, said one man died from his injuries. He said the other man, who was badly burned, escaped from the hospital. The tunnels are used to smuggle food, supplies and weapons into the blockaded strip. They were targeted by Israel during its Gaza offensive that ended Jan. 18 but since then smuggling has continued.

Hammouri: Israeli schemes to overtake Jerusalem are beyond our ability to combat alone
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 2/20/2009
PNN exclusive - Director of the Jerusalem Center for Economic and Social Rights, Ziad Hammouri, said today that Israel has intensified the process of Judaizing the city of Jerusalem. While speaking with PNN he described the creation of a conclave through building the Wall and closing its gates. The Israeli administration is also moving towards full implementation of its Absentee Property Law. "The practice for Jerusalemites in the West Bank will be along the lines of the permits of the Gaza Strip, practices at the barriers will be similar. " At the Jerusalem Press Club Hammouri said that "relocation plans" are in the works for 72,000 to 80,000 people in the city. "This adds to the problem of confiscation of property of those not present in the city. " Early this week the Israeli administration closed the final gate in the Wall in northern Jerusalem, rendering the town of Al Ram effectively cut off.

Fuel experts say Gaza imports not sufficient
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel’s gas allowance into Gaza is “not sufficient,” according to experts surveyed at an open meeting organized by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza on Friday. At the lecture, entitled, “The Crisis of the Israeli Siege on Gaza and its Impact on the Humanitarian Situation,” specialists rounded off on supplies into the Strip, affirmed that the amount of cooking gas regularly entering Gaza is “insufficient and difficult to distribute among the Palestinians. ”Others warned that Israel’s ongoing prevention of fuel into Gaza “continues to prevent the access of equipment needed to the power plant and power station. ”According to Mahmoud Al-Khazendar , head of the Union of Gas Station Owners, for five months no more than 700 tons of cooking gas was allowed into Gaza per month, while the needs are 350 tons per day.

Israeli forces snatch Islamic Jihad man off Qabatiya street
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Jenin - Ma’an - Israeli special forces on Friday morning seized an Islamic Jihad leader from the West Bank town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin. Witnesses told Ma’an that the Israeli operatives riding in a civilian car with Palestinian license plates entered the vegetable market in the town. The Israelis stepped out of the car, besieged the area and then seized 25-year-old Hosni Muhammad Zakarneh, a member of the Islamic Jihad movement. Qabatiya is known for Islamic Jihad activity. Earlier this month, Israeli forces killed an Islamic Jihad fighter in the town in what they said was a botched arrest raid. Israel handed control of the town back the Palestinian Authority as a part of a US-backed plan to redeploy Palestinian security forces in the West Bank in the spring of 2008.

Israeli troops kidnap leader of Islamic Jihad in Qabatiya
Maram Isid & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/20/2009
A special Israeli Army unit disguised in civilian clothes kidnapped this morning, a Palestinian activist, said to be a leader of the Islamic Jihad in a special operation near the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Witnesses said that the undcover soldiers used a vehicle bearing Palestinian license plates. Troops infiltrated the vegetable market of the town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin, Hosny and kidnapped Zakarneh, age 25. Eye witnesses spotted an Israeli aircraft flying at low altitude,along with about a dozen military vehicles surrounding the market until the operation was completed. The witnesses added that udercover troops handcuffed and blindfolded Zakarneh and took him to an undisclosed location.

One injured, one arrested as clashes erupt near Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – A young Palestinian man was injured and another was arrested during clashes that erupted in a village north of the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that 23-year-old Ziad A’lami was shot in the right thigh by an Israeli soldier before being transferred to a city government hospital in Hebron. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Fadi Sabarneh was arrested by soldiers during the same incident. The Israeli military claimed through a spokesperson that soldiers “shot a young man near the town of Beit Omer, injuring him, in response to stone throwing” near the illegal Israeli settlement of Karni Tzur, near the village. [end]

Undercover forces raid Jenin area town, arrest 25 year old
Ali Samoudi for PNN, Palestine News Network 2/20/2009
Jenin -- An Israeli undercover unit disguised in civilian clothes invaded the northern West Bank on Friday morning. The target was a leader in the Islamic Jihad movement living in the town of Qabatiya, south of the city. Witnesses report that the special forces used an Isuzu vehicle bearing Palestinian license plates to infiltrate the area near Qabatiya’s vegetable market. Within moments of the grabbing of Mohammad Hosni Zakarneh, Israeli planes circled overhead at low altitude while a dozen military vehicles surrounded the market. The 25 year old is now in an unknown location. Throughout the West Bank this morning Israeli forces arrested 11 Palestinians during invasions ofRamallah, Jenin and Hebron.

Man burned to death in Gaza tunnel
Reuters, YNetNews 2/20/2009
Egyptian police pull two men from smoldering entrance of tunnel used to smuggle fuel into Gaza - An Egyptian man was killed and two men were injured on Friday in a fire which broke out in a fuel tank at the Egyptian end of a tunnel used for smuggling supplies to the Gaza Strip, police sources said. They named the man as 24-year-old Mohamed Awad Eissa el-Shaer and said he died in hospital in the border town of Rafah with burns on 100 percent of his body. An Egyptian official said police saw flames and smoke coming from what later turned out to be a tunnel entrance. They pulled two men from the tunnel. A medical representative in North Sinai, Imad Kharboush, said one man died from his injuries. He said the other man, who was badly burned, escaped from the hospital.

Two Egyptians injured as tunnel fuel pipeline explodes
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – One Egyptian man was killed and two others were injured after a fuel line exploded on the Egyptian side of a smuggling tunnel into the Gaza Strip, police said. No further information on the condition of those injured was immediately available. The killed man was identified as 24-year-old Mohamed Awad Eissa Al-Shaer, who reportedly died at a hospital along the Rafah crossings with burns across his entire body. Israeli media sources said that two Egyptians sustained burns after a pipeline exploded in an underground smuggling tunnel between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Sources added that the underground pipeline through which the fuel was being pumped remained on fire at press time. ***Updated 21:39 Bethlehem time

Clashes reported in southern Gaza as mortars strike Israel
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian fighters said they fought with Israeli forces who attempted to invade the southern Gaza Strip early on Friday morning. The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, said in a statement that it fired rocket-propelled grenades at invading forces east of the town of Al-Qarara, near the borderline with Israel. Sources in Gaza also said that Israeli artillery shelled houses in Al-Qarara. No one was injured. An Israeli military spokesman told Ma’an that he had no information about the incidents. Israeli forces routinely patrol the borderline, inside Gazan territory. At 9:30 on Friday morning, Israel reported that a barrage of 10 mortar shells landed in open fields in the Eshkol region, east of the Gaza Strip. No injuries or damage were reported. At 7:30, a homemade projectile reportedly landed in Palestinian territory inside Gaza.

Ten mortar shells fired at Israel from inside the Gaza Strip
Maram Isid & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/20/2009
Palestinian resistance fired ten mortar shells at the western Negev from the Gaza Strip, Israeli sources reported on Friday. The source added that all ten shells landed inside the Gaza Strip border, causing no damage. The Israeli Army claimed that one of its units had spotted a group of Palestinian resistance fighters in the area of Kissufim, and opened fire at them. A large number of home-made shells fall inside the Gaza Strip borders when fired by Palestinian resistance fighters. When the shells do land in Israel, most land in empty areas in the Western Negev, rarely causing damage or injuries. Israel launched a wide-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip that lasted for 22 days last December and January, to allegedly stop the firing of home-made shells from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Operation "Cast Lead" was declared a success by Israeli leaders even though Palestinain fighters are still able to fire shells into Israel.

Gaza militants fire 10 mortar shells, Qassam rocket at Negev
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Friday fired 10 mortar shells and a Qassam rocket at the western Negev, causing no casualties. Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Kissufim area identified the explosions and opened fire in the direction of the launchers across the border. The strikes came amid an apparent stalemate in Gaza Strip truce negotiations, following Israel’s demand that a cease-fire be linked to the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Defense official Amos Gilad, who has been negotiating with Egyptian mediators over the truce, reportedly canceled his trip to Egypt on Friday, according to the Arabic daily Al-Hayat. Five Qassams exploded in open areas of the western Negev on Thursday, three in the evening and two in the morning.

Egyptian smuggler killed as contraband fuel explodes
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 2/21/2009
AL-ARISH, Egypt: An Egyptian smuggler was killed and two others were injured Friday when contraband fuel destined to be smuggled into the besieged Gaza Strip burst into flames, a security official said. About 2,000 liters of fuel had been stored in a house in Sarsuriya, near Egypt’s border with the impoverished Palestinian territory, the official said. The fuel was to be smuggled through a tunnel linking the house to Gaza, the official said, adding that police detained a relative of the dead man for questioning. Food, medicines and basic goods are routinely smuggled into Gaza through tunnels from Egypt. Israel, which blockaded the enclave after Hamas won legislative elections in 2006 and tightened the siege after the group took power by force in 2007, has asked Egypt to end the traffic. Israel fought a devastating 22-day war against the Gaza Strip that ended on January 18, and claims border tunnels are also used to smuggle weapons.

Israeli soldiers seize former prisoner at checkpoint
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers seized 37-year-old Muhammad An-Nawaj’a at a checkpoint between Ramallah and Bethlehem on Thursday night. Witnesses said that the soldiers assaulted An-Nawaj’a before arresting him. An-Nawaj’a is a former prisoner who was on his way home to the town of Yatta, near Hebron. An-Nawaj’a’s parents condemned the arrest, calling on human rights organizations to press for his release. [end]

Gunmen attack Palestinian newspaper office for third time
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Gunmen opened fire on the offices of the Al-Hayat Al-Jadida newspaper in the West Bank town of Al-Bireh, outside of Ramallah, on Thursday in the third such attack in two months. No one was injured. The Palestinian Authority-controlled newspaper is one of three main daily papers in the Palestinian territories. According to the newspaper, Palestinian security forces arrived at the offices and said they are investigating the incident. The administration and staff of the newspaper urged the security forces to locate the perpetrators and guarantee the safety of the employees. In the two previous attacks, gunfire came from the front side of the building which faces the Israeli settlement Psagot. There is a large open area between the edge of Al-Bireh and the settlement.

International Tribunal for Childhood says Israeli forces guilty of war crimes
Palestine News Network 2/20/2009
International Prosecutors from 11 countries worldwide on the International Tribunal for Children, issued an initial ruling on crimes against Gaza. The International Tribunal over the Childhood Affected by War and Poverty of the Mission Diplomatique Internationale Humanitaire RWANDA 1994, through its International President, Sergio Tapia and International Human Rights Prosecutor of the International Tribunal of Conscience, reported to the international community to the First ruling against Crimes against Genocide and on Palestinian Children in the Gaza Strip into the largest concentration camp in the world today is the most densely populated place on the planet has only 360 km2, where 1,500,000 people live in which 50 percent are children and 80 percent are below the poverty level, the International Tribunal of Conscience, composed of 14 prosecutors on Human Rights, 11 countries, 9 in. . .

Focus on Gaza
Al Jazeera 2/20/2009
Al Jazeera’s recent coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza was unparalelled. The network was the only international broadcaster with reporters on both sides of the border, in Israel and Gaza. The war may now be over but the human suffering continues. Focus On Gaza is a new weekly show that will examine all facets of life in the Gaza Strip. Presented by Imran Garda the programme will bring all the latest news and devolopments in Gaza and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Al Jazeera will also showcase family life in the densely populated area that some describe as the world’s largest open prison. Focus on Gaza features Al Jazeera’s team in the territory including correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin as we continue to lead the way in covering one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. - Human rights investigators continue to look into allegations that Israeli soldiers may have committed crimes of war during their Gaza military campaign.

Investigating Gaza’s ’war crimes’
Al Jazeera 2/20/2009
To launch Al Jazeera’s new weekly show, Focus On Gaza, correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin visited the village of Khuza’a where residents and human rights experts believe a possible war crime took place during Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip. A photograph of her recent pilgrimage to Mecca is now all that remains of Rawhiyya al Najar. The mother was a Gaza native who had lived her entire life through conflict before it was to end on January 13, aged 37, by what was estimated to be a single shot to the head. Testimony from eyewitnesses, friends, neighbours and human rights experts about the incident tell the story of how a woman carrying a baby and white flag was shot in broad daylight by an Israeli soldier. Nasser al Najar, Rawhiyya’s husband, still has the bloodstained white flag he says his wife was carrying when she was killed. In 1949, the newly formed state of Israel, many of whose citizens had been victims of Nazi war crimes, signed the Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in time of war.

Rally marks 4 years of struggle against fence
Ali Waked, YNetNews 2/20/2009
Israeli security forces use tear gas against hundreds of protestors in Bilin who gathered to mark four years of struggle against separation fence. According to security forces, protestors threw stones. Protestors say some suffer from smoke inhalation - Hundreds of people participated in a demonstration Friday afternoon marking four years to the struggle against the separation fence in Bilin. When the protestors approached the fence, Border Guard officers used various means to disperse the crowd, including tear gas. A number of protestors sustained smoke inhalation injuries. Among the near 500 person group of protestors were Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Palestinian members of parliament, including Mustafa Barghouti, and Arab Knesset members, including Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh. After Fayyad left the site, the protestors approached the fence.

Four injured at the Nil’in weekly protest
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/20/2009
scores of villagers from Nil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah On Friday midday, held their weekly protest against the illegal Israeli wall being built on the village’s land. At noon, the Palestinians and other international and Israeli demonstrators held Friday prayers near the village lands, and then proceeded to march to the land being confiscated by Israel. Demonstrators carried banners calling for national unity and demanded an end to the Israeli occupation. As soon as locals and their international supporters arrived to the village where Israel is building the wall, soldiers showered them with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. four were treated for gas inhalation.

Al-Quds Brigades claim to have attacked a settler
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed to have opened fire on an Israeli car near the settlement of Ofra, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Thursday night. The Brigades said in a statement that a settler was injured in the attack. There has been no confirmation of this yet from the Israeli side. The group said the attack marked the anniversary of the assassination of Imad Mughniyya, the military leader of Hizbullah. Mughniyya was killed in a car bombing in Damascus in February 2008. Blamed by Hizbullah for the assassination, Israel has never confirmed its involvement in the incident. [end]

Fayyad joins protesters at weekly march against Israeli wall
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad visited the village of Bil’in on Friday, joining prayer services and expressing his solidarity with residents there. This visit was also times to join residents for their fourth anniversary, which marked the the birth of the Popular Struggle Against the Wall. Fayad expressed his support to the village and its residents, who have carried out a struggle during the past four years against the wall there. He reiterated his support for the village in its continuous efforts against the occupation. Meanwhile, party members and supporters of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding on Friday. Representatives from many national parties also joined the event, including members of the Fatah Party, the Palestinian National Initiative, the National Palestinian. . .

Halabaya: Jerusalem and its residents are under fierce attack from occupation
Palestinian Information Center 2/20/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabayya, deputy head of the Jerusalem Committee in the Palestinian Legislative Council, said that the Aqsa Mosque and other holy places in Jerusalem are under a fierce attack by occupation. He said, in a press statement on Thursday, that "January this year witnessed many violations against the citizens of Jerusalem, their families, homes and land by the occupation institutions and its army and police. " He pointed out that those violations included, demolition of home, bulldozing lands, land confiscation as well as assaults and arrests against Jerusalem citizens causing many confrontations between those citizens and the occupation army. He added that his press statement coincided with the start of activities to celebrate Jerusalem as the capital of Arab culture 2009, for which a national committee has been formed.

Jihad men claim clashes with Israeli forces in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, clashed with Israeli troops that attempted to enter southern Gaza, east of the town Al-Qararra, on Thursday night. The Brigades said in a statement received by Ma’an that they launched rocket-propelled grenades at Israeli forces in the area. [end]

Mortar barrage hits Negev; no injuries
Ilana Curiel, YNetNews 2/20/2009
About 10 mortar shells fired from Gaza hit open areas near western Negev communities shortly after 9:30 am; no injuries or damage reported. Earlier Friday Qassam rocket launched by Palestinian gunmen lands within Palestinian territory - A barrage of about 10 mortar shells fired from the Gaza Strip landed in open fields in the Eshkol Regional Council on Friday. The shells were launched shortly after 9:30 am. No injuries or damage were reported in the attack. Military sources estimated that the mortar fire was part of a botched attempt by Palestinians to carry out an attack against the IDF. The mortar shells were fired at an army force operating near the Kissufim crossing. The force responded with fire. Earlier, a Qassam rocket fired from Gaza exploded within Palestinian territory, near the border fence.

PCHR Weekly Report: 2 children, 1 adult killed; 15 people injured by Israeli forces
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 2/20/2009
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, during the week of 12 - 18 Feb. 2009, three Palestinians, including two children, were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Israeli forces killed four Palestinians, and wounded another five, including a child, by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. 15 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including six children and one woman, were injured by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:One adult and one child were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza this week. On 13 February, Israeli forces extra-judicially executed a Palestinian and wounded another one in ’Abassan village, east of Khan Yunis, when an Israeli forces drone fired a missile at them while they were riding a motorcycle. On 14 February, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian child while he. . . -- See also: Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 12 - 18 Feb. 2009

This Week in Palestine -Week 08 2009
Ghassan Bannoura Audio, International Middle East Media Center News 2/20/2009
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 13 m 0s || 11. 9 MB || This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. imemc. org, for February 14th through February 20th 2009. Egyptian-mediated truce efforts for a ceasefire deal between Israel and the Palestinians came to a deadlock this week as Israeli continues its attacks on Gaza. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned. Nonviolent Activities Let us begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank with IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura: {Sound of Eyad in the protest} That is the sound of Eyad Burnat, the head of the local committee against the wall and settlements construction in Bil’in village near the central west Bank city of Ramallah. He and the residents of Bil’in, were conducting their weekly protest to mark the 4th anniversary of the struggle against the building of the wall and settlements on land owned by them.

U.S. Mideast envoy: Settlements are not the only issue
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
WASHINGTON - The U. S. administration’s special envoy to the region told the heads of several U. S. Jewish groups yesterday that while the issue of Israeli settlements comes up in every conversation with Arab leaders, "it is not the only issue. "George Mitchell, who is scheduled to depart this weekend for his second visit to the Middle East, also said the U. S. was committed both to Israel’s security and to the establishment of a Palestinian state. He was speaking with the Jewish leaders by conference call. Call participants included Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; UJC representative rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Ira Forman, Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC); representatives of J Street; Americans for Peace Now and others.

Hamas: American visit to Gaza Strip step in the right direction
Palestinian Information Center 2/20/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas Movement has described the visit of members of the US Senate and Congress to the devastated Gaza Strip as "step in the right direction" although it was prompted by humanitarian reasons. Former US presidential Democrat candidate Sen. John Keri paid a visit to the tiny coastal Strip shortly after two members of the US Congress Bryan Bird and Keith Alison inspected the devastation left by the monstrous Israeli war on Gaza last month. The visit was the first visit paid by US official figures since Hamas Movement took control of the Strip two years ago. "We hope that the visit will be followed up by more steps that could contribute in rectifying the US policy in dealing with the Palestinian issue. To support the just cause of the Palestinian people, and to lift the oppression that was inflicted on them due to the wrong American polices in the past that gave Israel the. . .

US lawmakers meet with Anglican bishop in Jerusalem
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Members of the US Congress, Representatives Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) and Brian Baird (D-Washington) met with the Right Reverend Dr. Suheil S. Dawani, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem prior to their historic visit to Gaza. Both Congressmen had been at Doha, Qatar for the “2009 US Islamic World Forum – Common Challenges,” where Bishop Suheil, a participant at the Forum, had invited them to visit him at St. George’s Anglican Cathedral when in Jerusalem. Representative Ellison is the only Muslim in the US Congress. During the 70-minute meeting, Bishop Dawani briefed the two congressmen on the work and mission of the Diocese and its active involvement in Ecumenical and Interfaith endeavors in the five countries served by the Diocese since the inception of an Anglican Presence in the Holy City in 1841, a spokesperson said.

Hamas sends a letter to Obama via Sen. John Kerry
Maram Isid & Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/20/2009
A spokesman for the United Nations stated on Friday that American Senator, John Kerry, received a letter addressed to the President of the United States, Barrack Obama, believed to be from Hamas. Kerry received the message during his visit to the region, in which he visited the Israeli town of Sderot, and the devastated Gaza Strip. Christopher Gunness of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) said, "a letter to Obama was left at the gate of our offices in Gaza. It is believed that this letter is from Hamas. " In response to a question about the content of the letter, Gunnes said that they aren’t aware of the content, adding that, "we are in (UNRWA), and are politeenough not to open other people’s letters. "He said the letter was handed over to the Senator in his meeting with UN staff during his trip to Gaza on Thursday.

Hamas denies sending Obama letter via visiting US senator
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Hamas reportedly sent a letter to US President Barack Obama on Thursday via another US politician who was visiting Gaza. UN Relief and Works Agency chief Karen Abu Zayed told the BBC the letter had been received by the UN and passed on. US Senator John Kerry met with Abu Zayed during his visit. But Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum denied sending the letter, although he said the Islamic movement is "happy to have contact with all international sides in order to support Palestinian rights. " UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness told Reuters the letter had been left for Kerry at the gate of the UN compound and that he did not know the content. "We don’t open other people’s mail," Gunness said. Kerry’s office had no immediate comment. A former presidential candidate, Kerry was visiting Gaza with US Congressmen Brian Baird and Keith Ellison in the first such visit to the Gaza Strip since 2007.

U.S. reiterates it will work with next Israel government
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
The United States on Friday reiterated that it will work with the next Israeli government, regardless of its composition. "The United States is a longstanding and firm ally of Israel. We will work with the next Israeli government, however it is composed, and we’ll move on from there to work on bilateral and regional issues together," said State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid at a press briefing. Duguid’s comments came a few hours after Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday accepted a mandate to form Israel’s next government. " But as I said, the process is ongoing," the spokesman added. "There is not a government yet. We are still working, you know, with Israel. But I don’t have a reaction until we have a government - new government sitting in place.

Hamas official uses diplomatic channels to send letter to Obama
Reuters, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
A Hamas adviser reached out to United States President Barack Obama in a personal letter that was passed from a top United Nations official to a high-ranking U. S. senator during a rare visit to the Gaza Strip, officials said on Friday. The coastal territory’s Hamas rulers disavowed the letter, which the U. S. consulate in Jerusalem will send on to Washington for review. It was the first known overture of its kind since Obama became president last month, but it is unclear whether it will reach him. A U. S. boycott of Hamas has not changed under the new administration. Karen AbuZayd, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), gave the letter addressed to Obama, along with other materials, to Sen. John Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, during his brief visit to the Gaza Strip on Thursday.

Hamas denies passing letter to US Senator
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 2/21/2009
GAZA CITY: Hamas denied on Friday having passed on to visiting US Senator John Kerry a letter for President Barack Obama, whose nation labels the movement a terror outfit. "Hamas denies having given a letter to John Kerry," spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP in the Gaza Strip. "However, we are willing to forge ties with anyone who is ready to back the rights of the Palestinian people," the Hamas spokesman added. A UN spokesman earlier said that Kerry was given a letter for Obama believed to be from Hamas during a visit by the senator to the Hamas-ruled and war-ravaged Gaza Strip on Thursday, as part of a regional tour. "A letter addressed to Obama was left at the gate of our offices in Gaza; it is believed to be from Hamas," said Christopher Gunness of UNRWA, the agency for Palestinian refugees. Asked about the contents of the letter, Gunness said: "We are very polite at UNRWA, we don’t open other people’s mail.

US politicans join Peer row
Al Jazeera 2/20/2009
Two U. S. politicians have entered the current Shahar Peer debate engulfing the tennis world and criticised the United Arab Emirates for not allowing the Israeli tennis player to compete at the Dubai Championships. Democratic Representatives Shelley Berkley of Nevada and Eliot Engel of New York said the UAE should have granted Peer a visa despite concerns over security. "While we share concerns about security, it is unacceptable to refuse an athlete the access to play in a tournament hosted by your country," the lawmakers said in a letter to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan. "Host governments such as the UAE must do everything in their power to protect visitors, but denying them entry to the country at all is unacceptable. "Five days after Peer was denied a chance to compete at the $2 million tournament, Israeli Andy Ram was given special permission by UAE authorities to play in a men’s tournament next week.

ZOA head expects increased anti-Semitism in U.S.
Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
Potential diplomatic discord between an Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and U. S. President Barack Obama would be bound to lead to an increase of anti-Semitic activity in the U. S. , the president of the Zionist Organization of America said this week. Klein, head of the hawkish organization, also told Haaretz that for the last decade and a half he has had little confidence in Israel’s decisions and that Obama’s recent appointments and statements were also a reason for concern. "I am worried that if Obama puts pressure on Israel to make concessions that Israel believes is not in its security interest, people will start saying Israel does not want peace," he said. "I believe that this pressure will happen - although I hope I’m wrong. "Klein, who is currently in Israel with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, added that if "Obama starts acting. . . "

Academic: Birthright inspires interest in Israel
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
Ask Jewish identity expert professor Leonard Saxe for proof that Taglit-Birthright is indeed changing U. S. Jewry as he alleges in his new book, and he will refer you to the search bars of Israeli news sites. But Saxe, a lecturer at Brandeis University and a believer in Birthright, is not pushing favorable articles about the program, which has so far brought some 200,000 young Jews from all over the world for a subsidized10-day educational visit to Israel. He points to surveys showing that participants search online Israeli media 2. 3 times more often than before the visit with the Birthright organization, founded nine years ago by philanthropists in cooperation with the Israeli government, and Diaspora communities. "What Birthright does is inspire interest. Much of the rest develops from that," says Saxe, who last month published a book entitled "Ten. . .

Palestinian artists to perform at Washington’s Kennedy Center
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Washington – Ma’an – One of America’s best known cultural institutions, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, said it will host Palestinian artists this month in Washington, DC. According to a statement, the center will mount “the largest presentation of the Arab arts ever in the United States,” from February 22 to March 15. Regarding the “unprecedented celebration,” the center said it would include performances in music, dance and theater, as well as exhibitions featuring art installations, photos, sculpture, cuisine, mosaics, fashion, a souk, soundscape and more. The festival, entitled “Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World,” will feature more than 800 artists from across the Arab world. “The best way to learn about other people,” said Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, “is through their culture.

U.S. prison frees terrorist who plotted to kill Golda Meir
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
A Black September terrorist who served only about half his 30-year sentence for planting three car bombs in New York City in 1973 was released Thursday into the custody of immigration officials to be deported. Khalid Al-Jawary, 63, was released from the Supermax maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado, said Carl Rusnok, a U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman. Rusnok said a federal immigration judge had signed a deportation order for Al-Jawary. Al-Jawary’s release date was set for Thursday after he was credited with time served before his sentencing and good behavior. Rusnok declined to say where Al-Jawary was being held as he awaits deportation. It’s also not clear when Al-Jawary will be deported or where he will be sent. The mysterious terrorist had many aliases and was known to use fake passports from Jordan, Iraq and France.

Rank and File
Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
In the upcoming academic year, young men and women from North America will have the chance to study for free at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, the non-denominational coed yeshiva announced this week. Intended to counterbalance the impact of the current economic crisis, the offer is open to students who qualify for a MASA grant, offered by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Those who do not qualify for the grant will receive at tuition reduction of 40 percent, Pardes added, and can get additional funding. "We are living in unprecedented times and it is our responsibility to respond to the difficult financial situation which many young people face," said Rabbi Daniel Landes, the L. A. -born director of Pardes. "Not only have we significantly cut our tuition, but we are also launching new career development programs. . . "

Preventing a schism
Mike Prashker, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
The recent elections in both the United States and Israel have exposed a deep and potentially catastrophic schism between the world’s two preeminent Jewish communities. By voting disproportionately for their country’s first African-American president, America’s Jews maintained their traditional prominence in helping the U. S. overcome its racist past, part of its arduous journey to realize the vision of its founding fathers. In contrast, Israel’s 80-percent Jewish majority has just voted in unprecedented numbers for several overtly - even proudly - racist political parties, whose campaigns incited against Israel’s 1. 2 million Arab citizens. The largest, Yisrael Beiteinu, will have 15 seats out of 120 Knesset seats. Led by the Hebrew- and Russian-speaking Avigdor Lieberman, the party campaigned under the slogan "No Citizenship without. . .

Leading U.S. rabbi welcomed Obama, now stands accused of idolatry
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
. . . . Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York would never have made the mistake of wearing a cross, certainly not in shul. But he nevertheless is in hot water for a similar "Christian" offense to Orthodox sensibilities: He attended a joint interfaith prayer service commemorating President Barack Obama’s inauguration, contravening the rules of the Rabbinical Council of America, of which he is a member. And what’s worse, he did it in a church. It is not yet clear whether the RCA will discipline Lookstein for his actions, but the statement put out by the organization - "Any member of the RCA who attends such a service does so in contravention of this policy and should not be perceived as representing the organization in any capacity" - does seem a bit ominous. . . . So when is a cross just a cross, not a crucifix?

French FM: No reason to link Shalit deal with Gaza crossings
Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Friday that Paris does not agree with Israel’s position that a deal must be set for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit before Gaza Strip border crossings are opened. Kouchner said that France support an Egyptian proposal for a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip and does not believe it necessary to link Shalit with any cease-fire deal. The two issues should be worked out simultaneously, Kouchner said, but the one should not be conditioned on the other. He also confirmed that France has been indirectly negotiating with Hamas via mediation of Syria, Qatar and Norway. Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir al-Thani told French President Nicolas Sarkozy when the two leaders met in Paris two weeks ago that he would engage Hamas intensively to help release Shalit, according to a foreign source.

France to Israel: Don’t connect Shalit deal with Gaza crossings
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told an Israeli newspaper on Friday that France opposes Israel’s position on linking the case of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit with a broader ceasefire agreement in Gaza. Israel maintains that a Palestinian faction holding the captured soldier return him to Israel in exchange for opening Gaza’s crossings with Israel for humanitarian aid and private enterprise. Hamas has rejected the proposal, calling the two issues “totally separate” more than once. But the French foreign minister said France supports an Egyptian proposal for the ceasefire, which insists the crossings be opened in exchange for peace, while Shalit be released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. “The two should not be conditioned on the other,” Kouchner reportedly told Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Friday, also confirming that. . .

Zahhar stresses Hamas’s conditions for truce, swapping of prisoners
Palestinian Information Center 2/20/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Senior Palestinian political leader MP Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar has reiterated Thursday Hamas’s conditions for truce in the Gaza Strip, and for swapping prisoners with the Israeli occupation government, stressing that the two files are separate, holding the Israeli occupation government responsible for derailing Egypt’s efforts in this regard. Zahhar, who is the legitimate PA foreign affairs minister, asserted in an interview with the PIC that his Movement has coordinated with Egypt in both files, and both Egypt and Palestine positions in this regard were identical, but, he added, the Israelis were deliberately derailing those efforts with the aim to embarrass the Egyptian leadership. He also underlined that the file of swapping prisoners was absolutely separated from the file of the truce, adding that if the Israeli occupation government wants its captured soldier. . .

Sources: Barghouti release is only a matter of time
PNN, Palestine News Network 2/20/2009
Ramallah -- An informed Palestinian source said today that it is a question of timing regarding the release of Fateh leader Marwan Al Barghouti from Israeli prison. The well-known Palestinian Legislative Council member has conducted internal negotiations from his cell as well as mediated agreements with the Israelis. He was the hope of many to overtake the presidency after the death of Yasser Arafat. Al Barghouti received nearly 100 percent of the Legislative Council vote in his district of Ramallah during the last elections. Reports that he will be released are frequent with few doubting that it will happen at some point, regardless of the occasional Israeli posturing that puts him on the never list. A source told As Sharq Al Awsat Friday that the "information available to us now is that the Israeli government is going to release Marwan either in the framework of the. . .

Qatari PM promised Sarkozy to work for Shalit’s release
Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir al-Thani told French President Nicolas Sarkozy when the two leaders met in Paris two weeks ago that he would engage Hamas intensively to help release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, according to a foreign source. Israel is still waiting for an answer from Hamas and Egypt on a proposal for marathon talks in Cairo on a new list of Palestinian prisoners to exchange for Shalit. Sarkozy told al-Thani this was a humanitarian issue and that Shalit was also French citizen. A few months ago Sarkozy gave al-Thani a letter from the Shalit family for Gilad, who gave it to Hamas political-wing head Khaled Meshal. Meshal, who visits Qatar frequently, is there now as a participant in a conference on assistance to the Gaza Strip.

Diplomacy: What caused Olmert’s change of heart on Schalit?
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 2/19/2009
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni may be losing her battle for the prime ministership, but her vision of the post-Operation Cast Lead policies Israel should pursue toward Hamas and Egypt won out Wednesday at the critical security cabinet meeting that linked the release of Gilad Schalit to the opening of the Gaza crossings. By stating clearly that Israel would not open the crossings for anything other than humanitarian aid until Schalit was back with his family, and that Israel was not negotiating with Hamas, the government finally resolved a conflict at the top - among the troika of Livni, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak - that had been simmering from about midway through the Gaza military operation. And while the country naturally and understandably focused on the Schalit issue at Wednesday’s security cabinet meeting, what was as important was the clear message the government sent that it would not be a party to any formal cease-fire with Hamas.

Mousa: Israel’s insistence to link Shalit to truce fuels tension
Palestinian Information Center 2/20/2009
CAIRO, (PIC)-- The secretary-general of the Arab League Amre Mousa has criticized Thursday the statements uttered by Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu that he won’t be bound by any agreement made by the former Israeli government in the event he formed the new government, adding that the Israeli insistence on linking the file of the truce to the file of the captured Israeli soldier would fuel tension in the region. "If these are the statements of the Israeli leaders, then I believe that there was no need to hold meetings with them in the future, especially that there were international proposals to hold more conferences regarding a political settlement in the region", Mousa said in press conference he held in Cairo. He, however, pointed out that the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that crystallizes Arabs’ vision for peaceful solution to the struggle in the Middle East was still valid, but. . .

Egypt has bad memories of Netanyahu
Alain Navarro - CAIRO, Middle East Online 2/20/2009
Egypt’s leaders will have a heavy heart when they resume dealings with Benjamin Netanyahu, whose earlier spell as Israeli prime minister was the most frustrating since the two countries signed peace in 1979, analysts said. Netanyahu was officially asked on Friday to form a new government at a time when the relationship has already been complicated by tough talks between Israel and Hamas on a Gaza truce, with Cairo as middleman. "We can hope he has changed and that he will form a government of national unity," Mohammed Bassiouni, former ambassador to Israel and head of the Senate foreign relations committee, said. Netanyahu’s initial term from 1996 to 1999 saw relations with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak deteriorate to the extent that Mubarak admitted the Israeli nationalist leader made him "very, very, very exasperated. "

Hamas: Israel picked ’most dangerous’ politician to lead it
Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
A Hamas spokesman on Friday said Israel had picked the "most extremist and most dangerous" to lead the country, only hours after Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu accepted a mandate to form its next government. The choice of Netanyahu "does not herald a period or peace or stability in the region," AFP quoted Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum as saying. Another Hamas official on Friday branded both Netanyahu and his rival, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, as enemies of the Palestinians. " Hamas doesn’t differentiate between Netanyahu and Livni, they are all hostile toward the Palestinian people and they are all terrorists," Hamas official Ismail Radwan told Al-Jazeera. "Tasking Netanyahu with forming the government is a lesson for those who had hoped for peace. . . "

Hamas refuses to free Israeli soldier in return for lifting Gaza blockade
Ian Black in Damascus, The Guardian 2/20/2009
Hamas has flatly rejected Israel’s demand that it free a captive soldier in return for lifting the blockade of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian movement called instead for international pressure on Israel to force the borders open to relieve the humanitarian crisis after last month’s war. Mousa Abu Marzook, the deputy leader of Hamas, accused Israel of backtracking over a truce agreement and warned that Corporal Gilad Shalit would only be released in return for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. "We will not change our position," he told the Guardian in Damascus yesterday. On Wednesday Israel’s security cabinet agreed to maintain the blockade and to hold back from any truce until the release of Shalit, who was captured in June 2006 near the Gaza boundary fence. Until then it seemed a new truce was imminent. Hamas and Egypt which is mediating between the Palestinians and Israelis, had been treating the two issues as separate.

Alleged militant sheds light on Hamas operations in Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hebrew-language daily newspaper Ma’ariv published what it claimed to be confessions made by a Hamas-affiliated detainee on Friday. The young detainee, 20-year-old Mohammad Al-Imasi of Jabalia, was described by the newspaper as among the most important, active and trained among those who were detained during the latest Israeli assault on Gaza. It published a summary of his confessions to Israeli interrogators regarding his alleged activity with Hamas, particularly with its armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, and details of Hamas’ plans to thwart a then-potential Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip. Concerning his alleged membership in the Islamic movement’s armed wing, the newspaper quoted the “baby-faced and shy young man” as saying that he joined the organization at the age of 12, while still a student in primary school.

Peace talks on hold amid power struggles
Helena Cobban, Inter Press Service, Daily Star 2/21/2009
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank: Negotiations for the political endgame of the recent Gaza war have proven much more difficult than - presumably - the Israeli cabinet imagined last December, when it took the final decision to start the war. Now, the negotiations to stabilize the fragile twin ceasefires that went into effect January 18 have become deeply entangled with the succession struggle inside Israel and with internal problems in the Palestinian leadership that also have many aspects of a succession struggle. Meanwhile, thousands of Gazan families whose homes were destroyed in the war still huddle for shelter where they can, as Israel continues to bar the entry of even basic construction materials into the Strip. (Cold rain has been buffeting Gaza this week. )But one possible ray of hope for the chronically beleaguered Palestinians came when. . .

PA wants new gov’t to honor old pacts
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 2/20/2009
Spokesman for Abbas says, ’We will work with any government that sticks to two-state solution’ -The Palestinian Authority’s official spokesman, Nabil Abu Rodaina, responded Friday to President Shimon Peres’ decision to charge Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu with the task of forming the next government. "We will work with any government in Israel as long as it sticks to the two-state solution, previous agreements, the halting of settlement construction, and international law," Abu Rodaina said from Bahrain, where he is accompanying Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on an official visit. Earlier Friday Netanyahu gave an official acceptance speech in which he named the issues he would have to face as prime minister. "Iran is developing nuclear weapons and poses the greatest threat to our existence since the War of Independence.

Students demand divestment in Britain
Palestine News Network 2/20/2009
18 Feburary 2009 / Bristol - UWE is the University of the West of England, a large University not previously noted forstudent protests, situated in the city of Bristol in England. They are now the thirty-first University to organise an "Occupation in Solidarity with Gaza," and as of Wednesday had been sitting-in for 24 hours despite threats of police action. More students joined as the hours passed. Students demand UWE breaks its links with the arms trade and have occupied part of the Frenchay Campus, Bristol, in solidarity with the people of Gaza. The occupation is the latest in wave of student occupations at more than 25 universities across Britain in the past few weeks. The UWE students are demanding that the university breaks its links with the arms industry and condemn the presence of the Raytheon arms company at the Bristol Business Park it co-owns.

Galloway seeks inquiry into convoy arrests
Duncan Campbell, The Guardian 2/21/2009
The Respect MP George Galloway has called for an investigation after police stopped a convoy taking aid, toys and medical supplies to Gaza and arrested nine people under anti-terror laws. All nine men arrested on the M65 near Preston last Friday have been released without charge, but the organisers of the Viva Palestina convoy, which is headed by Galloway, said that aid donations dropped by 80% after news of the arrests. Police stopped three vehicles and arrested six men from Blackburn and three from Burnley under the Terrorism Act. The 100-vehicle convoy left without them and is now in Morocco. " Nine innocent people were prevented by the police from joining our convoy," said Galloway. "The timing of the operation is seen locally as an attempt to smear and intimidate the Muslim community, and I must say they seem to be right. Photographs of the high-profile snatch were immediately fed to the press to maximise the newsworthiness of the smear. "

BBC staff to deliver 400-strong petition over Gaza appeal decision
Leigh Holmwood, The Guardian 2/20/2009
More than 400 BBC staff have signed a petition in protest at the corporation’ decision not to broadcast the Gaza humanitarian aid appeal after the BBC Trust yesterday backed director general Mark Thompson’s handling of the issue. Broadcasting union Bectu said the petition would be handed to Thompson’s office today while a copy would also be delivered to the BBC Trust. Signatories to the petition expressed their "deep disappointment" with Thompson’s decision to block the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal last month and urged him to reverse his stance. The decision led to 40,000 complaints to the corporation and nationwide protests outside its offices. " We strongly disagree with your assessment about the effect that [the DEC] broadcast would have on the impartiality of the BBC," the petition said. "By denying the victims of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza a chance of assistance, the BBC is actually taking sides. "

Lieberman’s firm suspected of doing business with PA officials
Uri Blau, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
A company established by Avigdor Lieberman did business to the tune of over NIS 1 million with officials in the Palestinian Authority, apparently selling wood in 2000 and 2001 when Lieberman was an MK, Haaretz has learned. During those years the company’s stock was held by a trustee, but Lieberman remained an owner. The police investigation of the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, the third largest party in the new Knesset, is focusing among other things on the allegation that Lieberman was involved in the business even when he was an MK and a cabinet minister. Lieberman established Nativ el Hamizrach Israel to do business mainly in Eastern Europe after he left his post of director general of the Prime Minister’s Office in 1997, under Benjamin Netanyahu. In 1998, Nativ el Hamizrach received more than NIS 700,000 from a company belonging. . .

Arab parties protest ’delegitimization and discrimination’
Greer Fay Cashman, Jerusalem Post 2/19/2009
All the delegations of Arab parties that met with President Shimon Peres on Thursday expressed concern over the fact that Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu party was the cornerstone of the new government coalition. Representatives of each of the parties called Lieberman a fascist and accused him of incitement against and delegitimization of Arabs. They were even more concerned that neither Kadima’s Tzipi Livni nor Likud’s Binyamin Netanyahu had come out strongly against what they termed Lieberman’s racist platform. Referring to remarks that Livni had made during her campaign that coincided with Lieberman’s proposal for population transfer, Balad’s Jamal Zahalka said: "Livni does not have a policy of liberalism but of ’Liebermanism. ’" MK Muhammad Barakei of Hadash complained that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz had permitted incitement against Arabs by extreme right-wing groups using freedom of expression as an excuse.

ANALYSIS / Netanyahu’s victory is starting to turn sour
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
Quite a few jaws dropped to the floor as the list of portfolios requested by Avigdor Lieberman became public: Justice, Public Security and Foreign. This sounds like a bad joke, or an aggressive push by a man up to his neck in investigations to usurp the rule of law. One can imagine Foreign Minister Lieberman returning from one of the few countries that will agree to let him in, and summoning the Justice and Public Security ministers to catch up on his investigations; or alternately, telling Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann whom he prefers as the next attorney general. Or you could imagine the faces of Likud MKs Yuval Steinitz, who is hoping to become public security minister, Gideon Sa’ar, a leading Justice Ministry candidate, or Silvan Shalom, who wants to return to the Foreign Ministry, when they heard about Lieberman’s demands.

Senior Kadima official hopes for ’broad’ coalition
Yossi Verter Mazal Mualem Yuval Azoulay, and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
Senior Kadima official Dalia Itzik on Friday said she hoped that Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu would forge a "broad coalition" involving her own centrist Kadima party. "I hope we will now be able to form a broad government, in which Kadima will be a serious leader. This is because of its size and also because we now want to influence," Itzik told Channel 2. Itzik, the Knesset Speaker, gave the interview a few hours after Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday accepted a mandate to form Israel’s next government. Her comments seemed to contradict a statement earlier Friday by Kadima leader Tzipi Livni that her party would likely join the opposition and not sit in a right-wing coalition headed by Netanyahu. The Knesset speaker added: "We didn’t achieve so much in order to sit in opposition.

Netanyahu chosen to be Israeli PM
Al Jazeera 2/20/2009
Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, has asked Benyamin Netanyahu, the leader of the Likud party, to form a new coalition government within six weeks. Peres and Netanyahu held a news conference in Jerusalem on Friday where Netanyahu accepted the offer. "I hereby designate Benyamin Netanyahu to form the upcoming government. . . there are many challenges ahead," Peres said. Parties representing 65 legislators have backed Netanyahu to become prime minister, he said. Security and peace Netanyahu said that he now had a "responsibility to establish security in our state and to establish peace with our neighbours. " He emphasised the need for political unity saying: "Lets join hands and co-operate to ensure the future of Israel. "Netanyahu will now have to negotiate with other parties to form a coalition government.

Israeli president asks Netanyahu to form government
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 2/20/2009
Appeal to Kadima and Labour for national unity deal - Binyamin Netanyahu, the leader of Israel’s rightwing Likud party, was chosen today to form a new coalition government that would see him emerge as the country’s next prime minister. Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, gave Netanyahu the mandate after three days of negotiations with all 12 parties elected in last week’s polls. Netanyahu’s Likud came a close second in the elections but he was chosen by the president because he won the backing of a majority of elected MPs thanks to the strong performance of rightwing parties in the vote. He has six weeks to put together a majority coalition. The Likud leader promptly called on his rivals - Tzipi Livni, whose Kadima party won the vote by a single seat, and Ehud Barak, of Labour - to join him in a broad national unity government. Even without their support he could put together a coalition but it would have only a slim majority and could run into international criticism for its rightwing policies.

Peres tasks Netanyahu with forming government
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 2/20/2009
After meeting separately with Likud chairman, Kadima leader Livni, president assigns Netanyahu with establishing next government. Netanyahu calls on Livni, Labor head Barak to join hands with him for the nation’s sake - President Shimon Peres announced Friday he has decided to task Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu with forming the next government. "Most of the factions have expressed their desire to see a broad government being established, and I asked Mr. Netanyahu that this wish will be reflected in the makeup of the government," Peres said at a press conference in his official residence. " The people of Israel need governmental stability in order to deal with the challenges that lie ahead," the president added. In his speech, Netanyahu referred to the challenges facing Israel: "Iran is developing nuclear weapons and poses the greatest threat to our existence since the War of Independence. Iran’s terror wings surround us from the north and south"

Peres asks Netanyahu to form next Israeli government
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Amidst assertions that the Palestinian Authority would reject dealings with “any Israeli government that does not recognize peace,” Israel’s president on Friday tasked Likud Chairman Benyamin Netanyahu with forming its next government. Israeli President Shimon Peres met Netanyahu at his official residence in Jerusalem, where Peres tasked the Likud chief with forming the next government of the State of Israel, a spokesperson said. "I believe that it is in the national interest to establish a government as quickly as possible," Peres said of his decision. "Immediately after receiving the results, I began a round of consultations with representatives of all of the newly elected Knesset factions. " "At the conclusion of the consultations, delegates representing 65 incoming Knesset members – a majority of the Knesset – recommended that I task MK Binyamin Netanyahu with forming the next government," the Israeli president said.

Netanyahu asked to be next Israeli leader
AP, The Independent 2/20/2009
Hard-line Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu was today chosen to form a new Israeli government. The announcement by Israeli President Shimon Peres means Mr Netanyahu now has six weeks to put together a ruling coalition. His centrist rival Kadima leader Tzipi Livni said they would not join him but operate as an opposition party instead. Mr Peres made his announcement after meetings with Mr Netanyahu and Ms Livni as he decided which candidate would be given the task of cobbling together a new coalition in the aftermath of Israel’s national election last week. The choice of Mr Netanyahu was cemented yesterday when Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) party, endorsed the Likud leader. Kadima edged out Likud in the election, capturing 28 seats to Likud’s 27. But Likud is in a better position to put together a coalition because of gains by Mr Lieberman and other hard-line parties.

Livni to Haaretz: I may consider a Likud-Yisrael Beitenu coalition
Yossi Verter Mazal Mualem and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni will not join a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu that would include Shas, Habayit Hayehudi and National Union, but she would be willing to consider a Likud-Kadima-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition, she told Haaretz on Thursday. President Shimon Peres is expected to meet separately Friday with Netanyahu and Livni to try to promote a broad coalition that would include Kadima. But Thursday, 65 MKs - all the right-wing and religious factions - recommended to Peres that he appoint Likud’s Netanyahu to form the coalition, and Peres is expected to ask Netanyahu on Sunday to do so. The left wing and Arab parties declined to make a recommendation. Livni said Netanyahu was "asking us to join a coalition that he would first establish with Shas, which demanded that I stop negotiating. . .

Peres pushes for broad coalition
Patrick Moser – JERUSALEM, Middle East Online 2/20/2009
Israel’s president Shimon Peres on Friday was seeking to convince the top two vote-earners from last week’s elections to join forces and form a "broad and stable" government coalition. With hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu certain to be tasked with forming the new government, the main question remains whether he can forge a broad coalition or be forced to ally himself with far right parties that many fear could scuttle Middle East peace talks. Netanyahu, a hawkish former premier who leads the right-wing Likud party, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who heads the centrist Kadima, were to have separate meetings with Peres on Friday. The president called the talks after Livni said on Thursday Kadima would rather move to the opposition benches than join a Likud and the far-right Yisrael Beitenu party in a governing coalition.

Netanyahu asked to form Israel government
Patrick Moser - JERUSALEM, Middle East Online 2/20/2009
Hawkish Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu was tasked on Friday with forming a new Israeli government, fuelling concerns that a right-wing coalition could torpedo the Middle East peace process. Accepting the nomination from President Shimon Peres, the former premier named Iran as the main threat to Israel’s existence and made no direct reference to peace talks with the Palestinians. Peres handed Netanyahu a letter formally asking him to form a new government in the wake of the tight February 10 elections. Peres reached the decision after meeting separately with Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni of the centrist Kadima party in the hope of convincing them to form a broad government alliance. Livni, the outgoing foreign minister emerged from the talks saying she would have nothing to do with a right-wing government.

Freshman orientation kicks off in Knesset
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
The 18th Knesset’s new lawmakers found various ways of calming their nerves yesterday on their first day at their new workplace. Likud MK-designate Ofir Akonis spent some time measuring the size of the rostrum. Then, there was a photo-op at the cabinet table: Akonis sat in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s chair, former army spokeswoman Miri Regev (Likud) sat in Foreign Minister Tzipi’s Livni’s seat, and Mas’ud Gana’im (United Arab List-Ta’al) tried out the chair belonging to Pensioners Party minister Rafi Eitan. Most of the tips Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik gave the newcomers had to do with the media. "Anybody who thinks they can say [to a reporter] ’Do me a favor, don’t print that, I was just kidding’ - there’s no sense of humor here. There’s no mercy. " As a warning, she said they could be caught on camera at any moment, but at the same time she said: "There’s. . .

The bittersweet history of Bibi and Yvet
Lily Galili, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman yesterday recommended Likud’s leader as prime minister to President Shimon Peres, not just because he had the political strength to do so, but because he had to. Ten of his 15 Knesset seats came from Russian-speaking voters who want Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister. Netanyahu had promised the immigrants from the former Soviet Union that Lieberman would receive a senior portfolio in his cabinet. The remaining ballots were cast by Likud supporters who expected Lieberman to endorse Netanyahu as prime minister. On his planned way to the prime minister’s bureau, Lieberman cannot afford to annoy his "natural" followers, especially not in view of the police investigations against him. He will need all the public support he can get. However, at his meeting with Peres, Lieberman qualified his endorsement of Netanyahu, reserving the option of remaining in the opposition.

Netanyahu asked to form new Israeli government
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 2/21/2009
Support of hard-right nationalist Lieberman is crucial to Likud leaderBenjamin Netanyahu, the hawkish leader of Israel’s biggest right-wing party, Likud, was yesterday given six weeks to form a coalition government as he appealed for a "new approach" of unity to deal with the"great challenges" from Iran’s nuclear programme and the global recession. Mr Netanyahu will tomorrow begin what may be a lengthy process after Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, formally invited him to form the country’s next government. Mr Netanyahu sought to show a commitment to forming a broad “unity” government by saying that he wanted to open the talks by meeting his main electoral rival, Tzipi Livni, the Kadima leader, and Ehud Barak, the Labour leader, before other parties. Tomorrow, he will meet Ms Livni, who scored a personal victory in the elections when her party won 28 seats compared with Likud’s 27.

Peres asks Netanyahu to form government
Palestinian Information Center 2/20/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli President, Shimon Peres has asked Benyamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party, to form the next government. Netanyahu accepted the assignment and announced this in a joint press conference with Peres in occupied Jerusalem on Friday. Peres had met both Tzipi Livni, leader of Kadima party and Benyamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud earlier on Friday. Netanyahu said that he wanted to form a broad coalition government with Kadima, but Livni, rejected the idea. Netanyahu, however has the support of far right parties such as Yisrael Beiteinu lead by Aviddor Lieberman which came third in the latest Israeli elections as well as other extremist religious parties. Observers, however, believe that any coalition government formed by Netanyahu will be a weak one.

VIDEO - Binyamin Netanyahu told to form Israeli government
The Guardian 2/20/2009
Leader of Likud party has six weeks to build coalition that would make him prime minister. [end]

Vatican irked by ’blasphemous’ Virgin Mary TV spoof in Israel
Jack Khoury and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
The Vatican said Friday it has formally complained to the Israeli government about an Israeli TV show that ridiculed Jesus and Mary in an offensive act of intolerance. The Israeli foreign ministry said the segment wouldn’t be shown again and that its host, well-known Israeli comedian Lior Shlein, had apologized. In the program, Shlein sarcastically denied Christian traditions - that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus walked on water - saying he was doing so as a lesson to Christians who deny the Holocaust. It was a reference to the Vatican’s recent lifting of the excommunication of a bishop who denied 6 million Jews were killed during World War II. The rehabilitation sparked outrage among Jews. A statement from the Vatican press office said its representative in Israel complained to the government about the segment, which was broadcast recently on private Channel 10, one of Israel’s three main TV stations, during Shlein’s late-night comedy talk show.

Vatican, Catholic bishops and Hizbullah allied in condemnation of Israeli TV show
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 2/21/2009
Catholic bishops in the Holy Land expressed outrage on Friday over what they called "repulsive attacks" on Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary after an Israeli TV program spoofed them. Hizbullah issued a statement on Thursday condemning the show. "We, the members of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land deplore and condemn with utter dismay the repulsive attacks on our lord Jesus Christ and on his mother, the blessed Virgin Mary, carried out on Channel 10 of the Israeli television," a statement by the bishops said. Hizbullah said it was "deeply concerned with the insults against the blessed Virgin Mary and one of our great prophets Jesus Christ. ""Hizbullah puts this heinous offense in the hands of all defenders of human rights and freedom of belief," it said. "Zionists should put an end to their racism and their ridicule of religious symbols. "

U.S. to prod Syrian envoy on support of terrorism, suspected nuclear program
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
The State Department is talking with Syria to discuss U. S. allegations that the Arab country supports terror groups and is pursuing nuclear weapons, a department official said Friday. A meeting with the Syrian ambassador, scheduled for next week at the State Department, will be the first such session since last September and reflects Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s interest in talking directly with Syria and other countries at odds with the United States, spokesman Gordon Duguid said. "It’s her belief that direct engagement with Syria will advance U. S. interests," Duguid said. Ambassador Imad Moustapha is to meet with Jeffrey D. Feltman, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, at Feltman’s request, Duguid said.

US urges IAEA to take up Syria nuclear concerns
Middle East Online 2/20/2009
WASHINGTON - The United States called on the International Atomic Energy Agency Thursday to discuss what it said was mounting evidence of a clandestine nuclear program in Syria at a meeting next month in Vienna. State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said the United States expected the "mounting evidence and ongoing concerns" to be addressed by the IAEA board of governors at its March 2-6 meeting. "We fully support the IAEA in its investigation and urge the international community to continue insisting that Syria comply with its IAEA obligations and cooperate fully with the IAEA without delay," he said. In a report that is supposed to be discussed at the March meeting, the IAEA rejected assertions by Damascus that particles of uranium found at the Al-Kibar site came from Israeli missiles used to bomb it in September 2007.

Syria confident of US detente
Sami Moubayed, Asia Times 2/21/2009
Speaking to The Guardian this week, President Bashar al-Assad spoke volumes about the much anticipated Syrian-US rapprochement. The Syrians patiently waited for France’s former leader Jacques Chirac to leave the Elysee Palace in 2007, and welcomed Nicolas Sarkozy who showed a desire to engage with Damascus. That same strategy paid off as they waited for George W Bush to leave the White House, and are now welcoming President Barack Obama, who has also shown a desire to engage Damascus. Assad hoped the Obama administration would get further involved in the peace process, to restore the occupied Golan Heights to Syria, and noted: "There is no substitute for the United States. " Earlier, the US had repeatedly refused to support any kind of Syrian-Israeli peace talks, claiming that Syria was more interested in a peace process to end the isolation imposed on it by the Bush White House than a peace treaty.

Syrian delay in sending envoy worries France
Daily Star 2/21/2009
BEIRUT: French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has voiced concern over Syria’s delay in sending an ambassador to Lebanon and reaffirmed France’s complete commitment to the special international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri. In a wide-ranging interview published Friday in the pan-Arab daily Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, Kouchner said there would be "no compromise" on the Hariri tribunal, slated to begin in The Hague March 1. "We have given our full support and actually contributed in funding [the tribunal] from the very first moment. We will make no compromises over the tribunal. [French] President [Nicolas] Sarkozy has said this to Syrian President [Bashar] Assad," Kouchner said. Hariri was killed by a massive car bomb in Beirut in 2005, and Syria has been widely accused of having a hand in the assassination, which triggered. . .

Survey: Most Jewish Israelis do not want more churches in Jerusalem
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
The vast majority of Israeli Jews does not have negative feelings toward Christians living in Israel, but nearly the same proportion believes the state should not allow land to be used for constructing new churches in Jerusalem, according to a study published Thursday. The survey, carried out by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, 74 percent of respondents do not see Christians as "missionaries," and 76 percent are not bothered by encountering a Christian wearing a cross. Furthermore, 41 percent believe Christianity is the closest religion to Judaism, with Islam coming second at 32 percent. However, the study suggested that most Israeli Jews are considerably less tolerant when Jerusalem is concerned. Only 50 percent of the sample agreed that Jerusalem was central to the Christian faith, and 75 percent believe the state should not allow Christian organizations to purchase land to construct new churches in the city.

Report: Abbas to visit Norway on Tuesday
Ma’an News Agency 2/20/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Norwegian officials told the Associated Press on Friday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Oslo next week. He will discuss international aid, among other issues, with top officials, the AP said. The Norwegian Prime Minister’s Office said Abbas would travel from Prague to the Norwegian capital on Tuesday to meet with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere. Abbas led the Fatah movement for the Palestinian negotiations during Norwegian-led talks that led to the signing of the 1993 Oslo Agreement accords with Israel. [end]

MIDEAST: Human Rights Defenders Under Siege
William Fisher, Inter Press Service 2/21/2009
NEW YORK, Feb 20(IPS) - The administration of U. S. President Barack Obama must take a leadership position in championing human rights in the Middle East and North Africa by using U. S. economic and trade leverage and confronting the growing global threat of authoritarianism being promoted by Arab regimes, advocates say. This is the view of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), whose recent annual report concludes that the region has witnessed a "grave deterioration of human rights while reform faces a dead end," fuelled by increasingly repressive actions by many Arab countries acting in concert with the Arab League. Moataz El Fegiery, CIHRS executive director, told IPS, "Arab governments are turning the United Nations and the Arab League into platforms for exporting repression. The Arab League supports war criminals, anti-democratic coups, and restrictions on freedom of expression. . . "

Andy Ram says receiving visa to play tennis in UAE ’a very good surprise’
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
Andy Ram says receiving a visa to play in the United Arab Emirates is a very good surprise and the Arab government made the right decision. After the Emirates refused to allow countrywoman Shahar Peer to play in this week’s women’s tournament in Dubai, the WTA and ATP Tours threatened to cancel future events in Dubai. The Emirates, which support Palestinians and do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, feared demonstrations by local fans over Israel’s recent military offensive in the Gaza Strip if Peer was to play. But the Emirates backtracked on Thursday, granting Ram a visa to enter next week’s $2. 2 million Dubai Championships. Peer called it a victory and looked forward to playing in Dubai next year. On Friday, the WTA fined the Dubai organizers a record $300,000.

The Jewish Agency transfers 10 Jews from Yemen to Tel Aviv
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/20/2009
The Jewish Agency announced that it transferred ten Yemeni Jews, including eight family members, from Yemen to Tel Aviv. The agency did not reveal details on how the family was extracted from Raida town in Yemin to Tel Aviv; the family will be living in the Bait Shemish settlement, in Jerusalem. The Middle East online reported that Yahia Yaish, the Rabbi of the Yemeni Jews, said that the family of Said Ben Yisrael most likely moved to Israel due to "harassment and anti-Semitism". He added that the Jews in Yemin always receive offers from the Jewish Agency in order to immigrate to Israel. "We keep receiving offers to move to Israel", Yaish said, "But we always refuse, nobody leaves his land and country without a reason". The family of Said Ben Yisrael, the head of the Jewish Community in Raida, will be granted Israeli citizenship and will be moved to Beit Shemesh Israel settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian cheese makers adopt Italian production techniques
Luisa Farrow for PNN, Palestine News Network 2/20/2009
Ramallah - The Golden Sheep invited on Thursday the Ramallah public to taste Italian-style cheese, produced in Palestine For three years Palestinian producers worked along with Italian experts to make cheese the Italian way. Local production projects are being undertaken to bolster an economy controlled by the restrictions of occupation and the global recession. Milk imports are impractical for fine cheeses, but the staples of Mozarella, Ricotta and Pecorine, now locally made, will be found on West Bank store shelves next week. The project aims to strengthen the local trade and create jobs, and is now able to engage 28 producers from the northern West Bank’s Tubas and Jenin. During last night’s tasting an initiator of the project, Stefano Baldani, commented, "We saw that most of the cheese in stores is imported, either from Israel or Europe. "

Celebrated journalist Kassem Jaafar passes away
The Daily Star, Daily Star 2/21/2009
BEIRUT: Former Daily Star reporter (1984-86) and opinion writer (1997-99) Kassem Jaafar passed away on Friday. Born in Nigeria in 1956 to a family from South Lebanon, Jaafar got his primary and secondary education in Lebanon before graduating from the American University of Beirut with a degree in Middle Eastern History and Islamic Studies. He moved to London in 1979 where he joined Kings College, University of London and completed his MA and Mphil in War Studies. During the early 80’s he co-edited Strategic Review, a newsletter on defense and current affairs in London, and later joined the BBC where he worked for more than 10 years as a Middle East and Defence correspondent. He also worked as Defence and Diplomatic Editor at Al-Hayat at its sister weekly Al-Wasat. He has authored and co-authored several books and articles, and lived between London and Doha, Qatar where he was a Diplomatic and Defence consultant.

Bank of Israel: Recession is here
TheMarker Correspondent and Reuters, By Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
Israel’s combined economic performance index slid 1. 2 percent in January, its sixth straight drop, the research division of the Bank of Israel said yesterday. "The steep decline in the index this month and declines in the last few months testify that the economy is sliding into a recession, whose first signs appeared in the index in the last quarter of 2008," the central bank said in a statement. The index dropped by 0. 4% in October, 0. 5% in November and 0. 8% in December. The industrial production component of the January index, which was measured in December, rose by 0. 7% after falling 0. 6% in November. But revenue from commerce and services, another component that was measured in December, dropped by 6. 1% after a 1. 2% decline in November. The services export index fell by 2. 3% in January, following an 11. 8% free-fall in December. The goods export index slid 0. 9% in January, after a sharp 7. 3% drop in December.

Stanley Fischer: Banking sector is not in crisis
Tal Levy, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer believes Israel is weathering the economic crisis better than many of its bigger brothers. "My colleagues at the International Monetary Fund called me from Washington, D. C. and admitted to me that they didn’t believe me when I told them that Israel is in better shape than most of the states in the West - but today they understand that that’s the situation," Fischer said Thursday at the first annual conference of the bank’s Information and Statistics Department, held at Tel Aviv’s David Intercontinental Hotel. The central bank expects growth of -0. 2% in 2009, but Fischer said that by 2010 the annual growth rate for the economy will rebound and reach 2. 7%. His forecast is based on IMF forecasts of 3% growth next year. Fischer argues that if global economic growth falls below that rate, Israel too will find it difficult to meet the. . . .

Israeli Envoy: world must act to prevent Iranian nuclear breakthrough
News Agencies and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/21/2009
Israel’s ambassador to the U. S. on Friday called for the world to take "immediate and serious action" after a United Nations report revealed that Iran has acquired enough uranium for a nuclear bomb, Fox News reported on Friday. "It’s an extremely worrisome report. . . . It emphasizes that with every day passing, Iran is getting closer to a nuclear military capacity," he said. "The world must take immediate and serious action in order to prevent this nightmare from happening," Meridor said. Meridor did not describe what steps the international community should take, but said that "sanctions should be enhanced significantly" adding that "we are at a very, very serious and dangerous juncture to world peace. " Meridor told Fox News that the report shows the threat the Islamic Republic poses to the world and. .

Israel urges more pressure on Iran
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 2/20/2009
Foreign Ministry issues response to IAEA report on Iran and Syria, says Iran’s continuing uranium enrichment merits international intervention; also calls for probes into sites barred by Syria after evidence of nuclear activity was discovered there -Israel responded Friday to a report filed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the subject of nuclear proliferation in Iran and Syria. The Foreign Ministry stated that "the international community must increase its pressure on Iran to stop its military plan. Regarding Syria Israel is demanding that other sites be investigated. " The IAEA has issued new reports on Iran and Syria, in which it stated that Iran had recently understated the amount of uranium it had enriched. "The report on Iran signifies its continuing enrichment of uranium, a violation of Security Council resolutions and a refusal to cooperate

Iran ’has enough uranium for nuclear weapon’
Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor, The Independent 2/20/2009
Iran has "in theory" stockpiled sufficient raw material to build a nuclear weapon, a senior UN official said yesterday. Western analysts have been expecting Iran to reach this symbolic threshold of so-called "break-out capacity" after accumulating enough low-enriched uranium which can then be upgraded to fuel for a small bomb. There have been fears that once Tehran crossed the threshold of obtaining more than 1,000kg of low-enriched uranium, Israel might be tempted to take unilateral military action to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon, particularly now that the hardline Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, appears poised to become prime minister. However, the official added that the UN nuclear watchdog had not detected that Iran was building a clandestine facility to produce the highly enriched uranium needed for bomb fuel, or that it had the necessary technical capabilities to do so at its existing enrichment plant in Natanz.

Russia ’halts’ sale of advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Iran
Daily Star 2/21/2009
MOSCOW: Russia has frozen the sale of the state-of-the-art S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Wednesday. Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was reportedly informed of the decision by his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov on his visit to Moscow Wednesday. Russia said the delivery of the systems would be delayed at least until the upcoming meeting between President Dmitry Medvedev and his US counterpart, Barack Obama. Kommersant cited Russia’s wish to prevent hindering dialogue with the new US administration. Military diplomatic sources were quoted by Kommersant as saying that the issue had been the focus of Najjar’s visit. Israel Radio quoted Moscow sources as saying that apart form the gesture to the Americans, Russia also wanted to avoid ruining a $100 million drone purchase from Israel.

Journalist: ’I threw shoes at Bush in protest against war’
Sinan Salahedd in in Baghdad, The Independent 2/20/2009
Iraqi tells court he acted out of frustration at ex-president’s ’victory’ talk - Muntadhar al-Zeidi was greeted with cheers when he entered the courtroom - The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at the former US president George Bush remained defiant as his trial opened yesterday, saying he had acted to restore national pride. In his first public appearance since he was taken into custody on 14 December, Muntadhar al-Zeidi said he did not intend to harm Mr Bush or to embarrass the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. "What made me do it was the humiliation Iraq has been subjected to due to the US occupation and the murder of innocent people," Mr Zeidi said. "I wanted to restore the pride of the Iraqis in any way possible, apart from using weapons. "He also alleged during his testimony to the three-judge panel that he was tortured while in jail – something the Iraqi government has denied.

Tutu urges Obama to apologise for Iraq war
Middle East Online 2/20/2009
LONDON - Archbishop Desmond Tutu warned Thursday that US President Barack Obama risks squandering goodwill from around the world if he fails to take concrete steps such as apologising for the Iraq war. Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and retired archbishop of Cape Town, urged Obama to support the International Criminal Court (ICC) and "come down hard" on African dictators. The 77-year-old anti-apartheid icon said that when Obama was elected in November last year, "I wanted to jump and dance and shout" as he had done after voting in his homeland for the first time in 1994. But a few weeks into the new administration, he now warned in an article for the BBC’s website that the high hopes surrounding Obama’s presidency may turn sour. Obama "could easily squander the goodwill that his election generated if he disappoints," Tutu wrote.


Articles


The real Israel-Palestine story is in the West Bank
Ben White, The Guardian 2/20/2009
      It is quite likely that you have not heard of the most important developments this week in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the West Bank, while it has been "occupation as normal", there have been some events that together should be overshadowing Gaza, Gilad Shalit and Avigdor Lieberman.
     First, there have been a large number of Israeli raids on Palestinian villages, with dozens of Palestinians abducted. These kinds of raids are, of course, commonplace for the occupied West Bank, but in recent days it appears the Israeli military has targeted sites of particularly strong Palestinian civil resistance to the separation wall.
     For three consecutive days this week, Israeli forces invaded Jayyous, a village battling for survival as their agricultural land is lost to the wall and neighbouring Jewish colony. The soldiers occupied homes, detained residents, blocked off access roads, vandalised property, beat protestors, and raised the Israeli flag at the top of several buildings.
     Jayyous is one of the Palestinian villages in the West Bank that has been non-violently resisting the separation wall for several years now. It was clear to the villagers that this latest assault was an attempt to intimidate the protest movement.

’EU Paying for Gaza Blockade’

David Cronin, Inter Press Service 2/21/2009
      BRUSSELS, Feb 20 (IPS) - European Union aid has been given to an Israeli oil company which has reduced the supply of fuel to Gaza as part of an economic blockade internationally recognised as illegal, Brussels officials have admitted.
     Almost 97 million euros (124 million dollars) in funds managed by the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, were handed over directly to the firm Dor Alon between February 2008 and January this year. Under orders from the Israeli authorities, Dor Alon has been rationing the amount of industrial diesel brought into Gaza in order to deprive its 1.5 million inhabitants of electricity. Power cuts have been a regular occurrence in Gaza because of Israeli actions undertaken since the militant party Hamas won an unexpected victory in Palestinian legislative elections during 2006.
     Charles Shamas from the Mattin Group, an organisation based in the West Bank that monitors Europe’s relationship with Israel, said that the EU has been helping to accommodate the economic blockade of Gaza. This is despite how the Union’s most senior diplomats, including its foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, have condemned the blockade as ’collective punishment’ of a civilian population. Collective punishment constitutes a war crime, according to the 1949 Geneva convention.

Celebrities asked to boycott diamonds from settlement builder

Press release, Adalah-NY, Electronic Intifada 2/20/2009
      Adalah-NY and Jews Against the Occupation-NYC (JATO-NYC) have called on 16 Hollywood PR firms and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to ensure that no stars wear Leviev diamonds at this Sunday’s Academy Awards. In a two week campaign involving letters and dozens of phone discussions with PR firms, the groups drew attention to Leviev’s violations of human rights and international law in the occupied West Bank where his companies build Israeli settlements, and in the diamond industry in Angola and Namibia. Leviev reportedly controls one-third of the world’s diamond mines.
     The 16 PR firms contacted include six firms representing the ten nominees for best actress and best supporting actress, and representatives for many other female stars. The PR firms acknowledged receiving the Adalah-NY/JATO-NYC letter, and a number of the firms said the letter had been circulated among their senior staff. In a 18 February phone call with Adalah-NY, a press spokesman for the Oscars also said they had received Adalah-NY and JATO-NYC’s letter, but had no comment on the letter’s appeal to ban Leviev’s jewelry, or the groups’ assertion that "the presence of Leviev jewelry at the Academy Awards would taint the events with complicity in Leviev’s companies’ egregious" human rights violations.

Global boycott movement marks its successes

Jeff Handmaker, Electronic Intifada 2/20/2009
      Responding to the many calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, solidarity movements around the world have marked many successes. It is important for human rights advocates to build on this momentum and seize the opportunity to do what is within their power to try and hold Israel accountable for its abuses of human rights and other international laws.
     Since the initial BDS call by Palestinian intellectuals and academics in October 2003, which was followed by separate calls for sports, arts, economic and other calls for BDS, there has been a seismic shift in the global solidarity movement for human rights in Israel-Palestine. Lawyers, doctors, academics, students, trade unionists, school teachers and many other activists have marked successes around the world. Their efforts are an inspiring reflection of the South African anti-apartheid movement, where BDS was also used very effectively.
     In first few weeks of 2009 alone, European, North American and South African solidarity movements have made remarkable progress.
     A growing number of politicians in Europe and North America have put forward uncomfortable, probing questions to their governments and clearly want to do more. One example is the "Break the Silence" campaign within the Dutch Labor Party.

Ramattan’s war: The world’s eyes into Gaza

Toufic Haddad, Electronic Intifada 2/20/2009
      If there is controversy about who won the recent war in Gaza, there is no question that Ramattan News Agency of Gaza City won the war to broadcast it.
     It was Ramattan’s images that beamed Israel’s 22-day "Operation Cast Lead" into millions of households across the globe, capturing the indelible visual moments of the war: the aftermath of Israeli shells that hit a UN school compound killing 46 refugees; the streams of incendiary white phosphorus raining down upon civilian neighborhoods; the family members who desperately dug out the corpses of their relatives beneath the layers of collapsed homes. Ramattan’s images were broadcast uncensored around the clock and only stopped on the few occasions the staff had to evacuate the studios fearing the 11-story building was about to be bombed.
     Recently in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, journalist Gideon Levy described the effect these images had:
     "The whole world saw the images. They shocked every human being who saw them, even if they left most Israelis cold. The conclusion is that Israel is a violent and dangerous country, devoid of all restraints and blatantly ignoring the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, while not giving a hoot about international law. The investigations are on their way."

Lieberman is no better than Feiglin

Zeev Sternhell, Ha’aretz 2/20/2009
      Kadima achieved its great accomplishment thanks to votes from the left, whereas Likud did not lose even more seats to Kadima because it succeeded in temporarily concealing and silencing Moshe Feiglin’s Jewish Leadership movement. Now, even though Avigdor Lieberman and his aides - who, when it is convenient, like to wear the mask of pragmatists - are no better than the group from Jewish Leadership, Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu are both competing for their favors.
     That is the nature of politics and the reason why politics are loathed by decent people who consider them the opposite of integrity and basic morality. It is no wonder that so many people do not bother to go to the polls.
     But Lieberman is not a unique phenomenon. About one-third of the members of the current Knesset show contempt for democracy’s moral contents.
     Yisrael Beiteinu is joined by the ultra-Orthodox parties, whose patterns of behavior and principles in the political sphere are not substantially different from the concepts held by Lieberman’s party or the Feiglin branch of Likud. Even though the ultra-Orthodox parties’ source of authority is spiritual and the leader who makes the decisions achieved his position due to his intellectual prowess - while Lieberman draws on his skill at sowing hatred - the result is similar. Lieberman and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, along with the factions at the fringes of their parties, represent those in our society who have authoritarian temperaments and tendencies.

Long road to rehabilitation for Gaza’s amputees

Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 2/20/2009
      Amidst the thousands of people injured during Israel’s three-week bombardment of the Gaza Strip are many whose lives will be permanently affected because they lost limbs.
     Suheir Zemo, a 47-year-old mother of seven, lost her right leg after an Israeli missile crashed into her home in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City in mid-January, at the height of the Israeli attack.
     "I was in my bedroom when a rocket landed in the room. Suddenly my leg started bleeding severely. Then my husband risked his life and took me to hospital as ambulances were not allowed into the area, said Suheir sitting in a wheelchair at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza.
     At al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital in eastern Gaza City, a number of amputees recently began the rehabilitation process. Al-Wafa is the only private rehabilitation center in the Gaza Strip, but even it was not spared damage in the Israeli attack.
     In one of the hospital’s rooms lie two young men in their early twenties; the first had his right leg amputated, while the second had his lower limbs severely injured, preventing their use completely.

Lives buried under the rubble in Gaza

Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 2/19/2009
      Three weeks after the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, 16-year-old Maysa al-Louh sits stoically on the pile of sand that consumes half her home in Beit Lahiya. Under the sand, churned up by Israeli bulldozers during incursions into the area on 4 January 2009 lie all her report cards and school awards that were testament to her excellent academic record.
     Nearby her grandmother tries to heat water on a pile of ash. The smell of decomposing chicken carcasses is overwhelming: the family’s chicken coop that provided them with eggs, as well as their vegetable garden, were all destroyed by the bulldozers and tanks.
     Thirty-five people lived in the three-story al-Louh house. The contents of home life -- a refrigerator, notebooks, framed pictures, and plastic flowers, lie scattered over the area. The adjacent Sakhnin Elementary School was also damaged by artillery shells and some of its classrooms are now a masse of mangled chairs, steel rods, shattered concrete and broken glass. Israel says militants were firing rockets from the school grounds.

If Gazans want compassion from Israelis, they should grow a tail

Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 2/20/2009
      Sick and starving animals soften Israeli hearts: There never is a limit to the absurd. In a period when Israelis approve of killing and starving human beings, they find enough compassion so that they can get animal feed into the Gaza Zoo. I found this piece in Israel 21C (the site that brags about the high tech of Israel) and was dumbstruck reading it. I will add a few comments within in Blue. [italics]
     Israeli animal charity sends aid to Gaza zoo, By Abigail Klein-Leichman
     Truckloads of food and medicine for lions, horses, donkeys, and other ill and hungry animals were among the relief supplies flowing into the Gaza Strip from Israel following the recent three-week war.
     It was no easy feat getting help to the inhabitants of the Gaza Zoo and to other wild and domesticated creatures in an area hostile to the Jewish state.
     Oh Gee, I wonder why it would be hostile to the Jewish State, especially now.
     But Eti Altman, co-founder and spokeswoman of Israel’s largest animal-welfare organization, Let the Animals Live (LAL), is tenacious in her mission to alleviate suffering.
     You will note the name of the organisation, which sounds so noble. I suppose the name of the organisation that represents Israel and the policy the absolute majority supports of bombing the living daylights out of Gaza as Let the People Die (LPD). I suppose alleviating suffering is important only for animals. -- See also: Israeli animal charity sends aid to Gaza zoo

Minding the gap in the Middle East

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 2/21/2009
      When you get off a train in many countries, a sign tells you to "mind the gap" between the platform and the train. We need a sign like that over the entire Middle East, which is facing a dangerous trend of the widening gap between a more extremist Israel and more pragmatic Arabs, Iranians, Americans and Europeans.
     A flurry of recent developments - statements, gestures, hints, trips - suggests that the United States, Iran, Arab states and some Europeans seem interested to explore conciliatory moves and are now making noises to that effect: American members of Congress visit Syria and Gaza; the Iranian and US presidents allude to resuming talks and normal relations; the Syrian president stresses the centrality of the US for peace talks in the Middle East and welcomes a visit by head of US Central Command General David Petraeus to discuss Iraq; Italy ponders inviting Iran to the next G-8 meeting, and assorted European legislators hold quiet talks with Hamas, whose leaders just sent a letter to President Barack Obama.
     The common denominator is that key parties that had been estranged now seek to resume normal contacts, which is a critical first step toward sensible behavior, and then, perhaps, peace and security for all....

Obama was unconvinced by Bibi’s desire for peace

Robert Fisk, The Independent 2/21/2009
      Barack Obama, they say, did not get on well with Bibi Netanyahu when he met him in Jerusalem before the American elections.
     Mr Obama, who figured out the Middle East pretty quickly, apparently found Bibi arrogant and unconvincing in his professed desire for peace with the Palestinians. What Mr Netanyahu thought of Mr Obama is not known, but he could scarcely have tried to hide his election line: security for Israel, but no Palestinian state.
     Much depends, of course, on whether Tzipi Livni will consent to join a Netanyahu government. For if Avigdor Lieberman slips into a ministerial position, Obama is in trouble. Does he congratulate a new Israeli prime minister who has introduced into his government a man who is prepared to demand loyalty signatures from his own country’s Arab minority? How would that go down in the United States, where a similar proposal – for a loyalty pledge by American minorities, for example – would be a scandal?
     But those Palestinians who believe that Lieberman should be in a Netanyahu administration – on the grounds that the “true” face of Israel would then be clear to all Americans – are being a little premature. Obama is not going to change the US relationship with Israel. American foreign policy – like that of most states – is based not on justice but on power.

Statement of Joel Kovel Regarding His Termination by Bard College

Joel Kovel, MR Zine 2/20/2009
      Joel Kovel holds the Alger Hiss chair in social studies at Bard College and is the author of ’Overcoming Zionism’ among other titles. He has recently been informed by the college that his contract will not be extended beyond July 1. In the statement below, by Kovel, he argues that his views are to blame.
     In January, 1988, I was appointed to the Alger Hiss Chair of Social Studies at Bard College. As this was a Presidential appointment outside the tenure system, I have served under a series of contracts. The last of these was half-time (one semester on, one off, with half salary and full benefits year-round), effective from July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2009. On February 7 I received a letter from Michèle Dominy, Dean of the College, informing me that my contract would not be renewed this July 1 and that I would be moved to emeritus status as of that day. She wrote that this decision was made by President Botstein, Executive Vice-President Papadimitriou and herself, in consultation with members of the Faculty Senate.
     This document argues that this termination of service is prejudicial and motivated neither by intellectual nor pedagogic considerations, but by political values, principally stemming from differences between myself and the Bard administration on the issue of Zionism. There is of course much more to my years at Bard than this, including another controversial subject, my work on ecosocialism (The Enemy of Nature). However, the evidence shows a pattern of conflict over Zionism only too reminiscent of innumerable instances in this country in which critics of Israel have been made to pay, often with their careers, for speaking out. In this instance the process culminated in a deeply flawed evaluation process which was used to justify my termination from the faculty.