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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
28 February, 2009

Strike paralyses West Bank
Al Jazeera 2/28/2009
A general strike to protest against Israel’s plans to evict 1,500 Palestinians from their homes in the Silwan district of Jerusalem has paralysed much of the occupied West Bank. Shops and schools were closed and the streets were deserted as the strike was observed on Saturday. The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) had called the strike after Israeli officials and soldiers visited several homes in Silwan, raising fears that the houses would be demolished soon. Israel has ordered 88 Palestinian homes to be demolished in Silwan, a mostly Palestinian neighbourhood next to Jerusalem’s old walled city and its holy sites. Israel says the houses were built illegally and without permits. Palestinians say its difficult to obtain building permits in Arab neighbourhoods, prompting them to build illegally.

A Palestinian man dies as tunnel collapses at the Gaza-Egypt borders
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/28/2009
A Palestinian man died on Saturday as an under ground tunnel collapsed at the Gaza-Egypt borders, Palestinian sources reported. Doctors said that the man was suffocated to death after he was covered with rubble inside the tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Meanwhile Palestinian resistance groups fire two home-made shells at Israeli targets in Ashklon city near the Gaza Strip. Israeli sources said that one of the fired shells hit a school and the other landed in opened areas, both caused damage but no injuries. [end]

Abbas: Unity depends on Hamas recognizing Israel
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday any unity government with Hamas would have to agree to a two-state solution with Israel, a demand quickly rejected by his Islamist rivals. The disagreement could hamper Egyptian-brokered reconciliation talks aimed at ending a schism between the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, where Abbas’ Fatah faction holds sway. " We are moving in steady steps towards. . . a national unity government that abides by our known commitments, which include the two-state vision and the signed (peace) commitments," Abbas said in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Hamas official Ayman Taha in Gaza said Abbas’s comments undermine chances for reaching a unity agreement. " We reject any pre-conditions in the formation of the unity government. Hamas will never accept a unity government that recognizes Israel," Taha said. A dozen Palestinian factions including Fatah and Hamas began reconciliation talks in Cairo on Thursday to try to agree by March 20 on a unity government.

International student demonstration achieves divestment
PNN, Palestine News Network 2/28/2009
London - Cardiff Students against War is ending its takeover of the Large Shandon lecture theatre, Cardiff University Main Building as part of its "occupying against occupation" project. The students are now leaving and marching around campus to declare what they have achieved. It is a victory in Britain. "We are making our continued presence known to the university community. Banners and megaphones, BOOKS not BOMBS!," say student organizers. Following the open letter to Vice Chancellor David Grant, the "BOOKS not BOMBS" demonstration outside the Student Union and the subsequent occupation of the Large Shandon, Cardiff University has divested all shares from BAe Systems and the aerospace arm of General Electric. They have instructed their external fund managers to avoid future investments in the arms trade, and have promised to raise the issue of an ethical investment policy at the next Council Meeting on 18 May of this year.

Europeans launch campaign to remove Hamas from EU terror list
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Removing Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations is the goal of a new petitioning campaign organized by the European Anti-Imperialism Camp ahead of the European Parliament elections in June. In declaring Hamas a terrorist organization in September 2003, the EU cut all direct ties with the political party and froze its assets in Europe. The Anti-Imperialism Camp is set to target the candidates for the EU Parliament’s 736 seats and call for support to remove what they describe as the rightfully elected government of the Palestinians from the terror list. The petition put together by the group calls for the realization of Palestinians’ rights to self determination and resistance to occupation. Kicking off the campaign the document was signed by dozens of parliamentarians and prominent European figures including academics, human rights activists, media members, professionals and local council members.

2 Grad rockets hit Ashkelon; no injuries
Tova Dadon, YNetNews 2/28/2009
Color Red alert system sounds in southern city at 8:45, loud explosions follow; one rocket lands near educational institution, number of residents suffer shock; two Qassams lands Negev region -Two Grads were fired by Palestinian gunmen in north Gaza toward Ashkelon Saturday morning. One rocket hit near an educational institution in the southern coastal city, and a number of residents were treated for shock. The second rocket landed in an open area outside the city. There were no reports of injury or damage. At around 8:45 am the Color Red alert system, which warns of incoming projectiles, sounded in the southern Israeli city, followed by reports of loud explosions. A Qassam rocket fired from Gaza at approximately 10 am landed in an open area within Eshkol Regional Council limits. There were no reports of injury or damage.

Abbas insists on leading Gaza rebuilding
Nasser Abu Bakr - RAMALLAH, Middle East Online 2/28/2009
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Saturday insisted his government should spearhead postwar reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip days before a major international donors’ conference. But although his Fatah party has relaunched reconciliation talks with the Islamist Hamas movement ruling Gaza, the region’s political standoffs could leave such efforts stillborn regardless of how much money is pledged. "We expect rapid international aid from all parties to completely rebuild Gaza," Abbas told reporters after meeting the European Union’s top diplomat Javier Solana in the Israeli-occupied West Bank town of Ramallah. "We also expect that as in the past there will be one mechanism, the Palestinian Authority," he said, referring to his Western-backed government, which was ousted from Gaza when Hamas seized power there in June 2007.

Khudari: Rebuilding Gaza can only start when crossings are opened
Palestinian Information Center 2/28/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Chairman of the Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS), MP Jamal al-Khudari, commended the stream of solidarity delegations arriving in the Gaza Strip, but stressed that these appreciated efforts should culminate in the opening of the border crossings to start the rebuilding of Gaza. Khudari, said in a press statement, that solidarity delegations visit the Gaza Strip, see for themselves the suffering of the people there because of the lack of essential goods, then they make press conferences about what they saw. He added that the people in the Gaza Strip cannot build one wall or carry out any renovation work, because of the lack of building materials in the Strip as a result. He called for working on two fronts in parallel, to collect the necessary financial aid to rebuild the Strip and to pressure Israel to end the siege.

A Palestinian man dies of wounds sustained last month
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/28/2009
A Palestinian man from Gaza died on Saturday due to wounds he sustained last month during the Israeli military offensive, Palestinian medical sources reported. Doctors said that Nihad Abu Ikmel, 29, died on Saturday at an Egyptian hospital, they added that he was send their after sustain wounds in his head. The Israeli military offensive lasted for 22 days and ended on January 18th, it left at least 1,400 Palestinian killed and more than 6,000 injured

Gazan man wounded during war succumbs to his wounds in Egypt; war’s death toll reaches 1,453
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip confirmed on Saturday the death of the 1,453rd Palestinian from Gaza as the result of the three week Israeli war on the Strip. Twenty-seven-year-old Nihad Abu Kamil was receiving treatment in Egypt after sustaining gunshot wounds, one to the head, from Israeli fire on 13 January. Abu Kamil had been standing in front of his home in Al-Mighrafa neighborhood of Gaza City when Israeli tanks opened fire. According to the victim’s family, the body of the young man has not yet returned from Egypt for burial in Gaza. [end]

Aqsa foundation warns of great danger threatening Al-Bustan neighborhood
Palestinian Information Center 2/28/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Al-Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage warned of the existence of a great danger threatening Al-Bustan neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem, appealing to the Arab and Islamic world to urgently move to save the holy city and protect the Aqsa Mosque against the Zionist scheme. In a statement received by the PIC, the foundation said that there is a state of unanimity among the Palestinians in the Silwan area in general and the Bustan neighborhood in particular that the threat of demolishing their houses and displacing them might occur at any time. The statement underlined that the Zionist scheme in the neighborhood started when Israel occupied east of Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque in 1967, where Israel, since then, had been escalating its excavations in the southern and eastern areas of the Mosque and intensive settlement activities east of Jerusalem,. . .

Palestinians protest Israeli demolition orders
Associated Press, YNetNews 2/28/2009
Shops, schools remain closed in West Bank, east Jerusalem after municipality orders demolition of 88 illegally built homes in Silwan neighborhood - Palestinians are striking to protest Israeli demolition orders of homes in east Jerusalem. Shops and schools were shuttered throughout the West Bank and Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem on Saturday after Palestinian officials announced the strike. Official Hatem Abdul Qader says the strike was called after municipal officials and security forces visited several homes in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem. That spiked fears that the homes would be imminently demolished. Municipal officials issued orders to demolish 88 illegally built homes in the neighborhood in 2005. They say they are simply imposing the law. Palestinians say it’s difficult to obtain building permits in Arab neighborhoods, forcing them to build illegally.

Thousands attend Friday prayer in Aqsa Mosque despite the wild cold
Palestinian Information Center 2/28/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Despite heavy rain and cold weather in the occupied city of Jerusalem, thousands of Palestinian Jerusalemites marched to the Aqsa Mosque in support of their fellow Palestinians in Selwan suburb who are facing the nightmare of being uprooted from their homes. A couple of days ago, the Israeli occupation authorities handed over demolition notices to 88 Palestinian families residing in Selwan, and urged them to leave their homes immediately to build a public park on the ruins of their homes. The Israeli step gained the wrath of Palestinians in homeland and in diaspora, who vowed to resist the Israeli move with all available means. Palestinians less than 45 years old were denied entry to the Aqsa Mosque to perform their Friday prayer there as the Israeli occupation police deployed thousands of its members in and around the old town of occupied Jerusalem.

West Bank strikes to save East Jerusalem’s Silwan
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 2/28/2009
Even for those with "permission," East Jerusalem is often too painful to visit. For journalists it is necessary, if allowed, for the simple fact of reporting the news. The difficulty is not only because our neighbors in the West Bank, and friends in the Gaza Strip, are unable to do so. It is because, that in addition to the years of heavy Israeli military presence and the alarming changes of facts on the ground over the past seven years, Israeli settlers are now walking freely through Palestinian Jerusalem. Bab Almoud -- Damascus Gate -- is not only inundated by settlers at specific times, particularly Fridays when Palestinian Muslims are largely restricted from reaching Al Aqsa Mosque for prayers. With all of that happening, something new struck last Friday. The omnipresent soldiers were there, waiting to stop a random Palestinian whose ID they decide to scrutinize.

In support for Jerusalem general strike in all West Bank areas
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 2/28/2009
Palestinian shop owners and public services shot-down on Saturday as a general strike took effect in the morning as a move of solidarity with Palestinians living in Jerusalem. Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee called for this strike last Tuesday. It comes as a protest of Israeli plans to destroy 88 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. The latest Israel demolition plan would displace at least 1,400 Palestinians. The plan, announced by Israeli media early this week, is to take over 88 homes in the Al Bustan neighborhood, located immediately south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem’s old city. Some of those homes were built before 1967. According to Israeli plans registered with the Jerusalem municipality, this traditionally Palestinian neighborhood is to become a park, with flowers, trees and café’s.

Friday protests in solidarity with Silwan
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 2/28/2009
In spite of Friday’s stormy weather, villagers in Jayyous, Ni’lin and Bil’in held their weekly demonstration against the Wall. Several people were wounded, and one student in Jayyous was arrested. A mass demonstration also took place in Jerusalem to protest the home demolitions that will displace 1,500 from Silwan. In Jayyous, the demonstration began after the midday prayer, with villagers marching from the centre of the village to the south gate in the face of heavy wind and rain. However, no soldiers were stationed at the gate, and several youth began tearing parts of it down. The military arrived soon after, leading to clashes near the gate. Following the initial clashes, Occupation forces invaded the village. Groups of soldiers occupied three houses, taking control of strategic vantage points in the village and preventing families from leaving.

PLO call for West Bank strike in solidarity with Jerusalem gets varried support
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – West Bank cities and towns are observing a comprehensive strike following a call from the Palestine Liberation Organization last week in protest of Israeli plans to destroy 90 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. Transportation and commercial services in all West Bank areas are reduced as many drivers and shop owners close in support of the strike called by Secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee Yasser Abed Rabbo. In Nablus close to 60 percent of shops are closed. One merchant, who decided to remain open during the day-long strike, explained that he decided to remain open because of several phone calls from local residents asking whether or not the shop, which sells basic dry goods, would be open so they could do weekly grocery shopping. Another merchant, also open, said solidarity with Jerusalem should not be expressed through strikes in the West Bank, but rather by more active means.

Palestinians strike to protest demolition of homes in East Jerusalem
Ha’aretz 2/28/2009
Palestinians held a strike Saturday to protest Israel’s demolition orders of homes in east Jerusalem. Shops and schools were shuttered throughout the West Bank and Arabneighborhoods of east Jerusalem after Palestinian officials announced the strike. Official Hatem Abdul Qader said the strike was called after municipalofficials and security forces visited several homes in the Palestinianneighborhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem. That spiked fears that the homes would be imminently demolished. Municipal officials issued orders to demolish 88 illegally built homes in the neighborhood in 2005. They said the homes were imposing the law. Palestinians argued in reponse that it was difficult to obtain building permits in Arab neighborhoods, and that they were forced to build illegally.

US to boycott UN racism conference
Al Jazeera 2/28/2009
The United States has decided to boycott an upcoming UN conference on racism unless its final document is changed to drop all references to Israel. The Conference Against Racism, to be held in Geneva in April, is a follow-up to the conference held in the South African town of Durban in 2001. On Friday, a US delegation taking part in the preparatory talks in Geneva, said the draft resolution was unacceptable. The US and Israeli delegations walked out of the 2001 meeting in protest against the resolution which likened Zionism - the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state - to racism. Israel and Canada have already announced they will boycott the conference, which is known as Durban II. ’Not salvageable’According to Robert Wood, the US state department spokesman,. . .

Livni lauds U.S. boycott of UN racism conference
Natasha Mozgovaya Shlomo Shamir and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
After weeks of tension in Israel and protests by several Jewish organizations in the United States over the Obama administration’s decision to participate in the preliminary talks for the United Nations conference on racism in Geneva in April, the State Department officially said on Friday it would not participate in Durban II. "Our delegates met with over 30 delegations, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and other interested parties. In addition, the Department consulted with many governments in capitals regarding our effort. The engagement by the U. S. delegation was widely welcomed and appreciated," acting State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement Friday explaining the administration’s position. "Sadly, however, the document being negotiated has gone from bad to worse, and the current text of the draft outcome document is not salvageable.

US withdraws from the 2nd Durban conference on racism
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/28/2009
Following the lead of Israel, the United States officially decided not to participate in the Second Durban Conference which is a follow-up to "the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discriminations, Xenophobia and related intolerance" which was held in 2001. Canada will also be boycotting the summit. Israel and the United States participated in the first conference but cut it short and walked out after claiming that it turned out to be dominated by the Middle East issue and slavery. Several countries slammed Israel during the conference over its illegal activities and assaults against the Palestinian people. During the eighth day of the first conference, Israel walked out after a draft linking Zionism with racism was presented. The US followed its lead and also walked out. Israel and Canada previously decided not to attend the second conference which will be held between April 20 and 25.

European states consider boycotting Durban 2 summit
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
European Union member states may follow in the footsteps of the United States which announced Friday it would not be participating in the Durban anti-racism conference set to take place in April. While several states mull canceling their participation in the conference, senior UN diplomats say the chances for the entire EU body to boycott the summit are slim. The U. S. State Department announced on Friday it would not attend a United Nations conference on racism that critics say will be a forum to criticize Israel, and will no longer participate in planning sessions for it. The U. S. made the decision after its delegation’s attempts to change the content of the summit’s draft resolutions failed. A top Western diplomat stated on Friday that several EU member stated may feel uncomfortable remaining indifferent to the U.

Abbas: Palestinian unity gov’t must support two-state solution
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 2/28/2009
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday said that a Palestinian unity government with Hamas must support a two-state solution, reiterating a call by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Islamic group to recognize Israel. In a Ramallah speech, Abbas said progress was being made toward establishing a Palestinian unity government "that will be committed to our values and will respect agreements previously signed by the Palestinian Authority," Army Radio reported. However, Hamas official Aiman Taha reportedly stressed that his group rejects any kind of preconditions and noted that Abbas’s speech was lowering the prospects of reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas succeeding. "Hamas will never agree to sit in a government that recognizes Israel," he reportedly said. Earlier Saturday, Hamas also rejected a call by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Report: Hamas’ Abu Marzouk entered Gaza for first time in 30 years
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 2/28/2009
Palestinian sources say Mashaal’s deputy, who resides in Damascus, entered Strip through Rafah crossing with Israel’s approval, adding visit tied to progress on ceasefire, prisoner exchange negotiations - Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy of Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal, entered Gaza Thursday night for the first time since he left the Strip 30 years ago, the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported. According to the report, published Saturday, Palestinian sources tied Marzouk’s visit to Gaza to the progress made in the ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas and to a possible deal that would see captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit returned to Israel in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. The sources said the senior Hamas figure, who resides in Damascus, entered the Strip through the Rafah crossing, situated on the border between Egypt and Gaza.

Media sources confirm: Exiled Hamas leader entered Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Hamas politburo head Moussa Abu Marzouq entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday night for the first time since his exile 30 years earlier, according to news reports. The London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on Saturday that Marzouq’s visit was intended to strengthen negotiations between Israel and Hamas and to speed up negotiations over the fate of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Sources added that Abu Marzouq, who usually resides in Damascus, entered through the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. A Hamas official told a German news agency that the senior Hamas leader entered the besieged Strip late Thursday night to visit family in Rafah, leaving a few hours later. Even though Egypt controls the crossing into Gaza, Abu Marzouq would not have been allowed entry to the Gaza Strip. . .

Two follow-up committees to join Fatah-Hamas talks in Cairo
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – While five Palestinian committees will head to Cairo on 10 March to continue national dialogue, two follow-up committees will be formed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for the purpose of eliminating any obstacle that might impede performance of the ones already there. The follow-up committees will comprise representatives of both Fatah and Hamas. In addition to follow-up, they will focus on freeing political prisoners and stopping incitement campaigns in the media, as well as monitoring commitment to decisions agreed on by Cairo’s committees. As for the Cairo committees, some of them will comprise representatives of all Palestinian factions, while others will be more limited but must include representatives of Hamas, Fatah, PFLP, DFLP and Islamic Jihad, according to Hamas spokesperson Isma’il Radwan.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti content about outcomes of national reconciliation talks in Cairo
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 2/28/2009
Ramallah, 28-01-09: Yesterday, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the , was present during national reconciliation talks taking place in the Egyptian capital Cairo, where he led the delegation of the PNI to the meeting. The Cairo meeting was successful, as it finally constituted the ground for a true national dialogue between all rivaling Palestinian factions. Talks were focused on the restoration of unity and dealt with solving the difficulties that impede the existence of a unified Palestinian leadership, able to effectively respond to the occupation and all those resulting challenges facing the Palestinian people. Palestinian factions have agreed to form a new transitional government that will operate until presidential and parliamentary elections can be held. To bring this into effect, five committees were identified, tasked with the organization of a Government of National Unity.

Hamas bigwig makes first Gaza visit in 30 years
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
The deputy chairman of the Hamas politburo, Musa Abu Marzuk, has visited the Gaza Strip for the first time in 30 years. Sources say he is believed to have entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing, apparently with Egypt’s permission, and to have met his family in Rafah. He also reportedly conferred with senior Hamas officials on the negotiations that might free captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Speaking from Cairo after his return, Abu Marzuk reiterated that if Israel wants to get Shalit back, it must free all the prisoners on the list of 450 names presented by Hamas. The list includes leaders of the Hamas military wing, responsible for many suicide attacks in Israel. Israeli officials said yesterday they were not aware of the visit and did not authorize it. They believe the move might be an attempt to boost the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks by establishing a direct. . .

Palestinians: Hamas deputy from Damascus visits Gaza
Ha’aretz 2/28/2009
The deputy to Hamas’ leader-in-exile has visited the Gaza Strip for the first time in nearly 20 years, Palestinian and Egyptian officials said on Saturday. Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy to Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, entered the Hamas-controlled territory on Friday through the Rafah crossing with Egypt and left a few hours later, the officials said. Most of Hamas’ top leaders in Gaza remain in hiding to avoid being targeted by Israel after a 22-day offensive against the coastal strip’s Islamist rulers. Egypt has mostly kept its border with the Gaza Strip closed since Hamas seized the enclave in 2007, only periodically allowing Palestinians to cross through for medical and humanitarian needs. Hamas wants Egypt to open Rafah permanently to ease an Israel-led blockade, but under a U.

Clinton: No retreat from two-state solution
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
The visit of U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Israel this week may give an early indication of any disagreements on the Palestinian issue between the United States and the next Israeli government. In an interview on Friday with Voice of America, Clinton said she would emphasize her country’s commitment to a two-state solution. Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has been sticking to his ambiguous stance on the Israeli-Palestinian process. In an interview in the Washington Post yesterday, Netanyahu did not confirm or deny a belief in the two-state solution. "Substantively, there is broad agreement inside Israel and outside that the Palestinians should have the ability to govern their lives but not to threaten ours," he said. Clinton said the administration wanted to help Israel and the Palestinian Authority work toward a permanent agreement leading to an independent, sustainable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

Abbas: Gaza donor funds must be distributed through PA
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed that funds expected to by allocated at the Sharm Ash-Sheikh conference for donor countries should pass through the Palestinian Authority before being implemented by international organizations. President Abbas added that the PA is expecting a quick, international fund in order to reconstruct the Gaza Strip and he explained that officials expect the mechanism for that aid to be transferred through the PA and through cooperation with the international community. At a news conference following a meeting with European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana at the PA’s Ramallah headquarters on Saturday afternoon, Abbas explained that the two leaders discussed the Palestinian internal situation along with the internal dialogue, saying, “We seek reconciliation and the formation of a national consensus government.

Time Not Ripe for Two-State Solution
Ynetnews, MIFTAH 2/28/2009
The Obama administration will have to address on an immediate basis a number of burning problems of varying degrees of magnitude. In the short run it will be required to tackle the rehabilitation of Gaza under Hamas’ rule: On the one hand to secure aid to assure the fundamental wellbeing of its inhabitants, while at the same time curtailing the influx of weaponry into Gaza. The fight against terror, its performers and sources has to be continued in all vigor. The belligerent policy of Hamas should be continuously subject to international boycott and isolation with minimal ill effects on the population. The Obama administration will be called upon to regularize the settlement issue, canonize prevailing understandings with the outgoing Israeli government and see to it that it that they are being respected and duly implemented.

US special envoy Mitchell in Ramallah; will continue to push for two-state solution
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – US Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell confirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to the 2002 Road Map and a two-state solution for Palestine during a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Friday. During the meeting Abbas told Mitchell he would be willing to continue peace talks with any Israeli government willing to recognize the goal of a just two-state solution and adhere to the agreements made between Palestine and previous Israeli administrations. The meeting comes as Israeli politicians continue to cobble together a coalition government headed by the Likud Party under Benjamin Netanyahu. The Prime Minister-designate has made it clear that a two-state solution is not part of his mandate. There has been little indication what the course of action will be for Mitchell and the US government if Israeli leaders refuse to continue talks.

Clinton to Mideast, Europe to soothe allies
Sylvie Lanteaume - WASHINGTON, Middle East Online 2/28/2009
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton aims to soothe US allies during her visit to the Middle East and Europe next week, after tensions peaked under the former George W. Bush administration. Traveling to both regions for the first time as America’s top diplomat, the former first lady could put the best foot forward of the fledgling administration of President Barack Obama, who has vowed a new spirit of global cooperation. At the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where Clinton will attend Monday a donors conference aimed at rebuilding the Gaza Strip, she will have to respond to the worries of European leaders who want Washington to pressure Israel to improve aid distribution to the Palestinian enclave, which has been beset by Israeli blockades. "We would like the Israelis to go further," said European External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Hamas slams Clinton’s statement about recognizing Israeli occupation
Palestinian Information Center 2/28/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Saturday strongly denounced the statements of US foreign minister Hillary Clinton in which she said that the inter-Palestinian dialog would not culminate in success if Hamas did not recognize Israel, saying this is an unacceptable blatant interference in Palestinian affairs. In an exclusive press statement to the PIC, Dr. Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas leader, underlined that his Movement would never recognize the Israeli occupation or the conditions of the quartet which showed all the time an obvious bias in favor of Israel. Dr. Radwan called on all parties not to succumb to the American pressures which are supposed to be placed on Israel that occupies and appropriates the Palestinian lands, kills the Palestinian people, and Judaizes Jerusalem.

Clinton says US remains committed to two-state solution
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 2/28/2009
Ahead of Mideast visit, US secretary of state says she’ll work to ’create independent, viable Palestinian state and provide Israel with the peace and security’ - WASHINGTON - The United States remains committed to the two-state solution, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said ahead of her scheduled trip to the Middle East. Speaking to the Voice of America Saturday, Clinton said "obviously, this is a sensitive time in Israeli politics as they seek to Israel with the peace and security that it has long sought and which the people deserve to have. " Referring to next week’s international donors’ conference at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, aimed at helping rebuild Gaza following Israel’s war on

US envoy Mitchell; will continue to push for two-state solution
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/28/2009
George Mitchell, The US Envoy to the Middle East, meet with Palestinian Presidnet Mahmoud Abbas and other offcials in the Central West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday evening. Mitchelltold reports thatthe Obama administration’s commitment to the 2002 Road Map and a two-state solution. In his part Abbas told Mitchell that he is willing to continue peace talks with any Israeli government that is willing to recognize the goal of a just two-state solution and adhere to the previous agreements. Nabil Abu Rdeina, President Abbas’ spokesperson, reported that Abbas and Mitchell are set to have further talks during the donor’s conference at the resort town of Sharm Ash-Sheikh in Egypt, scheduled to take place on March 2nd.

Radwan: Hamas rejects Clinton’s call to recognize Israel
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 2/28/2009
Hamas rejected a call by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Islamic group to recognize the state of Israel, Army Radio reported on Saturday afternoon. Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan reportedly said that the group will not recognize Israel nor meet the condition set by the Quartet, and noted that Clinton’s request was unacceptable to the Palestinians. On Friday, Clinton was quoted as saying that the Egyptian-brokered efforts to bring about reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah will only work if the group recognizes Israel. [end]

Lieberman: I am ready to vacate my own house for peace
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Yisrael Beitenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said in comments published Saturday that he would be ready to vacate his own home for a peace agreement and repeated calls for Israeli Arabs to take loyalty tests. In an interview published online by the Washington Post, Lieberman said "We cannot accept that there are people in Israel that even during the war openly supported Hamas. "Lieberman pledged to continue the peace process, saying "We will put things in the right line. Not to start with a final agreement, [but] to [go] step by step. You can’t start with Jerusalem or the evacuation of the settlements. You must start with the security and the economy. You must strengthen the Palestinian Authority. "When asked about the loyalty test, which Lieberman had suggested Israeli Arabs should pass in order to be Israeli citizens he replied: "We take all our examples from Europe or the United States. "

Netanyahu: Palestinians should govern own lives without threatening ours
Ha’aretz 2/28/2009
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said in remarks published Saturday that he believes in the Palestinians’ right to self governance, but without posing any threat to the security of Israel and its citizens. In his first interview with the foreign media since he was chosen to head Israel’s next government, the Likud chair told The Washington Post: "I think there is broad agreement inside Israel and outside that the Palestinians should have the ability to govern their lives but not to threaten ours. " Netanyahu further said he would continue peace talks with the Palestinians, while at the same time advancing "the economic development that has begun" in the Palestinian Authority. The Likud chair added: "I personally intend to take charge of a government committee that will regularly address the needs of the Palestinian economy in the West Bank.

Nasrallah’s popularity waning?
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 2/28/2009
Egypt’s feathers are still decidedly ruffled from the Hizbullah leader’s call to overthrow President Mubarak’s rule and sanitation workers are reporting piles of Nasrallah and bin-Laden posters near garbage dumps -Six weeks have passed since the culmination of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, and in Israel public discourse has long since dropped the matter from its agenda. But elsewhere in the Middle East, the operation and the events surrounding it are far from forgotten. Perhaps more so than anything else, the Arab world remembers the very public and very unusual speech by Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, in which he urged the Egyptian public to overthrow the rule of President Hosni Mubarak - who Nasrallah accused of collaborating with Israel. Saber Rattling? Nasrallah says Hizbullah ready to fight Israel/ ’Lebanon war. . .

Netanyahu: Palestinians should be able to rule themselves
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benyamin Netanyahu believes Palestinians “should have the ability to govern themselves,” according to published remarks in an American newspaper. He also said in an interview published in part on Saturday in the Washington Post that “ability” should not come at the expense of threatening the state of Israel’s security. “I propose a [new] way, which I believe can achieve progress: to continue political talks and at the same time advance the economic development that has begun and also strengthen the Palestinian security forces,” Netanyahu told the paper. “I personally intend to take charge of a government committee that will regularly address the needs of the Palestinian economy in the West Bank,” the former Israeli Finance Minister said. Although noting that economic progress is “not a substitute” for progress vis-à-vis. . .

Deja vu all over again
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is refusing to declare his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni, that is reason enough to go into the opposition or to attempt to impose a rotation arrangement on Netanyahu. This weekend U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated Washington’s commitment to a two-state solution, effectively joining the foreign minister in portraying Netanyahu as an obstacle to a negotiated settlement. There are obvious political reasons for Netanyahu’s refusal to demonstrate a more moderate stance: It would cost him his potential coalition with the right-wing National Union and Habayit Hayehudi, and force him into a rotation arrangement with Livni. But his opposition to a Palestinian state is also a matter of principle, one he has held for many years.

Netanyahu: Obama ’interested’ in my ideas
Middle East Online 2/28/2009
WASHINGTON - Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said, in an interview published Saturday, that US President Barack Obama was "interested" in his ideas on moving the Middle East peace process forward, but offered no specifics. "I’ve had two excellent meetings with President Obama," Netanyahu told The Washington Post newspaper and Newsweek magazine. "I’ve found him open to new ideas and seeking new ideas and a new path to achieve a successful outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and in the Middle East as a whole. He was very much interested in the ideas that I put forward to him on advancing a new path for peace. " The Israeli leader said he had been assured by Obama that Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons was unacceptable to the United States. "The arming of Iran with nuclear weapons would cause a great threat not only to Israel’s security but the. . .

U.S. Helps Palestinians Build Force for Security
Ethan Bronner, MIFTAH 2/28/2009
They rappel down a 65-foot tower, navigate obstacle courses, shoot in the firing range and sleep in pristine barracks. They eat in an air-conditioned mess where brushed aluminum glints from every kitchen surface. Rows of Land Rovers stand by. The entrance reads “The Presidential Guard, Always in Front: Strength, Sacrifice, Redemption. ”One year ago, this 18-acre campus built with $10 million of American taxpayer money was another piece of Jordan Valley desert, and Palestinian guardsmen slept on flea-bitten mattresses and took meals on their laps. Along with a 35-acre, $11 million operations camp a few miles away, also American-financed, it is a real step forward in an otherwise moribund process of Palestinian state-building. “These guys now feel like they’re on a winning team, that they are building a Palestinian state,” said Lt.

Anti-Israel poster causes uproar on Canadian campuses
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Hundreds of protesters demonstrated on Thursday at two Canadian universities that recently banned a poster advertising "Israeli Apartheid Week," a series of anti-Israel events due to begin today in over 25 cities and campuses worldwide, including Johannesburg, New York, Caracas, London and Copenhagen. About 300 student protesters at Carleton University and Ottawa University accused the two institutions of stifling free speech ahead of the annual event, which began in 2005 in Toronto. The banned poster depicts a gunship labeled "Israel" firing a missile at a boy wearing a kaffiyeh and holding a teddy bear. The poster has aroused controversy in Canadian and international press and on campuses, where supporters of Israel said it portrays Israelis as child-killers - an old anti-Semitic theme. Tensions have been reported at the University of Toronto, York University and McMaster University, which all permitted displaying the poster.

Zionist Web Attacks: if you play their game, they control your computer!
Steve Amsel, Palestine Think Tank 2/28/2009
ZIO WEB ATTACKS - ARE YOU A "˜VICTIM"? Do you write articles giving the truth about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? Do you have a Blog known for its anti zionist viewpoints? Have you been getting extra "visitors" to your Blog who leave negative comments or participate in polls?   If yes to any of the above, there is a good reason for all of this. . . . it’s a project called Megaphone Israel. It is a new desktop tool that alerts its subscribers to any entries that might be anti Israel or anti zionist. After notification, the ‘warriors’ jump into action and attack the source of the article. Are we to quiver in our seats because of this? Are we to stop posting because of this? I THINK NOT!. . . . today we will learn about Israel’s Government and the IDF attempting to censor and control the internet, face book, you tube and many other social networks, blogs, message boards and news organisations. Today I will be discussing these groups who work online for Israel and the IDF (Israeli Army). -- See also: Sinead's blog and Online Censorship by Israel

Interpal vindicated by Charity Commission Inquiry
Palestinian Information Center 2/28/2009
LONDON, (PIC)-- Ibrahim Hewitt, Chairman of Interpal, the British charity which provides humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, has stated that “Interpal has been vindicated” by the report of the Charity Commission inquiry into Interpal, published on Friday 27 February. This is the third Charity Commission inquiry into Interpal in 13 years. In each case allegations and accusations made against the charity have been unproven. The inquiry found that “there has been nothing brought to the inquiry’s attention that suggests that the charity’s funding has been siphoned off for inappropriate or non-charitable purposes. The report goes on to say that “Interpal did maintain clear financial audit trails in their delivery of aid for humanitarian purposes”. Moreover, “allegations of bias in the distribution of aid were unfounded”.

Arab League: Arab states haven’t delivered on Gaza pledges
Ha’aretz 2/28/2009
A senior Arab League official says Arab countries have not delivered any of the more than $1 billion they pledged to rebuild Gaza after Israel’s devastating offensive. The official says the money pledged in mid-January has been held up because of disagreements between rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas about who should receive donations. He says Arab countries are waiting to see whether a solution to the disagreement is reached at an international meeting on Gaza reconstruction in Egypt on Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday because he was not authorized to talk to the media. Saudi Arabia pledged $1 billion for Gaza reconstruction, Qatar $250 million and Algeria $100 million. Hamas seized control of Gaza from Fatah in 2007.

German politician urges Europe to talk to Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 2/28/2009
BERLIN, (PIC)-- The German expert in the Middle East affairs and member of the ruling coalition in Germany Dr. Rolf Mützenich has urged the Europeans to put an end to their boycott of the Hamas Movement. In an interview he made with local media outlets, the German official said the Europeans should rethink their "negative" stand regarding talking to Hamas, and whether or not the boycott policy was advantageous or not, adding that the Europeans couldn’t just simply ignore an organization enjoying broad popular support and elected by the Palestinian people to rule them. "There will be no peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians without Hamas", asserted the German figure. Remarks of the German official come amidst growing support among the Europeans to remove Hamas’s name from EU list of terrorist organizations, and to organize Hamas as legitimate organization came to power through transparent democratic means.

Dr. Bardawil: Solana’ visit is an important step
Palestinian Information Center 2/28/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, a member of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, stated the visit of Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy head, to the Gaza Strip is an important step in the context of European and American visits, adding that his Movement hopes that the Europeans would stop getting implicated in the Zionist policy. Dr. Bardawil creticized Solana for not meeting with Hamas leaders or the government in Gaza, considering it a roundabout way to avoid recognizing the democratic results of the Palestinian ballot boxes. During his tour in Gaza, Solana visited the bombed American school, the Abed Rabou ranch, the UNRWA headquarters in addition to some industrial areas which were destroyed during the Israeli war. Solana told a news conference held during his tour that the EU supports any reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian factions, noting that the special European. . .

Norwegian delegation encouraged to continue positive role in Palestinian development
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Jericho – Ma’an – A Norwegian delegation was received in Jericho Saturday where they were praised by Chief negotiator of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat for their role in supporting Palestinians. A Norwegian delegation recently visited Gaza, and the country’s government volunteered to lead the committee to prepare the donor countries conference in Sharm Ash-Sheikh, Egypt set for 2 March. Erekat assured the delegation, headed by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was making all efforts to end Palestinian rivalry and form a unity government to rebuild the Gaza Strip and prepare for legislative and presidential elections. He called on the Norwegian government to continue their positive role around Palestinian issues and rally the international community to force Israel to stop its plans to expel. . .

Hamdan welcomes European calls for renouncing policy of isolating Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 2/28/2009
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Osama Hamdan, the representative of the Hamas Movement in Lebanon welcomed the letter written by a number of European diplomats and published Thursday in the British Times newspaper which called for renouncing the failed policy of isolating Hamas and involving it in the peace process. Hamdan told the Quds Press expressed his belief that such message reflects the awareness of some British politicians about the importance of opening dialog with Hamas and their recognition of the democratic results of the last Palestinian elections which many tried to ignore. The Hamas leader urged the Europeans to open dialog with Hamas away from any preconditions such as demanding it to recognize the Israeli occupation, saying that the victim should not be asked to recognize its oppressor.

Egypt: Israeli gas prices could rise 70%
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
The Egyptian government might raise the price of the natural gas it sells to Israel’s gas supplier EMG by 70%, Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sameh Fahmi suggested in an interview with newspaper Al-Ahram this weekend. Fahmi refused to tell the Cairo daily how much EMG, which exports the Egyptian gas to Israel, is paying. He said, however: "There is no fixed price, but foreign gas exportation companies in Egypt agreed that the price should be adjusted to reach between $2. 5 and $2. 65 per million British thermal units. "It is thought that EMG now pays $1. 5 per million BTU. Such a change would increase the price the Israel Electric Corporation pays for its gas by between 35% and 40%, at least. In 2001, EMG won the tender to supply the IEC at a price of $2. 75 per million BTU, and EMG will certainly want to keep its profit margin stable.

School of medicine to be built in Safed
Yaheli Moran Zelikovitch, YNetNews 2/28/2009
Ministers say new school, research institute will solve shortage of doctors, employment in Galilee -Israel’s fifth school of medicine will be constructed in Safed and will include a research institute, a number of ministers have decided together with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who declared the project to be one of national priority. The decision comes at a time of great shortage of doctors and medical personnel. Two years ago Education Minister Yuli Tamir established a committee to investigate the best locations for the new school, and Safed was decided upon as a method intended to develop the Galilee. The school of medicine will create a chain of university hospitals out of the various hospitals located throughout the Galilee, and will make sure that they uphold academic standards. Minister of the development of the Negev and Galilee, Jacob Edery, said. . .

Floods overtake 170 homes in West Bank village
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Rainwater flooded more than 170 houses on Saturday and the past few days in the Palestinian town of Qaffin, north of Tulkarem. Mayor of Qaffin Sa’id Harshah said, “The recent drop in temperatures was strong, where the 70cm-high rainwater flooded more than 170 [homes] in the area. ”He described the situation as disastrous there, where only one Civil Defense vehicle has been able to reach the area since morning, adding that the town has suffered an electricity blackout, as well. Harshah noted that some residents were on the roofs of their houses waiting for Civil Defense forces to arrive. The main electricity generator stopped working, leaving the area without electricity for several hours. Civil Defense forces evacuated some residents in the area by late evening on Saturday, and estimated that the town’s losses now stand at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Second semester begins at Gaza’s Islamic University
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - The Gaza City and Khan Younis Campuses of Gaza’s Islamic University started second semester classes on Saturday following the completion of delayed exam schedules from the first term. Classes and exam schedules for the university were disrupted for three weeks while Israeli waged a deadly war against the citizens of the Gaza Strip, and concerns over trauma and PTSD delayed the start of classes following the war. Exams were finally held for the first semester classes in early February. Director of the University Dr Kamalen Shaath made a formal inspection of the university and its facilities, many of which were badly damaged during the Israeli attacks including the women’s dormitory and faculty buildings. Following the inspection Dr Shaath congratulated the students on the start of the semester and wished them success in the coming months.

Buy Palestinian: PA plan to support the improvement of local commercial goods unveiled in Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Buying Palestinian products is a patriotic act of resistance which plays a major role in helping the Palestinian people stay steadfast on their land, said Head of Palestinian Presidential Bureau Rafiq Al-Huseini Saturday. Al-Huseini spoke at a conference where the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced an initiative to support the production and improvement of Palestinian products as part of a boycott of Israeli goods as well as an effort to strengthen the local economy. Such an action, he said, “is a peaceful means of countering Israeli settlement plans; it is also something ordinary people can easily participate in. ”The initiative aims at enhancing Palestinian products by improving quality, reducing price and increasing the ability of Palestinian producers to compete against world products both at home and abroad.

Police promise action as another armed theft targets Bethlehem area residents
Ma’an News Agency 2/28/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Four masked men accosted two Beit Jala workers on their way to a Bethlehem bank to deposit the earnings of a local food retailer and grabbed a cash bag with 180,000 shekels (43,000 US dollars). The robbers, who held the workers at gunpoint, made off with the cash in a yellow-plated (authorized for Israeli roads) grey Pontiac Friday night. Director of Bethlehem police Abdul-Jabbar Burqan informed Director of Palestinian Police Hazim Atallah of the incident immediately and forces deployed across the West Bank in search of the car. Deputy Director of Bethlehem police Khalid Tamimi led the search in the south-central district and closed all entrances to Bethlehem. Tamimi found the car abandoned on the outskirts of Bethlehem, and discovered it was unlicensed and likely stolen from Israel.

Netanyahu, Livni trade blame for failure of unity talks
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni is a "unity refusenik," sources close to prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday following his second meeting with Livni on Friday. The failure to bridge gaps between the leaders of the two largest factions in the Knesset increases the likelihood that Netanyahu will seek a partnership with rightist factions in establishing his government. In a round of talks Livni held with members of the Kadima faction, she said, "Netanyahu is more extreme than Lieberman, who doesn’t rule out a two-state solution. Netanyahu isn’t even willing to discuss it. " Senior figures in Kadima were critical of Livni’s stance, saying that she would not even establish negotiating teams with Likud, although she conducted talks with the Palestinians for three years. Still, Netanyahu renewed his call to Livni to join his government in light of the security. . .

Kadima head: ’Netanyahu is more extreme than Lieberman’
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni is a "unity refusenik," sources close to prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday following his second meeting with Livni on Friday. The failure to bridge gaps between the leaders of the two largest actions in the Knesset increases the likelihood that Netanyahu will seek a partnership with rightist factions in establishing his government. In a round of talks Livni held with members of the Kadima faction, she said, "Netanyahu is more extreme than Lieberman, who doesn’t rule out a two-state solution. Netanyahu isn’t even willing to discuss it. " Senior figures in Kadima were critical of Livni’s stance, saying that she would not even establish negotiating teams with Likud, although she conducted talks with the Palestinians for three years. Still, Netanyahu renewed his call to Livni to join his government in light of the. . .

Cabinet minister for rent
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
The demand by Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman that Prof. Daniel Friedmann be appointed justice minister on behalf of his party appears at first like a joke from the satirical television show "Eretz Nehederet" ("A Wonderful Country") and afterward like a deliberate provocation - a red cape before the bull of the justice and law enforcement system. Now we know that the demand is a serious one, that Likud has not rejected it outright and might even be willing to accept it. I waited over a week for Prof. Friedmann’s response. I expected the incumbent justice minister to announce that he rejected the idea out of hand, because he is not a professor for hire. I expected him to announce that he was not willing to switch from being the emissary of a suspicious prime minister to the emissary of a suspicious party head.

Cabinet to hold third debate on Cast Lead funding
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
The cabinet will discuss the defense establishment’s NIS 3. 9 billion request to cover the expenses of Operation Cast Lead at its weekly meeting today. Defense officials yesterday criticized the cabinet’s delay in voting on the matter, which will be up for debate for the third time today. The Israel Defense Forces and the Defense Ministry want the funds in order to restock weapons and ammunition, and to train for improved battle readiness in areas related to the Gaza operation. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved about half the requested sum, and decided to add NIS 2 billion to the defense budget. However, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On opposed Olmert’s decision, and demanded the subject be brought up again in the inner cabinet, which once again approved Olmert’s decision over Bar-On’s objections.

Livni not persuaded to join Netanyahu coalition
AP, The Independent 2/28/2009
Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday failed to persuade his centrist rival, Tzipi Livni, to join him in a broad coalition, increasing the likelihood that Israel’s next government will be an alliance of hawks and hardline religious parties opposed to substantial concessions for peace. But Mr Netanyahu still has five weeks to cobble together a government. Ms Livni, who heads the centrist Kadima Party and served as chief negotiator with the Palestinians, supports the formation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while Mr Netanyahu does not. Mr Netanyahu can form a hardline government with a 65-seat majority in the 120-seat parliament, but that narrow margin means virtually any of his partners could bring down the governmet. A centrist government with Ms Livni would also help him ward off international pressure on Israel and avoid a clash with the US. The European foreign policy chief Javier Solana toured Gaza yesterday but was not scheduled to meet Hamas leaders.

Netanyahu aide: Coalition ’courtship’ of Livni is over
Ha’aretz 2/28/2009
Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has abandoned efforts to woo centrist Tzipi Livni into forming a broad coalition government, a spokeswoman said on Saturday. The decision, made after a second round of negotiations on Friday ended in disagreement, increased the likelihood that Netanyahu’s Likud party would turn to rightist factions opposed to territorial withdrawals in peace talks with the Palestinians. Livni has accused Netanyahu of being insufficiently committed to the U. S. -sponsored vision of a two-state solution - a future Palestine created in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories that Israel captured in the Six-Day War. Netanyahu, an ex-premier whose popularity was buoyed by jitters at the Islamist Hamas takeover of Gaza after Israel withdrew in 2005, wants talks with the Palestinians to focus on economic and security issues rather than territory.

Gaza rockets target Israeli town
Al Jazeera 2/28/2009
Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip have fired five rockets at Israel, one of which hit a school, according to Israeli officials. Some of the rockets landed close to the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon, officials said, straining a fragile ceasefire declared both by Israel and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. There were no casualties reported in the rocket attacks. The ceasefire, declared on January 18, ended Israel’s three-week military assault in Gaza which killed at least 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. Since the end of Israel’s Gaza offensive, Palestinian fighters have fired more than 100 rockets and mortar rounds at Israel. Israel has also carried out several air raids targeting alleged fighters, weapons caches and smuggling tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border.

At least six Gaza rockets hit southern Israel
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
At least six rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel Saturday, with one striking next to a school in Ashkelon and another striking an open field in the city. The other rockets hit open fields in the Eshkol and Sdot Hanegev Regional Council areas. No injuries or damage were reported. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman said the Ashkelon school was closed, averting injuries. Several people were treated for shock by paramedics who arrived at the scene. On Friday night, a Qassam rocket fired from Gaza hit the Sdot Hanegev area. No casualties or damage were reported in the incident. Earlier on Friday, a rocket struck the western Negev, following two rockets fired on Thursday. The rocket fire highlights the fragility of the truce between Israel andGaza’s ruling militant group Hamas.

Ten rockets strike southern Israel, one damages Ashkelon school
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Ten rockets from the Gaza Strip struck Israel yesterday. Six targeted Gaza-area communities, two hit Ashkelon, one landed in the Eshkol district and one near Sdot Negev area, the Israel Defense Forces said. There were no casualties or property damage, with the exception of one rocket that struck an empty schoolyard in Ashkelon. The school was severely damaged, with shrapnel hitting some of the classrooms - including areas the Defense Ministry had defined as safe, Ashkelon municipal sources said. Deputy Mayor Shlomo Cohen slammed the "foot-dragging" in reinforcing the city’s schools. "The school that was hit was classified by the Home Front Command and the Ashkelon municipality as unfortified, and we have been requesting that this school be given basic, inexpensive protection. The solutions offered were approved by both us and the Home Front Command, and have been lying. . .

Spain to proceed with probe of Israeli officials
Assaf Uni, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
The Spanish investigation against several senior Israeli officials and officers will continue, despite documents that Israel submitted last month, the Spanish daily El Pais reported. The judge who ordered the probe, Fernando Andreu, reviewed a summary of the 400 pages of documentation, and then ordered that the proceedings continue, El Pais reported. The investigation is examining whether then-defense minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer and other senior officials committed a war crime in assassinating Hamas strongman Salah Shahadeh in 2002. Fourteen Palestinian civilians were killed alongside Shahadeh when an Israel Air Force plane dropped a one-ton bomb on his Gaza home. The casualties included Shehadeh’s wife and nine of his children. Judge Andreu said he received a lawsuit from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in late January, asking him to investigate the alleged war crime under Spain’s universal jurisdiction principle.

Experts: Grads in Ashkelon were advanced
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 3/1/2009
Grad rocket that penetrated school’s fortification was of a type rarely fired, with vast potential for damage. In all seven rockets fired into Israel from Gaza Saturday -Palestinian fire on the Negev continued Saturday, with terrorist groups making use of more advanced weaponry. Experts say the two Grad rockets that landed in Ashkelon Saturday morning were new and improved models, capable of greater destruction than those usually fired from Gaza. One of the rockets hit a school in the southern city, and succeeded in penetrating the fortification used to protect it from projectiles. Police said Saturday evening that since the end of Israel’s offensive in Gaza 64 rockets and mortar shells have hit the battered South, lightly wounding four people and causing 14 to suffer from shock.

Immigration panel makeup ’discriminates against minorities’
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit should revise the makeup of the Ne’eman committee charged with studying changes in Israel’s immigration policies, say 21 human rights groups. The groups’ representatives argue that the committee’s membership discriminates against women, Mizrahim (Jews of Middle Eastern descent), immigrants, Arabs and others. Two weeks ago, the cabinet approved Sheetrit’s establishment of the committee, headed by former finance minister Ya’akov Ne’eman, to examine possible changes in the Law of Return, as well as study the recommendations of a committee established four years ago for the same purpose, which have not been implemented. The committee was established in light of the fact that 300,000 non-Jews have immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union in recent years, and there are believed to be some 200,000-300,000 illegal residents here.

Lieberman going soft on Iran?
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 2/28/2009
With his sights set firmly on landing the foreign affairs portfolio in the future government, Yisrael Beitenu Chairman, Avigdor Lieberman, embarks on a mission to soften his hardliner image in the foreign press. ’A military operation against Iran? I don’t even want to imagine the consequences’ - WASHINGTON - Yisrael Beitenu Chairman, Avigdor Lieberman, is adamant to take the edge off his hardliner image in the American press, hoping this may help him land the foreign affairs portfolio in the future government. After voicing support for the establishment of a Palestinian state in an opinion piece published by ’Jewish Week,’ Lieberman continued to employ decidedly soft language in weekend interviews to the ’Washington Post’ and ’Newsweek. ’ Touching on the Iranian nuclear threat for example, Lieberman swaps his infamous stance in favor of "bombing Tehran" for a more moderate solution based on diplomatic and economic sanctions.

Treasury drafts plans to fight economic crisis
Meirav Arlosoroff, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
The Finance Ministry is examining additional steps to address the economic crisis, including expanding government insurance for exporters, improving unemployment benefits, reducing the number of foreign workers, ending various tax breaks, and even creating jobs in peripheral areas with high unemployment rates. Treasury officials hope to present the plan to the new government, once it is established. The goal is to minimize damage from the recession, and create a basis for renewing economic growth once the crisis ends. They seek to do so without committing the treasury to large increases in government spending, as this year’s budget deficit is already expected to reach at least 6% of GDP. The Finance Ministry plan is based on boosting demand in three categories: investments, exports and consumption. The ministry believes it is almost impossible to create investment, as pessimistic. . .

Hezbollah ’ready for any confrontation with Israel’
Ha’aretz 2/28/2009
The Hezbollah deputy chief says his organization is ready for any confrontation with Israel, but that a war "was not in Israel’s interest" following its "defeat" in the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Asked his opinion on the recent election results in Israel, Naim Qassem told French newspaper Le Figaro that he saw "no difference between [Tzipi] Livni, [Ehud] Barak and [Benjamin] Netanyahu. "He added that "Israel remains an aggressor state. " Qassem further reiterated the intention of Hezbollah to avenge the assassination of the organization’s senior military figure Imad Mughniyah. "We have no doubt that Israel is behind the murder. We vowed to respond. It is our right," he said. On recent reports of a potential thawing of ties between the United States and Iran, Qassem said it was "too early to say.

UN prosecutor vows to find Hariri death truth
Middle East Online 2/28/2009
BEIRUT - Daniel Bellemare, head of the UN commission investigating the murder of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, vowed on Saturday to find the truth behind the 2005 killing, blamed by many on Syria despite denials by Damascus. In an open letter to the Lebanese people, Bellemare said he and his team would "do everything that is humanly and legally possible to ensure that the truth emerges and that those responsible for the crimes that fall within our jurisdiction are eventually brought to justice. " The mandate of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission headed by Bellemare ends on Saturday, and the Canadian jurist was to leave Beirut to become prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The tribunal is due to begin work in the Hague, in the Netherlands, on Sunday. Hariri and 22 other people were killed on February 14, 2005 when a massive car bomb exploded near the Beirut waterfront as his convoy passed by.

Nasrallah’s deputy: Hizbullah prepared for another conflict with Israel
Ynet, YNetNews 2/28/2009
Sheikh Naim Kassem tells Le Figaro Shiite groups ’reserves the right’ to avenge Mugniyah assassination,’ but adds ’this won’t justify a declaration of war on Israel’s part’ - Hizbullah is prepared for the possibility of another armed conflict with Israel, but it "has no interest in another war in Lebanon," the Shiite group’s deputy secretary-general said Friday. In an interview with French daily Le Figaro, Sheikh Naim Kassem said Hizbullah plans to avenge the assassination of its senior commander Imad Mugniyah. "We vowed to respond – and this is our right. This (response) won’t warrant a declaration of war on Israel’s part, but in any case Israel does not need any excuse to initiate hostile acts," he said. "We are prepared for the possibility of such a conflict, but I don’t believe that under the current circumstances Israel has an interest in waging another war in Lebanon.

Cartoon: The Palestinian Reconciliation
Majed Badra, International Middle East Media Center News 2/28/2009
[end]

Thieves try to steal ’Waltz with Bashir’ award
Ha’aretz 2/28/2009
Thieves attempted to steal Ari Folman’s Cesar Awards statue on Friday night, just hours after the Israeli director won it when his animated documentary Waltz with Bashir was named best foreign film at the awards. Israel Radio reported Saturday that the attackers attempted to steal the statue at an awards after-party being held at a Paris nightclub. Folman managed to maintain hold of the prized statue and left the club with it safely in his possession. "Waltz With Bashir", an animated documentary on the horrors of the 1982 Lebanon war, was named best foreign film at the French awards night Friday, adding to its Golden Globe prize and an award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association earlier this year. Folman, who this week missed out on an Academy Award in the same category, becomes the first Israeli director to ever capture an award from the French academy of film.

’Waltz with Bashir’ wins le Oscar
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Days after missing out on the Oscar for best foreign film, Ari Folman’s animated documentary "Waltz with Bashir" on Friday won the French equivalent, the Cesar, in the same category. "The only message of the film is to be tolerant, to believe in the other, to believe in love and in peace," director Folman said in his acceptance speech. Since premiering at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, "Waltz" earned great critical and commercial success in France, with over 600,000 tickets sold. In Israel only about 220,000 people have seen the film at cinemas. Folman told Haaretz yesterday that reports of an attempt to steal the award statuette at a party after the ceremony were false. Israel Radio and various Internet sites reported yesterday that Folman fought off would-be robbers and fled a Paris nightclub with the statuette.


Articles


Sustaining Global Solidarity after Gaza
Jamal Juma, Palestine Chronicle 2/28/2009
      The Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza, which has now claimed more than 1,400 lives, generated serious popular backlash the world over. The overwhelmingly weak official positions and statements, especially in the Arab world, stood in stark contrast to the outpouring of rage that was witnessed in the streets of capitals, cities and towns across the globe. This recent wave of protests has a particular quality, however, that differentiates it from past mobilizations: The initial flare up of energy is being channeled into effective grassroots political action, primarily in the form of an ongoing campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). The tangible victories and rise of BDS activism immediately following Gaza are a direct result of the many years of often little-acknowledged organizing, building, and mobilizing that was undertaken following the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society. It is important to look at these last four years in order to make sure that we continue to build on these victories. We have moved beyond questioning the efficacy of BDS and must now work to incorporate the growing numbers of people who, while outraged at the events in Gaza, are not yet connected to the BDS movement. We also must expand the actors and struggles involved in BDS by linking the Palestinian cause to other similar fights for social, economic and political justice.
     A number of commentators have already noted the mass mobilizations that occurred in response to Gaza. Demonstrations and protests were undertaken on every inhabited continent involving millions of people across hundreds of cities. In the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Western Europe, where pro-Palestine demonstrations are typically strong, the numbers of participants and scale of actions were astronomical.

Seeing the ruin of Gaza from the Ruins of Umm el-Jimal

Bert de Vries, Palestine News Network 2/28/2009
      Jordan - On January 15 my wife and I sat in the guest room sipping tea with Abdullah Serour, the current sheikh of the Umm el-Jimal village in northeastern Jordan.
     I have been working in the area for over thirty years, among other things documenting how archaeological materials have been reused over time.
     As Abdullah described how he used to go to school in a refurbished Byzantine house surrounded by ruins, the television on the wall displayed live coverage of the bombing of Gaza city.
     All day long as I ran errands in nearby Mafraq, I’d been seeing the image of smoke coming from the tall U.N. building in Gaza. Purportedly the Arab news agencies in the building were targeted to hide the mayhem from the world. But Al-A rabiya’s cameras covered the destruction from about a kilometer away, and a reporter on the scene bantered along in Arabic, as though he were covering a football match. He’d been doing this for weeks, and his voice was tired.
     I had last visited Gaza over a decade ago while planning a course on environmental geography to be offered jointly by Birzeit University and my own institution, Calvin College. What struck me then was not only the uneven distribution of water resources between the Israeli settlements (now gone) and the Palestinian towns and refugee camps of Gaza, but also the puny size of the entire Gaza "strip." In one day, we drove from Ramallah, stopped along the way to see the destroyed village of ancient Emmaus (transformed into Canada Park), were held up for an hour at the Israeli entry gate which was closed due to a blockade, toured the entire strip’s antiquities and environmental features, and made it back to Jerusalem by supper time.

Bil’in resists the cancer of settlements and noxious gas

Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 2/28/2009
      Pouring rain, high winds, flooding to the north in Tulkarem’s Qaffin, and the heavy presence of Israeli soldiers wielding machine guns did not stop the Bil’in nonviolent resistance this week or any other.
     It has been four years, every Friday, that the western Ramallah town and its community of neighbors have taken to their lands attempting to stop Israeli forces from confiscation for the Wall and settlements.
     With the M16s that fire gas bombs at will, along with hand held grenades lobbed by literally smirking soldiers, Bil’in came out yesterday to demonstrate on Friday, a week after they marked four years of resistance to the Wall.
     A winding road encircles the town’s land on three sides. The gas was fired from all directions before residents even got close to the gate that is the only possible entrance to their lands.
     Just 250 meters from the center of town, with another 250 to go, demonstrators were pelted with the gas that mixed with heavy rains and burned the skin. Elderly men were on the ground vomiting, children were ducking for cover behind boulders, but the soldiers were on all sides. The explosions were omnipresent and one had to jump and duck, do a hopscotch skip at times, to avoid being hit with the bombs that fired the burning noxious substance. This week was light on the warfare, with previous weeks witnessing rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition.

Israel Lobby Howls at Hillary

Ari Berman, Middle East Online 2/28/2009
      In her 2000 race for the US Senate, Hillary Clinton was loudly denounced by uncritical right-wing supporters of Israel for a 1999 trip to Ramallah, where she kissed Palestinian First Lady Suha Arafat and listened as Arafat denounced Israel (in Arabic). Pictures of "the kiss" were repeatedly slapped across the cover of the New York Post, in TV ads and invoked by the campaigns of Rudy Giuliani and Rick Lazio. The flap almost derailed Clinton’s campaign.
     Clinton learned her lesson and for nearly a decade afterward offered only boilerplate praise of Israel, which made her a favorite of the right-leaning Israel Lobby.
     Now, as Secretary of State, she’s forced to confront another reality: the difficulty of forging peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Anything she says that might be perceived as even slightly critical of Israel will land her in hot water with right-wingers back home. Just ask Chas Freeman, who Barack Obama appointed to head the National Intelligence Council despite fierce opposition from war-hungry neoconservatives.
     In advance of her trip to the Holy Land next week, Clinton advisers sent word that the United States was unhappy with Israel for blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza, which was further devastated by Israel’s recent military incursion.

How the West Abandoned Palestinian Democracy

Terry Lacey – Jakarta, Palestine Chronicle 2/28/2009
      There is a strange post war silence about Gaza and Palestine in Indonesia as if the activists and political leaders that got involved have discovered a can of worms.
     The conflicts and complexity of the political divisions between Palestinians have astounded Indonesians who learned about them as a result of the recent conflict.
     Activists have hunted through web sites to try and understand what happened between Fatah and Hamas that led to civil war and then the Israeli war against Gaza.
     The recent chronology on the BBC web site summed it up. In January 2006 Hamas won Palestinian general elections. In March the Hamas Government was sworn in. Israel, the US and EU immediately suspended all links with it.
     The West abandoned Palestinian democracy, failed to help lead the new democratic government towards dialogue and moderation and instead led by boycott and blockade towards a Palestinian civil war and then a war between Israel and Gaza.
     The Palestinian split cannot be blamed only on Palestinian politics. It was engineered by Israel and the West and they are partly to blame for its consequences.

US policy and the Palestinian cause

Galal Nassar, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/26/2009
      So far, Obama’s Israel-Palestine policy appears indistinguishable from that of previous US administrations.
     A forecast of US policy towards the Palestinian cause in the Obama era requires not only an examination of the new administration’s actions and positions so far but also a historical contextualisation in which regard specific consideration must be given to a certain prudence long- lacking in US policy on this issue and to the objective circumstances militating towards change.
     In the statements issuing from Washington last week, two delivered by US Vice-President Joseph Biden draw our immediate attention. The first cautioned Iran that it would face international isolation if it refused to halt its nuclear refinement activities. One is nevertheless struck by the almost total absence of the language of intimidation and threat that characterised the Bush administration’s rhetoric towards Iran. As I suggested last week in this column, Biden’s remarks support the likelihood that the Iranian question will remain pending without being addressed face-on by the US administration for the next two years. Additional evidence to this effect is to be found in US Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s remarks regarding his recent talks with Iranians. That his statement made no reference to Iranian nuclear activities also suggests that the subject has been shelved until further notice.

Obama’s Third War

William A. Cook, Palestine Think Tank 2/28/2009
      “Become more human, and humans will love you.” - (Text of the Gospel of Phillip, 143)
     Predictably, the United States Senate and House of Representatives voted to support Israel’s carnage in Gaza thereby handing the new President yet one more war to contend with, one unhappily more dangerous to America than those in Iraq or Afghanistan. That may seem to be, on its face, a strange thing to say unless one understands that we are in Iraq fighting for Israel and, with this vote, our Congress has indebted itself to the Israeli forces that govern the United States (as Ariel Sharon said long ago), forces that will use endangerment of Israel as leverage to attack Iran and Syria, countries already in their military sites since 1992.
     Our Senate’s indebtedness is unanimous; while 20 in the House abstained and five voted against the resolution, all the rest voted to support. The reasons offered: Israel has a right to defend itself even though we do not know where Israel is: that is, Israel has yet to define its borders and remove itself from occupied territories; and the rockets fired over the last 8 years must stop, even though Israel, with one shell in Gaza, killed 43 at the UN school, twice the number killed by rockets in 8 years. But logic, international law and international opinion, and fundamental moral law cannot sway our Congress; money can and does. Obama may have a Senate majority and a Democratically controlled House of Representatives, but he cannot respond to the desires of the American people for change – no more wars – nor to the United community of nations that have voted with their feet against the actions of the Israeli government in open and defiant dissent against their governments in London, Ireland, Scotland, Europe and through out the Arab world including Jordan and Egypt. Our Representatives represent Israeli wishes and policies not those of the American people; the people voted overwhelmingly for change not the continued support of Israel represented by these votes or the appointments made by Obama as advisors.

The Israeli Condition Against the Egyptian Role

Dar Al-Hayat, MIFTAH 2/28/2009
      Once again, Israel has thrown a monkey wrench into Egypt’s efforts to deal with the explosive and saddening situation in Gaza, after it had waged the war on the Strip - thus anticipating Egyptian and Turkish efforts to extend and renew the truce, whose effects were over at the end of 2008.
     The suspension by Israeli PM Ehud Barak of the truce agreement with Israel, which Egypt had convinced Hamas of based on ending the siege after stabilizing the ceasefire and starting negotiations over prisoners - through a condition imposed by the Politics and Security Cabinet to release the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, imprisoned by Hamas - did not come as a result of a sudden awakening of Olmert to his "dignity", as he put it when he said "there is no reason for us to comply with the conditions of Hamas and act as if we lost our dignity…"
     It is probable that Olmert has awakened to something else other than his dignity and his wish to retrieve the soldier Shalit. If he did this for internal reasons, it would have been logical for him to insist on this condition before the public elections that were held. His insistence on the liberation of Shalit would have served him to obtain more Israeli votes for his party (Kadima), instead of throwing his condition at Egypt’s face after it succeeded in convincing Hamas of appeasement after the end of elections.

’Israel Misses the Point’

George S. Hishmeh, MIFTAH 2/28/2009
      Benjamin Netanyahu is not giving up, still hoping that he can entice Tzipi Livni and even Ehud Barak with key portfolios, should they accept to join his projected coalition government, or else, he must know fully well that his days as head of an Israeli government of extreme rightists will be numbered. Hence, the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations will remain at a standstill.
     For a start, Barak, leader of the Labour Party, recognising his diminished status, appears unwilling to join a Netanyahu Cabinet now that his onetime all-powerful party, as a result of the recent election, has only 13 of the 120-member Knesset.
     As far as Livni is concerned, she still seems to be wavering. This prompted leading liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz to call on her not to give up because “her insistence on a ‘different kind of politics’ obligate her to stick to her principles - first and foremost her call to advance the negotiations with the Palestinians”.
     Of course, it is common knowledge that Netanyahu does not favour the establishment of a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip. But Livni’s public record in this regard is nowhere to be seen, though she had served as foreign minister. Her continued interest amounts to nothing more than her hunger for power.

A Massive Moral Black Hole

Rami G Khouri - Beirut, Lebanon, Palestine News Network 2/28/2009
      Israel and its foundational ideology of Zionism have always had a structural problem with how to accommodate Arab and Jewish nationalism in a single country.
     Most of the world believes that the best answer is two Israeli and Palestinian states side by side...
     ...with a negotiated and fair resolution of the Palestine refugee issue that is the core of the conflict for Palestinians and Arabs.
     Some Israelis feel the solution is to expel Palestinians within Israel, and treat those living under Israeli occupation as residents but not as citizens with equal rights. Few Israelis accept the principle that Palestinians and Israelis should enjoy fully equal rights in two adjacent states, with the Palestinian refugeehood issue resolved through negotiations on the basis of UN resolutions and prevailing international law.
     The dilemma increases every year for Israel, as the Palestinian population grows; the 1.5 million Palestinians in 1948 are now over 8 million; the 800,000 Palestinian refugees of 1947-48 are now nearly 4.5 million. No wonder Israelis increasingly fear the "demographic threat" and seek solace in right-wing parties that now form a majority in their parliament. Openly racist parties now seem perfectly legitimate in the Israeli political system -- parties that would be rightly shunned, say, in Europe or the USA.

Are Palestinians Allowed to Resist? (Part II)

Dina Jadallah-Taschler, Palestine Chronicle 2/28/2009
      There is an abundance of discourse over the means and methods that are pursued and/or justified by the Palestinians in their quest for independence and liberation. In the first part of this essay, I presented the legal, historical, and current context that forms the root of their current predicament. In this segment, I want to address the pros and cons of pursuing an exclusively non-armed struggle both by looking at the uniqueness of Palestinian circumstances and also by comparing it with the Indian National Liberation Movement, which is usually presented in Western narratives as almost exclusively non-violent, and successful, for having (ostensibly) been so.
     A Brief History of Palestinian Non-Violent Resistance
     Palestinians are continuously asked to not resist. The truth is that whether they resist violently or non-violently, Israeli violence continues unabated. Perhaps the scale, ugliness and the immediacy of the trauma are exaggerated in a massacre like we recently saw in Gaza, but the reality of purposeful eradication persists. -- See also: Are Palestinians Allowed to Resist? (Part I)

A Waltz with the Dogs of Memory

Hussein Ibish, Palestine Think Tank 2/27/2009
      Commentary on "Waltz with Bashir" in The Nation
     Initial reaction to the surprising failure of the Israeli film Waltz with Bashir to win this year’s Academy Award for best foreign-language picture has suggested that it confronts harsh truths and painful realities, especially about Israel, too unflinchingly for the Hollywood mainstream to embrace. As a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz put it, this year’s Oscars demonstrated that "Hollywood knows exactly how it likes its Jews: Victims." Waltz with Bashir obviously provides little to feed that narrative. However, the key to the film’s artistic merit is ironically more a function of its failure than its success as an exercise in the recuperation of intolerable memories and the reassertion of some sort of "truth" in the face of psychic denial.
     The film makes no overt claim to be an accurate historical account of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and is most certainly nothing of the kind. Instead, it presents itself as a psychodrama focusing on the long-term traumatic effects on some individual Israeli soldiers (and, by definition, to some extent on Israeli society in general) of the experience of the invasion.

VIDEO - They shoot farmers, don’t they? Israeli Snipers shoot at unarmed Palestinians and Internationals

Vittorio Arrigoni, Translated by Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 2/28/2009
      One heart, two hands, a beating heart and a mind that is still working. Two eyes deep enough to focus on injustice and aimed at by snipers Two hands that are still working so that they can comfort the little child who is A “dispersed son of a lesser God”, and a heart that is skipping beats and pumping blood for a mind that is not ready to show indifference before a tragedy such as this. I am alive, but this could quite easily have been the video of my execution.
     When a bullet (even if it may have been a rubber coated one) rushes past your temple, I can assure you it is like you have received a slap in the face by a heavyweight, something so strong to knock you to the ground. This is what happened, two days ago at Khozaa, when we were accompanying Palestinian agricultural workers (they and we are visibly all unarmed civilians) so that they can work in their own fields, at a distance of approximately 600 metres from the confine, Israeli snipers tried to kill me. The bullets struck at less than 50 centrimetres from where I was standing. Several days earlier, despite the presence of internationals, the same snipers had wounded Mohammad al-Buraim, who is deaf-mute... -- See also: Sniping at the elderly in Khoza'a

An ideal medium for a stateless people

Ali Abunimah, bitterlemons-international.org, Electronic Intifada 2/26/2009
      This month The Electronic Intifada, an independent online publication about Palestine and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, marks its eighth anniversary. When we started, the co-founders did not realize that we were engaging in an early experiment in what is now called "new media" or "citizen journalism" before those terms were coined.
     EI built on earlier pioneering uses of the Internet by Palestinians and their allies who for the first time had the means to communicate with each other, and with Palestinians inside the homeland, circumventing enforced separation and pervasive media censorship. The Internet provided me, as a Palestinian who grew up in the Diaspora, with a real sense of community, connection and empowerment. It became in one sense a virtual country where Palestinians could meet, debate and even coordinate joint action in defense of their rights. Many of the people whose work I hold in highest regard I first met online.
     Palestinians readily took to the Internet because their narratives and analyses were -- and still are -- systematically shut out of the mainstream media. The Internet brought the cost of communication down: you no longer needed to own a TV network or a newspaper to get your story out. At first, we used the Internet to answer back to what we saw as unresponsive and biased media, but eventually we saw the opportunity to create our own alternatives, providing platforms for many talented writers inside and outside Palestine. Although analysis and criticism are crucial roles, EI for its part has also sought to foster original reporting on every aspect of Palestinian life and culture. It’s a tough struggle with limited resources, but the response shows it is worthwhile.

The Makings of History / The facts, according to Bibi

Tom Segev, Ha’aretz 2/26/2009
      Benjamin Netanyahu said this week: "There has never been a time of emergency like this, except perhaps [during] the War of Independence." Netanyahu is known not only for his affinity for history, but also for his tendency to put it to political use. In the process, and on more than one occasion in the past, he has said things that made no sense - which is true here as well.
     The truth is that Israel has never been stronger than it is today; it even has an answer to the Iranian threat. The population has never been this large. International organizations such as the World Bank, World Health Organization, UNESCO and others rank Israel among the top 15 countries in their respective assessments, which means most Israelis are living better than ever before, and most are living better than the majority of other people on the planet.