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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
3 March, 2009
Clinton presses Israel on Gaza crossings
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 3/3/2009
Visiting US Secretary of State voices concern over closure imposed on Gaza Strip, asks Defense Minister Barak to reopen them in effort to ease humanitarian needs of Palestinians - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ratcheted up the pressure on Israel regarding the ongoing blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. In her meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Clinton expressed her concerns regarding the impact the closure has on the humanitarian situation in the Hamas-ruled coastal territory. The secretary, on her first visit to Israel since being appointed by President Barack Obama, said she believed Israel should open the border crossings to ease the Palestinians’ humanitarian needs. While the other Israeli leaders who met with Clinton earlier in the day reported no overt pressure from the secretary on matters the Obama administration sees. . .

Settlers burn Bil’in’s Center for Peace
Palestine News Network 3/3/2009
Kristen Ess - The western Ramallah town of Bil’in is known for its unrelenting resistance to occupation, particularly to the Wall that crisscrosses its land. In the West Bank, the Wall and settlements generally come hand in hand. The Wall is not only routed to take the water supply, but also to bring more territory into Israeli boundaries via the settlements built on Palestinian lands. During the night a group of Israeli settlers broke into Bil’in’s Center for Peace. It is a room kept by residents to ensure Palestinian presence on the land on the "other side of the Wall" despite harassment by settlers and soldiers. Until a month ago Bil’iners took shifts 24 hours day. That was until the Israeli soldiers in the area drove them out. Under a ruling by an Israeli court three years ago Bil’in residents are "allowed" to pass through a gate in the Wall in order to reach their land, and that includes the Center for Peace.

3 Palestinians trapped in tunnels bombed by IAF
Ali Waked, YNetNews 3/3/2009
Army confirms six smuggling tunnels destroyed in Rafah area in response to surging rocket fire from Gaza, Palestinians report nine people rescued from collapsed tunnels, three still trapped - IDF aircraft bombed six smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon. The army said pilots confirmed hitting their targets. At least a dozen Palestinians were reported trapped in the wreckage of the tunnels. Palestinian sources said that local emergency services have so far rescued nine people and efforts continue to extricate three others. It is unknown if any of the three are wounded or killed. The IDF said secondary explosions were identified as the tunnels were attacked, adding that this proved explosives were being smuggled through them. The attack comes as a response to the launching of Qassam rockets and mortar shells from Gaza into Israel over the past several days.

Policy of arresting Palestinians on the rise
PNN, Palestine News Network 3/3/2009
Ramallah - Abdel Nasser Ferwana is the head of prisoners affairs. Noting today that the Palestinian political prisoner population is on the rise, he also said that treatment is deteriorating. An essential component of the occupying authority’s policy is to arrest as many Palestinians as possible, said Ferwana today. "The arrests are without justification, without compliance to international norms and are part of the unjust laws created by the Israelis. " He stressed that the "authorities of occupation use the arrests in order to humiliate the citizens and put pressure on them, blackmail and bargaining. "Ferwana said that urgent intervention is needed to put an end to random arrests which escalated significantly in the West Bank during the past month. The number of arrests in February reached 365, including 50 children.

Israel to demolish 55 homes in Jerusalem-area refugee camp
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli authorities plan to demolish 55 homes in a refugee camp near Jerusalem, according to a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The Fatah-affiliated PLC member, Jihad Abu Zneid, told Ma’an on Tuesday that Israel informed 55 Palestinian families at the Jerusalem-area Shu’fat Refugee Camp that their homes were slated for demolition, citing that their homes were built without permits. Abu Zneid issued the statement from her office in Jerusalem, warning of what she called an Israeli policy of “genocide” against Palestinians in and around the city, aimed at displacing the indigenous residents of Jerusalem. “The Israeli occupation is going ahead with its barbarian policy against the Palestinian people, especially these arbitrary decisions that assert that they want the Palestinian people displaced from their homes and their city,” the statement claimed.

Israeli troops open fire at farmers east of Khan Younis
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - Israeli forces used heavy artillery fire against farmers in the town ofAl-Farrahin east of Khan Younis on Tuesday morning. While no casualties were reported, witnesses said the shelling lasted for about five minutes, causing farmers to flee the area where they had been tending and collecting their crops. Farmers in the area have come under repeated attack when harvesting or watering crops near the border area with Israel, despite being clearly identified as farmers. [end]

Six injured after Israeli forces strike Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Six Palestinians were injured when Israeli forces targeted smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border at Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip Tuesday afternoon. According to medics, six people were treated for wounds at Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah. Their condition was described as stable. Israeli gunboats also fired on the As-Sudaniya north of the city of Rafah, and an aeriel drone attacked south of the city, witnesses said. The Israeli military said it attacked six tunnels in the area after homemade projectiles fired from Gaza hit a school and two houses in the vicinity of of the Strip. Muawiyya Hassanein, head of ambulance and emergency services in the Health Ministry in Gaza, said that ambulances rushed to the area when they heard the sound of missiles. Earlier on Tuesday Israeli forces fired on farmers near the border wall in the Al-Farahin area, east of the city of Khan Younis.

IAF bombs 6 Gaza tunnels; Palestinians: 7 people hurt
Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
Israel Air Force jets bombed six tunnels in the Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt on Tuesday in retaliation for Qassam rocket and mortar shell fire from the territory into Israel. The Israel Defense Forces spokesperson’s office said that secondary explosions could be seen when one of the tunnels was targeted, indicating the presence of ammunition inside it. Gaza medical officials reported that seven people had been hurt in the attack. On Monday, Palestinian militants fired a rocket from the Gaza Strip into Ashkelon, prompting the city’s parents to close down schools, arguing that the school buildings in the city were not protected from rocket attacks. U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is visiting Israel, on Tuesday said that "there is no doubt that any nation, including Israel, cannot stand idly by. . .

Two patients die of wounds sustained during Israeli offensive in Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
The Quds. net news agency reported Tuesday that two Palestinians who were injured during the Israeli offensive on Gaza died of their wounds at an Egyptian hospital. Dr. Muawiya Hassanen, head of the Emergency Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Heath, reported that the bodies of the two patients were transferred back to Gaza via the Rafah terminal. The two were identified as Barham Suleiman Abu Erjila, 25, from Rafah, and Atef Abu Jazar, 22, from Khan Younis. Also on Tuesday, the Egyptian Authorities allowed the transfer of 22 patients back to Gaza after receiving medical treatment. Palestinian sources at the Rafah terminal reported that Egypt informed the Palestinian side of the crossing hat the terminal will be opened in both directions for three days next week.

Patient dies in Khan Younis after being denied medical treatment abroad
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
Palestinian medical sources reported on Tuesday night that a Palestinian patient from Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip died after Israel barred him from leaving the Gaza Strip for medical treatment abroad. The patient, Manar Hasan Abu Rjeila, 25, suffered from a terminal condition and required urgent medical treatment abroad. The Egyptian Authorities are still closing the Rafah Border Terminal, the only link between the Gaza Strip and the rest of the world. The eighteen-month ongoing siege imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip is endangering the lives of hundreds of patients who are waiting to be transferred abroad. Gazan hospitals have run out of basic supplies and equipment due to the ongoing siege;16 Palestinian patients died in the Gaza Strip in February due to the siege. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported on February 26 that the number. . .

Gaza death toll rises to 1,455 as two more die of wounds in Egypt
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Two Palestinians died of wounds sustained during the Israeli war on Gaza, Palestinian medical sources reported Tuesday. Muawiyah Hassanein, head of ambulance and emergency services in the Gaza ministry of health, said that two patients from southern Gaza died in Egyptian hospitals Monday. The two were identified as Barham Abu Rjeilah from the Rafah governorate and Atef Abu Jazar from Khan Yunis. Their bodies were transferred to the Gaza Strip through Rafah crossing along with 22 Gazans who had been successfully treated in Egypt. [end]

Gazans fear reconstruction will prove empty promise
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 3/4/2009
GAZA CITY: Osama al-Dam has heard about the billions of dollars pledged to Gaza’s reconstruction but has little hope he will be able to rebuild a family home reduced to rubble by Israeli bombardment. Like tens of thousands of Gazans left homeless by the war at the turn of the year, he comes to the shattered remains of his home every day to sit among the ruins and wait for some kind of aid before returning at night to a crowded, rented room. On Monday, international donors meeting in Egypt pledged some $4. 5 billion to the Palestinians, much of it for the reconstruction of Gaza, but the money will make little difference if Israel does not allow the import of building materials. "Everything we hear is empty. I don’t think they will rebuild a single house because Israel won’t allow it," Dam said. "If they don’t open the crossings and allow building materials in, then the aid is pointless.

Gaza needs trust, not just aid
Caroline Lucas, The Guardian 3/3/2009
If Palestinians are able to put together a government of genuine unity, then the international community must recognise it. - "Are EU taxpayers really happy to pay to reconstruct what US taxpayers have paid to destroy? "This was a typically provocative question from Palestinian political leader Mustafa Barghouti, when I met with him last week, as part of a delegation of European parliament members. And it’s certainly true that, as political leaders gather in Sharm el-Sheikh this week for the conference on the reconstruction of Gaza, their agenda must extend far beyond simply providing more aid, important though that is. The demand for Israeli compensation should be high on their list of priorities. At a very conservative estimate, the EU alone has spent over €50m on Gaza’s now devastated infrastructure over the past 10 years, yet in a matter of days, the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, supported by the US, has destroyed much of the EU-funded infrastructure.

Israeli troops overrun Tulkarem at dawn Tuesday
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli troops overran several areas in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem on Tuesday at dawn. No one was detained. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that troops deployed in the eastern and central parts of the city, where they raided several houses. The homes apparently belong to Raed Awwad and Yousef Ar-Raghd from the town of Thanabah, nearby, and Abdel Latif Jarad, whose house was apparently ransacked by the time the soldiers left. Security sources insisted that the troops raided the Anbata village in east Tulkarem, driving around its streets after they deployed in the city, throughout the early morning hours. [end]

Israeli forces detain 13 across West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained 13 civilians from Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron before sunrise Tuesday morning. From Nablus eight were detained after as many Israeli vehicles entered the city, surrounded and stormed several homes. Most homes were in the Old City area where two brothers were among those taken. Locals identified those detained as:Nidal Abu Koshk, Mahmoud Nayef Issa, Fares Halawah and his brother Firas, Ala’ Rizeq, Nasser Halawah, Ala’ Halawah, and Ahmad Esteitiyah. The names of the other five men have not yet been reported. Following the detention sweep Israeli forces withdrew and took the men to an unknown location. In Hebron and Ramallah eyewitnesses reported seeing Israeli forces enter the areas, but the number and identities of those taken is as yet unknown.

The military kidnaps 16 Palestinians during invasions targeting cities in the West Bank on Tuesday
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
At least 16 Palestinian civilians were reported to be kidnapped by the Israeli military during pre dawn and morning invasion targeting several communities all over the West Bank on Tuesday. In Nablus city eight civilians were kidnapped when Israeli troops invaded the city and searched homes in down town Nablus. Meanwhile five young men where taken on pre dawn house to house search campaign Israeli soldiers did at Qadura refugee camp in Ramallah city. Another two were kinaped during home searches in Ramallah city. One man from Hebron was kidnapped on Tuesday morning by Israeli troops manning checkpoint near the city of Bethlehem, local sources said. [end]

Israeli troops detain four Palestinians from Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Israeli troops detained four young men after raiding the Qaddura refugee camp in Ramallah on Tuesday and took them to an unknown destination. Palestinian security sources said troops overran the camp at dawn and raided several houses. Those detained were identified as:Abdel Baset Janatah, 24, Ibrahim Husny Marshed, 23, Rami Al-faroukh, 24, and Muhamad Abu At-Tahrir 29. [end]

Importers say IDF thwarting scooter sales in PA
Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
Since last August, the Israel Defense Forces has effectively banned the sale of scooters in the Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, importers claim. From that month onward, they claim, they have been unable to release scooters from customs reps in those areas because the army defines the vehicles as "weapons. " The IDF’s official position is that scooters may be sold, "subject to receiving the appropriate permit from the Civil Administration. "But in practice, the Civil Administration hasn’t issued any such permits since last summer. Scooters are popular in the Palestinian Authority because they are economical on fuel, and allow mobility even on rough road conditions. New scooters are, or were, sold in the Palestinian areas through local representatives of Israel’s importers.

‘Anabta checkpoint expanded
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 3/1/2009
For the third day in a row, Occupation forces continued expanding the ‘Anabta checkpoint east of Tulkarm. Bulldozers razed land trees belonging to owners from the nearby village of Ramin, in another step toward strengthening the system of movement restrictions that has been strangling the West Bank. At the checkpoint, eyewitnesses reported that huge military bulldozers cleared land and uprooted trees while a large group of soldiers kept watch over the area. Abdullah Zaydan, a resident of Ramin village, explained to the Palestinian news agency Wafa that at least 10 olive trees had been destroyed. The expansion of the checkpoint directly affects the nearby village of Ramin. Last September, Occupation forces confiscated 6. 5 dunums from local farmers for the expansion of the checkpoint, further straining their already weakened agricultural economy.

Israel bombs Gaza tunnels
Al Jazeera 3/3/2009
Israeli fighter planes have bombed smuggling tunnels linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt, witnesses said. The attack on Tuesday came after Tel Aviv vowed to respond to rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled territory. Residents said Israeli aircraft carried out at least seven strikes along Gaza’s southern border, where dozens of tunnels are used for trafficking people, goods and arms into the impoverished territory. Four people were wounded in the raids, Palestinian medics said. An Israeli army spokesman confirmed that the air force "has been carrying out strikes in the southern Gaza Strip". Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, had earlier warned that Israel would not shy away from striking Gaza in response to persistent rocket fire. "If it turns out that Hamas has not got the message, it will be hit again," Livni told public radio hours before meeting Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, on her first official visit to the Jewish state.

Israeli violations of its self-declared ceasefire on the rise
Palestinian Information Center 3/3/2009
RAFAH, (PIC)-- Israeli warplanes on Tuesday launched raids on the Palestinian-Egyptian borders in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported. Adel Zu’rub, the spokesman of the Palestinian general administration of crossings and borders, said in a telephone contact with the PIC that Israeli F-16s launched two raids on the border areas. The bombing did not cause any casualties but inflicted more damage to the already devastated civilian houses, he elaborated. Israeli army tanks also on Tuesday fired a number of shells at the areas east of Khan Younis, south of Gaza Strip, with no casualties reported. Witnesses said that three artillery shells fell in open areas. In the west Bank, Israeli occupation forces kidnapped eight citizens in Nablus city including two brothers after storming the city in eight army jeeps and breaking into citizens’ homes.

Interfaith ’Freedom March’ in Bethlehem
Mary Arthur, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
An independent interfaith group met in Bethlehem on Monday to march from Nativity Square towards Rachel’s tomb, the northern entrance of Bethlehem. Supporters of the ’Lighted Candle’ came together in support of Palestinian freedom from Israeli occupation. The internationals from the US, UK and Germany received a positive response from local people in their efforts to show solidarity. Holding a ’Free Palestine’ banner in Arabic and English, marchers chanted their messages through a loud-hailer. Spokesperson Frank Romano, Attorney at Law, Member of Marseille and California Bars and assistant professor at the University of Paris said ’Let this march be a precursor to freedom through love and understanding by bringing all people together, as brothers and sisters and as children of the creator, showing the world that all people want peace in Israel and Palestine.

2 rockets fired from Gaza, no injuries
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 3/3/2009
Qassam rocket lands south of Ashkelon, second rocket next to kibbutz in Negev. None injured, no damage reported - Palestinian gunmen fired two Qassam rockets into Israel on Tuesday evening; just hours after the IAF struck a series of smuggling tunnels in Rafah as a response to the ongoing rocket fire emanating from Gaza. The rockets landed south of Ashkelon and near a kibbutz belonging to the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council. No injuries were reported and no damage was caused. The attacks came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at his Jerusalem residence. Speaking at a conference on the rehabilitation of Gaza in Egypt on Monday, Clinton said: "There is no doubt that any nation including Israel cannot stand idly by while its territory and people are subjected to rocket attacks.

Israel Plans to Double Size of Settlements in Palestinian Territory
Sana Abdallah, MIFTAH 3/3/2009
One day before Hillary Clinton begins her maiden visit to Israel and the West Bank as the U. S. secretary of state, an Israeli peace group announced more settlement expansion plans on Palestinian territories, posing an even tougher challenge to the new American administration’s peace endeavors. In a report released on Monday, Peace Now said the Israeli authorities have plans for 73,302 new housing units in Jewish settlements, which would double the number of settlers in the occupied territory and blow the chances for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It added that 15,156 units have already been approved, while an additional 58,000 were pending approval. Peace Now warned that if all these plans are realized, the number of settlers in the territories will be doubled to 600,000. The activist group estimates more than 280,000 Jewish settlers living in 121 settlement

No mending the fence?
Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
The comptroller’s report found numerous problems in the construction and operation of the separation fence around Jerusalem, which have reduced the fence’s effectiveness and disrupted life for Palestinians on both sides. The route of this 165-kilometer stretch was approved in December 2001. Six years later, only 30 percent had been built, but more than three-fourths of the original NIS 3. 8 billion budget had been spent. One source of delay was the 2006 Second Lebanon War, as a result of which NIS 500 million were taken from the fence’s budget to replenish the army’s inventory. Another was that responsibility for the project kept switching, from the Israel Defense Forces to the police to other agencies. Today, several agencies are involved in manning the fence and checkpoints, causing massive confusion.

Peace Now: Israel Planning 73,300 New Homes in West Bank
Sara Miller, MIFTAH 3/3/2009
A report by the Israeli left-wing NGO Peace Now released Monday says that the government is planning to build more than 73,300 new housing units in the West Bank. Peace Now estimates that if all of the units are built, it would mean a 100-percent increase in the total number of Israeli settlers. The report says that some settlements, including the two largest Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim, would double in size. According to the report, approval has already been granted for the construction of 15,000 housing units, and is pending for a further 58,000 units. The report states that 5,722 of the planned housing units are in East Jerusalem, and some 9,000 units in total have already been built. Peace Now says that a new right-wing government presents the danger of "expanding settlement growth at a rapid pace. . . with the clear intention of destroying the possibility of a two-state solution. "

BBC: Israel ’plans settlement growth’
BBC, Palestine News Network 3/3/2009
3 March 2009 - The Israeli government has plans to build at least 73,000 new homes for Jews in the occupied West Bank, the anti-settlement group Peace Now says. If the plans are implemented in full it would double the number of settlers in the West Bank outside east Jerusalem, according to the Peace Now website. Israeli officials said the plans referred to potential construction and only a small number had been approved. Continued settlement work is seen as a major barrier to Palestinian statehood. Correspondents say the information indicates Israel’s next coalition government, currently in the process of being formed by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, has a wide choice of projects for settlement expansion. If coalition negotiations force him into a strongly pro-settlement right-wing government, the plans could put him in collision course with the new US government, they add.

Palestinian struck by settler car near Qalqiliya
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Qalqilia – Ma’an – A Palestinian man was moderately injured after being struck by an Israeli settler’s car in the village of Nabi Elias, east of Qalqilya. Eyewitnesses said the man was crossing the road when an Israeli woman hit him with her private car. The man was identified as 55-year-old Jamil Al-Jidi from the northern West Bank town of Habla, south of Qalqiliya. Palestinian Red Crescent and Israeli Red Star of David ambulances arrived on the scene and the man was transferred to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Qalqiliya after Israeli ambulances refused to take him to an Israeli hospital, witnesses said. [end]

’Viva Palestine’ A lifeline form Britain to Gaza to arrive soon
Mary Arthur, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
On 14 February, an aid convoy of ordinary people set off from London to drive through Europe and across North Africa, bringing practical and moral support to the people of Gaza. In Britain, solidarity brought upwards of 150,000 people on to the streets in early January, and the movement of support has continued. A number of universities have seen successful student occupations. Originating with George Galloway, an MP with the Respect Party, thousands of people including many Muslims have put huge efforts into fund-raising and organising. In less than four weeks, the convoy grew to 110 vehicles, over a mile in length, including a fire engine, donated by the Fire Brigades Union, 12 ambulances and even a boat intended for Gazan fishermen. Local mosques, churches and restaurants have become collection points for donations of clothes, blankets and children’s toys.

'Long live Palestine' aid convoy getting close
PNN, Palestine News Network 3/3/2009
Gaza -- By bridge, road and air local and international organizations have attempted to aid the people of Gaza besieged by bombings and closure. Leaving Tripoli, the British convoy carrying tons of humanitarian aid, sent a message. Hopes are high that the hundreds of vehicles in the convoy will be allowed entrance through the Egyptian crossing with Gaza. British Parliamentarian George Galloway was among the signatories who said that no efforts are being spared to deliver aid to the Gaza Strip and that "we will not be stopped. " The Libyan reception upon the arrival of the convoy to the city of Tripoli was a sight to behold, say activists among the nearly 300 undertaking the 16-day journey from London to Gaza. The Kaddafi Charity Foundation, the World Organization for Peace and Welfare, and the Libyan Red Crescent threw a welcoming celebration.

Israel allows water filtration system into Gaza; refuses children’s toys from UNICEF
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - A UN report revealed that Israel, though refusing to allow construction materials into Gaza, allowed a Brackish Water Desalination Plant, nine trucks of prefab materials for school assembly between 22 and 28 February. During the same time period 57 boxes of children’s toys from UNICEF were denied entry. “According to COGAT (coordinator of government activities in the territories),” the UN report released Tuesday said, “The toys were not a humanitarian priority. ”Israeli authorities have resolutely refused to allow concrete, steel bars and construction equipment into the West Bank for fear that it would fall into the hands of Hamas. A Brackish Water Desalination Plant includes filtration systems, pumps, pressure valves, chemical treatment materials, electronic switchboards and remote control systems.

Defense officials warn of intent to kidnap Israelis in West Bank
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 3/3/2009
Region put on high alert following intelligence tip-off regarding plot to kidnap soldiers, civilians in West Bank. Yesha Council Chairman, Danny Dayan urges residents to be cautious, refrain from hitchhiking - Defense officials issued a serious warning Tuesday evening based on intelligence information regarding the intention of hostile groups to kidnap Israelis in the West Bank. The tip-off warned both soldiers and civilians could be targets. The army confirmed that soldiers were briefed once again on the prohibition regarding hitchhiking. The warning calls on civilian residents and those visiting the area to refrain from hitchhiking in dark or isolated areas, or only accept rides from those heading out from the communities themselves. In general civilians were to use public transportation and be alert while traveling.

Molotov cocktail hurled at Israeli vehicle near Ni’lin; none hurt
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 3/3/2009
A Molotov cocktail was hurled at an Israeli vehicle traveling near the Palestinian village of Ni’lin, west of Ramallah, on Tuesday night. No one was wounded and no damage was reported. [end]

No further delay
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
The deployment of the Phalanx defense system for intercepting Qassam rockets has been delayed by the air force and the Defense Ministry even though the rapid firing, radar guided weapon was deemed suitable for the defense of Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip from Hamas rocket barrages. In a report published yesterday, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss warned against further delay in the deployment of the system that is described as "being capable of offering a solution to the defense of strategic sites. "The Phalanx system comprises a Vulcan rapid firing cannon and the necessary radar systems to track and target incoming rockets and mortars. The U. S. made weapon, originally used for close proximity fleet defense, has been successfully used to defend American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan against rocket and mortar attacks.

Palestine Today 030309
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 00s || 2. 75 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. imemc. org, for Tuesday, March 3ed, 2009. Three Palestinians die in Gaza and the army kidnaps 16 civilians from the West Bank. These stories and more coming up - stay tuned. The News Cast Two Palestinians who were injured during the Israeli offensive on Gaza died of their wounds at an Egyptian hospital on Tuesday. The Palestinian Ministry of Heath, reported that the bodies of the two patients were transferred back to Gaza via the Rafah terminal. Also on Tuesday, the Egyptian Authorities allowed the transfer of 22 patients back to Gaza after receiving medical treatment. Palestinian sources at the Rafah terminal reported that Egypt informed the Palestinian side of the crossing that the terminal will be opened in both directions for three days next week.

Which IDF unit captured more prisoners in Gaza and why?
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
Separate Israel Defense Forces units took vastly different numbers of Palestinian prisoners during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, internal IDF inquiries reveal. Yet in the end, the army captured fewer than 200 Palestinians, most of whom were freed immediately after their preliminary interrogations in the field. Fewer than 30 Gazans, mostly Hamas members, were transferred to prisons in Israel for further investigation by the Shin Bet security service. The Paratroops Brigade, which fought in the northwest part of the Gaza Strip, took 128 Palestinians prisoner during the hostilities. The Golani infantry brigade, which operated in the northeast sector of Gaza City as well as its Sajaiyeh quarter and the Jabalya refugee camp, arrested only 15 prisoners throughout the entire operation - or by some counts, even fewer: Since some of. . .

Israeli jet fighters air raid Gaza southern borders with Egypt
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
Israeli jet fighters have conducted several bombing raids in the southern Gaza Strip city Rafah along the borders with Egypt on Tuesday afternoon, Palestinian sources reported. Witnesses said that jet fired several missiles at opened areas along the border line, the Israeli army says that this area has under ground tunnels that Israel clams Palestinian factions use to smuggle weapons into Gaza. Palestinian medical sources said that ambulances rushed to the bombarded areas but no injures were reported. Earlier on Tuesday Israeli tanks at the borders near Khan Younis town in central Gaza Strip opened fire on farmers while working on their lands nearby; medical sources reported no injures.

Palestinians fire 2 Kassams at w. Negev; no casualties or damage
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 3/3/2009
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired two Kassam rockets at Israel on Tuesday night, Army Radio reported. One rocket landed south of Ashkelon, while the second struck the Sha’ar Hanegev region. No casualties or damage were reported in either attack. [end]

Time wasted, billions down drain and still no Iron Dome
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
The state comptroller’s report on efforts to develop a missile defense system against Qassam rockets, which the south has been desperately awaiting for eight years now, reveals a worrying picture of bureaucratic confusion, wasted money and broken rules. The bottom line: The Iron Dome system is still far from completion, and Israel still has no effective defense against short-range rockets. Yet it has already been through two wars - the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and the recent Operation Cast Lead in Gaza - in which the home front was exposed to rocket fire. Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who sees the rocket threat as "a real and ongoing danger," said the Defense Ministry’s weapons development administration genuinely tried to speed up the system’s development, but made several critical errors.

Near-misses on rise
Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
Twelve years after the collision of two Israel Air Force Yasur helicopters claimed the lives of 73 airmen, the State Comptroller’s Office has found there has actually been an increase in the number of near-misses for IAF copters. The comptroller reports that in the decade since the Yasur helicopter disaster, there have been 643 collisions or near-misses between IAF helicopters and other aircraft, including a collision of two Apache helicopters during the Second Lebanon War, in which a pilot died. A main cause of near-misses is the congestion in civilian and military airspace in Israel. The air force is introducing advanced equipment that allows a pilot to know the location of other aircraft in the area, but it still won’t provide a warning of an imminent collision.

Hamas demands Arab and Islamic stands against Israeli violations
Palestinian Information Center 3/3/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Tuesday deplored the Israeli decision to establish 73, 000 settlement units in the West Bank, calling for taking Palestinian, Arab and Islamic stands to pressure Israel to stop all forms of violations against the Palestinian people. In a press statement received by the PIC, Hamas said while the American officials visit the region to revive the peace process and make promises about the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, the Israeli government announces its intention to expand settlements in the West Bank,. Hamas underlined that Israel is still persistent in ignoring all appeals of its allies for halting settlement activities and respect the peace process. MP Mona Mansour, a member of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, stated that the new Israeli scheme to build thousands of settlement units dealt a heavy blow to all those who cling to the illusions of peace with the Israeli occupation.

PA official warns peace process at risk of crumbling
Ali Waked, YNetNews 3/3/2009
Should rightist government being formed in Israel abandon notion of two-state solution, Palestinian moderates will likely lose public’s support while Islamic forces gain in strength, senior PA official says - Should the two-state solution fail to become viable in the near future," the entire notion of the two states and the diplomatic process in general will collapse," a senior Palestinian official told Ynet Tuesday. The Palestinian leadership will stress this to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her planned visit to Ramallah on Wednesday, he said. Clinton is scheduled to arrive in Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas. According to the official, the Palestinians were deeply concerned that the new government being formed in Israel does not believe in the two-state solution.

Clinton vows to work for creation of Palestinian state
Middle East Online 3/3/2009
TEL AVIV - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed her "aggressive" Middle East diplomacy on Tuesday, vowing to work towards the creation of a Palestinian state. On her first visit to the region since being appointed by new US President Barack Obama, Clinton said she would pursue a comprehensive peace plan. Clinton also stressed the US commitment to the creation of a viable Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel, a concept at the heart of efforts to end the decades-old Middle East conflict. "It is our assessment. . . that eventually, the inevitability of working toward a two-state solution is inescapable. " She is due to hold talks later with premier-designate hardline Benjamin Netanyahu, who is working to create a new government likely to be a right-wing coalition opposed to establishing a Palestinian state.

Clinton: U.S. to dispatch two envoys to Syria
Natasha Mozgovaya , and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that the U. S. will dispatch two envoys to Syria for preliminary conversations. The statement is the most significant sign yet that the U. S. administration of President Barack Obama is considering restoring ties with the Damascus regime. "We’re going to dispatch a representative of the State Department, a representative of the White House, to explore with Syria some bilateral issues," Clinton said, announcing another step that could help Damascus improve its standing in the West after years of tensions. "We have no way to predict what the future with our relations concerning Syria might be," she told a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem. U. S. officials said the two emissaries would be Jeffrey Feltman, acting assistant secretary. . .

Clinton asks Barak to open Gaza crossings
Barak Ravid and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requested on Tuesday that Israel permit the opening of Gaza border crossings to allow for massive supply of humanitarian aid to the civilian population. Clinton made the request during a meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Last week, Haaretz reported that Clinton sent angry messages to the Israeli government over the deteriorating humanitarian plight of Gaza residentsBarak told Clinton that some 127,000 tons of food and medicine have crossed into Gaza through the openings since the end of the recent Israeli offensive. The defense minister added that over 12 million liters of fuel have been provided for the Gaza power station. Clinton then met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in his residence in Jerusalem.

Extra 800 shekels added to PLO prisoner payments following Abbas’ order
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – An extra 800 shekels (190 US dollars) will be added to the stipends given to Palestinians affiliated with PLO factions in Israeli prisons this month, head of Palestinian Prisoner Society in Nablus Ra’ed Amer confirmed on Tuesday. Each PLO-affiliated prisoner receives 1,000 shekels(238 US dollars) per month, plus an extra 300 shekels (71 US dollars) if theyare married, and an extra 50 shekels (12 US dollars) for each child. The stipend is paid by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) each month. There are currently 4,500 men and women registered as prisoners in Israeli prisons. The increase will be applied to February’s payment, set to go through banks this week. Amer explained that the increase was made following the instructions of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Waed Society: 'Sick prisoners facing death due to medical negligence'
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
The Waed Society for detainees and ex-detainees warned that there are dozens of Palestinian detainees who are facing slow death in Israeli prisons due to the Israeli policy of medical negligence, depriving the detainees from their basic rights, especially the right to medical attention. In a press release on Monday, the society said that it was informed that dozens of detainees are currently facing death as they need urgent medical attention but the Israeli prison administration is ignoring their rights. [end]

Judge Madhoun: We will work vigorously to prosecute Israeli war criminals
Palestinian Information Center 3/3/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ziyauddin Madhoun, a Palestinian judge and the head of the central committee of documentation and prosecution of war criminals, stated that the committee would be working vigorously to put Israeli war criminals on trial according to international law, stressing that Israel committed the most heinous and biggest massacre in history.  In an exclusive interview conducted by the PIC, Madhoun said that the severity and enormity of the Israeli crimes in Gaza led to growing international and local efforts to help the Palestinian people in their judicial and legal battle. The judge added that the Israeli crimes also prompted the Palestinian government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya to establish this committee which are aimed to document and gather evidence about Israeli war crimes, prosecute Israeli war criminals before competent local and international courts, and coordinating with and supporting all efforts that work in this regard.

Report: Hamas official to deliver letter from Shalit to Syria
Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
Hamas’ deputy political leader is holding a letter from captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit that he plans to deliver to the Syrian foreign ministry, Palestinian sources told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jareida on Tuesday. Moussa Abu Marzouk, who lives in exile in Syria, received the letter on a visit to the Gaza Strip last week. During the visit, Abu Marzouk met with leaders from Hamas’ military wing, including those involved in the 2006 cross-border capture of Shalit. Hamas’ military spokesman, Abu Obeida, refused to confirm or deny the reports, according to Israel Radio. French President Nicolas Sarkozy told donors an international conference to recruit funds for Gaza in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday that the release of Shalit was a "top priority," adding: "We will never accept a situation in which his life is in danger.

Rumors continue over Shalit letter passed to Syria via Abu Marzouq
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades refused comment over rumors that leader-in-exile Mousa Abu Marzouq received a letter from captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit when he slipped into Gaza last week. Hamas spokesperson Abu Ubayda would not confirm or deny any of the half dozen rumors circulating about Abu Marzouq’s clandestine visit to the Strip, saying only that there has been “no progress made in the Shalit deal. ”A Kuwaiti newspaper first published reports that Abu Marzouq was to deliver the letter to the Syrian foreign ministry. The article quoted unnamed Palestinian sources close to Hamas as saying “Abu Marzouq met with several leaders of Hamas’ military wing, including those in charge of Shalit, and Brigades’ top commander Ahmad Al-Ja’bari. ”

Solidarity with Palestinians lands Egyptian party leader in jail
Daily Star 3/4/2009
CAIRO: Magdi Hussein, secretary general of Egypt’s suspended Socialist Labor Party, has been sentenced to two years in prison by a military tribunal. Hussein, along with two others, was charged with "infiltrating" into the Gaza Strip following Israel’s recent campaign against the coastal enclave. Protests against his arrest continue to be ineffective. "It was an illegitimate, vindictive sentence for which there is no moral or legal excuse," Gamal Fahmi, managing editor of opposition weekly Al-Arabi al-Nassiri, and board member of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate told IPS. Hussein was arrested by Egyptian authorities on February 1 while returning to Egypt via the Rafah crossing, the sole transit point along Egypt’s 14-kilometer border with Gaza. Hussein was on his way back from a weeklong visit to the territory, still reeling from Israel’s military campaign from December 27 to January 17.

Clinton tells Israelis two-state solution is ’inescapable’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 3/4/2009
JERUSALEM: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed her "aggressive" Middle East diplomacy on Tuesday, sending two envoys to Syria and vowing to work toward the creation of a Palestinian state. On her first visit to the region since being appointed by new US President Barack Obama, Clinton said she would pursue a comprehensive peace plan while stressing that Israel could count on continued support from its staunchest ally. She announced she was sending two members of her delegation to Syria, a longtime foe of the Jewish state with whom US relations have been strained for years. "There are a number of issues we have between Syria and the United States as well as the larger regional concerns that Syria obviously poses," she said after talks with outgoing Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Clinton also stressed the US commitment to the creation of a viable Palestinian state living. . .

Clinton hints at Syria deal as part of Middle East peace push
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 3/3/2009
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, began her first round of Middle East diplomacy yesterday by promising to pursue peace between Israel and the Arabs on "many fronts" as an international conference raised pledges of more than $4bn in aid to the Palestinians. Clinton spoke at the donors’ conference at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the Palestinian Authority was seeking a huge aid injection, partly for reconstruction in Gaza in the aftermath of Israel’s three-week war. Egypt’s foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said donors had pledged $4. 48bn (£3. 2bn) in funding to be spent in the next two years. It was "beyond our expectations", he said. Other previous but undelivered pledges were recommitted, bringing the total promised to $5. 2bn - nearly double what the Palestinians had sought. However, it is still unclear how much reconstruction can take place in Gaza while

Clinton voices support for Israel
Al Jazeera 3/3/2009
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has said that Washington is committed to Israel’s security and demanded an end to Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The former first lady made the remarks as she met Israeli leaders on Tuesday as part of her first visit to the Middle East since joining the US administration. "It is important that the United States always underscores our unshakeable, durable and fundamental support for the state of Israel," she said after holding talks with Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, on Tuesday. However, she also set Washington on course for a possible disagreement with Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister-designate, who has spoken of Palestinian self-government but avoided conceding a two-state solution. Clinton, who arrived in Jerusalem after attending a donors’ conference aimed at addressing the needs of the Gaza

US pledges to help stricken Gazans
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 3/3/2009
Clinton takes first step to secure ’comprehensive’ Arab-Israeli peace deal - The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, pledged help to Gaza’s 1. 5 million stricken inhabitants and projected it as the first step in a drive by the Obama administration to secure a "comprehensive" Arab-Israeli peace. Mrs Clinton, who will hold talks in Israel and the West Bank from today, told a donor summit hosted in Egypt on post-war reconstruction in Gaza that the US would pursue such a peace on "many fronts" and would "vigorously pursue a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict". The appointment of the former senator George Mitchell as envoy to the region was a sign of the administration’s "seriousness" regarding the issue. "Time is of the essence, we cannot afford more setbacks or delays," she said. Possibly referring to the collapse of her husband’s attempts to broker peace and

In Jerusalem, Clinton says two-state solution is inescapable
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine “inescapable” in remarks in Jerusalem on Tuesday. The US secretary of state said America’s assessment is “that eventually, the inevitability of working towards a two-state solution is inescapable. " The remarks came following meetings alongside both Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Netanyahu has generally rejected such a proposal, which would see Israel withdraw from most of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but of late has offered limited expressions that Palestinians ought to rule themselves. At the talks in Jerusalem that followed Clinton’s appearance at an Egyptian-sponsored aid summit for victims of Israel’s assault on Gaza, Clinton reiterated newly inaugurated US President Barack Obama’s interest in working to achieve peace in the region.

Clinton to talk peace on first visit to Israel
Middle East Online 3/3/2009
TEL AVIV - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Israeli leaders on Tuesday on her first official visit to the Middle East pledging "aggressive diplomacy" to revive the hobbled peace process. Clinton arrived in Israel from Egypt, where she outlined her Middle East strategy at a conference on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip following Israel’s three-week war. "The US is prepared to engage in aggressive diplomacy with all sides in pursuit of a comprehensive settlement that brings peace and security to Israel and its Arab neighbours," she said at a press conference. She pledged more than 900 million dollars to the Palestinians. "Our response to today’s crisis in Gaza cannot be separated from our broader efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace," she said at the aid forum. "By providing humanitarian assistance to Gaza, we also aim to foster conditions in which a Palestinian state can be fully realised.

World Jewish leaders urge boycott of Durban conference
Ynetnews, YNetNews 3/3/2009
World Jewish Congress president lauds US’ decision to withdraw from anti-racism conference, which he says ignores ’plight of victims of true racism. ’ Head of European Jewish Congress calls on EU to boycott event as well - The president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Ronald S. Lauder, warmly welcomed Monday the US government’s decision to withdraw from the upcoming UN Durban Review Conference ("Durban II"), scheduled to take place in Geneva in April. "Every day it becomes clearer that the Durban Review Conference is not about combating racism, but about promoting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda within the framework of the United Nations. The Obama administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deserve praise for sending a strong warning signal to the UN. Unfortunately, the efforts by the US administration to ameliorate this process have not succeeded," Lauder said.

EU countries oppose Muslim views on Durban II
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/3/2009
Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Italy unexpectedly choose to side with US, Canada and Israel over Durban II racism conference, say concerned Muslim states will use it as attack platform - European Union countries Tuesday stepped up their opposition to Muslim attempts to shield Islam from criticism and attack Israel through a UN conference on racism. EU members were unusually outspoken in appearances before the UN Human Rights Council, saying they were worried about preparations for a global racism conference to be held next month because attention was being diverted from the real problems of racial discrimination. "I am deeply disturbed by the turn this event is taking," Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen said. " The thematic world conference is used by some to try to force their concept of defamation of religions and their focus. . .

At what price 5 billion: reactions from Sharm el-Sheikh
Palestine News Network 3/3/2009
Sharm el-Sheikh / PNN -- The closing statement of Sharm el-Sheikh calls for the immediate, complete and unconditional opening of the Gaza crossings. The two-day Palestinian donor conference held in the Egypt resort town for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip brought in over four and a half billion dollars. The funds can do little good if the siege remains in place. After two years of siege, two months of closure and three weeks of bombings the Gaza Strip is destroyed from the most basic points of infrastructure to the ability to produce food. Nearly 300 people participated in the conference including 71 foreign ministers, the European Union, United States and the United Nations. The Hamas party was shut-out entirely with donors saying their funds would not go to the democratically elected government, but rather to the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas accuses Gaza donors of ’blackmail’
Middle East Online 3/3/2009
GAZA CITY - The Islamist Hamas movement ruling Gaza on Tuesday accused some in the international community of using a donors’ conference in Egypt to "blackmail" the group into changing its policies. "Some participants, especially the US administration, to a great extent made political use of the Sharm el-Sheikh conference," spokesman Fawzi Barhum said, referring to a Gaza reconstruction conference held in Egypt on Monday. "(They) used the need of the Gaza Strip for reconstruction to pressure Hamas and to try to blackmail it into changing its positions," he said. He went on to accuse the donors of trying to strengthen Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, whose forces were driven out of Gaza when Hamas seized power in June 2007, and of "meddling in internal Palestinian affairs. " "We have warned against this politicisation and this meddling," he said.

Nazzal: The Gaza crisis is not related to mere funds but to the Israeli siege
Palestinian Information Center 3/3/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Mohamed Nazzal, a member of the Hamas political bureau, stated Monday that the crisis of Gaza had never been primarily related to the provision of funds, but to the blockade imposed by Israel and the closure of crossings. In a press statement, Nazzal castigated the Sharm Al-Sheikh conference for only urging Israel to open the crossings instead of pressuring it. The Hamas leader charged that there are attempts to blackmail his Movement and the legitimate government in Gaza through reconstruction funds and associating them with recognizing the middle east quartet’s conditions, highlighting that the conditions of the quartet have nothing to do with the reconstruction issue. He also noted that ignoring the legitimate Palestinian government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya is considered avoiding facts and a negative indicator for politicizing the reconstruction funds.

Hamas legislator: Gaza conference held without the victims
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
Hamas political leader, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Salah Bardaweel, stated Monday that the Gaza conference held at the Egyptian resort of Sharm Al Sheikh was carried out without inviting the victims of the Israeli assaults and siege on Gaza, the Hamas affiliated Palestine-info news website reported. Bardaweel added that the Israeli occupation does not recognize a two-state solution, nor Palestinian rights while the world is demanding Hamas to recognize "the enemy". Commenting on international demands, led by the US and Israel, that require Hamas to recognize previously signed peace deals, Bardaweel said that "those agreements only brought destruction ", and added that the late president, Yasser Arafat, was committed to all peace deals but ended up dying while surrounded in his headquarters". "", Bardaweel said, "Why should we be encouraged to accept such agreements? ". . .

PNN invited to Sharm el-Sheikh, denied entry
PNN, Palestine News Network 3/3/2009
Bethlehem -- Editor in Chief of the Palestine News Network, Fadi Abu Sada, and our colleague and friend, Daoud Kuttab of Ammannet and Radio Balad, were invited as guests of the US at the Palestinian donors conference in Sharm el-Sheikh. Abu Sada was denied entry. The Washington Times wrote a piece on the issue while referring to professional Palestinian journalists in its headline as "bloggers. " To note, Abu Sada is not "a member of Hamas," the party that the US pointedly notes it will not be in contact with, still referring to it as "terrorist. "But the fact that the elected Palestinian government was banned from attending the "reconstruction of Gaza" conference is also highly suspect. The US chooses to support the Palestinian Authority while ignoring the democratic choice of the Palestinian people in the last elections. -- See also: Washington Times piece on the issue

PNN colleague makes it to Sharm: appeals to Clinton’s passion for children
Palestine News Network 3/3/2009
Sharm el-Sheikh / Daoud Kuttab -The Gaza Reconstruction conference was a busy affair. Speakers gave talks, governments and foundations made pledges, and politicians debated all day. In the end it was left to the key players to tell the press about the results of the day long affair. The Egyptian and Norwegian foreign ministers, along with the Palestinian Prime Minister, gave the press an accounting. Numbers were thrown, financing mechanisms were discussed, and next steps were expounded on. Next came the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. She gave a brief opening remark about how pleased she was to be in Sharm el-Sheikh and how happy she was with the progress made at the conference. The question and answer period was short. I wanted to ask a question but was not chosen. The last question to Mrs. Clinton came from an Egyptian journalist.

MIDEAST: Israel Boycott Movement Gains Momentum
Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service 3/3/2009
RAMALLAH, Mar 3(IPS) - "Standing United with the People of Gaza" is the theme of this week’s Israel Apartheid Week (IAW), which kicked off in Toronto and another 39 cities across the globe Sunday. A movement to boycott Israeli goods, culture and academic institutions is gaining momentum as Geneva prepares to host the UN’s Anti-Racism Conference, Durban 2 next month amidst swirling controversy. Both Canada and the U. S. are boycotting the Durban 2 conference in protest over what they perceive as a strongly anti-Israel agenda. The first UN Anti-Racism conference, held in the South African city Durban in 2001, saw the Israeli and U. S. delegates storm out of the conference, accusing other delegates of focusing too strongly on Israel. U. S. and Canadian support might have offered some comfort for Israel.

UK students win divestment victory, stand with Jayyous
Stop The Wall 3/3/2009
In another victory for the UK student occupations, Cardiff University has been forced to divest from the arms trade. Also, Sussex University has organized a week of action in solidarity with the arrested students from Jayyous. The occupation of Cardiff University ended as the university administration acceded to the occupiers’ key demand – to divest from the arms trade. Cardiff University provided students written confirmation that they divested from two companies and have instructed fund managers not to reinvest. The victory comes after three days of occupation which has made students across the campus aware of the £209,000 worth of shares which, until yesterday, Cardiff University held in BAE Systems and General Electric, two firms which have been selling arms to Israel. Also, Sussex University, responding to a call on behalf of the arrested students of Jayyous, has organized a week of BDS action for March 2 – 8.

Hamas says Clinton’s remarks were incitement against Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum asserted on Tuesday that comments by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton represented an obvious call for the continuation of violence against the Palestinian people. Barhoum’s remarks came in response to Clinton’s supposed justification for Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip, when she said, "There is no doubt that any nation, including Israel, cannot stand idly by while its territory and people are subjected to rocket attacks. " Barhoum described the comment as a direct incitement by the US against the Hamas movement as well as the Gaza Strip ’s population. “If such incitement and racial policy continues, we pin no hope on Hillary Clinton supporting the just cause of the Palestinian people and their rights,” Barhoum said. “We see this policy as representing a more practical implementation of previous US wrong policies. . .

Congressmen: Probe potential intel chief’s Saudi ties
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
A bipartisan group of American lawmakers is calling for a review of alleged financial ties between the new head of a key intelligence agency and the Saudi government. Chas Freeman, a former ambassador to Riyadh who was recently appointed chairman of the National Intelligence Council, served as the head of a Saudi-funded think-tank, the Middle East Policy Council. "The [think-tank’s] board of directors includes Dr. Fuad Rihani, a consultant to the Saudi Binladin Group - a multinational construction conglomerate and holding company for the assets owned by the bin Laden family," read a letter from the office of Mark Kirk, a Republican congressman. "We ask you to fully investigate Amb. Freeman’s past and current relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - both personal financial disclosures and the list of all contributors to the Middle East Policy Council across all years that Amb.

Anti-Muslim myths shattered in US study
Karin Zeitvogel - WASHINGTON, Middle East Online 3/3/2009
Muslim American women are educated, active in the workforce and on an equal footing with men in terms of income, according to a report released Monday, which analysts said chips away at myths associated with Islam. "What we learned in the study is that US Muslim women are roughly equal to men and to women who are non-Muslims in America in their level of education, level of income, level of religiosity and mosque attendance," Ahmed Younis, a senior analyst at the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, told reporters. "The Achilles Heel that has always existed -- that Muslims are ’not like us’ because their women are oppressed -- well, the data speak to the proposition that that is absolutely not true," said Younis. The report, based on data culled from 946 people who identified themselves as Muslims out of a sample of more than 319,000 interviewed across the United States last year,. . .

EGYPT: Solidarity With Gaza Brings Jail
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Inter Press Service 3/3/2009
CAIRO, Mar 3(IPS) - Magdi Hussein, secretary-general of Egypt’s suspended Socialist Labour Party, has been sentenced to two years in prison by a military tribunal. Hussein, along with two others, was charged with "infiltrating" into the Gaza Strip following Israel’s recent campaign against the coastal enclave. . . Protests against his arrest continue to be ineffective. "It was an illegitimate, vindictive sentence, for which there is no moral or legal excuse," Gamal Fahmi, managing editor of opposition weekly Al-Arabi Al- Nassiri, and board member of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate told IPS. Hussein was arrested by Egyptian authorities Feb. 1 while returning to Egypt via the Rafah crossing, the sole transit point along Egypt’s 14-kilometre border with the Gaza Strip. Hussein was on his way back from a week-long visit to the territory, still reeling from Israel’s military campaign from Dec.

29 Muslim Brothers arrested in Egypt
Middle East Online 3/3/2009
CAIRO - Egyptian security forces on Tuesday arrested 29 members of the banned-but-tolerated Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s main opposition group, in a widespread operation, a police official said. A judicial source said those arrested had been referred to a state security court for prosecution. The Brotherhood’s website said arrests had been carried out in eight different parts of the country, including Cairo and the Nile delta. Among those arrested was Mustapha El-Gheneimy, secretary general of the doctors’ union in the northern town of Gharbiyyah. Since December 27, when Israel launched a devastating military offensive against the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Egyptian police have arrested hundreds of Muslim Brothers. The group’s site said 270 of them are still in jail. The Brotherhood, founded in 1928, was officially banned in 1954 but is relatively tolerated.

Israeli indicted for recruiting on behalf of PA intelligence
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 3/3/2009
East Jerusalem resident with Israeli citizenship suspected of holding senior posts in Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service since 2003, recruiting another Israeli to work as agent. Suspect indicted, with request to remain in custody until end of proceedings - The Jerusalem District prosecutor’s office filed an indictment on Tuesday against Fahmi Shabaneh, a resident of the A-Tur neighborhood in the eastern part of the city and an Israeli citizen. Shabaneh is accused of serving in a senior position in the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence, despite his Israeli citizenship. The suspect is also accused of recruiting Israeli residents as agents, and violating laws prohibiting citizens from joining foreign intelligence services or recruiting others to them. According to the indictment for the past six years the 48-year-old Shabaneh. . .

Israel to allow Palestinians living in Israel to enter Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Jenin – Ma’an – Israel will allow Palestinians living west of the Green Line to visit Nablus and Jenin, according to Jenin Governor Qaddura Mousa on Tuesday morning. Israel will allow Arabs inside Israel to enter Nablus in private cars and in buses through the Jbara checkpoint near Tulkarem until Al-Jalama checkpoint near Jenin is refurbished, the governor added. He told Ma’an that Al-Jalama would be finished by the end of April. With regard to readiness in Jenin to host Palestinian visitors inside Israel, the governor said, “We’ve almost completed building special parking lots for cars so as to save them any troubles. He added that police have begun to organize markets and parks for the expected increases. Director of Jenin police Radi Asida asserted that they would always be ready to host Palestinians from pre-1948 Israel and to provide all the necessary security measures to protect them.

Palestinian Workers Union slams Israel’s arrest of 77 workers
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
The Palestinian Workers Union in the northern West Bank city of Nablus issued a press release on Wednesday criticising the Israeli police for arresting 77 Palestinian workers in Ha-Sharon area, claiming that they were staying and working in Israel without permits. Shaher Saad, Secretary General of the Workers Union, said that harassing the workers who are seeking work to provide food to their families is illegal, violating international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. Saad added that this issue is escalating with more reports of similar arrests in addition to abuse cases as hundreds of workers have recently been beaten and humiliated by the so-called border guard police. The Workers Union said that several workers were also arrested in Al Taiba Arab town, all being interrogated then later released. Sa’ad stated that the Union will file complaints to international organizations. . .

Rabbi Aviner refers to Baruch Goldstein as saint
Tzofia Hirschfeld, YNetNews 3/3/2009
Asked by a reader whether Jewish doctor who murdered 29 innocent Palestinians erred, Zionist rabbi says answer is ’complicated’ - Baruch Goldstein was a righteous man, but what he did was wrong, Zionist Rabbi Shlomo Aviner said in a response to a question regarding the Jewish doctor who murdered 29 Palestinian civilians and injured another 125 at the Cave of Machpela on Purim eve 14 years ago. Aviner replied to a reader’s question posted on the Ma’ale website. The reader was wondering whether Goldstein’s act was justified, "seeing that at the time many innocent Jews were murdered by Arab terrorists," or whether his act constituted "a heinous murder. " Rabbi Aviner agreed that the issue was complicated: On the one hand, Goldstein’s act could not be viewed separately from the man himself, who, according to Aviner lived during a time of multiple terror attacks. . .

Israeli police detain 77 Palestinians from central Israel; accuse men of residing illegally
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces took in 77 Palestinians in the HaSharon area in central Israel late on Monday. The men were accused of living in Israel without permits. The whereabouts of 50 of the men and a resident of Petah Tikva, detained for having offered shelter to the Palestinians, is currently unknown. An additional three residents of Taiba were also detained after Israeli forces fond what they claimed to be stolen firearms in their homes. Twenty-four detained from the Taiba area of HaSharon were transferred to West Bank areas after interrogation. [end]

Hamas: National reconciliation strategic option
Palestinian Information Center 3/3/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, a member of the Hamas delegation to the Cairo reconciliation talks, said on Tuesday that his Movement has gone to the national dialog to ensure its success and end internal Palestinian rift. He told PIC in an exclusive statement that Hamas has prepared files for the dialog that divided the main issues to be discussed into five committees, noting that Hamas leaders from within and outside the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are represented in those committees. The MP stressed that national unity should be based on the resistance program and national goals, hoping that other factions would have the same view. Bardawil, however, did not reflect big optimism, saying that the issues on the table "are complicated" and "we sense irresponsibility on the part of (Mahmoud) Abbas (the former PA chief and Fatah leader) and (Salam) Fayyad (premier of the illegitimate government in Ramallah)".

PA police seize alleged members of criminal gangs in Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Authority police arrested two criminal gangs 48 hours after an armed robbery in Beit Jala, according to remarks at a Bethlehem news conference on Tuesday. Director of Bethlehem police Abdul-Jabbar Burqan said in the news conference that the first gang comprised of nine alleged robbers from Bethlehem, Hebron and Jerusalem. The accused criminals apparently confessed to their roles in accosting two Beit Jala workers en route to a Bethlehem bank over the weekend, where they had planned to deposit the earnings from a local food retailer. The alleged robbers apparently snatched a bag of cash, estimated at some 170,000 shekels (43,000 US dollars), at 350,000 shekels in checks. Police Director Burqan added that the gang was particularly dangerous due to its well-organized makeup, which he described as unprecedented in recent criminal history in Bethlehem.

PA Education Ministry signs school deal with Belgian government
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestine’s Education Ministry on Tuesday signed a five-million euro contract with local bidders to construct five new schools in the West Bank. The project is the first stage of a major plan funded by the Belgian government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Education Ministry officials added. A Tuesday ceremony was attended by Palestinian Education Minister Lamis Al-‘Alami, Belgian Technical Corporation (BTC) Director Marwan Karmi, and other officials representing both sides. According to Fawwaz Mujahid, director of the Education Ministry’s new construction department, the project aims to build 66 new classrooms that will house 2,640 students. Project Director Sonia Masseis said the overall concept will include the establishment of the new schools, refurbishing older ones, and supporting electronic teaching methods.

P.A forces arrest a Hamas supporter in Jenin
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
Palestinian security forces arrested a Palestinian youth in the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday morning. Hamas slammed the arrest, saying that it obstructs reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fateh and efforts to restore unity. The youth was identified as Mohammad Al Atoom, one of Hamas’ supporters in Jenin. Hamas called for an end to political arrests file in order to create a positive atmosphere for internal dialogue and reconciliation efforts. Hamas added that dozens of members and supporters of the movement are still detained by the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank without charge or trial. The movement called on human rights groups in Palestine and different institutions to intervene, putting to an end the political arrests files and to help in preparing for internal talks that would lead to reconciliation.

Hamas-Fatah reconciliation committees named
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - Fatah has released the names of its members assigned to be delegates to the five committees set to pave the way towards a transitional government. After initially withholding the names of the delegates Fatah leader Azzam Al-Ahmad revealed the information to Ma’an Monday night. The five committees, on Transitional Government Formation, Issues in Reconciliation (including the political prisoners file), Security, Elections, and the role and structure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) will each consist of three Fatah and three Hamas affiliates. According to Al-Ahmad Fatah submitted the names of their members for the committees, which were signed and approved by head of the Fatah negotiations team Ahmad Qurei. Al-Ahmad assured that he “personally took the papers and handed them to [Egyptian] Minister Omar Suleiman.

No room for failure in Cairo at Palestinian national dialogue
PNN, Palestine News Network 3/3/2009
Ramallah -- Warnings have been issued against Fateh and Hamas if they fail in the national dialogue for reconciliation. After positive reports at the onset of the dialogue in Cairo Thursday, some sources indicate troubled waters. Still signs are good on the formation of the five committees to deal with the most contentious internal issues. The Palestinian National Initiative announced the formation of its delegation as did the leftists. Those committee meetings are slated to begin on the tenth of this month. The five issues that are being left to the committees are "State," which includes Nabil Sha’ath of Fateh and well-known DFLP leftist leader Qais Abdel Karim and Jamil Majdalawi of the PFLP. The second committee is "The Palestine Liberation Organization," which includes Mousa Abu Marzouk of Hamas along with Ahmed Qureia of PA fame.

Report: Russia to deliver armored vehicles to PA
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/3/2009
Foreign Minister Lavrov tells reporters 50 vehicles to be delivered to PA security forces ’in very near future’ - Russia’s foreign minister reportedly says Moscow will soon deliver 50 armored vehicles to the Palestinian Authority. The Interfax news agency quoted Sergey Lavrov as saying Monday Russia would provide the Palestinians with the vehicles "in the very near future. " Lavrov spoke during a flight to Spain from Egypt, where he met with other leaders from the Quartet seeking Mideast peace - the United States, Russia, the United Nations and European Union. He appeared to be referring to armored vehicles Russia offered back in 2005 in an effort to help the Palestinian leadership maintain order. Israel balked at the idea at the time, fearing the vehicles could fall into the hands of Hamas.

Naseef: political arrests in West Bank persists despite national talks
Palestinian Information Center 3/2/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Prominent political leader in Hamas Movement Rafat Naseef said on Monday that the PA security forces in the West Bank continued with its political arrest campaign against Hamas cadres in clear undermining of the ongoing inter-Palestinian national talks in Egypt. In a written statement he made and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC, Nassef stressed, "At a time our Palestinian people are happy and satisfied with the meetings and understandings between the Palestinian factions in [the Egyptian capital] Cairo, the political situation in the West Bank remained unchanged as political arrests and provocative summonses persisted against Hamas cadres there". "Since the Palestinian national dialogue started in Cairo last week, at least 29 members of Hamas Movement were arrested at the hands of the PA security forces, in addition to summoning 67 others", underlined Naseef,. . .

Sharm conference maintains status quo despite 5.2 billion in aid
Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2009
Sharm Ash-Sheikh – Ma’an – The Palestinian status quo was maintained during the Sharm Ash-Sheikh donor conference this week. While 5. 2 billion US dollars was raised at the conference, there was no indication that change for Palestine is on the horizon. “The Sharm conference is a carbon copy of the Paris conference,” a senior Palestinian liberal leader said. “It is just a special version for the Gaza Strip. ”He continued, “What the West Bank got out of Paris, Gaza will get out of Sharm; both the good and bad bits…this is political money and the politicians here know that. ”So while 75 nations pledged billions, there was no indication that equal political pressure would be applied to Israel to ensure that the money and aid would get through to Gaza. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton postponed her press conference in Egypt, but later promised through Al-Arabiya. . .

Hamas: The reconstruction conference was intended for strengthening the PA
Palestinian Information Center 3/3/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Tuesday that the conference on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip held in Sharm Al-Sheikh was employed politically to blackmail it and to strengthen the PA in Ramallah, adding that it is an attempt to abort the reconciliation talks in Cairo through imposing political conditions. In a press statement received by the PIC, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum underlined that the conference lacks practical decisions that end the suffering of Gaza people through lifting the siege and opening the crossings. Barhoum criticized the conference for not condemning Israel for its war on Gaza and holding it responsible for reconstructing what it destroyed, saying this would leave the door open before Israel to resume its war crimes as long as it finds a cover for its acts. The spokesman underscored that the reconstruction of Gaza is purely humanitarian and. . .

British minister renews calls for two state solution
Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
Britain’s secretary of state for international development, Douglas Alexander, visited the Gaza Strip this week, thereby becoming the first British minister to visit Gaza since Hamas seized control of it in 2007. Alexander, 41, went to Gaza to see the effects of Operation Cast Lead "with his own eyes. "He met with a father whose children were killed, saw the ruined houses, spoke with businessmen whose factories were destroyed and was "horrified" by the scale of suffering of Gaza residents. Then, en route to Israel via the Erez Checkpoint, he witnessed a Palestinian rocket attack, and thus saw "the ever-present threat to Israel’s population by those who continue to defy the common sense, international law and the interests of both peoples. " Two weeks ago, an American delegation headed by Sen. John Kerry was shocked to discover that Israel’s embargo on Gaza includes products such as pasta, lentils and tomato paste.

Ram: Decision to ban crowd in Sweden-Israel match is ’stupid’
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 3/3/2009
Israeli tennis player Andy Ram said Swedish authorities made a "stupid decision" when they chose to ban Davis Cup fans from attending the best-of-five series between the two countries. Ram, one of the players embroiled in an international controversy last month over entry into the United Arab Emirates, said Tuesday that the decision to play the first round series in Malmo between Israel and Sweden in an empty stadium could inspire other countries to follow suit. "I think it was a wrong decision. I think it maybe can open the door for other countries [to] make a stupid decision like this one," Ram said. "I think it’s going to be very bad to play without a crowd. " Israeli player Shahar Pe’er was denied entry into the UAE for the Dubai Tennis Championships last month. After an international outcry against the decision, Ram was allowed to play in the men’s tournament the following week.

Vatican chooses Nazareth venue for papal mass
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
The large mass that Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate during his May visit to Israel will be held in Nazareth, and not in Haifa, as had been proposed. Haaretz has learned that the Vatican made the decision last weekend following a visit by a Vatican delegation that met here with representatives of the two cities. The Christian historical associations with Nazareth tipped the scales in its favor despite some Vatican preference for Haifa. Israel was notified Sunday about the plans for the mass, which is expected to attract tens of thousands of worshipers, although a formal announcement of the pope’s visit and his schedule are only expected next week. Speaking to Haaretz, Nazareth Mayor Ramez Jeraisi confirmed the details regarding the Vatican’s decision on the venue of the mass, and said the city has begun making arrangements for the visit.

EU states: ’Unacceptable’ Durban draft attacks Israel, condones ant-Semitism
Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
European Union countries Tuesday stepped up their opposition to Muslim attempts to shield Islam from criticism and attack Israel through a UN conference on racism. EU members were unusually outspoken in appearances before the UN Human Rights Council, saying they were worried about preparations for a global racism conference to be held next month because attention was being diverted from the real problems of racial discrimination. "I am deeply disturbed by the turn this event is taking," Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen said. "The thematic world conference is used by some to try to force their concept of defamation of religions and their focus on one regional conflict on all of us," Verhagen told the 47-member council. References to Israel and protection of religion in the current draft conclusion. . .

Israeli soldier fires at Hezbollah mural
Middle East Online 3/3/2009
MARJAYOUN, Lebanon - An Israeli soldier patrolling the border with Lebanon opened fire on Tuesday at a pro-Hezbollah mural painted on a wall at the entrance to a Lebanese village, the Lebanese army said. "A soldier got out of his vehicle and deliberately fired at the wall bearing the inscriptions," a spokesman said, explaining that five bullets had hit the wall in the village of Aadaisseh, some 20 metres (yards) from the border. The mural shows the "hand of resistance," a reference to the Lebanese resistance group. An inscription refers to the "divine victory," a slogan created by Hezbollah. An Israeli army spokeswoman said "a soldier mistakenly fired his rifle" and that the military was "investigating the incident in order to prevent similar events in the future. " Israel waged a bloody 34-day war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006 after Hezbollah fighters seized two. . .

Barak to meet Netanyahu despite Labor Party dissent
Mazal Mualem and Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
Despite opposition within his own party, Labor chairman Ehud Barak is expected to meet Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu once more before the end of the week. Barak signaled to the members of the Labor Party’s Knesset faction Monday that he wished to enter the government, ending the uncertainty shrouding the matter since the polls. Several prominent Labor MKs - including Ophir Pines-Paz, Shelly Yachimovich and Amir Peretz - are strongly opposed to joining a Netanyahu government. Yachimovich told Barak that his ambiguity was misguided, and that "between political death in a right-wing coalition and a tough life in the opposition, we should go for the hard life. "Barak advised his critics not to engage in "illusions of grandeur. No one here is an institution in and of himself.

Labor Chairman asks Israeli president to convince labor join coalition with Likud
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that Labor party chairman, Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, has asked the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, also from the Labor party, to convince labor party members to join a coalition government with the Likud party, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. Haaretz quoted Israel’s Channel 10 as stating that Barak asked Peres to help in convincing Labor members to join a government headed by Netanyahu. Meanwhile, Netanyahu also asked Peres to convince his party to join a collation headed by the Likud, Haaretz added. The Likud leader is currently attempting to persuade various parties in Israel to join a coalition under his leadership. The labor party seems to be determined not to join a government headed by Netanyahu, and said that the party prefers to be in the opposition.

Olmert camp: Mazuz policy on PM charges is ’Chinese water torture’
Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz’s decision to hold separate hearings for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on each of the various cases against him constitutes a form of "Chinese water torture," an Olmert associate charged on Monday. "There is not a drop of logic to it," he said. "You can’t do something like that to a man. You can’t hold hearing after hearing. "Consequently, Olmert’s lawyers are now expected to focus their efforts on postponing next month’s scheduled hearing on the Rishontours double-billing affair, the first case in which Mazuz tentatively decided to indict Olmert. They will argue that Mazuz should first reach a decision on all the remaining open cases against Olmert, and then hold a combined hearing on all of them together. On Sunday, Mazuz informed Olmert’s lawyers that he was considering filing criminal. . .

Israeli Attorney-general to indict Olmert in Talansky case
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/3/2009
Israeli Attorney-general, Mini Mazuz, told the lawyer of Ehud Olmert, head of the transitional government in Israel, that he intends to induct Olmert in the "Talansky case". Olmert will have a hearing session by the end of the month before an indictment is officially filed against him. Mazuz told Olmert’s attorney that he was considering filing charges against Olmert for several offenses. Last month Olmert received a similar statement regarding an indictment on another case known as "Rishon Tours". The former head of Olmert’s office, Shola Zakin, also received a similar letter from Mazuz. Officials at the Israeli Ministry of Justice said that the indictments against Olmert could include fraud, violation of public confidence, bribery, and receiving goods fraudulently, the Jerusalem Post reported. Olmert was interrogated fifteen times for allegedly receiving huge amounts from. . .

Israeli ’White House’ plan vetoed by city officials over a year ago
Nir Hasson, Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
The plans for a new prime minister’s residence that the government approved three weeks ago were rejected more than a year ago by Jerusalem’s municipal architect, planning sources in the capital said yesterday. "This proposal was kicked down the stairs at City Hall. It’s exceptionally hideous, and will never get past any planning committee in the Jerusalem area," Jerusalem’s municipal engineer Shlomo Eshkol said. The plan for the new residence was drafted by award-winning Israeli architect Ram Karmi, by government invitation. The grandiose project, nicknamed "spaceship," was slated to be built next to the Prime Minister’s Office in Givat Ram. The "spaceship" was to include the prime minister’s residence, offices, conference halls and reception halls, as well as means to protect the prime minister so that he and his staff could continue working in the event of a national emergency.

Israel to present Clinton with ’red lines’ on talks with Iran
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
Israel plans to present U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with a series of "red lines" it wants Washington to incorporate into its planned dialogue with Tehran about Iran’s nuclear program. Clinton arrived in Israel Monday night and will meet with various Israeli officials Tuesday. The red lines were jointly formulated by the Foreign Ministry and the defense establishment, and Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has been briefed on them. The document recommends that Israel adopt a positive attitude toward the planned U. S. -Iranian dialogue, but proposes ways of minimizing what Israeli officials see as the risks inherent in such talks. Its main points are as follows: 1. Any dialogue must be both preceded by and accompanied by harsher sanctions against Iran, both within the framework of the UN Security Council and outside it.

Iran seeks Interpol warrants for Israelis
Middle East Online 3/3/2009
TEHRAN- Iran’s chief prosecutor Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafbadi has called for worldwide arrest warrants to be issued against Israeli leaders on charges of war crimes in Gaza, the ISNA news agency reported on Sunday. The prosecutor singled out outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as among the suspected "war criminals" he said should be arrested, the report said. In all, Dorri-Najafbadi called for the arrest of 34 Israeli political leaders and 114 military commanders, charging that they had breached the 1949 Geneva Convention. Iran’s judiciary has asked Interpol to issue arrest warrants for 15 Israelis in connection with the Gaza offensive, Iranian state TV reported Monday. Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi was quoted as saying Olmert, Livni and Barak were all on the list.

Clinton says missile shield to protect from Iran
Reuters, YNetNews 3/3/2009
At press conference in Jerusalem US secretary of state reiterates America’s intentions to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, says Washington shares Israel’s concerns on Iranian nuclear program. Israeli FM Tzipi Livni says Clinton good friend to State, but time is tight on Iranian threat - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated the United States’ intention to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons on Tuesday but declined comment on a report Washington offered Russia a deal to help achieve that. She was asked at a news conference with Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem about a New York Times report that President Barack Obama wrote to Russia’s president offering to hold off deploying a US missile defense system in Europe in return for Russian help on obstructing Iran’s nuclear program.

Obama: Restraining Iran will decrease need for missile shield
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 3/3/2009
While denying reported ’quid pro quo’ nature of letter sent to Russia’s Medvedev, US President Obama confirms his administration’s stance that need for much-contested missile defense array in Europe would decrease in proportion to Iranian threat - WASHINGTON -US President Barak Obama said on Tuesday that if the world can prevent Iran from developing nuclear arms, the need for placing a missile defense system on European soil would greatly decrease. Obama further said the US and Russia, which greatly contests the American shield array, should work to improve their relationship, making clear he believed Washington needs to "reset or reboot" its ties to Moscow. The US president dismissed as ’inaccurate’ the New York Times’ report on the nature of a letter he sent to Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev.

Arabs must unite to confront a nuclear Iran, Saudi FM says
Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat urged Arabs on Tuesday to stand up to Persian Iran’s ambitions in the region, including its nuclear program. Prince Saud al-Faisal told a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo that non-Arab countries should not interfere in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Saud stressed that resolution of disputes among Arabs depended on a unified and a joint vision in dealing with the Iranian challenge in regard to the Arabian Gulf security and the nuclear issue. The predominantly Sunni Arab Middle East has been wary of the growing influence of Shiite Iran and Saud’s comments were a clear call for Arab unity. His remarks came a day after he and his Arab counterparts expressed their concerns about Iran to U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Month in pictures: February 2009
Photostory, Electronic Intifada 3/3/2009
The below photographs are a selection of images from the month of February 2009. "The month in pictures" is an ongoing feature by The Electronic Intifada. If you have images documenting Palestine, Palestinian life, politics and culture, or of solidarity with Palestine, please email images and captions to photos A T electronicintifada D O T net. [end]

The grand bargain with Tehran
Meir Javedanfar, The Guardian 3/3/2009
Peaceful resolution of Iran’s nuclear programme through negotiations would be the best outcome for Israel - On 4 May 2003, the Iranian government sent a proposal to Washington, in which Tehran offered the Bush administration direct talks over a wide range of issues. This proposal, which later became known as the Iranian "grand bargain", offered negotiations over Iran’s support for groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah, stabilising Iraq, and Iran’s nuclear programme. Feeling emboldened by its recent victory in Iraq, the Bush administration ignored the offer. "We don’t talk to evil," was the reply from vice-president Cheney who, according to some reports, had Iran in its sights as the next target for regime change. The election of Barack Obama, who has openly stated that he is willing to negotiate directly with Iran, and failure of president Bush’s unilateral policies have led to renewed interest

Obama: NYT report on U.S.-Russia ’Iran deal’ was inaccurate
Natasha Mozgovaya , and Reuters, Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
United States President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the New York Times report according to which he had offered to scrap a U. S. missile defense system in Europe if Russia works to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, was inaccurate. "The New York Times didn’t accurately characterize the letter," Obama said. "what I said in the letter [To Russian President Medvedev] is the same thing that I’ve said publicly, which is that the missile defense that we have talked about deploying is directed towards not Russia, but Iran. "Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s spokesman confirmed Tuesday that he has received a letter from Barack Obama. "We have received this letter," Natalya Timakova told reporters during a visit by Medvedev to Spain.

Saudi urges joint Arab strategy on Iran
Middle East Online 3/3/2009
CAIRO - Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal called on Tuesday for a joint Arab strategy to deal with the "Iranian challenge" at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital. "In order to cement Arab reconciliation we need a common vision for issues that concern Arab security and deal with the Iranian challenge," he said. The relationship between Sunni-ruled Arab states in the Gulf, including oil kingpin Saudi Arabia, and Shiite Iran has long been strained amid US concern about Tehran’s nuclear programme. At the UN General Assembly last year, the Saudi prince urged Iran to comply with its nuclear obligations to spare the Middle East "devastating conflicts, futile arms races and serious environmental hazards. " The US fears Iran is secretly trying to build an atomic bomb but Tehran insists its nuclear drive is entirely peaceful and aimed at generating electricity for its growing population.

Netanyahu, Barak press for Iran timetable
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 3/3/2009
Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak meet with visiting US Secretary of State Clinton in Jerusalem, separately urge her to set time constraints for diplomatic talks with Tehran. Stagnated Palestinian peace process also on the agenda - "There must be a deadline to dialogue with Iran," Prime Minister-designate, Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak both asked of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in their separate meetings with her on Tuesday afternoon. "Our shared goal is the need for creative thinking to move forward and out of the maze," Netanyahu said after the two met at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, their session extending beyond the originally scheduled one hour. Netanyahu was flanked by close advisors Ron Dremer, Ari Harow, Uzi Arad and’Annapolis is dead’Official: Rightist government may hurt. . .

IAEA ’mismanagement’ raises Tehran’s ire
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times 3/4/2009
This week, the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is holding a meeting in Vienna and, as expected, non-proliferation issues pertaining to North Korea and Iran will be given top priority. This is at a time when United States officials have made optimum use of the IAEA’s recent report that indirectly confirms that Iran has "sufficient fissile material to make a bomb", to quote Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In his opening address to the IAEA meeting, Mohammad ElBaradei, the agency’s director general, said that Iran’s nuclear activities were being monitored and there was no evidence of military diversion, adding however that "Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities, or its work on heavy water-related projects. Nor has Iran implemented the Additional Protocol [of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty].

How many companies will fall this year?
Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
How many Israeli companies will go belly-up in 2009 as a result of the global financial meltdown? Nobody knows, of course, and no financial prognostication organization of repute has hazarded a forecast. But we can infer an answer to the question from a recent report from the United States rating agency Standard & Poor’s - emphasis on the latter name - and it’s a gloomy one. According to an S&P report in February, in America, no less than 13. 9% of all companies with a speculative-grade credit rating - that means B or less on the standard rating scale - will default on their bond repayments. The figure could even could go as high as 18. 5% if the crisis escalates some more, the agency said. According to data gathered from 1981 onwards, about 4. 3% of all companies with a speculative-grade rating go bankrupt every year, on average.

Claims for unemployment compensation shot up 60 percent over last year
Ha’aretz 3/3/2009
Claims for unemployment compensation continued to rise in February, reaching a 60 percent increase over February of 2008, according to figures released yesterday by the National Insurance Institute. The 19,800 new unemployment claims filed last month represent the largest one-month figure for several years. According to Employment Service statistics, a record 19,700 people lost their jobs in January, exceeding December’s figure, when the number of newly unemployed was at the highest level in 20 years. November of 2008 saw 16,500 lose their jobs. There were more people thrown out of work in the period from September through December than were hired during that period, for the first time since the end of 2003. Most of those losing their jobs live in the Tel Aviv area. The Central Bureau of Statistics reported that in the last quarter of 2008, the unemployment rate in the private sector stood at 6.

Split remains over Hariri tribunal
Andrew Coombes, Al Jazeera 3/3/2009
The bomb blast that shook Beirut’s seafront on February 14, 2005 also caused one of the most seismic shifts in Lebanon’s post-civil war history. Rafiq al-Hariri, a former prime minister and prominent businessman, died in the massive explosion, along with 22 others. In the wake of the killing, thousands of al-Hariri supporters held rallies in Beirut, pointing the finger of blame at Syria. Given that Damascus had thousands of troops and security agents in Lebanon and al-Hariri was a Lebanese nationalist who had allegedly fallen out with Syria, the possibility of Syrian involvement seemed logical. Amid massive pressure from the Lebanese public, Syria ended its 29-year military and intelligence presence in Lebanon. Soon after, the United Nations called for an investigation into al-Hariri’s assassination.


Articles

Aid as a weapon
Ben White, The Guardian 3/3/2009
      International donors’ approach to the Palestinian people lacks consistency, courage, and plain common sense . Ever since the beginning of the second intifada in 2000, there has been a familiar pattern in the Occupied Territories: Israel destroys Palestinian civilian infrastructure, and the international community foots the bill.
     This has been reproduced once more, on a grand scale, as billions of dollars were promised this week at the Egypt-hosted donor conference for devastated Gaza, far exceeding the Palestinian Authority’s initial target.
     It remains to be seen how much of this aid will actually get through to the Palestinians imprisoned in Gaza, who continue to live in the rubble of thousands of homes, and hundreds of businesses, factories and schools. Two-thirds of the US contribution of $900 million, for example, is not even earmarked for Gaza.
     There is also the question of how the aid will make a practical difference on the ground, given that Israel refuses to let in even tomato paste and paper – not to mention construction materials, generators (or "an entire water purification system"). Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth observed: "Israel’s blockade policy can be summed up in one word and it is punishment, not security."

Failed siege

Editorial, The Guardian 3/3/2009
      Pledging aid for Gaza is the easy bit. Getting it delivered to Gazans living in tents after Israel’s three-week bombardment is another matter. The $3bn that donors promised in Sharm el-Sheikh yesterday will have to penetrate a labyrinth of barriers and conditions, the complexity of which King Minos of Crete would have been proud. The money will be given to the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, even though the PA’s writ does not run in Gaza. The aid will pass through crossings currently closed by Israel. It will be distributed in such a manner as to avoid ending up in the hands of its governors. But how? This is like trying to spoon a thin gruel into a dying man, without letting it touch any part of his throat.
     Forget the difficulty of getting macaroni or paper into Gaza, neither of which fell into Israel’s definition of humanitarian aid. How can the 14,000 homes, 219 factories, 240 schools, which Israel destroyed, or damaged, be repaired without cement? Cement, Israel argues, has a dual use. It can be used to build Hamas’s bunkers and tunnels, although the dual use of macaroni and paper is harder to fathom. But why repair Gaza’s infrastructure, if Israeli warplanes could return at any moment to destroy it again? Operation Cast Lead did not re-establish Israeli deterrence over Hamas and Gaza’s other rejectionist groups. About 120 rockets and mortars have been fired into southern Israel since the army withdrew. Which means, short of re-occupation and putting the leadership of Hamas on a boat to Tripoli, the only way to stop the rockets is political, not military.

An Atmosphere Suitable for Palestinian Reconciliation

Elias Harfoush, MIFTAH 3/3/2009
      It is a sizeable and thorny issue with a difficult background of blood, prisoners, mutual accusations, and accusations of treason. Moreover, profound disagreements surround the peace process and the progress of negotiations with Israel, as well as perspectives on the map of Palestine and the borders of an independent state. Yet the step taken towards Palestinian agreement is a much better one than it had previously been. Indeed, the earlier state of affairs would have led the Palestinian national project to suicide.
     A fellow journalist who attended the press conference held by the Palestinian factions in Cairo to announce that they had reached an agreement asked: was it necessary for Israel to destroy Gaza in order for the Palestinians to reach an agreement? A meaningful question, although it never received a conclusive answer, one that would at least offer something like an apology to the families of those who were killed, the wounded and those who lost their homes and livelihoods as a result of the massacres perpetrated by Israel. The only answer was that Israel does not need justifications to commit its aggressions.

Understanding '˜Bibi’

Abu Yusef from Occupied Palestine, Palestine Monitor 3/3/2009
      A brief review of the life, works and beliefs of the incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin "˜Bibi’ Netanyahu.
     Many have painted a picture of the "˜Bibi’ as a stupid or even crazy person, but this seems to overlook his incredible academic background - probably inspired or inherited from his father, a former professor at the esteemed Cornell University.
     Netanyahu’s family origins trace back to Lithuania, as well as British Mandated Palestine. However, his family kept close ties with the United States where Benyamin moved at the age of fourteen to attend high school and then a number of outstanding American institutions of higher learning.
     Netanyahu has earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as a master’s degree in Management from the same institution. He went on to study Political Science in both MIT and Harvard.
     Despite popular beliefs, Benyamin Netanyahu is not an idiot.

The Right to No Right in Gaza

Natalie Abou Shakra – Gaza City, Palestine Chronicle 3/2/2009
      "Can we take more massacres? Answer me! Can we?" demanded Fadi, an 18 year old student at Palestine University in Gaza. The hall was packed with students in a two-hour seminar entitled "Still Alive" organized by student committees. Many pupils consecutively took the stage and narrated the events in their own subjective way, speaking about their realities from day one, aligning their confrontations with the human slaughtering, displacement, apprehension, shelling, destruction and incomprehensible chaos.
     Mazen, one of the speakers, expressed his disgust at the Israeli Occupation Forces’ doings at the Azbet Abed Rabbu area, where the soldiers would imprison families of a single neighbourhood in one house. They would then ask one of the fathers to choose a boy amongst his sons for them to shoot, and if he doesn’t, they would slaughter the whole family keeping only the boy alive. “How can we express this hurt, this pain, the deaths and wounds that we have lived?&rdquo.
     Slides from a projector repeated statements of “Happy New Year? No! Happy New Fear!” amongst photographs and amateur brief documentaries that the students prepared from what they collected during the attacks of photos, videos, audios, and statements. Despite the lack of resources, despite the psychological aftermath of the perpetual traumas, anger, shocks, frustrations and despair, they managed to build sturdy, influential and moving presentations to the rest of the audience.

The Kids and the War on Terror

Sarah Whalen, Palestine Chronicle 3/2/2009
      What can you say about the kids who despised the war on terror?
     They painted ’Freedom’ in giant letters on walls. They tied a scarf around the eyes of the ’Justice’ courthouse statue. They flung black tar on national flags.
     Kid stuff.
     But then, they wrote four little essays, made copies, and mailed them to addresses pulled randomly from phonebooks. They wrote anonymously, but threateningly: “We shall not be silent.”
     Who were they? “We,” wrote the kids, “are your bad conscience.”
     Like college kids everywhere, they quoted Lao Tzu and Aristotle, babbled a bit, but complained that the war on terror was unwinnable and causing countless, “meaningless” deaths. They called upon grownups to defend democracy and end the war quickly.
     “Why,” they screeched, “do you allow these men who are in power to rob you, step by step, openly and in secret, of one domain of your rights after another, until one day nothing, nothing at all will be left but a mechanized state system presided over by criminals and drunks?” How could they defeat “the enemy,” they asked, if their own democracy perished? And was not “the enemy” also a human being? Did defending democracy require human beings to be tortured, abused, and even “annihilated” on the basis of religion or politics?

Abu Mazen’s Choice: Resist or Surrender

Iqbal Jassat - Pretoria, Palestine Chronicle 3/2/2009
      ’Mahmoud Abbas as head of the Palestinian Authority remains unimpressive.’
     As Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) struggles to hold onto power, his Israeli-backed reign of the Occupied West Bank is turning into a colossal disaster for the Palestinians.
     Amidst encouraging signals from Cairo’s unity talks between Hamas and Fatah, it appears that in Ramallah, Abu Mazen remains determined to excel as the Zionist state’s most obedient surrogate.
     His role as head of the Palestinian Authority remains unimpressive. Not merely despite his dual position as leader of Fatah and the PLO, but in spite of this, Abu Mazen has dismally failed to advance the cause of his people beyond the rim of his framed lenses.
     This is evident in the hopelessness of his leadership characterized by constantly yielding to pressure and "giving" without "receiving" anything in return. It’s a disastrous failure by him and his utterly discredited fellow elites to recognize the asymmetry in power relations between Israel and the PA. Tragically, remaining static as a functionary of a colonial settler state allows him no mobility, neither does it permit him the space to permit the mobilization of any form of resistance.

Israel’s crimes in Gaza

Reem Salahi writing from the United States, Electronic Intifada 3/3/2009
      Having returned from Gaza, I am trying to come to terms with what I saw, what I heard and honestly, what I don’t think I will ever understand -- the justification. While Israel’s recent offensive has been the most egregious of any historical attack upon the Palestinians in Gaza, it is just that, one of many. Gaza has been under Israeli bombardment and sanctions for decades. Prior to the Israeli pullout in 2005, Gaza was under complete Israeli control and occupation. Nearly 8,000 Israeli settlers occupied 40 percent of Gaza while the 1.5 million Palestinians occupied the remaining 60 percent. Settlements were located on the most fertile lands and along Gaza’s beautiful coastal regions and checkpoints prevented Palestinian mobility.Despite being one-fifth the size of Rhode Island, 25 miles long and 4 to 7.5 miles wide, Gaza was divided into three sections and Palestinians had to pass through multiple checkpoints to get from one section to the next. Often Israeli forces would close these checkpoints and not allow the Palestinians access to the other regions in Gaza as a form of collective punishment.
     Yet with Israel’s pullout in 2005, the Palestinian experience has not improved. Rather, it has become even more unpredictable and isolated. Palestinians who celebrated the exodus of the Israeli settlers and the return of some of their land could not have imagined what would follow and how Israel would subsequently unleash its brutal force against them. As the saying goes, nothing in life is free and the Palestinians have paid, and continue to pay, a dear and unforgivable price for Israel’s withdrawal from their legally rightful land. Ironically, the majority of Palestinians living in Gaza are refugees who fled from their homes that were previously located in what has become Israel proper due to the influx of Zionist settlers....

Dennis Ross: The Most Important Dossier

Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, MIFTAH 3/3/2009
      There are many political envoys in the administration of the new American President, Barack Obama. But assigning diplomat Dennis Ross the dossier of Iran and the Gulf means that his [mission] is the most serious and important of all. Despite the importance of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its historic value, it remains confined to a 35-year-old case, counting the years from the last war that changed the political situation. It can continue as it is, with its disputes and wars confined in the area of its conflicts. As for Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan, and with them Al-Qaeda organization, it is true that this is a problem capable of exploding but it is similarly confined to its area.
     But Iran is the problem number one in the world. It presents a recipe of uranium, religious extremism, and limitless ambitions. It is the most energetic force in managing anarchy and financing wars. It is also accused of being behind the Lebanon turmoil and the emergence of Hamas, and of being the only threat to Iraq as well as to the Gulf nations. Add to this that it is about to give birth to its first nuclear weapon which will make it more dangerous.

Alter Info Communiqué - Never will the police have spies comparable to those who serve hate

French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP, Palestine Think Tank 3/2/2009
      Since its first days, Palestine Think Tank has been supported by a wonderful site and by the truly dedicated activists there. Alter Info has been under a lot of pressure from the usual Israeli Lobby organisations, this time in France. We wish to express our support of Alter Info, to hope that they are able to win this case, and that some benefactors are able to help them with the growing legal costs. Please read their press communiqué and, if you are able to, show your support of those who provide information so that the lies and propaganda will not win, and that peace and justice will prevail.
     Dear friends, Alter Info readers,
     Since the beginning of our legal issues, many have supported us and showed their solidarity. Thanks to you, we managed to face adversity with dignity and honour. Therefore it is natural that I keep you informed of the legal outcomes and political games around this case in order that each of you realizes to what great extent not only this website but more generally freedom of speech and particularly individual freedoms are under attack.
     .....At the end of December 2007, we received a letter from Mr Lilti, attorney for the UEJF & J’Accuse organisations, formal notification asking for the removal of a translated article by Henry Makow entitled Capital Imperialism and published in September 2007. In this letter, Mr Lilti, among the usual clichés and predictable accusations of anti-Semitism, declared that even if we removed Ms Skandrani’s article, he would nevertheless file a case against me for "hate incitement." What I find a little bit puzzling is that the Attorney General added a "crime against humanity" charge to the other insanities my detractors are accusing me of.

Hope for Palestinian State Recedes as Both Sides Edge Towards Other Options

James Hider, MIFTAH 3/3/2009
      Hillary Clinton starts her first tour of the Middle East as Secretary of State today with a mandate to reinvigorate collapsed peace talks.
     She will find, however, that support for a two-state solution – the central plank in US-led efforts to tackle the crisis for almost two decades – is at a record low.
     Not only is it waning on the Israeli side, which is under the new leadership of the right-wing hawk Binyamin Netanyahu, but it is also collapsing among Palestinians, who increasingly view the Oslo peace process, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) that was formed under it, as dead.
     Palestinian officials and civil leaders told The Times that their governing body was all but defunct and would either waste away or turn into a kind of Vichy regime providing a cover for Israel’s continuing occupation of the West Bank. Many Palestinian civil leaders believe that time is running out for a two-state solution, thanks mainly to increasing Jewish settlement activity and Israel’s refusal to relinquish military positions.
     Some Palestinians even said that if Israel did not soon agree to statehood, the Palestinians should abandon dreams of independence and confront the Jewish state with its worst nightmare – a one-state solution, in which Arabs would, in decades to come, outnumber Jews. “Oslo is dying and so of course is the Palestinian Authority,” said Mustafa Barghouti, an independent politician and head of the increasingly popular Palestinian National Initiative. “They are transforming the authority into a security subagent for Israel. It’s becoming a Bantustan government, a Vichy,” he said.