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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
7 March, 2009
Palestinian PM submits resignation
Al Jazeera 3/7/2009
Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, has submitted his resignation to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president. Announcing the decision on Saturday, Fayyad said the resignation would take effect after the formation of a Palestinian national unity government. He, however, said he would quit no later than the end of March. Fayyad’s announcement comes ahead of the resumption of power-sharing talks between Abbas, who heads the Fatah movement, and his rivals from the Palestinian Hamas group. Fayyad, a former World Bank economist, was appointed by Abbas after Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. His decision to resign is being seen as a goodwill gesture towards Hamas, as the group had repeatedly demanded that Fayyad step down. "This step comes in the efforts to form a national conciliation government,’’ Fayyad said.

U.S.: Only Fayyad can head PA unity gov’t
Akiva Eldar and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
The United States will only recognize a future Palestinian unity government if Salem Fayyad is reappointed prime minister, according to a message relayed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to European and Arab leaders at last week’s donor summit in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. The same message was relayed to Hamas by the Norwegian government, in response to the organization’s demand that Fatah replaces Fayyad with an independent candidate. Senior Palestinian sources yesterday told Haaretz that the sudden resignation of Fayyad was a tactical move, designed to pressure Hamas into softening its opposition to Fayyad serving as prime minister in a unity government. The sources believe that the American threat, which is likely to be backed by the European Union and Egypt, will lead to Hamas changing its position and Fayyad rescinding his resignation.

Israeli forces shoot four with live ammunition at Ni’lin demonstration
ISM 3/7/2009
On the 6th March Israeli forces attacked the weekly protest against the construction of the Apartheid Wall in the village of Ni’lin, shooting four protesters with live ammunition. Three other people were injured after being hit by tear-gas canisters. Over one hundred people gathered for an open air prayer in one of the village’s olive groves. After prayer, the crowd marched to the construction site of the Wall which runs through village land. Villagers began breaking down the razor wire barrier along the construction zone. Israeli soldiers arrived in a jeep and began firing tear gas into the crowd, forcing the demonstrators to retreat. As they retreated, other soldiers positioned in the olive groves attacked them with more tear gas. One international activist from Sweden was hit in the stomach with an extended range tear gas grenade.

Palestinian killed, another injured in an Israeli air strike
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/7/2009
Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Saturday morning that one Palestinian was killed and another was injured in an Israeli air strike that targeted a car they were driving in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The slain fighter was identified as Mahmoud Sami Fattouh. His body was severely mutilated whilst the resident suffered serious wounds. Eyewitnesses reported that an Israeli drone fired at least one missile at the vehicle. The Al Quds Brigades, armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, said that the two are its members and vowed fierce retaliation. Israel has killed five fighters, including four members of the Al Quds Brigades, over the past few days.

Facing demolition, East Jerusalem man razes own home
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – A resident of East Jerusalem paid another Palestinian to bulldoze his own home this week in order to avoid a $20,000 demolition fee. According to Reuters, Sharif Attoun asked bulldozer driver Ziad Dabash to flatten his 13-year-old house because Israeli authorities would charge him more money to demolish his home. Attoun’s ordeal is not uncommon among some 260,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem who say Israeli municipal authorities in the city often deny them building permits. "I never thought of razing my own home and paying rent," said Attoun, a 36-year-old elevator technician, waving a copy of the Israeli demolition order, according to Reuters. Palestinians consider Jerusalem their capital. Israel occupied and later annexed East Jerusalem, declaring the city its “eternal, undivided capital.

Congressmen Try to Restrict Gaza Funds
Allison Hoffman, MIFTAH 3/7/2009
US lawmakers are seeking restrictions on US funding for $900 million in proposed reconstruction and humanitarian aid for the Palestinians over concerns that the money might wind up in the hands of terrorist groups. Sources on Capitol Hill told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that negotiations over restrictions could complicate the process and potentially delay getting aid to organizations on the ground. " In general, there will be a desire on the part of Congress to work with the administration and give them the flexibility they need to conduct foreign policy," said one Congressional staffer. The sticking point, he said, would be to ensure that none of those funds end up helping terrorists. "I’m sure there will be questions - as there always are with regard to this kind of aid - about transparency, vetting, and auditing to make sure money doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. "

Israeli military delays release of Gaza investigation reports
International Middle East Media Center News 3/7/2009
Israeli media sources reported Friday that Israeli military authorities have decided to delay the release of internal reports on the conduct of Israeli forces during their three-week long invasion of Gaza. According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the delay stems from Israeli fears that the release of the reports could provide grounds for accusations of war crimes against Israeli officers in foreign courts. A number of human rights bodies and international agencies have accused the Israeli military of violating international law and engaging in war crimes during the attack on Gaza. The military had been planning to use their secret, internal investigations to try to disprove these allegations. Some of the accusations against the Israeli military include their use of white phosphorus in Palestinian civilian areas, their use of banned DIME weapons which consist of red-hot metal that. . . -- See also: IDF fears Gaza probe could harm officers abroad

EU report: Israel ’pursuing illegal annexation’ of E. J’lem
Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
A confidential EU report accuses Israel of "actively pursuing the illegal annexation" of East Jerusalem, The Guardian reported yesterday. The British newspaper reported that the document accuses Israel of using settlement expansion, the security barrier, house demolitions and discriminatory housing policies to gain control over East Jerusalem. The report is dated December 15, 2008. It acknowledges Israel’s legitimate security concerns in Jerusalem, but says: "Many of its current illegal actions in and around the city have limited security justifications," The Guardian reported. The report says Israel has accelerated its plans for East Jerusalem and is undermining the Palestinian Authority’s credibility and weakening support for peace talks. "Israel’s actions in and around Jerusalem constitute one of the most acute challenges to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making," says the document.

Plan for Tourist Theme Park Raises Jerusalem Tensions
Donald MacIntyre, MIFTAH 3/7/2009
Close as it is to the historic and politically radioactive Old City of Jerusalem, when Naji Qafishi built his two-storey house in the Silwan district in 1994, he hardly expected it to be at the core of a global debate over the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even now, he is more worried about the impact of the demolition order for the property on the 14 people who live in its four rooms – his three sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. " My grandson Naji, who is seven, came home from school yesterday. He got 96 in his test – and he said, ’Grandad, how will I be able to study if our house is destroyed? ’""I felt very bad about what he said. He is only in the first grade," said Mr Qafishi, 54, an unemployed former building worker. Naji’s mother, his daughter-in-law, had fallen into depression because of the threat to the home.

Israeli Spurns Criticism From Clinton
Howard Schneider, MIFTAH 3/7/2009
After Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week criticized plans to extend a park across 88 buildings that house Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, newly elected Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said she was meddling in local control over zoning and the city’s economic future. The threatened homes were built without permits and should not be there in the first place, Barkat told reporters Thursday, while the envisioned park -- running from beneath the walls of the Old City across a valley associated with Old Testament kings -- would draw more tourists to a city that could use the boost. " I totally reject the criticism," Barkat said. "It is a lot of air. There is no substance. Maybe it is because there is a new administration in the States. "He speculated that she had been misled by what he called Palestinian "disinformation. "

’Israel pursuing annexation of e. J’lem’
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 3/7/2009
An internal report by EU diplomats made public Saturday claimed Israel was undermining prospects for a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem by building more housing for Jews there and demolishing Palestinian-owned homes. The policy is being carried out at an accelerated pace and is hindering chances of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel, said the 20-page report, written in December. "Israel is, by practical means, actively pursuing the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem," the report said. The document was made available to journalists Saturday by the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions, a Jerusalem based human-rights group. An EU diplomat contacted by The Associated Press verified its authenticity. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that a division of the city is inevitable in any peace deal, but has not said where he would draw the line. "There will be no peace if a significant part of Jerusalem is not the capital of the Palestinian state," Olmert said Friday.

Halabiya: Jerusalem faces the most serious stage in its history
Palestinian Information Center 3/7/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Ahmed Abu Halabiya, the rapporteur of the Quds parliamentary committee, warned that the city of occupied Jerusalem is going through the most serious stage in its history, adding that the Israeli occupation authority is waging a relentless war on the Palestinian people everywhere. Dr. Abu Halabiya’s remarks came during a cultural meeting entitled "The risks that threaten Jerusalem and the holy places" held by the Hamas public relations office in the Daraj area in Gaza city. The lawmaker stressed that at least 60 thousand dunums of Palestinian lands had been seized and 30 settlements had been established since 1967. He noted that the IOA handed demolition orders for 134 Jerusalemite families living in 88 homes in the Bustan neighborhood in the Silwan town, south of the Aqsa Mosque, and issued other orders for the demolition of 55 apartments in the Ras Khamis area in the Shafat refugee camp, in central Jerusalem.

EU says Israel annexing east J’lem
Ynet, YNetNews 3/7/2009
Confidential European Union report, published by British paper, claims settlement expansion, house demolitions indicate active, illegal takeover of east Jerusalem - According to the European Union, Israel is trying to take over east Jerusalem. A confidential EU report, described Saturday morning by the British paper the Guardian, declares that the Israeli government is "actively pursuing the illegal annexation" of the eastern part of the city. The Guardian quotes the report as saying that "Israeli ’facts on the ground’ - including new settlements, construction of the barrier, discriminatory housing policies, house demolitions, restrictive permit regime and continued closure of Palestinian institutions - increase Jewish Israeli presence in East Jerusalem, weaken the Palestinian community in the city, impede Palestinian urban development and separate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

Israel hands out demolition orders for 36 Palestinian more families in J’lem
Palestinian Information Center 3/7/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli controlled municipality of occupied Jerusalem handed Thursday demolition orders for 36 Palestinian families living in the Abbasiya neighborhood near the Old City. The sources said that the orders gave the families, who live in two buildings in this neighborhood, 10 days to evacuate their homes. According to the sources, the number of Palestinian homes threatened with demolition in different Jerusalem neighborhoods rose to 124 so far. Last week, Israel issued demolition orders for 88 homes in Al-Bustan neighborhood, located south of the Aqsa Mosque, in occupied Jerusalem. New reports received Saturday said that the Palestinians in the Sahel area near Jerusalem’s Old City set up a protest camp on the ruins of the last house that was demolished two weeks ago in the area.

IAF bombs Gaza smuggling tunnel after rockets hit Negev
Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
The Israel Air Force bombed a smuggling tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday after militants in the coastal territory fired at least three rockets into Israel. The rockets fired from Gaza hit the western Negev, causing injuries or damage. Meanwhile, a member of an Islamic Jihad rocket squad was killed and two others were wounded Saturday in what a Palestinian medic said was an Israeli airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces, however, said it did not carry out any operations in Gaza at the time of the incident. The dead man was identified as Mahmoud Fattouh, 25, according to Dr. Moawiya Hassanain, a Gaza health official. Two Islamic Jihad members were wounded in the incident near the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya. The Islamic Jihad squad was targeted as it fired rockets toward Israel.

IAF bombs Gaza tunnel after rockets hit Negev
Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
The Israel Air Force bombed a smuggling tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip yesterday, after militants fired at least three rockets into Israel. The rockets fired from Gaza hit the western Negev, causing no injuries or damage. Meanwhile, a member of an Islamic Jihad rocket squad was killed and two others were wounded Saturday in what a Palestinian medic said was an Israeli airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces, however, said it did not carry out any operations in Gaza at the time of the incident. Dr. Moawiya Hassanain, a Gaza health official, identified the dead man as Mahmoud Fattouh, 25. The squad was targeted as it fired rockets toward Israel, according to Hassanain and Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Ahmed.

Report: Hamas Demands Islamic Jihad Stop Launching
Ali Waked, MIFTAH 3/7/2009
Hamas has asked Islamic Jihad operatives to stop firing rockets at Israel, Palestinian sources told Ynet on Thursday. Five rockets were fired on the western Negev from Gaza, following an IDF aerial strike that killed three Palestinian terrorists near Kissufim. According to reports, Hamas is trying to convince the Islamic Jihad to cease rocket fire, on the grounds that doing so while ceasefire negotiations are in progress gives Israel an excuse to escalate military operations and undermine the relative quiet of the past several days. Hamas sources said they viewed the Islamic Jihad’s rocket fire as a legitimate response to the deaths of its operatives and is merely asking them to make do with the rockets launched so far. Palestinian sources went so far as to suggest that although Hamas’ official stance states that rocket fire towards Israel is legitimate while the crossings are closed, the group was displeased with Islamic Jihad’s rocket fire.

Israeli airstrike kills Islamic Jihad member in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli warplanes bombed a car in the northern Gaza Strip killing one member of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, and seriously wounding another early on Saturday. According to a statement from the Al-Quds Brigades, a fighter jet fired a missile at a car in the town of Beit Lahiya, killing Mahmoud Fattouh. The Israeli military said it did not carry out any operations in Gaza on Saturday. “Fattouh was killed after he fired a homemade projectile towards the Israeli town of Sderot,” the Brigades’ statement added. Medical sources noted that Fattouh’s body arrived at the hospital torn into pieces. Israeli sources said four projectiles landed in an open area in the western Negev desert, causing no damage or injuries. Israel’s air force launched another airstrike on the Al-Fukhkhari neighborhood of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian fighter killed in Israeli air raid
Palestinian Information Center 3/7/2009
BEIT LAHIA, (PIC)-- An Israeli air raid on northern Gaza killed an Islamic Jihad activist and wounded another at dawn Saturday, sources in the Jihad’s armed wing told the PIC. They said that Mahmoud Fattuh was killed and another Quds Brigades member was seriously injured in the Israeli warplanes shelling of a car they were riding in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza. The sources said that the martyr was a member of the armed wing’s missile unit, and vowed reprisal to the "cowardly assassination". Fattuh is the fourth Jihad member to be killed and the fifth in Palestinian resistance lines within the few past days in a clear indication of the Israeli military escalation against the Gaza Strip. Israeli gunboats on Friday opened machinegun fire at Palestinian fishing boats on the Khan Younis and Rafah beaches in southern Gaza but no casualties were reported.

IAF strikes tunnel in southern Gaza
Hanan Greenberg, Reuters, YNetNews 3/7/2009
Rocket hits Israel Saturday morning; Islamic Jihad militant reported by local residents as killed by aerial strike on rocket-launching team in Gaza - Israeli aircraft struck a tunnel near the Philadelphi route in the southern Gaza Strip Saturday evening. The army stated that the strike was a response to the rocket fire at Israel during the morning hours. Earlier Saturday, an Israeli air strike killed a Palestinian operative and left another wounded in the northern Gaza Strip, local medical workers and residents said. An Israeli army spokesman said he was checking on the reported air strike. A few hours earlier, three rockets launched from Gaza landed in open areas in the western Negev - near the Eshkol Regional Council, near Sderot and near Be’eri on the Ashkelon coastline. No casualties or damages were reported in any of the attacks.

Four projectiles land near Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Four homemade projectiles landed in open areas east of the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning, according to Israeli officials. No casualties or damage were reported. One of the projectiles fell before an Israeli airstrike killed an Islamic Jihad fighter, and three fell shortly after the strikeThe Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, said it fired six projectiles into Israel on Saturday. On Friday senior Israeli military officials were quoted as saying that they are preparing a "harsh attack" on Gaza in response to the projectiles. Israel failed to stop the homemade rockets in a three-week offensive against the Gaza Strip in December and January. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the campaign. ***Updated at 10:50 Gaza time

Amnesty International Report: 'Wanton Destruction' by Israel in Gaza
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 3/7/2009
Amnesty International has released a report saying that Israel engaged in "wanton destruction" of Palestinian homes during its recent invasion of the Gaza Strip. An estimated 14,000 homes, 219 factories, and 240 schools were destroyed in the three-week long Israeli attack in January. The Amnesty report to say that this ’wanton destruction’ would qualify as a war crime, as there was no military objective in most cases. A group of Israeli soldiers have echoed the findings of the Amnesty report. ’Breaking the Silence’ is an organization made up of Israeli soldiers who have served in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The group’s president, Yehuda Shaul, said that the group has gathered testimonies from soldiers who were part of the Gaza invasion, and the testimonies indicate that most of the demolition was done after an area was under Israeli control.

Gaza Homes Destruction ’Wanton’
BBC News, MIFTAH 3/7/2009
Human rights investigators say Israeli forces engaged in "wanton destruction" of Palestinian homes during the recent conflict in Gaza. Amnesty International has told thewebsite the methods used raised concerns about war crimes. Israel’s military said buildings were destroyed because of military "operational needs". The Israeli Defense Forces said they operated in accordance with international law during the conflict. However, the use of mines to destroy homes contradicted this claim, the head of the Amnesty International fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza, Donatella Rovera, has argued. “ The IDF emphasises that the terrorist organisation, Hamas, and its infrastructure were the target of Operation Cast Lead, and not the civilian population in Gaza ”Israeli military statementIsraeli troops had to leave their vehicles to plant the mines, indicating that they faced no danger and that there was no military or operational justification, she said.

Gaza man witnesses soldiers executing his father
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 3/7/2009
"They fired at him’ then a number of soldiers approached his wounded body and fired again to make sure he was dead". This was not a fighter, not an armed man that the soldiers wanted to neutralize; this is a story of an aged man who was executed by Israeli soldiers east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Resident Mubarak Ahmad Al Shareehy, 34, tells the story of how he witnessed the soldiers executing his father during the war on Gaza. The son remembers the details of that horrific day and tells the story to the Palestine Information Center. He woke up on Thursday morning, January 8, and looked through his window at his father’s house. "I could hear gunfire but I did not see soldiers advancing. I saw my 72-year old father using his crutch and walking towards my home, he called my name and said he is coming over", the son said.

Palestinian youth wounded in Nablus
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/7/2009
On Friday evening, Israeli soldiers invaded the Jabal Al Shimaly area of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, shot and wounded one youth in clashes that took place during the invasion. Medical sources in Nablus reported that Moneer Al Bastamy, 17, was shot by live ammunition in his leg. Al Bastamy was moved to the Rafidia Hospital in Nablus. His wounds were described as moderate. The invasion comes as the Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, managed to implement a new plan to ensure security. The invasion was seen as an attempt to impede the efforts of the Palestinian security forces in restoring order and maintaining security control. [end]

Israeli forces raid northern West Bank towns, camp
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank towns of Tubas and Qabatiya, and the Al-Fari’a Refugee Camp on Friday morning. No arrests or injuries were reported. Palestinian security sources said that three military patrols moved through the streets nearthe entrance to Al-Fari’a camp. Four other patrols entered the eastern neighborhood of Qabatiya and took up positions on the settler bypass road in the village. In Tubas, five military patrols stormed the city center on their way to Tayaseer military checkpoint, east of the city. [end]

Body located in tunnel rubble in Rafah
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/7/2009
Palestinian medical sources in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, reported on Saturday morning that the body of resident Hani Mizyid, 26, was found in the rubble of a tunnel that collapsed last week. Dr. Moawiya Hassanen, head of the Emergency Unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Health, reported that the body of Mizyid was moved to Abu Yousef Al Najjar Hospital in Rafah. On Friday, the bodies of Jom’a Abu Samahdana, 18, and Dia’ Abu Taha, 25, were located under the rubble of the same tunnel. Last week, medics located the bodies of five residents in the same tunnel. The number of residents killed in this tunnel in one week stands now at eight. [end]

Al-Quds Brigades launch two mortar shells at Kisufim
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades launched two mortar shells at the Israeli military base at Kisufim on Saturday afternoon, a statement from the group claimed. The actions were said to have come in retaliation for Israeli atrocities committed in the Gaza Strip. Earlier Saturday Israeli warplanes bombed a car in the northern Gaza Strip killing one member of the Al-Quds Brigades and seriously wounding another. Israeli officials denied the accusation and said not attacks on the Strip were conducted on Saturday. Saturday’s attack was the third strike against Islamic Jihad fighters in Gaza this week. [end]

Israeli warplane fires missiles at Rafah borders
Palestinian Information Center 3/7/2009
RAFAH, (PIC)-- An Israeli warplane on Saturday evening launched an air raid on the Palestinian-Egyptian border area in Rafah, south of the Gaza, inflicting more material damage but no casualties. Local sources told the PIC reporter that an F-16 warplane fired two missiles at an area near to the Rafah main border gate with Egypt targeting tunnels used for smuggling goods into the besieged Strip. The sources pointed out that the raid caused more damage to the already devastated buildings, which were evacuated by their inhabitants due to the ceaseless Israeli air raids. [end]

Man and wife injured by Israeli naval fire near Rafah
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli war boats shot at a husband and his wife from the Al-Mawassi area west of Rafah city on Saturday. Medical sources in Abu Yousef An-Najjar hospital reported that the couple was moderately injured after the boats opened fire at them. Eyewitnesses said that the boats also opened fire at houses in the area. [end]

East Matityahu Settlers Defile and Burn the Quran in Bil’in
Palestine Monitor 3/7/2009
Three injured and dozens suffered teargas inhalation during the Bil’in Weekly Demonstration - The residents of Bil’in gathered today after the Friday prayer in another protest called by the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlement Building. The protest was joined by international activists and the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall and Settlements. Protesters carried Palestinian flags and banners condemning the Israeli policies of building the wall and settlements, especially the recent plan to build 75 new housing units. Protesters also condemned the recent house demolitions in Al-Bustan and Ras Khamis in Jerusalem. The protest called for national unity, resistance to the occupation and also encouraged the international community to be fair and balanced. Protesters demanded to bring Olmert, Livni, Barak and Peres to court for war crimes.

IOF troops wound eight protestors in Na’lin peaceful march
Palestinian Information Center 3/7/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The IOF troops opened intensive gunfire at Palestinian and international protesters which led to the injury of eight of them during the Na’lin weekly march against the Israeli apartheid wall, west of Ramallah. The Na’lin committee against the wall said that the shooting occurred after the Friday prayer in the village near the work site of Israeli bulldozers, where the IOF troops tried to block the arrival of peaceful protestors to the site by firing dozens of tear gas at them which triggered the situation and led to violent confrontations with the Israeli troops. The committee said that a large number of IOF reinforcements stormed the village from three directions, closed the village and broke into Palestinian homes during the march. In another context, the IOF troops invaded Thursday the Tulkarem city and kidnapped two Palestinian activists who had received pardons from the IOA.

Nonviolent demonstration in Nal’en becomes face-off with Israeli bulldozers
PNN, Palestine News Network 3/7/2009
Ramallah - After Friday prayers on the land near the site of the work of the bulldozers in western Ramallah’s Nal’en Village, dozens of people resisted. The nonviolent demonstration was joined by international supporters holding signs condemning occupation. The Wall cuts through the town’s land and during this Friday demonstration Israeli bulldozers worked at destroying more. An area of two and a half kilometers that directly connects residents to their lands was blocked by the Israeli army. Soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs to prevent the freedom of movement of residents. Young people began throwing stones at the bulldozers. In the meantime, the army stormed the town from three directions - West, East and South -- in a move to trap the youth. Hundreds of Nal’en residents staved off the suppression of the march.

Protest camp against home demolitions in Jerusalem
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/7/2009
Palestinian residents of Al Sahl area, in the Mount of Olives -- Al Tour area of East Jerusalem installed a protest camp on the rubble of a home that was demolished by Israel two weeks ago. The protest comes as Israel is implementing a plan to demolish dozens of homes in East Jerusalem. The protestors said that the Jerusalem Municipality decided to demolish 13 residential buildings, including 19 apartments. The municipality also annexed 16 Dunams in Al Tour. Israeli Authorities gave the residents forty days to appeal its decision in Israeli courts. The owners of the threatened homes say that they plan to hold protests in their camp, and called on different institutions and Palestinian figures to support them and join their protest.

Russian FM: Make Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone
Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Russia repeated on Saturday its call for the Middle East to be made a nuclear weapons-free zone. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, addressing a disarmament conference after holding bilateral talks in Geneva on Friday with U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said:"The task to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime in the Middle East remains urgent. We consistently advocate this region to become a nuclear-weapon-free zone, and eventually, a zone free from all other types of weapons of mass destruction," he said. Lavrov also called for a successor deal with the United States to their Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), saying this was a priority in ’resetting’ their relations as Washington has urged. "We are prepared, as was suggested by our American partners, to "reset" our relations. . . . Conclusion of a new legally-binding Russian-American treaty on strategic offensive weapons could become a priority step in that direction. "

U.S. Army document describes Israel as ’a nuclear power’
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
In a rare breach of official American adherence to Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity, the U. S. military is terming Israel "a nuclear power" on a par with Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea, all of which have declared their nuclear weapon status, and ahead of "nuclear threshold powers" Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, and the "emerging" Iran. The reference to Israel as a nuclear power is contained in a document published late last year by the U. S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), the Norfolk, Virginia-based headquarters in charge of preparing American forces for their military missions worldwide, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. JFCOM’s chief, U. S. Marine Corps Four-Star General James Mattis, also heads NATO’s Allied Command Transformation. Israel’s nuclear program is rarely, if ever, explicitly mentioned in public, unclassified U.

Russia calls for nuclear-free ME
Reuters, YNetNews 3/7/2009
Foreign Minister Lavrov says non-proliferation regime important for region, also wants to renew talks with US - Russia renewed calls for a nuclear-free Middle East, after holding bilateral talks in Geneva on Friday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Addressing a disarmament conference following the talks, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov mentioned the importance of non-proliferation in this region. " The task to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime in the Middle East remains urgent. We consistently advocate this region to become a nuclear-weapon-free zone, and eventually, a zone free from all other types of weapons of mass destruction," he said. Notably, Russia has been heavily involved in the construction of the Iranian nuclear reactor in Bushehr for the past decade and has been importing enriched uranium to the facility since 2007.

Israeli MP tables draft law banning visits to Palestinian prisoners
Palestinian Information Center 3/7/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Danny Danon, a Likud member of the Israeli parliament, has tabled a draft law with the parliament stipulating banning family visits to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails especially those of the Hamas Movement. The Israeli TV seventh channel said that Danon’s draft law suggested allowing lawyers and Red Cross representatives to visit those prisoners only once every three months as long as Hamas retained the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in captivity. It quoted him as saying that he wished to deter the Palestinian resistance factions from attempting to capture more Israelis. Israel retains more than 11,000 Palestinian captives in its jails. [end]

Hamas rejects latest prisoner-swap list
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Hamas has rejected the new list of Palestinian prisoners that Israel relayed, which are meant to be part of a swap deal that would gain the release of Gilad Shalit. Official Palestinian sources reported during the weekend that a list had been relayed to Hamas through Egyptian mediators. The list had been delivered to the Egyptians by Ofer Dekel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s envoy in negotiating a prisoner exchange with Hamas. Senior defense sources have expressed pessimism in recent days about the chances that Shalit will be released in the short period remaining in Olmert’s tenure. Israeli officials said that the updated list included 220 of the 450 "serious" prisoners whose release Hamas is demanding. Israel also proposed that Hamas select the names from another list of 450 prisoners drafted by Dekel comprised, so that the numbers of those released would match those that Hamas demanded.

Abbas asks Fayyad to continue as PM until end of unity talks
Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday asked Salam Fayyad to remain Palestinian prime minister until results emerged from Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks. He made the request shortly after Fayyad announced his intention to resign by the end of March. Earlier Saturday, Abbas said Fayyad’s resignation would aid the negotiations with Hamas. "Fayyad’s resignation comes to enhance and support the national dialogue to reach a national unity government," Abbas said. Fayyad submitted his resignation earlier Saturday, a move that could help pave the way for an elusive power-sharing deal between the two factions. Abbas also said he hoped a transition government could be formed by the end of March, suggesting that power-sharing talks have moved into high gear, following failed attempts in the past.

Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad submits resignation
Associated Press, The Independent 3/7/2009
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad submitted his resignation today in a move that could help usher in a power-sharing deal between Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas and his rivals in the militant group Hamas. Fayyad’s resignation was meant to be a goodwill gesture toward the militant group. However Hamas officials dismissed his resignation, arguing his appointment has been unconstitutional. Abbas appointed Fayyad as Prime Minister after the militant group seized power of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. The Hamas takeover effectively created two separate Palestinian administrations: an internationally backed government in the West Bank led by Abbas and technocrat Fayyad, and a blockaded government in the coastal patch of Gaza run by Hamas. Fayyad said in a statement on Saturday that he was hoping to pave the way for a unity government.

Fayyad Resigns to Make Way for New Palestinian Government [March 1 – March 7]
MIFTAH, MIFTAH 3/7/2009
The news of the hour was the resignation of Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad around noon March 7. According to the resignation letter submitted to President Mahmoud Abbas, Fayyad said he and his caretaker government were stepping aside to allow the creation of a unity government with the other Palestinian factions. The resignation, while sudden, was not unexpected, given that Hamas and Fateh along with the other 14 Palestinian factions decided last month in Cairo to form a new transitional government. Last week, the members of the five committees set up for this purpose were announced and according to the parties involved their work will begin on March 10. Egypt, which is acting in the role of facilitator to these talks, says it wants the committees to come to a final agreement before the Arab Summit in Doha at the end of this month.

Nunu: Fayyad’s resignation has nothing to do with national dialog
Palestinian Information Center 3/7/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA government of Ismail Haneyya on Saturday underlined that the Ramallah government of Salam Fayyad was an illegitimate government and was illegally practicing its duties. Taher Al-Nunu, the government’s spokesman, said in a statement that Fayyad’s government was ruling contrary to the Palestinian people’s will, which chose Hamas to rule them. He said that Fayyad’s resignation from his "illegal post" had its reasons, none of which are related to the national reconciliation dialog in Cairo because his government was in itself an obstacle before this dialog. Nunu called for restoring rule of Hanneya’s government over the West Bank along with the Gaza Strip in accordance with the law until end of the national dialog in Cairo that would form a new government. For its part, Hamas Movement said that Fayyad’s resignation was due to financial and personal differences between him and the former PA chief Mahmoud Abbas.

PM Fayyad submits caretaker government’s resignation
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
SaturdayBethlehem - Ma’an - Palestinian caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad handed his resignation and that of his government to President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday. In a statement Fayyad stressed that he and his caretaker government are stepping aside in order to encourage the formation of a transitional consensus government involving Fatah and their rival, Hamas. Fayyad said his resignation would go into effect as soon as such a government is formed, or “no later than the end of this month,” whichever comes first. Shortly after meeting with Fayyad, Abbas announced that he had asked Fayyad to stay on as prime minister until talks with Hamas are completed. Abbas explained that Fayyad’s resignation came to enhance national dialogue efforts and to push forward that dialogue towards forming a national consensus government crowning efforts of five committees established for that purpose.

PLO Executive Committee praises Fayyad’s resignation as move toward national unity
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – The executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) praised the resignation of caretaker government Prime Minister Salam Fayyad Saturday, calling the move “responsible. ”The committee described Fayyad’s resignation, and that of his government, as a positive move in the ultimate formation of a national consensus government before the end of the month, when the resignation will go into effect. “It is hoped that such a government form will be reached in Cairo dialogue,” the committee said during a Saturday meeting at the Ramallah government headquarters. The committee said it sees actions of the five committees and talks in Cairo as “advances” and noted that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been in communication with several Arab countries in the scope of the Sharm Ash-Sheikh meetings to seek support for the future of the national consensus government.

Radwan: Hamas sincere in reaching inter-Palestinian agreement
Palestinian Information Center 3/7/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Ismail Radwan, one of Hamas’s political leaders, has said that his Movement had handed Egypt a list of names for those who will represent Hamas in the committees of the national dialog. Radwan told the Bayan website on Saturday that Hamas was serious in the dialog issue and was concerned with reaching a Palestinian agreement that would boost internal concord. He acknowledged, however, that a number of difficult questions were in the way and needed "big efforts" to overcome them. Asked on the Israeli threats to invade Gaza anew, Radwan said that such threats are not new and reveal the nature of the "Zionist enemy" that always calls for "escalation, murder and terrorism". "The threats will not terrorize Hamas and will not weaken the Palestinian people", he said, opining that the threats fell in line with attempts to pressure Hamas and other resistance forces. . .

Palestinians: Fayyad Resigns
Ali Waked, YNetNews 3/7/2009
Sources in the West Bank report that Palestinian PM has submitted resignation; Abbas calls on him to stay - Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas, the former said in a statement issued on Saturday. Meanwhile, senior sources in Abbas’ Fatah party believe his statement is merely an act. Fayyad says the resignation would take effect after the formation of a Palestinian unity government, but no later than the end of March. Fayyad’s announcement comes just before the resumption of power-sharing talks between Abbas and his rivals from Hamas. A senior Fatah official told Ynet that the party believes that, although the resignation will occur, its significance is negligible. "We understand that it’s just another threatening act designed solely for the media.

Hamas downplays Fayyad’s resignation
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - Hamas downplayed the decision of Palestinian caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to resign on Saturday, saying they expected the move. In a statement released shortly after Fayyad’s announcement Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said that Fayyad’s government was unconstitutional and not in keeping with Palestinians’ interests. “We don’t think this resignation has anything to do with the Cairo talks, or with the formation of a Palestinian unity [national consensus] government. It rather came as a result of personal disagreement between Fayyad and [President Mahmoud] Abbas,” said Barhoum. “This end was expected because it [Fayyad’s government] was null from the beginning and was based on personal interests rather than Palestinian interests. In fact, that government damaged Palestinian interests,” he added.

Fayyad resigns ’to prepare for Palestinian unity’
Middle East Online 3/7/2009
RAMALLAH, West Bank - The Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad stepped down on Saturday to try to pave the way for the formation of a national unity government and reconciliation with Hamas. "Prime minister Salam Fayyad has submitted his resignation from the government of president Mahmud Abbas. This resignation will take effect following the formation of a national consensus government by the end of this month," the statement said. Fayyad, a politically independent former World Bank economist, was appointed premier following the democratically elected Hamas movement’s takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Palestinian factions met in Cairo on February 26 to launch a reconciliation process aimed at forming a national unity government in the wake of Israel’s massive offensive against Gaza at the turn of the year.

Campaign to boycott Israeli products in 50 West Bank towns
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Palestinian activists will launch a boycott campaign in the coming days targeting Israeli products in 50 villages in the northern West Bank. The chair of the Popular Committees in Nablus, Khalid Mansour, told Ma’an that according to official statistics, Palestinians consume 2. 6 billion shekels worth of Israeli goods each year. According to official Palestinian statistics, 28 percent of this money goes towards the purchase of Israeli cement. Palestinians consume 30 million shekels worth of medicines produced in Israel every year, and 10 million worth of gold manufactured in Israel. Mansour explained that subcommittees will be formed in each of the 50 villages in order to monitor the boycott and speak about the campaign in schools. “We know change will go slowly, but we are determined to imitate what Gandhi did in India when he boycotted English salt,” Mansour said.

Jaffa resident says police beat her family
Anat Shalev, YNetNews 3/7/2009
Rasmiya Saadi claims officers burst into her home for no reason and assaulted her and her children -A resident of Jaffa has complained to police that officers entered her home on Wednesday and attacked her and her family. Rasmiya Saadi claimed that two of her four children, aged eight and 12, were playing with a toy gun on their doorstep when two police cruisers showed up and approached them. "The boys were afraid and they don’t know Hebrew. They started to beat one of the boys and I asked them, ’What happened? By what right are you raising a hand on my son? ’ I yelled at my son to come in the house," Saadi said. She went on to say that a male and female officer seated in one of the cruisers proceeded to enter her home by force, throwing her up against the wall. "I started to yell that they have no right to come into our home and beat us," she said.

Extensive Bedouin welfare plan in works
Yael Branovsky, YNetNews 3/7/2009
Social Affairs minister to present NIS 50 million plan focusing on women, children during gov’t meeting -Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog is scheduled to present a five-year plan for the development of welfare services offered to the Negev’s Bedouin population during Sunday’s government meeting. The plan, valued at around NIS 50 million (almost $12 million) is said to focus on care for women, children and teens and will establish day care centers, women’s clubs, and clubs for disadvantaged youths. Professional aid to small businesses is also in the making. The plan is also said to include "culture sensitive" training for employees of the Negev’s welfare offices as well as a budget for transportation targeting those who live outside of permanent Bedouin settlements. Data published by the Ministry of Social Affairs maintains that around 70%. . .

U.S. turns up heat on Israel over settlements
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Israel is under increased pressure from the United States over settlement construction. In the past month, since Barack Obama was sworn in as U. S. president, Israel has received four official complaints from members of the new administration regarding various issues linked to West Bank settlements. A senior government official in Jerusalem told Haaretz that the complaints represent a gradual increase in American pressure vis-a-vis settlement activity. "This is going to be one of the main issues that the Obama administration will be dealing with in the coming weeks and months," the official said. "It is not going to be easy to argue with them. " The American complaints were relayed to Jerusalem via senior officials in the State Department as well as the National Security Council, which seek clarifications and explanations from Israel.

Clinton Visit: In a West Bank Café, Palestinians Ask How much will Change
Ilene Prusher, MIFTAH 3/7/2009
If there is any place in this de facto capital of the West Bank where all things American are welcomed, it’s here at Stars and Bucks – an unabashed Starbucks knockoff complete with green-and-white logo, cozy couches, and myriad mochas and lattes. But even as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was visiting the Palestinian territories for the first time since her appointment, men and women here took little interest in the fact that their president, Mahmoud Abbas, was standing side by side with her, giving a joint press conference following their first meeting. Mrs. Clinton, a day after meeting with Israeli officials, reiterated her belief in a two-state solution with Israel and spoke passionately about Palestinian suffering and the right of a Palestinian child to live a normal, secure life, just like a child "growing up in any country. "

Officer wounded in Gaza is promoted
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 3/7/2009
Aharon Karov, who made impossible recovery from critical shrapnel wounds, becomes a lieutenant -Saturday’s Paratroopers’ Brigade training graduation ceremony, for soldiers who enlisted in March 2008, was an especially heartwarming sight. Aharon Karov, who made an impossible recovery after being mortally wounded during Operation Cast Lead, received the rank of lieutenant at the ceremony held in Beit Lid Saturday. Karov was alerted to the battle in Gaza the day after his wedding and fought with the paratroopers who commanded the northern Strip. He was seriously wounded when his force stumbled upon a booby-trapped house on January 13, and sustained over 300 shrapnel injuries. Against all odds, Karov made a miraculous recovery and even managed to go home for certain periods during his treatment.

Haaretz: The bulldozer attack reflects the anger level among Jerusalemites
Palestinian Information Center 3/7/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli Haaretz newspaper said that the bulldozer attack carried out by a Palestinian citizen called Marei Radaydeh in occupied Jerusalem reflected that the level of tension and anger among the Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is on the rise as a result of the demolition policy pursued by Israel. The newspaper added that mayor of occupied Jerusalem Nir Barakat decided, in light of the already tense atmosphere, to pour oil on the fire by declaring plans to demolish 88 Palestinian homes in the Bustan neighborhood adjacent to the Silwan village. It noted that the Jerusalem municipality itself seems to realize that the demolition of Palestinian houses is an extremist step, so it offered alternative lands to the Palestinians whose homes are threatened with demolition. The newspaper stressed that there are political reasons under the pretext. . .

Demonstrators hurl bricks at police as rally turns ugly
Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Anti-Israeli protesters clashed with riot police outside an Israeli-Swedish Davis Cup tennis match in Malmo, Sweden yesterday, but did not break through police lines. Due to security concerns, the three-day match is being played in an empty stadium in this southwestern port city, which has a large immigrant population. Several hundred left-wing militants carrying banners saying "Turn left, smash right," and "Boycott Israel" joined a peaceful pro-Palestinian demonstration by about 6,000 people. About 200 of the militants began pelting police with stones, fireworks and paint bombs, Reuters witnesses said, while organizers of the official demonstration shouted at the masked protesters not to use violence against the authorities. Police said they had detained 10 protesters. Malmo, which is Sweden’s third largest city and is ruled by a left-of-center coalition, was heavily. . .

Andy Ram: Sweden protest was first time I felt anti-Israel hate
Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Israeli tennis player Andy Ram spoke of his shock Saturday after rock-throwing demonstrators tried to storm a Sweden-Israel tennis match in the Swedish city of Malmo. "They broke everything here and the images are distressing and disgusting," Ram said. "This was the first time I have come across such a demonstration and felt the hatred toward Israelis. "Dozens of anti-Israel protesters clashed with police Saturday in an attempt to storm the closed arena where the two teams were playing a Davis Cup tennis match. About 100 people were apprehended and at least six were formally arrested for rioting, Malmo police spokeswoman Ewa Westford said. There were no reports of injuries. The activists hurled rocks and firecrackers at police vans as they tried to break through the barricades set up to keep protesters from the arena.

Violent protesters clash with Swedish police during Israel tennis match
Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Hundreds of violent anti-Israel protesters clashed with police in the Swedish city of the Malmo yesterday, outside the near-empty arena in which the Israeli and Swedish Davis Cup teams were playing a first-round match. Protesters pelted police with stones, firecrackers and paint bombs and police said they had detained 10 people. On the court, Sweden gained the initiative by winning the doubles rubber yesterday, after Friday’s singles matches were split 1-1. " We knew there were going to be a few thousand people screaming out there," Israel’s Andy Ram said. "Inside here we didn’t feel anything. "Ram also reiterated his criticism of thedecision to play the match behind closed doors.

Anti-Israel protest turns violent
Al Jazeera 3/7/2009
Anti-Israel protesters have clashed with police outside a Davis cup match played in Malmo in southern Sweden. The game between Sweden and Israel is being played without an audience because the police could not guarantee the security of the players. About 100 masked protesters tried to storm the arena in Malmo on Saturday afternoon, throwing rocks and firecrackers at the police who had put up barricades outside the stadium. Hundreds of police pushed the crowd back using truncheons. After the protesters dispersed, clashes continued in other parts of the city. Around 100 people were apprehended and at least six were formally arrested, according to Ewa Westford, a police spokeswoman. No injuries were reported. About 7,000 people gathered at a square in the centre of the city for a peaceful protest, with. . .

Spanish government to fund vocational school in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – The Spanish Consulate General in Jerusalem signed an agreement on Thursday with the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee to fund the construction of a vocational school in Hebron at a cost of 400,000 euros. The Spanish Consul General in Jerusalem Ramón Ansoain, and the governor of Hebron, Hussein Al-A’raj, were present at a signing ceremony at the offices of the Rehabilitation Committee. Officials from the Spanish Cooperation Agency and the chair of the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee Dr Ali Al-Qawasmi also attended. Al-Qawasmi and Al-A’raj thanked the Spanish government for supporting the steadfastness of Hebron residents in the face of the dire conditions they face, with an Israeli settlement in the heart of the city. The Spanish consul general said the main goal of this agreement was to fight unemployment.

Galloway in Egypt to join Gaza aid convoy
Middle East Online 3/7/2009
CAIRO - British MP George Galloway arrived in Cairo on Saturday to join a convoy that had set out from London last month carrying relief for war-torn Gaza, an airport official said. Galloway was met by officials from Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party. The Egyptian government had arrested dozens of opposition members who demonstrated against Israel’s December and January offensive on Gaza. Egypt opened its Rafah border crossing with Gaza to aid and Palestinian wounded during part of the war, but has since closed it to aid. The convoy includes 12 ambulances and a fire engine and carries more than one million pounds (1. 4 million dollars, 1. 1 million euros) worth of aid. North Sinai Governor Mohammed Shosha, who was preparing a reception for the convoy in Sinai, said Egypt would allow Galloway and members of the convoy to enter Gaza through Rafah, but that entry of the convoy itself would have to be coordinated with Israel.

German MP calls for boycott of Durban II ’anti-Semitic spectacle’
Benjamin Weinthal, Jpost Correspondent, Berlin, Jerusalem Post 3/8/2009
Pressure is rising on Germany’s Social Democrat-controlled Foreign Ministry to walk away from the so-called Durban II meeting - the UN’s World Conference Against Racism - which opens in Geneva on April 20. When asked about Rome’s decision to pull out of Durban II because, as Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said, the preparatory document and negotiations are filled with "aggressive and anti-Semitic statements," a German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that Germany had not changed its position and would participate in "the text negotiations. " Germany remained undecided on whether it would take part in Durban II itself, the spokeswoman said. "Germany must boycott this anti-Semitic and anti-Western spectacle. Either together with its EU partners, or if necessary alone.

Sarkozy’s Mediterranean Union on Hold
Middle East Online 3/7/2009
There is no doubt that President Nicolas Sarkozy’s grandiose plan of a Union for the Mediterranean has run into serious trouble. Launched with a flourish of trumpets in Paris last 13 July, in front of an audience of 43 heads of state, it has stumbled on persistent political problems. Of these problems none is more obstructive than the smouldering Arab-Israeli conflict, which burst into flames in December-January when Israel launched its all-out assault on Gaza. This war caused Egypt to call for a formal suspension of all meetings to do with the Union for the Mediterranean. None has been held since late December. For the moment at least, the Arab world wants nothing to do with Israel. The Union project is frozen and will no doubt remain so, unless Arab heads of state, meeting at a summit in Qatar at the end of this month, decide to revive it.

Mauritania shuts Israeli embassy, tells envoy to leave
Yoav Stern and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Mauritania ordered on Friday the closure within 48 hours of the Israeli embassy in the capital Nouakchott, more than a month after it announced it was severing diplomatic relations with Israel. Ambassador Michael Arbel was ordered to leave the country over the weekend. A senior Foreign Ministry source confirmed that the embassy was closed and that Arbel had gone on vacation, but not that the diplomatic ties between the two countries were severed. "Perhaps the ambassador will return in a month or two and the situation will be restored to the way it was before," Foreign Ministry sources said yesterday. Mauritania’s ambassador to Israel was recalled home in January, and its embassy here was closed recently. The departure was not coordinated with the Foreign Ministry. The Mauritanian authorities had expected that Israel would recall its ambassador soon after the military. . .

U.A.E. denies Israeli official visa for global trade summit
Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
The United Arab Emirates has refused to grant a visa to Israel’s representative on the International Chamber of Commerce’s Banking Commission for a conference in Dubai. The move comes only three weeks after the gulf state denied a visa to Israeli tennis star Shahar Peer. Sarah Younger, the official, is also the manager of Bank Leumi’s international trade section. She was meant to attend a meeting of the commission on the global financial crisis in Dubai beginning Monday. The chairman of the ICC in Israel, Oren Shachor, requested the Foreign Ministry’s intervention in the matter in an attempt to press the U. A. E. to reverse its decision. The conference on Saturday was scheduled to go ahead as planned, with 250 of the 300 participants already in Dubai. Related articles:Venus Williams hails ’brave’ Peer after winning. . .

Change and reform bloc appreciates Mauritanian closure of Israeli embassy
Palestinian Information Center 3/7/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas-affiliated change and reform parliamentary bloc on Saturday appreciated Mauritania’s decision to close the Israeli embassy in Nouakchott and to expel its diplomats. The bloc said in a statement that the "courageous" step followed a declaration last January of suspending relations with Israel in protest over the Israeli war on Gaza Strip that did not spare women or children in its ruthless offensive. It asked the Mauritanian president to adopt more practical steps to bridle the Israeli "arrogance" that surpassed all red lines and committed the most brutal crimes against civilians, noting that the Israeli war on Gaza in late December and early January killed 1,500 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and wounded more than 5,000 others many of them in serious conditions.

Masri: The int’l court’s decision against Bashir is Zio-American par excellence
Palestinian Information Center 3/7/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Mushir Al-Masri, the secretary-general of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, reiterated his Movement’s solidarity with Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir against the unjust arrest warrant issued against him, describing this action as a Zio-American decision par excellence. During a massive rally organized at noon Friday, MP Masri said that this international criminal court’s decision is a conspiracy against the Sudan, its civilization, identity and Islam. The lawmaker warned the Arab leaders of staying passive towards such a serious decision or else they could be the next, recalling the killing of late PA chief Yasser Arafat and the execution of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. Masri urged the Arab countries to take bold positions towards such international organizations which became despicable tools controlled by the colonialist forces spearheaded by the US.

Shalit parents head to Jerusalem ’to save son’
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
The parents of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit left their home in the Galilee for Jerusalem on Saturday in an effort to press the government to secure their son’s release. "We are leaving the house with very tough feelings, we are leaving in order to save Gilad," Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father, told Haaretz moments before leaving the family home in Mitzpe Hila. "I do not know what will help and what won’t help in the end," Shalit said. Noam Shalit and wife Aviva will arrive Sunday morning at their protest tent opposite the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem in the hope that thousands of others will join them. The family said they intend to stay at the tent until Olmert reaches a decision. The Shalits’ departure for Jerusalem came just one day after outgoing Prime MinisterEhud Olmert said that mass. . .

Clinton: U.S. to push for Israel-Syria reconciliation
Natasha Mozgovaya and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed during her visit to Ankara that the United States would like to see a resumption of the talks between Israel and Syria. However, in closed talks Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said he prefers to give priority to the Palestinian track over the Syrian one. The importance of indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel "cannot be overstated," Clinton said at the end of a meeting with her Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan. For his part, Babacan said that if Israel and Syria asked for Turkish assistance in mediating the talks, Ankara would be glad to oblige. The visiting American Secretary of State praised Turkey’s mediation role, saying that "the importance of this track, the peace effort, cannot be overstated. Turkey has played a very important role. "However, despite the declarations in Ankara about the importance of the Syrian track, Netanyahu does not appear to share this view.

Turkey: We’re ready to relaunch Israel-Syria talks
Natasha Mozgovaya Haaretz U.S. Correspondent and Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan on Saturday said his country was ready to relaunch indirect Israel-Syria peace talks if there was a request from both sides. Syria formally suspended the Turkish-mediated indirect talks last year during Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza, but Syrian officials have not ruled out their resumption, even if a right-wing government is formed in Israel. Babacan made the comments at a news conference with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who stressed the importance of Syria’s indirect peace contacts with Israel. "The importance of this track, the peace effort, cannot be overstated," said Clinton during a brief visit to Ankara. Praising Turkey’s mediation between Syria and Israel in the negotiations, she said: "Turkey has played a very important role. "

US envoys meet with Syrians in Damascus
Sam F. Ghattas, Associated Press, The Independent 3/7/2009
The drive to ease the long-standing rivalry between the US and Syria is building steam, with today’s visit by two senior Obama administration officials and warm signals from Damascus. But both sides remain cautious over whether they can surmount their key differences, including Syria’s backing for militants and its alliance with Iran. America has long wanted Syria to drop support for militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas that have undermined Middle East peace efforts. The US also hopes to peel Syria away from its alliance with Iran and further isolate Tehran. Syrian help on Iraq, Lebanon and inter-Palestinian reconciliation would also be welcome in Washington. The Syrians want a strong American hand in Mideast peacemaking to regain territory they lost to Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. Improvement in bilateral ties also could result in easing economic and diplomatic sanctions imposed by Washington.

Clinton encourages Israel, Syria contacts
News agencies, YNetNews 3/7/2009
US secretary of state tells reporters in Ankara importance of indirect peace negotiations ’cannot be overstated’; meanwhile, US envoy holds ’very constructive’ talks with Syrian FM in Damascus -The importance of Syria’s indirect peace contacts withIsrael "cannot be overstated", US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday. Clinton made her comments at a news conference during a brief visit to Ankara, when asked about Washington’s possible plans to send an envoy back to Damascus. She said Washington had not taken a decision yet on that. Washington withdrew its ambassador and stepped up sanctions against Damascus after the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, in February 2005. But praising Turkey’s mediation role between Syria and Israel, Clinton said: "The importance of this track, the peace effort, cannot be overstated.

Top US envoys in key Syria visit
Middle East Online 3/7/2009
DAMASCUS - Syria can be an important and constructive force in the Middle East, a senior US envoy said in Damascus on Saturday, as Washington pursues a new policy of engaging with all countries in the region, even long-time foes. "It is my view that Syria can play an important and constructive role in the region," Jeffrey Feltman, acting secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, said in a conference call with reporters in the United States after four hours of talks with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and other officials. "We found a lot of common ground today," Feltman said. "The Syrians have concerns with us as well. I’m sure the Syrians will be looking at choices we will be making in the future just as we will be looking at choices Syria is making," he said. Feltman and White House official Daniel Shapiro arrived in Damascus earlier on Saturday for the first high-level. . .

US talks in Syria ’constructive’
Al Jazeera 3/7/2009
The US and Syria have held "constructive" talks in Damascus, one of the US delegates has said. Jeffrey Feltman, acting assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, and Dan Shapiro of the White House’s National Security Council, met Walid al-Moualem, the Syrian foreign minister, on Saturday. "We had constructive, comprehensive talks today," Feltman told reporters. "We found a lot of common ground. "However, the US delegation did not meet Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s preisdent, during their visit. Feltman and Shapiro are the first high-level US officials to visit Syria since January 2005, and the trip is in line with the policy of Barack Obama, the US president, of reaching out to all nations in the region. "The president has said he wants to sustain. . . principle engagement with all states in the region and that includes Syria," Feltman said in Beirut before the trip.

Clinton hails US-Turkey ties
Al Jazeera 3/7/2009
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has said that Turkey and the United States share common goals, after meeting government leaders in Ankara. Clinton said after the talks on Saturday that Barack Obama, the US president, will visit Turkey next month, although she did not give a date. "We covered a broad agenda today. . . in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, we discussed our co-operation to defeat our common enemy, the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party]; to update Nato’s capabilities to meet 21st-century challenges; and we talked about the urgent need to work with the international community towards a two-state solution and a comprehensive peace in the Middle East," Clinton said during a news conference. Clinton met President Abdullah Gul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, and Ali Babacan, the foreign minister.

Turkey: Ready to host indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Turkey is once again ready to host indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babajan said Saturday. The comments came during a media briefing in the Turkish capital of Ankara following a meeting between the Foreign Minister and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was visiting the country for the first time as a representative of the Obama administration. “Syrian-Israeli negotiations are of a paramount importance” Mrs Clinton said, but did not indicate whether or not the offer would be accepted. She also explained that Washington has not yet decided if it will send its ambassador back to Syria. US President Barak Obama is set to visit Turkey within the next month.

Hizbullah eagerly awaits talks with Britain
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 3/7/2009
While group’s deputy leader praises ’new language speaking positively of Hizbullah and fostering of ties with it’, Israel’s Foreign Ministry says ’change’ in UK government policy reflects desire to maintain ties with Lebanese Parliament -Hizbullah deputy leader Sheik Naim Kassem says his group expects new language by the West in dealing with the Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim group which calls for Israel’s destruction. "We are witnessing a new language speaking positively of Hizbullah and the fostering of ties with it. We accept this new language and commend it," Kassem said Saturday, one day after Hizbullah officials said they will welcome public talks with Britain. Britain’s Foreign Office announced Thursday that it has contacted Hizbullah’s political wing in an attempt to reach out to its legislators.

US ’not ready’ to follow UK on Hezbollah
Middle East Online 3/7/2009
WASHINGTON - The United States said Friday it "is not ready" to follow its ally Britain in opening low-level contact with the political wing of Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Gordon Duguid, a State Department spokesman, told reporters that President Barack Obama’s administration, which has promised to reach out to US foes, had been consulted by Britain before the announcement Friday. But Duguid insisted the new administration was following longstanding US policy -- including that of the preceding George W. Bush administration -- to shun contacts with Hezbollah’s political and armed wings. "We are not ready to take the same step, no. Our position on Hezbollah has not changed," Duguid told reporters, declining to either praise or criticize the British move. However, the United States seemed interested in the results of the British contacts with Hezbollah when Duguid said "we will watch how that proceeds.

Source: Lieberman will have to quit cabinet within weeks
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Law enforcement sources said yesterday that if Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman is appointed cabinet minister in the next government it will be for a brief period only, as he will be forced to resign once the police complete their criminal investigation against him and issue charges. The sources also said some evidence uncovered in the corruption probe has not been made public. The sources said that information contained in thousands of documents delivered to Israel in September makes police feel confident that charges will be brought against Lieberman. If indicted he would have to resign from the cabinet but could continue serving as a member of Knesset. Lieberman is due to be questioned by police in the coming days, but no date has been set. He will be asked for his version of the events behind the suspicions against him.

Lieberman Demanding ’Full Autonomy’ as Foreign Minister
Mazal Mualem, MIFTAH 3/7/2009
Avigdor Lieberman, who Thursday emerged as the most likely candidate to replace Tzipi Livni as Israel’s foreign minister, intends to demand that Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu grants him "full autonomy" in the new post, Haaretz has learned. Lieberman, who heads the country’s third largest party, Yisrael Beiteinu, met with prime minister-designate Netanyahu Thursday at the Knesset. Neither party leader divulged information about the meeting or the issues discussed. However, a source involved in talks between Yisrael Beiteinu and Likud said that "Lieberman wants to make sure that Netanyahu doesn’t let another minister receive tasks that belong to the Foreign Ministry. " The source indicated that Lieberman is interested in establishing sole and independent responsibility in Netanyahu’s future government over Foreign Ministry-related affairs, and will strive to have a clause to that effect

Netanyahu to swear-in his government third week of March
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/7/2009
Israeli Ynet News reported that the Israeli Prime Minister, Designate Benjamin Netanyahu, intends to swear-in his new cabinet in the third week of this month. Netanyahu said in a closed session that new coalition talks will be concluded by the end of next week. Netanyahu added that all portfolios in his new government will be divided among all coalition partners by the end of next week. The Likud party leader does not want to hand out portfolios to his coalition partners before he designates the ministers of his own party. It is worth mentioning that Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman denied reports that they agreed that Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beiteinu, will be granted the Justice Ministry. Yet, senior sources at the Likud party said that Lieberman will most likely be the next Israeli Foreign Minister, but Netanyahu would prefer to grant the Justice portfolio to a member of his Likud party.

Netanyahu capitulates to Lieberman’s demands for government posts
Lily Galili, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Coalition talks between Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu are nearing completion, and it now seems that Avigdor Lieberman’s party will get all the cabinet portfolios he is demanding from Benjamin Netanyahu: Foreign Affairs, Public Security, Tourism, National Infrastructures and Justice, which it is reserved for the incumbent minister, Daniel Friedmann. It seems, however, that Uzi Landau will not be returning to the Public Security Ministry, where he served under Ariel Sharon from 2001 to 2003. Instead, that portfolio will be given to former deputy police chief, MK Yitzhak Aharonovitch, since Yisrael Beiteinu leaders apparently decided that handing the job to a former top police officer would look better in the eyes of the public and would limit criticism of the decision to hand the position to a lawmaker from a party whose leader is under investigation by the police.

Coalition talks / The ugly bride
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
If the deadline for forming a government were tomorrow, Benjamin Netanyahu would be dragged against his will into the Knesset plenum to present the country a narrow right-wing government. Avigdor Lieberman would be trotted out as foreign minister and Daniel Friedmann as justice minister. Netanyahu does not want either. If it depended on Netanyahu, he would appoint someone with a moderate image to the Foreign Ministry, maybe Silvan Shalom or Dan Meridor. That’s how prime ministers viewed as extremists worked in the past: Menachem Begin with Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Shamir with Moshe Arens and Ariel Sharon with Shimon Peres. Netanyahu will appoint Lieberman out of necessity, but his Likud cronies have already made the point, loud and clear, that the selection was made out of coalition concerns, and it’s Bibi who remains "the decider.

Netanayhu’s plan: cuts in defense, health, education and welfare
Moti Bassok and Zvi Zrahiya, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
Prime-Minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu plans to cut at least NIS 8 billion from government spending in 2009 from the budget originally approved by Ehud Olmert’s cabinet in August. The cuts will keep spending in line with the planned 1. 7% increase from the 2008 budget, say Netanyahu confidants. The lion’s share of the cuts will come from the defense budget, with others coming from education, health and welfare. Netanyahu does not want to exceed the spending framework for 2009 of NIS 313. 3 billion approved last summer by the cabinet. This figure was based on a 1. 7% increase in per-capita spending for this year. As opposed to a number of his future coalition partners, Netanyahu’s aides say he thinks limiting spending was the correct decision, and attempts by Labor and others to increase government spending by 2.

Rabbis to meet faction heads on civil marriage
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 3/7/2009
Chief Rabbinate’s council says Chief Rabbis Metzger, Amar will hold sit-down with various faction heads in Knesset in effort to broker acceptable solution to sensitive matter -The Chief Rabbinate’s council called a meeting Thursday to discuss the rising debate on civil marriage, amplified by the recent coalition negotiations. Following the meeting, Chief Rabbis of Israel Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar have decided to meet with the various faction heads in the Knesset next week, including those of the secular parties, in an attempt to broker an acceptable compromise on the highly charged subject. All matters pertaining to matrimony in Israel are handled by the religious establishment, and the practice of civil marriage is not sanctioned by the State. The only halachic solution currently considered acceptable by the religious establishment. . .

Report on rule tightening for Diaspora converts raises alarm bells among Reform
Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 3/7/2009
The Israeli Reform movement threatened this week to return to the High Court if the Interior Ministry goes ahead with reported plans to implement new and more rigid rules for Diaspora converts who want to immigrate to Israel. Last week, the New York Jewish Week reported it had obtained a copy of secret interior ministry documents outlining a plan to require converts seeking to immigrate to spend at least 350 hours studying Judaism in a "recognized" Jewish community and and spend 18 months in the community in which they are converting - nine of them after the conversion - to prove their sincerity. The new rules are to be approved before the new government is installed, the newspaper said. "This is an ongoing saga," said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the local Reform community.

Gaza kicks off 'Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture 2009' events with recitations
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A two hour concert of Quran and poetry recitation was given in Gaza Saturday as the kick-off event for the Strip’s celebration of Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture 2009. Al-Quds is Jerusalem in Arabic. The Gaza premier comes in advance of the Jerusalem and West Bank launch of events, which were postponed following the war on Gaza and are set to begin on 21 March. There has been no coordination between the de facto and caretaker governments over programming for the celebrations. The first of the celebrations in Gaza saw the wives, mothers and children of dozens of the fine artists in the area killed in the Israeli war on Gaza attend the event. Members of Hamas’ change and reform bloc along with dozens of academics, artists and prominent figures from the Gaza Strip also attended. The events are being organized by the Higher National Committee in Jerusalem as the. . .

Gilad jazz in support of Palestinian plight
John Lewis - LONDON, Middle East Online 3/7/2009
Israeli artist - one of London’s finest saxophonists - takes Palestinian cause with him on British tour - Manic Beat Preacher - A few days before I meet Gilad Atzmon, he finds himself at the centre of an international storm. The prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan, has approvingly cited Atzmon during a debate with Israeli president Shimon Peres. "Atzmon, a Jew himself," said Erdoǧan, "says that Israeli barbarity is far beyond even ordinary cruelty. "Ever since, Atzmon has been getting 200 emails a day, his BlackBerry is constantly buzzing and his words are being debated by hundreds of bloggers around the world. Atzmon is revelling in the attention. "A world leader quoting an artist? " he laughs. "Isn’t that incredible? Not a singer, not even a fucking pianist, but a stupid fucking saxophonist! Ha!" It may come as a surprise to some that Atzmon is a saxophonist at all. His career as a musician has long been drowned out by the clatter of his extra-curricular activities:. . .

On infamous Tel Aviv street, a strange brew of energy, racism and violence
Kobi Ben-Simhon, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
At the northern end of Allenby Street, between Bialik and Ben Yehuda streets, a dubious "entertainment" zone stretches out, at the center of which stands the Go-Go Girls strip club, the eye of the storm surrounding Israel Navy commander Eliezer Marom. Marom was spotted at the club last week. In the street outside the club, intoxicated partygoers imbibe vodka out of plastic cups, yelling at passersby. Young girls cling to foreign men, hoping to skim from their wallets. Haim Yamin, an employee of Monopol Pizza, views these scenes nightly. "I stand here at my pizza stand and watch the street. It’s like a TV that’s always on," he says. "There’s stuff here that will blow your mind - drunks who climb up on trees, homeless guys who walk into my kitchen and take pizzas as if at home. And people talk here without thinking about who’s listening.

Rehovot hi-tech workforce feels pain of recession
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 3/8/2009
Five thousand employees of hi-tech firms in Israel have lost their jobs since the outbreak of the global financial crisis, and workers at Rehovot’s sprawling Science Park, home to dozens of hi-tech and biopharmaceutical firms, are feeling the heat. Ilia L. , an employee of a hi-tech firm, said 10 percent of his company’s employees had been laid off, and friends from other companies have also lost their jobs recently. "People I used to travel with on the train are no longer employed. It’s like being a soldier in a war, watching your comrades go down around you," he said. "We see on the TV news and read in the newspapers about the closure of companies like Comverse," Ilia added, referring to the international computer and telecommunications corporation which is laying off hundreds of workers from its Israeli branch.

Tshuva looking for U.S. aid for Las Vegas Plaza project
Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
A central part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal to rescue the U. S. from the Great Depression was massive projects to create new jobs and lower unemployment. President Barack Obama is also proposing plans to heal the U. S. economy, and his plans also include encouraging job-creating investments - and Yitzhak Tshuva wants a part of Obama’s New Deal. Tshuva held a series of meetings last week in the U. S. , including one with Senator Harry Reid (Democrat) of Nevada, the Senate Majority Leader, who also happens to be close to Obama. Miki Naftali, the CEO of Tshuva’s private real estate arm, Elad Properties, also attended the meeting. Tshuva and Reid discussed financial aid, which could reach tens of million of dollars, for Tshuva’s Las Vegas Plaza hotel project.

Papal visit may bring $60 million
Irit Rosenblum, Ha’aretz 3/8/2009
The visit to Israel of Pope Benedict XVI in May may revive the languishing tourism industry and bring in up to $60 million in revenues. The industry is suffering from the double whammy of the security situation and the world economic crisis. The visit of Pope John Paul II in March 2000 brought a large increase in tourism to Israel, which ended suddenly with the outbreak of the second intifada later that year. Some 40,000 pilgrims and tourists are expected during the week of the Pope’s visit, May 8 to 15. Hotels in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Tiberias, Tel Aviv and at the Dead Sea are expected to be full for most of the visit. The main mass to be celebrated by the Pope will be held in Nazareth, the Vatican announced recently, though Haifa had been hoping to win the honor.

Morocco suspends relations with Iran
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Morocco suspended diplomatic relations with Iran on Friday accusing the embassy in Rabbat of spreading Shia Islam in the predominantly Sunni Muslim kingdom. In a statement the Moroccan Foreign Ministry said the statement said that the move was part of a protest against remarks by senior Iranian officials questioning the sovereignty of Bahrain, a Shia majority Arab state ruled mainly by Sunnis. The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority also accused Iran of “interfering” in Palestinian affairs on Wednesday, referring to remarks by Iran’s supreme leader calling on Muslims to “resist Israel. ”Also on Friday Mauritania severed relations with Israel over atrocities in Gaza. The government gave Israeli diplomats in 48 hours to leave the embassy in Nouakchott.

Shoe reportedly thrown at Iranian president Ahmadinejad
Robert Tait, The Guardian 3/6/2009
When the Iraqi journalist, Muntazar al-Zaidi, hurled his shoes at the then-US president, George Bush, in December, Iranian officials declared him a hero and hailed his gesture as a mark of Islamic courage. They were presumably less impressed this week when Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was similarly targeted during a visit to the north-western city of Urumiye. Ahmadinejad found the shoe on the other foot as he waved to the crowd from an open-top car on his way to give a speech at a local stadium. An Iranian website, Urumiye News, reported that a shoe was hurled at the president as his convoy drove through a central square. Security guards waded into the crowds but failed to find the culprit. A hat was also thrown in Ahmadinejad’s direction before his car sped away. The event went unreported on mainstream Iranian news outlets but has been hotly discussed on the country’s highly active blogosphere.


Articles

Space to play in Samoud Camp, Jabalia
Sharon Lock, Tales to Tell - From Gaza 2009 3/6/2009
      Photostory
     Yesterday I went along to the second day of the new kids play space, set up in the temporary (insha’allah) Samoud Camp in the ruins of Jabalia’s Hi Salaam area. EJ and C have partnered up with local youth leaders to put the space together, naming it after the FreeGaza project, and using some one-off donations from various folks outside, to buy the (scarce and hard to obtain) tents, toys, and snacks for the kids to last the next while.
     Kids from about 5 to 12 crowded excitedly in the dust outside the gate, then headed into the separate girls and boys tents, only stopping to fling off their shoes at the doorways.
     Most of them come from houses now flattened or no longer even locatable, and their families are attempting to live in temporary shelters or the tent towns such as Samoud, which are too small for the number of homeless and have few facilities. The tents didn’t look up to the job when I first saw them, and are looking even more forlorn now after recent rain, snow, and strong winds.
     It was lovely watching how much the girls enjoyed the various games that made up a big part of the session. Some games (guess who has the ball behind their back?) were just for fun. Others had children identifying their fears - “the dark.” “when the bombs fall.” “Israeli soldiers”.

A public stoning in Germany

Raymond Deane, Electronic Intifada 3/6/2009
      Hermann Dierkes is a respected politician with an honorable record of campaigning for social and political justice in the German Rhineland city of Duisburg. He represented his party Die Linke (The Left Party) on Duisburg City Council, campaigning tirelessly on anti-racist and anti-fascist issues. Most recently, he was his party’s candidate for the post of Lord Mayor.
     On 18 February 2009 Dierkes addressed a public meeting on the question of Palestine. To the question of how to take action against the injustice being suffered by Palestinians, he responded that the recent World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil had proposed an arms embargo, sanctions and the boycott of Israeli exports. He added: "We should no longer accept that in the name of the Holocaust and with the support of the government of the Federal Republic [of Germany] such grave violations of human rights can be perpetrated and tolerated ... Everyone can help strengthen pressure for a different politics, for example by boycotting Israeli products."
     A few days later, Dierkes gave an interview to the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ), a conservative paper based in the nearby city of Essen. He explained the demands of the World Social Forum, and requested that the published interview should stress that this had nothing to do with anti-Semitism -- a qualification that invariably needs to be made in Germany, except when there is suspicion of Islamophobia. Predictably, his precautions were in vain; scenting a political coup, the reporter published his article without including the qualification.

Hatred has turned him into a Jew - Deconstructing Nick Cohen

Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 3/7/2009
      In an article published by the Jewish Chronicle, Observer columnist Nick Cohen argued that ‘Hatred turned him into a Jew’. Initially, I was rather amused by the revealing confession. Cohen must have a lot of hatred in him. He was one of the very few supporters of the illegal war against Iraq within the British media. He really believed that liberating the Iraqis was the way forward. Incidentally he also possesses an incredible record of Islamophobic ranting. Hence, I at first tended to interpret Cohen’s declaration as an acknowledgment that it was the loathing towards others which he finds in himself that made him into a Jew.
     I was obviously wrong, Cohen was quick to clarify that it is actually other people’s hatred, specifically that of the ‘British Left’ that ‘indulges antisemitism’, which made him ‘feel Kosher’.
     As we noticed many times before, it is always someone or something else that transforms the ‘innocent’, ‘atheist’, ‘cosmopolitan’, ‘secularist’, ‘egalitarian’ person into a ‘Jew’. I have previously heard Jewish leftists arguing that it was Hitler who made them into Jews, now we have Nick Cohen of the Observer who claims that it is actually the ‘Left’ that makes him ‘feel Kosher’. If it wasn’t very funny, it would be very sad, may even be tragic.
     One again I find myself admitting that the more I elaborate on issues concerning contemporary Jewish Identity, the more I realise that it is actually the so-called ‘secular’, ‘enlightened’, ‘emancipated’, ‘assimilated’, ‘cosmopolitan’ Jew who provides us with a real meaningful insight into the subject of Zionism, Israeli genocidal policies, Jewish lobbying and Jewish institutional support of the Zionist crime.
     Cohen’s JC article is an exemplary case study of the Zionisation of world Jewry and the transition of Jewish identity into a hawkish carrier of brutal, expansionist, murderous ideologies. -- See also: Hatred is turning me into a Jew

Israeli Elections: From Bad to Ugly

Dr Ahmed Yousef, Palestine Think Tank 3/6/2009
      Pundits have asked Palestinians of every persuasion what they think of Israeli elections over the past several weeks. Opinions are varied and thoughtful; yet the truth is that to prefer one of the leading groups over another is an exercise in futility. Asking for a choice is akin to opting hypothetically for France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen (Lieberman), Dutch parliamentarian Geet Wilders (Livni), or Russia’s Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Netanyahu), with South Africa’s Pieter W. Botha (Peres) playing the presidential role of whom to ask for the formation of a national unity government.
     Israeli democracy is an oxymoron, a reality underscored by the abuse of any non-Jewish party vying for equal representation. Palestinian parties entering elections in 2006 were represented by Muslims, Christians and even atheists, with no obligation or pre-condition other than those recognized by international law. The Israeli State, however, routinely purges or inhibits Arab political movement, such as those of Azmi Bishara, with unsubstantiated claims of treason or treachery. And the political neutering of indigenous Arabs is negligible compared with the dismissive approach to any popular presence across the 1967 border.

The United States of Israel

Khalid Amayreh, Palestinian Information Center 3/6/2009
      It seems that one doesn’t have to wait four years to find out that Hillary Clinton is just a fraud, very much like her predecessor in the job, Condoleezza Rice.
     The infamous Rice paid 24 visits to Occupied Ramallah and Occupied Jerusalem,  babbling about the "peace process" and George  Bush’s vision of  two states living side by side in peace, Israel and Palestine.
     Eventually, however,  it was proven beyond any doubt that she was a lying emissary representing  even a more lying boss.
     So one  may really wonder if Hillary Clinton will be re-enacting the same absurd show, same lies, and same deception.
     In her recent visit to Occupied Palestine, the former NY senator,  who had proven herself  a submissive pawn in the service of Zionist circles, reiterated the same old platitudes about US commitment to the "two-state" solutio
     However, she didn’t dare utter a word against the  unmitigated expansion of Jewish colonies in the West Bank. Needless to say, it is obvious that the relentless intensive building of Jewish-only colonies has already rendered the prospect of a viable Palestinian state utterly unrealistic, if not outright impossible.

Being there

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 3/6/2009
      "Paris Hilton with an agenda," as someone called our man in the territories, was almost lured into joining the "Big Brother VIP" reality show. But he doesn’t regret his decision to decline; or does he?
     Korin Alal suggested freezing the leftover meat and saving it for the next day. For a few minutes she was busy doing just that. For a long while, her look had been frozen, her anguished face even sadder than usual and she seemed quite lost, but the highly regarded rock singer had found herself a momentary occupation.
     All around, the young and the beautiful cavorted. Model Adi Neuman prattled nonstop, singer Maya Bouskilla goggled her eyes, the fashion designer Pnina Tornai washed the dishes in her black sequined dress. Everyone looked absolutely a-m-a-z-i-n-g. But Alal looked lost in the villa. I couldn’t take my eyes off her, and the camera also kept zooming in on her. The sadness in her eyes could be my sadness, too, her lost way could be mine. I looked at Alal and saw myself.

Lessons from the I-97 Seattle divestment initiative

Dave Jette, Electronic Intifada 3/6/2009
      "This is a farce!" Washington state senator Adam Kline could barely control his rage. It was a sunny August Friday in Seattle, and he had been standing outside the Madrona neighborhood farmers market waiting for the volunteers who showed up regularly, collecting signatures for Seattle ballot initiative 97. He would pass out a single sheet of paper listing truths, half-truths and outright fabrications, in an attempt to keep voters from signing the ballot initiative.
     What was in I-97 that had gotten this liberal Democrat from a diverse neighborhood of a progressive city so enraged? Seattle ballot initiative 97, known locally as the Seattle Divest from War Initiative, if adopted by voters, would have required the Seattle Employees’ Retirement Fund to divest its funds from companies who are directly involved in illegal wars and occupations in the Middle East.
     Of course, this would have covered Halliburton and other military contractors in Iraq. But I-97 didn’t stop there. It had the audacity to apply the same standards to companies involved in all illegal wars and occupations in the Middle East, including the apartheid wall in the West Bank, Israeli settlements in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Golan Heights, as well as a possible Israeli attack on Iran -- all of them illegal under international law.

Pots of Urine, Feces on the Walls - How IDF Troops Vandalized Gaza Homes

Amira Hass, Ha'aretz, MIFTAH 3/7/2009
      We had already visited this house, belonging to the Abu Eida family. It is the only one of the family’s nine large houses that remained standing at the eastern edge of the city of Jabalya following Operation Cast Lead. The demolition of the family’s houses and its four cement factories spells the loss of 40 years of hard work.
     One Hebrew word scrawled on a wall tells the story of the 10 days when young Israeli soldiers became the ostensible prison wardens of five people. The youngest is Suheila Masalha, 55; the eldest is her mother Fatma, who is perhaps 85 or 90 or older. The only man is her brother Mohammed, 65, who is paralyzed and dependent on the women of his family. And there were two more women from the Abu Eida family - Rasmiya, 70, who owns the house, and her sister-in-law Na’ama, 56, who is blind.
     "Jail" ("mikhla’a" in Hebrew), wrote the soldiers on the wall of the room where they kept the man and the four women. They did not allow them to use the toilet, but forced them to use all kinds of plastic containers kept in the room, for nine of the days.

Lancet Removes Gaza Article, Author responds

Pulse, Palestine Think Tank 3/7/2009
      On 2 February 2009, The Lancet Medical Journal’s Global Health Network online published Dr Swee Ang and Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta’s `The Wounds of Gaza’, first published here at PULSE. It introduced the article by stating:
     Two Surgeons from the UK, Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah and Dr Swee Ang, managed to get into Gaza during the Israeli invasion. Here they describe their experiences, share their views, and conclude that the people of Gaza are extremely vulnerable and defenseless in the event of another attack.
     On 2 March 09 the Journal removed the article (though The Lancet Student still has it), stating: "We have taken down the blog post The Wounds of Gaza because of factual inaccuracies."
     No specific faults or amendments to the alleged inaccuracies are suggested. The reader comments, overwhelmingly in support, remain posted. A letter penned by four israelis (surprise, surprise!) that objects to the article was published on February 18. Our friend Dr Swee responds to this development and elaborates on the figures. -- See also: The Wounds of Gaza and The Wounds of Gaza or the Demise of Editorial Review?

All Be Aware

Yousef Abudayyeh, Palestine Think Tank 3/7/2009
      The surge in the "Pro-Palestinian" activities in the United States after the Zionist massacre in the Gaza Strip is at least suspicious if not alarming. I am not saying this because I do not want the support for our people to be the norm in this country, but because I see who is riding this wave, and understand that those elements and what they represent are still dangerous and their agenda will not die unless we reach liberation and return.
     The fundamentals of the Palestinian struggle are clear and not complicated:
     - Palestine is not that section that was occupied in 1967, or Gaza or Jericho. Palestine is from the River to the Sea and from the Lebanese border to Egypt.
     - Palestine is Arab, it’s the heart of the Arab World, and thus are the Palestinian people.
     - The Palestinian struggle is not about religion. We have nothing against the Jewish faith or the Jews.
     - No just and acceptable solution to our cause will have in it anything less than a complete liberation of Palestine and the return of the Palestinian people to their homes and villages and towns that they or their parents or grandparents were forced to leave in the early part of the last century.
     Any activity that will not consider these fundamentals, safeguard them and uphold them will not help our cause. People who are putting on activities that take away any of these fundamentals are not helping our cause. We cannot and we do not have the legal or ethical right to trade any of the Palestinian rights, so the “American people” can stand with us or even understand our cause. Anyone or group that attempts to do this should and will be discredit and exposed, and all of us should be vigilant and calling them on it when they do this.

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, Middle East Online 3/7/2009
      The unconditional support of Israel’s expansionist agenda has made America fiscally and morally bankrupt. As a result of bowing to Israel’s pressures, March 2003 figures show that the US imposed sanctions on trade with Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria, cost Americans more than 80,000-100,000 jobs a year.
     "I call’d the devil, and he came, And with wonder his form did I closely scan; He is not ugly, and is not lame, But really a handsome and charming man. A man in the prime of life is the devil, Obliging, a man of the world, and civil; A diplomatist too, well skill’d in debate, politics, yea, the devil I call’d and he came, to devour my soul, and the whole of humanity". - Heinrich Heine
     On November 4, 2008, the world watched as Americans filed into polling booths to decide who should be the next occupant of the White House. The excitement of the elections veiled the removal of the single most important choice: the option to cancel the neoconservatives’ lease on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
     In the absence of that choice, “change” is continuity in the White House. President Obama’s actions belie candidate Obama’s speeches and give meaning to Jacob Heilbrunn’s words who wrote: "Don’t look now, but neoconservatism is making a comeback-and not among the Republicans who have made it famous, but in the Democratic Party”[i].

Hillary in the Holy Land

Seth Freedman, The Guardian 3/7/2009
      Hillary Clinton’s Middle East visit this week was hailed by many as the latest manifestation of America’s new get-tough stance towards Israel. Still left in a starry-eyed daze by the effect of Obama’s ascent to power, pundits took the view that the world would never again be the same since his victory, hence anything he or his entourage touched would turn inevitably and immediately to gold.
     The Middle East peace process, long stalled (if not furiously backpedalling) under Bush’s eight-year reign, was signalled by the Obama camp as a top priority, therefore all eyes were on Clinton’s inaugural trip to the Holy Land in her role as secretary of state.
     However, now that she’s been and gone and the fanfares have died down somewhat, it is clear that - as far as the Israeli government are concerned - it’s business as usual, regardless of who’s calling the shots in the halls of US power. One example of the new reality mirroring the old was Clinton’s feeble outburst against the demolition of Palestinian homes, in which she described the actions as simply "unhelpful", a charge which was immediately rejected out of hand by Jerusalem’s mayor, who scoffed at her pronouncement with all the petulance of a child complaining that mum and dad "just don’t get it".

Hillary, Iran, Dennis and Israel

Robert Dreyfuss, Middle East Online 3/7/2009
      The threatening views of Dennis Ross that talks with Iran operate under an artificial, urgent deadline - due to a possible Israeli attack on Iran - only serve to undermine the possibility of successful US-Iranian diplomacy.
     In the first concrete overture by the Obama administration to Iran, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has invited diplomats from Tehran to attend an international conference on Afghanistan on March 31. For the past several years, the United States has had no official contacts with Iran, other than severely circumscribed talks between the United States and Iran in Baghdad that focused solely on Iraq.
     President Obama wants a dialogue with Iran that is expected to include a wide range of issues, including Iran’s nuclear research program and Tehran’s support Hezbollah and Hamas.
     Problem is, a key official involved is Dennis Ross, a staunch opponent of Iran who, until recently, served as a top official of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The think tank is an integral part of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington and Ross, a former US special envoy to Middle East, is widely seen as biased in favor of the Israelis.