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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
14 March, 2009
Israelis ’firing live rounds’ at West Bank protesters
Peter Beaumont, The Observer, The Guardian 3/15/2009
Israeli armed forces and border police used the cover of the war against Hamas in Gaza to reintroduce the firing of. 22 rifle bullets - as well as the extensive use of a new model of tear-gas canister - against unarmed demonstrators in the Occupied West Bank protesting at the building of Israel’s "separation wall". The tactics were highlighted on Friday, when a US protester, Tristan Anderson, 38, was hit in the head by one of the new extended-range gas canisters in the village of Ni’ilin, suffering an open wound in his skull and substantial brain damage. Anderson’s friend, Gabrielle Silverman, claims he was struck by a canister fired from a high-velocity rifle. The Israeli military says stone-throwing "poses a threat to troops", and several officers have been injured by rocks. . . . Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and border police have again been using live rounds fired from Ruger sniper rifles. . .
Israeli Soldiers Kill Palestinian in West Bank
Ali Sawafta, MIFTAH 3/14/2009
Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian youth and wounded another on Wednesday after firebombs were thrown at their vehicle in the occupied West Bank, an Israeli military spokeswoman said. A Palestinian paramedic said Fayez Atta, 17, from a village near the West Bank town of Ramallah, had died of gunshot wounds and another youth had been taken to an Israeli hospital in a serious condition. The Israeli spokeswoman said troops opened fire when the Palestinians, whom they suspected had attacked their vehicle with firebombs, ignored their orders to surrender. Atta was the first Palestinian youth killed by Israel for about a month in the West Bank, territory captured by Israel in a 1967 war and now also controlled by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Most of the recent Israeli-Palestinian violence has taken place along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, where more than 1,300 Palestinians and 14 Israelis died in a 22-day Israeli offensive launched in December against Islamist Hamas militants.

Israeli police kills a Palestinian in Jerusalem
IMEMC & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/14/2009
A Palestinian Youth was shot and killed by the Israeli police on Saturday morning. The police claimedthat he attempted to rob a store in Jerusalem, with the help of a Jewish woman. The police claimed that the youth, a resident of Jerusalem, also attempted to ram his vehicle into them while trying to flee the scene. A probe has been initiated into the incident, the police said. According to a police report, eyewitnesses said that they saw a young man and a woman trying to rob a clothes store, and informed the police. The woman is from an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem. A police patrol arrived at the scene and the two tried to drive away from the scene. The police report stated that policemen ordered the two to surrender but they sped away, and rammed a number of vehicles during the pursuit. Later on, a policeman opened fire at the two and wounded the Jerusalemite youth seriously.

9 nations agree on plan to combat arms flow to Gaza
Reuters, YNetNews 3/14/2009
Countries, all in NATO, determine program of action they believe crucial to reaching durable ceasefire - The United States, Canada and seven European nations agreed on Friday to try to stop the flow of weapons to Gaza by methods such as interception at sea, information sharing and diplomatic pressure. Experts from the nine nations, meeting in London, agreed on a program of action to prevent arms from reaching the Palestinian enclave, a senior British diplomat said. But states are not obliged to join any particular action and the diplomat said that naval vessels would not use force. Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway also signed up to the program, the diplomat said. Stopping the flow of arms is seen as a crucial part of international efforts to bring a durable ceasefire to Gaza and persuade Israel to lift tough restrictions. . .

Cairo talks in 'crisis' over government, elections
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian leaders working to form of a new Palestinian government are facing “a real crisis,” having failed to reach an agreement after five long days of negotiations, a participant in the talks said on Saturday. Abu Al-Walid Az-Ziq, a leader of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF) and a delegate to the Palestinian unity summit in Cairo, said rival Palestinian factions had reached agreements only on broad principles and failed to make progress on the specifics of a deal. He told Ma’an via telephone from Cairo, “Committees are facing a real crisis,” referring to five groupings of leaders tasked with hashing out the details of a unity deal. He said delegates might leave Cairo in two days without reaching an agreement. If this occurs, however, the higher committee, made up of the secretaries general of the factions, will remain in Cairo to discuss the next steps.

Gaza cash crisis forces PA employees into poverty
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Gaza – Ma’an Exclusive – Until recently, 70,000 Palestinian Authority (PA) civil servants were among the only people who still received a steady income in the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli-led blockade has forced most industries to shut down. However, due to an Israeli ban on cash transfers to the Strip, PA employees may soon have to start selling their belongings, as they have not been able to withdraw their salaries from banks. Two weeks into March, the civil servants still have not been paid. Ma’an spoke to many workers who still receive their income from the PA in Ramallah, who said that the current crisis is beginning to remind of the days when due to an international boycott of the elected Hamas government, no one received their salaries. In other words, the boycott of Hamas, which currently holds power in Gaza is also undercutting the world’s efforts to bolster the Fatah-led PA based in the West Bank.

Israeli army attacks peaceful protesters near Burin
International Womens’ Peace Service 3/13/2009
Between 70 and 100 villagers from Burin near Nablus, West Bank marched today to the hillside above the village bordering illegal Israeli settlement of Bracha intending to reach right up to the settlement to plant tress on their land. Purpose of the action was to reclaimed the land. The villagers, accompanied by 11 of international peace activists including five IWPS volunteers, were met by a 18 strong unit of Israeli soldiers with more of them located on the surrounding hilltops. Half way through to the planned destination, Israeli soldiers fired sound bombs and tear gas. March stopped briefly but re-organized themselves to advance to achieve the goal, that is to get to the settlement. As the local protestors tried to advance, with internationals in the front, the army went into an offensive without any provocation.

VIDEO - American protester shot by Israeli soldiers still in critical condition after surgery
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An American demonstrator shot in the head by the Israeli military Friday remains in life-threatening condition after undergoing surgery overnight. “His skull is fractured. Fragments of bone went into his brain,” said Anderson’s partner, 25-year-old Gabrielle Silverman, originally from Brooklyn, New York, speaking on the phone from Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv Saturday. Silverman said doctors had removed part of the right frontal lobe of Anderson’s brain and were working to “put his face back together,” to address trauma to his eye and forehead. The hospital is refusing to release further details, she said. “It’s unclear how well he’s going to recover. He could die. He could recover completely. He could be severely brain damaged,” said Silverman, adding that Anderson’s parents are on their way to Tel Aviv from San Francisco.

Israeli forces continue to brutally attack Palestinian nonviolent resistance
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 3/14/2009
Head of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in western Ramallah’s Bil’in Village, Iyad Burnat, confirms what I as a reporter of seven years in this country have seen and known: "Israeli occupation forces attacked nonviolent demonstrators in Bil’in Village today. " The number with bullet wounds are five, those with noxious gas damage number in the dozens. Tens of other residents of this small but strong village suffered from noxious gas inhalation, a type of gas that is not what some in the US or Europe might refer to as "tear gas. "This is something different, but we do not know what exactly. It hits the nerves, makes me, and others, fall to the ground and shake from the inside. Nerve damage is what my doctors told me. I know tear gas from covering, as a journalist, demonstrations in Canada and in the US. Many before me have said from the prisons, to the “wars” against Gaza recently and in past years, to the nonviolent demonstrations, “They experiment on us here. ”

Court temporarily halts demolition of East Jerusalem school
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – A Jerusalem court issued an injunction on Friday to temporarily halt the demolition of the Al-Huda school in East Jerusalem, a senior Palestinian official said. Hatim Abdul-Qadir, a Palestinian lawmaker from Jerusalem, and an advisor to the Palestinian president, said that the Jerusalem local affairs court issued the order after a petition filed by a lawyer named Hussein Ghanayim. The Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality issued a demolition order for the school on Thursday on the grounds that a wing had been added to the building 15 years ago without the proper permits. The school is located near the New Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. According to Abdul-Qadir, the demolition is suspended until the court finishes an investigation. Hundreds of buildings, mainly houses, in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem are facing demolition by the Municipality on the pretext that they are built without permits.

Dozens of injuries in West Bank anti-Wall protests
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 3/14/2009
Dozens of people in various West Bank villages were injured this Friday, and one American activist has been seriously wounded in Ni’lin and currently lies in a coma at a Tel Aviv hospital. In addition to Ni’lin, there were actions in Jayyous, Bi’lin, Ma’sara and Burin, with a demonstration planned for tomorrow in Wadi Rasha. In Ni’lin, nearly 500 people marched to the threatened lands. Soldiers attacked the demonstration and later invaded the village, where they fired hundreds of rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets and sound bombs. Clashes between youth and soldiers lasted until early evening. Four people were wounded with rubber bullets, while a fifth American activist was struck in the head with a high velocity tear gas round. He was evacuated by a Red Crescent ambulance, which was held for 15 minutes at a military checkpoint at the entrance, and is currently in critical condition.

HRW: Israel Blocks Rights Defender’s Travel
Human Rights Watch, ISM 3/14/2009
Shawan Jabarin of Al-Haq Unable to Collect Human Rights Prize - The Israeli High Court’s decision on March 10 to block travel outside the West Bank of the human rights defender Shawan Jabarin violates his rights to a fair hearing and freedom of movement, Human Rights Watch said today. Based on secret evidence that neither Jabarin nor his lawyer were allowed to see, the court refused to lift a travel ban imposed on Jabarin by military order in 2006, shortly after he became the director of Al-Haq, a leading human rights organization in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Jabarin had petitioned to have the ban lifted in order to travel to the Netherlands this week, where he was to receive the prestigious 2009 Geuzen Medal, awarded by the Stichting Geuzenverzet Foundation, on behalf of Al-Haq. -- See also: Human Rights Watch

Two Palestinians detained at checkpoint ’in posession of explosives’
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained two Palestinian youth at the Qalandiya military checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem Saturday. The Israeli military reported that the youth were carrying Molotov cocktails, and that they had been planning to throw the explosives at Israeli forces in the area. The Qalandiya checkpoint is a massive vehicle and passenger terminal in the Israeli separation wall. [end]

IOF troops wound Palestinian teen, kidnap others in southern Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 3/14/2009
RAFAH, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces wounded a Palestinian youth and kidnapped four others during an incursion into eastern Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, on Friday night, locals reported. Security sources told PIC reporter that the IOF soldiers backed by tanks and bulldozers advanced east of Rafah in Shuka town and fired at citizens. They said that Salah Abu Sneima, 18, was wounded while four other citizens were kidnapped and taken to the 1948 occupied Palestinian lands. In the West Bank, IOF troops stormed the village of Jayyus, southeast of Qalqilia city, closed all its entrances and imposed a curfew. Local sources said that the troops blocked worshippers from attending the Friday congregation and dispersed the weekly peaceful march organized by the villagers to protest IOF confiscation of their lands to build the separation wall.

More rockets fired at south
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 3/14/2009
More rockets land in southern Israel Saturday night; local leader: Other side continues to choose violence - At least two more rockets landed in open area in the south Saturday night, bringing the number of rockets and mortar shells fired at the western Negev since the end of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza to about 100. No injuries or damages were reported in the latest attacks. One rocket landed near a southern Kibbutz while another landed in an open area south of Ashkelon. On Friday, three Qassam rockets fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed in the Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol regional councils. "There is no agreement, and therefore I don’t think the fire will top," Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council Head Alon Shuster said. "Yesterday we had two sirens near one of the kibbutzim, and immediately after that we returned to a Purim party in the Kibbutz.

2 Qassams hit Negev day after Hamas condemns rocket fire
Ha’aretz 3/14/2009
Two Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit the western Negev Friday evening. No injuries or damage were reported in either incident. The first rocket exploded just outside Kibbutz Sha’ar Hanegev, and the other has yet to be located. On Friday morning, a rocket hit the Eshkol region causing no injuries or damage. The rocket fire from the Gaza Strip continued Friday despiterare criticism voiced by the Gaza rulers, Hamas, on Thursday, who said that now is not the time for such attacks. The Islamic militant group has fired thousands of rockets at southern Israel in recent years. But Hamas said Thursday that it was not behind recent attacks and that it was investigating who was responsible. It apparently fears that new rocket fire could disrupt the reconciliation talks currently underway in Cairo.

Campaign to boycott Israeli products takes its message to Qalqiliya
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Qalqiliya – Ma’an – The Palestinian Popular Committee for boycotting Israeli products visited the West Bank city of Qalqiliya to promote its renewed campaign. The campaign recently redoubled its efforts in the northern West Bank, in hopes of convincing 50 localities to participate in the boycott. The strategy of the boycott is to deprive the Israeli occupation of economic support by refusing to buy its products. Members of the Committee visited offices of the ministries of Religious Affairs and Education. They met with director of the Ministry of Education office in Qalqiliya, Yousif Uda and agreed with him that schools organize activities to explain about divestment. They also visited the union of pharmacists and met with its head Raed Wilwil. Another visit was paid to the union of physicians. According to members of the committee, all expressed willingness to cooperate with the campaign.

Israeli court extends detention of Hamas leader
Palestinian Information Center 3/14/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli court of appeals has decided to extend the administrative detention of Jamal Al-Tawil, the chairman of El-Bireh municipality, for six months and rescinded a primary court decision to release him on 5/3/2009. Jawad Bulus, Tawil’s lawyer, described the ruling on Thursday as a clear attempt to weaken the morale of Tawil and his family. He noted that Tawil had served three years in jail then around 30 months under administrative custody without trial or charge. He recalled that the Israeli military court in Ofer army camp sentenced Tawil to three years and a financial fine on 19/1/2003, which he served them all, but on the day on which he was supposed to be freed the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) held him under administrative detention for six months at the pretext that his release would pose dangers on the Israeli public!Tawil was arrested. . .

Palestinian lawmaker barred from leaving West Bank for third time in three months
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israel barred the deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Hassan Khreisheh, from entering Jordan through the Allenby Bridge on his way to Brussels to attend Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly on 15 March to discuss a report about the Gaza Strip. This is the third time this year Khreisheh has been turned back by Israeli authorities at the Allenby Bridge on his way to Jordan. Khreisheh told Ma’an’s that the president of the EU parliament sent a message to Israeli Foreign Ministry demanding passage of Khreisheh who is the deputy chair of the political committee of the Euro-Mediterranean Assembly. He also explained that the Palestinian delegation would withdraw from the session in protest of the Israeli travel ban against him. He pointed out that it would be “unbelievable” for them to see Israeli delegates in the room while deputy. . .

School boycott in Sakhnin
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 3/14/2009
Parents and teachers association in Arab village take step to combat local violence after parent physically assaults middle school teacher -The parents association in the Arab town of Sakhnin, in northern Israel, announced that it was heading a boycott of all local schools on Saturday, after a middle-school teacher was physically assaulted by two parents on Thursday. The boycott, which went into effect on Saturday, is an effort to "kick off a struggle against violence in our society," said the association’s chairman, Adel Abed. On Thursday, the father and uncles of an eighth-grade student at the al-Halan Middle School arrived on the grounds after the student told them a teacher had slapped him in the face. In response to the alleged incident, they scratched and bit the teacher, later fleeing the scene. The teacher was hospitalized.

Na’leen witness: he had a large hole in his head
PNN, Palestine News Network 3/14/2009
Nal’een -- In western Ramallah’s Nal’een Village Israeli soldiers critically wounded an American activist after launching a gas canister at his head. The soldiers also shot four Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets in the West Bank village Friday. It was a day of nonviolent resistance in Palestine, a movement that increasingly raises the ire of the Israeli administration that wishes to use the notion of "Palestinian violence" as their claim for the brutality of occupation "He had a large hole in the front of his head, and his brain was visible," one protester said of the injuries to the American activist. Dozens of others choked on tear gas at the weekly nonviolent demonstration against the Israeli Wall, settlements and policies of occupation. Demonstrators walked together through the streets of Nil’een toward the Israeli-impose Wall built on village lands within the West Bank.

IOF troops critically wound US citizen in anti-wall march in Na’lin
Palestinian Information Center 3/14/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Palestinian sources reported that an American citizen was critically wounded during the weekly anti-apartheid wall protest held Friday afternoon in the Na’lin village, west of Ramallah, when IOF troops as usual assaulted Palestinian citizens and foreign activists participating in the march. The sources added that activist Tristan Anderson was directly hit in the head with a tear gas grenade fired by IOF troops and consequently taken to an Israeli hospital inside the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948. IOF troops also fired rubber bullets wrapped in a hard rubber shell and a number of tear gas and sound canisters at the protesting crowd leading to the injury of five participants and suffocation cases among many othersIn the Bil’in village, IOF troops quelled another weekly peaceful anti-wall march organized by the popular committee against the wall and settlement. . .

Hamas official: We’ll keep smuggling arms
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 3/14/2009
Group slams recent announcement by NATO member states to help prevent arms from entering Palestinian territory -Gazans will continue to smuggle arms despite international efforts to stop them, Hamas parliamentarian Moushir al-Masri announced on Saturday. Al-Masri, responding to a Friday decision by several NATO member nations to help stop arms smuggling to Gaza, said "any attempts to eliminate the Palestinian peoples’ right to resistance will fail in the face of the peoples’ determination. " "The Palestinian people have the right to resist to occupation and this right is anchored in international laws and in the principles of the resistance," he said. " The fact that the occupation is utilizing superpowers in order to stop arms from entering Gaza is yet more proof of its bankruptcy," he added.

Olmert: 'Sunday is crucial for a deal on Shalit'
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/14/2009
Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, stated on Saturday that Sunday is a crucial day for the fate of a prisoner-swap deal that would see the release of the captured soldier, Gilad Shalit. Olmert said that the Israeli cabinet will decide on Sunday whether a deal would be declared on Monday or not. On Saturday evening, Olmert dispatched negotiator Ophir Dekel, and Shin Bet director, Yuval Diskin, to Cairo for what seems to be the last effort to secure the release of Shalit before Olmert and his government end term in office. Diskin will be meeting with Egypt’s Intelligence Chief, Omar Suleiman, and a number of senior Egyptian officials. Olmert will have no power as a Prime Minister next week as factions in Israel will present their coalitions for the new government. Israeli TV, channel 10, said that Israel gave Hamas an ultimatum until Sunday night to sign a prisoner-swap deal.

Shalit’s brother: Golden opportunity to free Gilad
Ynet, YNetNews 3/14/2009
Gilad Shalit’s brother breaks silence, urges outgoing government to secure abducted soldier’s release - Yoel Shalit, the older brother of Gilad Shalit, is urging the government to secure the release of the abducted IDF soldier before its term in office ends. In an interview with Channel 2’s "Meet the Press," Yoel Shalit said: "I can imagine his suffering and his pain. Although it’s very difficult to imagine such suffering, which has been going on for three years - almost a 1,000 days - in Hamas captivity, where we don’t know what conditions he faces and what he’s been going through. "Yoel Shalit, 25, currently resides in Haifa. Just like his abducted brother, he served in the IDF armored corps. In the past he served as a tank commander. Up until this past week, the abducted soldier’s brother maintained a low profile and focused on his studies at the Technion.

Negotiators in Cairo for intensive Shalit talks
Barak Ravid , and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 3/14/2009
Israel on Saturday told Hamas that Sunday night is the deadline for reaching an agreement on a prisoner exchange that would free abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. "There are still divisions, but we are making a final attempt to bridge them," said a source close to the negotiations. A senior official at the Prime Minister’s Office said this is a last-ditch effort before a new government takes power in Israel. The official added that on Tuesday, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu will present his coalition agreements to the Knesset for approval. "There has not yet been a breakthrough as we would have liked," said the official. "This is a final attempt. There is still time to reach a deal by Sunday. " It appears that with the help of Egyptian mediators, Israel and Hamas have reached agreement. . .

Major effort to free Shalit underway
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 3/14/2009
PM’s Office issues special statement, Israeli negotiators sent to Cairo in effort to finalize prisoner swap; relative of senior Hamas detainee: We were told deal on verge of completion. Olmert to convene special cabinet session Monday - Is Shalit swap being finalized in Cairo? The Prime Minister’s Office issued a special statement Saturday night regarding the latest efforts to secure the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. According to the statement, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin and negotiator Ofer Dekel to Egypt for a last-ditch effort to release Shalit. The two are expected to stay in Egypt until Sunday night. Diskin and Dekel are scheduled to meet with senior Egyptian officials serving as mediators in the effort to secure Shalit’s release and look into the possibility of advancing a prisoner swap.

Dozens of British MPs attend solidarity meeting on Gaza in House of Commons
Palestinian Information Center 3/14/2009
LONDON, (PIC)-- Dozens of British MPs including former lawmaker and minister Tony Benn attended a massive assembly in solidarity with Gaza held Thursday evening in the House of Commons at the invitation of friends of Palestine affiliated with the British labor party and the Palestine solidarity campaign. This special meeting was also attended by representatives of British parties, political, social and religious organizations and student and labor unions. The most prominent speech that touched the hearts of the attendees was delivered by Sameh Habib, the editor-in-chief of the English-language Palestine Telegraph newspaper. Habib moved some of the audience to tears when he described a number of real tragic scenes that occurred during the last Israeli war on the Gaza Strip and explained the size of suffering experienced by the distressed Gaza people after war.

British politicians meet Hamas leader in Syria
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/14/2009
Six-member delegation meets Khaled Mashaal in effort to urge British government to talk to Hamas -A delegation of British politicians pressing their government to hold direct talks with Hamas has met with the Palestinian group’s exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal, in Syria. Britain, along with the United States and the European Union, considers Hamas a terrorist organization and refuses to have talks with the group, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007. The six politicians include Labor Party member Clare Short and Jenny Tonge, a parliamentarian who was fired as her party’s spokeswoman on children’s issues after expressing understanding for Palestinian suicide bombers in 2004. Short told reporters in Syria on Saturday that the aim of the visit was to urge the British government to talk to Hamas in the interest of peace.

Hizbullah journalist kept out of UK
Ynet, YNetNews 3/14/2009
British Home Secretary denies visa for editor of Hizbullah-linked paper, meant to deliver a lecture at U of London on ’Hizbullah history, strategy, and ideology’ -A Hizbullah-affiliated journalist was refused a visa to the United Kingdom, on the grounds that his presence would not be "conducive to the public good," the British newspaper the Telegraph reported Saturday. Ibrahim Moussawi, who edits the Hizbullah-linked al-Intiqad (translation, ’criticism’) newspaper, had been due to deliver a lecture on "political Islam" at the School of Oriental and African Studies, part of the University of London, later this month. Material advertising the lecture described Moussawi as an "expert on Hizbollah and Islamist political theory" and said that he would talk about Hizbollah’s "history, strategy and ideology" and "current politics and prospects. "Last Thursday, Britain’s Foreign Office announced that it had contacted Hizbullah’s political wing in an attempt to reach out to its legislators.

Report: U.S. officials urge Obama to engage Hamas
Ha’aretz 3/14/2009
A group of former senior American officials and one current adviser are calling on U. S. President Barack Obama to talk with Hamas in an effort to disarm the group and persuade it to join a peaceful Palestinian government, according to a report published Saturday on the Boston Globe. According to the Boston Globe, the bipartisan group includes economic recovery adviser Paul A. Volcker and former national security advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, who are said to have made their recommendation in a letter handed to Obama before he took office. "I see no reason not to talk to Hamas," Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to President George H. W. Bush, told the Boston Globe. Talking to Hamas would signal a shift in U. S. policy, which has up until now designated Hamas as a terrorist organization and insisted. . .

Obama aide: Talk to Hamas
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 3/14/2009
Economic Advisor Volcker, nine former senior American officials urge Obama Administration to change stance on Hamas, engage in talks with organization, Boston Globe reports - WASHINGTON- Economic Recovery Adviser Paul A. Volcker and nine former senior American officials have urged President Barack Obama to engage in dialogue with Hamas leaders, the Boston Globe reported Saturday. According to the report, the group of former US officials includes former National Security Advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski. In a letter handed to Obama before he took office, the officials called on the president to look into the possibility of convincing Hamas to disarm and join a peaceful Palestinian government. "I see no reason not to talk to Hamas," Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to President George H.

Nine NATO nations pledge to stop arms smuggling to Gaza; Hamas slams decision
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – The United States, Canada and seven European states agreed to stop alleged weapons smuggling to the Gaza Strip by campaigns of, information sharing diplomatic pressure and interception at sea. A senior British diplomat told Reuters Friday that the agreement had been reached by experts from the nine nations at a meeting in London. In the pact, individual states are not obliged to carry out any specific action, and the diplomat said that naval vessels would not use force. Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway also signed up to the loose “program of action. ”Responding to the new initiative, Hamas lawmaker in Gaza Mushir Al-Masri said "Any attempts to eliminate the Palestinian people’s right to resistance will fail in the face of the people’s determination.

Masri: Asking other states to block arms into Gaza proves Israel’s bankruptcy
Palestinian Information Center 3/14/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Mushir Al-Masri, the secretary-general of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, stated Saturday that the Israeli occupation’s resort to other countries in order to stop supplies of weapons into Gaza is new proof of its bankruptcy, highlighting that the Palestinian people’s strong will would defeat all attempts to extract their right to resistance. In a press release received by the PIC, MP Masri underlined that the Palestinian people’s right to resistance is guaranteed by all international laws and conventions, pointing out that peoples under occupation had practiced resistance until they regained independence. The US, Canada, and seven European states agreed Friday on intervening to stop the flow of weapons into Gaza through ways such as intercepting ships at sea, sharing information and diplomatic pressure.

Hamas: Plan to stop Gaza arms smuggling will fail
Ha’aretz 3/14/2009
Moushir al-Masri, a senior Hamas official and parliamentarian, on Saturday said that his organization will continue to smuggle arms into Gaza, despite international efforts to stem the flow of weapons into the coastal strip. Al-Masri said that Israel’s attempts to eliminate the Palestinians’ right to resistance will fail in the face of their determination. His comments came in response to a plan agreed to on Friday by the United States, Canada and seven European nations, which proposed to use methods such as interception at sea, information sharing and diplomatic pressure to stop arms smuggling. "Experts from the nine nations, meeting in London, agreed on a program of action to prevent arms reaching the Palestinian enclave bordering the Mediterranean," a senior British diplomat said.

Hezbollah will not recognise Israel
Al Jazeera 3/14/2009
Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of the Lebanese Hezbollah group, has said his movement would never recognise Israel, rejecting a US precondition for dialogue with the group it considers a terrorist organisation. "To those who impose conditions on us, we say: We will never recognise Israel," Nasrallah said in a speech on Friday. The White House said on Tuesday that both Palestinian movement Hamas and Hezbollah must renounce violence and recognise Israel before they can expect even low-level US engagement. "We reject the American conditions. . . Today, tomorrow and after 1,000 years and even until the end of time, as long as Hezbollah exists, it will never recognise Israel," Nasrallah said. A senior US official said on Thursday he was unhappy with a British decision to open low-level contact with. . .

Nine countries agree on a plan to stop weapon flow into Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/14/2009
The United States, Canada and seven European countries agreed on Friday on a plan meant to stop the flow of arms and munitions into the Gaza Strip. The plan includes a number of strategies including intercepting ships heading to Gaza, share intelligence information and practicing diplomatic pressure. A senior British diplomat stated that experts from the nine countries had agreed during a meeting in London on a plan to bar the entry of weapons into Gaza. The diplomat added that this plan does not mean engaging in combat. In addition to Canada and the United States, the seven European countries involved in the plan are Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Holland and Norway. Stopping the flow of weapons into Gaza is considered an important aspect that would boost a permanent cease fire in Gaza, the diplomat said.

Nasrallah ’strongly endorses’ Arab reconciliation efforts
Daily Star 3/14/2009
BEIRUT: Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Friday any form of Arab rapprochement should be "strongly endorsed," and stressed that his party will not recognize the state of Israel, "not now and not in a thousand years. "Speaking during a rally at the Sayyed Ash-Shudada complex in Beirut’s southern suburbs, to mark Prophet Mohammad’s birthday and the start of the Week of Islamic Unity, Nasrallah said Arab reconciliation should be "welcomed and endorsed. "After almost four years of tensions that escalated during Israel’s three-week offensive on Gaza in January, the leaders of Saudi Arabia King Abdallah, Syria Bashar Assad, and Egypt Hosni Mubarak met in Riyadh on Wednesday in a bid to mend rifts. "Arab reconciliation gives strength to all of us," Nasrallah told thousands of supporters. However, Wednesday’s talks are seen by many as a Saudi effort to curb Iran’s regional. . .

Nasrallah vows to never recognise Israel
Middle East Online 3/14/2009
BEIRUT - Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Friday his movement would never recognise Israel, rejecting a US precondition for dialogue with the group it considers a terrorist organisation. "To those who impose conditions on us, we say: We will never recognise Israel," he said in a speech during celebrations to recognise the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. The White House said Tuesday that both Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah must renounce violence and recognise Israel before they can expect even low-level US engagement. "We reject the American conditions. . . Today, tomorrow and after 1,000 years and even until the end of time, as long as Hezbollah exists, it will never recognise Israel," Nasrallah said. A senior US official said Thursday he was unhappy with a British decision to open low-level contact with Hezbollah and suggested. . .

Ex-U.S. envoy to UN: Obama policy ’bad news for Israel’
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 3/14/2009
Former U. S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Friday that the Obama administration’s fixation on resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as a means of achieving peace and stability in the Middle East is "bad news for Israel, and for America. " In an article published in the daily New York Post on Friday, John Bolton said that the pressure that the U. S. administration will exert in efforts to resolve the crisis, will be turned with force against Israel, being a U. S. ally. "Almost invariably, Israel is the loser - because Israel is the party most dependent on the United States, most subject to U. S. pressure and most susceptible to the inevitable chorus of received wisdom from Western diplomats, media and the intelligentsia demanding concessions. When pressure must be applied to make compromises, it’s always easier to pressure the more reasonable side," Bolton wrote.

Nasrallah: Hizbullah will not recognize Israel
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah vowed that his organization will never recognize Israel in a televised speech on Friday. "To those who impose conditions on us, we say: We will never recognize Israel," Nasrallah said from a secret location in Lebanon. The United States reiterated on Tuesday its demand that both the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hizbullah must renounce violence and recognize Israel before they can expect even low-level US engagement. "We reject the American conditions. . . Today, tomorrow and after 1,000 years and even until the end of time, as long as Hezbollah exists, it will never recognize Israel," Nasrallah said. A senior US official said on Thursday he was unhappy with a British decision to open provisional low-level contact with the Lebanese movement and suggested London only indirectly informed the new US administration ahead of time.

Nasrallah: We’ll never recognize Israel
Jerusalem Post 3/14/2009
In a recorded speech aired Friday evening in Beirut in honor of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah reportedly rejected a preliminary US condition for talks and stressed his group would not recognize Israel "even in 1,000 years. " "Today the United States comes and says to us: You are terrorists and we are willing to forgive you for what has been, under the condition that you recognize Israel," French news agency AFP quoted Nasrallah as saying. The Jerusalem Post could not independently confirm the report. Nasrallah stressed that the Lebanese people are "capable of defeating this entity (Israel) and can make it disappear," and therefore, Hizbullah will not recognize Israel "not today, not tomorrow, not even in 1,000 years. " According to AFP, after harshly rejecting the Obama administration’s conditions for dialogue, according to which the group must denounce terrorism and recognize the Jewish state, Nasrallah touched on Hizbullah’s ties with the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip.

Zahhar denies deal reached on release of Shalit
Palestinian Information Center 3/14/2009
CAIRO, (PIC)-- Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, a prominent Hamas leader, has denied Hebrew press reports that claimed Israel had agreed to release all 450 Palestinian prisoners on the list of Hamas’s Movement in return for the release of its captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Zahhar, who is attending the inter-Palestinian national dialog in Cairo, said in a terse press statement that the news were not true. Hebrew daily ’Ha’aretz’ published on Friday quoted sources in Cairo as saying that Israel had agreed to free all 450 prisoners demanded by Hamas as a condition for releasing Shalit. The sources added that Israel put the condition that all those released prisoners should be deported outside Palestine. The Hebrew radio said that Ofer Dekel, who is charge with the prisoners’ exchange issue, briefed Israeli premier Ehud Olmert on Friday on results of his talks in Cairo with Egyptian intelligence chief on the exchange deal.

Sources: Israel Agrees to Free all 450 Hamas Prisoners for Shalit
Yoav Stern, MIFTAH 3/14/2009
Israel has agreed to free all 450 of the prisoners demanded by Hamas in exchange for kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, and the dispute now revolves around Israel’s demand that some of these prisoners be deported rather than returned home, Palestinian sources in Cairo said Thursday. Ofer Dekel, Israel’s lead negotiator on the issue, was in Cairo Thursday for further talks with Egyptian mediators. According to the sources, Israel is insisting that several dozen of the released prisoners be exiled abroad and that others be released to Gaza rather than the West Bank. However, Hamas has thus far agreed to the deportation of only a handful of prisoners, and has conditioned even this on the consent of the prisoners to be deported. It also opposes releasing prisoners to Gaza rather than the West Bank. Though Hamas officials are concerned that a deal might be harder to strike

PPP proposes government led by independents
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) proposed that six other major portfolios, including prime minister, in the coming Palestinian government should be given to independents. According to Secretary General of the PPP Bassam As-Salihi, his party made this suggestion at the Palestinian unity negotiations in Cairo on Friday, in hopes of ending an impasse over the makeup of a proposed transitional government. He explained that the six major portfolios suggested are interior, foreign affairs, information, treasury, and either public works or education. The rest of the portfolios could be given to specific Palestinian factions, he added. Senior PPP leader Walid Al-Awad told Ma’an that his party suggested the new government should maintain a comprehensive ceasefire with Israel and stick to agreements signed previously by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Bardawil: Fatah is trying to drag Hamas into recognizing the Israeli occupation
Palestinian Information Center 3/14/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, the spokesman for the Hamas parliamentary bloc, stated Saturday that the Fatah faction is trying to drag his Movement into recognizing the Israeli occupation and into involvement in issues that had already proven their failure, while the issues which must be recognized are the Palestinian people’s rights. In an exclusive interview with the PIC, Dr. Bardawil said that the main dispute is over Fatah’s insistence that the next government should abide by the PLO’s obligations, considering it a failed attempt to make Hamas recognize the occupation. The lawmaker stressed that the majority of the Palestinian factions concur with Hamas’s refusal of any commitment to PLO’s agenda which recognizes the occupation. He pointed out that the PLO’s recognition of Israel brought disasters to the Palestinian people and was met by more barriers and checkpoints,. . .

PRC rejects commitment to agreements signed by PLO
Palestinian Information Center 3/14/2009
CAIRO, (PIC)-- The popular resistance committees rejected Friday the suggestions that the national unity government to be formed should abide by the agreements signed by the PLO, adding that it would not be at the mercy of external conditions especially those of the international quartet. Abu Mujahid, the spokesman for the committees, said in a statement received by the PIC that there are some obstacles faced by the committee on the government especially with regard to the government’s political agenda and its commitment to the PLO’s agreements signed with other parties. Abu Mujahid suggested that there is a solution to this obstacle stipulating the respect of the PLO’s agreements without declaring commitment to them, adding that this wording is a better way out of this dilemma. The spokesman pointed out that such outstanding issues would be referred to the committee grouping the. . .

Internal dialogue still facing major obstacles
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/14/2009
Officials involved in the internal Palestinian talks, held in under Egyptian mediation in Cairo, stated Friday that there are still main obstacles challenging the progress of internal Palestinian reconciliation talks. Sources within Hamas movement said differences regarding the agenda of the anticipated government, the conditions of the Quartet Committee , and the position regarding previously signed peace deals with Israel, in addition to the issue of parallel legislative and presidential elections, remain unsolved. The delegates might have to leave Cairo in order to discuss these issues with their leadership. Head of the Fateh parliamentarian bloc, Azzam Al Ahmad, involved in the internal talks, said that Hamas still insists on the agenda of the previous government, and added that this agenda failed to lift the siege and failed to achieve international recognition.

Fatah: Hamas can maintain political stance in new government
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Hamas should be allowed to keep its political positions even as it joins a transitional Palestinian government with Fatah, a senior Fatah member said on Saturday. Ahmad Abd Ar-Rahman said in a statement sent to Ma’an, “Fatah is working forward to reaching agreement; it gave lots of initiatives within those meetings and ahead of them, and it still has the ability to cooperate with Egypt to reach a conclusion for the talks. ”Abd Ar-Rahman’s come amid reports that negotiations among the rival Palestinian factions have broken down over the makeup of the next government and the timing and nature of elections. According to some reports, impasse stems from a debate over the political platform of the government. The US has threatened not to recognize a Hamas-Fatah unity government that does not recognize Israel.

Behind the scenes at Cairo: Tension over Government committee; PLO, Security and Reconciliation complete
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Cairo – Ma’an – One-hundred and eighty Palestinian leaders, businessmen and public figures from fourteen factions making up five central, one higher and two follow up committees spent their fourth day in Cairo Saturday in a grand effort at forming a consensus government. The 180 men and women are in two halls at the Headquarters of the Egyptian Intelligence office. The space has been divided into several rooms, one for each of the five principal committees and a sixth for the higher committee. The members of the five principal committees (PLO, Government, Elections, Security, and Reconciliation) are joined by the Secretaries General of the Higher Committee on an as-needed basis. According to the most recent reports, members of the PLO and Reconciliation committees have finished their work and will head home.

Hamas: Power-sharing talks with Fatah are deadlocked
Ha’aretz 3/14/2009
Hamas on Saturday said its power-sharing talks with rival Fatah faction are stuck because of disagreements over the political program of a unity government. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Saturday that the group isn’t budging from its refusal to recognize Israel. However, the international community refuses to work with a Hamas-Fatah government without such a concession. At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid promised for rebuilding Gaza after Israel’s military offensive there. The money would only be given to an internationally accepted government. Palestinian reconciliation negotiators, however, did sign an agreement to prohibit fighting or the use of weapons to settle internal disputes, a Palestinian academic said Saturday.

Hamas, Fatah Differ over Attitude to Agreements
Nidal Al-Mughrabi, MIFTAH 3/14/2009
Rival Palestinian factions have so far failed to overcome obstacles in reconciliation talks which they hope will lead to a unified governing body for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, officials said on Friday. President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement has insisted during Egyptian-hosted talks taking place in Cairo that rival Islamist group Hamas must "abide" by existing peace agreements signed with Israel but Hamas has refused to make such a commitment. Hamas proposed using the word "respect" instead of "abide" but this falls short of satisfying the conditions set by United States, Israel and Western countries. The agreements and commitments with Israel were signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization, now headed by Abbas. Hamas, the Islamist movement which won a parliamentary election three years ago, has controlled the Gaza Strip since a brief, bloody civil war in 2007. Abbas’s Palestinian Authority holds sway in the occupied West Bank.

Committees in Cairo Struggle to Agree [March 8 – March 14]
MIFTAH, MIFTAH 3/14/2009
The five committees in Cairo for talks on national conciliation have finished their first round of discussions, according to Egyptian sources on March 14. The members of the committees will head back home, leaving only the heads of the groups in Cairo who make up the Higher Committee for further discussions. Egyptian sources noted that the break in talks was planned and did not signify a failure or breakdown of them. Nonetheless, progress in the five committees was not making as much headway as initially anticipated. According to a statement released by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine on March 13, the dialogue "has not made any progress or taken any steps forward. " Others involved have disagreed, saying there has been tangible progress in three of the five committees, namely the PLO, security and reconciliation groups.

ANALYSIS / Fatah-Hamas unity would pose major dilemma for Israel
Zvi Bar'el, Ha’aretz 3/14/2009
If the understandings reached on Thursday in Cairo between Fatah and Hamas remain valid even after the representatives from both sides return home, they are likely to expedite the release of Gilad Shalit. Because now Hamas has an additional incentive to wrap up the prisoner swap and claim for itself the credit and glory that comes with freeing Palestinian prisoners instead of bequeathing the task to a Palestinian unity government to which Fatah will also be a party. On the other hand, these understandings will present Israel with a difficult dilemma. Should Jerusalem recognize a united Palestinian government comprised of Hamas and other factions, or should it adopt anew the position of Israel’s government since the elections in 2006 which posits that any entity of which Hamas is a part is illegitimate? A union between Fatah. . .

UK Welfare Association spends 2.6 million in Gaza since Israeli offensive
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Welfare Association spent 2. 6 million US dollars on immediate emergency needs in the Gaza Strip through five projects since the cessation of hostilities in the area. The Welfare Association is a private, non-profit foundation established in Geneva in 1983 to support Palestinian society in sustainable development. It is supported by donors from Europe, principally the UK. More than 100,000needy people, mostly children, benefited from the projects, which included providing fuel for 100 hospitals and health centers, 164 donations of medical equipment for emergency departments, 10,000 food packages, 10,000 milk cans and 1,500 school uniforms for girls and 2,000 wool sweaters.

UAE charity allocates 17 million US dollars to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An Emerati charity said on Friday that it will donate 17 million US dollars for three projects to help the Gaza Strip recover from Israel’s three-week war and ongoing siege. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Charity and Humanitarian Establishment (MBRCHE) in the United Arab Emirates announced in a press conference in Dubai on that it will spend the money on rehabilitation of the sewage network, water treatment, and assistance to Gazan fishermen. Deputy Chairman of MBRCE’s Board of Trustees, Ibrahim Bumilh, said studies revealed that the most important projects in the Gaza Strip would be those aimed at improving standards of living and helping the territory’s economy recover. He pointed out that Gaza Strip citizens rely on groundwater that is pumped by artisan wells to treatment plants.

Jordan: Israel polluting shared water resources
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Jordanian government lodged an official protest with the Israeli government over pollution of the Yarmouk River, the largest tributary of the Jordan River and the body of water separating Jordan and Israel south of the Sea of Galilee. A Jordanian official told the Jordanian Al-Ra’i newspaper that Jordan’s Minister of Water and Irrigation, Raed Abu Sa’ud, sent a letter to Israeli officials complaining of water pollution from Israel. He said thousands of cubic meters of water in the King Abdullah Canal have been polluted. The canal’s water is used for irrigation and for drinking after being refined. [end]

Nasrallah: We’ll never be able to recognize Israel
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 3/13/2009
In recorded speech in honor of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, Hizbullah chief addresses American demand is organization recognizes Jewish state, says ’not in 1,000 years’. Nasrallah clarifies he will launch dialogue with US under his conditions only - Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah says his organization will never recognize Israel, rejecting a US precondition for dialogue with the group it considers a terrorist organization. In a recorded speech aired Friday evening in Beirut in honor of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, Nasrallah said that "Hizbullah is on the list of terror organizations. Even its television stations and its organizations are on the list of terror groups, as well as many other names like (slain Hizbullah commander) Imad Mugniyah, myself and other brothers. " Today the United States comes and says to us: ’You are terrorists and we are willing to forgive you for what has been, under the condition that you recognize Israel.

Nasrallah: 'Hezbollah does not have any branch in Gaza'
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/13/2009
Secretary-general of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party, stated Friday that his party does not have any branch or formation in the Palestinian territories, especially in the Gaza Strip. In a televised speech marking the birth of the Muslim prophet Mohammad, Nasrallah said that his party supports the Palestinian resistance but only as "a brother supports his brother". He also said that his party does not intervene in the internal Palestinian affairs, as it does not accept any interference it its internal affairs, and added that the Palestinians know what is best for them and act accordingly. Referring to the internal Palestinian talks in Cairo, Nasrallah urged the Palestinian leaders to act in order to end their internal conflicts and divisions, and to achieve national unity. He also welcomed the Arab efforts to maintain unity among the Arab countries, and urged the Arab. . .

New anti-fraud, five year term black-covered passports to be issued by PA
Ma’an News Agency 3/14/2009
Nablus – Ma’an Special – Revamped Palestinian passports will hit the streets next week, sporting new black covers and several anti-fraud devices, head of the passports department in the West Bank Yousef Harb said Saturday. The new passports, printed in France, have a five (rather than three) year term of validity and are meant to help ease restrictions on passport renewal for Palestinians at home and abroad. The new passport will cost 210 shekels (50 US dollars). The travel document will include an electronic code to aid in the identification of the passport holder and limit instances of fraud. Though they are printed in France emergency documents will be available in hours, and within two days for regular passport requests. Al-Harb noted that two new passport offices were opened in the West Bank, one in Nablus to serve the northern regions and one in Hebron to serve those in the south.

Israel rivals ’renew coalition bid’
Al Jazeera 3/14/2009
Officials from Israel’s Likud and Kadima parties are reportedly re-examining the possibility of the two factions forming a ruling coalition. A report in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper on Saturday said that the "senior figures" from both parties had again discussed the possibility of the parties’ leaders alternating as prime minister. Tzipi Livni, Kadima’s leader, had previously rejected attempts by Benyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister-designate, to tempt her party into a coalition. The alliance would give Netanyahu’s government stronger international support because of Livni’s stated commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Yoel Hasson, a senior Kadima legislator, said that the party "would be happy to renew unity talks" with Netanyahu, but on condition any joint government set Livni’s goals as policy.

Bin Laden ’tape’ calls Israel offensive on Gaza a holocaust
The Guardian 3/14/2009
Audio recording claiming to be of al-Qaida leader played on al-Jazeera news network - Osama bin Laden today called Israel’s offensive on Gaza a "holocaust" and blamed Arab leaders for not doing enough to stop the fighting, in what appears to be the latest audio recording by the al-Qaida leader. Broadcast on al-Jazeera television, the Bin Laden recording accused some Arab countries of "collaborating" with Israel on the offensive earlier this year that killed about 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza. " It is clear that some Arab leaders have plotted with the Zionist-crusader coalition against our [Muslim] people," he said. Bin Laden did not name any specific Arab countries or politicians in the brief recording. The authenticity of the tape could not be verified and the Arabic satellite network did not say how it was obtained. It was the latest message reportedly from the terrorist leader since an audio recording on Gaza in January, in which he urged Muslims to launch a jihad against Israel.

Bin Laden slams Arab leaders on Gaza
Ola Galal - DUBAI, Middle East Online 3/14/2009
Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden accused some Arab leaders of being "complicit" with Israel and the West against Muslims and urged holy war to liberate the Palestinian territories, in an audio tape broadcast by Al-Jazeera television on Saturday. "It has become clear that some Arab leaders were complicit with the Crusader Zionist alliance against our people. These are the leaders that America calls moderate," said bin Laden, without singling out any leaders. "The countries of the Muslim world from Indonesia to Mauritania are divided into two: Some of them are crooked, while others are even more crooked," he added, in excerpts of the tape aired by the Doha-based channel. In the tape, whose authenticity could not be confirmed, bin Laden labelled the devastating offensive by Israel against Gaza at the new year as a Holocaust.

Bin Laden accuses Arab leaders
Al Jazeera 3/14/2009
Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, has said in an audio tape obtained by Al Jazeera that some Arab leaders were "complicit" with Israel during its offensive in Gaza. Bin Laden said in the tape aired on Saturday that Arab leaders were "hypocrites", and that "liberating Jerusalem needed honest Arab leadership" to fight and liberate the Arab people. "It has become clear that some Arab leaders were complicit with the crusade zionist alliance against our people. These are the leaders that America calls moderate," bin Laden said. ’Holocaust’ He said that "Gaza’s holocaust" was a "historic event and a tragedy" adding that the Arab world needed a "devoted committee of scholars from the Islamic world to establish an advisory body" on the future of the region, "not leadership that is formed by hypocrites".

Bin Laden: Israeli Gaza offensive is a ’holocaust’
Ha’aretz 3/14/2009
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has called Israel’s offensive on Gaza a holocaust and blamed Arab leaders for not doing enough to stop the fighting in his latest audio recording aired on Al-Jazeera on Saturday. Bin Laden accused some Arab countries of collaborating with Israel on the offensive earlier this year that killed some 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza. "It was clear that some of the Arab leaders have collaborated with the Crusader-Zionist alliance against our people, those whom America calls the moderate leaders," said bin Laden. "We must disown ourselves from all those governments. " He did not mention any governments by name in the brief excerpts, but Egypt, in particular, drew criticism during the offensive for not opening its border with Gaza to more aid shipments and humanitarian cases.

Army, ISF troops restore order after armed clashes break out in Sidon
Daily Star 3/14/2009
SIDON: The Lebanese Army conducted a major crackdown on armed groups in Sidon on Friday after clashes broke out on Thursday night. Around 1,000 army soldiers and ISF officers cordoned off large swathes of central Sidon, leading to the arrest of eight armed people and the confiscation of weapons. Security sources say that one of the key perpetrators is a man called Mohammed Saleh, a Palestinian. He was arrested by Fateh officials inside the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian camp, who pledged to hand him over to the ISF on Friday evening. For the past four years Sidon has been plagued with periodic outbreaks of violence between armed groups stemming from both political and personal disagreements. Late on Thursday, two groups of armed men began fighting in a bout of violence that lasted for more than an hour. The skirmish began as a personal argument between youths near the Saha Bakery in central Sidon.

Saudi Shiites threaten to ‘secede’ from Saudi
Habib Trabelsi – Paris, Middle East Online 3/14/2009
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz categorically rejected accusations of discrimination against the Shiite minority in Saudi Arabia as Shiite leaders threatened of “secession of the Eastern Province" from the oil-rich kingdom. "We completely reject the clash of sects in our country. We believe that all citizens have equal rights and duties," insisted the minister, speaking from New York where he was at the bedside of the Crown Prince and Defense Minister Sultan bin Abdel Aziz, convalescing after surgery. "There are foreign parties who seek to cause (an) escalation (between Sunni and Shia), but we are able (. . . ) to prevent any interference in the internal affairs of the country," Prince Nayef warned in a lengthy interview published Saturday by the Saudi daily ’Okaz. Prince Nayef did not specifically mention Iran, accused in recent days by Saudi Arabia of "interfering". . .


Articles

Saturday morning in At Tur: more home demolitions
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 3/14/2009
      It is cold in East Jerusalem’s eastern neighborhood of At Tur Sahel this morning. The rain came last night: weather here is as predictable as home demolitions.
     "They’re taking the whole thing, the entire neighborhood," says a man who is unshaven and tired on Saturday morning, nine o’clock. He refuses to be identified in the news.
     "There are a lot of houses they want to destroy or overtake. They’re going after 50 houses. I have 10 dunams that are going."
     He takes me to a roof top where about five people are working to rebuild part of a house, with or without an Israeli-issued "permit." It doesn’t matter anymore, permit or not. The Israelis abide no law other than their own. International law is absent under the policies of the occupying administration: that has become clear even to the most cautious observer these days, including the new US administration, the UN, the NGOs who attempt to be “neutral” regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Meet Bilín: A Village Dedicated to Stopping the Wall

Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 3/14/2009
      A collection of interviews from one of Palestine´s most famous sites of popular resistance.
     Four years ago, construction started on the Separation Wall through the middle Bil’in, a village outside of Ramallah. They have lost about 60% of their land—agricultural land where most of the income of the village was made.
     Since then, the village has organized weekly, non-violent protests against the wall. Men and women of all ages from Bil’in meet outside the mosque in the center of the village every Friday and walk together to the site of the wall along with the internationals and international press that participates in solidarity with the villagers.
     I interviewed four villagers in Bil’in about how life has changed since the beginning of the construction of the wall and what they think about Bil’in’s future.

     Ahmad Abu Rahmeh lives in Bil’in and is the director of the Al-Hadaf cultural center. The cultural center is dedicated to preserving Palestinian heritage, culture, and folklore. Its aim is to upgrade the quality of life for the village while maintaining their identity. He attends the demonstrations every Friday—I asked him what he thinks about the wall and how it affects life in the village.
     What economic effects do you think the wall will have on Bil’in?
     “There are a lot of economic effects—we were working and living on the lands that got taken—eating the olives and selling the oil.”

Mazin Qumsiyeh: action is the best antidote to despair

Mazin Qumsiyeh, Palestine News Network 3/14/2009
      Beit Sahour - A good friend of ours, Tristan Anderson (US Citizen) was critically injured yesterday (Friday) and is in intensive care.
     Other friends there reported that the Israeli soldiers were not in any danger when they fired new kinds of projectiles and other weaponry.
     Tristan was actually to the side and was hit while standing and observing the attack by the Israeli soldiers on the Palestinian and International nonviolent and unarmed demonstrators. So far in the last 9 years over 6000 Palestinians and several Internationals were murdered by Israeli occupation forces (including a 23 year old American student Rachel Corrie). Ofcourse none of the killers will be brought to justice because they are occupation soldiers “doing their duty” (to colonize, murder and oppress). This week an Israeli court acquitted an Israeli French settler after he repeatedly stabbed a Palestinian taxi driver (24 y.o. Tayseer Karaki) to death. The court claimed he was not guilty by reason of insanity despite the fact that even Israeli psychiatry experts who examined him after the incident ruled him sane and fit for trial. None of the 12-13,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails could claim the insanity defense because after 60 years of colonial occupation, apartheid and slavery and massacres, we are all very sane!

The One-, Two-, Five-State Solutions

The Jordan Times, MIFTAH 3/14/2009
      We enjoy the counting game when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, hypothesising about the number of states that must be created to end this conflict.
     The one-state solution is an idea coming from part of the Palestinian liberal elite that calls for one state for two nations: Israelis and Palestinians. The idea is rejected by Israelis as political suicide because demographic trends will mean a Palestinian-dominated state in 20 years or so.
     The three-state solution, advocated by John Bolton, is equally provocative. It calls for solving the Arab-Israeli conflict by divvying up Palestinian land between Jordan and Egypt. These two countries would fulfill the international community’s expectation that Israel’s security be protected while maintaining the well-being of the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. Jordan and Egypt view this solution as contrary to their interests. Indeed, it would place the brunt of the political and economic burdens on them. It is also provocative because it is reminiscent of past Orientalist policies that viewed Arab states as simply space on the map, not autonomous political actors with their own interests.

Some Hope, much Pessimism, on Palestine

The Daily Star - Editorial, MIFTAH 3/14/2009
      There are many reasons to feel more pessimistic than optimistic about the possibility of any major breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this year. The inaction by the international community, especially the United States, over the past few years has made the situation more complicated, with increased violence and hardened public opinions on both sides.
     In the aftermath of the Gaza war, Hamas’ popularity has increased, both inside Palestine and in the wider Arab and Muslim world, with growing support among Palestinians for military resistance. Israel has shifted politically to the right, with broader acceptance of the "fifth column" theory, which views Palestinian citizens of Israel as a security threat.
     Any talk of a peace process has negative connotations for both sides. For many Israelis, it raises fears that land returned to the Palestinians in the West Bank will eventually be used for launching rockets, as happened in Gaza. Similarly, for many Palestinians, the continuation of the peace process means endless talking without results as Israel continues to annex more Palestinian land for building or expanding settlements.

Gaza 2009: De-Osloizing the Palestinian Mind

Dr. Haidar Eid - Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 3/14/2009
      ’De-Osloizing Palestine is a precondition for the creation of peace with justice.’
     "Not only have the whites been guilty of being on the offensive, but by some skilful manoeuvres, they have managed to control the responses of the blacks to the provocation. Not only have they kicked the black, but they have also told him how to react to the kick. For a long time the black has been listening with patience to the advice he has been receiving on how best to respond to the kick. With painful slowness he is now beginning to show signs that it is his right and duty to respond to the kick in the way he sees fit." -- Steve Biko
     One of the most important outcomes of the Gaza massacre (2009) has been the unprecedented tremendous outpouring of popular support for the Palestinian cause; something the signatories of the Oslo accords (1993) must have not been happy with. The return of the pre-Oslo slogans of liberation, as opposed to independence, have, undoubtedly, created a new dilemma, not only for Oslo political elites, but also for the NGOized, Stalinist Left.

The Key is an End to Occupation

Daoud Kuttab, MIFTAH 3/14/2009
      Following the words and efforts of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Sharm El Sheikh, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah, one gets the feeling that she was on a hard-sell campaign trying to convince the majority of Israelis to accept the concept of the two-state solution.
     For now, Palestinians are more interested in the end of the decades-old occupation of their lands.
     Clinton’s pleading with Netanyahu to adopt the international consensus on the two-state solution is wrong. She should focus instead on the choices that Israel has, namely, to share the land of Palestine/Israel with the Palestinian side or agree to power sharing, among the people living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.
     The two-state solution has been on the books for some time. An independent Palestinian state alongside Israel has been a demand of some Palestinians since the 1970s, but became official PLO policy in one year, after the relatively nonviolent Intifada began.

March 12: When a 2nd home isn’t due to wealth

Sharon Lock, Tales to Tell - From Gaza 2009 3/13/2009
      ....We were visiting hospital dietician S’s family in Al Fukhary. They all fled their home during the attacks, except for S’s dad who stayed behind to confront the tanks. And literally did - S shows us where the tanks got to: the back garden. At this point, his dad went to the back door and looked the solider in the tank in the eye. The soldier in the tank looked back. And then he turned the tank around and left. I guess Abu S has one great stern look.
     As we are leaving we pass several houses totally destroyed, in amongst houses still standing. Why these houses? Nobody knows. A kindergarten is also destroyed, and there is no logic in that either. We notice that all the road ways are planted with dense cactuses, and speculate if they are deliberately planted to obstruct border-originating bullets. They look fierce enough to do it. At S’s family land, near the border, Israeli tanks have destroyed the roadside cactuses, so maybe the soldiers have the same theory about them as us.
     Earlier in the afternoon we were with J and L and their six kids (the youngest is 3) in Al Faraheen. You’ll remember before I referred to the fact that they stay in a house in the middle of the village now, because their regular home at the edge, about 500m from the border, feels too dangerous. Before the attacks, J and his oldest son at least were sleeping at their farmhouse, now, no-one does.In the taxi on the way back from Al Fukhary tonight, E is on the phone checking if we can visit Abd tomorrow in Al Wafa hospital to deliver the chess set. “Fil asr.” she finishes.

Not Every Day is Purim

Ori Nir, Middle East Online 3/13/2009
      WASHINGTON, DC – A colloquial Hebrew expression says “not every day is Purim”, which can loosely be translated to “you can’t fool all the people all the time”.
     Israelis - and many in our pro-Israel community in the United States – in the past wanted to believe that Palestinian economic development is the path to resolving Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians: If only the Palestinians have full stomachs and some cash in their pockets, they will forget about Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, about their land being gradually eaten up by Israeli settlements, and about their aspirations for independence and sovereignty being ignored.
     History and common sense taught us how wrong that thinking was. The lessons are as compelling today as they ever were.
     In August of 1987, the Israeli military government in the West Bank and Gaza published a fancy brochure boasting the achievements of twenty years of Israeli “Civil Administration”. The booklet, 110 pages, contrasted the prosperous smiling Palestinians of 1987, in colour, with the black-and-white photos of the underdeveloped Territories in 1967, when Israel conquered the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt. The brochure was not factually wrong. In fact, there was a dramatic improvement in the Palestinians’ standard of living under Israeli rule. But there was also a dramatic increase in national sentiments, which were nurtured, in part, by the occupation.

British MP Galloway in Gaza - Interview

Motasem Dalloul – Gaza City, Palestine Chronicle 3/13/2009
      British MP Galloway and other activists after entering Gaza. (Aljazeera) British lawmaker George Galloway and hundreds of human and civil society activists braved all odds to come to the bombed-out Gaza Strip.
     They travelled through two continents and crossed scores to countries to bring hope and much-needed help to the 1.6 million population of the coastal enclave, reeling under a long-running watertight Israeli siege.
     Israel’s recent three-week war on Gaza killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and left its infrastructure in ruins.
     The Viva Gaza aid convoy included 12 ambulances and a fire engine and carried aid worth more than 1.4 million dollars, which were all handed over to Hamas-run government.
     IslamOnline.net interviewed Galloway, the main organizer who personally donated three cars and 35,000 dollars, a few hours before leaving the Palestinian territory.
     Mr. George Galloway can you tell us what’s the real reason for your visit?
     Thank you very much. My visit has more than one reason. The first one is to walk a step toward lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip.

Joining the blacklist

Yossi Sarid, Ha’aretz 3/13/2009
      Netanyahu is making promises to us just as one makes promises to a battered woman: Give me just one more chance. But anyone who lies down with Bibi will get up with black and blue marks. Even before he has formed a government we already miss the bad old Bibi. Ten years ago it ended badly; now it’s beginning badly. This is the man we knew - an adventurer and a man who causes rifts.
     He is starting a battle on the interior front by appointingLieberman’s envoys to the Justice Ministry and the Public Security Ministry of all things; and he’ll be starting a battle on the exterior front with Lieberman himself. Although Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann is going, Friedmannism remains. The Land of Israel of Dan Meridor and Benny Begin is acquired through prohibitions. And until they get their country whole, they’re getting it flawed.
     If we’re already committing national hara-kiri, then let’s do it in the soft underbelly. In any case, this right-wing, ultranationalist government has a horrifying image, and from now on it looks like Yvet will be its mouthpiece; and what a big, ugly mouth.

Messengers from Washington

Ayman El-Amir, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/12/2009
      While Turkey and Iran are at the heart of any prospects for forward movement on the Middle East, Israel is the new US president’s primary challenge.
     A slew of senior US officials swept the Middle East recently to prepare the ground for President Barack Obama’s new strategy of engagement and dialogue to address the challenging problems of the region. Led by new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the diplomatic pageantry included George Mitchell, the US special envoy to the Middle East, the State Department’s top Middle East expert Jeffrey Feltman, and senior National Security Council official Daniel Shapiro, both of whom were assigned to open up the Syrian track -- a member of the Bush administration’s trilateral "axis of evil". Dennis Ross, the administration’s special adviser to the Gulf, and Iran, is being kept in the wings for the right moment to enter on stage. They were all preceded by visits of four congressional delegations that focussed on Syria, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and Israel. In keeping with the plan to make the Middle East one of its top priorities, the Obama administration is launching an attack on all Middle East problems, albeit from the fringes. It remains to be seen if, in pursuing its agenda of engagement instead of containment, the Obama administration is biting off more than it can chew.

Building on bold-faced lies

Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/12/2009
      Leaked Israeli settlement expansion plans prove that interminable peace talks are but cover for the material destruction of Palestinian horizons.
     While Israel never stops claiming that it has a sincere desire for peace with the Palestinians, the Israeli Housing Ministry, in coordination with other government agencies as well as the occupation army, is finalising plans to build tens of thousands of Jewish settler units all over the West Bank, especially in occupied East Jerusalem.
     The plans, it is generally agreed, would put an end to Palestinian dreams of establishing a viable and territorially contiguous state that they could call their own. According to a detailed document by the Israeli Peace Now group, which monitors the proliferation of Jewish colonies in the West Bank, the Housing Ministry is planning to build more than 73,000 new apartments and settler units on occupied Palestinian land.
     If implemented, the plan means that existing settlements would more than double, both in the sheer number of apartments and in terms of the settler population. That population now stands at more than half a million in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. However, one major obstacle that could impede the implementation of the plan is the growing dearth of Jewish immigrants from abroad.

Stepping out, not down

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/12/2009
      Fayyad’s resignation is an attempt to get foreign powers to influence Palestinian dialogue talks, in particular to declare that they will only do business with a government he heads.
     Although he attempted to make it sensational, the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad came as no surprise. Fayyad justified his resignation by saying that it was aimed to allow national dialogue efforts, including efforts entrusted with the issue of forming a new government, to succeed having begun in earnest. Rival Palestinian factions opened talks on forming a unity government Tuesday, at the start of 10 days of negotiations in Cairo.
     Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s General Intelligence chief and mediator of the talks, urged all participants to forget their recent clashes and focus on the future. "The Palestinian people are watching the results of these talks, so please do not let them down," Suleiman said. "We are only looking towards the future, and your meeting today is the beginning of that path."

The West should feel shame over its collusion with torturers

Robert Fisk, The Independent 3/14/2009
      I want to know why those complicit in Almalki’s ordeal are not tried in court. I invited Abdullah Almalki to breakfast in Ottawa but he only took coffee. And while I wolfed down my all-English breakfast in the Chateau Laurier Hotel (beloved of Churchill and Karsh of Ottawa fame), he sipped gingerly at his cup with much on his mind. Snooped on by the Canadian secret service and then tortured in Syria while the Canadian authorities did nothing for him – save supplying his perverted torturers with questions – he had much to think about. A carbon copy of Binyam Mohamed, the British resident who had his penis cut up while the Brits sent questions to his perverted Moroccan torturers.
     In Abdullah Almalki’s case, he wasn’t renditioned. He simply flew into Damascus to see his Syrian family, got banged up in the city’s secret police headquarters and was then beaten into submission, not much different from an even more famous case – that of Maher Arar, who was a Canadian citizen and got renditioned to Damascus by the Americans while the US authorities sent questions to his perverted Syrian torturers. Arar has received apologies from US senators – though not from the war hero George Bush (battle honours: the skies over Texas during the Vietnam conflict) -- and compensation from the Canadian government.
     The details of each case are shockingly similar. Tim Hancock of Amnesty International has supplied similar information on Khaled al-Maqtari, a Yemeni man, who was apparently threatened with rape and beaten in chains by his perverted American torturers. Western nations simply assisted the perverts by providing them with pages of questions while their citizens/residents lay in agony, wishing they had never been born.