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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 May , 2009

News

International Middle East Media Center

Palestinian fighter killed in Gaza
7 May 2009 - The Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, stated on Thursday that one of its fighters was killed on Wednesday evening during what the brigades described as a “special mission”. 

Israeli soldier killed by 'friendly fire' near Ramallah
7 May 2009 - Israeli military sources reported on Thursday at dawn that one soldier was shot and killed during an invasion into Bir Zeit city, north east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.  

Peace Now files petition against illegal outposts
8 May 2009 - Israeli Peace Now Movement filed on Thursday a petition to the High Court demanding Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, and Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Gadi Shamni, to issue orders immediately stopping construction in Halamish – Neve Tzuf illegal settlement. 

PCHR Weekly Report: 3 Palestinians killed, 14 injured by Israeli forces this week
7 May 2009 - According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, during the week of 29 April - 06 May 2009, two Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip as a result of the collapse of a tunnel bombarded by Israeli forces.  Israeli forces also killed a mentally disabled Palestinian civilian at the entrance to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. 

United Nations Report: Israeli army ‘negligent’ and ‘reckless’ in Gaza
7 May 2009 - The four-member Board of Inquiry appointed by the United Nations to investigate Israel’s attacks on UN facilities during its December-January invasion of the Gaza Strip has released a report of its findings. 

The Israeli military kidnaps 16 civilians during attacks targeting the West Bank
7 May 2009 - 16 Palestinian civilians were kidnapped by Israeli troops during predawn military invasion targeting West Bank cities on Thursday.

Small number of patients and aid supplies enter the Gaza strip via Rafah
7 May 2009 - 20 Palestinian patients in addition to 420 tons of food supplies were allowed into Gaza on Thursday via the Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt. 

Navy forces kidnap fishermen near Gaza City while jet fighters bombard open areas
7 May 2009 - Israeli naval forces kidnapped on Thursday midday Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza City shore while jet fighters shelled open areas in the city.

Abbas to present Obama with a plan to resolve Middle East conflict
7 May 2009 - Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stated Wednesday that he along with the Egyptian President, Mahmoud Abbas, are planning to present the US President, Barack Obama with a comprehensive vision of a solution to the Middle East conflict. 

Netanyahu to offer Autonomy, not a state
7 May 2009 - Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Aharonoth, reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to inform the US president, Barack Obama, that his government would support the establishment of an autonomous Palestinian Authority, but will not accept a two-state solution. 

Mousa: “Netanyahu’s preconditions are unacceptable”
7 May 2009 - Arab League Secretary-General, Amro Mousa, stated that the statements of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his preconditions for “peace” are unacceptable, and that the Arabs will not accept a partial solution.  

Abbas to ask Fayyad to form a new transitional government
7 May 2009 - Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stated the he intends to ask Dr. Salaam Fayyad, to form a new transitional government. The President added that he does not believe that reassigning Fayyad would negatively affect internal Palestinian unity talks, especially Hamas-Fateh talks. 

Ha'aretz Defense page

UN chief slams Hezbollah for activities in Egypt
7 May 2009 - New United Nations report says Hezbollah engaging in clandestine activities beyond Lebanon. 

IDF soldier killed during West Bank raid
7 May 2009 - Army probing whether death near Ramallah was caused by 'friendly fire' incident or shooting by gunman. 

Nine Bedouin 'terror suspects' have charges reduced
7 May 2009 - Group earlier suspected of plotting attacks indicted of disorderly conduct, endangering lives on highway. 

Gaza militants fire mortar, anti-tank missile at IDF troops
7 May 2009 - No casualties; soldiers were operating south of Gaza; on Wed., IAF bombed Gaza tunnels after mortar salvo. 

IDF troops kill Palestinian near Hebron holy site
6 May 2009 - Soldiers say they opened fire when man refused to heed orders to halt; IDF soldier lightly hurt from shrapnel. 

Defense official: Israel has no territorial claims to Ghajar
6 May 2009 - Senior army officers meet to discuss UN proposal for Israeli withdrawal from divided Lebanon border village. 

IDF bombs three Gaza tunnels, after militants fire shells at Negev
6 May 2009 - Four people wounded in Gaza attack, none in Negev; strike comes despite Hamas declaration rocket fire has ceased. 

Israel pushing forward on plans to exit Lebanon border village
5 May 2009 - Senior army officers from Israel, Lebanon and the UN to meet in two weeks at border crossing. 

Ma'an News

Palestinian, Israeli NGOs condemn “donor complicity” in Israeli rights violations 
5/7/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - “By agreeing to reconstruction without specific, binding assurances from the State of Israel, international donors are effectively underwriting Israel’s illegal actions in the occupied Palestinian territory,” a report released Thursday by local rights groups said. The report continued, “International law – including, international human rights law, international humanitarian law (IHL), and the law of state responsibility for wrongful acts – places specific, binding obligations on the State of Israel (based, inter alia, on its duties as an Occupying Power) with respect to the maintenance and development of normal life in occupied territory. By repeatedly restricting their action to providing aid, without holding Israel accountable for its specific obligations, international donors are relieving Israel of its legally binding responsibilities. 

Farmers barred from lands in two Ramallah-area villages 
5/7/2009 - Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian farmers in two villages near the West Bank city of Ramallah have been barred from working on their land in order to make way for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements. According to senior officials in the Palestinian People’s Party, two farmers from the villages of Ras Karkar and Al-Janiya have been told by the Israeli military Coordination office that they are not allowed to work their land, which lies near the settlement outpost of Zen Ra’nan. The order was issued on the pretext of security for the settlers in the area. According to the officials, dozens of dunams of land are now under threat of being seized to make way for settlements. The PPP condemned the order which they said “will give the settlers freedom of movement to confiscate more lands expanding attacks on the trees and other plants in the area. 

Israeli navy seizes four Gaza fishermen, fires on boat 
5/7/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli warships surrounded and seized a fishing boat and four fishermen on the coast near Gaza City Thursday afternoon. Eyewitnessed said several boats obstructed the path of the shipping vessel, which was on its way out to sea when the naval ships opened fire on the boat. The boat belongs Abd Al-Mu’ti Al-Hbeil, who is believed to be one of those detained. The three others have not been identified. No injuries have been reported. [end] 

Israel prevents Palestinian official from travelling to South Africa 
5/7/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel blocked a top Palestinian official from travelling to South Africa on Thursday where he intended to join celebrations for the election of African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma’s election as president. Abdul Rahim Mallouh was turned back at the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge border crossing, which is the only means for Palestinians from the West bank to leave the country. Mallouh, a member of the executive committee of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), had been designated by President Mahmoud Abbas to represent Palestine at the celebration on Saturday. Israel has stopped Mallouh at the border in the past. The PFLP issued a statement condemning this. “This systematic policy will not stop the struggle of the Palestinians to gain their rights and will not harm relations between Palestine and South Africa. 

Zahhar: Hamas wants to reinstate PLC 
5/7/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas has demanded that it be allowed to keep its majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) by allowing lawmakers jailed by Israel to vote by proxy, senior leader Mahmoud Zahhar said. In an interview with an Egyptian magazine, Zahhar said that Fatah rejected this request, instead proposing a “safety net” though which Fatah could veto decisions made by the Hamas majority. Zahhar did not say whether Hamas accepted or rejected this counterproposal. He said that the PLC’s function was cancelled when Israel jailed 40 of its members, and further destroyed it by assassinating Hamas Interior Minister Sa’id Siyam in January. He also confirmed that the two rival factions had agreed at the last round of talks in Cairo on 27 and 28 April that they would not sign an accord until agreement had been reached on all issues. 

Abbas to anounce new government next week 
5/7/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Ma’an has learned that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will announce the formation of a new government headed by current caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad early next week. According to credible sources, the government will include ministers representing Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) factions. Several ministers in the current government will keep their posts. Abbas announced on Tuesday on a visit to Egypt that he would ask Fayyad to head the new government. Fayyad tendered his resignation in March in a move he hoped would pave way for a unity government including Fatah and its rival Hamas. Fatah and Hamas have engaged in three rounds of talks this year in hopes of forming unity government. Expectations are extremely low for another round set for later in May. Abbas first appointed Fayyad, a moderate economist favored by the West,. . . 

Hundreds of refugees stage sit-in at UNRWA offices; demand expanded services 
5/7/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Hundreds of Palestinian refugees gathered in the UNRWA centers at Gaza refugee camps across the Strip Thursday, demanding an improvement in their living situation following a war and two years of siege. The joint action was organized by the Palestine People’s Party (PPP), which printed banners demanding emergency aid be doubled and delivered to an expanded list of Gazans including the unemployed and those needing urgent medical attention. PPP Central Committee member Raed Abu Zaid spoke to crowds at the Dir Al- Balah center and called for Gazans to increase their pressure on the agency to help more. He also praised the efforts of UNRWA chief John Ging, but urged for more given the dire situation in the Gaza Strip. Following a one hour sit-in the protesters handed a list of their demands to Ging’s office. 

European 'Hope Convoy' bringing aid for the blind to Gaza 
5/7/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – A European anti-siege convoy bound for the Gaza Strip next week is bringing, among other supplies, 25 copies of special computer software to help the blind. According to the Secretary General of Palestine Charity Union in Austria, Hani Ibrahim, the Hope Convoy, which left Italy for the Egyptian port of Alexandria on Sunday, is also bring a variety of medical supplies. The software will be distributed to universities, colleges and rehabilitation centers in Gaza. Each copy costs 25,000 euro. The software translates files and text from the computer screen into spoken English and Arabic words, allowing blind and weak-sighted people to surf the internet, use email and other computer applications. Ibrahim says the program is “essential for such cases living under siege for the third year, and it enables them develop their education and offers them independence. 

Nakba commemorative events set 
5/7/2009 - Ramallah – Ma’an – The High National Committee for commemorating the 61st anniversary of the Nakba (the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948) met on Thursday in its office in the West Bank City of Ramallah. Representatives of ministries, political factions and committees from the refugee camps attended the meeting. The officials agreed on the necessity of efforts on all levels for a successful national program of commemorative events. On Thursday 14 May, there will be a central rally in Ramallah marking the Nakba. The committee affirmed this year’s actions will include all generations’ organizations. The group urged Palestinians to participate in media and cultural activities, rallies meetings, and seminars. The final program will be officially announced at press conference that that at the Ministry of Information in Ramallah on Sunday. 

Al-Qassam brigadesman killed during "special mission" in northern Gaza 
5/7/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - One fighter from Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades died Thursday during what leaders called a “special mission” in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. A statement from the group identified the man as 23-year-old Tala’at Ismail Al-Afefi, who reportedly died while carrying out a resistance attack from Gaza’s “playground of death. ”On Wednesday Israeli aircraft injured four in an airstrike on smuggling tunnels in the Rafah border area, at the southern end of the Strip. In their statement the brigades reaffirmed their “commitment and determination to continue the resistance against the belligerent occupation forces. ”

Israeli soldier killed by own fire near Ramallah as troops detain six Palesinians 
5/7/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - A gunshot to the head killed an Israeli officer in the West Bank during a nightly raid of Palestinian areas. Israeli media confirmed Thursday afternoon that the soldier was believed to have been injured by a shot from his own weapon. Israeli forces entered the West Bank in what they called a “Duchifat Reconnaissance Unit operational activity," or raid, and seized five Palestinians from their homes near Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus; when they entered Birzeit, a university town just north of Ramallah, the soldier was shot. According to early reports“the circumstances of the incident are being investigated,” and no Palestinian gunman was mentioned or suggested, hinting at an internal investigation into Israeli military operations. Six Palestinians detained - Israeli forces broke into the student resident buildings just off the Birzeit campus and took six students from their beds. 

Rafah woman injured by Israeli fire 
5/7/2009 - Gaza - Ma’an - A Gazan farmer woman was injured by Israeli fire south of Rafah on Thursday, and taken to Abu Yousef An-Najjar hospital in for treatment. The woman, identified as 35-year-old Randa Shaloufeh, was working her land near the Israeli-Gaza border when soldiers fired at her. Farmers are increasingly fearful of such attacks and many have let their land go to seed despite the Strip’s dire economic situation. [end] 

Gaza heats up; three militant groups launch attacks on Israeli targets 
5/7/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Israeli soldiers came under attack near the southern Israeli-Gaza border early Thursday, Israel Radio said. The troops were reportedly hit with a number of mortar shells and anti-tank projectiles, though no damages or injuries were reported. Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades, claimed to have launched five mortar shells at Israeli targets and sites in the western Negev Wednesday morning. A homemade projectile was sent over the border wall in the evening, though no militant group has claimed the launch. The projectile reportedly landed outside of Ashkelon and caused no injuries. Also Wednesday night the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said they fired mortar rounds at the Israeli military. Israeli attacks also increasingAlready in the first week of May there have been two airstrikes and two shooting incidents. 

Report: Settlement construction fastest since 2003 
5/7/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israel is expanding illegal West Bank settlements at the fastest rate since 2003, the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din said on Thursday. The group told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Israel set up a new settlement “outpost,” paved new roads, and has been “racing” to finish construction in and around the settlements over recent months. The construction has reportedly sped up since the new Israeli government, headed by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, took office in March, despite growing international calls for construction to stop. According to Haaretz’s report, accelerated construction is taking place throughout the West Bank, east and West of Israel’s separation wall. The reports attributes the increase in part to reduced vigilance in the late days of the government of Ehud Olmert. 

Israel: Gazans using fake medical papers to leave Strip and look for work 
5/7/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Intelligence forces marked an increase in fake medical papers and documents being submitted to Israeli border officials by Palestinians in Gaza. The permits allow the patients to enter Israel. The permits are issued by Israeli authorities, who claim most of the patients are “not sick,” and only want to enter the area to find work in Israel or the West Bank. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reports Gaza’s jobless rate at 40. 6% for 2008. With no construction materials permitted into Gaza there are no construction jobs. The Israeli report noted concern that Palestinian fighters would use the “fake papers” to carry out attacks. 

International pressure sees Netanyahu okay cash transfer into Gaza 
5/7/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israel will allow 12. 1 million US dollars in physical cash into Gaza next week, partially alleviating a shortage that has prevented payment of government salaries and allowances. The announcement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite his previously voiced opposition to such transfers, came one day after the EU announcement that it had managed to get a “limited amount” of cash into the Gaza Strip to pay long overdue social benefits to 24,000 of Gaza’s poorest families. The payments, due in March, were funded by the Italian government through the EU’s PEGASE program. They were unable to deliver their donation, however, because Israel has refused to let cash into the Strip. According to Netanyahu’s office the amount being transferred in “is the minimum required. ”The transfer will come a week after Palestinian Authority employees in the West Bank receive their paychecks. 

UN's Ban meets Israel's Peres over UN report on Israeli acts in Gaza 
5/7/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon met Israeli President Shimon Peres in New York Wednesday to discuss the United Nations Board of Inquiry report that probed incidents “affecting the world body's personnel, premises and operations during the recent conflict in Gaza. ”On Tuesday Ban sent his personal review of a UN report, separate from the Human Rights Council investigation mandated by the UN Human Rights Council currently underway, which investigated only Israel’s culpability in the destruction of UN property and resources during the war on Gaza. The report found that Israel intentionally fired at UN targets causing severe damage and death, A UN report investigating the destruction of UNRWA and UN properties and equipment during the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip. The UN report suggested court action against Israel for the willful destruction of UN property, but did not go as far as accusing the country of war crimes. 

Blair promotes peace process in Bethlehem 
5/7/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Quartet Envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair visited the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Thursday to promote his view that the peace process may be renewed soon. Blair reiterated remarks he made on Tuesday that the next few weeks will be critical as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak all meet with US President Barack Obama. After the three Washington meetings, Blair said on Tuesday, the Quartet (a grouping of the EU, UN, US and Russia that Blair represents) is likely to meet to agree on a new framework for peacemaking based on the two state solution. He also noted that the new Israeli government is still formulating its policy vis-à-vis the peace process. Blair was speaking after meeting Bethlehem Governor Salah Ta’mari and local security chief A’mran Abu Hadeed. 

Netanyahu to meet Mubarak in Egypt on Monday 
5/7/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel’s right wing new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Egypt on Monday in his first trip abroad in his current term as head of government. Netanyahu will hold talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm Ash-Sheikh. Observers say the trip signals the importance Israel places on its relations with Egypt, one of only two Arab states with which it has full relations. Egypt is also strategically critical since it is the broker in indirect negotiation between Israel and the Hamas-run government in Gaza. The visit also precedes by a week Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, where US President Barack Obama is expected to ask him to renew peace talks with the Palestinian Authority based on a two-state resolution to the Middle East impasse. 

Mash’al: Outside intervention threatens unity 
5/7/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Success of conciliation talks rests on three points, Hamas’ leader in exile Khalid Mash’al told videoconference participants in Gaza City on Thursday. The videoconference was organized by the Gazan center for Research, Study and Training (Ibda’a) and gave Mash’al a platform to explain his stance on conciliation to a group of citizens. The issue of the new transitional government, the security services and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are the central issued, Mash’al confirmed, but working out these issues will require some serious efforts to eliminating “external conditions,” he said. He suggested the remaining “dialogue issues” be dealt with as a package. Sides must realize that division came about when external factors staged a coup that undermined the elected government, he said. 

Hamas: Arabs should withdraw peace plan 
5/7/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas called on Thursday for Arab States to withdraw a 2002 peace initiative that offers Israel full diplomatic relations if it withdraws to its 1967 borders, arguing that Israel has responded to the offer only with more violence. Israel responded to the Arab Peace Initiative with “tanks and airplanes, beginning with invading the West Bank killing hundreds, expelling Palestinians from Jerusalem expanding settlement, and building the Wall, concluding with the latest massacre of the civilians and children of Gaza,” said Hamas Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum in a statement. These remarks came a day after the London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that moderate Arab states were drafting a revised version of the plan that would cancel the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in what is now Israel. 

The National

Fear for the missing as relations improve
6 May 2009 - Despite warming ties with Lebanon, Syria is still refusing to acknowledge hundreds of abductions during 29-year occupation.

Egypt seeks new chapter in Islamic unity
5 May 2009 - Cairo's new book aims to educate the country about Shiism but analysts believe its real aim is to counter Iran's growing regional influence.

Biden calls for end to Israeli settlements
5 May 2009 - US vice president confirms commitment to creating a Palestinian state ahead of Israeli PM's visit to Washington.

Aljazeera

Report on Bethlehem faults Israel
7 May 2009 - UN office says just 13 per cent of West Bank city's land is available for Palestinians. 

Peres condemns UN Gaza report
6 May 2009 - Israeli president blasts report on UN Gaza attacks as "outrageous".

Israel rejects nuclear pact call
6 May 2009 - The region's only reported atomic power refuses to sign non-proliferation treaty.

US: Israel must back two-state deal
5 May 2009 - Vice-president says settlement building must stop, but commits to support for Israel.

Israel says security vital to peace
5 May 2009 - Government wants peace but will not compromise security, PM tells US Israeli lobby.

Inter Press Service

MIDEAST: Palestinians Rebuild With Mud 
RAFAH, May 7 (IPS) - Jihad el-Shaar is pleased with his mud-brick house in the Moraj district of Gaza. The 80-square metre home is a basic one-storey, two-bedroom design, with a small kitchen, bathroom and sitting room, made mostly with mud and straw.

MIDEAST: Israel Hit by Doubts Over U.S. 
JERUSALEM, May 6 (IPS) - Almost a full fortnight before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is received at the White House, and already political nerves here are all a-jangle. Is a showdown with Israel's staunch ally about to materialise?

Q&A: 'We Eat Hatred Here' 
TEL AVIV, May 6 (IPS) - Beit Daniel is an Israeli pluralist religious organisation promoting coexistence between Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land. Executive director Rabbi Meir Azari speaks here to IPS about the war in Gaza, the importance of compromise, and the moral dilemmas of Israel.

POLITICS: U.N. Inquiry Critical of Israeli Attacks in Gaza 
UNITED NATIONS, May 5 (IPS) - A detailed 184-page report critical of Israeli attacks on U.N. personnel and buildings during the Gaza conflict last December-January has been meticulously stripped down to a 27-page document - mostly due to political sensitivities and on security grounds.

PCHR Latest

(07-05-2009) Attorney General’s Office informs Israeli Supreme Court that No Investigation will be Conducted into Suspected War Crimes Committed in Gaza in 2004; During Hearing Justices Make Political Comments Unrelated to the Petition
PCHR

Palestinian and Israeli Human Rights Organisations Release Joint Fact Sheet Calling for an End to International Donor Complicity in Israeli Violations of International Law
PCHR

PCHR Weekly Report

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 23 - 28 April 2009
PCHR - During the reporting period, 20 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, were wounded by IOF and Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

International Solidarity Movement

It takes a village
International Solidarity Movement - 7 May 2009 - Montreal's ties to illegal Israeli settlement - In April, Palestinian activist Bassam Ibrahim Abou Rahme was killed by Israeli military forces after being shot at close range by a teargas canister, becoming the 18th Palestinian to have been killed for protesting against the Israeli wall being built in Bil'in, a farming village. "Bassam was a leader from the Bil'in movement against Israeli apartheid. Everyone in the village loved Bassam, who regularly worked with Israeli activists," remembers Abdullah Abu Rahme, a Bil'in resident and activist. Local residents have held weekly demonstrations every Friday in attempts to alert the world to their cause. Rahme says Bil'in has been severely impacted by the construction of the security wall, which will annex around 50 per cent of village lands, mainly farm lands. 

Settlement expansion seeing biggest boost since 2003
International Solidarity Movement - 7 May 2009 - West Bank construction has been accelerating for several months, putting Israel on a collision course with a U. S. administration taking a hard line on settlement expansion. A new outpost, new roads, and other building projects have raced ahead in and around the settlements, often without legal permits, producing the biggest construction drive since 2003, according to Dror Etkes of the Israeli advocacy group Yesh Din. That group monitors construction in the West Bank. The construction, which has sped up even more since Benjamin Netanyahu's government took office this spring, is to be a main issues in U. S. President Barack Obama's meeting with Netanyahu at mid-month. Vice President Joe Biden called on Israel on Tuesday to stop building in the settlements and to dismantle existing illegal outposts. However, left-wing groups monitoring events in the territories say the construction has accelerated in recent months, not halted. 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Syria: No need to amend Arab peace initiative
6 May 2009 - Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Thursday there was no justification for amending a 2002 Saudi peace offer to Israel after reports earlier in the week that Arab states were revising the initiative. ...

Abbas to form new government without Hamas deputies
6 May 2009 - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to ask his prime minister within the coming week to form a new government without the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers, signaling a breakdown in unity talks with the Islamic militant group. ...

Egypt official 'reminds' Israel of its war crimes against Arabs
6 May 2009 - The Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament on Thursday "reminded" his counterpart in Jerusalem of "war crimes" Israel had committed against Arabs in response to a letter from him comparing Iran's president to Adolf Hitler. ...

Kibbutzniks block Gaza crossing to prevent transfer of cash
6 May 2009 - Kibbutz Movement activists on Thursday blocked the entrance to the Erez border crossing to prevent the transfer of cash to the Gaza Strip. ...

German paper: Berlin pressures firms to limit Iran trade
6 May 2009 - The German government is increasing pressure on companies to curb business with Iran and even tried to stop a business conference attended by the Islamic Republic's oil minister, Handelsblatt daily said on Thursday. ...

The Guardian

Netanyahu's three-step solution | Simon Tisdall
7 May 2009 - The US expects Israel to participate fully with its Middle East gameplan – but Bibi's counter-offensive is already taking shape Israel is under siege. More precisely, Binyamin Netanyahu's government faces excruciating pressure on all sides as...

Bethlehem is silently strangled | Seth Freedman
7 May 2009 - The Israeli military occupation of the town just outside the bubble that is West Jerusalem is a microcosm of life across the territories As reported in today's Guardian, the military chokehold on Bethlehem is depriving the...

The UN on Gaza: partial and partisan | Robbie Sabel
7 May 2009 - For Ban Ki-moon to disown the UN report on Gaza speaks volumes about the credibility of its claims of Israeli misconduct There is an asymmetry peculiar to the laws of armed conflict. Hamas knowingly and deliberately...

Steve Bell on pro-Israeli group's bid to halt policy shift
6 May 2009 - Aipac urges Congress members to sign letter to Barack Obama calling for Israel to set pace of negotiations with Palestinians

Ha'aretz National page

Petah Tikva man accused of raping woman while posing as rabbi
6 May 2009 - A Petah Tikva man was arrested early on Thursday on suspicion raping a woman who regularly came to his house to get his blessing, after he presented himself as an eminent rabbi. ...

Shari Arison, Mideast's wealthiest woman, to divorce husband
6 May 2009 - Bank Hapoalim owner Shari Arison announced Wednesday she will divorce her husband of six years, Ofer Glazer. The announcement comes amid a dispute between Hapoalim and the Bank of Israel, which is demanding the dismissal of Hapoalim chairman Danny Dankner. ... 

Police: IDF soldiers invented school to cheat army out of thousands
6 May 2009 - Hundreds of soldiers defrauded the Discharged Soldiers Department by pretending to be students of a fictitious educational establishment, cashing in their education benefits, police said Wednesday. ... 

Agriculture Ministry allowed sale of arsenic-tainted poultry 
6 May 2009 - From 2003 to 2006, a growth stimulant containing arsenic was fed to chickens and pigs raised in Israel, according to a report issued Wednesday by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss. This happened with the knowledge of the Agriculture Ministry, the report said. ... 

Israel confirms fifth case of swine flu
5 May 2009 - The Health Ministry announced on Wednesday that a woman quarantined at a Nahariya hospital has indeed contracted swine flu, bringing to five the total number of Israel who have so far been diagnosed with the disease. ...

Relief Web

OPT: PCHR Annual Report 2008
6 May 2009 - Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Ban sends report of UN probe into Gaza incidents to Security Council
6 May 2009 - Source: UN News Service

Israel gives Palestinians access to Hebron street 
6 May 2009 - Source: Agence France-Presse

Transcript of press conference by UN SG Ban Ki-moon at UN Headquarters, 5 May 2009
5 May 2009 - Source: UN Secretary-General

L'UNRWA reçoit 25 millions de dollars pour un projet au nord du Liban
5 May 2009 - Source: UN News Service

Israel rejects blame in UN report for Gaza deaths
5 May 2009 - Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur

OPT: Israel's cash limitations threaten Gaza banks
5 May 2009 - Source: Reuters

Palestinian unity, rebuilding of Gaza vital to maintain calm – UN envoy
5 May 2009 - Source: UN News Service

YNet News

UN chief alarmed at Hizbullah actions in Egypt 
7 May 2009 - Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen says Ban concerned over Shiite group's admission it provided support to Gaza terrorists from Egypt, reiterates call to disarm all Lebanese militias 

Deputy FM: No link between Iran, Palestinians
7 May 2009 - 'We must try to resolve the Palestinian issue as if the Iranian threat does not exist,' Ayalon tells Bar-Ilan University. Adds: Annapolis was a mistake 

UN says Israel gnawing at Bethlehem sovereignty 
7 May 2009 - Humanitarian agency report claims Israel limiting movement to east Jerusalem, says security barrier will cause long-term harm to 21,000 Palestinians

Netanyahu: Cancel budget cuts affecting the weak
7 May 2009 - PM instructs Treasury to omit State budget bill articles that would hurt Holocaust survivors, handicapped; earlier Histadrut chief Eini says will ask Labor chief Barak to quit coalition if problematic articles are not canceled

Palestinians scrap plan to host pope near barrier 
7 May 2009 - Committee organizing West Bank portion of Benedict XVI's visit moves stage from towering concrete section of security barrier to UN school 'after huge Israeli pressure'; Jerusalem says PA trying to politicize papal visit 

Palestinian president to form new government 
7 May 2009 - Aide to President Mahmoud Abbas says current power-sharing talks between Fatah, Hamas 'could last for years', says Abbas to ask his prime minister within coming week to form new government without Hamas. Meanwhile, next round of Egyptian-brokered talks to take place on May 16

B'tselem

3 policemen indicted for assaulting Palestinian in Tel Aviv
5 May 2009 - On 3 May '09, indictments were filed against three policemen, charging them with assaulting Tareq Abu Laban, in Tel Aviv, in June '08. According to Abu Laban, the three forced him into a police car and beat and abused him severely during a ride in it.

State Attorney's Office to Police: Forbidden to fire tear-gas canisters directly at demonstrators
3 May 2009 - The SAO's directive follows several warnings by B'Tselem to law-enforcement authorities in the West Bank about the life-threatening danger inherent in firing tear-gas canisters at people. A demonstrator in Bi’lin was recently killed when struck by a tear-

Daily Star

Obama envoys seek to repair Syria ties 
7 May 2009 - An Obama envoy in Syria to try to repair strained ties assured Damascus Thursday that the US was committed to pursuing a comprehensive Middle East peace that would include the Syria-Israel track. The visit to Syria by Jeffrey Feltman, the State Department's top Middle East envoy.

Abbas plans new government that will exclude Hamas 
7 May 2009 - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to ask his prime minister within the coming week to form a new government without the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers, signaling a breakdown in unity talks with the Islamic group. Months of power-sharing talks between Abbas' Fatah movement and Hamas have gone nowhere.

Blair: Palestinian-Israeli peace talks must address core issues 
7 May 2009 - Renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians must tackle core issues including Jerusalem, Middle East envoy Tony Blair said, raising the specter of a clash with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Unless you're dealing with the core issues, then the negotiation, I don't know what it's about," Blair.

'Time is not in Israel's favor,' Livni warns 
7 May 2009 - Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni addressed the Council of Foreign Relations in New York City on Tuesday, outlining her support for a tough approach toward Iran. She also stressed the importance of the peace process with the Palestinians and cooperating with "moderate" Arab forces.

Palestinian Information Center

Hamdan calls for withdrawing the Arab initiative
7 May 2009 - Osama Hamdan, the representative of the Hamas Movement in Lebanon, has asked the Arab countries to drop the Arab peace initiative rather than drop the Palestinian refugees' right of return.

Awad castigates Ban Ki-moon for blocking further probe of Israeli war crimes
7 May 2009 - Mohammed Awad, the secretary general of the Palestinian cabinet, has denounced the UN Secretary General for neglecting the international report that condemned Israeli war crimes in Gaza Strip.

Disabled Palestinians stage sit-in at the Rafah border crossing
7 May 2009 - The government committee against siege has called for the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt and to allow entry of electric wheelchairs and other medical equipment to the disabled.

Mousa: Netanyahu's peace conditions unacceptable
7 May 2009 - Amr Mousa, the Arab League Secretary General, has lashed out at Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu's conditions for peace during an AIPAC speech, describing them as "unacceptable".

Bahar: British gov't decision against MP hostile to Palestinian people
7 May 2009 - The acting speaker of the Palestinian legislative council has described the British government's decision to ban entry of Hamas MP Dr. Younis Al-Astal into its territory as "hostile".

Hamas denies deployment of elements to halt firing of missiles
7 May 2009 - Hamas Movement on Wednesday refuted press reports that it deployed elements along the Gaza Strip borders to block the firing of locally made missiles at Israeli settlements adjacent to the Strip.

IOF soldiers kill Palestinian near Ibrahimi Mosque
7 May 2009 - Israeli occupation forces shot and killed a Palestinian young man near the entrance to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil city on Wednesday evening, local sources said.

Four citizens wounded in Israeli air raid
7 May 2009 - Four Palestinian citizens were wounded Wednesday evening when Israeli warplanes launched two air raids on the Palestinian-Egyptian borders south of the Gaza Strip at the pretext of targeting tunnels.

Change and reform bloc asks Britain to stop contra-democratic practices
7 May 2009 - The change and reform parliamentary bloc has expressed dismay at the British decision to ban entry of Palestinian MP Dr. Younis Al-Astal to the United Kingdom.

Awkaf minister warns of unprecedented IOA scheme against Jerusalem, Aqsa
7 May 2009 - Dr. Taleb Abu Shaar, the minister of Awkaf and religious affairs in Gaza, has warned of a new IOA scheme aimed at building 13,000 new housing units in occupied east Jerusalem.

Los Angeles Times

World briefing 
7 May 2009 - Egypt: Inspectors find traces of enriched uranium / Myanmar: American caught after Suu Kyi visit / Zimbabwe: 15 activists freed on bail / Iran: Roxana Saberi ends hunger strike EGYPT 

New York Times

Addressing U.S., Hamas Says It Grounded Rockets
4 May 2009 - Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas, said the militant group was seeking a state only in the areas Israel won in 1967. 

World Briefing | Middle East: Egypt: Uranium Traces Are Studied
6 May 2009 - The International Atomic Energy Agency is investigating traces of highly enriched uranium it found at a nuclear research site in Egypt, according to a report by the group, obtained by Reuters. 

World Briefing | Middle East: Gaza Militants and Israel Exchange Fire
6 May 2009 - Militants in Gaza fired mortar shells into a field in southern Israel, and Israel retaliated with airstrikes on three smuggling tunnels along Gaza’s border with Egypt, the Israeli military said. 


Articles


Palestinians Rebuild With Mud 
Eva Bartlett, Inter Press Service 5/7/2009
      RAFAH, May 7 (IPS) - Jihad el-Shaar is pleased with his mud-brick house in the Moraj district of Gaza. The 80-square metre home is a basic one-storey, two-bedroom design, with a small kitchen, bathroom and sitting room, made mostly with mud and straw. 
     "My wife and our four daughters and I were living with family, but it was overcrowded, impossible. We knew we had to build a home of our own," Shaar said. "We waited over two years for cement but because of the siege there is none available. What could we do, wait forever?" 
     So he decided to do it with mud. 
     Building earthen structures like bread ovens and small animal pens is a technique many Palestinians are familiar with, but extending the method to houses isn’t a notion that has taken hold in Gaza.
     Jihad el-Shaar got the idea from his travels in Asia and the Middle East. "I travelled in Bangladesh, India, Yemen, Turkey...they all use some similar technique of building houses from earth. All you need is clay, sand and some straw." These he mixed with water, and poured into brick moulds that were left in the sun to dry for three days. Good enough to build a fine house with.
     While some Gaza residents speak of shame at the way life has ’gone backwards’ with the siege - using cooking oil in cars, wood fires for cooking, and horse and donkey carts for transportation - Shaar is proud of his clay home.

Minion of the Long War 
C. G. Estabrook, CounterPunch 5/6/2009
      “When we convince the American people that it will be a long war.” -- Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, after the 9/11/2001 attacks, answering a reporter’s question, “How will we know when we’ve won the war on terror?”
     A generation ago, when the Reagan administration came into office, they announced that their foreign policy would be "a war on terror." They rejected with scorn the Carter administration’s assertion that the theme of American foreign policy should be the promotion of human rights (a pious hope at best under Carter, who supported US client dictators in Iran, Indonesia, Nicaragua, and elsewhere).
     Seven presidential terms later, the Obama administration – with its great attention to how something is said – was perfectly willing to continue its predecessors’ policies in this regard, but they knew that the name had to be changed. After the attacks of 9/11/2001, the Bush administration had seized that old Reagan trope and proclaimed a new "War on Terror." Donald Rumsfeld – an apparatchik of the Reagan administration, including “Special Envoy to the Middle East,” while CEO to some of the most disgusting big business enterprises in the country – then Bush’s defense secretary, pointed out that the real object of the talk of a “war on terror” was the American people. He was admitting that a rationale had to be found for a long war that the American elite was determined to continue, but that the American populace opposed. The 9/11 attacks were a wonderful excuse. “Terrorism” could take the place of “Communism,” as the bete noire that would justify America’s imperialist actions around the world, particularly in the Middle East.
     Barack Obama understands perfectly well that prosecuting the war was the primary task of the role that he so avidly sought through the long presidential audition. At his "100 Days" press conference on April 29, he turned aside a question on the federal government’s responsibility for the economy by saying, "I don’t want to run auto companies. I don’t want to run banks. I’ve got two wars I’ve got to run already."


Electronic Intifada
UN chief defends "watered down" Gaza report
7 May 2009 - UNITED NATIONS (IPS) - A detailed 184-page report critical of Israeli attacks on UN personnel and buildings during the Gaza conflict last December-January has been meticulously stripped down to a 27-page document -- mostly due to political sensitivities and on security grounds. Responding to charges he had released only a "watered down" version of the report by a four-member UN Board of Inquiry (BoI), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon vehemently denied the accusation. 

Rights orgs: Donor aid shouldn't underwrite Israeli crimes
7 May 2009 - On 2 March 2009, major international donors convened in Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt to collectively respond to the destruction caused by Israel's 23 day military offensive on the Gaza Strip. During the conference, a total of $4.5 billion was pledged in reconstruction funds for Gaza. In light of the extensive destruction across the Gaza Strip, especially the destruction of civilian homes and infrastructure, reconstruction is urgent. 

Villages call on Norway to divest from Africa-Israel
7 May 2009 - The West Bank Palestinian villages of Bilin and Jayyous and 11 national and international networks from Europe, Palestine, Israel and the US have sent letters calling on Norway to comply with its ethical guidelines and divest from its pension fund holdings in the company Africa-Israel, owned by the controversial diamond magnate Lev Leviev. 

"Life is blind now" 
6 May 2009 - Mahmoud Mattar spent his 15th birthday in February this year, lying in the intensive care unit of Egypt's Sheikh Zayid hospital. He is one of the 1,606 children who were injured during Israel's military offensive on Gaza, some of who sustained horrific disabilities, head and spinal injuries, facial disfigurement, burns and amputation. 

In Gaza
Denied Cement, Re-Building with Mud
7 May 2009 - RAFAH, May 7 (IPS) - Jihad el-Shaar is pleased with his mud-brick house in the Moraj district of Gaza. The 80-square metre home is a basic one-storey, two-bedroom design, with a small kitchen, bathroom and sitting room, made mostly with mud and straw. “My wife and our four daughters and I were living with family, but it was overcrowded, impossible. We knew we had to build a home of our own,” Shaar said. “We waited over two years for cement but because of the siege there is none available. What could we do, wait forever?” So he decided to do it with mud. Building earthen structures like bread ovens and...

Palestine Chronicle
Israeli Activist to Be Jailed for Caring
6 May 2009 - By Neve Gordon - Israel Ezra Nawi was ridiculed and arrested for trying to protect people's homes. Only international attention can help him now Without international intervention, Israeli human rights activist Ezra Nawi will most likely be sent to jail. Nawi is not a typical rights activist. A member of Ta'ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership he is a Jewish Israeli of Iraqi descent who speaks fluent Arabic. He is a gay man in his fifties and a plumber by trade. Perhaps because he himself comes from the margins, he empathizes with others who have been marginalized – often violently. His "crime" was trying to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins from Um El Hir in the South Hebron region. These Palestinians have been under Israeli occupation for almost 42 years; they still live without electricity, running water and other basic services and are continuously harassed by Jewish settlers and the military – two groups that have united to expropriate Palestinian land and that clearly have received the government's blessing to do so. As chance would have it, the demolition and the resistance to it were captured on film and broadcast on Israel's Channel 1. The three-minute film – a must see – shows Nawi, the man dressed in a green jacket, not only courageously protesting against the demolition but, after the bulldozer destroys the buildings, also telling the border policemen what he thinks of their actions. Sitting handcuffed in a military vehicle following his arrest, he exclaims:...

Israel's Human Rights Abuses out in Open
6 May 2009 - By George S. Hishmeh The revelation that harsh interrogation methods, including torture, were used against detainees during the US-led war in Iraq by the George W. Bush administration, continues to reverberate here and overseas. The actions, sanctioned in legal memorandums, were recently released by US President Barack Obama. The repercussions of Obama's actions, however, are being felt by key US government officials, especially those within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as well as within several other countries including Great Britain and Israel. Tel Aviv's American supporters were quick to justify its anti-Palestinian harsh interrogation techniques not much different from the abuse meted out at the Abu Ghraib prison camp in Iraq. On the other hand, Hamas has been reprimanded by Human Rights Watch for its attacks on its opponents, some of whom have been physically eliminated. Although Israel's Supreme Court has prohibited torture, an editorial in Forward, an American Jewish daily, found that the 1999 decision had some "disturbing loopholes". Even the executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Hagai Al Ad, wrote in an April 26 Huffington Post article, titled Torture: The Truly Painful Lessons from Israel, that the Israeli court actually "never said 'never' to torture". J.J. Goldberg noted in a Forward article that the ongoing torture debate "is just a first step on a long road as America exorcises the bullying, blustering, unilateralist legacy of the Bush years" and, in turn, "Israel has allowed itself to become closely identified in the popular mind with...

The Two-State Solution: the Pacifier Slogan
6 May 2009 - By Hasan Afif El-Hasan The 'two-state solution' phrase was first coined in the 1947 UN General Assembly Resolution 181 to create two independent states in historical Palestine. Israel has been created and recognized within undefined borders and the phrase today implies whether and how to create the second state. The “two-state” solution has different meanings for the different parties involved in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. For the Palestinians, it means a sovereign state in all the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and the refugees right of return to their homes in Israel proper; for the Israelis, it means a slightly different version of the status quo in the occupied lands, a self-rule over disconnected enclaves or “Bantustans” that have the façade of a state with a president, ministers, legislative council, Judiciary, ambassadors and security forces that control the population and guarantee Israel’s security, but no control over Jerusalem, the borders, water resources, shore and airspace. The recognized state of Israel on 78 percent of Palestine has not fulfilled the ambitions of the Zionists who have been striving to have all of Palestine. The Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper wrote on November 28, 2007 that Israel plans to create a Palestinian state that consists of “tiny Bantustan on four or five cantons, all encircled by Israeli settlements. Israeli control of the entire land, whether for religious, national or security reasons, is a given”. And for the US, the “two-state” solution has been used mainly as a public relations slogan to manage...

Farewell to Gaza's Courageous Priest
6 May 2009 - By Stuart Littlewood – London I hear that Fr Manuel Musallam, the Catholic priest in Gaza, has finally retired at 71. His is a hard act to follow. Many of us feared that ill health had forced him to hang up his cassock last year, but he returned to the fray to be with his community during their darkest hour when Israel, with a nod from America and the EU, unleashed its blitzkrieg intended to finally crush the isolated and half-starved Gazans. This is simply the continuation of a hateful religious war by Zionist fanatics to oust Muslims and Christians from the Holy Land. And they are happy to vaporize and maim Palestinian women and children to gain exclusive control. But who cares? Certainly not those in high places in Washington and London whose strings are pulled by the Israel Lobby, a despicable breed who hold life, law and human rights so cheap that they have permitted - no, encouraged and equipped - racists and land thieves to bomb, dispossess and ethnically cleanse Palestinian civilians for 61 years… with impunity. The trouble is, the Palestinians don’t take it lying down. I was privileged to meet the crusty old churchman in 2007, when things in Gaza were already unbearable after 18 months of blockade and savage sanctions. For nine years Fr Manuel had been unable to leave the Strip to see his family for fear that the Israelis would block his return and leave his church and school without a priest....

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