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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
13 May , 2009

News

International Middle East Media Center

PLC holds session in its shelled Gaza headquarters
14 May 2009 - The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Gaza held a session on Wednesday on the rubble of its headquarters, while PLC members said that any government formed by Abbas in the West Bank would be illegitimate if not approved by the PLC. 

Israeli soldier confesses to looting home during Gaza offensive
14 May 2009 - Israeli sources reported Wednesday that a soldier confessed on Tuesday to looting a home in the northern part of the Gaza Strip during the latest Israeli offensive. 

Special: Photo collection Pope's Visit to Bethlehem
13 May 2009 - all Photos by IMEMC's Ghassan Bannoura 

Pope in Bethlehem calls for peace, promotes the two-state solution
13 May 2009 - In a press conference held at the Bethlehem City Hall Wednesday at noon, spokesman of the Vatican Rev. Federico Lombardi said that the Pope calls for peace in the middle east and for the Palestinians and Israelis to live side-by-side in two sovereign states. 

Bodyguard of Lieberman arrested on suspicions he discharged his weapon during a fight
13 May 2009 - Israeli Yedioth Aharonoth reported Wednesday morning that the Arab bodyguard of Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was arrested on suspicion that he discharged his weapon during a fight that broke out in Rahat, in the Negev last weekend. 

Israel issues more orders to demolish Palestinian apartments in East Jerusalem
13 May 2009 - While the Pope is visiting the Holy Land, and started his visit to Bethlehem on Wednesday with a call for peace and reconciliation, Israeli occupation authorities continued their violations against the Palestinians and issued more orders to demolish Palestinian apartments in East Jerusalem. 

Army probe determines soldier killed by commander’s rifle
13 May 2009 - An Israeli army instigation into the death of an Israeli soldier during an invasion into a Ramallah town revealed that the soldier died by a bullet discharged from the deputy commander of the brigade. 

Ministers of Netanyahu’s government participate in illegal takeover of evacuated settlement
13 May 2009 - Fundamental extremist ministers of the Netanyahu coalition government participated ad supported on Tuesday at night in the takeover of a northern West Bank settlement evacuated four years ago under the disengagement plan. 

Rafah terminal to open Saturday and Sunday for certain categories
13 May 2009 - The Crossing Department at the dissolved government in Gaza reported Tuesday that the Rafah border terminal would be opened on Saturday and Sunday for certain categories and based on lists provided by the Interior Ministry.  

Maan: “Fateh parliamentarian bloc decides to ask Abbas to replace Fayyad as PM”
13 May 2009 - The Maan News Agency reported that Fateh parliamentarian bloc held a meeting in Ramallah and decided to ask President Mahmoud Abbas to replace Dr. Salaam Fayyad as the Prime Minister of the new government which the president intends to declare. 

Haniyya: “Forming new government in Ramallah, obstructs unity talks”
13 May 2009 - Ismail Haniyya of Hamas, Prime Minister of the dissolved government in Gaza, stated that forming a new government in Ramallah places obstacles in front of unity talks being held in Cairo. He described forming this government as a dangerous escalation. 

Israeli Police arrests Haaretz reporter for entering Gaza
13 May 2009 - The Israeli Police detained on Tuesday Haaretz correspondent, Amir Hass, directly after she exited the Gaza Strip. Hass lived and reported from Gaza for several months and was detained by the police upon exiting the Gaza Strip. 

Ha'aretz Defense page

Elite IDF soldier confesses to looting Gaza home during war
13 May 2009 - Infantryman stole Gazan's credit card, later withdrew NIS 1,600: IDF: We probe all suspected wrongdoings. 

Court to state: Explain failure to evacuate 6 West Bank outposts
13 May 2009 - High Court gives state 90 days to explain why outposts slated for evacutaion in 2004 still standing. 

Report: Lebanon charges six in widening Israel spy probe
13 May 2009 - Reuters quotes Lebanon sources as saying total of 12 Lebanese now charged with spying for Israel. 

'Israel delays plan to quit Lebanon border town'
13 May 2009 - Source: Government wants talks to wait until after Lebanon's June election, fears Hezbollah will seize control. 

Hezbollah deputy chief: We actively support Hamas
13 May 2009 - Sheikh Naim Qassem to U.K. Financial Times: We give every type of support to Palestinian resistance. 

IDF reinstates officer booted for refusing Gaza pullout order
12 May 2009 - Capt. Moshe Botavia, highest-ranking officer to disobey disengagement orders, to serve as reservist. 

IDF probe: Soldier killed by commanding officer's gun
12 May 2009 - Initially, army thought Richter-Levi died from own errant bullet; suspected officer discharged from IDF. 

UN: Israel gives Lebanon cluster bomb data from 2006 war
12 May 2009 - Delivery of technical strike data and related maps follows UN and Lebanese pressure for information. 

Ma'an News

ICRC: fragments of Gaza border wall used to patch up water treatment plant 
5/13/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Following the lead of Gazans and a new de facto government home building program the ICRC will repair and upgrade the water treatment center in Rafah with recycled cement from Gaza-war rubble and fragments of the Israeli border wall. "It should not be this difficult to work on vital projects in Gaza," said Pierre Wettach, the ICRC's head of delegation for Israel and Palestine in a statement on the launch of the refurbishment and upgrade program. The only way to fix up the Rafah plant is to recycle existing materials, said ICRC staff. According to a news release the repairs will use components manufactured within the Strip and underground water pipes for the reconstruction. “The shortage of cement has been overcome by salvaging concrete segments of the old Rafah border wall that lay abandoned after its partial demolition in January 2008,” the statement said. 

East Jerusalem community in West Bank demands UNRWA services after wall severs access 
5/13/2009 - Jerusalem – Ma’an – The Popular Committee for Abu Dis and surrounding area organized a sit-in in protest of an UNRWA decision to close their local branch in the nearby Al-Eizariya. Far from closing the office protesters, from three neighboring towns and including the Bedouin of the Al-Jahallin, are demanding UNRWA maintain their current office and open a medical center providing public health, pediatrician, and gynecological services to residents to residents more than four days a month. Protesters are also demanding a school be opened. Head ofthe Popular Committee Issa Abu Hammad said“ thelife situation of the refugees of the area is difficult. ” Services in the area have been scarce since the construction of the separation wall which cut off 12,000 refugees from the service of Jerusalem. Following the construction services have not been duplicated for the isolated population. 

Pope condemns Israel’s West Bank wall, addresses right of return 
5/13/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Pope Benedict XVI did not shy away from comment on the Right of Return and Israel’s illegal separation wall as he spoke beneath the barrier’s shadow in Bethlehem’s Aida Refugee Camp at the culmination of a daylong visit on Wednesday. “Towering over us as we gather here this afternoon is a stark reminder of the stalemate of relations between Israelis and Palestinians seem to have reached – the wall,” the pontiff told the 300 locals, officials, clerics and journalists crammed into a concrete UN schoolyard in the camp. Israel’s 850 km-long concrete wall snakes through the interior of the West Bank, cutting into Bethlehem’s city center and partially encircling Aida Camp. The barrier was ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Israel says its purpose is to prevent Palestinian attacks. 

Israel constructs barbed-wire fence on border wtih Egypt 
5/13/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Israeli army began buidling a border fence on its southern border with Egypt in what it calls an attempt to halt infiltrators and smugglers from gaining access to Israel, sources said Wednesday. A 40 kilometer barbed wire fence is being built from the Kerem Shalom border crossing in Gaza to the town of Nitzana, where an unused border crossing facility remains between Egypt and Israel. The fence covers only a fraction of the over 200-kilometer-long border between the two countries. According to Israel the area between Nitzana and Gaza is heavily used by infiltrators and drug smugglers. Along with the border fence Israel’s Southern Command will increase military presence along the 40km strip. Other source noted Israel is intensifying military presence near the Strip out of fear Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters, and even Hizbullah, will intensify their efforts to cross into the Sinai. 

Fatah demands Abbas pick new PM for government; Fayyad postpones issue 
5/13/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who was mandated by President Mahmoud Abbas to form a replacement caretaker government for the West Bank has decided to postpone the swearing in of his cabinet. Fayyad cited reasons for the delay on Wednesday as the current visit of the Pope to Bethlehem and Abbas’ preoccupation with his planned trip to Syria Thursday. Sources said plans for a replacement government would only be postponed until Sunday. The sources close to Fayyad made no mention of a demand from Abbas' own party, Fatah, to replace the prime minister. Fatah rejects Fayyad - The Fatah parliamentarian bloc had earlier stymied Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ efforts to form a new government after a late night meeting saw the bloc request a stay until the conclusion of the next round of unity talks in Cairo and a leader other than Salam Fayyad. 

Hamas lawmakers denounce Abbas' proposed new cabinet 
5/13/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – The Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform Bloc of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) held a special session on Wednesday on the ruins of the parliament building in Gaza that was destroyed by Israel in January. Deputy PLC Speaker Ahmad Bahar and de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh attended the meeting, in which the lawmakers denounced plan to form a new government, reappointing Salam Fayyad as the caretaker prime minister based in Ramallah. In a speech to the lawmakers, Ahmad Bahar said that the PLC supports a continued process of dialogue to restore Palestinian political unity. “This government is illegitimate and unconstitutional,” he said. The PLC members heard a legal report on the status of Abbas’ proposed new caretaker government, which will replace a previous unelected government, which in turn replaced the Hamas-Fatah unity government of 2007. 

Islamic Jihad: Fighters clash with Israeli force in southern Strip 
5/13/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – The Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing, claimed to have throwing two explosive devices at an Israeli special force invading the Gaza Strip and clashing with the troops east of Khuza’a in the Khan Younis district Wednesday morning. The group said in a statement that all fighters were unharmed. [end] 

Israel partially opens three Gaza crossings for fuel and aid 
5/13/2009 - Gaza- Ma’an – Israel opened the Kerem Shalom, Karni Nahal Oz crossing points with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday for the transfer of commercial and humanitarian goods as well as fuel and cooking oil. According to Palestinian border official Raed Fattouh, 115 trucks of commercial and humanitarian goods entered Gaza through Kerem Shalom and limited amounts of cooking gas and diesel fuel were transferred into the Strip through the Nahal Oz crossing. Limited amounts of wheat and animal feed were allowed into Gaza via the conveyer belts at the Karni crossing. [end] 

Israel: Netanyahu to promise Obama a lift on foodstuffs siege for Gazans 
5/13/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely promise US President Barack Obama his administration will partially end the blockade of Gaza and allow foodstuffs into the area without restrictions. As of Wednesday the Israeli crossing authorities were only partially opening crossings occasionally for delivery of limited food and animal fodder and the occasional truck of commercial goods. Netanyahu is set to meet with Obama on Monday 18 May, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet the US leader ten days later on 28 May. According to Israeli sources, the Olmert administration decided to allow unrestricted foodstuffs into the Strip several days before the government stepped down. “The move came despite serious differences between the position of the Foreign and Defense ministries, and a series of embarrassing confrontations between Israel, on the one hand, and the US. . . . 

PA Health Ministry coordinates wtih UN, Israel in effort to re-stock Gaza medical warehouses 
5/13/2009 - Nablus - Ma’an - The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health began loading trucks with medicine, medical equipment and solutions destined for the Gaza Strip after health officials successfully coordinated with Israeli authorities. The head of public relations and media Dr Omar An-Nasr said the first trucks should reach Gaza Wednesday afternoon. Supplies from all government hospitals in the West Bank will be passed on to troubled Gaza Hospitals. Ministry officials said a total of 13 trucks containing 180 packages will be delivered. Minister of Health Dr Fathi Abu Moghli thanked UNRWA coordinator Maxwell Gerard and Rana Zaquet the coordinator in the UN office of humanitarian affairs for providing the trucks assisting in the coordination process ensuring medical supplies for Gaza. The PA Ministry hopes to distribute a total of 5,000 tons of medicines and equipment to Gaza in an effort to re-stock the Gaza medical warehouses. 

Abbas hosts pope at presidential palace for closed-door meeting 
5/13/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to his Bethlehem residence early on Wednesday evening, shortly after the pontiff left a local refugee camp. Following about an hour-long, closed-door meeting, Abbas addressed the pope, saying that his visit "will remain a historical and eternal one. " He also said that Palestinians "will reminisce [the papal visit] with all love and appreciation and with hopes for a tomorrow with no occupation, no walls and no checkpoints. " "All Palestinians, Christians and Muslims alike, were happy for this historical visit which included our cherished Jerusalem; place of the Church of the [Holy] Sepulcher and the Aqsa Mosque. ""Your Holiness," Abbas added, "We need your support for our just rights; we need your prayers for peace to prevail. 

Hamas: PA security seize 13 supporters from across West Bank 
5/13/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority police seized 13 supporters from the West Bank in advance of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Bethlehem, a statement from Hamas said on Wednesday. Those detained were identified as: From Ramallah: Birzeit University students Ibrahim Fattash and Issa ‘Aasi as well as 19-year-old Mu’tasim Abu Saleim from Rantis village. From Tulkarem: Salih Zeitawi, Muhammad Al-Hamshari, and Islambuli Budeir. Twenty-two-year-old Jihad Aasi and Eyhab Az-Zaqla. In Hebron: Dirar Abu Munshar [end] 

Car of PA military officer involved in sentencing Hamas man set ablaze near Nablus 
5/13/2009 - Nablus – Ma’an – Unknown assailants set fire to the car of Palestinian Military General Rami Taqatqa, where it was parked near his home east of the Askar Refugee Camp south of Nablus Wednesday. The car was completely destroyed, though no injuries have been reported. Taqatqa headed a military court hearing on Monday wherein 33-year-old Hamas-affiliate Mohammad Suleiman Qatatanani was sentenced to one and a half years in prison for owning weapons and planning to carry out a coup in the West Bank. [end] 

PCBS: Palestinian and Jewish populations to be equal by 2016 
5/13/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Palestine Bureau of Statistics released a report on the 61st anniversary of the Nakba, or Catastrophe, on the status of the Palestinian population following their explusion from the Homeland in 1948. The report found that the worldwide population of Palestinians has increased by a factor of seven since 1948, from 1. 4 million to 10. 6 million. Of those 10. 6 million the total number of Palestinians living in historic Palestine (between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Israel and the Gaza Strip) reached 5. 1 million by the end of 2008, the report said. The total Jewish population across the same area is 5. 6million. According to PCBS the Palestinian and Jewish populations in historic Palestine will be equal by 2016. To view the full report Click here. 

Gaza Fuel Station Owners: Slight improvement in cooking fuel into Strip 
5/13/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Israel has eased its restrictions on cooking gas allowed into the Gaza Strip but maintains a stranglehold on the entry of fuel, said representative of the Gas Station Owners Society in Gaza Mohammad Al-Khazendar. According to Al-Khazendar about 200-250 tons of cooking gas are being delivered into the Strip daily, but supplies move directly to the consumer and warehouses remain empty. “If the politics change and the situation deteriorates, we will face the same crisis,” he said. [end] 

The National

Benedict backs Palestinian state
13 May 2009 - The Pope gives support for a sovereign Palestinian homeland as he makes his first official visit to the occupied West Bank.

Pope in historic visit to al Aqsa
12 May 2009 - Massive security operation in the city sees whole neighbourhoods of Jerusalem cordoned off to traffic.

Contest to win Obama's ear
12 May 2009 - On his first trip to Egypt since his re-election as Israel's prime minister in March, Benjamin Netanyahu said his new, far right government was committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.

Pope visits Jerusalem's holy sites
12 May 2009 - Pope Benedict visits holy sites in Jerusalem at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Pope talks of justice in Jerusalem
11 May 2009 - Benedict urged peace and security through justice for everyone in the region. 

Egypt to launch new television channel
11 May 2009 - But critics say project will be just another government mouthpiece and a lack of media freedom is the most important issue.

Pope arrives in Israel
11 May 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI appeals for Middle East peace as he arrives in Israel on the latest leg of his pilgrimage to the region.

Aljazeera

Pope calls for Palestinian homeland
13 May 2009 - Pope uses Bethlehem visit to repeat his call for a Palestinian homeland.

Netanyahu 'wants new peace talks'
11 May 2009 - Israeli PM says he is open to negotiations, but refuses to commit to Palestinian state.

Abbas plans new Palestinian cabinet
11 May 2009 - Palestinian leader says move does not close door to power-sharing talks with Hamas.


Inter Press Service

POLITICS-US: Back to Military Commissions? 
NEW YORK, May 13 (IPS) - Human rights advocates and legal scholars fear that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama may resurrect the military commissions designed by his predecessor to try Guantanamo detainees after Obama’s 120-day moratorium on proceedings expires on May 20.

MIDEAST: Families Down to a Meal a Day 
GAZA CITY, May 13 (IPS) - Um Abdullah cannot remember the last time she was able to feed meat to her eight children. She does know that for the past week the single meal she cooked for them each day consisted only of lentils. And that on one day, she...

MIDEAST: Who Does Not Target the Media 
RAMALLAH, May 13 (IPS) - Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continue to be arrested and harassed by the respective security forces of the divided Palestinian leadership. And from Israel, a belated freedom has come to cover Gaza, but amidst other concerns.

KUWAIT: Election Promotes Democracy Amid Instability* 
DUBAI, May 12 (IPS) - As Kuwaitis prepare to vote for a new parliament on May 16, trends suggest that while elections serve as a reminder of the Gulf country’s democratic traditions, the exercise is unlikely to end the political chaos that it was meant to quell.

Stop The Wall

Protests for the Ma’sara prisoners
9 May 2009 - Nearly 20 people were injured in protests against the Wall this Friday, several of which were held in solidarity for the five activists who were arrested in al-Ma’sara last week. In addition to a large demonstration in the Bethlehem area, the demonstrations in Ni’lin and Bil’in also called for their release. The people of Bi’lin themed the weekly action around “Occupation Flu”, and a demonstration was also held in Jayyus. [

Checkpoint assaults in Jenin, Qalqilya
8 May 2009 - In separate incidents last week, soldiers in isolated ghettos in Jenin and Qalqilya assaulted Palestinians passing through checkpoints. These attacks reflect a wide-spread practice of harassment, itself part of a broader strategy aimed at furthering silent transfer and cleansing particular areas of their Palestinian populations. [

PCHR Latest

PCHR Condemns Arrests of Supporters of Islamic Movements in the West Bank
PCHR

Now Available: English Translation of Spanish National Court Judgment to Continue Investigating Suspected Israeli War Criminals  
PCHR

PCHR Weekly Report

(29 Apr. - 06 May  2008)
During the reporting period, three Palestinians were killed and 13 others, including four children and a woman, were wounded in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

International Solidarity Movement

State Attorney's Office to police: forbidden to fire tear-gas canisters directly at demonstrators
International Solidarity Movement - 4 May 2009 - According to media reports, the State Attorney's Office has ordered the Police to review its guidelines for dispersing demonstrators. The order comes in the wake of the death of Bassem Abu Rahma, a Palestinian who was demonstrating in Bi'lin, and of injuries suffered by a number of other demonstrators recently. welcomes the State Attorney's Office's directive, which follows requests byto stop firing tear-gas canisters directly at persons. The real test, however, is whether the directive is implemented in the field. calls on the State Attorney's Office to investigate incidents of tear-gas canisters fired at people and to prosecute the police officers and soldiers who were responsible for the prolonged and flagrant breach of regulations, and the commanders who allowed the forbidden practice to continue. In recent weeks, has warned law-enforcement authorities about the life-threatening. . . 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Obama warns Netanyahu: Don't surprise me with Iran strike
13 May 2009 - U.S. President Barack Obama has sent a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding that Israel not surprise the U.S. with an Israeli military operation against Iran. The message was conveyed by a senior American official who met in Israel with Netanyahu, ministers and other senior officials. Earlier, Netanyahu's envoy visited Washington and met with National Security Adviser James Jones and with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and discussed the dialogue Obama has initiated with Tehran. ... 

Peres to tell Jordan's king: Netanyahu committed to peace 
13 May 2009 - President Shimon Peres is scheduled to meet Jordan's King Abdullah II in Jordan on Sunday to discuss a combined approach to tackle the Mideast peace process. ...

Ex-diplomats, U.S. Jews urge Obama to push two-state solution
13 May 2009 - A number of leftist Jewish groups and former diplomats have urged United States President Barack Obama to push for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming visit to Washington. ...

Pope: West Bank fence is a symbol of 'stalemate'
12 May 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday branded the West Bank separation fence as a symbol of "stalemate" between Israel and the Palestinians, urging both sides to break a "spiral of violence." ...

U.S. man sentenced for stealing NGO funds for Palestinians 
12 May 2009 - The former executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine has been sentenced to eight months in prison Wednesday for stealing more than $100,000 in contributions to the nonprofit. ...

The Guardian

In Bethlehem, Pope Benedict XVI makes strongest call yet for a Palestinian homeland
13 May 2009 - • Call for a 'just and lasting solution' in Middle East • Pontiff says he wants Gaza strip blockade lifted Pope Benedict XVI held his hands out wide to greet a crowd of applauding Palestinian refugees...

The Pope must tell the truth about Bethlehem | Austen Ivereigh
13 May 2009 - Hemmed in by the Israel's wall, and facing unemployment of 50%, Bethlehem's Christians are quietly abandoning the town A Zogby poll some years ago exposed a disturbing ignorance among Americans about the town of Christ's birth....

Pope calls for 'sovereign Palestinian homeland'
13 May 2009 - Giving speech in Bethlehem, Benedict XVI expresses solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza Strip Pope Benedict XVI has called for a sovereign Palestinian homeland in a Bethlehem public address that began his one-day visit to the West...

Pope visits Bethlehem in wake of Nazi row
13 May 2009 - Pontiff will hold mass as part of visit to Palestinian territories Pope Benedict XVI arrived in the West Bank town of Bethlehem today as part of a visit that Palestinians hope will draw attention to their...

Ha'aretz National page

IDF chief apologizes for lashing out at Netanyahu over budget 
12 May 2009 - Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi apologized Wednesday for lashing out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a discussion on the previous day over the 2009-2010 budget. ...

Toddler in critical condition after left in hot car for three hours
12 May 2009 - A one-year-old toddler was rushed for medical treatment in a critical condition after she was left alone in a swelteringly hot car for three hours in the southern town of Kiryat Gat. ...

Court rejects Katsav request to relocate site of upcoming trial
12 May 2009 - Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch rejected former president Moshe Katsav's request Wednesday to relocate his trial from the Tel Aviv District Court to its equivalent in Jerusalem or Be'er Sheva. ...

Bar Refaeli ranked world's third 'hottest' woman by Maxim magazine
12 May 2009 - Top men's magazine Maxim on Wednesday ranked Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli as number three in its list of the world's 'hottest' 100 women. ...

Son of reputed mobster arrested in connection with Netanya killing 
12 May 2009 - The arrest of the son of reputed crime boss Riko Shirazi, along with three other suspects, was indeed in connection with the murder of Netanya felon Arthur Mitayev, Petah Tikva's Magistrates Court officially confirmed Wednesday. ...

Relief Web

OPT: The Palestine Red Crescent Society reaches out to persons with disabilities in the Jericho and NW/E Jerusalem districts thanks to two new mobile teams
13 May 2009 - Source: Palestine Red Crescent Society

UNRWA employees stage strike in Jordan demanding wage increases
12 May 2009 - Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur

Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 257, 04 - 10 May 2009
12 May 2009 - Source: World Health Organization

Spain supports Palestinian Authority through EU's PEGASE scheme for the repayment of PA arrears to Palestinian private sector
12 May 2009 - Source: European Commission

OPT/Gaza: fragments of border wall used to patch up water treatment plant
12 May 2009 - Source: ICRC

UN workers shut schools in Jordan strike
12 May 2009 - Source: Agence France-Presse

OPT: GZ-Southern West Bank solid waste management (SWMP)
11 May 2009 - Source: World Bank

OPT: Press conference by Russian Foreign Minister on Middle East situation
11 May 2009 - Source: UN Department of Public Information

YNet News

'Abdullah to relay message from Assad'
13 May 2009 - Arab official with ties in Damascus, Amman says PM Netanyahu to receive message on renewal of talks with Syria from Jordanian king

Libya wants UN debate on IDF conduct
13 May 2009 - Arab nations demand meeting on report criticizing Israel for strikes on UN structures during Gaza war

Fatah unrest scraps new gov't plans
13 May 2009 - Swearing in ceremony postponed amidst considerable objection to formation of new Palestinian government from Fatah, with some threatening to oust Fayyad unless he complies with their demands 

Ashkenazi apologizes for spat with Netanyahu
13 May 2009 - IDF chief of staff issues statement of apology to prime minister following verbal confrontation at Tuesday's budget meeting

Pope: Walls don't last forever
13 May 2009 - Benedict XVI slams Israel's security fence during visit to Palestinian refugee camp after holding mass in Bethlehem, endorses establishment of independent 'sovereign homeland in the land of your forefathers' 

IAF chief says rocket defense insufficient
13 May 2009 - Ido Nehoshtan praises merits of Qassam as terror weapon, says defenses will improve next year

Report: Journalist jailed in Iran visited Israel
13 May 2009 - Unconfirmed Iranian report says Roxana Saberi admitted to visiting Israel in 2006, but not to spying

Court orders state to move forward with evacuating outposts 
13 May 2009 - Peace Now petitions High Court for third time since order to vacate six illegal West bank outposts was issued in 2004

B'tselem

Testimony: Settlers throw stones with soldiers present
9 May 2009 - According to a testimony given to B'Tselem by a resident of the Wadi a-Nasara neighborhood of Hebron, on 3 April 2009, dozens of settlers, accompanied by soldiers, entered the neighborhood. The soldiers allowed the settlers to throw stones at homes and pa

Settler youngsters attack ambulance in Hebron
6 May 2009 - On 11 April, a Palestinian ambulance was transporting a patient to her home in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron. According to testimonies, children and youths from nearby settlements threw rocks at the ambulance and soldiers at the scene did not inte

Daily Star

Pope comes under Israeli criticism during pilgrimage 
12 May 2009 - The speaker of Israel's parliament accused German-born Pope Benedict on Tuesday of showing detachment from Jewish suffering in the Nazi Holocaust, adding to criticism that has marked his Holy Land pilgrimage. The pontiff, described by one Israeli newspaper columnist as coming across as "restrained.

Israel under UN pressure to back two-state deal 
12 May 2009 - Israel came under pressure Monday to commit to the creation of an independent Palestinian state as the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a non-binding statement calling for "urgent efforts ... to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace." It said such peace should be "based on the vision of a region where two democratic states.

Iran's anti-Israel rhetoric aimed at Arab opinion 
12 May 2009 - After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called in October 2005 for an end to the state of Israel, Israeli leaders began stepping up talk of an "existential threat" to the country. Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu has even used it support his argument that the Iranian president is threatening a "new holocaust" against Jews.

Palestinian Information Center

The servers are overloaded
13 May 2009 - Due to server load we cannot process your request at this time. Please try again a few minutes.

Los Angeles Times

Journalist freed by Iran thanks her supporters 
13 May 2009 - Roxana Saberi speaks to reporters for the first time since her release from a Tehran prison, where she had been held on espionage charges. She will return to the U.S. A joyful Roxana Saberi on Tuesday thanked those who helped win her release after four months in a Tehran prison on espionage charges. 

Pope's speech on Holocaust receives lukewarm response 
12 May 2009 - At the memorial in Israel, Benedict XVI declares that Jews' suffering must 'never be denied.' But Jewish leaders say the pontiff avoided questions of responsibility for the Holocaust. Pope Benedict XVI, trying to quell Jewish anger over a Holocaust-denying bishop, bowed in silence Monday at Israel's memorial to Jews exterminated during World War II and declared that their suffering must "never be denied, belittled or forgotten." 

New York Times

In Bethlehem, Pope Laments Israeli Wall
13 May 2009 - The pope reiterated his support for a Palestinian state in the shadow of the barrier that divides Israelis from Palestinians. 

Memo From Cairo: Egypt to Be Center Stage in Obama’s Address to Arabs
12 May 2009 - President Obama’s decision to deliver a speech to the Muslim world from Egypt is fraught with potential perils. 

Journalist’s Release Shows Iran Divide
12 May 2009 - The release of an Iranian-American journalist illustrates the volatility of the Iranian government. 


Articles

The West Bank Archipelago 
Robert Mackey, New York Times 5/7/2009
      This week, leading Israeli, Palestinian and American officials have agreed that the creation of a Palestinian state on territory in the West Bank and Gaza is essential to peace in the Middle East. But spend any time looking at a map of the West Bank as it is today, or with any of the many different proposals for how that map might be redrawn to accommodate the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, and it becomes clear why any sensible mapmaker might choose to steer well clear of the challenge of drawing up that state.
     ...To get a better idea of where the mapmakers are starting from, take a look at a fanciful map of the West Bank called “L’archipel de Palestine orientale” (”The Archipelago of Eastern Palestine”), drawn by Julien Bousac for the French publication Le Monde Diplomatique, and republished recently on the blog Strange Maps. Mr. Bousac’s imaginary map illustrates how fragmented the areas of the West Bank currently under the control of the Palestinian Authority are by portraying them as islands, divided by areas under Israeli control, which are represented by the sea.
     ...As Strange Maps explains, “the dotted lines symbolising shipping links, the palm trees signifying protected beach land, and the purple symbols representing various aspects of seaside pleasure” are “totally fanciful but the small blue ships, next to those parts of the map labeled “Zone sous surveillance” (”Zone under surveillance”) have “some bearing on reality, as the locations of the warships match those of permanent Israeli checkpoints."

The Bomb Iran Faction 
Gary Leupp, CounterPunch 5/11/2009
      An Existential Question for the Power Elite?
     There is clearly a faction of the power elite that is, and has for some years been pressing, for a U.S. military attack on Iran. It is not advocating a war, at least openly, or an occupation of that vast nation; rather, it is advocating an operation similar in concept to the Israeli attack on Iraq’s French-built Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981. In a word, it is both advocating an Israeli-like action and justifying it explicitly as one on behalf of Israel.
     That Israeli raid on the Iraqi reactor in 1981, justified at the time by Tel Aviv as an act of “preemptive self-defense,” was condemned by the entire world as an egregious violation of international law. President Ronald Reagan directed the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to vote with other members of the Security Council to condemn the attack. It is a measure of the Israelification of U.S. foreign policy that a quarter-century later Vice President Cheney and the neconservatives who used his office as their general headquarters praised this action and raised preemption to the status of a sacred U.S. military doctrine. What was the attack on Iraq in 2003, to eliminate its (imaginary) weapons of mass destruction, but a preemptive Osiraq raid on crack?
     George Bush declared that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction threatening its neighbors, requiring U.S. action (despite lack of UN approval). Iran and Kuwait, recent victims of real Iraqi aggression, stated that they did not feel threatened. Neither did any other bordering state. That left, by implication, Israel. But Israel was not much discussed as an issue during the massive propaganda build-up to the Iraq War. The last thing its proponents wanted was to convey the impression that this was a war for Israel, although that was in fact the only country in the world where the war enjoyed any popularity outside the U.S. (It was, as Joe Klein put it in a 2003 column, “the casus belli that dare not speak its name.")


Electronic Intifada
Gaza families down to a meal a day
13 May 2009 - GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - Umm Abdullah cannot remember the last time she was able to feed meat to her eight children. She does know that for the past week the single meal she cooked for them each day consisted only of lentils. And that on one day, she had received aid coupons from the United Nations, which she subsequently sold to buy tomatoes and eggplant at the local market. 

Covering up Israel's Gaza crimes with UN help
13 May 2009 - In my last article, I considered how UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon might handle the inquiry into Israeli attacks on UN facilities in the occupied Gaza Strip last winter. I hoped for the best but feared the worst given press reports that Ban had been told by the United States not to publish the report in full lest that harm the "peace process." Unfortunately, the worst fears were fully justified as Ban published and sent to the Security Council only a 27-page summary of the 184-page document submitted to him by a board of inquiry led by a former head of Amnesty International. 

Obama administration renews Bush-era sanctions on Syria
12 May 2009 - WASHINGTON (IPS) - US President Barack Obama issued a statement on 8 May calling for the renewal of sanctions on Syria, which were set to expire on Monday. The declaration came at the end of a busy week in which both high-level US officials and the Iranian president visited the Syrian capital, Damascus. Though Syria has recently sought engagement with the US and Israel, the executive order extending sanctions is only the latest in a series of significant stumbling blocks to peeling off one of Iran's closest regional allies. 

Palestinian Authority popularity at all-time low
12 May 2009 - RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Yet another sign of the growing unpopularity of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) was evident on the streets of Ramallah last weekend. Demonstrators ripped apart hundreds of posters of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, whose term officially expired in January, that were plastered on walls and buildings along the street leading to the heavily fortified compound known as the Muqata, the PA government headquarters. 

In Gaza
who is the siege really on?
13 May 2009 - I don’t need to answer the rhetorical question. I know the cliches that the US, Canada and other siege-supporting western nations will say about Hamas and terrorism and not providing material aid [the irony of Israel, committing attacks of terrorism on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, occupied Jerusalem, and the militarily-occupied Gaza Strip every day --with Israel's invasions, city lock-downs ('curfews'), military checkpoints, arbitary arrests and indefinite detentions (including minors), military invasions, shelling from the sea, shooting at and abduction of fishermen and farmers from their own territorial areas, and so on --being supported by the very nations that besiege Gaza... is sickening]. Palestinians words before, during, and after...

Palestine Chronicle
Israel's Cast Lead, Palestine's Sharpeville
13 May 2009 - By Sayed Dhansay It has been just over three months since Israel unilaterally declared an end to operation Cast Lead and withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip following its 22 day onslaught there. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), a total of 1,434 people were killed in the operation, approximately 960 of them civilians. Of these, nearly 300 victims were children. This, in addition to the 5000 plus who were injured, and the growing number of deaths due to the ongoing siege. Other reports have indicated that over 20,000 buildings have been partially or completely destroyed, leaving an estimated one sixth of Gaza ruined and entire neighbourhoods obliterated. The already overburdened and crumbling infrastructure of Gaza is now on the brink of total collapse, exacerbated by the refusal of Israeli and Egyptian authorities to allow construction materials into the besieged territory. Shocking as these few figures may be, of much greater concern is the manner in which our political leaders responded to this catastrophe as it unfolded. Israel’s operation Cast Lead was a defining moment in recent history, bringing to light many truths about the condition of the society in which we live. The most obvious of these was the complete and utter failure of so-called world leaders and modern political diplomacy at a time when it was needed most. While the IDF systematically violated seemingly every tenet of international law, our supposed leaders sat by and left the defenseless people of Gaza to face the...

Obama Picks Egypt
13 May 2009 - By Rannie Amiri The White House announced Friday that President Obama will deliver his much anticipated (and promised) address to the Arab and Muslim worlds on June 4 from Egypt. Is Egypt the best venue for a speech of this significance though? In defending the selection, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “It is a country that in many ways represents the heart of the Arab world.” With a population of 80 million, it certainly is the largest, and no one would dispute its cultural and historical standing. But the question remains: is it the wisest choice for giving a speech that, according to Gibbs, “ ... will be about America’s relations with the Muslim world”? Much of the debate prior to choosing Egypt likely revolved around its atrocious human rights record under President Hosni Mubarak. Since the assassination of his predecessor President Anwar Sadat in 1981, Mubarak has ruled under the provisions of Emergency Law. These statutes allow for the indefinite detention of any citizen without charge or trial, prohibit public gatherings and demonstrations, permit media censorship, and place numerous restrictions on freedom of expression. Emergency Law has been used by the Mubarak regime, of course, to suppress any political opposition or dissent, whether from organized groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, or from individuals like human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, presidential electoral challenger Ayman Nour, or pro-Palestinian bloggers (including Philip Rizk and Diaa Eddin Gad among others). Thousands of Egyptians have been detained as a result. Amnesty International’s 2008...

Lebanon's Path from Perdition to Redemption?
13 May 2009 - By Franklin Lamb - Al Buss Palestinian Refugee Camp, Lebanon "When I graduated from Medical School here in Beirut more than 20 years ago there were 80 students in my class. The top dozen or so were Palestinians. But they all had to emigrate in order to practice medicine. Why? We Lebanese have in our culture a saying that in order to get the best quality olive oil you must press the olives very hard. That is what we have done to Palestinians in Lebanon." -- Dr. Nizar Rifai, Lebanese Physician, in his Hamra Office (5/11/09) Interviews with representatives of Lebanon’s political parties, as they make final preparations to get out the vote, reveal general agreement that for Palestinians here, decades of living in exile are made worse by the continuing discrimination found in Lebanon’s laws. Most agree that for Palestinians waiting to return to their homes in Palestine, life is now a daily struggle for survival and fundamental Parliamentary redress is long overdue A common response to inquiries from Party operative is: “We ourselves want to help the Palestinians but we have partners in government and we need to be sensitive to their wishes”. This could be about to change after the June 7th election and it is acknowledged by i Palestinians that Lebanon has paid a big price for hosting them and deserves the deepest gratitude and respect for its sacrifices. The conditions of Palestinians in Lebanon are well known to foreigners who visit or live in Lebanon’s...

The US Empire and the Economic Crisis
13 May 2009 - By Ivan Eland A few—and only a few—prescient commentators have questioned whether the U.S. can sustain its informal global empire in the wake of the most severe economic crisis since World War II. And the simultaneous quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan are leading more and more opinion leaders and taxpayers to this question. But the U.S. Empire helped cause the meltdown in the first place. War has a history of causing financial and economic calamities. It does so directly by almost always causing inflation—that is, too much money chasing too few goods. During wartime, governments usually commandeer resources from the private sector into the government realm to fund the fighting. This action leaves shortages of resources to make consumer goods and their components, therefore pushing prices up. Making things worse, governments often times print money to fund the war, thus adding to the amount of money chasing the smaller number of consumer goods. Such “make-believe” wealth has funded many U.S. wars. For example, the War of 1812 had two negative effects on the U.S. financial system. First, in 1814, the federal government allowed state-chartered banks to suspend payment in gold and silver to their depositors. In other words, according Tom J. DiLorenzo in Hamilton’s Curse, the banks did not have to hold sufficient gold and silver reserves to cover their loans. This policy allowed the banks to loan the federal government more money to fight the war. The result was an annual inflation rate of 55 percent in some U.S....

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