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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
www.vtjp.org/
For those interested in keeping up with events in Palestine/Israel, there is no better digest than VTJP.

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
14 May , 2009

News

International Middle East Media Center

Lieberman seeks a ban on Nakba commemoration
15 May 2009 - Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and his extremist Yisrael Beiteinu Party,  is seeking a ban on Arabs marking the Nakba day, which commemorates the year 1948 when more than 700.000 Palestinians were forced out of their homeland as Israel was being created. 

Netanyahu arrives in Amman, meets king Abdullah
14 May 2009 - Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, arrived on Thursday in the Jordanian Red Sea city of Aqaba, and held a meeting with King Abdukllah II. The king asked Netanyahu to be committed to a two-state solution and to accept the Arab Peace Initiative. 

Hamas and Fatah trade arrests in Gaza and the West Bank
14 May 2009 - Both Hamas and Fatah announced that each rival movement security forces arrested members of the movements in Gaza and the West Bank on Thursday. 

A Palestinian fighter killed in Gaza
14 May 2009 - One Palestinian fighter was reported dead on Thursday in Khan Younis town northern Gaza strip.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian homes near Hebron
14 May 2009 - A group of Israeli settlers attacked on Thursday Palestinian homes located at the village of Khirbit Um-alkher near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Military police investigates another case of abuse during Gaza offensive
14 May 2009 - Israeli military sources reported that the military police is now investigating a complaint filed by a residents of Gaza who complained that the army detained him and four members of his family, abused them, and stole significant amounts of cash. 

Trial of former Israeli president opens at Tel Aviv District Court
14 May 2009 - Israeli sources reported on Thursday morning that the trial of former Israeli President, Moshe Katsav, started at the Tel Aviv District Court. Katsav denied all charges and told reporters that he will fight to clear his name. 

Pope Benedict: “Walls don't last forever”
14 May 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI, visiting The Aida Refugee camp in Bethlehem voiced harsh criticism of the Israeli Annexation Wall isolated the camp and the Palestinian territories. He told thousands of Palestinians who gather to listen to his speech, that he supports establishing a Palestinian independent state "in the land of your forefathers". 

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. 

Ha'aretz Defense page

Iran sends two warships to confront Somali pirates
14 May 2009 - Iran says warships to spend 5 months patrolling Gulf of Aden for pirates preying on oil tankers. 

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. 

Ma'an News

PA: Israel intensifies efforts to confiscate land under Absentee Property Law
5/14/2009 - Jerusalem - Ma’an - Jerusalemites must not resort to Israeli courts on cases of real estate related to absentee properties, warned Hatim Abdul Qader, advisor to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Jerusalem Affairs Wednesday. The warning was extended to Jerusalemites who live abroad, especially in Jordan, and anyone who gives proxy to attorneys in Jerusalem to file cases in front of the Israeli courts to evacuate tenants from their properties. “Any person who resorts to Israeli courts on such issues will face Palestinian and Arab legal questioning," Abdul Qader said. Because of the 1950 Absentee Property Law enacted by the then newly formed State of Israel, any landowner who left their “permanent residence” at any time following 29 November 1947 to any Arab state, or to any area of the Land of Israel (as defined under the British Mandate), which is not the State of Israel. . . . 

Settlers demonstrate near Yizhar, soldiers close road claiming explosives found
5/14/2009 - Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces closed the main road leading into Nablus at the Yitzhar checkpoint alleging that they found gas pipes with electrical wires near the Madama School Thursday morning. Member of the Madama village council Hassan Ziyadeh said dozens of demonstrating settlers crowded the main road under the protection of Israeli troops. “I don’t know what they were demonstrating for, or why so many troops were in the area,” he said. At some point during the demonstration Ziyadeh said, troops closed the main road and called for explosive experts to search the area. [end] 

Israeli ministers vow to rebuild settlement dismantled in 2005
5/14/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – More than 1,500 Israeli settlers marched the site of the West Bank settlement of Homesh, near Jenin, on Tuesday night, four years after it was dismantled along with all settlements in the Gaza Strip. Three Israeli cabinet ministers sent letters of support, which were read aloud during the demonstration, in a sign of the new government’s deep ties to the settler movement. The rally was sanctioned by the Israeli military, which routinely cracks down on Palestinian demonstrations against settlements. Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said, "Your courage and determination are commendable. I am certain that we will succeed in rebuilding [Homesh]," according to Israel’s Ynet news agency. Israel unilaterally evacuated illegal settlements in Gaza and a few in the West Bank in 2005. 

American man convicted of stealing from Palestinian nonprofit
5/14/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - An American man was sentenced on Thursday to eight months in federal prison for stealing more than $100,000 US dollars from a nonprofit organization, according to news reports. The man, 44-year-old Raafat A. Dajani, was formerly the executive director of the Washington, DC-based American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP). He pleaded guilty to fraud charges in January, and was ultimately sentenced on Thursday. ATFP supports a negotiated, two-state solution to the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. [end] 

Nakba documentary depicts suffering of 1948 children
5/14/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – “Not for Sale,” a 72-minute documentary, was recently produced to highlight the suffering of Palestinians expelled from their homeland by the Israeli army after the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe). Directed by Jebreel Abu Ikmeil, the film offers testimonies of Palestinians who experienced the catastrophe through the words of children and the elderly. The documentary particularly sheds light on two cases, one of them a child from Ash-Shati refugee camp, works on the street after returning from school to contribute to supporting his 11-member family. The other lives at Burj Al-Barajnah camp in Lebanon, who works with his father as a vehicle mechanic in addition to school. Director Jebreel Abu Ikmeil explained that "while I was walking in one of the refugee camps to visit a friend, I saw a child who was wandering among the alleys of the camp, carrying a box of chips. . . 

Commemorating the Nakba, Beit Hanoun residents demand right of return
5/14/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Commemorating the 61st anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948, crowds in Beit Hanoun called on Palestinians to dig deep and find more strength to remain steadfast and resist in an increased effort to demand their right of return. The anniversary of the Nakba is observed by Palestinians on Friday 15 May. Israel’s Independence Day, on 15 May 1948, is observed according to the Hebrew calendar and was marked on 29 April this year. Crowds in Beit Hanoun stressed a restoration of unity so Palestinians could remain steadfast together and insist on their right of return to the villages and towns they were expelled from in 1948. “Those who abandon that right,” one protester said, “should not be considered Palestinian. ”The event was organized by the local branch of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in the northern Gaza Strip. 

After four months in prison, Israel sentences 15-year-old to six months
5/14/2009 - Ramallah - Ma’an - The Israeli military court at Ofer prison sentenced 15-year-old Rami Zayed to a six month term on Thursday. Rami is the son of Al-Bireh municipal council member Salim Zayed. The court ordered a 5,000 shekel (1,200 US dollar) fine and five years of probation following the six month term. Rami served four months of administrative detention after being seized by Israeli forces in February. He has been held in the Hasharon prison. [end] 

ISM: Israeli forces arrest young man days after his release
5/14/2009 - Salfit – Ma’an – A lawyer representing the International Solidarity Movement, Fares Abu Hassan, said on Wednesday that Israeli forces rearrested Ja’far Ahmad Dababsah from the village of Taluza, near the West Bank city of Nablus, just days after he was released. The lawyer added that Ad-Dababsah was arrested on 7 August 2007, and was released several days ago after spending 21 months in an Israeli prison. However, en route to his home Israeli forces rearrested him at Huwwara checkpoint, and he was transferred to administrative detention shortly after being detained. Abu Hassan said that “this procedure is a manipulation of the prisoner’s feelings, deepening his suffering. " Meanwhile, Israeli forces arrested two young men from the West Bank city of Nablus last week while they were on their way to to Jordan via the Allenby Bridge. 

Israeli troops raid Jenin area
5/14/2009 - Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli troops raided the West Bank city of Jenin and several nearby villages on Wednesday night. Palestinian security sources said that Israeli forces overran the villages of At-Tayba and Al-Araqa, west of Jenin, and searched the area amid gunfire. No arrests were reported. The same sources added that Israeli forces raided the towns of Al-Harthiyah, Rummana, and Zabuba. Witnesses contacted Ma’an’s correspondent in Jenin saying that the Israeli forces used stun grenades during the raids. [end] 

Al-Qassam: Fighter killed on 'special mission' near Khan Younis
5/14/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – One fighter from Hamas’ military wing the Al-Qassam Brigades was killed Thursday morning on what leaders described as a “special mission” east of Khan Younis. A statement from the group identified the slain man as 20-years-old Khalid Al-Ghalban from Khan Younis. They noted his death was mourned. [end] 

Israeli settlers steal two guard dogs from Hebron-area village
5/14/2009 - Hebron – Ma’an – A mob of Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Karme’l attacked houses in Um Al-Kheir village, south of the West Bank city of Hebron. Local Palestinians reported that two guard dogs were stolen after the settlers anesthetizedthem. According to settlement expert Abed Al-Hadi Hantash in an interview with Ma'an, "around 15 armed settlers attacked three Palestinian homes that belong to Salem Al-Hatahlin and his sons, Belal and Abdallah, before they were confronted by residents and Israeli police. " He added that “the settlers’ attacks coincided with the construction of a three-kilometer new settler road south and southwest of the settlement, along with repeated Israeli attempts to force 170 members of the Al-Hathalin family out of their homes to be confiscated for the settlement. 

Tens of thousands throng papal mass in Nazareth
5/14/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Some 50,000 pilgrims, well-wishers, and onlookers attended mass with Pope Benedict XVI at the Mount of the Precipice in Nazareth, a predominantly Palestinian town in northern Israel on Thursday morning. In a wide-ranging address, Benedict spoke about the need for coexistence between religions and also expressed conservative views about the role of the family in society. “Sadly, as the world knows, Nazareth has experienced tensions in recent years which have harmed relations between its Christian and Muslim communities. I urge people of good will in both communities to repair the damage that has been done, and in fidelity to our common belief in one God, the Father of the human family, to work to build bridges and find the way to a peaceful coexistence,” said Benedict. He also said, “Let everyone reject the destructive power of hatred and prejudice, which. . . 

Netanyahu swoops to Jordan for talks with king
5/14/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to the Jordanian Red Sea town of Aqaba on Thursday for an unannounced meeting with King Abdullah II. The king urged Abdullah to "immediately declare his commitment to a two-state solution, acceptance of the Arab peace initiative and to take necessary steps to move forward toward a solution," according to a royal palace statement. The summit comes just days before Israel’s right-wing new leader flies to Washington, DC, for talks with President Barack Obama. On Monday Netanyahu met Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak in another Red Sea town, Sharm Ash-Sheikh. Israeli President Shimon Peres is also scheduled to visit Jordan on Monday for more talks with the king. In an interview with the London Times published earlier this week, Abdullah warned that if Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations are delayed, Israel will likely wage another war within 12 to 18 months. 

Abbas meets Syria’s Assad in Damascus for preliminary peace plan talks
5/14/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will discuss the peace process during his meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad Thursday. The meeting, ahead of Abbas’ date with Washington on 28 May, will lay out proposals around possible peace plans for the Middle East. The meeting follows several between Abbas and leaders of the Arab world over the past month. Abbas will begin the meeting alongside Chief Negotiator for Palestine Sa’eb Erekat, Presidential Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh, representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Damascus Mahmoud Al-Khaldi, his Deputy Farouq Ash-Shaer. Representing Syria were Assad, his Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mu’alim and his Deputy Faisal Al-Meqdad. Several Palestinian factions inside Damascus called for a boycott of the visit. 

Haniyeh phones head of Organization of Islamic Conference
5/14/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – De facto Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called the head of the Organization of Islamic Conference on Thursday to update him on the latest developments in the Gaza Strip. Haniyeh reportedly told Secretary-General Akmal Ad-Din Oghlo of life under the Israeli siege and the consequences of the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. Following the call, Haniyeh praised the Organization's effort toward supporting Palestinians in Gaza through relief campaigns, and urged Oghlo to make further efforts to "rescue" Jerusalem and its Islamic holy sites, including Al-Aqsa, from Israeli actions taken against the city. The de facto prime minister also praised Oghlo's recent visit to the besieged strip. 

De facto government says willing to work with int’l community
5/14/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian de facto government in the Gaza Strip said on Thursday that it welcomes opening up to the international community in an effort to end the Middle East conflict, but that it will continue the fight for Palestinian rights. De facto government of Gaza welcomed any International opening up affirming its readiness to expand and to develop it in a way to get the views closer to get the region of its recent reality affirming at the same time sticking to the Palestinian rights. Meanwhile, the de facto government said it considers the attitude toward forming a government in the West Bank as an effort toward deepening division and evidence of not having good or serious intentions toward the current dialogue. The de facto government denounced what it called "the continued PA efforts to obstruct the success of the dialogue, especially the ongoing arrest. . . 

PA: Abbas in Damascus to meet with Assad, not factions
5/14/2009 - Ramallah – Ma’an – A representative from the Palestinian Authority said on Thursday that President Abbas' trip to Syria was exclusively for a meeting with the country's president, not Palestinian factions. Earlier, a number of media reports had surfaced that Palestinian factions in Damascus had refused a meeting with Abbas. In response, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Presidency At-Tayeb Abed Ar-Raheem said that the visit was for talks only with Syrian President Bashar Assad. He added that “it was not on the president’s agenda to hold a meeting with so-called Palestinian factions in Damascus,” adding that “[Abbas] did not ask to hold such meetings,” and noting that “the place for the Palestinian dialogue is Cairo. ”He explained that “the president’s visit to Damascus was exclusively for a meeting with President Assad to coordinate the stance with the Syrian leadership. . . 

Israel rejects Vatican request for 500 Arab clergymen visas
5/14/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli Ministry of Interior rejected a request presented by the Vatican to grant 500 Christian clergymen from Arab states a permanent entry visa to Israel. The ministry rejected the petition under the pretext of security. The request had been passed along by Ozi Arad, the Israeli director of national security. According to the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Ma'ariv, the Israeli interior minister "rejected the Vatican request out of fear that terrorist organizations like Hamas might use the permits for espionage or carrying our terrorist acts. "[end] 

De facto government promises compensation for families caught in tunnel-funding fraud
5/14/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto government promised to compensate the families who lost money in a recently uncovered tunnel-financing scheme, officials said Wednesday. De facto Minister of the Economy Ziad Ath-Thatha said the compensation packages were under discussion and results of an investigation to determine appropriate packages for all parties will be handed out in installments. About the packages, all Ath-Thatha could say was that they would be based on “percentages” and to wait for a final announcement for details. The news of compensation comes after the discovery of a tunnel investment scheme where dozens of desperate families invested their savings into a collective tunnel-building operation. A few days ago it was discovered that the lead businessman, identified only as AK, had made off with the money.

Security chief gives talk on Palestinian media, urges unified terminology
5/14/2009 - Ramallah – Ma’an – Arab media is within its right to use strong language, and it is the special role of Palestinian media to use that language to show the suffering of the Palestinian people, said Commander of the Palestinian Security Services Adnan Ad-Dimeiri at a special workshop on “Palestine in the Media” Wednesday. The workshop was held in Ramallah at the Red Crescent headquarters and addressed the role of Arab media and its relationship with the ruling system. Relating what he described as the “oratorical style” of Palestinian Arabic media to other nations’ coverage of the area, he noted the unity of Israeli media in serving a Zionist agenda and portraying Palestinians as aggressive. “Israeli media is printed and broadcast in 17 languages,” he said, “it is spreading its message to every corner of the world even though that message is false. 

Fatah: Hamas prevents party members from commemorating 1948 Nakba
5/14/2009 - Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah spokesman Fahmi Az-Za’arir accused Hamas of barring Fatah members and affiliates from taking part in events around the commemoration of the Nakba scheduled to take place Wednesday. Nakba Day is observed on 15 May, but events commemorating the catastrophe (English for Nakba) that befell the Palestinians following the declaration of the State of Israel have been running all week. The Fatah-sponsored events were set to go off Wednesday in the northern Gaza Strip. Az-Za’arir said Hamas officials put pressure on Fatah members and event organizers to halt activities. “We will never abandon Palestinian rights,” Az-Za’arir said, “especially the right of return we celebrate on Nakba day. ”Fatah officials said several members were arrested from the central region of the Strip on their way to the north. 

Fayyad defends plan for new government
5/14/2009 - Tulkarem – Ma’an – Palestinian caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad promisedthat a “new government will not be an obstacle to reconciliation,” a day after Fatah moved to block his reappointment on Thursday. “The priority of this stage is to accomplish a national conciliation ending division and not forming the government,” he said, although the government excludes Hamas, which said the formation of the new cabinet spells the failure of efforts to restore Palestinian unity. Speaking during a visit to the West Bank city of Tulkarem, Fayyad’s comments came after President Mahmoud Abbas’ own party, Fatah, announced that they would refuse to join the new coalition unless Fayyad, an independent, was replaced with a Fatah member. Fayyad was responding to Fatah’s parliament leader, Azzam Al-Ahmad, who on Wednesday criticized “Fayyad’s way of forming the government ignoring the [Fatah] movement. 

The National

Abbas visit to Syria boycotted by Hamas
14 May 2009 - The snubbing of the president while in Damascus says much about the deep rivalries that continue to divide the Palestinian people.

Israeli Jews back Palestinian state
14 May 2009 - A poll indicates strong support for a two-state solution ahead of Mr Netanyahu's visit to the US.

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. 

Aljazeera

Pope holds mass in Nazareth
14 May 2009 - Speaking in Israel's largest Arab city, Benedict urges rejection of hatred and prejudice.

Israel PM meets Jordanian king
14 May 2009 - Talks in Aqaba come ahead of Netanyahu's planned visit to Washington.

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

MIDEAST: 'Hamas Against Zionist Ideology, Not Judaism' 
GAZA CITY, May 14 (IPS) - A founding member of Hamas says he hates all weapons and insists that his organisation is not anti-Jewish.

MIDEAST: Israel Expanding 'Beautifully' In Jerusalem 
JERUSALEM, May 14 (IPS) - Even as Pope Benedict XVI tries his best during his current Holy Land visit to pay reverence to the attachment of all three monotheistic faiths to Jerusalem, on the ground a less lofty imprint is already furthering Israeli control over the Holy City in a...

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...

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. [

PCHR Latest

(14-05-2009) War Crimes Against Children: new report on the 313 children killed during Gaza offensive
PCHR

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

Palestinians mark the Nakba
International Solidarity Movement - 14 May 2009 - Thousands of Palestinians on Thursday marked the 61st anniversary of the Naqba, the "catastrophe" that sparked an exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees after Israel was created in 1948. Holding Palestinian flags and photos of Arab villages razed by Israeli forces six decades ago, demonstrators marched in the centre of Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. "The right of return is sacred", "No peace without the right of return", read the banners held by the marchers. The ceremonies took place a day early because the May 15 anniversary of the Naqba falls this year on a Friday, a day off in the mostly Muslim Palestinian territories. The demonstration was headed by political figures and religious leaders and began at the tomb of legendary Palestinian chief Yasser Arafat at the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, today run by his successor, president Mahmud Abbas. 

Israeli organizations call on Norway to divest from the Israeli Occupation
International Solidarity Movement - Twenty different Israeli organizations send an appeal to the Norwegian people to withdraw Norwegian national pension fund's investments in all Israeli and international corporations which are involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. "We, Israeli organizations "¦, call upon the Norwegian people to join us in our efforts and to stop investing in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. " In an unprecedented way, a wide array of Israeli civil society and grassroots organizations has sent a letter to the Norwegian Pension Fund, addressed to its Council on Ethics, urging it to support their efforts for a just peace and equality in Israel/Palestine by divesting from all companies involved in the Israeli occupation. These Israeli organizations include feminist organizations and community centers, peace and human rights organizations, organizations concerned. . . 

Nablus organizations raise awareness about the Nakba
International Solidarity Movement - 12 May 2009 - Tenweer - Palestinian Cultural Enlightenment Forum and the Women's Union are working together to organize a campaign to boycott Israel in Nablus high schools. By showing the movie The Exodus and the Odyssey made byPalestinian refugees Ismail Shammout and Tamam Al Akhal, Tenweer and the Women's Union are visiting schools in Nablus to raise students' awareness of the history of Palestine. At the same time they talk to students about how the Palestinian people can non-violently resist the Israeli occupation by boycottingIsraeli goods. They have visited 10 schools so far, and 100-200 students at each school have been able to watch The Exodus and the Odyssey. They will continue to show the film throughout the month of May. The campaign is a part of the commemoration of Al Nakba - 1948,the mass expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their cities and villages,. . . 

New West Bank roads jeopardizing chances for peace accord
International Solidarity Movement - Amos Harel | Ha'aretz 14 May 2009 - Palestinian interest in the intentions of the new Israeli government tends to focus on one small area in the West Bank, Ma'aleh Adumim and its environs, particularly the area known as E1 linking the settlement to East Jerusalem. Earlier this month Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad participated in mass Friday prayers against land expropriation in the area, and the Palestinian media was full of reports of Israeli settlement plans in Ma'aleh Adumim and E1. The concerns are not baseless. E1 is the only area that Benjamin Netanyahu explicitly committed to developing, on the eve of February's elections. His political rival, Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak, also publicly expressed support for building there. Plans for expanding the Israeli presence around Ma'aleh Adumim continued apace under the Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert governments, in the interest. . . 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Jordan king to Netanyahu: Israel must accept Palestinian state
14 May 2009 - Jordan's king pressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to immediately commit to the establishment of a Palestinian state, as the monarch pursued a sweeping resolution of the Muslim world's conflicts with Israel. ...

Is Madonna getting married?
14 May 2009 - Music superstar Madonna may be tying the knot in a Kabbalah ceremony, the father of the intended groom told Brazilian magazine Quem recently, New York City's Daily News reported Thursday. ...

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. ... 

Livni: Time is running out for peace process
13 May 2009 - Opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Thursday warned that time was running out on achieving a peace deal with the Palestinians, saying "we mustn't delay the inevitable with useless diplomatic moves." ...

U.S. Senate candidate refers to Senator Schumer as 'that Jew'
13 May 2009 - A Republican candidate for Senate from Arkansas reportedly referred to Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer as "that Jew" during a recent appearance before a Republican group. ...

The Guardian

Hate kills the soul, says pope in Nazareth mass
14 May 2009 - Mixed crowd of faiths and nationalities approaching 50,000 people hears pontiff emphasise tolerance and family values Pope Benedict XVI stood on a mountaintop in Nazareth today to say the largest mass of his visit to the...

Singing for peace in Israel | Hillel Schenker
14 May 2009 - A campaign to stop a Leonard Cohen concert fails to understand the impact of such artists as Joan Baez and Roger Waters "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender," reads the famous slogan on...

A relativist muddle | Benny Morris
14 May 2009 - The portrayal of pre-1948 Zionists as saintly and Israelis today as brutal is a misreading of history The story goes like this: before 1948, the Zionists/Israelis were saintly; in more recent times, they have grown brutal (...

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...

Ha'aretz National page

Katsav vows to prove his innocence as rape trial begins
14 May 2009 - Former president Moshe Katsav vowed to battle to prove his innocence as a unprecedented trial over sexual-offense allegations, including rape, against him began Thursday morning in Tel Aviv. ...

At Nazareth Mass, Pope urges Muslims and Christians to reject hatred
14 May 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI greeted tens of thousands of adoring followers in Jesus' childhood hometown with a message of reconciliation Thursday, urging Christian and Muslims to reject the destructive power of hatred and prejudice. ...

Israel rejects Vatican request to grant Christian Arab couple citizenship
14 May 2009 - Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) on Thursday refused a request by the Vatican to give two Christian residents of East Jerusalem citizenship or legal status to live in the city, Army Radio reported. ...

IN PICTURES / 'Lost' fans recreate show in clay models on Tel Aviv beach
13 May 2009 - Three Israeli fans of the hit TV show Lost have recreated miniatures of the entire cast of the American program on Tel Aviv's beach, to mark finale of the fifth season, aired in the U.S. on Wednesday. ... 

Lieberman's party proposes ban on Arab Nakba
13 May 2009 - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's party wants to ban Israeli Arabs from marking the anniversary of what they term "the Catastrophe" or Nakba, when in 1948 some 700,000 Arabs lost their homes in the war that led to the establishment of the state of Israel. ...

Relief Web

OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report, 06 - 12 May 2009
14 May 2009 - Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

OPT: Pope's visit to Aida refugee camp sows "hope for the future"
14 May 2009 - Source: UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

OPT: War crimes against children - new report on the 313 children killed during Gaza offensive
14 May 2009 - Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

OPT: War crimes against children
14 May 2009 - Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

OPT: Flash Floods DREF operation No. MDRPS003 - Final report
14 May 2009 - Source: IFRC

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory 07 - 13 May 2009
14 May 2009 - Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

La cinquième commission examine les problèmes liés au financement des opérations de maintien de la paix
14 May 2009 - Source: UN General Assembly

Activities of Secretary-General in Malta, 21-22 Apr
13 May 2009 - Source: UN Secretary-General

YNet News

PM denies Syria sent message through Jordan
14 May 2009 - As focus shifts to Netanyahu's trip to Washington this weekend, prime minister's office negates Arab media report that Jordanian king relayed message from Syria signaling willingness to renew peace negotiations with Israel

Aharonovitch wants minorities in police
14 May 2009 - Lieberman-appointee adds 300 new posts to police force, to be manned mostly by Arab residents of northern Israel

Settlers call on PM to reject two-state solution 
14 May 2009 - 'One country for one people,' protest settlers outside Netanyahu's residence ahead of his upcoming visit to Washington

Livni: Don't link Iran to Holocaust
14 May 2009 - Opposition chair criticizes PM for referring to Holocaust when speaking of Iran despite similar statement she made while serving as FM

Abbas meets Assad amid Palestinian boycott
14 May 2009 - 'Resistance sees Abbas' organizational, political moves as illegitimate,' report says of boycott

Thousands of Palestinians mark Nakba Day: We want to return to our homes
14 May 2009 - 'Catastrophe' of Israel's inception marked in Gaza, West Bank and Lebanon; speakers stress importance of including the 'undeniable' right of return in any future agreement 

Syrian official: Israel must return Golan Heights
14 May 2009 - Ambassador to Turkey tells Associated Press Turkish-mediated peace talks between Syria, Israel dependant on Israel committing to retreat from Golan Heights, says recent statements by Israeli government not encouraging

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

Lieberman's party aims to ban Nakba commemoration 
14 May 2009 - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's party wants to ban Israeli Arabs from marking the anniversary of the Nakba, or the Catastrophe in 1948, when 700,000 Arabs lost their homes in the war that created Israel. The extremist Yisrael Beitenu party said it would propose legislation next week for a ban on the practice and a jail term of up to three years for violators.

Jordan presses Israel on Palestinian state 
14 May 2009 - Jordan's King Abdullah II on Thursday pressed visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to immediately commit to the creation of a Palestinian state, as he pursues a sweeping resolution of the Muslim world's conflicts with Israel. "The king demanded the Israeli government declare its commitment to the two-state solution.

US may seek alternative to Israeli missile shield 
14 May 2009 - The completion of an Israeli strategic missile shield underwritten by the United States has been called into question as the budget-strapped Pentagon eyes a US alternative. Israel describes its Arrow II system, which intercepts ballistic missiles, as a bulwark against Iran. Arrow III, a higher-altitude version.

Security Council voices concern over Israel's attacks in Gaza 
14 May 2009 - The UN Security Council on Wednesday expressed concern at the findings of a UN probe that accused Israel of gross negligence and recklessness during the war in Gaza, but indicated it planned no action against Tel Aviv. The council discussed the UN inquiry behind closed doors at the request of Libya.

Abbas postpones plans to swear in new cabinet 
14 May 2009 - President Mahmoud Abbas has postponed a plan to swear in a new Palestinian government, Palestinian officials said on Wednesday. He had planned to unveil a new cabinet under Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in a move that could further complicate Egyptian mediation aimed at healing a rift between Abbas' Fatah faction.

Palestinian Information Center

IOA notifies Jerusalemite of intention to flatten his home
14 May 2009 - The Israeli occupation authority has notified Hamada Mahfouz that his building in Beit Hanina suburb in occupied Jerusalem would be demolished for construction without permit, local sources said.

Jordanian labor unions call for not receiving Netanyahu in Jordan
14 May 2009 - Jordanian labor unions strongly denounced their government for its intention to allow Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Jordan, demanding it to declare Netanyahu persona non grata in the country.

Zahhar: The European subordination to the ex-US administration big mistake
14 May 2009 - MP Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar stated that Europe had committed big mistakes in its blind subordination to the former US administration and lost its human rights and moral orientations.

Qanu: Right of return legitimate, surrendering it treason
14 May 2009 - Abdul Latif Qanu, the spokesman of Hamas in northern Gaza, has asserted that the Nakba (catastrophe) anniversary is an opportunity to assert the right of return for six million Palestinian refugees.

Khudari meets with pro-Palestine Austrian delegation in Gaza
14 May 2009 - MP Jamal Al-Khudari received on Wednesday an Austrian delegation in the context of its visit to Gaza to support the Palestinian people there especially the handicapped and to meet with dignitaries.

Quds Brigades: The PA involvement in Israel’s war on Gaza is treason
14 May 2009 - The Quds Brigades stated that the PA participation in the last Israeli war on Gaza which was revealed by an Israeli newspaper is treason against the religion, the nation and the Palestinian cause.

"Hope" convoy arrives in Alexandria on Friday en route to Gaza
14 May 2009 - European MPs participating in the "Hope" convoy arrived in Cairo before the arrival, on Friday, of the convoy that is traveling by sea from Genoa to Alexandria en route to the besieged Gaza Strip.

Health ministry: Dialysis solutions to run out of stock in 3 days
14 May 2009 - The Palestinian health ministry in the Gaza Strip has warned that its stock of dialysis solutions is going to run out of its stores within three days.

Bahar: No legitimacy for any government without PLC approval
14 May 2009 - Dr. Ahmed Bahar, the acting speaker of the Palestinian legislative council, on Wednesday affirmed that Palestinian government formed without winning PLC confidence is illegitimate.

Abu Zuhri: Egypt still the only broker in calm, exchange deal
14 May 2009 - Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman, has asserted that the file of calm and prisoners' exchange deal with the Israeli occupation authority was still in the hands of the Egyptian mediators.

Los Angeles Times

Pope calls for end to hostilities that led to Israel's barrier 
14 May 2009 - Speaking to Palestinians at a refugee camp in Bethlehem, Benedict also voices compassion for those killed in Israel's winter assault in Gaza, but avoids taking sides on any issue. Standing near a towering concrete wall at the edge of the West Bank, Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday called the Israeli-built barrier a stark reminder of the deadlocked Middle East conflict but declared that walls could be taken down. 

New York Times

Jordan Tells Israel to Accept Two-State Solution
14 May 2009 - Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, met with King Abdullah II of Jordan, who urged the Israeli leader to commit to a two-state solution with the Palestinians. 

Lawyer Says Reporter Had Iran Document
14 May 2009 - The case against Roxana Saberi was based on her possession of a classified document and trips she made to Israel. 

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. 

Misc

New West Bank roads jeopardizing chances for peace accord
Ha'aretz - Palestinian interest in the intentions of the new Israeli government tends to focus on one small area in the West Bank, Ma'aleh Adumim and its environs, particularly the area known as E1 linking the settlement to East Jerusalem. Earlier this month Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad participated in mass Friday prayers against land expropriation in the area, and the Palestinian media was full of reports of Israeli settlement plans in Ma'aleh Adumim and E1. The concerns are not baseless. E1 is the only area that Benjamin Netanyahu explicitly committed to developing, on the eve of February's elections. 

War crimes against children: new report on the 313 children killed during Gaza offensive 
ReliefWeb - Date: 14 May 2009 - A new report released today reveals the true extent of child killings by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip during its 23 day offensive on Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is publishing War Crimes Against Children in response to the unprecedented number of children killed by Israeli forces in its latest operation; a total of 313 children under the age of eighteen. 

VIDEO - Off the Charts: Media Analysis of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict 
If Americans Knew - Produced by Alternate Focus - A 30-minute segment featuring Alison Weir and the findings of If Americans Knew in researching media coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. 

Articles

The Pope’s Pilgrimage 
Jonathan Cook, Nazareth, CounterPunch 5/14/2009
      Pope Benedict XVI upset the schedule on his first day in Israel by leaving an interfaith meeting in Jerusalem early on Monday night after a leading Muslim cleric called on him to condemn the “slaughter” of women and children in the recent assault on Gaza.
     The pontiff walked out, a spokesman noted, because Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi’s speech was a “direct negation” of dialogue and damaged the Pope’s efforts at “promoting peace”.
     Before he arrived in the region, the Pope declared that he was coming as a “pilgrim of peace”, with his staff accentuating that his role would be spiritual rather than political.
     In truth, however, Pope Benedict’s visit was mired in politics the moment he agreed, at the invitation of Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, to step into this conflict-torn region.
     The two popes who preceded him to the Holy Land appear to have better appreciated that point.
     The first, Paul VI, made a hurried 12-hour stop in 1964, before the Vatican and Israel had established diplomatic relations, to conduct a Mass in Nazareth. During that time he did not utter the word “Israel” or formally meet with an Israeli official.

Living Next to Settlers 
Phelie Maguire, CounterPunch 5/14/2009
      Last week the Hebron team (Simphiwe, Elaine and I) made it a priority to visit the Da’ana family in Wadi al-Hussein. We soon discovered what it was like for an isolated Palestinian family to be located beside a settlement. The Da’ana family (17) live on an isolated farm land with no Palestinian neighbors. Their land and house is located very close to the Harsina settlement in the Wadi al-Hussein valley. The gravity of the situation is marked by the presence of a huge Russian winter tent in their garden, where ISM, other internationals and Israeli peace activists often sleep over to support the family and provide a protective presence. Security Fence
     While the world is aware of the effects of the so called “security barrier” or Wall, we got a glimpse of what the effects of separation fence has had on the Da’ana family. Erected in 2004 the fence cut the Da’ana land in two resulting in the loss of 200 olive trees. The economic effects of cutting his lands in half is such that he loses 50-60,000 NIS per year in loss of earnings. Psychologically speaking it has and continues to be extremely damaging on Khalifa’s heart when he sees settlers picking and eating his olives. This is very difficult for him to handle. I ask him how he manages to deal with the anger of what is happening to him and his family. The father is at a loss, and while it makes him feel crazy he doesn’t do anything because he says he can’t do anything....


Electronic Intifada
Hamas under scrutiny while Lieberman embraced
14 May 2009 - GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - A founding member of Hamas says he hates all weapons and insists that his organization is not anti-Jewish. In an interview with IPS, Sayed Abu Musameh described frequent claims in the European and US press that Hamas's charter is based on enmity towards Jews as a "big lie." Speaking in the remains of the Palestinian Legislative Council headquarters in Gaza City, Husameh drew a distinction between followers of Judaism and the Zionist ideology to which most politicians in Israel's main political parties subscribe. 

Pope's visit overlooks Palestinians
14 May 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI upset the schedule on his first day in Israel by leaving an interfaith meeting in Jerusalem early on Monday night after a leading Muslim cleric called on him to condemn the "slaughter" of women and children in the recent assault on Gaza. The pontiff walked out, a spokesman noted, because Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi's speech was a "direct negation" of dialogue and damaged the Pope's efforts at "promoting peace." 

Israeli orgs call on Norway to divest from occupation
14 May 2009 - In an unprecedented way, a wide array of Israeli civil society and grassroots organizations has sent a letter to the Norwegian Pension Fund, addressed to its Council on Ethics, urging it to support their efforts for a just peace and equality in Israel/Palestine by divesting from all companies involved in the Israeli occupation. 

EU obligated to prosecute war crime suspects
14 May 2009 - Fair criminal trials in EU member states, especially if they result in convictions, could provide genuine deterrence and begin to provide justice for Palestinian victims of Israeli actions. The EU has a massive role in that regard. Instead of paying lip service to injustices inflicted upon the Palestinian people by issuing statements "deploring the loss of life" and promises to "follow closely investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian law," EU countries would achieve much more by applying the rule of law to Israel, starting with making their laws match their obligations under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Daniel Machover and Adri Nieuwhof comment for The Electronic Intifada. 

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
Unity Comes First
14 May 2009 - By Joharah Baker – Jerusalem Saying we are back to square one hardly does our situation justice. If we are to be more accurate, we should say we are below zero, pushed back to a place we tried to avoid in the first place. But here we are – no national unity government, no factional conciliation and not even unity within Fateh itself. The Palestinian squabbling has splintered the leadership even more, leaving us empty handed once again. For months now, the Palestinian people have been on a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, alternately raising their hopes and watching them plummet with the start of every conciliation meeting and their subsequent failure. Each time, we average citizens hoped beyond hope that this time, our leaders would come to their senses and realize how important it is to see the bigger picture, to transcend these petty feuds and maintain the age-old aspiration of our people, which is a united front with the goal of national liberation. That goal has been lost for some time now, even if our leaders mouth the words in public forums. Their actions speak differently and the fact that they cannot unite, that they would rather pick at each other like roosters in a cock fight, shows that our national project has suffered one too many blows. Last week, President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he would call on resigned Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad to resume his position at the head of a “newly formed” government in...

The Drones Are Coming: New War on Civilians 
14 May 2009 - By Ramzy Baroud US President Barack Obama took the podium in a White House press conference and stood with an all-embellished confidence that often accompanies new presidents. He was flanked by two leaders whose apparent grandeur barely reflected their embattled situations on the ground: Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The meeting at the White House on 6 May was fashioned to give the impression that the new US administration is both "serious" and "committed" about resolving the crises plaguing Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are imprudently reduced to that of a Taliban resurgence in the former, and a Taliban- inspired militant encroachment in the latter. Obama declared the meeting "extraordinarily productive" as the three nations, he said, are joined by the common goal to "defeat Al-Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan". The skewed reading of reality didn't cease there. "I am pleased that these two men, elected leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, fully appreciate the seriousness of the threat that we face and have reaffirmed their commitment to confronting it," Obama said. Both leaders listened solemnly as to reflect the level of their "seriousness". For a fleeting moment one did in fact hope that Obama would bring with him more than a new language; rather, an entirely new take on US foreign policy. That hope is already in tatters. "Obama conveyed the right message last week by hosting Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The meeting at the White...

Pope's 'Pilgrimage' Mired in Politics
14 May 2009 - By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth Pope Benedict XVI upset the schedule on his first day in Israel by leaving an interfaith meeting in Jerusalem early on Monday night after a leading Muslim cleric called on him to condemn the “slaughter” of women and children in the recent assault on Gaza. The pontiff walked out, a spokesman noted, because Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi’s speech was a “direct negation” of dialogue and damaged the Pope’s efforts at “promoting peace”. Before he arrived in the region, the Pope declared that he was coming as a “pilgrim of peace”, with his staff accentuating that his role would be spiritual rather than political. In truth, however, Pope Benedict’s visit was mired in politics the moment he agreed, at the invitation of Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, to step into this conflict-torn region. The two popes who preceded him to the Holy Land appear to have better appreciated that point. The first, Paul VI, made a hurried 12-hour stop in 1964, before the Vatican and Israel had established diplomatic relations, to conduct a Mass in Nazareth. During that time he did not utter the word “Israel” or formally meet with an Israeli official. The second, John Paul II, came to the Holy Land in radically different circumstances: for the millennium, when hopes were still bright for the peace process. The Vatican had recognized Israel a few years earlier and the pontiff worked hard to soothe long-standing Jewish grievances against the Catholic church. But he is also remembered...

Netanyahu May Be in for a Surprise
14 May 2009 - By George S. Hishmeh Benjamin Netanyahu, the right-wing Israeli prime minister, is going to Washington on Monday for talks with President Barack Obama. But he may be in for a surprise. His host is not like any other seen in the White House in the last 50 years. In fact there hasn't been a US president like him since Dwight Eisenhower ordered Israel and its two European allies - Britain and France - to pull out of the Suez Canal, which they had invaded in 1956 after Egypt's popular president Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the important waterway. It is not that Obama is about to take a dramatic step, unparalleled since the mid-fifties by any American head of state, but all indications are that the American leader is serious about reaching a "comprehensive peace" - a term hardly used by US officials in recent administrations. (Yet, Obama has surprisingly avoided making any reaction to the three-week Israeli invasion of Gaza earlier this year that cost the lives of about 1,300 Palestinians.) One by one, senior American officials have made public statements that signaled the new mood in Washington, touching off at times a verbal duel between the United States and Israel. In recent testimony in the House of Representatives, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared: "For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-à-vis Iran, it can't stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace process". Netanyahu, who has diehard extremists...

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