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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
30 July , 2009

News

International Middle East Media Center

Code Pinks activists protest “Ahava” beauty products, manufactured in Israeli settlements
31 Jul 2009 - Dozens of international women of the Code Pink antiwar movement, protested on Wednesday against the purchase of “Ahava” products manufactured by an Israeli company in Mitzpe Shalem settlement. Wearing bikinis and swim suits, the protesters demanded a boycott of the company that uses Palestinian natural resources in the occupied West Bank. 

Hamas arrests members of Fateh’s Council in Gaza
31 Jul 2009 - Fateh movement accused Hamas on Thursday of arresting a number of Fateh officials, members of its Central Council and other Fateh members and leaders in districts in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. 

UN receives 1500 compensation claims due to damage caused by the Annexation Wall
31 Jul 2009 - The United Nations reported Thursday that it received nearly 1500 claims filed by Palestinians demanding compensation for damages caused by Israel’s Annexation Wall on their lands in the occupied West Bank. 

Israel to close Gaza trade terminals Friday
31 Jul 2009 - Israel announced on Thursday that it will be closing the three trade terminals in the Gaza Strip on Friday, and did not provide any further information on the reason behind the closure. 

Hamas says P.A security forces are threatening to arrest their leaders, legislators in the West Bank
31 Jul 2009 - Several legislators of the Hamas movement in the West Bank stated on Thursday that they received arrest threats from the Palestinian Security Forces, loyal to president Mahmoud Abbas in the West bank. 

Israel says its offensive in Gaza was a ‘proportional response’
30 Jul 2009 - The Israeli Foreign Ministry reported Thursday that its offensive against the Gaza Strip earlier this year was a ‘proportional response’ to attacks carried out by the Hamas movement. 

The Israeli military kidnaps eight Palestinian civilians
30 Jul 2009 - The Israeli military kidnapped on Thursday eight Palestinian civilians during pre dawn and morning invasions targeting a number of West Bank communities. 

Ha'aretz Defense page

Gaza children go for world record in kite flying
30 Jul 2009 - Guinness was unable to send a judge to the attempt due to travel restrictions into the coastal territory. 

Israel 'defense brief': Gaza offensive was proportionate
30 Jul 2009 - Foreign Ministry releases brief ahead of UN reports on Cast Lead; brief says IDF probing 100 complaints. 

Officers censured over hazing of IDF Armored Corps recruits
30 Jul 2009 - Troops reportedly beaten, humiliated in ritual; officers to receive notations in service permanent records. 

WHO: Israel-led blockade limits medical supplies in Gaza
30 Jul 2009 - Israel Foreign Ministry calls WHO claims 'dubious', says no restrictions on medical equipment exist. 

IDF general who evacuated Gaza settlers calls pullout 'utter nonsense'
30 Jul 2009 - Major General (Ret.) Yiftach Ron-Tal says he opposed disengagement, but took part in it wholeheartedly. 

Ma'an News

Two killed as Gaza tunnels collapse
7/30/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Two Palestinians died were killed on Wednesday night when two smuggling tunnels collapsed near Rafah Refugee Camp in the southern Gaza Strip, medics said. According to medical sources at Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, a man named Amid Al-Aloul arrived dead at the facility after a tunnel collapsed. Another man, Hassan Khamis Khadra, 43, from the city of Deir Al-Balah, also arrived dead at the hospital. With these fatalities, 10 people have now been killed in the Gaza smuggling tunnels in about four days, fueling calls from human rights organizations for Israeli and Palestinian authorities to take action to prevent future accidents. Smugglers maintain the tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border in Rafah to import goods made scarce by Israel's two-year-long blockade of the coastal territory. 

Israeli forces seize eight Palestinians overnight
7/30/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Israel's army seized eight "wanted" Palestinians overnight, according to Hebrew news reports. The detainees were taken for questioning to unspecified locations, according to the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. The Palestinians' identities were not immediately made public, nor were any charges or suspicions against them announced. Israeli forces detained two Palestinian brothers from the northern West Bank town of Illar north of Tulkarem early Wednesday morning. Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces stormed Illar and ransacked the home of the Shadid family before they detained 37-year-old Izzat Shadid, and his brother 27-year-old Muhammad. Separately, several Israeli military patrols entered towns of Anabta and Kafr Al-Labad east of Tulkarem. No arrests were reported from those incidents. 

Tension in Jerusalem as Israelis mark temple destruction
7/30/2009 - Jerusalem - Ma'an - A top official urged Palestinians from Jerusalem and inside Israel to converge on the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Thursday in order to confront an expected Israeli settler incursion at the holy site. Hatem Abdul Qader, a Fatah lawmaker and former minister of Jerusalem Affairs in the Palestinian Authority government, said that the Israeli government is "playing with fire" if it allows far-right Jewish groups to harm the mosque in any way. Ma'an's correspondent reported that Israeli police have increased their presence at the gates of the Al-Aqsa compound since Wednesday night. Right-wing Israelis were seen praying just outside the gates. Thursday is the Jewish holy day of Tisha B'av (the ninth of the month of Av), which marks the destruction of the first and second temples, the ruins of which are believed to lie beneath the present-day Al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock Mosque. 

Fayyad: Netanyahu changed his position on economic peace
7/30/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - In the view of Palestinian caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, his Israeli counterpart no longer sees "economic peace" as a substitute for an independent Palestinian state. Fayyad said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "changed his position" on replacing a negotiated settlement with economic recovery. The Palestinian prime minister was speaking during a short interview during his visit to Ma'an's Bethlehem office for a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the completion of a new television studio. Fayyad, a US-trained economist, has long maintained that his 2007 Reform and Development Plan is laying the foundations for a Palestinian state, whereas Netanyahu has also called for economic and security agreements with the Palestinians. In a policy speech in June, Netanyahu uttered the words "Palestinian state" but laid down a list of limitations he would place on that state's sovereignty. 

Global Peace Index: Israel among least peaceful countries
7/30/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The annual Global Peace Index ranked Israel 141 out of 144 countries on its commitment to peace, according to the organization's report released on Thursday. The occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) was not ranked by the index, which was compiled by the Vision of Humanity organization. The organization does not place blame on any particular side when ranking a country's overall peacefulness, but tallies nations based on an "absence of violence" criteria, where a lower score is considered more peaceful. Israel's score, out of a combined 23 ranking indicators, was brought down by its human rights record, as well as its poor relations with neighboring countries, most of which it has no relations with whatsoever. Israel scored high on civil liberties enjoyed by its citizens, funding UN missions and treating foreigners well. 

PLO: Settlement freeze an Israeli obligation, not Palestinian demand
7/30/2009 - Jericho - Ma'an - Israel's refusal to stop settlements is not a rejection of Palestinian demands, but a refusal to abide by its own commitments, head Palestine Liberation Organization negotiator Saeb Erekat insisted on Thursday. He affirmed that he urged US security official James Jones and special envoy George Mitchell to help enforce Israel's prior obligations. Erekat also rejected "natural growth" exceptions as also in violation of Israel's commitments in the Road Map peace plan, in addition to the country's refusal to reopen Palestinian government offices in East Jerusalem. "President Abbas affirmed the necessity of the [International] Quartet to make Israel implement its commitments, and it should play a role monitoring and following up implementation on the ground," Erekat noted. Erekat was speaking in Jericho with British Consul General Richard Makepeace, as well as the head of the representative offices of Russia and Japan. 

No end in sight for Gaza tunnel industry
7/30/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an Report - "Ayman Abu Samak died yesterday; he suffocated inside the tunnel. May God bless his soul," commented one family member the day of the youth's funeral. "But in two days," an observer at the funeral added, "Ayman's death will be forgotten because hundreds have suffocated, burnt and died in those tunnels and they were forgotten. " Despite all of the deaths and all of the grief, youth continue to flock to the tunnels looking for work. Muhammad is 25 years old and he used to work in these tunnels, smuggling cows and sheep. He recalls working one night and, feeling exhausted, asking his boss if he could leave the tunnel and take some rest. The following morning on the radio he heard that six of his friends, tunnel coworkers, were killed when a tunnel collapsed in the early hours of the morning. 

Ofer prisoners ready to strike if cancer patient not treated
7/30/2009 - Hebron - Ma'an - Prisoner in Israel Hamza Tarayra cannot eat and can barely speak with the large tumor in his mouth that went undiagnosed for months after Israseli prison authorities denied him medical assistance, recently released prisoner Raed Al-Atrash said Wednesday. Al-Atrash held a public appeal alongside other released detainees from Israel's Ofer prison, the group demanded Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, human rights associations and the Red Cross intervene and insist Tarayra receive proper medical treatment. "He can only swallow the water they give him," Al-Atrash said of Tarayra's condition, "he has lost a lot of weight and is in very bad condition. " Tarayra asked several times to see medical professionals after noticing the lump in his mouth, but was only offered pain relievers by prison authorities, an earlier report from the Prisoner's Center said. 

Families of men in Egyptian prison rally in Gaza
7/30/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Families of five men detained in Egypt have continued an appeal following a Hamas-organized summer camp staged a sit-in Wednesday demanding the return of a Gaza man from detention. "Egyptian authorities arrested five residents of Gaza on 12 September 2004 and charged them with affiliation to an extremist group outside the country," said their spokesman Abu Murad Al-Qoqa, "they were officially released on 15 January 2005 according to a court decision, but state security rejected thr decision under the pretext that martial law applied in their case. " "The news reports we've heard say our children are treated harshly and sometimes we hear rumors they have died in Egyptian detention," one mother said. The assembled families appealed to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to free their sons. 

Jihad men claim clash with Israeli forces in Gaza
7/30/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Islamic Jihad's armed wing, Al-Quds Brigades, said that it fired six projectiles at Israeli ground forces operating near the Kissufim crossing at 1:00am on Thursday morning. The organization did not say whether any of its members or Israeli soldiers were injured. A spokesman for the Israeli military said that he was not aware of any incidents in the area at that time. [end] 

Israeli soldiers seize three Palestinians from Hebron area
7/30/2009 - Hebron - Ma'an - Israeli soldiers seized three Palestinian residents of the village of Beit Awwa, west of the West Bank city of Hebron, on Thursday, taking them to an unknown location. Palestinians security sources told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers raided three homes owned by members of the As-Sweiti family. Wajdi Ahmad Yaseen As-Sweiti, Mu'ath HafethSalem As-Suweiti and Dia Bassam Ali As-Sweiti were detained by the soldiers. Earlier the Israeli military reported that it detained eight Palestinians during overnight raids in the West Bank. [end] 

PA finance minister: Economic peace plan has failed
7/30/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - In what was likely the first meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu's government, the Palestinian Authority'sfinance minister attended a joint conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, according to news reports. The English-language daily newspaper The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday that PA Finance Minister Dr Bassim Khoury insisted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "economic peace" plan had failed. The Palestinian finance minister was speaking at a conference organized by the Peres Center for Peace and Tel Aviv University, the newspaper said, adding that Khoury also spoke unofficially but cordially with Israeli Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom. "Economic peace was already attempted in the past and it failed," Khoury said, according to the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. 

Hamas: Israel’s Gaza report does not dignify response
7/30/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - A Hamas spokesman said Thursday that Israel's official report on its Gaza assault last winter was "ridiculous" and repeated the movement's stance that Israel committed war crimes. "This report is ridiculous and stupid and does not deserve a response," the AP quoted Hamas official Mushair Al-Masri as saying. Earlier the same day Israel said its operation, purportedly aimed at stopping Hamas projectile fire, was a "proportional response," according to a report issued by the country's Foreign Ministry. "Israel's resort to force in the Gaza Operation was both a necessary and a proportionate response to Hamas' attacks," the ministry said on the report, issued ahead of two UN investigations set to be released soon. The 160-page report, "The Operation in Gaza - Legal and Factual Aspects," can be read in full by clicking 

Hamas: PA arrested five West Bank affiliates
7/30/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Palestinian Authority forces seized five Hamas affiliates from their homes on Wednesday night, according to a statement sent to Ma'an on Thursday. The Hamas movement claimed that the detained were from Qalqiliya, Nablus and Jenin. The issue of politically motivated arrests has been a major sticking point in talks aimed at resolving the two-year internal Palestinian divide. Fatah insists that the PA only arrests people for actual crimes rather than political affiliation. Hamas regularly publicizes alleged arrests of its members by the PA. The issue took on new urgency in recent weeks as the Islamic movement has threatened not to allow Fatah officials in Gaza to attend an upcoming conference if PA forces do not stop arresting Hamas affiliates. Last Friday leader Dr Mahmoud Az-Zahhar said Hamas would allow Fatah officials in Gaza to attend an upcoming. . . 

Gaza security forces briefly detain Fatah member
7/30/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - De facto security forces summoned a member of Fatah in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, according to a statement. The office of Fatah high committee member Abdallah Abu Samahdanah said the official's ID card and passport were both seized. Abu Samahdanah was expected to attend Fatah's sixth conference in Bethlehem on 4 August. "Hamas is mistaken if they think they can blackmail the movement through carrying out arrests, chasing and summoning Fatah affiliates," his office said. "Such arrests will only make matters more complicated. " The issue of politically motivated arrests has been a major sticking point in talks aimed at resolving the two-year internal Palestinian divide. Fatah insists that the PA only arrests people for actual crimes rather than political affiliation. Hamas regularly publicizes alleged arrests of its members by the PA. 

APF official: Hamas must let Fatah members leave Gaza
7/30/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Secretary-General Sami Na'eem of the Arab-Palestinian Front on Thursday urged Hamas to let Fatah leaders attend their upcoming sixth conference in Bethlehem. Na'eem said respecting their right to gather would benefit ongoing negotiations on achieving national unity between Fatah and Hamas, as well as the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas has threatened in recent weeks not to allow Fatah officials in Gaza attend an upcoming conference if Palestinian Authority security forces do not stop arresting Hamas affiliates in the West Bank. Speaking at a conference on Palestinian heritage, the Front leader insisted that all sides step back from narrow partisanship, calling the past two years of disunity detrimental to "social peace and greatly harmed the Palestinian cause. " Iyad Abu Hamda, another Front official, said the cultural event "comes within a series of activities. . . 

Hamas organizes mass wedding for 550 Gaza couples
7/30/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - The Hamas movement organized and celebrated the mass wedding of 450 couples in northern Gaza on Thursday, as well as 100 more in Gaza City. Hamas media officer Iyad Al-Buzum said the Islamic movement would deliver an unspecified amount of money for each couple, in addition to gifts for both the groom and bride of each. Al-Buzum added that the donations were "to confront the difficult circumstances due to the siege imposed on Gaza. "He said that the celebration began in Al-Fakhura yard, where a number of Palestinians were killed in the latest Israeli assault. "This is a message to the [Israeli] occupation, that the Palestinians are able to continue life, and are holding on to the option of resistance," Al-Buzum insisted. He added that the celebration would continue on a stage that was installed in the city of Sheikh Zayed, and concluded by noting that de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh would deliver a speech there. 

Al-Quds Index closes nearly two points down
7/30/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Palestine Securities Exchange's Al-Quds Index closed at 621,389. 93 on Thursday, down 1. 58 points (0. 32%) since Wednesday. Trading volume was 262,037 shares, a total value of 621,389. 93 US dollars, over the course of 232 trades. The shares of 20 companies were traded. The share prices of eight companies rose, while prices of eight companies declined. The same PSE index closed at 490. 35 on Wednesday afternoon, marking a decrease of 1. 47 points (0. 3%) over Tuesday. Trading volume was 145,578 shares, a total value of 354,610. 59 US dollars, over the course of 184 trades. The shares of 21 companies were traded. The share prices of eight companies rose, while those of eight others declined. 

The National

Hotel hotline to help Egypt's tourism
30 Jul 2009 - But only one person has come forward since the start of the operation this month following complaints from Gulf Arab visitors.

Isolation and division take their toll in Gaza Strip
29 Jul 2009 - Israeli blockade and fighting between the two main political factions kills hopes of economy and infrastructure being restored soon.

Palestinians feel insecure in Jordan
29 Jul 2009 - Recent measures to revoke the citizenship of hundreds of Jordanians of Palestinian origin is creating a state of panic and confusion.

Rival Lebanese factions close to an agreement on cabinet
28 Jul 2009 - Lebanon's political divisions appeared to take a step closer to healing yesterday as the incoming majority alliance that won June's parliamentary elections forged a compromise with the Hizbollah-led opposition on the make-up of the new cabinet.

Aljazeera

Israel defends Gaza war 
30 Jul 2009 - Government report says 22-day assault was "proportionate" response to rocket attacks.

Gaza kids 'hit kite-flying record'
30 Jul 2009 - Thousands of children smash the previous world record at event in Gaza Strip, UN says.

Palestine News Network

New city for religious Jews threatening Arabs in Galilee area
30 Jul 2009 - Tel Aviv/PNN - Israel is considering plans to construct a new town housing 50,000 ultra-orthodox Jews near Nazareth, threatening to overwhelm the area’s Arab villages.The move comes following last month’s calls by Israeli Housing Minister for religious Jews to “save” the north of Israel from a “takeover” by its majority Arab population.The city will cover roughly six thousand acres, including areas which...

Appeal for isolated Palestinian prisoner in Israeli prison
28 Jul 2009 - Nablus/PNN – The lawyer for a Palestinian prisoner in isolation at Israel’s Ayalon Prison said he’s suffering from dreadful living conditions.The prisoner, 50-year-old Balazer Ahalisi from Jerusalem, was sentenced to life in prison in 1986 after being convicted of murdering Israelis.Ahalisi’s lawyer, Nasser Sherine, said that his client has been in and out of isolation in multiple prisons for the last 13...

United Nations warns of escalating education crisis in Gaza Strip
28 Jul 2009 - Gaza/PNN - If the siege on Gaza is not lifted, the education system may be unable to cope in the next school year, humanitarian agencies have warned.The UN Coordinator for Humanitarian affairs, along with other international agencies, has called for Israel to lift the blockade to allow construction and teaching materials into the Strip, stressing that the school system is at breaking...

Syria, Turkey and Russia ask Hamas to allow Fatah members to leave Gaza for conference
28 Jul 2009 - Gaza / PNN – Several countries are negotiating with Hamas to allow Fatah members in Gaza to leave for the Sixth General Fatah Conference in the West Bank. But tensions between Fatah and Hamas, Palestine’s rival political factions, may make this impossible.“There are serious efforts by Syria, Turkey and Russia to allow members of Fatah from the Gaza Strip to participate in the...

Rafah crossing to be opened for three days next week
28 Jul 2009 - Gaza/PNN - Egypt has agreed to open the Rafah crossing for three days next week to allow those with permission to pass into and out of Gaza.The border will be open only to those who have documents proving residence or study outside of Gaza, or those in urgent need of medical care, in order to prevent in influx of refugees from the...

Far right Israeli youth group constructs 11 new illegal outposts in the West Bank
28 Jul 2009 - Bethlehem/PNN - Militant Israeli settlers have constructed 11 new illegal outposts across the West Bank, in defiance of US pressure to freeze settlement.Groups of teenagers from the rightist group “Youth for Israel”, along with settlers from previously evacuated outposts, set up caravans and tents in various locations, including one between Hebron and Qiryat Arba.Organizers from the movement, which was set up following...

Brazilian soccer player to star in movie about Palestinian girl
28 Jul 2009 - Dubai/PNN – Alneyrab, a 13-year-old Palestinian girl, dreamed of meeting Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo. Though she died in a refugee camp, her dreams will now be realized in a movie about her life featuring the famous soccer player.World Cup champion Ronaldo, 32, will play himself in several dream sequences in the Iranian film. It tells the story of Alneyrab, who wanted to...

IRIN

HOW TO: Do a food airdrop
NAIROBI Thursday, July 30, 2009 (IRIN) - The humanitarian cavalry is the food airdrop: when you need to shift serious tonnage in a hurry to somewhere inaccessible, nothing quite does it like a large cargo plane and skilled pilot and crew.

IRAQ: Welcome move to upgrade Baghdad slums
BAGHDAD Thursday, July 30, 2009 (IRIN) - Slum dwellers and local NGOs have welcomed the partnership between the government and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) to improve service delivery, reduce poverty and create employment in slums.

MIDDLE EAST: Swine flu deaths registered 
DUBAI Thursday, July 30, 2009 (IRIN) - Three H1N1 2009 deaths were registered in the Middle East over the past 10 days as the world awaits a vaccine, expected to be available in September, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest briefing note.

Inter Press Service

GREECE: Zero Tolerance, Zero Concern 
ATHENS, Jul 30 (IPS) - Increasing evidence has surfaced that a zero tolerance policy is denying due protection to people fleeing hardship, and condemning them to degrading treatment.

MOROCCO: New Law, But the Same Old Men 
RABAT, Jul 30 (IPS) - The new Moroccan family law was designed to give women equal rights in the family. But five years after its introduction, Moroccan women leaders say opposition to the law from politicians and within the judicial system persists, and the new law has not been able...

Q&A: EU Stepping Closer to Israel, Regardless 
BRUSSELS, Jul 30 (IPS) - Israel enjoys closer relations with the European Union than almost any other foreign country - and work on deepening ties with Israel continues, even as its oppression of the Palestinian people worsens.

EGYPT: Christian-Muslim Tensions Rise 
CAIRO, Jul 30 (IPS) - A handful of recent clashes between Muslims and Christians has again raised the spectre of sectarian discord in Egypt. The incidents, though relatively minor, highlight longstanding tensions between the country's Muslim majority and its Christian minority.

Stop The Wall

Weekly protests met with tear gas
28 Jul 2009 - Protests in Ni'lin and Bil'in were met with volleys of tear gas and sound bombs as they approached the Wall this past Friday. In Bil'in, soldiers fired on the march after a protestor threw a football over the fence. In al-Ma'sara, Occupation forces blocked the march from reaching village land. [

Youth to mobilise in the north
28 Jul 2009 - A conference, entitled “The Role of Youth in the Palestinian Popular Resistance Movement” saw lively and productive discussion from dozens of young activists from Tulkarm, Jenin, Nablus, Qalqilia, Jayyous, Tubas and Salfit. Youth gathered and discussed their role in grassroots resistance, BDS and normalisation, occupation, and the difficulties specific to the younger generations. Following the conference, it was decided that youth committees would be formed in seven areas in the north of the West Bank following a successful conference. [

PCHR Latest

Decision to Impose Traditional Robes and Veils on Female Lawyers in Gaza Is Illegal
PCHR

PCHR Condemns Injury of 61 Persons in attack on Wedding Party in Khan Yunis
PCHR

PCHR Weekly Report

(23 - 29 July  2008)
During the reporting period, 7 Palestinians civilians, including one child and one woman, were wounded by the IOF gunfire in the West Bank.

International Solidarity Movement

International movements breaking the siege on Gaza
International Solidarity Movement - 28 July 2009 , Suzanne Morrison, Common Dreams - Since June 2007 the Israeli government has imposed almost complete closure over the Gaza Strip. The siege prevents nearly all movement of people or goods to and from the coastal region with only minimal amounts of humanitarian provisions inconsistently allowed in. With the exception of a small amount of carnations allowed out earlier this year, there has been a virtual ban on all exports from Gaza since 2007. [1] A quick socio-economic glimpse of Gaza includes agricultural losses totaling US $30 million and more than 40,000 jobs for the 2007/2008 season, the suspension of 98% of industrial operations, and more than 80% of Gaza's population is now dependent on humanitarian aid from international aid providing agencies. [2]Closure of Gaza and the West Bank has intermittently been imposed since 1991. 

Israeli forces kidnap 2 Ni’lin residents
International Solidarity Movement - 29 July - In the early morning on Wednesday 29 the brothers Saeed Attallah Ameerah , 24, and Ahmed Attallah Ameerah, 22, were brutally kidnapped from their home. At 5 am, dozens of soldiers surrounded their house and pounded on their door. Ahmed opened and was immediately grabbed by the soldiers , beaten, handcuffed and blind folded. About 17 soldiers entered the home, found Saeed whom they forcefully handcuffed and blind folded. The terrified family, in total 11 persons, were placed in one room while their brothers were kept in another room. When their brother in law tried to interfere also he was beaten, handcuffed and blindfolded. "I was so scared. Soldiers were everywhere and I saw how Ahmed's wrists were bleeding cause they were so tight tied together. Soldiers have entered our house in night time many times, its horrible. 

Bil’in under attack
International Solidarity Movement - 30 July, Alternative Information Center (AIC) - Five years ago the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its advisory opinion declaring that the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is illegal and should be dismantled. After five years of silence and complicity by the international community in perpetrating this crime, several villages across the Occupied West Bank have formed committees engaged in continuous demonstrations against the Wall and the settlements. Israel is getting worried by this phenomenon of mass popular resistance, especially because of the unity being created amongst Palestinians, Israeli and International activists who have been demonstrating together against the apartheid Wall for more than four years. That's why the Israeli military is escalating the level of violence and repression against these communities (curfews, sieges, destruction of property,. . . 

Bil’in demonstrates against nightly raids
International Solidarity Movement - 30 July, Bil'in Popular Committee - On Wednesday night, July 29, one hundred villagers of Bil'in along with their International and Israeli supporters conducted a Protest March against the IDF's nightly raids and detaining of Palestinian villagers. The protest march began in the village of Bil'in, but buoyed by peace songs, chants, and flashlight-lit containers with peace messages written on them in over a dozen languages, the enthusiastic marchers walked down to the Separation Fence and where a 15-minute rally was held. The lights and chanting attracted several Israeli military vehicles who launched several night flares (inducing exuberant cheering and vigorous waving of the Palestinian flags carried by several members) as the landscape brightened. It was reported that one tear gas canister was fired in the vicinity of the demonstrators, but no one was injured, fortunately. 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Anshel Pfeffer / New Jersey scandal less damaging to Jews than Madoff 
30 Jul 2009 - Every Sopranos fan has his own private collection of classic Soprano moments. One of my personal favorites is a scene in Episode 8 of the first season, where Dr. Jennifer Melfi, Tony Soprano's shrink, goes with her estranged husband, Richard LaPenna, and their teenage son, Jason, for a bit of group therapy with an older psychologist. Richard has been giving Melfi a rough time for treating a Mafia kingpin. More than anything else, he hates the bad name that a handful of mobsters are giving the entire Italian-American community. ... 

Dispute with Hamas may derail Fatah summit in West Bank 
30 Jul 2009 - A renewed dispute between Fatah and Hamas threatens to derail a major convention of some 2,000 Fatah members, from both the territories and the Diaspora, that is due to be held in Bethlehem next Tuesday: Hamas says that unless those of its members being held in Palestinian Authority prisons in the West Bank are released, it it will not enable around 400 Fatah delegates from the Gaza Strip to attend the convention. ... 

ANALYSIS / U.S. losing faith in usefulness of Tehran dialogue 
30 Jul 2009 - The talks held in Israel this week by senior Obama Administration officials, which focused to a large extent on blocking Iran's nuclear program, indicate that the Americans - influenced by the Iranian regime's conduct toward the post-election unrest that began in early June - are for the first time showing more understanding for Israel's view of events. The United States is more skeptical than before about the likelihood that a diplomatic dialogue, or even harsh sanctions should that option fail, will dissuade the Iranians from their goal. ... 

U.S. briefs Israel on new Iran nuke sanctions 
30 Jul 2009 - American officials briefed Israel this week on the administration's ideas for intensifying sanctions against Iran if it fails to respond to President Barack Obama's offer of dialogue. ... 

U.S. blasts 'disturbing' Iran crackdown on graveside rally
29 Jul 2009 - The U.S. State Department criticized on Wednesday Iranian police for using force to disperse a graveside memorial Thursday, calling the latest crackdown on opposition protestors "disturbing." ...

The Guardian

Praying for a miracle in the West Bank | Nicholas Blincoe
30 Jul 2009 - Belief in the healing power of saints is one thing that crosses religious boundaries in this part of the world The question: Do we need saints? One day soon, someone is going to drag me to...

There can be no Middle East settlement without Hamas | Seumas Milne
29 Jul 2009 - By throwing their weight behind repression on the West Bank, the US and Britain are only making a viable peace less likely Barely six months into Barack Obama's presidency and public tensions between the US and...

Palestinians visit a beach in Israel
29 Jul 2009 - Palestinians and Israelis might be divided by a separation barrier, but some grass-roots organisations are trying to find innovative ways of bringing them together. On Monday, two groups, Combatants for Peace and Machsom Watch, arranged a...

Who's responsible for the Arab world? | Khaled Diab
29 Jul 2009 - A UN report has reignited the controversy over who is to blame for the sorry state of the Arab world: Arabs or the west? First, the good news. Arab countries have the lowest levels of malnutrition...

Ha'aretz National page

Tickets for Leonard Cohen concert in Tel Aviv go on sale Saturday 
30 Jul 2009 - Ticket sales for Leonard Cohen's concert in Israel will begin Saturday night, the show's producers said Thursday. ...

Israeli octogenarian seeks recognition as terror victim after 80 years 
30 Jul 2009 - An Israeli octogenarian is seeking recognition by the state as having been orphaned by a terrorist attack, 80 years after his father and 4-year-old sister were murdered by Arabs in the 1929 Hebron massacre. ... 

Coming soon in Israel: Free digital-quality TV 
30 Jul 2009 - On August 2, Israeli TV viewers will begin being able to receive free digital-quality broadcasts of channels 1, 2, 10, 33 and 99 via special decoders. ... 

Relief Web

UNICEF provides a new model of health care for refugees in Syria
30 Jul 2009 - Source: UN Children's Fund

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory 23 - 29 Jul 2009
30 Jul 2009 - Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Influenza A (H1N1): Eastern Mediterranean Region - WHO latest update, 30 Jul 2009
30 Jul 2009 - Source: World Health Organization

YNet News

Code Pink protest calls for Ahava boycott
30 Jul 2009 - Washington: American anti-war movement launches fourth in line of protests in 'Stolen Beauty' campaign against Dead Sea company that produces cosmetics in Mitzpe Shalem settlement 'from stolen Palestinian natural resources in occupied territories' 

Gaza children go for world record in kite flying
30 Jul 2009 - In UN-sponsored event, some 6,000 Palestinian children released kites on Gaza's beach in attempt to break Guinness Book record for most kites flown simultaneously. Travel restrictions keep judge from event, but Guinness spokesperson says kids may verify feat in other ways 

Report defends actions during Gaza war
30 Jul 2009 - Jerusalem publishes official, 160-page report on Operation Cast Lead, says Israel's actions never violated international law, expresses regret over civilian casualties. Hamas rejects report, calling it 'ridiculous and stupid' 

2 more women seriously ill with 'swine flu'
30 Jul 2009 - 2 women, aged 50 and 62 hospitalized in Kfar Saba, Beersheba with H1N1 virus complications. So far, 20 serious cases of virus detected in Israel, out of 1,719 patients. Woman hospitalized in Jerusalem gives birth to baby but remains in serious condition 

2 killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
30 Jul 2009 - Days after seven people Palestinians were killed in explosion in smuggling tunnel between Strip, Egypt, medics say two more die in tunnel collapse 

Daily Star

W. Bank Palestinian children take Israel beach trip
31 Jul 2009 - Giggling children built castles, drew pictures in the sand and splashed water on each other in a refreshing first for Palestinian youngsters from the landlocked occupied West Bank: a day at the beach. While Israelis and Palestinians are increasingly kept apart by distrust and a separation barrier.

Iran police break up prayer session for slain protesters
31 Jul 2009 - Baton-wielding Iranian police fired tear gas on Thursday and arrested protesters mourning the young woman killed in post-election violence who has become a symbol for the opposition to Tehran’s hardline leaders. The clashes erupted after hundreds of supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi gathered to mourn Neda Agha-Soltan.

WHO: Gaza siege limits access to proper medical supplies
31 Jul 2009 - Gazans have limited access to proper medical supplies due to an Israeli blockade on the Hamas-controlled region, and equipment now in use is often broken or outdated, the World Health Or ga nization (WHO) said on Thursday. While some medicines are allowed in for humanitarian reasons.

Egyptian FM talks Middle East issues with Brazilian leader
31 Jul 2009 - Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit discussed Middle East tensions with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during a visit on Wednesday. The meeting, which played to Brazil’s ambition of having a role in helping to negotiate peace in the Middle East, took place a week after Lula discussed the same issues with visiting Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Iran may ban Mecca pilgrimage over flu scare
31 Jul 2009 - Iran might ban pilgrimages to Mecca during the holy month of Ramadan because of swine flu fears as the number of Iranians infected with the virus topped 60, the health minister said Thursday. “The umrah during Ramadan will either be very restricted or even cancelled if necessary,” Kamran Bagheri Lankarani told the ILNA news agency.

Upsurge in violence at Egypt border points to migration shifts
31 Jul 2009 - Egypt has stepped up shootings of African migrants trying to slip across its border into Israel in a sign that shifts in migration in Africa may be pushing more migrants to brave the trek to the Jewish state. Egyptian police have shot dead at least six African migrants at the Egypt-Israel frontier since May.

Israel ‘orders criminal probes’ over Gaza war
31 Jul 2009 - The military has ordered 14 criminal probes into the conduct of Israeli soldiers during the war on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip where rights groups have accused both sides of war crimes, the media reported on Thursday. Two dailies said the military is now reviewing close to 100 complaints from several sources.

Palestinian Information Center

Fatah: Don’t allow Dayton to control your convention
31 Jul 2009 - I think it would be safe to say that virtually all Palestinians, including Hamas, would like to see Fatah’s upcoming Congress succeed in rehabilitating the movement

Hamas asks Fatah to give up its arrogance
31 Jul 2009 - Hamas on Thursday asked Fatah to give up its arrogance and to agree to release all Hamas detainees in order for its cadres to have free access to leave Gaza and attend their factions' congress.

IOF soldiers detain university student on behalf of Abbas's security
31 Jul 2009 - IOF on Wednesday detained Emad Al-Takruri, a Quds University student, in Abu Dis town east of occupied Jerusalem only few days after PA security forces in Ramallah failed to do so.

Galloway: Solidarity campaigns with Gaza to continue
31 Jul 2009 - British Member of Parliament George Galloway has said in a press interview that aid convoys to the besieged Gaza Strip would continue to assist the beleaguered Strip.

Palestinian detainees in Salem center go on hunger strike
31 Jul 2009 - Palestinian detainees in the Israeli Salem detention center have gone on a two-day hunger strike to protest violent treatment on the part of the Israeli jailors against them.

Collapse of tunnel brings number of victims to 40 since start of 2009
31 Jul 2009 - A Palestinian citizen died Wednesday night in the collapse of a tunnel along the Egyptian-Palestinian borders south of Rafah city bringing the number of tunnel victims to 40 since the start of 2009.

Khudari: Construction material necessary humanitarian need
31 Jul 2009 - MP Jamal Al-Khudari has said that allowing entry of construction material into Gaza was a humanitarian necessity that should be expedited in view of the reconstruction needs and natural growth.

Nasr: We will go to Cairo on 25/8 only to sign agreement
31 Jul 2009 - Mohammed Nasr, political bureau member of Hamas, has underlined that his Movement's delegation would head to Cairo on 25/8/2009 only to sign an agreement and not to attend a new round of dialog.

Col. Zahhar: Non-cooperation with civil teams increases number of tunnel victims
31 Jul 2009 - Col. Yousef Al-Zahhar, the director of civil defense department, has attributed the death by suffocation of seven citizens in a tunnel to the fact that his department was not informed soon enough.

Unprecedented mass storming of the Aqsa Mosque
31 Jul 2009 - More than 200 Jewish fanatics on Wednesday morning stormed the holy Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem and offered Talmudic rituals on the anniversary of the so-called destruction of the temple.

Los Angeles Times

Iran hard-liners warn Ahmadinejad he could be deposed 
29 Jul 2009 - The warning over the president's defiance highlights the rift among Iran's conservatives. Meanwhile, the government says Mousavi supporters can't gather at a mosque Thursday to honor protest victims. Political hard-liners warned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday that he could be deposed like past Iranian leaders if he continued to defy the country's supreme religious leader. 

New York Times

Clashes as Iranians Gather to Mourn
30 Jul 2009 - Iranian police dispersed thousands of opposition supporters in Tehran on Thursday as they massed to commemorate those killed in unrest, witnesses said. 

U.S. Opens Way to Ease Sanctions Against Syria
28 Jul 2009 - The shift is part of a broader strategy intended to get Syria to turn away from its alliances with Iran and Islamic militant groups. 

Unsettled: In West Bank Settlements, Sign of Hope for a Deal
27 Jul 2009 - Two growing ultra-Orthodox settlements offer the surprising potential for Israeli compromise with the Palestinians. 

Misc

Isolation and division take their toll in Gaza Strip 
The National - July 30 - GAZA CITY // Just across the street from the rubble of the Palestinian parliament building, which was bombed on the first day of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in late Dec ember 2008, and a few houses down from the crater that marks the site where a Palestinian police station was destroyed on the same day, a cheery little shop nestles among the grey concrete. The bright red sign advertises “Souvenirs from Gaza”, though the wares inside do not reflect Gaza’s millennia of civilisation. Instead the merchandise consists of flags from around the world, posters of Palestinian leaders from all factions, some local woodwork and handicrafts depicting maps of historic Palestine and mugs bearing pictures and text, including one with the inscription “Welcome to the largest jail on earth”. The shop is empty – of course – as are the hopes for Gaza’s future of Tareq Abu Dayyeh, the owner. 

Should Obama speak to the Israeli people? 
The National - July 29 - In an opinion piece for The New York Times, Aluf Benn, editor at large for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, appealed to the US president, Barack Obama, to speak directly to the Israeli people. " Six months into his presidency, Israelis find themselves increasingly suspicious of Mr Obama. All they see is American pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze settlements, a request that's been interpreted here as political arm-twisting meant to please the Arab street at Israel's expense - or simply to express the president's dislike for Mr Netanyahu. " This would seem counterproductive, given the importance the president has placed on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If Israel is part of the problem, it's also part of the solution. Yet so far, neither the president nor any senior administration official has given a speech or an interview aimed at an Israeli audience, beyond brief statements made at diplomatic photo ops. 

Netanyahu says Gaza crossings to be shut 
UPI - JERUSALEM, July 30 (UPI) -- Gaza border crossings will remain closed until kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit returns home, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said. Netanyahu made the statement at a meeting with visiting U. S. National Security Adviser James Jones in Jerusalem Wednesday night, Israeli media reports said. Netanyahu stressed humanitarian assistance will continue to be transferred to the Gaza Strip daily, Israeli media reports said. Israel Wednesday permitted the transfer of cement and construction material into Gaza for the first time since Operation Cast Lead, the army said. A decision by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Netanyahu to allow the building products through does not signify a change in government policy, Maariv quoted a government official as saying. The cement is designated for three projects in Gaza -- a sewage plant, a flour mill and renovation of a British cemetery, Ynentews. com said. 

U.S. briefs Israel on new Iran nuke sanctions 
Ha'aretz - 31/07/2009 - American officials briefed Israel this week on the administration's ideas for intensifying sanctions against Iran if it fails to respond to President Barack Obama's offer of dialogue. U. S. National Security Advisor James Jones, who is now in Israel to discuss Iran's nuclear program, indicated that Tehran has until the UN General Assembly in the last week of September to respond. U. S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates delivered a similar message during his visit here earlier this week. If no satisfactory answer is received, the Americans said, they would work to form an international coalition to impose harsh sanctions on Iran. A senior source in Jerusalem said the American message to Israel in these talks was to "lower its profile" and refrain from "ranting and raving" about Iran in public until the international evaluation on Iran takes place at the end of September. 

Killing of Gazans was ’obligation’, says Tel Aviv 
Press TV - 31 Jul - The Israeli Foreign Ministry has released a detailed report in defense of Tel Aviv's three-week-long all-out offensive on the Gaza Strip. The report, published on Thursday, claims that Israel had "both a right and an obligation to take military action" against the blockaded people of Gaza in response to Hamas rockets fired into Israel, Haaretz reported. In the 163-page document, entitled 'The Operation in Gaza - Factual and Legal Aspects,' Tel-Aviv admits for the first time that the Israeli army used munitions containing white phosphorous in Gaza. Despite the existence of proof in form of pictures, soldiers' testimonies, and the victims' medical records, Tel Aviv had been denying the use of controversial chemical white phosphorous shells and depleted uranium munitions, claiming that it had fought a 'noble war' in the sliver. 

Israel to allow cement into Gaza for first time since war 
Yahoo! News - Jul 29, AFP - JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel will allow a one-time transfer of cement into Gaza for the first time since its war in the Hamas-ruled enclave and amid a new US peace push in the region, officials said on Wednesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak okayed the transfer of more than 310 tonnes of cement for rebuilding a flour mill, a sewage treatment facility and the British cemetery, one defence official said. The one-off consignment will also include some steel and is expected to be transferred "in the coming weeks," he said. Many buildings in Gaza remain in ruins since Israel's December-January offensive because of an acute shortage of construction materials that can only officially enter Gaza through Israel-controlled crossings. Israel recently authorised the monthly transfer of 104 million shekels (26 million dollars) into Gaza to pay the wages 

Obama slammed as ’racist’ at Jerusalem rally 
WorldNetDaily - July 27 - 'This insolence will bring about the downfall of the American leadership' - JERUSALEM – President Obama's policies against Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank were slammed as "racist" today by participants in a rally drawing about 2,000 Israelis in front of the U. S. consulate in Jerusalem. " George Mitchell go home!" yelled protestors in front of the U. S. government building. Mitchell, Obama's envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is here discussing the American administration's call for a halt to all Jewish settlement activity, including natural growth or accommodating the needs of existing Jewish populations in the areas in question. The protest began in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence. Marchers then made their way to the U. S. consulate about one block away. 

Iran: Israel must shed nuclear arms 
Al Jazeera - 7/27/2009- Iran's foreign ministry has said the United States should concentrate on getting Israel to dismantle its nuclear arsenal, instead of criticising Tehran's nuclear programme. The comments came after Hillary Clinton last week said the US would arm its allies in the Gulf region if Iran built a nuclear weapon. " There is no need for the US to provide a defence umbrella for the neighbouring countries," Hassan Qashqavi, a foreign ministry spokesman, said on Monday. " It is enough to tell its ally, the Zionist regime and convince it for the issue of disarmament and dismantle its own 200 nuclear warheads from the occupied territories. " It automatically will bring security to the region and all countries of the region will feel secure. The solution for defence umbrella is removing nuclear warheads of the Zionist regime and has no other way. " 

KSA rejects Israel recognition before end to occuption 
Daily Times - Pakistan - 7/30/2009 - Riyadh cites settlement expansion on occupied land as impediment to two-state solution - RIYADH: Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia on Wednesday rebuffed US calls for diplomatic overtures toward Israel and said the Jewish state’s settlement expansion is jeopardising efforts to revive peace talks. “It is Israel that has to move seriously towards the peace process,” Saudi foreign ministry spokesman Osama Nugali said. “As we all know, Israel is continuing to take unilateral measures by changing the geographic and demographic facts on the ground, by building settlements and expanding the existing ones,” he told AFP. Nugali said Israeli settlement expansion on occupied Arab land continues to impede any progress toward a lasting two-state solution between the Palestinians and Israelis. “We have been seeing a schizophrenic Israeli policy. 

Israel stopped NC jihad suspect’s family in 2007 
Antiwar.com - Jul 29, AP - Official: Members of NC family that includes terror suspects denied entry to Israel on 07 trip - Israel denied entry two years ago to members of a North Carolina family that includes three men accused of plotting to execute terror attacks in foreign countries, an official said Wednesday. Daniel Boyd, 39, was arrested Monday with six others, including two sons. Authorities claim Boyd was the ringleader of a group that was gearing up for a "violent jihad," though prosecutors haven't detailed any specific targets or timeframe. If convicted, the men could face life in prison. An eighth suspect is believed to be in Pakistan. Boyd's wife, Sabrina, told a Raleigh newspaper that he and one of their sons flew to Israel in 2007 to visit Muslim holy sites but were denied entry and detained for two days. That followed a trip Daniel Boyd made with another son, who is not charged, to Israel a year earlier. 

Video - Is Israel guilty of piracy? 
YouTube - 7/30/09, Free Gaza - Is Israel guilty of piracy? Watch the video and decide for yourself how many international and maritime laws Israel has broken. The Israeli navy hijacked the Spirit of Humanity in international waters. The Israeli government hijacks Palestinian fishing boats, in Palestinian territorial waters, kidnaps the fishermen, and sends its military out to shoot to wound and kill them as they struggle to make a living. After watching this video, you will be convinced that Israel has committed acts of piracy against Palestinians and against internationals. No other country would be allowed to do what Israel does on a daily basis. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteers were accompanying fishermen to document attacks on them by the Israeli Navy, and to provide a deterrence to these attacks. 

UK funding political activity in Israel 
Jerusalem Post - Jul 30 - Israel is up in arms over a declaration by a British government spokesman that the UK is funding political activity in Israel. British spokesman Martin Day said in an interview in Dubai with Al-Arabiya television last week that the British government was "taking practical steps towards freezing settlement activities. " "For instance," Day said, "we finance projects aimed at halting settlement activities. One of these projects seeks to build new Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and save Palestinian houses from demolition. " In addition, Day said in an Arabic interview, "we also finance organizations that monitor settlement activities. " He further stated that "products from the settlements do not enjoy preferential custom duties that we offer to products coming from Israel. In light of this, we can say that we are taking effective and practical steps against settlement activities. " 

Israeli Massacres: Details and Numbers 
Sound of Egypt - 1999 - Although the Image that Israel distributes about herself is that of an oppressed nation, it is with heavy hearts that we present these crimes that stand for themselves for the brutality of the Israeli Army and the heartlessness of its soldiers who seem to have a thirst for blood. It is for the hope that the world may see a clearer picture that we present these painful facts. It is interesting to notice that today's media does not dwell on these crimes as they do on the Holocaust. They are reported in the news for a week or two and then swept into the sea of oblivion. Those who attempt to revive the true history of Israel are charged of being anti-Semitic. So with the hope to keep those memories in mind we present this shameful history of Israel that seems to have found that the role of Goliath is more interesting than that of David. 

Articles

A new administration, same old story 
Akram Atallah Aalayasa, Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2009
      When president Obama began his tour of the Middle East many thought the American president was preparing to change the landscape of American-Middle East relations. The ignited a faint hope that the end of American neglect of the Middle Eastunder Bush and, perhaps, the beginning of a solution to the most critical issue in the region, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 
     The new positions the Obama administration took seemed to back up the perception of change and their will to challenge the status quo raised the ceiling on expectations. The first major step that gave us hope was the stance the Obama administration took on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. "˜No new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem"™ was the line, and from this we understood that Obama opposes the occupation of Jerusalem and the West Bank that began in 1967. Second, we saw the appointment of George Mitchell, key in settling the conflict in Northern Ireland, as the US envoy to the Middle East; we saw this as a serious investment in the region.
     The third change, and the one most indicative of the real American policy in retrospect, was the tone of US Vice President Joe Biden’s speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most influential pro-Israel Jewish lobby group in the US. “Israel must work toward a two-state solution, and you must stop the building of new settlements. You must dispatch all the irregular settlements, and allow Palestinians to move freely,” he said without pause.
     True, the tone is a radical change from the previous American positioning, but when the content of the speech is examined, it makes the conflict minute. In the speech it seems the “irregular settlements” (outposts) are the only obstacle in the way of peace, and it implicitly recognizes that many settlements built after 1967 are legal. Biden’s second point, around the free movement of Palestinians, also suggests that when the goal is achieved it will solve all problems for Palestinians.

Five Years After ICJ Ruling, Israel Expands Its Illegal Wall Onto More Palestinian Land 
Ben White, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 7/1/2009
      The Nakba Continues 
     FIVE YEARS ago this July, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague handed down its advisory opinion on Israel’s separation wall in the occupied Palestinian territories (see p. 32). Both the Israeli government and the Palestinians had been preparing for the decision since December 2003, when the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution requesting an ICJ advisory opinion.
     On July 9, 2004, the ICJ ruled 14-1 that the wall was illegal in its entirety, that it should be pulled down immediately, and that compensation should be paid to those already affected. The judges also decided 13-2 that signatories to the Geneva Convention were obliged to enforce “compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law.” Less than two weeks later, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution 150-6 supporting the ICJ’s call to dismantle the wall.
     Exactly one year and one day after the ICJ had issued its opinion, Israel’s cabinet approved the final details for the wall in Jerusalem, a route expected to include Ma’ale Adumim. In the five years since the wall was deemed illegal by the ICJ, Israel has pressed on with construction to the extent that it is now one of the most defining components of its occupation. As of last year, two-thirds of the wall’s planned route of more than 450 miles had either been completed or was under construction (a figure rising to 77 percent in Jerusalem). Across the occupied West Bank, the wall’s economic and social impact already is disastrous: the World Bank has estimated that 2 to3 percent of Palestinian GDP was lost annually due to the wall.
     This existential threat to the very survival of many Palestinian communities (not to mention the broader political implications and breaches of international law) has spurred on various kinds of resistance to the wall: popular resistance by Palestinians living in the occupied territories; cases brought in Israeli courts; and, outside of Palestine, the international legal arena and activists’ campaigning.


Electronic Intifada
Why Obama's peace process is still going nowhere
30 Jul 2009 - Much of the debate about US President Barack Obama's push for Middle East peace resembles the proverbial argument about whether the glass is half full or half empty. But even a full glass is not very useful if you need to fill an entire reservoir. The constant focus on process and gimmicks has obscured the reality that a workable two-state solution is almost certainly unachievable. Ali Abunimah comments. 

No law for detained Palestinians
29 Jul 2009 - BEIRUT (IPS) - Palestinian refugee Youssef Shaaban was released from prison early this month -- after serving 16 years in a Lebanese prison for a crime he did not commit. Shaaban was convicted by Lebanon's Justice Council in October 1994 on charge of shooting and killing the first secretary of the Jordanian embassy, Naeb Imran Matiyeh. 

Using the UN to undermine Palestinian rights
29 Jul 2009 - Having himself been such a key part of the failed peace process, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana recently made a seemingly bold proposal that the UN Security Council "mandate" a resolution of central issues in the Palestine/Israel conflict -- borders, refugees, Jerusalem, settlements and security arrangements. What lies behind this surprise move? Hasan Abu Nimah comments. 

Homeward bound: Gaza in 24 hours
28 Jul 2009 - As soon as I arrived home I felt a great relief, if that is the right word. I have been unable to return to Gaza before because of Israel's winter invasion and the ongoing siege. I am not sure that the word relief summarizes my intense and conflicting emotions. Mixed feelings of relief, happiness, but also disorientation continued to overwhelm me. Dr. Mona El-Farra writes from the Gaza Strip. 

In Gaza
Solace of the sea
29 Jul 2009 - Many in Palestine feel that they can talk to the sea.  Many go seaside and do so, tell the sea, the moon, the stars, their troubles, their dreams, their love.

Palestine Chronicle
Facts vs. Beliefs – Today's Ancient Warfare
30 Jul 2009 - By Jeff Gates In unconventional warfare, beliefs are deployed as weapons by those waging war by way of deception. Does anyone recall Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda? Iraq’s biological weapons laboratories? The Iraqi meetings in Prague with Al Qaeda? Iraq’s purchases of yellowcake uranium from Niger? All were alleged true but later proven false or, worse, fabricated. Yet all were widely believed. In combination, those beliefs induced a consensus to wage war in Iraq in response to a mass murder on U.S. soil. The battlefield has shifted. Ground warfare is secondary. Likewise for airstrikes, naval support and covert operations. Physical operations are all downstream of information operations. False beliefs come first. Psyops precede missiles, and bombs. Hardware ranks a distant third. Foremost are the consensus shapers who manipulate perceptions until a critical mass of phony intelligence is reached. Then comes war. People are preeminent. Wars are won by those skilled at creating consensus opinions. Where is modern-day warfare waged? Not on the ground; nor in the air or on the seas. The shared mindset is this combatant’s theater of operations. Their battlefield is the shared field of consciousness. Deceit is not new to warfare. What’s new is the technology that enables psyops on a global scale. The military remains subordinate to politics. But politics are subordinate to those skilled at manipulating consensus beliefs. Decision-making is no better than the information on which decisions depend. Likewise for decision-makers. That’s why U.S. lawmakers have long been targeted...

Entertaining Apartheid Israel Deserves No Amnesty!
30 Jul 2009 - Open Letter to Amnesty International by PACBI In May, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) called on singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen to heed the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel and avoid complicity with Israel’s violations of international law by cancelling his planned September concert in Israel, particularly in view of Israel’s war crimes in Gaza earlier this year. Sadly, according to a July 28 article in the Jerusalem Post, Amnesty International USA has agreed to cooperate with Cohen in dealing with Israel on the basis of business as usual. Amnesty International USA will serve as sponsor of a new fund that will whitewash the money raised at Cohen’s concert in Israel by using it to finance programs for “peace.” Being one of the world’s strongest proponents of human rights and international law, you shall thus be subverting a non-violent, effective effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel's violations of international law and human rights principles. We call on you to be true to your values and immediately withdraw support for Leonard Cohen’s ill-conceived concert in Israel. The Jerusalem Post report indicates that Cohen and his PR staff, having been criticized for trying to normalize Israel’s occupation and apartheid, are trying to whitewash the concert in Israel by using Amnesty International USA’s good name. According to the article, “All of the net proceeds from Leonard Cohen's September 24 concert at Ramat Gan Stadium will be earmarked for a newly established...

Taking over Post-Arnold California
30 Jul 2009 - By Mickey Z. What do you think of Obama's reaction to the Gates incident? Who killed Michael Jackson? Why did Palin resign? Why are 90% of the large fish in the ocean gone? Which question doesn’t belong? California-based organizer, educator, activist-writer, and playwright (and, oh yes, home schooling father and devoted spouse) Richard Oxman knows the answer. He’s more than aware that our current system – our very culture – is designed to shove the “big” questions to the fringes. This is why Oxman has conjured up a unique form of dissent: TOSCA — Taking Over the State of California. “A necessary, urgent action,” he calls its, “designed to put thirteen non-politicians into the Sacred Seat in Sacramento (the Governor’s seat)… with all of those citizens having an equal say… along with the working figureheads who will be our candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor in the 2010 gubernatorial race.” Oxman feels California is ideally suited for such an effort and has begun the important work of getting the campaign (so to speak) rolling. I recently asked him some questions via e-mail and here’s how it went: Mickey Z: What is it about the state of California and its political apparatus that makes it a logical venue for your efforts? Richard Oxman: The Governor of California can wield great influence in the state, having the legal right to move unilaterally on many fronts without having to compromise with opposing politicians. The state itself is tremendously influential, nationwide, internationally. Her/his role...

Live from Honduras
30 Jul 2009 - By Belen Fernandez Arriving to Toncontín airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras yesterday, I asked the customs official processing my US passport how long I was permitted to stay in the country. The woman looked up from her desk at me and replied icily: “One day.” Fearful that this was a sign of diminishing US influence in Latin America, I squeaked: “Por qué?”, at which point the woman entered into a fit of laughter and welcomed me to Honduras for 90 days. Other versions of the Honduran welcome had been experienced by ousted President Manuel Zelaya in early July, when the Honduran military blockade of Toncontín airport had not been removed amid a fit of laughter and the military had instead fired at the crowd of Zelaya supporters that had gathered to watch his plane circle overhead. Zelaya has since transferred his intended point of homeland penetration to the Nicaraguan border, where the “reckless” behavior of which he has been accused by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has included stepping briefly into Honduran territory. According to Clinton, an elected president’s attempts to remain president do not at the moment “contribute to the broader effort to restore democratic and constitutional order in the Honduras crisis.” She refrains from discussing whether the prohibition of public consultations on the issue of constitutional reform is a more effective contribution to democracy. The danger of public consultation has been spelled out to me by a number of citizens in Tegucigalpa, one of them a taxi driver...

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