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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
17 December, 2009

News

International Middle East Media Center

Prisoner exchange deal stalled as Israel refuses to include Hamas leaders
IMEMC 17 Dec 2009 - Friday December 18, 2009 - 00:28, Last week’s hopeful talk of a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Palestinians has grown into increasing frustration this week as the negotiators failed to reach a compromise agreement.

Israel allows food and fuel into the Gaza Strip
IMEMC 17 Dec 2009 - Thursday December 17, 2009 - 15:44, The Israeli military allowed on Thursday food and fuel supplies to enter the besieged Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army removes a military checkpoint in northern West Bank
IMEMC 17 Dec 2009 - Thursday December 17, 2009 - 15:19, The Israeli army removed on Thursday morning a military checkpoint near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Jerusalem: scores injured, others arrested as Israeli police attack a Palestinian festival
IMEMC 17 Dec 2009 - Thursday December 17, 2009 - 14:49, The Israeli police attacked on Thursday midday a festival organized by Palestinians in Jerusalem old city.

“Let’s Boycott Britain”, MK's Say
IMEMC 17 Dec 2009 - Thursday December 17, 2009 - 12:31, 39 fundamentalist members of Knesset signed a petition calling for boycotting goods and services from the United Kingdom as a response to a recent non-binding decision asking merchants and importers in the county to place a clear mark on products made in Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

Olmert’s Plan Excluded Jerusalem, Offered Limited ‘Land Swap’
IMEMC 17 Dec 2009 - Thursday December 17, 2009 - 11:43, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, published the “map for a permanent solution with the Palestinians” that was previously proposed by the former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, to the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas.

Ma'an News

UN Envoy: Settlement slowdown not enough
12/17/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The UN envoy to the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry told the UN Security Council on Thursday that a partial slowdown on the expansion of West Bank settlements falls short of Israel's obligations. "Particularly as regards East Jerusalem, the policy falls considerably short of Israel's commitments under the Roadmap to freeze all settlement activity, including "˜natural growth', and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001," Serry said. He noted that, "Under the terms of the announcement, construction already underway on over 3,000 units and on public buildings will continue -- as evidenced by the approval of a further 28 public buildings in settlements. " "The restraint does not apply to settlement activity in the Israeli-determined municipal boundaries of East Jerusalem," he continued. 

Bethlehem refugees: Israel, stop occupying Christmas
12/17/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Stop Occupying Christmas is the name of a volunteers camp involving 41 internationals in Bethlehem who will spend the holidays working with refugees in the Al-Azza Refugee Camp. As they work to reconstruct homes and farms in the Bethlehem municipality, tour local cultural and historic sites, the volunteers, according to organizers of the work camp, will observe "the discrimination and occupation set upon [Palestinians] by Israel. " The volunteers come from 15 European countries, the Americas, Asia, Morocco, Algeria and South Africa, and will work and live alongside 15 local volunteers from the Handala Center in Al-Azza. "While the rest of the world is celebrating Christmas in the traditional way, Biet Jibrin Cultural Center will celebrate in the city of Bethlehem in a different way," a statement from the group said. 

J’lem culture event shut down by Israeli forces
12/17/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli forces arrested several and scuffled with Palestinians while shutting down a cultural festival meant to proclaim attachment to Jerusalem on Thursday. Organizers, including Prisoners' Club President Nasser Kaws, were hustled out of the Damascus Gate area of the Old City of Jerusalem and detained by Israeli border police, prompting scuffles at the main entrance into the ancient streets. Also among those arrested was the secretary-general of Jerusalem's Fatah movement Omar Ash-Shabi. Crowds gathered at the site and groups sang traditional wedding songs, gathering in clusters around television cameras stationed on the stairs leading to the gate. One participant in the event, meant to mark Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture 2009 which comes to an end at the close of this month, told reporters, "Israel used to say they detain everyone who threatens it with. . . 

Family tells details of Israeli raid on Ni’lin
12/17/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - Israeli troops entered the village of Ni'lin at 3am Wednesday morning, one of five villages that were raided overnight. They entered the home of the Kan'an family, beat their daughter and destroyed parts of the home. Last week there were 16 similar raids across the West Bank. Victims from the Ni'lin raid gave an account of what is now a regular experience. Jamal Kin'an Amira said he was startled by the sound of stones hitting the windows of his neighbors home shortly after hearing Israeli troops enter the village early Wednesday morning. Following the barrage, Amira said soldiers entered the, broke several pieces of furniture and screamed at people in the home next door. On the way out they damaged his car. The house next door is that of Dawlat Kan'an, father of the young girl who filmed Israeli soldiers shooting, at point blank range, a blindfolded and bound Palestinian youth. 

Egypt: Shots fired at crew building Gaza wall
12/17/2009 - Al-Arish - Ma'an - Government workers constructing a massive metal barrier along the Egypt-Gaza border came under fire from Palestinian gunmen on Thursday, Egyptian security sources said. The gunfire came from the Palestinian side of the border, damaging some construction equipment but causing no injuries, the sources said. The incident took place north of the Rafah border crossing, they said. It was revealed last week that Egypt is constructing a steel wall along the border that will extend underground in an attempt to cut off a network of smuggling tunnels. The tunnels are a lifeline for Palestinians living under an Israeli-led blockade. Hamas-allied security forces on the Palestinian side declared a state of emergency, sources reported. On the Egyptian side, a large number of security officers and armored vehicles were reportedly dispatched to the area where the shooting took place. 

Gaza: One crossing open for export of flowers, import of some goods
12/17/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - A token shipment of flowers will be exported from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, via the only crossing permitted to operate by Israeli authorities, Palestinian officials confirmed. The flowers, as well as below-minimum levels of commercial goods, aid and domestic fuel will be imported via the same crossing at the southern end of the Strip, Palestinian crossings official Raed Fatotuh said. Between 92-102 truckloads of aid for the agricultural and commercial sectors are expected to enter the Strip, along with limited amounts of cooking gas, Fattouh said. The Karni and Nahal Oz crossings remain closed. 

Israel removes Nablus-area checkpoint
12/17/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - Concrete blocks and a metal gate were removed from the New Beit Iba military checkpoint west of the city of Nablus on Thursday morning. Eyewitnesses said the checkpoint remained intact on Wednesday evening, but for the first time since its construction last winter, there were no soldiers manning the area. By Thursday morning, some of the infrastructure had been removed, though the official classification of the area will likely remain as a "partial checkpoint," sources said. According to an Israeli military spokeswoman, the checkpoint was removed to allow "free passage" of Palestinians in and out of Nablus, but informed sources said Israeli plans had been in the works for months to move the checkpoint further west. The source noted that officials expected the construction of a new checkpoint down the road. 

Haaretz: Olmert plan would have kept Jerusalem, 6.8% of West Bank
12/17/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2008 a land swap trading Israeli territory near Gaza and Hebron for West Bank land around Jerusalem, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday. The proposed land swap was part of a peace offer the PA rejected on the grounds that the exchange was unequal. As was previously reported, the proposed deal would have left unresolved the issues of Palestinian refugees and the overall status of Jerusalem. A Haaretz map of Olmert's proposal in English can be viewed here [link follows]. The paper cited sources "who received detailed information about [Former IsraeliPrime Minister Ehud] Olmert's proposals," in the creation of the map. Olmert's plan, according to the report, included a corridor between the southern West Bank and Northern Gaza, which would have remained under Israeli. . . . -- Link: Ha'aretz map

French delegation to Gaza pledges support for Palestinians
12/17/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - The European Union is essential in the resolution of Middle East turmoil, and its support for a Palestinian state, without settlements on the 1967 borders is key to peace, DFLP leader Ramzi Rabbah said on Thursday. The left-wing secular party met with delegates from the French Foreign Ministry headed by Deputy Director of the Egypt and Near East division of the Ministry's Middle East and North Africa Desk Ludovic Pouille, and Desk Officer for the Palestinian areas Adrien Pinelli, who stressed the French position on the Palestinian right to statehood and a comprehensive peace. Pouille said France was determined to continue their efforts to reach a solution based on the principals established by the international community and the UN. He further called on Israel to end the siege of Gaza. Despite a perceived French effort to water-down a recent statement by the. . . 

I also welcome Livni: An open letter to PM Gordon Brown
12/17/2009 - Dear Mr Prime Minister, There are countless reasons for which I take pride in being a British citizen, most prominent of all is knowing that the British legal system operates in a fair and just manner, independent of governmental interference. Moreover, that the British judiciary, following the ratification of various international conventions and treaties, understands its vital role and obligations under universal jurisdiction to pursue serious allegations of war crimes. The British courts set an international precedent in 1998 with the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London when a Spanish warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of genocide, torture and terrorism.   On Wednesday, Mr Prime Minister, you made a mockery of the British courts, of democracy, and of international principles that cannot be abandoned, by informing the Israeli leader of the opposition. . . 

Report: Egyptian mediator to visit Jerusalem
12/17/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to Jerusalem on Sunday, raising speculation that Israel is about to make its latest move in negotiations with Hamas for a prisoner swap, Reuters news agency reported. Suleiman was assigned the top mediating position last year also working on the inter-Palestinian reconciliation file. He joined forces with Germany in indirect negotiations in the fall, as sides work toward a deal that could see the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier captured in 2006. Reuters quoted an anonymous official saying that the German mediator is expected to visit Gaza on Thursday. The talks are said to be stalled over the issue of 50 to 100 Palestinian prisoners who Israel says carried out violent attacks. Also on Thursday, the pan-Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera reported that Suleiman recently chastised Hamas for balking at a deal to reunite Hamas and rival Palestinian faction Fatah. 

Abbas: Israel wants to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem
12/17/2009 - Bethlehem/Nablus - Ma'an - Israel is attempting to expel Palestinians from East Jerusalem, President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday evening. Speaking at the closing event of the Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture festival in Nablus,Abbas said, "Jerusalem is suffering an unprecedented settlement attack aimed at eliminating its identity, separating it from its surroundings and suffocating every activity in order to achieve one goal, which is expulsion, and this will not be allowed to happen. " "There is no Palestine without Jerusalem no one will accept this. Without Jerusalem there will be no peace," he also said. He also issued an appeal for unity among Palestinian factions. "If we continue not to have an agreement because of factional interests "¦ this will deepen division and will allow the West Bank to be turned into cantons which will lead to a temporary, divided state. 

Fayyad in Copenhagen: Palestine vulnerable to climate change
12/17/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told delegates at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen on Thursday that Palestinians are uniquely vulnerable to global warming as a consequence of Israeli occupation. "I stand before you representing not a state, but an occupied people whose aspirations, rights and claims find common cause in our national struggle for independence and statehood," Fayyad said in a speech. "It is within the context of occupation that Palestinians are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change," he continued. "Our vulnerability stems not just from the very real impact of climate change on our environment, but from the constraints we face under occupation. "Because of a lack of rights and state institutions, Palestinians will find themselves constrained in adapting to climate change. 

PA police launch crackdown, Hamas says 24 detained
12/17/2009 - Hebron - Ma'an - Hebron police detained 20 Palestinians they said were "wanted" during a security campaign Thursday, focusing on the towns of Yatta and Sa'ir. The police said 15 were wanted for felonies while five were wanted for petty theft. While a statement from the police department said the arrests came within the framework of law enforcement and the imposition of public order, a statement from the Hamas movement said Palestinain authority forces detained 24 of its members from the Nablus, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Hebron and Tulkarem areas. Sources from the Hebron police could not immediately be reached to determine whether those detained in Hebron were the same as those named by the Hamas statement. According to Hamas, those detained were: In Hebron: Samira Al-Halayka and her son Anas Halayka, Baha Al-Faraj, head of the office of Palestinian Legislative Council. . . 

Hamas declares PLO decision on Abbas a ’coup’
12/17/2009 - Gaza/Ramallah - Ma'an - Hamas labeled the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) decision to extend the term of President Mahmoud Abbas a coup in statements delivered after the decision was announced on Wednesday. Senior Hamas leader Ismail Radwan told Ma'an that the PLO Central Council's decision was "illegitimate and a continued coup against constitutional law which stated the end of president Abbas' term was in January 2009. ""The right option is to go to ballot box after achieving Palestinian reconciliation," he said. The PLO extended the terms of both Abbas and the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Legislative Council during a meeting in Ramallah on Wednesday. Radwan said that the PLC "does not need anyone to extend its term - it is the master of itself. " The PLC's term, he claimed "Does not end except by electing a new Legislative Council. 

Bethlehem police take charge of Christmas security
12/17/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Police trained in Bethlehem will take full charge of safety precautions during the city's Christmas celebrations, rather than supplementing the city's forces with officers from other district as in previous years, Bethlehem District Police Chief Khalid At-Tamimi said on Wednesday. Last year 300 police from districts across the West Bank joined Bethlehem personnel to patrol streets and ensure the visit of international dignitaries, pilgrims and local non-Christians joining the celebration in Manger Square go smoothly. There were problems with the new officers, Tamimi explained in an interview, noting tension between Bethlehem residents and the supplementary law enforcement. "Bethlehemites know when the road is supposed to be open after an event," the chief said, "so there would be arguments with the officers that were unfamiliar with the area. 

Hizb Ut-Tahrir: PA attempts arrest of member
12/17/2009 - Hebron - Ma'an - Pacifist Islamist party Hizb Ut-Tahrir said on Thursday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) attempted to arrest one of its media officers in the West Bank city of Hebron. The party said PA intelligence officers surrounded the house of Maher Al-Jabari and ordered him into the street on Wednesday night. Al-Jabari refused the order, they said in a statement. Yelling out the window, Al-Jabari demanded that the commanding officer introduce himself, the statement added. The officers cursed the party official and then left, threatening to return later. Ma'an could not independently verify the report. PA officials made no immediate comment. The main Palestinian Islamist faction, Hamas, has reported that the PA arrested hundreds of its members in the past two weeks in the lead up to the movement's anniversary celebration on Monday. 

Firm rises to calls for job creation in Azzun
12/17/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Palestinian communications firm, Reach, will open a call center in the village of Azzun Atma to address an area plagued by the West Bank's largest unemployment crisis, the firm's directors said Thursday. The announcement came following the publication of a Ma'an report on the village of 10,000, whose unemployment rate exceeds 70%, according to the General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW) in the Qalqiliya district. The IT communications service center will provide an estimated ten jobs in its first year, with the possibility of more in the future, its media department said. Reach said it would provide training for the employees, and noted that part of its mandate was bringing individuals with special needs into the workplace. 

Ha'aretz Defense page

One strike could have ended Iran nuclear program in 2004
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Had the Isfahan been bombed, Iran would have lost large quantities of raw material for uranium enrichment. 

Rabbis unite against Barak in IDF-yeshiva row
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Hesder yeshiva heads launch blistering personal attack after Defense Min. ousted rabbi from IDF program. 

Four arrested as rightists continue to fight settlement freeze
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Rightists try to stop inspectors from touring settlement; settlers: Police used excessive force. 

Report: Hamas leans toward accepting Israel offer on Shalit deal
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Latest proposal doesn't include release of hardened Palestinian terrorists, according to Arab paper. 

Two Qassams hit Israel, in second Gaza rocket attack this week
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Militants further breach moratorium on cross-border fire; neither attack causes casualties. 

Amid row with IDF, rabbi 'ready to denounce refusal'
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Melamed signals willingness for move after remarks caused Barak to sever army's ties with his yeshiva. 

Report: Iran captured spy who gathered intel on Qom nuke site
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Western spy arrested two months ago after spying on newly disclosed nuclear facility, Channel 2 reports. 

Hamas: Deal for Shalit release still a long way off
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Peres tells IDF soldiers: Schism between Hamas leaders in Gaza and Syria delaying prisoner swap talks. 

MI chief: Iran has enough nuclear material for bomb
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Yadlin says Iran's 'sophisticated strategy' means its 'technological clock is almost done winding.' 

Border Policewoman wounded in fresh clash with settlers
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Policewoman moderately hurt as officials try to enforce West Bank settlement freeze; three arrested. 

Hamas: All Islamist groups will unite with Iran if Israel attacks
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Hamas leader makes comments in Iran, following Iranian threats of retaliation to Israeli strike. 

Chief rabbi: Palestinian mosque burning harkens to Kristallnacht
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Metzger visits Yasuf to express his 'revulsion' over attack, pelted by rocks on way out of village. 

Ukrainian shipwreck may have been result of fuel smuggling
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Police suspect the ship was smuggling diesel fuel; five surviving sailors released from Haifa hospital. 

Egypt destroys tunnel used for smuggling cars into Gaza
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Entrance to tunnel found 300 meters from Gaza, days after Egypt announced construction of iron border wall. 

Far-right yeshiva head: My duty is to tell troops to refuse orders
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Har Bracha is one of two yeshivas funded by Defense Min. which encourage refusal of settlement evacuation orders. 

Taiwan probing reports of illicit nuclear sale to Iran
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Taipei last week said it had no knowledge of 100 European-made transducers shipped to Tehran. 

Israeli town on Gaza border blooms amid fragile truce
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Newcomers say high central-Israel costs are causing unlikely real estate boom near the embattled Strip. 

Shin Bet gets new deputy, as race to succeed Diskin heats up
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - New appointment marks three candidates lined up to succeed Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin. 

Barak orders IDF to cut ties with far-right yeshiva
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, head of Har Bracha yeshiva, urged troops to refuse orders to evacuate settlements. 

WATCH: Dramatic footage of IDF rescue of sailors lost at sea
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Five Ukrainian crewmen were pulled from sea after their cargo ship sank off the coast of Lebanon. 

Uruknet

A Moment of Truth With Christians In Palestine
Uruknet December 17, 2009 - Here is a brief of the Kairos Palestine document, which was signed on Dec. 11 1009 in Bethlehem city by a group of Palestinian Christians representing a variety of churches, and whose full text was published at World Council of Churches website. This document was published nowhere in the western media, and there is little hope...

Australian activists give Olmert an unwelcome reception
Uruknet December 17, 2009 - The Australian government recently received former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and current Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom as part of the Australia Israel Leadership Forum. The forum was to strengthen the already close relationship between the two states. Shalom and Olmert were welcomed with a gala dinner in Melbourne's ritzy Park Hyatt Hotel on...

Making a Killing: The Canada-Israel Military-Industrial Partnership
Uruknet The following are major excerpts from an article written by Richard Sanders in the wake of Israel's murderous assault on Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009. The article explains how Canada has been contributing to the Israeli military machine. It was published as part of the campaign by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) against CANSEC 2009,...

COLLATERAL DAMAGE
Uruknet December 17, 2009 - In Gaza City, through the Israeli war last winter, Abdel Latif Abu Kersh-Abu Shadi was sitting most of the time in his garden at the foot of the 4-storey family building in Ahmad El-Shoukeiri Street, northern Beach camp. Abu Shadi, 59, a 1948 refugee from Beit Jerja, was till a few years ago a legal advisor...

The impunity of Israel and its allies will carry a price
Uruknet December 17, 2009 - When evidence of war crimes is produced, you might expect states that claim to defend the rule of law to want those crimes investigated and the perpetrators held to account. Not a bit of it. The decision by a London judge to issue a warrant for the arrest of Israel's former foreign minister Tzipi Livni over...

India: Was Mumbai suspect a double agent for US?
Uruknet December 17, 2009 - The Indian press is abuzz with news that Indian Home Ministry officials have said they are investigating whether Pakistani-American terror suspect David Coleman Headley was working as a "double agent." Indian officials reportedly raised questions about Mr. Headley's links with US intelligence agencies - even as another terror suspect accused of involvement in the 2008 Mumbai...

Go back unto death: Life in postwar Gaza
Uruknet December 17, 2009 - In one corner of Salah Samouni's modest living room hangs a "martyr poster" - a customary honor printed for those killed in all Israeli attacks, in the West Bank and Gaza over the years. On the Samouni poster, the 29 faces stare back from eternity, from Muhammad Helmi Samouni, age six months, to Rizqa Muhammad Samouni,...

B'Tselem: Settlers pour their sewerage water into the West Bank
Uruknet December 17, 2009 - The Israeli information center for human rights in the occupied territories, B'Tselem, said in a report on Wednesday that the Israeli settlements discharge their sewage water into West Bank valleys and villages. The report said that the settlements produce around 17.5 million cubic meters of sewage water per annum, adding that they represent the refuse of...

The international league of war criminals
Uruknet December 17, 2009 - The issuing of a British arrest warrant for former Israeli Foreign Minister and current leader of the opposition Tzipi Livni is only the latest event confirming an international body of legal opinion that Israel should be tried for war crimes over its treatment of the Palestinians. Livni was a member of the war cabinet during Operation...

Childhood in ruins
Uruknet December 17, 2009 - ...But the 23-day war is only part of the story. The long history of Israeli assaults on Gaza, and the two-and-a-half-year-long blockade of the territory after Hamas took power, has exacted a toll on almost every aspect of children's lives: schooling, housing, leisure time, what they eat, what they wear, how they see the future. A...

IDF raids Naalin photographer's home
Uruknet December 16, 2009 - Family members of a girl who shot a video showing an Israel Defense Forces soldier firing a rubber bullet at a bound Palestinian in the West Bank village of Naalin last year say the army has been harassing them ever since. The relatives told Ynet that a massive IDF force raided their house on Wednesday night...

Silently Stealing Jerusalem
Uruknet December 16, 2009 - The number is staggering, to say the least. A total of 4,577 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem were stripped of their residency rights in 2008 alone, 35 percent of all east Jerusalemites who lost their residency rights since 1967 and more than any average year since Israel's occupation of the eastern sector of the city almost 42...

Palestine Telegraph

Viva Palestina Welcomed by Turkish People
Turkey, December 17, 2009 (Pal Telegraph)- An aid convoy organized by international peace activists has arrived in Turkey on its way to Gaza before breaking the Israeli siege on the territory. The convoy, which left London on December 5, was welcomed by thousands of Turkish activists and the general public on Wednesday, said Jody Sabral, the Press TV correspondent. At...

Jewish Extremists to Intrude Al-Aqsa Mosque
Jerusalem, December 17, 2009 (Pal Telegraph)- Al-Aqsa Institute for Waqf and Heritage warned of the repeated calls by extremist Jewish groups to collectively break into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Jerusalem, and to practice their religious Jewish rituals related to the construction of the so-called third temple. In a statement, the Institute said that massive demonstrations have been...

Israel decorates Gaza war 'heroes'
Gaza, December 17, 2009, (Pal Telegraph) - Israel decorates eight soldiers for showing "heroism" in the widely condemned Operation Cast Lead which killed hundreds of Palestinians earlier this year. Major General Yoav Galant presented the soldiers with the honor medals on Wednesday at a ceremony attended by top Southern Command brass and the heads of councils and communities from the...

OCHA: “Palestinians Prevented From Building On 44% Of West Bank Lands”
West Bank, December 17, 2009, (Pal Telegraph) - The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA) reported that Israel is preventing Palestinians from building on 44% of West Bank lands as it allocated these areas to settlements and the military. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the...

Settlers prevent farmers to plow their lands in Nablus
Nablus, December 16, 2009, (Pal Telegraph) - Settlers from settlement of Shiloh attacked Palestinian farmers while they were plowing their lands in Qaryaut village in Nablus city on Wednesday. "Dozens of settlers attacked the farmers under the protection of Israeli soldiers, prevented them to plough their lands and beat them resulted in injuring Bashar AL-Qaryauti with various injuries" Eyewitnesses said...

The National

Syria's coalition for human rights makes quiet launch
The National 17 Dec 2009 - Campaigners face imprisonment as courts and security services seek to curtail any opposition to the establishment.

Miss Palestine is shy on numbers
The National 17 Dec 2009 - Pageant that has attracted anger from conservatives ends up with just four contenders after girls storm out.

Why the road to peace may run through Damascus
The National 17 Dec 2009 - Mohamad Bazzi: Unlike the weak Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Mr Assad can actually deliver on a peace deal.

Aljazeera

Boat sinks off Lebanon coast
AlJazeera 17 Dec 2009 - Dozens missing after ship capsizes in stormy weather near port city of Tripoli.

Israel blocks Jerusalem gathering
AlJazeera 17 Dec 2009 - Israeli police clash with Palestinians at rally organised to mark cultural event.

Iran 'test-fires upgraded missile'
AlJazeera 16 Dec 2009 - State media reports weapon has longer range than previous versions.

Abbas' presidential term extended
AlJazeera 16 Dec 2009 - The Palestinian president will remain in office until new elections are held.

Alternative Information Center

Association for Civil Rights in Israel State of Human Rights Report 2009: Rights on Condition
Alternative Information Center 16 Dec 2009 - In its annual survey of the protection of human rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories, ACRI reveals an alarming trend: the conditioning of rights. The complete report is now available.

Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory:10-15 Dec. 2009 
Alternative Information Center 16 Dec 2009 - Israeli Occupation Forces Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and Continue to Impose a Total Siege on the Gaza Strip A Palestinian civilian was killed by Israeli forces...

Palestine News Network

POMEGRANATES AND MYRRH
PNN 17 Dec 2009 - International Narrative Feature FilmsPalestinianTerritories, 2008, 95 mins., color Director(s):Najwa Najjar Screenwriter(s): Najwa Najjar Producer: Hani E. Cort Coproducers: Robin Gutch, Thierry Lenouvel, Kamel Kacimi and Daniel Gobner Cinematographer: Valentina Caniglia Commissioning Editor: Meinolf Zuhorst Editors: Bettina Bohler, Sotira Kyriacou Dancer Kamar’s joyful wedding to Zaid is followed almost immediately by Zaid’s imprisonment in an Israeli jail for refusing to give up his...

Olmert's plan for peace
PNN 17 Dec 2009 - Former prime minister Ehud Olmert proposed giving the Palestinians land from communities bordering the Gaza Strip and from the Judean Desert nature reserve in exchange for settlement blocs in the West Bank. According to the map proposed by Olmert, which is being made public here for the first time, the future border between Israel and the Gaza Strip would be adjacent to...

Abu Dhabi to host 'Miss Camel' beauty pageant 
PNN 17 Dec 2009 - Thousands of camels from around the Arab world will bat their long eyelashes and show off their humps at Abu Dhabi's Miss Camel beauty pageant next month, organizers said on Wednesday. It will be the largest gathering of camels in one place ever, organizers of the 2010 al-Dhafra Festival said. The Gulf's leading camel connoisseurs will critically observe as camel after camel...

Police shoot U.S. student's laptop upon entry to Israel 
PNN 16 Dec 2009 - Israel Border Police officers shot at an American student's laptop as she entered Israel via Taba, Egypt, two weeks ago. Lily Sussman, 21, wrote on her blog (http://lilysussman.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/im-sorry-but-we-blew-up-your-laptop-welcome-to-israel/) that border police subjected her to two hours of questioning and searches prior to shooting her Apple Macbook three times. They had pressed every sock and scarf with a security device, ripped open soap...

Jerusalem Post

Barak: We'll continue enforcing freeze
Jeruslalem Post 17 Dec 2009 - Civil Administration inspectors met with violence, resistance in Talmon, Dolev; 6 arrested, released.

Lithuania's Shoah analogy sparks fury
Jeruslalem Post 17 Dec 2009 - At Jerusalem forum, Lithuanian FM fails to condemn comparison of Holocaust to Soviet occupation.

FM: Building will resume in 10 months
Jeruslalem Post 17 Dec 2009 - Lieberman says settlement freeze is a tactical move, calls for gov't to downplay Palestinian issue.

Yesh Din: Ofra uses dogs to keep Palestinians off their own farmland
Jeruslalem Post 17 Dec 2009 - Human rights group claims settlers are using attack dogs to keep Palestinians from cultivating land they own outside Ofra.

Sela has not been effective in resettling Gush Katif evacuees, Mazuz acknowledges to state inquiry
Jeruslalem Post 17 Dec 2009 - Mazuz was asked why, four-and-a-half years after the withdrawal from Gaza Strip, 90% of evacuees were still not living in permanent homes.

'UK failed us on arrest warrant issue'
Jeruslalem Post 17 Dec 2009 - Officials say Israel did its part in case of slain filmmaker, but British gov't did not respond in kind.

Anlysis: Suddenly, the Arab world wakes up to Yemen's rebellion
Jeruslalem Post 17 Dec 2009 - Saudi media claims Iran is trying to create a Hizbullah-like enclave.

Moshavniks hold rally in support of settlers
Jeruslalem Post 17 Dec 2009 - 

Lights out for Fatah station that aimed to counter Hamas
Jeruslalem Post 17 Dec 2009 - Mohamed Dahlan to open new West Bank channel.

IRIN

EGYPT: River pollution hits Nile fishermen
IRIN CAIRO Sunday, December 13, 2009 (IRIN) - “It’s becoming so hard these days. I only managed to get a few fish yesterday,” said Galal Saed, 35, casting his net into the Nile near the village of Hawamdia, 25km south of Cairo.

ISRAEL: HIV-positive migrants lack access to care - NGO 
IRIN TEL AVIV Monday, December 07, 2009 (IRIN) - A prominent local NGO working on HIV-related issues says HIV-positive asylum-seekers and migrants face difficulties in accessing free AIDS services in Israel, including treatment.

In Brief: First swine flu cases confirmed in Gaza
IRIN TEL AVIV Monday, December 07, 2009 (IRIN) - Nearly seven months after the first H1N1 influenza cases were registered in Israel and the West Bank, five cases of the disease were confirmed in the Gaza Strip on 6 December, according to the Palestinian health authority.

Inter Press Service

IRAN: Domestic Conflict Shifts into Higher Gear 
IPS HONOLULU, U.S., Dec 16 (IPS) - Although the tumult that has gripped Iran since the contested Jun. 12 election has never abated, two recent occurrences have highlighted the further sharpening of internal conflict and the government's inability to restore stability in the face of creative ways the opposition has learned...

MIDEAST: Occupation Eats Away Israel's Heart and Soul 
IPS JERUSALEM, Dec 15 (IPS) - After Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank torched a mosque and desecrated copies of the Quran in the Palestinian village of Yasuf, last Friday morning, they ran into a wall of condemnation.

PCHR Weekly Report

(16-12-2009) Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
PCHR 

International Solidarity Movement

Jerusalem culture event shut down by Israeli forces
12/17/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - Ma'an News - Bethlehem – Ma'an – Israeli forces arrested several and scuffled with Palestinians while shutting down a cultural festival meant to proclaim attachment to Jerusalem on Thursday. Organizers, including Prisoners' Club President Nasser Kaws, were hustled out of the Damascus Gate area of the Old City of Jerusalem and detained by Israeli border police, prompting scuffles at the main entrance into the ancient streets. Also among those arrested was the secretary-general of Jerusalem's Fatah movement Omar Ash-Shabi. Crowds gathered at the site and groups sang traditional wedding songs, gathering in clusters around television cameras stationed on the stairs leading to the gate. One participant in the event, meant to mark Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture 2009 which comes to an end at the close of this month, told reporters, “Israel used to say they detain everyone who threatens it with weapons, but look, are these people threatening it? They are just celebrating. ”. 

Demonstration outside Jelemeh prison in solidarity with arrested Palestinian grassroots activist
12/17/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - 16 December - A demonstration was held outside Jelemeh prison in Haifa today in protest against the arrest and imprisonment of grassroots activist Wa'el Al Faqeeh Abu As Sabe. Demonstrators planted olive trees and hung Palestinian flags and banners outside the prison gates, calling for the release of Palestinian political prisoners. The night that the army arrested Wa'el Al Faqeeh, they also arrested 8 other grassroot activists from Nablus and surrounding areas. 15km out of Haifa sits the notorious Jelemeh prison, known for its interrogation and ill-treatment of Palestinian political prisoners. International and Israeli activists gathered under grey skies outside the prison yesterday, beating drums and chanting pro-Palestinian slogans. Activists planted three olive trees outside the gates of the prison, in tribute to similar actions organised by Al Faqeeh in numerous West Bank villages. 

Childhood in ruins
12/18/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian - Ghiada abu Elaish's fingers twist in her lap and her eyes cloud over as she recalls the day an Israeli shell killed four of her cousins and left her in a coma for 22 days. She has had almost 12 months to reflect on the tragedy, a time in which hatred and anger might have consumed the 13-year-old. Remarkably, though, not only has she survived shocking injuries and a dozen operations, with many more to come, but she has retained both her sweet nature and faith in a bright future. Which makes it all the harder for her to return each day after school, dressed in the ubiquitous Palestinian uniform of blue-and-white-striped smock over jeans and trainers, to the scene of the massacre - her family home. It was Friday 16 January and Ghiada was studying for exams. Her father, a pharmacist, woke from a nap, demanding tea and shouting at the younger children to be quiet. 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Israel: EU official's 'occupation' remark casts pall on ties
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Government officials in Jerusalem harshly criticized the new European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, for her scathing remarks about the "Israeli occupation" in her maiden speech. ...

Peres to Palestinian PM: Stalled peace talks hurt us both
Ha'aretz 18 Dec 2009 - President Shimon Peres met with Salam Fayyad on Thursday on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he told the Palestinian prime minister that the frozen peace talks are harming both Israel and the Palestinians. ...

Dozens missing after cargo ship sinks off Lebanon coast
Ha'aretz 18 Dec 2009 - Dozens of people were missing on Thursday after a ship carrying livestock sank in the Mediterranean off Lebanon in stormy weather, Lebanese naval sources said. ...

UN envoy: Settlement freeze falls short of Israel's commitments
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Robert Serry, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process said Thursday that recent activities by both Israel and the Palestinians are not contributing to settling their conflict and confidence remains low as 2009 draws to a close. ...

Rights group 'shocked' as Hezbollah official speaks at Sorbonne
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - A French human rights group Thursday protested the appearance of a member of the militant Lebanese organization Hezbollah at the Sorbonne. ...

The Guardian

CIA working with Palestinian security agents
The Guardian 17 Dec 2009 - US agency co-operating with Palestinian counterparts who allegedly torture Hamas supporters in West Bank Palestinian security agents who have been detaining and allegedly torturing supporters of the Islamist organisation Hamas in the West Bank have been...

Israeli border guards shoot US student's laptop
The Guardian 17 Dec 2009 - Three bullets fired into MacBook after security staff checked tourist's luggage The cliched advice with so many computer problems is to turn the machine off and then on again; the laptop that offended the Israeli border...

The plus side of an arms race with Iran | Meir Javedanfar
The Guardian 17 Dec 2009 - The west should see it as a powerful way to gradually bleed the Iranian leadership of what keeps it alive economic viability Iran's testing of its "Sajjil 2" missile grabbed headlines in the international media. It...

Wars, crimes and political stunts | Charles Falconer
The Guardian 17 Dec 2009 - The campaign for universal jurisdiction is not helped by a system in which Tzipi Livni can be politically pursued The application of the criminal law to the conduct of governments and their agents will, over time,...

Opening up the peace process | Petra Marquardt-Bigman
The Guardian 17 Dec 2009 - Mahmoud Abbas says an Israel-Palestine deal could be reached in six months. But too many issues remain under the carpet In recent months, veteran Middle East experts such as Hussein Agha and Robert Malley or Aaron...

The impunity of Israel and its allies will carry a price | Seumas Milne
The Guardian 17 Dec 2009 - Outrage over Tzipi Livni's arrest warrant would be better directed to the suffering of Gaza and the risks of a new eruption When evidence of war crimes is produced, you might expect states that claim to...

Childhood in ruins
The Guardian 16 Dec 2009 - Last December, Israel began a 23-day bombardment of Gaza, killing around 1,400 people. One year on, a generation of children is growing up amid the wreckage of that attack, traumatised and radicalised by the experience Ghiada...

Arrest warrants: Short arm of international law
The Guardian 16 Dec 2009 - If we accept the notion that law is meaningless without enforcement, we also have to buy into the principle that universal jurisdiction is an essential arm of international law. Without it, war crimes are commited with...

Outcry over plan to give attorney general veto on war crimes warrants
The Guardian 16 Dec 2009 - Brown 'totally opposed' to attempted arrest of Israeli Lawyers reject 'safeguards' for visiting foreign leaders The attorney general will be asked to approve warrants before suspected war criminals can be arrested in future under a plan...

Gordon Brown reassures Israel over Tzipi Livni arrest warrant
The Guardian 16 Dec 2009 - Prime minister 'completely opposed' to arrest warrant issued by British court over former Israeli minister's role in Gaza war Gordon Brown today told Tzipi Livni, Israel's former foreign minister, that he was "completely opposed" to the...

Ha'aretz National page

'Anti-Adelson' bill would bar foreigners from owning Israeli newspapers 
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - The political battle over the free paper Israel Hayom is heating up: On Thursday, 19 Knesset members from eight parties introduced a bill to require the owner and editor in chief of newspapers to be Israeli citizens residing in the country. These conditions are the same ones that apply to the owners of television and radio stations. ... 

Arab filmmaker wins prize, Israel airline security nabs it 
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Thirty-five days after returning from Barcelona on a Sun D'Or flight, items belonging to documentary film director Sahera Dirbas, which Israeli security people had removed from her luggage and sent separately, were returned to her. Among them was a bronze figurine she had won at the International Euro-Arab Amal Film Festival in Spain for best documentary - awarded for her film "Stranger in My Home." ... 

Jaffa bakery scion has turned Israel football into a little UN
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Meet Said Abulafia. A 28-year-old lawyer born and still living in Jaffa, he is the scion of the Abulafia family, whose properties include the historic Jaffa bakery of the same name. In addition to practicing law and managing the family's real estate assets (he is in the process of opening an Abulafia bakery in Manhattan), he is president of the Tel Aviv Sabres, a diverse collection of football players in which national, religious and political differences take a back seat to love for the game. Maybe it's the free post-game Abulafia bourekas that do the trick. ... 

Lieberman: Settlement activity to restart full force in 10 months
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday that Israel's announced 10-month partial moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements was only a tactical move and a temporary one. ...

A ghostly trace of the Jewish Occult
Ha'aretz 17 Dec 2009 - A newly discovered piece of stained, wrinkled paper conjures up the details of a Jewish exorcism that appears to have been performed sometime in the 18th or 19th century. ...

Relief Web

Le Coordonnateur pour le processus de paix au Moyen-Orient appelle les parties palestinienne et israélienne à reprendre rapidement les négociations pour sortir de l'impasse politique
Relief Web 17 Dec 2009 - Source: UN Security Council

Israel, Palestinians must do more, jointly with revitalized Quartet, to prevent backward slide in peace efforts, UN SC told
Relief Web 17 Dec 2009 - Source: UN Security Council

OPT: Press conference on humanitarian matters in Gaza Strip
Relief Web 17 Dec 2009 - Source: UN Department of Public Information

OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report, 9 - 15 Dec 2009
Relief Web 17 Dec 2009 - Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

OPT: UN committee poses 30 tough questions to Israel on torture, indefinite detention of prisoners, human shields, and ISA medical coercion of Gaza patients at Erez Crossing
Relief Web 17 Dec 2009 - Source: Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights

OPT: Increased humanitarian aid to Gaza after IDF operation, 11 Dec 2009
Relief Web 16 Dec 2009 - Source: Government of Israel

YNet News

Anti-freeze web game: Break Bibi's ice
YNet News 17 Dec 2009 - Fight against construction freeze orders in settlements finds new forum as Petah Tikva man creates game in protest. Objective is to stop prime minister, defense minister from dropping ice cubs on settlements 

UN official: Settlement freeze falls short
YNet News 17 Dec 2009 - Robert Serry, special UN coordinator for Mideast peace process says situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate as neither Israel, nor Palestinians do enough to obtain peace, says Israel's settlement freeze fell short of commitments under 2003 Road Map 

Gazans fire at Egyptian workers in Rafah
YNet News 17 Dec 2009 - Egyptian media reports several incidents of Palestinian gunmen opening fire at Egyptian workers constructing steel fence on Rafah border. Al-Gumhuriya editorial calls smuggling tunnels 'direct attack on Egypt's sovereignty' 

Rivlin urges Barak to maintain alliance with hesder yeshivas
YNet News 17 Dec 2009 - Knesset speaker warns defense minister, says failure to find suitable solution to dispute between IDF, hesder yeshivas might lead to 'big calamities' 

Lieberman: Ball in Palestinian court
YNet News 17 Dec 2009 - Foreign minister says construction in settlements to resume after 10-month. Adds freeze is Israel's last gesture, 'Palestinians can decide whether they want to come to the negotiations table or not' 

Paris to push Israel on French-Palestinian prisoner
YNet News 17 Dec 2009 - French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner says will pressure Israel to include French-Palestinian Salah Hamouri, jailed for plotting to murder Shas spiritual leader, in prisoner exchange deal 

Barak: Freeze to be enforced without hesitation 
YNet News 17 Dec 2009 - Defense minister stresses there won't be compromises in settlement freeze enforcement. 'We'll protect every citizen, including in the settlements, but we have a duty to ensure state imposes its authority over citizens,' Barak says. Regarding visit to Turkey, he promises to try to restore good relations between countries 

Daily Star

Yemen says security forces hit Al-Qaeda, kill at least 34
Daily Star 17 Dec 2009 SANAA: Yemen said its security forces backed by warplanes killed up to 30 Al-Qaeda militants on Thursday and a security source said the operations had foiled a planned series of suicide bombings. According to a government website, Yemeni forces hit a number of Al-Qaeda targets including a training center in the southern province of Abyan. This had led to the killing of 24-30 militants including foreigners, it said, without giving their nationalities.

Viva Palestina campaign sees 86 aid vehicles destined for Gaza
Daily Star 17 Dec 2009 BEIRUT: It was a typically cold London day in January earlier this year when, in front of thousands of people demonstrating against the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, British MP George Galloway announced a convoy of aid would be travelling from London to Gaza under the banner "Viva Palestina."Almost a year later and after two successful convoys.

Palestinian Information Center

Muslims need to make Hijra back to Islam
PIC 17 Dec 2009 - While celebrating the new hijri year we need to reflect on the sad reality of Muslims to discover how inconsistent it is with true Islam.

Ahmed: Revoking Livni arrest warrant reminds us of Balfour declaration
PIC 17 Dec 2009 - Hamas official Hosam Ahmed said that Britian's intention to revoke the arrest warrant issued against Livni brings to mind the British role in the displacement of the Palestinian people.

Resheq: Our visit to Iran aimed to promote relations with Arab and Muslim states
PIC 17 Dec 2009 - Ezzat Al-Resheq stated that the visit of Hamas leadership to Iran is part of its efforts to strengthen diplomatic ties with Arab and Muslim states and ensure their support for the Palestinian cause.

Farwana: Shalit deal should not exclude oldest serving prisoners
PIC 17 Dec 2009 - The oldest serving Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails should not be excluded from the prisoners' exchange deal between the Palestinian resistance and Israel, Abdul Nasser Farwana said.

B'Tselem: Settlers pour their sewerage water into the West Bank
PIC 17 Dec 2009 - B'Tselem said in a report on Wednesday that the Israeli settlements discharge their sewage water into West Bank valleys and villages.

Dweik: The central council has no constitutional power to extend Abbas's term
PIC 17 Dec 2009 - Dr. Aziz Dweik stated that the central council of the Palestine liberation organization has no constitutional authority to extend Abbas’s term of office which expired in January 2009.

Jewish settlers erect new settlement, assault farmers
PIC 17 Dec 2009 - Jewish settlers laid down the foundation stone of a new random settlement in the West Bank despite the government's decision to freeze settlement construction for ten months.

AFEH: Jewish fanatic groups planning to storm the Aqsa
PIC 17 Dec 2009 - AFEH has said that Jewish fanatic groups were planning to storm the holy Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem on Thursday on the occasion of the Jewish feast of Hanukkah.

Kanaan: The IOF uses a carrot and stick approach to get my videotape
PIC 17 Dec 2009 - Salam Kanaan said that the IOF blackmailed her through using the carrot and stick approach in order to get the original version of a videotape showing an Israeli soldier shooting a Palestinian youth.

IOA retaining Gazan prisoner in custody after completion of his sentence
PIC 17 Dec 2009 - The popular movement in support of Palestinian prisoners and rights said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) was still retaining a Gazan prisoner behind bars despite end of his sentence.

Los Angeles Times

Iran's missile test angers the West 
LA Times 17 Dec 2009 - At home, the government threatens leaders of the reform movement with arrest. Iranian authorities confronted their international and domestic rivals Wednesday, angering the West by testing a high-speed missile and raising political tensions at home by warning reformist opposition leaders they could be arrested. 

Mahmoud Abbas remains in charge of PLO until elections can be held 
LA Times 16 Dec 2009 - An emerging leadership crisis in the PLO could be another obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, some fear. A vote is delayed again after Hamas says it will prevent polling in Gaza. With a giant poster of deceased leader Yasser Arafat smiling over them, members of the Palestine Liberation Organization's central council gathered here Tuesday to indefinitely extend President Mahmoud Abbas' term until credible elections can be held. 

New York Times

Iran Says It Tested Upgraded Missile
New York Times 17 Dec 2009 - Iran’s announcement on Wednesday seemed to be aimed at discouraging a military attack on its nuclear sites. 

A Legacy of Regret for a Saudi Diplomat
New York Times 17 Dec 2009 - Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, said his legacy would be one of disappointment because he had failed to help establish a Palestinian state. 

P.L.O. Extends President Mahmoud Abbas’s Term
New York Times 17 Dec 2009 - The Palestine Liberation Organization’s decision to extend the president’s term is an attempt to avoid a constitutional crisis in the Palestinian territories. 

Nuclear Memo in Persian Puzzles Spy Agencies
New York Times 17 Dec 2009 - An unauthenticated memorandum about Iran and its nuclear research raises as many questions as it answers. 

Images of Tehran Before the Turmoil
New York Times 16 Dec 2009 - A documentary shot furtively on a mobile phone in Iran's capital in 2008, appears to offer outsiders glimpses of the private lives of Iranians. 

British Court's Arrest Warrant for Israeli Politician Surprised British Government
New York Times 16 Dec 2009 - Seeking to defuse diplomatic tensions with Israel, the British Foreign Office stressed that a London court had issued a warrant for the arrest of a former Israeli official without the knowledge of the British government. 

Misc

Boycott Apartheid Israel: Open Letter from US Trade Unionists
Palestine Monitor - 17 Dec 2009 - We publish an open letter from Labor of Palestine to AFL-CIO (The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) President Richard Trumka on 4 December 2009. In the letter US trade unionists reaffirm their support for BDS. Boycott Apartheid Israel: Open Letter from US...

When Will It Be Our Time? 
Palestine Monitor - 17 Dec 2009 - I have lived my entire adult life under occupation, with Israelis holding ultimate control over my movement and daily life. When young Israeli police officers force me to sit on the cold ground and soldiers beat me during a peaceful protest, I smolder. No human being...

What did the trees do?
Palestine Monitor - 16 Dec 2009 - Another incident of olive tree vandalism occurred in West Bank. Akram Na'san, a resident of the village of al-Mughayyir, north-east of Ramallah, discovered on Monday morning that approximately 260 Olive seedlings which he planted recently were uprooted and destroyed. Of them, approximately 190 were newly planted,...

EU’s foreign minister says E. Jerusalem is occupied territory
Mondoweiss - 17 Dec 2009 - Reader, the day is approaching when the Israel lobby will become fodder for American journalists and politicians, and this site will have tons of competition in its explorations. Why am I optimistic? Because Washington is fast becoming the only high ground left for the lobby. P...

‘Shemesh, your family’: Jewish Israelis struggle with the Nakba
Mondoweiss - 17 Dec 2009 - The following is an email exchange between Eitan Bronstein, the executive director of the Israeli organization Zochrot , and a Jewish Israeli supporter of the organization. Zochrot’s mission is to make the history of the Nakba accessible to Israeli Jews. As part of this work they offer...

Gaza ranks near the top of Twitter topics in 2009
Mondoweiss - 17 Dec 2009 - (Graphic: Top Twitter Trends of 2009 ) Another sign of the times. Twitter has released the top Trending Topics of 2009 and Gaza was the third most discussed issue under news events during the past year. For those of you not familiar with Twitter, trending topics are...

Neoliberals replaces neocons in proffering hawkish consensus to a POTUS
Mondoweiss - 17 Dec 2009 - Add this, by Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker , to the neoliberal consensus that has rallied to embrace Obama’s war speech for the peace prize. Hertzberg thinks it is the most thoughtful statement by Barack Obama of any kind, and cites David Brooks in a link...

Huffpo writer blasts ‘crypto-racism’ against non-Jews inside Israel
Mondoweiss - 17 Dec 2009 - I’ve long thought that the key to overcoming the charge of anti-Semitism for criticizing Israel is, Stop caring what people call you. At some level Walt and Mearsheimer knew they’d be smeared, they decided to go ahead. Me too. The damage is that an important category,...

Association for Civil Rights in Israel State of Human Rights Report 2009: Rights on Condition
Alternative Information Center - 16 Dec 2009 - In its annual survey of the protection of human rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories, ACRI reveals an alarming trend: the conditioning of rights. The complete report is now available.

Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory:10-15 Dec. 2009 
Alternative Information Center - 16 Dec 2009 - Israeli Occupation Forces Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and Continue to Impose a Total Siege on the Gaza Strip A Palestinian civilian was killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip. 3 Palestinian civilians were wounded by...


Articles

Childhood in ruins 
Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian 12/17/2009
      Ghiada abu Elaish’s fingers twist in her lap and her eyes cloud over as she recalls the day an Israeli shell killed four of her cousins and left her in a coma for 22 days. She has had almost 12 months to reflect on the tragedy, a time in which hatred and anger might have consumed the 13-year-old. Remarkably, though, not only has she survived shocking injuries and a dozen operations, with many more to come, but she has retained both her sweet nature and faith in a bright future. 
     Which makes it all the harder for her to return each day after school, dressed in the ubiquitous Palestinian uniform of blue-and-white-striped smock over jeans and trainers, to the scene of the massacre - her family home.
     It was Friday 16 January and Ghiada was studying for exams. Her father, a pharmacist, woke from a nap, demanding tea and shouting at the younger children to be quiet. "Suddenly I could hear my cousin downstairs, screaming ’Dead! Dead!’" A shell had hit the building – a block of five apartments, housing the extended Abu Elaish family – smashing windows and causing extensive damage to the flat below.
     In the ensuing panic, Ghiada defied her father and followed him downstairs. "One room was completely black. I saw Aya [my cousin], she was on the ground with wood on top of her. There was a big hole in the wall."
     Ghiada tried pulling Aya out from under the furniture. A second shell struck. "There was a big light for a second," she says. "I saw some windows smash and I heard screaming all around. A piece of shrapnel hit me. I started to scream for help and then fell down unconscious."more.. e-mail

Go back unto death: Life in postwar Gaza 
Ma’an News Agency 12/17/2009
      Gaza - Ma’an - In one corner of Salah Samouni’s modest living room hangs a "martyr poster" - a customary honor printed for those killed in all Israeli attacks in the West Bank and Gaza over the years. 
     On the Samouni poster, the 29 faces stare back from eternity, from Muhammad Helmi Samouni, age six months, to Rizqa Muhammad Samouni, age 55. It was this oversize poster that Salah Samouni brought with him to the public hearing held by the UN Fact Finding Mission led by Richard Goldstone in Gaza City in June. 
     Helmi and Salah Samouni spoke to Ma’an in September, nine months after the war, in one of the remaining houses of the Samouni family. The rest were destroyed during Israel’s war on Gaza in December and January. We sat on hard plastic chairs while a pot of thick Arabic coffee was served. 
     On 4 January 2009, nearly 100 members of the extended Samouni family were rounded up by the Israeli army, searched, some handcuffed and corralled into one house. After an excruciating night crammed into Wael Samouni’s storeroom, the Israeli military shelled the building, killing 21. Eight others were killed by Israeli forces in the same vicinity in a span of two days.
     The Samouni compound is in a farming area on the outskirts of Gaza. Many members of the extended family are still living in tents, tin shacks and in the wreckage of their homes. Wael Samouni’s family has pitched a tent on the foundation of the same house where the shelling took place.
     Goldstone’s delegation and the Red Cross visited the Samouni neighborhood and saw the destruction. Salah Samouni told Ma’an he hadn’t seen the UN team’s report, but said they felt it was significant that international teams visited and listened to their story. more.. e-mail

Gaza Freedom March: Palestinian Non-violence and International Solidarity 
Max Ajl, MR Zine 12/16/2009
      I’m going to discuss the utility of non-violent resistance as it applies to resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict and, specifically, the occupation and blockade of the Gaza strip. Even more specifically, I’m going to discuss the Gaza Freedom March (GFM), of which I’m one of the organizers. But before discussing Palestinian non-violence, several things must be clarified. One is that no one -- least of all me, a Jewish kid from Brooklyn -- has the slightest right to dictate to the Palestinians how to end the blockade or resist the occupation. Another is the need to avoid the nearly inevitable antiseptic air to talk by Westerners discussing Palestinian non-violence. Antiseptic, because it is cleansed of the complicating grit of the occupation within which non-violence must take place. There’s also usually a tacit subtext, usually a four-word question: Where Is Their Gandhi? That question could not be more in error. I hope to show why.
     Furthermore, the justification for non-violence that I want to get at is not a principled justification rooted in an unyielding commitment to pacifism, roughly the Quaker position. Most people do not espouse non-violence because it is inherently superior to violence. Non-violence is only better than violence if it can reach the same goals with less human suffering -- counted up with the starkest metrics: less death, fewer mangled children. Absolute commitment to non-violence is not a position I’m going to discuss here, except to suggest that a tactical commitment to non-violence can move close, edge up, to the very edge of principle -- if indeed it can be shown, or at least suggested, that situations that are resolved violently could be resolved non-violently, at a lesser price in blood, the only consideration worth attention. This is Howard Zinn’s non-violence. It is also, against prevailing interpretations, Gandhi’s.
     It’s not that violence never works. In fact, it works really well. Anthropologist David Graeber comments, "violence is veritably unique among forms of action because it is pretty much the only way one can have relatively predictable effects on others’ actions without understanding anything about them." Want some land? Carry out a terror attack on its inhabitants. They’re likely to flee. They try to reclaim it? Shoot the first one who tries in the head. After a while, they stop trying. Then, it’s yours. Until someone with a bigger gun comes along...." more.. e-mail

EI reader appeal: Your support makes our work on Palestine possible
Electronic Intifada: 17 Dec 2009 - What was the most inspiring, informative, motivating article you read on The Electronic Intifada in 2009? Take a look at some of our highlights. Thousands of people read EI every day in almost every country around the world, finding the information they can't get elsewhere. In its annual appeal, EI asks its readers for the financial support that will enable us to continue our groundbreaking, fearless and independent reporting on Palestine in 2010 

Australian activists give Olmert an unwelcome reception
Electronic Intifada: 17 Dec 2009 - Given Ehud Olmert's role as Prime Minister during the attacks on Gaza, he is seen by many as guilty of war crimes; it is perhaps no surprise that the Australian media seemed keen to bury the fact that Olmert was in the country and being welcomed by our government. Pro-Palestinian activists on the other hand were intent on holding him to account and letting him know he is not welcome here in our town. Frances Lewis writes for The Electronic Intifada. 

Israeli feminists decry militarization of Israeli education system
Electronic Intifada: 16 Dec 2009 - New Profile, the feminist movement to civilize Israeli society, wrote Minister of Education Gideon Saar strongly condemning his recent instructions to prohibit its members' participation in high school debates convened by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel on questions of human rights and freedom of expression. 

Steel walls cannot contain the struggle for freedom
Electronic Intifada: 16 Dec 2009 - As if the siege of Gaza were not already bad enough, Israel and Egypt are working even harder to tighten the prison which holds Gaza's 1.5 million people. Egypt is building a steel wall along its 10-kilometer-long border with the Gaza Strip, according to recent media reports. This wall apparently extends not only above ground, but deep into the ground in an attempt to prevent Palestinians digging the tunnels that have become a lifeline for the territory. Hasan Abu Nimah comments. 

The Lobby Within
Palestine Chronicle: 17 Dec 2009 - By Ramzy Baroud A just and peaceful solution to the protracted Palestinian-Israeli conflict is only possible when the US ceases to block every attempt made towards it. This assertion might raise many questions, for example, just how is one to define a just and peaceful resolution? And for what reasons would the US obstruct such a possibility, considering that stability in the Middle East is, or at least should be a top American priority? A just and peaceful resolution is difficult to define, considering that the conception of justice varies both in definition and interpretation. In the case of this conflict, the long-held assumption is that a just resolution is one that would be consistent with international and humanitarian laws, and which would enjoy the largest possible consensus worldwide. A consensus is indeed at hand and has been for decades; it is one that recognizes the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories as illegal and immoral, that unconditionally acknowledges the illegality of all Jewish settlements in occupied Palestine and the illegal transfer of Israeli settlers to inhabit unlawfully acquired Palestinian land. Strangely enough, despite its very cautious phraseology, the US, especially under the current administration of President Barack Obama recognizes these very facts. But then why is the man who leads the world’s only superpower proving not only incapable of achieving what should be a practicable feat, but also going so far as to hinder the efforts of other parties to simply recognize Palestinian rights or pinpoint Israeli injustices? This...

U.S. Creates Its Antithesis in Iraq
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Dec 2009 - By Nicola Nasser – West Bank Nowhere it is more obvious than in Iraq that the existence of an election law, elections themselves and the constitution they are based on are not indicators of democracy or legitimacy, because these mechanisms are merely symbols of the antithesis of the mechanisms of democracy as practiced back home by the U.S. occupying power. An editorial of The Washington Post on December 8 hailed the passing two days earlier of an amended version of the 2005 election law by the Iraqi “Council of Representatives” (CoR) as a “Breakthrough in Iraq,” which “gives democracy a chance to work.” However if this statement is not misleading, then it is extremely too optimistic, at least for one reason: The Iraqis themselves had another say. The new version was vetoed by none other than Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi. On November 23, under U.S. excessive pressure including a phone call by President Barak Obama to Kurdistan Regional Government head Masoud Barzani, the CoR passed another amended version of the law without addressing al-Hashemi’s demands to increase the representation in parliament of displaced people, internally and abroad, from 5% of the total to 15%, which indicates yielding in to U.S. pressure by al-Hashemi, nor did it address the Kurds’ threat to boycott the elections if their demands in Kirkuk were not met, in another indication of yielding to U.S. pressure by the Kurds, although it did meet their complaint for more parliamentary seats. Rachel Schneller, a Foreign Service officer with the...

Democracy: Communalism and Subjugation (Part II)
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Dec 2009 - By Jim Miles (Part II looks at how theological considerations, meritocracy, and the fear of social democracy influence perceptions on democratic values and influence actions justified as democratic, from Palestine and Israel through to U.S. actions around the globe.) This is perhaps the strangest relationship within this argument but it is within this context, from an article written by Ramzy Baroud about the ability of democracy to fit within the Muslim system of beliefs, that my original thoughts started. In the article Baroud argued that an “entire school of Muslim thought was in fact established around the concept that democracy and Islam are very much compatible.” Continuing through his arguments on the values of democracy and their fit with Islam - with the awareness of the damage done by the U.S. occupations and invasions and their bringing of democracy through the barrel of a gun to the peoples of the Islamic world - he notes, “However, these idealized assumptions missed the fact that Western democracy was conditional. And unconditional democracy can only be a farce.” [1] I can only concur. Most religions have within them the philosophical/moral basis for the establishment of a democracy. Most would fit a social democracy or even true communal communism if beliefs accorded to family and community were respected and implemented. The discussions about the umma within Islam, the communalism within Christianity, and some of the Talmudic traditions within Judaism, all carry strong elements of democracy. Most importantly as will be discussed later, is the...

Democracy: 'People's Power' Usurped (Part I)
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Dec 2009 - By Jim Miles (Part I examines the business values - globalization, free trade, corporations and capitalism - that define the workings of our democracy today.) One of the many words in the mantra of the imperial apologists is that of democracy. From its Greek roots meaning “people” and “power” the word has travelled a long and convoluted journey but needs to be questioned as to whether it has achieved the real ideal. For the people, the “demos” to truly have power requires a system that acts considerably differently from actions by the global elites currently in power. I differentiate between democracy and freedoms. Having power for the people indicates that the people have an actual say in what the government is doing, and that the government, being of the people, by the people, for the people, responds to the wishes - and hopefully educated wishes - of the populace. Freedom, as present in our current society, represents the wide range from any kind of licentious but licit behaviour through the practical freedoms of the press and media up to the philosophical freedoms of religion and thought. It seldom represents responsibility towards society and its various parameters of poverty and the environment, or towards other less fortunate members of society. It does represent choice, choice to one form of behaviour or another, for the environment or against the environment, for the people, or for the corporation. Democracy and freedom are highly compatible but not necessarily the same thing. The Vote Democracy...
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