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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
20 December, 2009

News

International Middle East Media Center

Israeli Soldiers, Officers, Leak Memo On Plan To Enforce Settlement Freeze
IMEMC 20 Dec 2009 - Monday December 21, 2009 - 01:43, Israeli sources reported Sunday that a number of Israeli soldiers and officers, who live in West Bank settlements, leaked army plans to enforce the temporary freeze of settlement construction in the occupied territories.

Army invades Bil’in
IMEMC 20 Dec 2009 - Sunday December 20, 2009 - 03:05, Israeli soldiers invaded on Saturday at night the village of Bil’in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and broke into two homes.

Settlers, Palestinian Farmers Clash Near Hebron
IMEMC 20 Dec 2009 - Sunday December 20, 2009 - 03:01, A group of fundamentalist settlers clashed on Saturday with Palestinian farmers near the illegal settlement outpost of Mitzpe Asael, in the southern Hebron Hillls.

Obama Grants Israel $2.775 Billion In Security Aid
IMEMC 20 Dec 2009 - Saturday December 19, 2009 - 01:55, United States President, Barack Obama, signed the Foreign Aid Budget Law of 2010 which includes granting $2.775 Billion in security aid to the state of Israel. This budget is the second in two years and is considered part of the US aid to Israel which will total $30 Billion in the coming ten years.

Mk Tibi: “Israel Illegally Took Skin Patches, Corneas To Implant Them In Wounded Troops”
IMEMC 20 Dec 2009 - Saturday December 19, 2009 - 00:25, Dr. Ahmad Tibi, deputy speaker of the Knesset, head of the United Arab Bloc for Change, stated that the Abu Kabeer forensic center removed in the 90’s patches of skin and corneas from every corpse that was transferred to it in order to implant them in wounded soldiers.

Turkey Gives Rapturous Welcome To Gaza Aid Convoy
IMEMC 20 Dec 2009 - Friday December 18, 2009 - 23:37, The Viva Palestina convoy, carrying aid from London to the besieged population of Gaza, has received an overwhelming welcome from Turkey on its drive through the country.

Ma'an News

Israel jails anti-wall campaign leader
12/20/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Stop the Wall Campaign announced on Sunday that its coordinator, Jamal Juma, has been imprisoned by Israel since 16 December. Juma's arrest follows what activists say is a military-legal crackdown on popular expressions of rejection of Israeli occupation. Dozens of protest leaders, boycott campaigners, and other civil society advocates have been arrested in recent weeks. The Ramallah-based Stop the Wall Campaign, a coordinating body for local anti-wall initiatives said in a statement "This latest arrest is yet another escalation of Israel's attack on Palestinian human rights defenders and clamp down on the right to freedom of expression and the right to association. "According to the campaign, Israeli security summoned Juma for interrogation at midnight 15 December. After questioning he was brought to his home. -- Link: Stop The Wall

Palestinians in Megiddo prison say not shielded from rain
12/20/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Prisoners in Israel's Megiddo detention center are reporting that their living situation is awful, the Hussam prisoners organization said on Sunday. The group said it had been contacted by Palestinians held in the facility saying that wind and rainwater has been coming into their cells through cracks in the walls. They also reported that they were not provided with winter clothing, and that their drinking water was contaminated. The Israeli prison administration has banned Palestinian families from giving clothes to the inmates in Megiddo, the organization added. Three prisoners are suffering from kidney diseases, and the prison's clinic lacks the appropriate equipment and supplies to treat them. The prison's yard, they report, is only large enough for seven people to stand in during designated times. 

Witnesses: Settlers stone vehicles near Nablus
12/20/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Dozens of Israeli settlers hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles on the Ramallah-Nablus road in the northern West Bank on Sunday, witnesses said. Settlers flanked by armed soldiers hurled stones from near the settlement of Shilo, witnesses said. A bus was damaged by the stones, and Palestinians were forced to use side roads to avoid the attack, they reported. Separately, the Israeli military said that an Israeli woman was injured by stones thrown at her car by Palestinians south of Bethlehem. News reports indicated the woman was treated on site for minor injuries. [end] 

Palestinians spend $500 million yearly on settlement goods
12/20/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - Palestinians spend about a half billion US dollars every year buying products made in Israeli settlements, Palestinian Minister of Economy Hassan Abu Libdeh on Sunday. Abu Libdeh, speaking during a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce in Nablus in the northern West Bank, was explaining the Palestinian Authority's (PA) decision to crack down on the sale of settlement products. He told investors, business figures, and local officials that his ministry decided that 2010 would be the last year settlement products would be allowed the Palestinian market. But, despite some reservations, the PA will continue to abide by the Paris Protocol, the 1994 agreement that dictates that there are no economic barriers between it and Israel. Goods produced inside Israel's 1967 borders, he implied, will still be allowed to be sold in PA-controlled territory. 

Israeli army to ’surprise’ settlers in enforcing ban
12/20/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Israeli military intends to demolish new construction in West Bank settlements using what it terms "tactical surprise," a leaked military document shows. The document, obtained by the Israeli newspapers Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post, says that the military will use air reconnaissance to detect violations of a declared partial freeze on settlement expansion. When violations are detected, the military plans to impose "closed military zones" in order to keep the media away from demolitions. The document stresses, however, that there will be an effort to hold dialogue with the settlers, and force will only be used in extreme cases. According to Haaretz, the memo also warns that the settler movement could turn violent in response to the enforcement. "The settlers view these evictions as the beginning of the Disengagement and will strive to prevent demolitions in any way available," the document is quoted saying. 

One Gaza crossing open
12/20/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Israeli authorities opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing into Gaza on Sunday, while the Karni and Nahal Oz crossings remained closed on Tuesday. Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh said that between 72 and 82 truckloads of commercial products and humanitarian aid would be allowed into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing. He confirmed that a truckload of flowers produced in Gaza would also be exported. Furthermore, limited quantities of cooking gas and industrial diesel for Gaza's only power plant would also be shipped through Kerem Shalom. Fattouh asserted that the Karni and Nahal Oz crossings would remain closed. Sufa crossing has been closed since 2008. 

Two injured by old ordnance in Gaza
12/20/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Two Palestinians were injured on Sunday in the southern Gaza Strip when a tractor ran over old ordnance, according to a Palestinian medical official. Muawiyah Hassanein, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said the explosion occurred in an area near Quraysh military base which was formerly used by Palestinian presidential guards. He said the Israeli military also used to use the site, arousing suspicions that the explosion resulted from a mine laid by Israeli forces. Local security forces said they opened an investigation. [end] 

Arab Doctors Union to send 200 tons of food to Gaza
12/20/2009 - Al-Arish - Ma'an - An official with the Arab Doctors Union said on Sunday that the organization is planning to send 200 tons of food supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip. Mustafa At-Tayeh, a relief official with the organization said it purchased 200 tons of canned meat from New Zealand. The meat arrived in the border town of Al-Arish, Egypt, several days ago, and the group is working with the Egyptian and Israeli governments to coordinate the entry of the food through the Rafah border crossing on 112 trucks. He added that the union is working to coordinate the entry of 5,000 pre-fabricated wooden houses to shelter people whose houses were destroyed during Israel's war on Gaza last winter. Virtually no reconstruction has taken place since the war, as Israel strictly bans the import of building materials, including concrete, metal rods, pipes, and glass panes. 

Gaza fighters ’trade fire’ with Israeli forces
12/20/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Palestinian fighters said on Sunday that they traded gunfire with Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the National Resistance Brigades, the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), claimed joint responsibility for an attack. "We claim joint responsibility for shooting three Israeli soldiers east of Beit Hanoun. The Israeli army retaliated by shooting with heavy weapons," the two groups said in a statement. An Israeli military representative said that an an Israeli patrol came under fire on in recent hours near the Nahal Oz crossing. The official said no injuries or damage resulted. It was not clear if this was the same incident reported by the PFLP and DFLP. 

Reports: Two held with pipe bombs near Jenin
12/20/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli forces arrested two Palestinians who were carrying pipe bombs at a military checkpoint in the northern Jordan Valley on Sunday evening, Israeli news reports said. The two, who were not immediately identified, were taken for interrogation. Ma'an could not independently verify the reports. [end] 

Egypt intel chief visits Israel for prisoner talks
12/20/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman is scheduled to visit Israel on Sunday on an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks expected to address a proposed prisoner exchange with Hamas. Suleiman will meet Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the chief of the spy agency Mossad, and possibly foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Egyptian sources in Cairo said Suleiman would not bring good news about a hoped-for prisoner swap deal. Egypt and Germany are mediating between Hamas and Israel toward a deal to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was captured by Palestinian guerillas in 2006. Suleiman and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit met on Saturday with the chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and discussed with him developments in the Palestinian arena including. . . 

Carter: World powers must end Gaza blockade
12/20/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Former US president Jimmy Carter urged world powers to coerce Israel to end its blockade of Gaza in an article published in UK daily The Guardian on Saturday. "I visited Gaza after the devastating January war and observed homeless people huddling in makeshift tents, under plastic sheets, or in caves dug into the debris of their former homes," Carter wrote. "Despite offers by Palestinian leaders and international agencies to guarantee no use of imported materials for even defensive military purposes, cement, lumber, and panes of glass are not being permitted to pass entry points into Gaza," he continued. "The US and other nations have accepted this abhorrent situation without forceful corrective action. "The 84-year-old member of the Democratic Party argued that the international community has been failing for three decades to convince Israel to comply with international law. 

PRC: No deadline on Shalit deal
12/20/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - A spokesman for the men holding Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit captive in Gaza said on Sunday that no deadline had been imposed on a potential prisoner exchange. The comments came as Israeli cabinet ministers held an emergency meeting reported to be addressing a prisoner swap. A powerful Egyptian official involved in the prisoner negotiations is also expected to visit Israel on Sunday. Abu Mujahid, the spokesman of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) said that the German mediator in the indirect talks with Israel had given no time limit. Speaking to Ma'an, Abu Mujahid reiterated that the captors are ready to conclude a deal when Israel accepts their demands. He said the mediator is to deliver the Israeli response to these demands soon. "The occupation, not the captors, lays down obstacles in front the deal every day," said Abu Mujahid. 

PFLP: Sa’adat, Barghouthi to be included in swap
12/20/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - An official in the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said on Sunday that the group had been assured that its imprisoned leader, Ahmad Sa'adat, will be included in any prisoner exchange with Israel. PFLP Political Bureau member Naser Al-Kafarneh said the negotiators on the prisoner issue promised to continue insisting on including Sa'adat's name on the list of those slated to be released. He said that the negotiators also promised to insist on the release of Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi. Kafarneh also said in a statement that "the battle with the [Israeli] occupation is ongoing and will not stop until we achieve the Palestinian goals of establishing a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital under the UN resolution 194. "Palestinian factions led by Hamas are negotiating with Israel toward the release of a thousand Palestinian. . . 

Fayyad holds farewell meeting with outgoing UNRWA chief
12/20/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - Caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad received in his Ramallah office on Sunday Karen Abu Zayd, the outgoing commissioner-general of the UN relief agency UNRWA. Fayyad praised Abu Zayd role in helping ease Palestinians' suffering, including her efforts in providing health, education, and social services. He said both the Palestinian government and the Palestinians themselves appreciated her efforts in offering both material and moral support for Palestinian refugees. In a statement Fayyad noted Abu Zayd's "loyalty to the Palestinian cause, her hard work to ease the suffering of the refugees and constant keenness to find a solution to their suffering, especially for those in Gaza who are still suffering because of the blockade. " UNRWA was set up in the aftermath of the 1948 expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in what became the state of Israel. 

Mash’al arrives in Libya for talks with Ghaddafi
12/20/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Senior Hamas official Khalid Mash'al arrived in Libya on Sunday for talks with leader Muammar Ghaddafi, the country's state news agency announced. Mash'al visited Yemen and Iran over the past several days in a series of trips in part related to efforts to reunite Hamas with rival Palestinian party Fatah, which controls the West Bank and most of the institutions of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Libya is also thought to enjoy friendly relations with Fatah and the PA. Upon arriving in Tripoli, Mash'al said he was "keen to consult" Ghaddafi about developments "on more than level," the official JANA news agency reported. Mash'al, who lives in exile in Syria, also expressed appreciation for Ghaddafi's support for the Palestinian cause. Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, and in 2007 took full control of the Gaza Strip, routing Fatah forces. 

Abbas pessimistic about peace process
12/20/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed despair about the Middle East peace process in an interview that appeared on Sundaay. "I found all ways blocked, then I decided not to rerun for another term, and that is not fleeing responsibility," he told the pan-Arab newspaper Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat. "I am not optimistic and I do not want to have illusions," he also said. He also revealed that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered him a proposal for a peace agreement that, with land swaps, would give Palestinians land equal to 100% of the territory of the West Bank. The land swap, previously exposed by the Israeli daily Haaretz, would have involved annexing land to the Gaza Strip in exchange for Israel's annexation of Jerusalem and major West Bank settlements. "I clarified that I refused to annex even one Israeli Arab citizen," Abbas was quoted as saying. 

Former Gaza PA security official dies at 58
12/20/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Major Omar Khalil Qannan, the former chief of the Palestinian Authority's(PA) national security forces in the south of the Gaza Strip, died early on Sunday at the age of 58 following a heart attack. Qannan was a prominent Fatah leader who returned to Gaza after working in Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Beirut, Tripoli, and Yemen. Qannan was shot several times while fighting in Beirut in 1982 and in the Israeli airstrike that targeted the Tunisian city of Hammam Al-Shat. Like many PLO members, he moved to Gaza in 1994 upon the creation of the PA. [end] 

PA shuffles Hebron security leadership
12/20/2009 - Hebron - Ma'an - General Diab Al-Ali, head of the Palestinian Authority's national security forces has issued a decision to appoint Lt. Col. Muhammad Al-Araj as interim head of security in the Hebron area, official sources said on Sunday. Al-Araj previously served in the security forces in Bethlehem. The decision is in effect until a new chief is appointed. The former security chief in Hebron, Colonel Hayel Abu Kosh was transferred to another position in the National Security. Abu Kosh had taken over the Hebron position after Brig. Gen. Sameh As-Seifi retired in October. [end] 

Fatah official tells Gaza: Rise up against Hamas
12/20/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Senior Fatah leader Azzam Al-Ahmad called for a popular uprising led by Fatah against the Hamas government in Gaza on Sunday. Al-Ahmad is the spokesman of Fatah's parliament bloc and a member of the party's Central Committee. Speaking to Ma'an's radio network, Al-Ahmad also reiterated his party's view that Mahmoud Abbas will remain the legitimate president beyond January. "As it is known, there will be no elections on 24 January, thus, president Abbas will not go back home after that date, but he will remain president of the Palestinian Authority until presidential and legislative elections are held," he said. Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006 and in 2007 took full control of Gaza, shutting down security forces loyal to Fatah. Abbas then dismissed a Hamas-Fatah unity government and appointed a caretaker government in the West Bank. 

PA suspends Miss Palestine pageant
12/20/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - After a wave of criticism, the finale of the first-ever Miss Palestine pageant has been postponed indefinitely by the Palestinian Authority. The Ramallah Governorate announced on Sunday, "According to the requirements of the public interest, we decided to freeze and delay indefinitely of the coronation of Miss Palestine 2009 that was scheduled to be held on 26/12/2009 in Ramallah. "The statement said the decision was made out of respect for the anniversary of the onset of the Israeli war on Gaza, which will be marked on 27 December. But, the statement added, "We encourage such ideas that promote beauty that is committed to age-old Palestinian traditions and values. "The Miss Palestine pageant generated controversy when it was announced by the Trip Fashion Company earlier in December. 

Toddler dies of H1N1 in Gaza, raising toll to 13
12/20/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - A three-year-old died of H1N1 flu in the Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll attributed to the virus to 13, the Health Ministry there said on Sunday. Gaza Health Ministry official Hassan Khalaf also said that a total of 185 people have been diagnosed with the disease so far. Eight people are receiving treatment for H1N1 in Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, he said, adding that most people who died of the disease also suffered from other chronic illnesses. H1N1 was first diagnosed in Gaza two weeks ago. An Israeli-Egyptian blockade has severely limited travel into and out of the territory over the past two and a half years, which may have delayed the virus' arrival. The blockade has taken a toll on the Strip's medical infrastructure, however, hindering efforts to combat the disease. 

Gaza: Smuggled fish cuts prices but hurts fishermen
12/20/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Fishermen in Gaza have been complaining of a new phenomenon they say harms their industry: fish smuggled through underground tunnels causing a drop in prices. Smuggled fish is sold to merchants who offer it in the Gazan fish markets, competing with fish being caught by local fishermen. Gazan fishermen say they can't compete with the smugglers because they can only catch limited varieties of fish due as a result of Israeli restrictions on their movement at sea. The Israeli navy patrols Gaza's coast, making sure no fishing boat goes farther than three miles from shore, making larger fish, found in deeper waters, off-limits. "The price of a box of certain kinds of fish dropped from 200 shekels to 120 shekels" as a result of smuggling, said Jamal Al-Asi, a fisherman from Gaza. He added that the most serious problem facing fishermen was that the three-mile. . . 

PA forces stage anti-drug operation in Nablus
12/20/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - Palestinian Authority anti-drug squads said on Sunday that they seized drugs and a home-made gun during a raid on a house in Nablus A police report said the forces acted on a report that the house was being used to sell drugs. A suspected drug dealer was interrogated during the operation. Seeds were also confiscated during the raid, the police said. [end] 

Ha'aretz Defense page

Renegade hesder rabbi capitulates in row with IDF
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - Rabbi Melamed agrees to denounce political demonstrations by Israeli soldiers in uniform. 

Hamas: We're helping foreign lawyers prosecute Israelis
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - Militant group giving U.K. lawyers info on war crimes allegedly committed by Israel leaders, AFP reports. 

IDF: Leaked memo on settlement freeze was just a draft
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - IDF memo obtained by Haaretz: Raids and air surveillance will be among tactics used to enforce freeze. 

Barak and Egypt intel chief discuss Hamas, peace talks
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - Defense minister reiterates need to prevent Hamas from boosting its weaponry, including rockets. 

Gazans shoot at Egyptians building underground border barrier
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - Officials say no one hurt in incident, which was fourth such shooting since construction on barrier begun. 

Hamas: Deal for Shalit release still a long way off
Ha'aretz 20 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 20 Dec 2009 - Yadlin says Iran's 'sophisticated strategy' means its 'technological clock is almost done winding.' 

One strike could have ended Iran nuclear program in 2004
Ha'aretz 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 Dec 2009 - Western spy arrested two months ago after spying on newly disclosed nuclear facility, Channel 2 reports. 

Border Policewoman wounded in fresh clash with settlers
Ha'aretz 20 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 20 Dec 2009 - Hamas leader makes comments in Iran, following Iranian threats of retaliation to Israeli strike. 

Uruknet

U.S.-Israeli Arms Cooperation Quietly Growing
Uruknet December 19, 2009 - Leaders in Washington and Jerusalem have publicly locked horns over the issue of West Bank settlements. And Israeli public opinion has largely viewed America's new administration as unfriendly. But behind the scenes, strategic security relations between the two countries are flourishing. Israeli officials have been singing the praises of President Obama for his willingness to address...

No Road To Jerusalem
Uruknet December 19, 2009 - The photo exhibition "Existence denied" realised by photographers Andrea M. and Magda C., shows the anguish, humiliation and frustration of the Palestinian worshippers during the period of Ramadan. The exhibition is currently hosted at the Alternative Information Center of Beit Shaour, in Behtlehm. The exhibition documents the ten of thousands Palestinians from all over West Bank...

O Little Dying Town of Bethlehem
Uruknet December 19, 2009 - During this Christmas season many of us have been singing "O Little Town of Bethlehem" but few of us may know that Bethlehem is a dying town that is being strangled by the huge concrete wall that Israel has built around it. Few people know that some 20,000 Palestinian Christians live under a harsh military occupation...

27 Demonstrators Arrested at Protest Against Eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem Neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah
Uruknet December 19, 2009 - Israeli police arrested twenty-seven Palestinians and Israeli activists in Sheikh Jarrah on Friday, 18 December afternoon for refusing to end a rally against the eviction of Palestinian residents in the East Jerusalem neighborhood. Several hundred protestors arrived to the neighborhood, where a new settlement is displacing Palestinian families the area, marching in small groups from the...

Video: Israel's settlement subsidy policy
Uruknet December 19, 2009 - Israel has announced a partial moratorium on settlement construction. Yet, at the same time, it has invested in those already established in a bid to solidify their existence. In the Jordan Valley there are 22 settlements viewed as illegal under international law. But, as Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports, they benefit from a system of Israeli...

Iran Acknowledges Prisoners Were Beaten to Death
Uruknet December 19, 2009 -- Iran's hard-line judiciary acknowledged for the first time Saturday that at least three prisoners detained after June's disputed presidential election were beaten to death by their jailers, confirming a key claim by the country's opposition movement. The surprising acknowledgment followed months of repeated denials by police and other authorities that the deaths of protesters in Iranian...

Israeli gunboats fire at fishing boats, IOF soldiers detain Palestinian boy
Uruknet December 19, 2009 -- Israeli gunboats opened heavy machinegun fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Khan Younis to the south of the Gaza Strip on Saturday. PIC reporter said that the gunboats targeted dozens of those fishing boats, adding that no casualties were suffered. In the West Bank, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained a 16-year-old Palestinian boy...

Israel Poisons Palestinian Soil, Newborns' - Researchers 
Uruknet December 19, 2009 - "The 2006 and 2009 Israeli bombings on Gaza left a high concentration of toxic metals in soil, which can cause tumours, fertility problems, and serious effects on newborns, like deformities and genetic pathologies." These are some of the key findings of a recent study by New Weapons Research Committee (NWRC), an Italy-based group of academics, physicians...

Net around Israeli war crimes suspects tightens
Uruknet December 18, 2009 - Efforts by human rights organizations, lawyers and activists in Palestine and Europe to hold Israeli war crimes suspects to account have gained momentum over the past few years. Last week, former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni cancelled a visit to the UK over threats of a lawsuit under the country's universal jurisdiction laws. The Goldstone report...

FROM HOLOCAUST DENIAL TO HOLOCAUST PREVENTION
Uruknet December 19, 2009 - ... I am sick and tired also of those Jews that have 'cashed in on this suffering' through books movies and lectures. Organisations have been established under the guise of 'nazi hunters', they have proven to be one of the most successful branches of the 'Holocaust Industry'. Instead of the crying or cashing in on the past,...

Palestine Telegraph

Gaza: Swine flu deaths to reach 13
Gaza, December 20, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) - The Ministry of Health in Gaza declared that the number of swine flu deaths increased to reach 13, pointing out that the total number of the infected reached 185. Hassan Khalaf, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, said that 147 H1N1 cases took medication and left Gaza hospitals, while 25 cases...

10 Palestinian Identities Hinder Prisoner Swap
Jerusalem, December 20, 2009 (Pal Telegraph)- Hamas source pointed out that the current dispute between Hamas and Israel over the swap is just about 10 names that Hamas has demanded their release, while Israel considers them as real danger that would jeopardize its national security. The Palestinian prisoners are: Hassan yusuf, Hamas leader in WB; Marwan Barghouti, prominent Fatah leader;...

IOF night raid on Bil’in 
West Bank ,December 20 ,2009 (Pal Telegragh)- Israeli soldiers overran on Saturday night the village of Bil'in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and broke into two homes. This is the second attack in two nights, as the Israeli soldiers invaded the village on Friday at night after the villagers and their Israeli and International supporters held their...

IOF Invaded Limited Distance in Al-Bureij Camp
Gaza, December 18, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) - Eye witnesses said that several Israeli vehicles invaded on Friday morning east of Al-Bureij camp, in central Gaza Strip, and razed the agricultural land. They confirmed that five bulldozers and three military vehicles invaded approximately 350 meters east of the camp, near the place where an armed clash took place last Saturday. Israeli...

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...

The National

Survey finds Abbas would win election
The National 19 Dec 2009 - Surge in popularity of president of the Palestinian Authority is matched by increased support for Fatah over Hamas, opinion poll shows.

Exploited Thais in no man's land
The National 19 Dec 2009 - As Israeli rockets whizzed overhead bombarding Gaza, migrant labourers were ordered to work on while their employer took his dogs to safety. Mya Guarnieri reports on the plight of the farm hands trapped by debt.

Indiana Jones, but in reverse
The National 19 Dec 2009 - Zahi Hawass has succeeded in persuading museums around the world to return ancient treasures to Egypt.

Aljazeera

Iran opposition calls for mourning
AlJazeera 20 Dec 2009 - Opposition supporters urged to attend funeral of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.

Israel vows action against settlers
AlJazeera 20 Dec 2009 - Leaked document says military will be used to enforce partial 10-month halt on building.

Hariri urges 'real' ties with Syria
AlJazeera 20 Dec 2009 - Lebanese PM holds "constructive" talks with Syrian president during landmark visit.

Nefertiti 'could return to Egypt'
AlJazeera 20 Dec 2009 - Germans consider lending bust of Egyptian queen to place of her birth.

Alternative Information Center

27 Demonstrators Arrested at Protest Against Eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem Neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah
Alternative Information Center 19 Dec 2009 - Israeli police arrested twenty-seven Palestinians and Israeli activists in Sheikh Jarrah on Friday, 18 December afternoon for refusing to end a rally against the eviction of Palestinian residents in the East Jerusalem neighborhood. Several hundred protestors...

Palestine News Network

No Road to Jerusalem
PNN 19 Dec 2009 - The photo exhibition Existence denied , by Andrea M. and Magda C. , shows the anguish, humiliation and frustration of palestinian worshipers during the fridays of Ramadan. It is currently visible at the Alternative Information Center of Beit Shaour, Behtlehm. Looking at the dense crowd of people gathering each Friday of ramadan at the check points to reach the dome of the rock, one...

Arab filmmaker wins film award, Israel airline security nabs it 
PNN 19 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...

Israel: EU official's 'occupation' remark casts pall on ties 
PNN 19 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. Ashton on Tuesday leveled scathing criticism at Israeli policy in her first speech as the European Union's first high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. The government officials in...

Jerusalem Post

Barak: No force if settlers comply
Jeruslalem Post 20 Dec 2009 - Army says leaked plan calling for "paralyzing force" only first draft, IDF won't handle demolitions.

Bobby Brown could be New York envoy
Jeruslalem Post 20 Dec 2009 - Netanyhu and Lieberman expected to discuss remaining appointments in upcoming days.

IDF, Nat'l Guard to share defense ideas
Jeruslalem Post 20 Dec 2009 - Liasons to be exchanged in face of growing missile threat; Israel to permanently station with Guard HQ.

Egypt's metal wall sparks crisis with Hamas
Jeruslalem Post 20 Dec 2009 - Hamas thinks wall built as punishment for group's refusal to sign Fatah "reconciliation accord."

Rabbis, Melamed oppose army protest
Jeruslalem Post 20 Dec 2009 - Union of Hesder Yeshivot: Military missions only for IDF, we will work to resolve Har Bracha "crisis."

'Egypt should fear Iran more than we do'
Jeruslalem Post 20 Dec 2009 - Lieberman tells Egyptian intelligence chief that the "greatest threat in the Middle East today is Iran."

Mullen 'increasingly concerned' on Iran
Jeruslalem Post 20 Dec 2009 - US military chief: Sanctions are coming; Obama adviser: Time running out for Teheran to cooperate.

Hariri, Assad hold second meeting
Jeruslalem Post 20 Dec 2009 - A day into charged Damascus visit, Lebanese PM expresses hope for "open, honest" ties with Syria.

Israel, EU's new FM start off poorly
Jeruslalem Post 20 Dec 2009 - Ayalon: Europe will not sever Jews from Jerusalem; PM, Barak, FM to meet with Suleiman on Sunday.

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...

EUROPE: Cosy With Israel, Despite the Headlines 
IPS BRUSSELS, Dec 18 (IPS) - Israel's relations with the European Union were tense for most of 2009 - if newspaper headlines are to be believed. In the past week, a British court drew fierce criticism from Israeli politicians after it issued an arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli...

PCHR Weekly Report

(10- 15 Dec. 2009)
PCHR During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in the Gaza Strip and wounded 3 others in the West Bank.  

International Solidarity Movement

A call from Gaza
12/20/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - Various undersigned organizations - This week marks one year since Israel began its attack on the Gaza Strip: a year since phosphorus bombs, dime bombs and other weapons of death and destruction were unleashed on a defenseless civilian population. A year since the people of the world demanded that Israel end its attack on Gaza. In this Israeli war of aggression on the occupied Gaza Strip, many of our civilians were massacred by Israel's indiscriminate bombing, condemned by UN experts and leading human rights organizations as war crimes and crimes against humanity. This assault left over 1,440 Palestinians dead, predominantly civilians, of whom 431 were children. Another 5380 Palestinians were injured. We, the 1. 5 million Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, the overwhelming majority of whom are refugees who were violently expelled from our homes by Zionist forces in 1948, were. . . 

New York carolers sing for boycott of Leviev while Israel jails protesters’ Palestinian allies
12/21/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - Adalah-NY, 19 December - New York, NY, December 19, 2009 - On a snowy Saturday afternoon, forty-five human rights carolers serenaded Madison Avenue shoppers with familiar holiday tunes outside the storefront of Israeli diamond and settlement mogul Lev Leviev, but their lyrics called for the boycott of Leviev's companies. The New York protest took place against the backdrop of a growing arrest campaign by the Israeli military against Palestinian protest and boycott activists from West Bank villages where Leviev has built settlements. Ethan Heitner from Adalah-NY commented, "Today in New York City we celebrated the many victories of the international movement to boycott companies like Leviev's that support Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people. At the same time, we're angry that our Palestinian colleagues, like Mohammad Othman from Jayyous, Abdallah Abu. . . . " 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

PM, Lieberman in row over appointees 
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week in an attempt to find a solution to the dispute that is brewing over the appointment of Israel's next ambassador to the UN and of the next consul general in New York. ... 

Israel ministers to reconvene over Shalit-Hamas prisoner swap
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - The senior cabinet ministers who constitute the so-called forum of seven are to convene again Monday morning at the Prime Minister's Bureau to continue their discussion on the proposed prisoner-release deal. ...

Israel to seek another 1b euros Holocaust in reparations from Germany
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz will demand between 450 million to 1 billion euros in reparations from Germany on behalf of Jews forced into slave labor during the Holocaust, it emerged on Sunday. ...

Netanyahu told: Be brave and bring Shalit home
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - A key activist for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to vote in favor of prisoner exchange with Hamas, as senior ministers discussed the deal in Jerusalem. ...

U.S. army chief: New sanctions likely against 'non-responsive' Iran
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - World powers are likely to back a new set of sanctions against Iran over the Islamic Republic's refusal to prove it is not trying to build a nuclear bomb, the top U.S. military officer said Sunday. ...

The Guardian

Letters: CIA links to the torture of Palestinians
The Guardian 20 Dec 2009 - Reports that CIA agents may be helping their Palestinian security counterparts to torture prisoners ( Special report , 18 December) are bad enough. What is more of a concern to me, though, is that Palestinians, for so long...

Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs
The Guardian 20 Dec 2009 - Israel has admitted that pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others without the consent of their families a practice that it said ended in the 1990s, it emerged at the weekend. The admission, by the...

Letters to God: Jerusalem's faithful delivery of messages from the world
The Guardian 20 Dec 2009 - Every year, Israel sorts and blesses 1,000 prayers and pleas mailed to holy city In a postal sorting office beside a bakery on an industrial estate in Jerusalem, hundreds of letters are carefully set aside for...

Gaza must be rebuilt now | Jimmy Carter
The Guardian 19 Dec 2009 - We can wait no longer to restart the peace process. The human suffering demands urgent relief It is generally recognised that the Middle East peace process is in the doldrums, almost moribund. Israeli settlement expansion within...

Ha'aretz National page

Settler activist: 'We are preparing a series of surprises' for the army 
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - Right-wing activists began preparing on Sunday for a fight against the planned demolition of structures built in contravention of the 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements. ... 

Government okays ban on sale of alcohol from 11 P.M. to 7 A.M. 
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - The cabinet decided yesterday to ban the sale of alchohol between 11 P.M. and 7 A.M. ... 

Israel mulls ban on underweight, 'Photoshopped' models
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - The use of underweight models and digitally rendered images in advertising campaigns should be restricted by law, a new bill submitted to the Knesset proposed on Sunday. ...

Jerusalem mayor cuts health funds for Arab children
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Thursday rejected municipal recommendations and cut funding for a toddler health-care center in East Jerusalem, while approving aid to a similar center in a Jewish neighborhood. ...

Shemesh shwarma joint cannot trademark the 'sun'
Ha'aretz 20 Dec 2009 - Owner of popular Ramat Gan eatery wants to stop rivals cashing in on his name. 

Relief Web

OPT: PRCS holds a scientific day for its psychosocial workers 
Relief Web 19 Dec 2009 - Source: Palestine Red Crescent Society

OPT: Second Rehabilitation and Ability Development Conference under the banner A better life despite disability 
Relief Web 19 Dec 2009 - Source: Palestine Red Crescent Society

EU to work for Palestinian state in 2010: Spain
Relief Web 19 Dec 2009 - Source: Agence France-Presse

OPT: Al-Majdal - Issue # 42, Autumn 2009
Relief Web 19 Dec 2009 - Source: BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights

YNet News

IDF chief joins cabinet meeting on Shalit 
YNet News 20 Dec 2009 - Top seven government members convene at Prime Minister's Office for third time Sunday to debate prisoner exchange deal aimed at securing kidnapped soldier's release. Hamas source says frequent meetings being held on Israeli side for public opinion purposes 

Settlers taken aback by IDF's freeze enforcement plan
YNet News 20 Dec 2009 - Many settlement residents surprised to learn of extent of force to be exercised in freeze's second phase. 'We never expected this response from the army,' says Revital Ofen, Yitzhar resident who thwarted attempted infiltration to her house by terrorist. 'Under what right do they limit my ability to use communication means?' says Shimon Cohen of Beit Aryeh 

Likud MK: Annex West Bank, consider citizenship for Palestinians 
YNet News 20 Dec 2009 - Tzipi Hotovely, one of leaders of internal opposition to Netanyahu, says 'Judea and Samaria are part of land of Israel' 

Egyptian president meets Iranian parliament speaker
YNet News 20 Dec 2009 - Mubarak, Larijani sit down for first high-level talks between their countries since relations were strained after Israel's war on Gaza 

Cabinet ministers discuss Shalit deal 
YNet News 20 Dec 2009 - Top seven government members convene at Prime Minister's Office for third time Sunday to debate prisoner exchange with Hamas aimed at securing kidnapped soldier's release, on backdrop of reports that ball is now in Israel's court. Earlier, Netanyahu meets with Egyptian intelligence chief 

Nasrallah hails Hariri's visit to Damascus 
YNet News 20 Dec 2009 - Lebanese PM calls for renewal of ties with Syria at end of a fence-mending trip to his country's former powerbroker. Hezbollah chief says visit helped make 'atmosphere comfortable' between two countries 

'Loudspeaker war' in Hebron continues 
YNet News 20 Dec 2009 - Following repeated complaints police put end to Hassidic music played loudly from Gutnick Center adjacent to Cave of Patriarchs. Palestinians realize nuisance hasn't disappeared when sounds resume from speakers placed on car. Jewish settlement speaker in Hebron slams muezzin speakers in response 

Hamas: Israeli response to Shalit deal expected within days 
YNet News 20 Dec 2009 - Member of group's political bureau reports of progress in talks, says kidnapped soldier 'won't see the light of day until Israel meets all of our demands and releases all the prisoners we demand' 

Daily Star

Top dissident cleric in Iran dies, opposition calls for rallies
Daily Star 20 Dec 2009 Iran's most senior dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, has died at the age of 87, providing a fresh catalyst for renewed demonstrations against the country's hardline leadership. Supporters of Montazeri, an architect of the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the US-backed shah, were flocking to the Shiite holy city of Qom for the cleric's funeral on Monday.

Iranian troops make partial withdrawal from Iraq oil area - officials
Daily Star 20 Dec 2009 Iranian troops have withdrawn partly from a disputed oil area claimed by both Tehran and Baghdad, Iraqi and Iranian officials said on Sunday, possibly defusing a border feud straining the two nations' delicate ties. Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said a group of Iranian troops who had taken over an oil well in a region along the Iran-Iraq border last week.

Egypt's intelligence chief meets top Israeli officials
Daily Star 20 Dec 2009 Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman was in Israel on Sunday to meet with top officials during a low-profile visit to Israel, an Israeli official said. Suleiman met Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv and was also due to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as the head of the Mossad, Israel's foreign spy service, according to the official.

Israel mulls using force against law-breaking settlers
Daily Star 20 Dec 2009 Israeli authorities could soon use special commando units, unmanned spy planes and cell phone-jamming equipment to enforce a moratorium on new illegal settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, military officials said Sunday, deepening a showdown between the government and Jewish settlers.

Quest for regional power prompts Turkey to look east
Daily Star 20 Dec 2009 Unprecedented activism in the Middle East has raised Turkey's regional profile and boosted trade links, but some in the West are concerned that a long-time Muslim ally may be drifting away. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan heads to Syria Tuesday for the second time in six months, several days after his foreign minister visited Damascus and the president hosted Egypt's leader following a trip to Jordan.

Palestinian Information Center

PA police step up persecution of Islamic Liberation Party activists
PIC 20 Dec 2009 - The PA security forces are stepping up repressive tactics against Hizbultahrir activists throughout the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Budging to public pressure, PA cancels beauty-queen contest
PIC 20 Dec 2009 - The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Sunday decided to cancel a beauty-queen pageant that was slated to take place in Ramallah next week.

Resheq: The German mediator to deliver Israel’s response to the swap deal
PIC 20 Dec 2009 - Izzat Al-Resheq, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, said Sunday that the German mediator would convey to his Movement Israel’s response to the prisoner swap deal during the coming days.

Rezka: Israel a threat to world social peace
PIC 20 Dec 2009 - Israel poses a threat to the world social peace and the world community at large with its heinous crimes topped by harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians, Dr. Yousef Rezka said.

Dameer: Birth defects increased in Gaza due to Israel’s use of chemical weapons
PIC 20 Dec 2009 - Al-Dameer association for human rights said that there is an increase in the number of babies born with birth defects due to the Israeli use of weapons containing radioactive and toxic materials.

Health ministry: Number of swine flu victims rose to 13 in Gaza
PIC 20 Dec 2009 - The health ministry announced on Sunday that the number of the victims of the H1N1 virus known as the swine flu had reached 13 while the number of those contracting the disease reached 185.

Confidential documents unveil PA-Israeli cooperation in kidnapping citizens
PIC 20 Dec 2009 - Confidential documents issued by the PA interior ministry in Gaza revealed that Abbas’s militias carried out political arrests against Palestinian citizens in cooperation with the IOF.

IOA demolishes Palestinian home in 1948 village
PIC 20 Dec 2009 - The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) demolished a Palestinian home in Musmus village near Um Al-Faham city in Palestine occupied in 1948 before dawn Sunday.

Islamic Jihad detainees hold IOA responsible for death of Asa from odd disease
PIC 20 Dec 2009 - The prisoners of Islamic Jihad in Israeli jails held the IOA fully responsible for the death of ex-detainee Suleiman Al-Asa as a result of his suffering from a strange disease.

Israeli TV: Egypt pressures for delaying the exchange deal
PIC 20 Dec 2009 - The Egyptian government is responsible for delaying the prisoners' exchange deal between Hamas and Israel, the Israeli 2nd TV channel claimed.

Los Angeles Times

In Iran, a blind musician leads the way for a women's orchestra 
LA Times 20 Dec 2009 - Ali Jafarian teaches music to young women in Shiraz -- his blindness giving him access he couldn't have otherwise. Together they practice the slow, sad rhythms and searing melodies of Iranian music. Every Friday, the young women gather at the blind man's home in a fading district of a sleepy city once famous for its poets and wine. They unpack vessels of wood, string and stretched hides. They cradle them in their arms. And as the afternoon wears on, they fill the alleyways with song. 

Egypt's barrier along Gaza border called 'wall of shame' 
LA Times 20 Dec 2009 - The underground barrier meant to prevent smuggling shows that Egypt is siding with Israel, Arab commentators say. 'It is like a total obedience to the American recommendations,' a Cairo editor says. An underground barrier to prevent tunneling by smugglers along Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip has been dubbed a "wall of shame" by Arab writers and politicians who charge that Cairo is siding with Israel in isolating the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the seaside enclave. 

Farsi phone service helps bind a community 
LA Times 20 Dec 2009 - Immigrants from Iran know where to call for information on navigating life in L.A. Looking for some kebab? Need a Farsi-speaking plumber? Can't find the showtimes for a new Iranian film release? 

Iran tries to ease worries over missile test 
LA Times 19 Dec 2009 - Iranian atomic agency chief Ali Akbar Salehi says key components of the country's nuclear program won't be ready for two years or more. A top Iranian nuclear official sought Friday to ease international worries about his nation's nuclear program days after Tehran test-fired an upgraded medium-range missile that alarmed the West. 

New York Times

Iran Charges 12 at Prison Over Death of Protesters
New York Times 20 Dec 2009 - The Iranian authorities acknowledged for the first time that at least three protesters had been beaten to death in prison after the disputed June presidential election. 

Lebanon Talks With Syria to Bolster Ties
New York Times 19 Dec 2009 - Lebanese officials said they expected that the two leaders would try to strengthen cooperation and assert the importance of guaranteeing Lebanon’s stability. 

World Briefing | Middle East: Iran: Opposition Web Site Disrupted
New York Times 19 Dec 2009 - Computer hackers disrupted an opposition Web site and Twitter late Thursday and Friday, identifying themselves as the Iranian Cyber Army and posting anti-American messages in English. 

World Briefing | Middle East: Lebanon: At Least 11 Die as Ship Sinks
New York Times 19 Dec 2009 - Rescue workers searched stormy waters off Lebanon on Friday after a cargo ship sank, killing at least nine crew members and leaving dozens missing. 

Amin el-Hafez, Baathist Leader of Syria in 1960s, Dies
New York Times 19 Dec 2009 - He nationalized Arab-owned banks, the country’s oil and mineral resources and other industries before being overthrown in a coup in 1966. 

Leading Iranian Reformist Speaks to BBC
New York Times 18 Dec 2009 - Despite the threat of arrest by the authorities, one of the leaders of Iran's opposition, the reformist cleric Mehdi Karrobi, has invited a BBC television crew into his home in Tehran and repeated his claim that male and female opposition supporters were raped in captivity by government agents. 

Misc

Four Houses Raided in Bil’in, Ni’ilin
12/19/2009 - WAFA - Palestine News Agency - RAMALLAH, December 19, 2009 (WAFA) -The Palestinian West Bank villages of Bil’in and Ni’lin west of Ramallah have been invaded by the Israeli military in the early hours of Saturday, 19 December 2009. International Solidarity Movement (ISM) said in a press release Israeli Soldiers entered both villages at 2. 30am and raided houses of four families. In Bil’in, five military jeeps carrying about 30 soldiers entered the village and invaded the house of Yassin Yassin. Family members, woken up by the armed soldiers at the dark of night, were forced to leave the house and stand outside in cold and rain. The raid was conducted in order to arrest Yassin Yassin, wanted for his participation in the village’s regular Friday demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall and settlements. As Yassin was not present in the house at the time of the raid, the soldiers left a note ordering him to attend questioning at the Ofer prison. 

Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, in Israeli jail
12/20/2009 - Stop The Wall - Israeli security first summoned Juma’ for interrogation at midnight of December 15. Hours later, they brought him back to his home. Juma’ was handcuffed while soldiers searched his house for two hours as his wife and three young children looked on helplessly. The parting words of the soldiers were directed at his wife: she would only see her husband again through a prisoner exchange. Since then, Juma’ has been detained, and banned from speaking to a lawyer or his family, with no explanation for his arrest. Jamal, 47 years old, was born in Jerusalem and has dedicated his life to the defense of Palestinian human rights. The main focus of his work is on empowering local communities to defend their human rights in the face of violations brought about by the occupation. He is a founding member of a number of Palestinian NGOS and civil society networks. 

Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs
12/20/2009 - The Guardian - Israel has admitted that pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others without the consent of their families – a practice that it said ended in the 1990s, it emerged at the weekend. The admission, by the former head of the country's forensic institute, followed a furious row prompted by a Swedish newspaper reporting that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called "antisemitic". The revelation, in a television documentary, is likely to generate anger in the Arab and Muslim world and reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians. Iran's state-run Press TV tonight reported the story, illustrated with photographs of dead or badly injured Palestinians. Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab MP, said the report incriminated the Israeli army. 

CIA working with Palestinian security agents
12/17/2009 - The Guardian - 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 working closely with the CIA, the Guardian has learned. Less than a year after Barack Obama signed an executive order that prohibited torture and provided for the lawful interrogation of detainees in US custody, evidence is emerging the CIA is co-operating with security agents whose continuing use of torture has been widely documented by human rights groups. The relationship between the CIA and the two Palestinian agencies involved – Preventive Security Organisation (PSO) and General Intelligence Service (GI) – is said by some western diplomats and other officials in the region to be so close that the American agency appears to be supervising the Palestinians' work. 

UN Committee Poses 30 Tough Questions to Israel (PDF)
12/15/2009 - Al Mezan Center for Human Rights - 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 - The UN Human Rights Committee has posed 30 highly critical questions to Israel concerning its compliance with the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Committee's "List of Issues" covers a wide range of human rights concerns in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Fourteen questions taken up by the Committee were directly related to human rights violations highlighted in an NGO report submitted to the Committee by Adalah, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza) and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel on 10 August 2009. In the report, the three human rights organizations detailed Israel’s lack of compliance with the ICCPR in areas related to the rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, as well as Palestinian civilians in the OPT. 

Call for Action: Oppose Portuguese Water Deal with Mekorot! Defend Palestinian Water Rights! Uphold International Law!
12/20/2009 - Global BDS Movement - Israel's national water carrier Mekorot signed a "co-operative" venture with EPAL, the Portuguese water company that serves 2. 5 million consumers in the country's capital and the south. The agreement claims to safeguard the Portuguese water system against "terrorist threats", building on Mekorot's alleged "expertise" in the area. The Portuguese deal is in a reality a thinly veiled attempt for Mekorot to profit from its many years of experience as an agent of Israel's illegal and immoral occupation of Palestine. The deal with Portugal serves as a launch pad for the company to sell its services to the rest of Europe, pumping millions of dollars back to Israel's military apparatus. This money will inevitably be used to consolidate Israel's criminal appropriation of Palestinian water aquifers. An Amnesty International report published last October accuses Israel of denying Palestinians access to water. 

Israeli Video Confirms Theft Of Palestinian Organs
12/20/2009 - Al Arabiyah - An Israeli video confirmed accusations that Tel Aviv was illegally stealing organs from the dead bodies of Palestinians and justified the practice in the name of scientific research, press reports said Sunday. The news of the harvesting of Palestinian organs was first published by a Swedish newspaper, which an outraged Israel denied, but according to the video corneas, hearts, bones and skin from the back were harvested from the bodies of dead Palestinians without authorization or permission from their families, the Palestinian Maan News Agency reported. The 57-minute video was filmed by Yehuda Hiss, the director and chief pathologist at the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine, and explains how he authorized organ theft, gave instructions to doctors to do so and said he would sometimes snatch the organs himself. 

Young filmmakers honoured at UN-backed festival
12/18/2009 - United Nations: International Law - 18 December 2009 – Young filmmakers from around the world will be recognized for their efforts to highlight migration, identity and diversity issues at a United Nations-backed ceremony in New York today. The winners of the PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival Awards – an initiative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – were selected by an international jury out of more than 150 videos from 36 countries. The festival seeks to give voice to youth on integration, inclusiveness, human rights and social cohesiveness and also to promote respect and appreciation for all people. In the 9-12 age category, a group of 12 Palestinian children will be honoured for their animated film, “Warda,” which examines how young people perceive the wall between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. 

Twelve Palestinian Children Honored for Animation Movie 'Warda'
12/19/2009 - WAFA - Palestine News Agency - NEW YORK, December 19, 2009 (WAFA)- Twelve Palestinian children were honored, Friday, for their animated film, “Warda,” which examines how young people perceive the wall between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, Un news service said. These children were honored in the 9-12 age category as winners of the PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival Awards , an initiative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). They were selected by an international jury out of more than 150 videos from 36 countries. The award-winning videos will be shown at festivals and events around the world next year. Young filmmakers from around the world will be recognized for their efforts to highlight migration, identity and diversity issues at a United Nations-backed ceremony in New York today. The UN explained that the festival seeks to give voice to youth on integration, inclusiveness, human rights and social cohesiveness and also to promote respect and appreciation for all people. 

Ynet: We’re Gradually Losing Best Palestinian Peace Partners We Ever Had
12/19/2009 - WAFA - Palestine News Agency - TEL AVIV, December 20, 2009 (WAFA)- Next year, Israel will be marking a decade to the failed and destructive vision of unilateralism. This will be a good, and possibly the last, opportunity to abandon this foolish fantasy, Israeli news site Ynet said. Uri Misgav worte: “I recently committed a criminal act. I cannot even plead ignorance. A large red sign at the roadblock near the Qalandiya refugee camp made it clear. Israelis are forbidden from entering Area A in the West Bank. It may be a security constraint, but it also has a symbolic significance. The moderate and quiet capital of the Palestinian Authority is located a few minutes away from Jerusalem, yet visiting it is a crime. ”He added that next year, Israel will be marking a decade to the failed and destructive vision of unilateralism. This will be a good, and possibly the last, opportunity to abandon this foolish fantasy. 

Why Occupation forces raided the Kan’an home
12/17/2009 - Stop The Wall - In the early hours of Wednesday morning, masked soldiers entered Ni’lin and made their way to the Kan’an house. They did not announce their intentions, but instead began wrecking the property. Windows were broken with stones, the family car was smashed, and furnishings were turned upside down. During the raid, soldiers screamed at the family and went so far as to hit a younger girl, Dawat, causing her to faint. According to eyewitnesses, soldiers entered the house with dogs and appeared to be searching for something. At this point, the family was forced out into the cold. When soldiers withdrew, they left residents with papers informing them that they had to present themselves for a review by Occupation intelligence forces. According to Salam Kan’an, the raid was launched in an attempt to discover video footage that she had shot last year that captures an Israeli soldier shooting a bound. . . . 

Moratinus: My Dream is to Work for Palestinian State in 2010
12/19/2009 - WAFA - Palestine News Agency - Brussels, December 19, 2009 (WAFA)- Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos, said, yesterday, that he will work towards establishing a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in 2010. Moratinos, whose country is the incoming president of European Union on January 1, 2010, said in a press conference held in Brussels: My idea, and my dream, and my engagement, is to work for having in 2010, finally, a Palestinian state that could live in peace and security with Israel. ”He affirmed that although he cannot give any guarantees on that, this is what “we’ll strive for. ”He wondered, “why do we have to wait before the establishment of a Palestinian state? We already have an Israeli one, why wait before establishing its neighbor. ”'It has to be done through negotiation, it has to be done by agreement, it has to be done through international community recognition,' he affirmed. 

Middle East peace efforts face race against time, UN envoy warns
12/17/2009 - United Nations: International Law - Robert H. Serry, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process addresses Security Council (file)17 December 2009 – Efforts to forge a Middle East peace are “in a race against time” with both sides needing to do more, Israel by fulfilling its commitments, including a settlement freeze, under an internationally endorsed plan for a two-State solution, and the Palestinians by resuming negotiations, a senior United Nations official warned today. “If we cannot move forward towards a final status agreement, we risk sliding backwards, with both the Palestinian Authority and the two-State solution itself imperilled,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry told the Security Council in a regular monthly briefing on the situation. “As 2009 draws to a close, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are yet to resume, confidence between the parties remains low, facts. . . . 


Articles

The Gaza I Know 
Nancy Murray, The Nation 12/18/2009
      For most Americans, the Gaza Strip is, at best, unknown territory. At worst, it is a hostile land whose "terrorist infrastructure" must be dismantled, no matter what the cost to its million and a half residents.
     The Gaza I have been visiting for the past twenty-one years bears little relation to the dehumanizing imagery to which it has been reduced by the mainstream media. The Gaza I know is home to friends and strangers who are as welcoming and humane as they are resilient and determined to achieve their freedom. They have maintained their humanity despite enduring a brutal forty-two-year-old Israeli occupation that has cost them the destruction of their homes, land, economy and future and the loss of more than 4,000 lives since the dawn of the twenty-first century.
     For the past two and a half years, this spit of sand--just twenty-five miles long and a few miles wide--has been virtually a closed prison. Since June 2007 Israel’s blockade has prevented the entry of all but a handful of basic items, and the exit of patients who urgently need medical treatment and students with scholarships to study abroad. Then, a year ago, came the "shock and awe" of Israel’s "Operation Cast Lead," intended as a knockout blow not just to the crude rockets fired from Gaza but to its life-sustaining infrastructure and the will of its people to resist.
     A month ago, I finally obtained permission from the Israeli military to cross into Gaza to visit therapy programs for traumatized children. Half of the Gaza Strip’s 1.5 million inhabitants are children, and many have not emotionally recovered from Israel’s military attacks. more.. e-mail

Despair in Ramallah 
Uri Misgav, YNetNews 12/19/2009
      We’re gradually losing best Palestinian peace partners we ever had
     I recently committed a criminal act. I cannot even plead ignorance. A large red sign at the roadblock near the Qalandiya refugee camp made it clear. Israelis are forbidden from entering Area A in the West Bank. It may be a security constraint, but it also has a symbolic significance. The moderate and quiet capital of the Palestinian Authority is located a few minutes away from Jerusalem, yet visiting it is a crime. Next year, Israel will be marking a decade to the failed and destructive vision of unilateralism. This will be a good, and possibly the last, opportunity to abandon this foolish fantasy.
     Ramallah is recovering. The economic growth is apparent by the construction boom and the accelerated activity of the production and commercial sectors. The coffee shops offer thick hot chocolate in tall glasses next to the tea. Restaurants charge Tel Aviv-style prices. Yet skepticism reigns supreme. Everything is fragile, say the locals. I met with several prominent PA leaders here. Members of Fatah’s top brass who speak fluent Hebrew; men who were held in Israeli jails for years and know us better than we know ourselves. They understand history and politics, possess street smarts and common sense, and display sharp humor and a sense of irony. They recoil from religious fanaticism and from bloodshed. They believe in the two-state vision in line with the 1967 borders. If there is one unforgivable sin in Ehud Barak’s list of transgressions, it is the way he entrenched the perception that Israelis have no Palestinian partner. We never had better partners than these. At this rate, soon we won’t have them either. more.. e-mail

Jerusalem & Babylon / The story that got away 
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 12/18/2009
      As far as much of the world is concerned, Israel today is the South Africa of yesteryear.
     I met this week a senior IDF general who had been intimately involved with the planning and execution of last year’s Operation Cast Lead. I asked whether he was planning a trip to London any time soon. "I never went on vacation in Britain, even before the arrest warrants began," he answered half jokingly. "My parents were in the [pre-state underground militia] Etzel - MI5 still has a file on my family."
     While I was busy chatting with the general, the biggest story of the week was staring me in the face and I missed it. It could have been mine days earlier; but instead, Al Jazeera was first. Advertisement
     A week earlier I had learned that Tzipi Livni would be speaking at a Jewish National Fund event in London, and then heard she had apparently canceled. It should have been obvious to me that some pro-Palestinian lawyer was going to try and slap her with an arrest warrant, and I probably could have confirmed this in a couple of phone calls to London. But somehow I missed it, my usually keen journalistic instincts somehow dulled by a backlog of work and other pressing tasks.
     Another story that got away, only to scream its obviousness at me once it came out elsewhere. Obvious to me, that is.
     What I still find very surprising about the Livni-war crimes-arrest warrant story is the number of Israelis, normally very aware and in touch with life outside the bubble, who were themselves surprised by the entire episode. They seemed to feel that the former foreign minister being threatened with arrest somehow moved the whole issue up a notch. more.. e-mail

No Road To Jerusalem
Palestine Monitor: 19 Dec 2009 - The photo exhibition "Existence denied" ( http://www.andrea-magda.com/portfol... realised by photographers Andrea M. and Magda C., http://www.andrea-magda.com/bio.html shows the anguish, humiliation and frustration of the Palestinian worshippers during the period of Ramadan. Photo by Andrea M. and Magda C. The exhibition is currently hosted at the Alternative Information Center of Beit Shaour, in Behtlehm. The exhibition documents the ten of thousands Palestinians from all over West Bank who gathered every Friday during ramadan period at the check points in order to enter Jerusalem and pray at Al Aqsa mosque, widely considered as the third holiest site in Islam. Because of hours of queuing under the sun and the risk to be denied to enter, the attempt to reach Al Aqsa can be labeled as an act of heroism. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) allowed women over 45 and men over 50 only to go. A pre-checkpoint was established in order to “select” people,...

Oybama
Palestine Chronicle: 20 Dec 2009 - By Uri Avnery This week I enjoyed an hour of happiness. I was on my way home, after collecting William Polk's new book about Iran. I admire the wisdom of this former State Department official. I was walking on the seaside promenade, when I was seized by a desire to go down to the seashore. I sat down on a chair on the sand, sipped a coffee and smoked an Arab water-pipe, the only smoke I allow myself from time to time. A ray of the mild winter sun painted a golden path on the water, and a lone surfer rode on the white foam of the waves. The shore was almost deserted. A stranger waved at me from afar. Some passing youngsters from abroad asked to try my pipe. From time to time my gaze wandered to far-away Jaffa jutting out into the sea, a beautiful sight. For a moment I was in a world that was all good, far from the depressing items that were prominent in the morning paper. And then I remembered that I had felt the same way many-many years ago. It was 68 years ago, in exactly the same spot. It was also a pleasant winter day, facing a stormy sea. I was on sick leave, after a severe attack of typhoid fever. I was sitting on a deck chair, warming myself under the gentle winter sun. I felt my strength coming back to me after the debilitating disease, I forgot the far-away World...

The Source of America's Wars
Palestine Chronicle: 20 Dec 2009 - By Maidhc Ó Cathail 'One reason neocons have been able to sow so much mischief is that they feed into deeply embedded American beliefs about democratism and 'chosenness.'" -- Paul Gottfried. Americans feeling let down by Barack Obama’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan should take careful note of those who welcomed yet another “surge.” It might help them to identify the source of their seemingly endless wars. For instance, in a recent Washington Post opinion piece, William Kristol described Obama’s West Point speech as “encouraging.” It was “a good thing,” he said, that Obama was finally speaking as “a war president.” But if the comments on the Post website are anything to go by, few ordinary Americans take Kristol’s armchair warmongering seriously anymore. After all, as one poster quizzically asked, “A column by William Kristol the neocon that was wrong about everything from 2000-2008?” Although Kristol, like the rest of the neocons, “erred” about Iraq’s WMDs and Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda and 9/11, it would be a fatal error indeed to dismiss him as a fool. In order to understand what motivates Bill Kristol’s professed hyper-patriotism, with its consistently disastrous prescriptions, it’s worth recalling how his father, Irving Kristol, reacted to Vietnam War critic Senator George McGovern. The presidential contender’s proposed cut in U.S. military expenditure would, according to the “godfather” of neoconservatism, “drive a knife in the heart of Israel.” “Jews don’t like big military budgets,” the elder Kristol explained in a Jewish publication in 1973. “But...

Arab Jews and Myths of Expulsion and Exchange
Palestine Chronicle: 20 Dec 2009 - By David Green During Stanford Professor Joel Beinin's visit to the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois in March of 2000, I was introduced to the seemingly esoteric topic of the plight of Jews in Arab societies subsequent to the establishment of Israel--specifically regarding his research specialty at that time, the Jews of Egypt. In Beinin’s outstanding book on this subject, The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry, he explores the ultimately unsuccessful attempt of 75,000 Egyptian Jews to “maintain their multiple identities and to resist the monism of increasingly obdurate Zionist and Egyptian national discourses.” Beinin also spoke presciently—6 months before the beginning of the 2nd intifada--of the dire conditions of the Palestinians in the occupied territories, which he described as “worse than horrible.” Six months after Sharon’s 2000 visit to the Temple Mount, in March of 2001, a political advertisement sponsored by The American Jewish Committee and Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago appeared in the Chicago Tribune titled “The Other Refugees.” It claimed that: “The Arab onslaught of 1948 and its aftermath tragically produced two—not one—refugee populations, one Jewish and one Arab. More than 700,000 Jews across the Arab world were forced to flee for their lives, their property ransacked in deadly riots, and their schools, hospitals, synagogues and cemeteries expropriated or destroyed.” The ad went on to compare the absorption of many of these Jews by Israel to Palestinians who ”have remained quarantined in squalid camps,” concluding that “Palestinian leadership, backed by many in the Arab world, seeks...
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