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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
22 December, 2009

News

International Middle East Media Center

Netanyahu Reluctant on Swap Deal
IMEMC 22 Dec 2009 - Wednesday December 23, 2009 - 02:14, Netanyahu, worked hard to foil a prisoner-swap deal with the Hamas movement in Gaza and insisted to increase the number of detainees Israel demands to deport in case they were released.

Abbas: “No New Intifada As Long As Am in Power”
IMEMC 22 Dec 2009 - Wednesday December 23, 2009 - 01:04, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stated Tuesday that there will be no new Palestinian Intifada (uprising) as long as he is in power, but also warned that the current “calm” will reach an end as soon as he leaves office next June.

The Israeli military kidnaps nine civilians from the West Bank
IMEMC 22 Dec 2009 - Tuesday December 22, 2009 - 17:22, Israeli troops kidnapped on Tuesday nine Palestinian civilians during pre dawn invasions targeting a number of West Bank communities.

The Israeli military hands out demolishing orders to Palestinians in the Jordan Valley
IMEMC 22 Dec 2009 - Tuesday December 22, 2009 - 17:12, Israeli troops handed out on Tuesday Palestinian farmers from deferent areas in the Jordan valley demolishing orders.

P.A Security Arrests Local Official Shortly After Court Ordered His Release
IMEMC 22 Dec 2009 - Tuesday December 22, 2009 - 12:26, Local sources in the southern West Bank City of Hebron reported on Monday evening that the Palestinian Security Forces arrested a member of Sair Town Council moments after the District Court ordered his release.

Palestinians In Gaza Protest Egypt’s Border Wall
IMEMC 22 Dec 2009 - Tuesday December 22, 2009 - 10:10, Thousands of Palestinians protested on Monday at the Salah Ed Deen Gate area, near the border with Egypt, against the Iron Wall Egypt is installing with American support and supervision along its border with Gaza.

Ma'an News

Aid groups say world powers betrayed Gaza
12/22/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The international community betrayed the people of Gaza by failing to end an Israeli blockade stymieingreconstruction efforts following last winter's war, 16 aid and human rights groups said in a report released Tuesday. The report, Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, No recovery, No more excuses, alleges that the world's powers, particularly the European Union, failed to ensure that aid pledged to Gaza actually reached its intended recipients. Since the end of the three week military offensive dubbed Operation Cast Lead in January, Israel has allowed only 41 truckloads of construction materials into the Gaza Strip, the groups reported. All of those materials were destined for NGOs implementing piecemeal reconstruction efforts, or repairs to the electricity and sewage networks. The groups sponsoring the report included Amnesty International, CAFOD, Christian. . . -- Link: Full Report (PDF)

Bahar: Egypt’s wall signals new Israeli attack on Gaza
12/22/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Palestinian Legislative Council member Ahmad Bahar called for an urgent meeting between all parliamentary blocks on Wednesday to discuss the consequences of the Egyptian wall being built along Gaza's southern border. "The construction of Egypt's wall is a sign of an impending attack on Gaza by Israel," Bahar said. The wall, 10 kilometers long and 24 meters deep, will run along the Gaza-Egypt border, and aims to cut off the passage into Egypt of hundreds of smuggling tunnels which have been for two years Gaza's lifeline as Israel's siege continues. Bahar said he considered the building of the wall as a sign for another Israeli attack against the Gaza Strip. Bahar called the construction of the wall a move that goes against the good relations between Gaza and Egypt, and he urged Egyptian authorities to reconsider their decision. 

Report: Female Palestinian detainees suffer neglect
12/22/2009 - Salfit - Ma'an - Palestinian women serving time in Israel's prisons are suffering from medical neglect, the Palestinian Prisoners Society said in a report released Monday. The head of the prisoners' society, Qadura Faris, said in a statement that lawyers and workers with the prison discovered 17 female detainees at Israel's Ash-Sharon and Ad-Damon prison facilities were being kept in sub-standard consitions and that all had been denied medical treatment for persisting conditions. The statement identified the case ofWafa Al-Lubs, a female prisoner from the Gaza Strip detained in 2005. The report said she has been kept in an isolated cell for months. Five of the 17 are serving life sentences, while 12 others are being held under administrative detention and remain neither charged or sentenced. Faris called the sanitation at HaSharon prison "disgusting," noting the lack of facilities and bathrooms in need of reconstruction. -- Link: Palestinian Prisoners Society

Farming banned on Gaza lands affected by ’chemical weapons’
12/22/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Farming and grazing in certain areas bombed by the Israeli military during last winter's war on Gaza has been banned by the Strip's Ministry of Agriculture for fear of contamination by toxic chemicals, a report released Monday revealed. The ministry said the ban was implemented after inspecting sites where Israeli aircraft dropped phosphorus bombs and other materials it said could be "radioactive, toxic, and carcinogenic. " The ministry was not able to carry out proper chemical tests, it said, because all the laboratories in Gaza, including the specialist lab at Islamic University, were bombed during the war. A statement from the ministry said the effects of the chemicals they believe to have been dropped began to appear after the war. The effects included mutations and wilted plants, while some formerly fertile areas became barren, it said. 

Abbas: I prevented intifada during Gaza war
12/23/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview published on Tuesday that he stopped a third Palestinian intifada from occurring during the Israeli offensive against Gaza last winterSpeaking to New York's Wall Street Journal, Abbas also said he would not allow another uprising to take place as long as he stays in office. "I will not allow a new intifada. As long as I'm in office, I will not allow anybody to start a new intifada. Never never. But if I leave, it's no longer my responsibility and I can't make any guarantees. It could happen," he said. "It's not my business to follow up. I promise and I can do. And I already promised and I did during the invasion of Gaza. At that time everybody asked me to go to a third intifada, but I prevented anybody from doing it. "In the interview he also denied reports that the CIA is working closely with PA security forces who torture detainees. 

Sheikh Raed Salah banned from Jerusalem
12/22/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli military authorities ordered a ban preventing Sheikh Raed Saleh, head of the northern Israel Islamic Movement, from entering Jerusalem for the next three weeks, a statement said. According to the Israeli military, OC Home Front Command, Maj Gen Yair Golan, issued the order, "on the grounds of ensuring the security of the State of Israel and maintaining public peace and order. "The order can also be extended for an additional six months, the statement said. Salah has been targeted by Israeli police and military authorities since 2003 when he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and three years of probation. He is a vocal supporter of efforts to prevent the persecution of Palestinians in Jerusalem, and is an ardent advocate of the protection of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The religious leader was detained during the most recent tension in Jerusalem. . . 

Peaceful olive harvest yields little
12/22/2009 - IRIN, Huwwara/Tel Aviv - Three hundred olive trees in Shaer's plot near the village of Jit in the West Bank's Nablus region are almost bare. There will be hardly any olives for his family this year, let alone any for sale. "We will pray for rain and wait," he said. He reckoned this year's crop would be less than a quarter of last year's "and last year it was not good at all. " Ahmed, an olive farmer form the Qalqiliya region, about 30 minutes drive from Tel Aviv, said the meager crop was not worth harvesting. "I can only hope for the future," he said. Palestinian olive farmers have been hit by a third consecutive bad or poor harvest. Normally, in this region, you get a good crop one year followed by a smaller yield the next year, but the two-year cycle appears to have been broken - exacerbated by a dry winter in 2008-2009, according to some experts. 

Shots fired as PA arrests Hizb Ut-Tahrir official
12/22/2009 - Hebron - Ma'an - Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces opened fire on a car driven by an official in the pacifist Islamist movement Hizb Ut-Tahrir on Monday night, officials said. Shots were fired at Maher Al-Jabari, one of Islamic Jihad's press officers, moments before he was arrested by PA security services near his office at the Palestine Polytechnic University in the West Bank city of Hebron. In a statement about the incident, Hizb Ut-Tahrir said Al-Jabari was also assaulted during the arrest. He is now being held at an unknown location. A PA security official told Ma'an that Al-Jabari failed to obey a police order to stop his car, and while trying to escape crashed his vehicle into three other cars. The source, who insisted on anonymity, said PA officers fired in the air to force Al-Jabari to stop, he was then arrested and taken to a detention center. 

One Gaza crossing open, all others closed
12/22/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Israeli authorities opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing into Gaza on Tuesday, while the Karni and Nahal Oz crossings remained closed. Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh said that between 90 and 100 truckloads of commercial products and humanitarian aid would be allowed into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing. He confirmed that limited quantities of cooking gas and industrial diesel for Gaza's only power plant would also be shipped through Kerem Shalom. Fattouh also said the Karni and Nahal Oz crossings would remain closed. Sufa crossing has been closed since 2008. [end] 

Israeli forces seize 9 in night raids
12/22/2009 - Qalqiliya - Ma'an - Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians during overnight raids in the West Bank, the military reported on Tuesday. Palestinian eyewitnesses said Israeli forces entered the city of Qalqiliya early on Tuesday and seized Abdullah Abdul Hafez, 27, after searching his house. Abdul Hafez is the director of Ar-Razan car dealership. The soldiers led him to his workplace and searched the building, damaging the interior, witnesses said. A military spokesman said that one person was detained in the town of Anabta, east of Tulkarem, three from Beit Duqqu, southwest of Ramallah, and five from Al-Arrub Refugee Camp, north of Hebron. The other detainees were not immediately identified. The military spokesman said they were arrested because they were "wanted," and were taken for interrogation. 

Ministry: 110 Palestinians serving over 20 years in Israeli jails
12/22/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - There are now over 110 Palestinians in Israeli jails who have served over 20 years, the de facto government Ministry of Prisoners Affairs announced Monday. Ministry press officer Riyad Al-Ashkar said the addition of Jamal Irqiq from Gaza City's At-Tufah neighborhood, who marked his 20th year on Tuesday, brought the total number up to 110. Irqiq was sentenced to life in prison because of his alleged affiliation with Hamas. The number of detainees who have spent more than 15 years in Israeli prison recently reached 319, while the longest serving prisoner remains Nael Al-Barghouti, who is in his 32nd year of prison time, Al-Ashkar said. [end] 

Overnight blast reported in Gaza City
12/22/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - An explosion took place in the As-Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City on Monday night, witnesses said. The blast was heard near the Al-Khidma Al-Amma Hospital and Al-Beit Al-Ahliyah, a local NGO. The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. Police arrived in the area and began an investigation, the witnesses added. The head of the emergency department of the Health Ministry in Gaza, Muawiyah Hassanein said no one was injured. An Israeli military spokesman said he was not aware of any military activity in the area, and that there was no Israeli connection to the blast. [end] 

Israel hands response to swap talks to mediator
12/23/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - A German mediator was expectedto give Hamas Israel's latest response in negotiations on Tuesday, in continued efforts toward a deal that would see the release of a captured Israel soldier in exchange for a thousand Palestinian prisoners. An anonymous source close to the negotiations told Reuters news agency that Israel had passed its decision to the mediator. The report follows two days of marathon talks by Israel's seven top cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, about the prisoner deal. The meetings concluded after midnight on Monday with no formal announcement from the Israeli government. Reports suggest that the ministers were deliberating over whether to accept Hamas' demand for the release of Palestinian fighters allegedly responsible for the deaths of Israelis. 

Report: Prisoner deal mediator delays Gaza visit
12/23/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - There were conflicting reports on Tuesday about whether a German mediator had arrived in Gaza carrying Israel's response in negotiations toward a prisoner swap. Early reports said the mediator had already arrived. On Tuesday afternoon a Hamas official said the mediator had postponed his visit until Wednesday. Early on Tuesday, Israel handed over response to the latest proposed deal the German mediator. If approved the deal would see a captured Israeli soldier released in exchange for approximately 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Israeli news reports on Tuesday said that in its response, Israel demanded that certain prisoners from the West Bank be expelled to Gaza, or to other countries. The decision followed two days of intensive deliberations by Israel's top cabinet ministers. Meanwhile journalists said dozens of Israeli reporters began the application process for Egyptian visas on Monday amid speculation that a deal was close. 

Gaza factions to hold talks on prisoner deal
12/23/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - The Palestinian armed groups holding an Israeli soldier captive in Gaza are to hold a meeting to discuss Israel's latest response in negotiations toward a prisoner exchange, a spokesman for the captors said late on Tuesday. Abu Mujahid, the spokesperson of the Popular Resistance Committees, said the meeting would take place as soon as the groups receive the response from the German mediator in the indirect negotiations. There were conflicting reports on Tuesday as to when the mediator was traveling to Gaza. A source told Reuters news agency that the mediator delayed their visit until Wednesday. A prisoner swap could see the release of about a thousand of the 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails in exchange for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian fighters in 2006. Three groups claimed responsibility for Shalit's capture: Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees, the Army of Islam. 

Former Russian PM: Bush monopolized peace process
12/22/2009 - Dead Sea, Jordan - Ma'an - Former US President George W Bush monopolized the Middle East peace process and thwarted Russia's efforts to hold its own peace conference, former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov said on Monday. He made the remarks at the Middle East 2020: Is the Comprehensive Settlement Possible? conference on the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea. He said Bush impeded Moscow's plans for a follow-up summit two months after the 2007 Annapolis peace conference in the US. Primakov stressed, however, that he was not speaking in an official capacity. "I don't represent the Russian government or foreign ministry. I don't think a conference in Moscow is urgently needed," he said. He said the US had originally supported the idea of a Moscow conference, and then balked at the idea. "The US asked for Russian support during [the] Annapolis conference to secure larger international participation, and they asserted that another conference would follow in Moscow," he explained. 

Report: Nine key prisoners holding up swap deal
12/22/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - As rumors of a pending prisoner exchange circulate, Israel's Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth published bios of nine Palestinian prisoners it says are the names holding up a swap deal. The nine are: Marwan Al-Barghouthi, Abdallah Al-Barghouthi, Abbas Al-Sayyed, Ahmad Sa'adat, Ibrahim Hamid, Yahia Sanwari, Ahlam Tammimi, Amneh Muna and Qahera Al-Sa'di, are allegedly on the list of 450 names specified by Hamas negotiators for release. The other 550 prisoners under the deal would be up to Israeli discretion. The following is a translated version of the Israeli article: Marwan Al-Barghouthi - Accused of organizing the bombing of a Tel Aviv supermarket, a second in a wedding hall in the city of Hadera, a third in Jerusalem's Madrahov Street in Jerusalem and a fourth targeting a car near Ramallah killing a child and a rabbi. 

PA takes diplomats on Bethlehem ’occupation tour’
12/22/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - A delegation of 15 foreign diplomats and ambassadors toured the Bethlehem area on Tuesday ahead of Christmas. Rafiq Al-Husseini, head of Palestinian president's office, accompanied the visitors, and explained that the visit was meant as a check-up on the situation in Bethlehem in light of the "abusive practices" of Israel including construction of the separation wall, settlement expansion, and military checkpoints. Diplomats from Sweden, Britain, Chile, Poland, and Italy were participated in the tour, according to Al-Husseini. He said the tour would last two hours. The delegation is slated to visit lands confiscated for the separation wall near Rachel's Tomb, the Cremisan monastery, the village of Al-Walaja, and the town of Beit Sahour. 

Gaza gov’t offers drug dealers amnesty for information
12/22/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Gaza's de-facto Ministry of the Interior issued a public statement on Tuesday calling on drug dealers to surrender to local intelligence officers and receive a pardon in exchange for information on trafficking cartels. Ministry spokesperson Ihab Al-Ghussein said the offer would only stand for a limited period of time, and is designed to curtail the burgeoning drug trade in besieged Gaza. Drugs enter the Strip almost exclusively via tunnels running beneath the Egypt-Gaza border, and while the Hamas government maintains control over the tunnel industry, taxing goods that enter the Strip, the drug traffickers manage to work in secret and without official regulation. The move comes as Egypt continues its construction of a 25-meter deep fence set to run the length of the border. The underground wall is meant to put a stop to the tunnel trade. 

Gazan rappers battle in rare competition
12/22/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Seven Palestinian rap groups battled for the top spot in a Norwegian-funded competition in Gaza City on Monday night. Screaming, fans crammed into a concert hall in the Red Crescent complex for the show, applauding each group on stage. The Norwegian sponsors joined via videoconference. The competition (titled Riasalatna - Our Message) was organized by young Gazan women as the end product of a number of workshops in Gaza and the Norwegian city of Tromso. The workshops were about how to execute a project supervised by Norwegian specialists. Norwegian judges were supposed to choose the winner of the rap contest on Monday, but the decision was delayed due to problems with the video link. Judges said they were thrilled to participate in the event, saying it was an expression of support for the Palestinian people. 

Hebron man arrested with 600 ecstasy pills
12/22/2009 - Hebron - Ma'an - Palestinian police arrested a man they said was carrying 600 ecstasy pills and blocks of hashish in Hebron on Monday. The public relations office of the police said anti-drug officers received a tip that the suspect was transporting the illegal substances from Hebron from the town of Al-Ezariyah, east of Jerusalem. Upon entering Hebron, the man was arrested, the drugs confiscated, according to the police. The man was taken to a detention center. [end] 

MoH: New wave of H1N1 expected in March
12/22/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - The current outbreak of H1N1 in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has ended, but another wave is expected in March 2010, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Tuesday. The ministry's director general of healthcare, Assad Ramlawi, told Ma'an that a "huge" new outbreak of the virus is predicted to occur throughout the world, adding that vaccinations would help keep the disease contained. Ramlawi explained that the PA Ministry of Health would be provided with a million doses of vaccine, the first batch of which is expected within the next two days. Ramlawi said 13 have died of the virus in the Gaza Strip and 10 in the West Bank, out of 180 cases in Gaza, and 1320 in the West Bank. A three-year-old died of H1N1 on Monday in Gaza. The virus was first discovered there earlier in December and spread rapidly because of the poor living conditions of many of the Strip's inhabitants. 

PSE drops: Al-Quds Index down 0.11% on Tuesday
12/22/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Stocks fell on the Palestine Securities Exchange in Nablus on Tuesday, the market's administration reported. At the close of trading, the Al-Quds Index stood at 486. 6, decreasing by 0. 54 points (0. 11%). Trading volume was 878,030 shares, a total value of 2,529,415. 59 US dollars, in 322 trades. The shares of 21 companies were traded. The shares prices of 10 companies rose, and five declined. The top five gainers were GCOM by 5. 00%, PCB by 4. 17%, JCC by 3. 57%, AIG by 2. 56%, and PIIC by 1. 47%. The top five losers were AMB by 2. 67%, UCI by 1. 47%, PADICO by 0. 84%, PALTEL by 0. 58%, and BPC by 0. 27%. [end] 

Ha'aretz Defense page

Israel drops two-month-old advisory against India travel
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - Counter-Terrorism Bureau in mid-October warned of a concrete threat, particularly in Goa. 

IDF soldier dies in freak training accident in Golan Heights
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - Pvt. Mor Cohen, 19, dies after being hit by a bullet fired by another soldier during urban combat drill. 

Islamic Movement head banned from entering Jerusalem
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - IDF orders 3-week ban 'to maintain public peace and order;' Ra'ad Salah will be able to appeal order. 

Netanyahu's brother-in-law: Free Shalit through war, not talks
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - Hagai Ben Artzi argues with Noam Shalit; Ron Arad's wife: Bringing Shalit back home is Israel's 'moral duty.' 

IDF reservists declare solidarity with ousted hesder yeshiva
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - Reservists hang sign claiming 'We are all Har Bracha;' settler activist: 'We have surprises' for the IDF. 

Egypt raises alert as Hamas plans to protest new Gaza barrier
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - Cairo says Gazans have been shooting at Egyptians installing the underground metal barrier in recent weeks. 

Renegade hesder rabbi capitulates in row with IDF
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - Rabbi Melamed agrees to denounce political demonstrations by Israeli soldiers in uniform. 

Hamas: We're helping foreign lawyers prosecute Israelis
Ha'aretz 22 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 22 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 22 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 22 Dec 2009 - Officials say no one hurt in incident, which was fourth such shooting since construction on barrier begun. 

One strike could have ended Iran nuclear program in 2004
Ha'aretz 22 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 22 Dec 2009 - Hesder yeshiva heads launch blistering personal attack after Defense Min. ousted rabbi from IDF program. 

Uruknet

Video: Gaza and the World - So this is Christmas?
Uruknet December 22, 2009 - Australians for Palestine and Women for Palestine offer a video that calls attention to the extreme humanitarian crisis in Gaza at a time when Christians are celebrating their most festive religious holiday - Christmas. Underlying the frivolity of Christmas shopping, eating and entertainment, is the destitution, misery and hopelessness that millions of Palestinians under occupation and...

Video: Israeli repression wave targets activists Israel's recent wave of repression led to arrest of Jamal Juma', coordinator of Stop the Wall Campaign.
Uruknet December 22, 2009 - In recent months, since the public push for The Goldstone Report, Israeli authorities have intensified their repression of activists on both sides of the segregation wall. Though Israel tries Palestinians and Israelis under separate legal systems, with the former being prosecuted in a military court and the later in domestic, civil courts, both have seen an...

Operation Cast Lead one year on
Uruknet December 22, 2009 - Operation Cast Lead was launched on 27 December 2008 on the spurious pretext of preventing Hamas rocket fire into southern Israel. It followed months of pledges by senior Israeli ministers to level parts of Gaza, and inflict a "Holocaust" on the territory. It followed Israel's most explicit violation of a ceasefire agreement on November 4th, when...

The Gaza Strip: still suffering from a 23-day war and the ongoing siege
Uruknet December 22, 2009 - One year has passed since Israel's cruel 23-day war on the 1.5 million people of the Gaza. 1,400 people were brutally killed and tens of thousands were seriously wounded. It was 23 days that violated Palestinian human rights and put justice further out of reach. It was a war that utilized 'state of the art' phosphorous...

JORDAN: Palestinian Refugees Live Out Lives in Limbo 
Uruknet December 22, 2009 - Music enlivens the yellow taxi as it traverses the Jordanian capital. A small Palestinian flag hangs from the rearview mirror. Jihad, the cab driver, says his father fled here from the Palestinian West Bank in 1948. "Thank God almighty, life is good for me here and I can offer my family a decent life," he says. "...

Palestinian Scholars Association: Building a "steel wall" along the Gaza border is a form of complicity in the aggression
Uruknet December 22, 2009 - The Palestinian Scholars Association called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately stop the construction of the steel wall along its border with the Gaza Strip, open the Rafah Crossing and lift the siege on the Palestinian people. It described the construction of the steel wall as an act of "complicity in the aggression against the Palestinian...

Addameer: No peace agreement until political prisoners released
Uruknet December 22, 2009 - Palestinian political prisoners must be released, categories of "security detainees" must be cancelled and "political status" must be granted if peace between Israel and the Palestinians is to be achieved. "Reaching the 'No-Peace' Agreement: The Role of Palestinian Prisoner Releases in Permanent Status Negotiations," a briefing paper from Addameer, examines Israel's failure to comply with the...

Video: Israel 'outsourcing' the occupation
Uruknet December 22, 2009 - Concern is growing among Palestinians in the occupied West Bank as Israel steps up its use of private security contractors to patrol Palestinian territories. The private firms are being used to help patrol checkpoints and protect illegal settlements in what has become a multi-billion dollar business for Israeli security companies...

Another Israeli Crime Against Humanity: Israel's On-Going War on Palestinian Patients
Uruknet December 22, 2009 - 38 years old Walid Madi died after being prevented by the Israeli occupation army from leaving the besieged Gaza Strip to get urgently needed medical care. Madi is the 366 Palestinian patient to die as a result of the siege imposed on Gaza by Israel since June 2007. Since then, Israel had only allowed a very...

Warring on the psyche
Uruknet December 22, 2009 - While i am not Palestinian and have not lived my life under occupation, over the year here in besieged, massacred Gaza, the sound of israeli F-16 warplanes became normal too quickly. Even initially, after just one month, i stopped looking up and the heartbeat stayed regular. explosive sonic booms and bombings aside, the sound of a...

Video: My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story
Uruknet December 22, 2009 - Told from the perspectives of the refugees, My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story is a comprehensive chronicle of the tumultuous history and the struggles of the people of Gaza...

Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, No recovery, No more excuses A report one year after Operation Cast Lead (Full Text) 
Uruknet December 22, 2009 - A year on from the devastation of the Gaza strip by the Israeli army, a consortium of 16 aid agencies, including Amnesty International and Oxfam, have released a report on the meagre progress in Gaza's reconstruction caused by Israel's continuing blockade. The report, 'Failing Gaza' states: 'The Israeli government's blockade, imposed in 2007 after Hamas took...

Palestine Telegraph

The Gaza Strip: still suffering from a 23-day war and the ongoing siege
The Gaza Strip: still suffering from a 23-day war and the ongoing siege By Ayman Quader. Gaza Strip, Occupied Palestine Gaza, December 22, 2009 (Pal Telegraph)One year has passed since Israel’s cruel 23-day war on the 1.5 million people of the Gaza. 1,400 people were brutally killed and tens of thousands were seriously wounded. It was 23 days that violated Palestinian human rights and put...

Hamas Receive Israel's Response to Shalit Deal
Gaza, December 22, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) - Today, senior Hamas official confirmed that the Islamic Resistance Movement had received Israel's response to a prisoner swap deal for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The official said that Hamas-led government was scheduled to hold its weekly meeting later Tuesday, and the deal was likely on the schedule. On Tuesday, a...

West Bank: IOF Detained 11 Palestinians
West Bank, December 22, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) - The Israeli occupation forces detained 11 Palestinians at yesterday night and dawn today, while raiding different governorates in West Bank. Local sources clarified that Israeli occupation forces raided Ramallah, Bethlehem and Tulkarem governorates. After they had invaded the houses, they arrested number of citizens and transferred them to unsown place. The sources...

Settlers Attack A Palestinian House in the Occupied Jerusalem
Jerusalem, December 22, 2009, (Pal Telegraph) - Extremist settlers attacked the house of the AL-Fityan family in Sheikh Jarrah in the occupied Jerusalem; they threw stones at the house, which led to the exit of the people from Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood to address the onslaught of the settlers. "The extremist settlers attacked the house under the protection of the Israeli...

Galloway Criticizes Arabs over Abandoning Gaza
Damascus, Dec. 22, 2009 (Pal Telegraph)- British Member of Parliament George Galloway has leveled strong criticism at Arabs over their inaction and failure to play a role in organizing aid convoys to the besieged Gaza Strip. "It is a shame that this convoy [Lifeline 3] is coming from Europe and not from the Arab countries," Galloway told reporters upon his...

The National

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood conservatives win vote
The National 22 Dec 2009 - Egypt's main opposition group announces the outcome of an internal election and analysts say the results signal it will reduce its role in mainstream politics.

Gaza underground on schedule to beat Egypt's wall
The National 21 Dec 2009 - The new barrier at Rafah has prompted angry protests from Gazans, who depend upon the network of tunnels for vital supplies. But the smugglers just scoff.

Hariri's visit stokes old fears in Lebanon
The National 21 Dec 2009 - The Lebanese prime minister faces widespread internal resistance in attempting any reconciliation with President Assad and Syria.

Aljazeera

Israel 'stalling' on prisoner swap
AlJazeera 22 Dec 2009 - Israeli defence minister says Israel not prepared to meet all of Hamas's demands.

Iran rejects nuclear trigger claim
AlJazeera 22 Dec 2009 - President Ahmadinejad tells US television Washington forged document reported in press.

Egypt defends Gaza wall
AlJazeera 22 Dec 2009 - Foreign minister says barrier along Gaza Strip will strengthen country's security.

Muslim Brotherhood elects council
AlJazeera 22 Dec 2009 - Analysts say new governing body of Egypt opposition group is dominated by conservatives.

Alternative Information Center

Jamal Juma’, Coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, In Israeli Jail
Alternative Information Center 21 Dec 2009 - 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...

Palestine News Network

Footnotes in Gaza: a graphic novel by Joe Sacco 
PNN 22 Dec 2009 - Footnotes in Gaza (http://www.amazon.com/Footnotes-Gaza-Graphic-Joe-Sacco/dp/0805073477) is the latest work by Joe Sacco, the graphic novelist who authored the critically acclaimed Palestine (http://www.amazon.com/Palestine-Special-Joe-Sacco/dp/1560978449/ref=pd_sim_b_1). In an interview, Sacco describes how the idea for Footnotes, came about, and why he does not believe in objective reportage. Interview: ‘In 2001, I went to Gaza with a journalist called Chris Hedges on an assignment from Harper’s magazine. He...

House uncovered in Nazareth dating to the time of Jesus
PNN 22 Dec 2009 - Jerusalem -- Archaeologists in Israel say they have discovered the remains of a home from the time of Jesus in the heart of Nazareth. The Israeli Antiquities Authority said the find sheds light on the way of life at the time of Jesus in the Jewish settlement of Nazareth, where Christians believe Jesus grew up. The find marks the first time researchers...

Israel admits to organ thefts 
PNN 21 Dec 2009 - Israel has admitted that it harvested organs from the dead bodies of Palestinians and Israelis in the 1990s, without permission from their families The admission follows the release of an interview with Jehuda Hiss, the former head of Israel's forensic institute, in which he said that workers at the institute had harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from Israelis, Palestinians and...

Palestinians spend half a billion dollars a year on Israeli settlement products
PNN 21 Dec 2009 - Hassan Abu Libdeh, the Palestinian Minister of the Economy with the Fateh-led de facto government in the West Bank, told a meeting of the Nablus Chamber of Commerce Sunday that, according to his figures, Palestinian people living in the West Bank and Gaza spend over five hundred million dollars a year on products from Israeli settlements. These settlements are Israeli-only developments constructed...

Israeli army invades northern Gaza
PNN 21 Dec 2009 - Local sources report that twenty Israeli armored military vehicles, accompanied by Apache helicopters, invaded the al-Ghoul area in northern Gaza early Monday morning. Residents also reported Israeli shelling in the town of Beit Hanoun, also in northern Gaza. No injuries have yet been reported from either incident. The invasion comes after Israeli troops allegedly exchanged fire with fighters from the Popular Front...

Israel edges towards prisoner swap
PNN 22 Dec 2009 - Israel's cabinet has handed its response to a proposed prisoner exchange deal with Hamas to a German mediator, following lengthy debate between ministers. No details of the Israeli response, which could see hundreds of Palestinian prisoners swapped for an Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip, were immediately available on Tuesday. Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier at the centre of the exchange,...

Jerusalem Post

Jordanian official to attend emergency-readiness parley here
Jeruslalem Post 22 Dec 2009 - Dr. Muhammad al-Hadid to speak at conference co-hosted by the IDF Home Front Command and the Health Ministry.

'Stop talking so much about Mideast'
Jeruslalem Post 22 Dec 2009 - Lithuanian FM tells European diplomats he believe Netanyahu "genuinely wants a Palestinian state."

Uzi Arad apologizes to Ashkenazi
Jeruslalem Post 22 Dec 2009 - Follows NSC head's scathing remarks about IDF chief's inability to "create a viable rescue operation."

How to close a revolving door
Jeruslalem Post 22 Dec 2009 - If Israel does bring its last soldier home, it must also shut the door behind him.

Analysis: The decision on Schalit - It's all personal
Jeruslalem Post 22 Dec 2009 - Each of Israel's elected and appointed officials has a personal agenda that cannot be detached from the ongoing debate.

Schalit exchange hinges on deal over prisoner deportations
Jeruslalem Post 22 Dec 2009 - Channel 1: Israel gave list of 125 Palestinian key security prisoners, terms for release to German mediator, who will meet Hamas reps in Gaza.

Letters to God - a world searches for an address
Jeruslalem Post 22 Dec 2009 - If you address a letter to God, Jesus or King David, chances are it will wind up in a J'lem warehouse.

Abbas 'won't allow' another intifada
Jeruslalem Post 22 Dec 2009 - PA president tells Wall Street Journal violent uprising not "proper act" for the Palestinian people. 

Turkey to mediate Israel-Syria talks?
Jeruslalem Post 22 Dec 2009 - Erdogan: Syria wants Turkey's mediation, but Israel believes Turkish premier to be biased against it.

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: ‘’What About the Mailboxes?’’ 
IPS OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM, Dec 22 (IPS) - The sun is about to set over Jabel Mukaber. The call of the muezzin envelops the valley beneath Naim Aweisat’s balcony and, rolling from the mosques of Abu Dis across the wall in the West Bank, rebounds from the stark concrete Israeli security...

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

Settlers attack Palestinian family in Sheikh Jarrah
12/22/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - 21 December - Another settler attack on a family in Sheikh Jarrah on Monday 21 December leaves the family with two broken windows and fear of future attacks. After dark on Monday 21 December 2009 a group of around 40 settlers gathered outside the Ftyaney family house. At about 7pm the settlers began throwing stones at the windows of the Ftyaney home. They then threatened the mother of the family who was at home with her three daughters. The Ftyaney family lives in a house directly beneath the garden of the the house of Fawzia and Muhammed al-Kurd which is now occupied by Israeli settlers. On Monday evening Rema, the mother of the family, heard stones striking her front gate and she rushed to the door only to realize that 40 settlers were attacking the house. When the settlers saw her in the door they started to scream at her that she should bring out her sons. 

London joins International Day of Action Against Ahava
12/20/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - ISM London, 19 December - Ahava, an Israeli beauty product company that operates on stolen Palestinian land, was the target of protest on Saturday by approximately 20 pro-Palestine activists. With Dead Sea mud covering their faces and dressed in bath robes on a freezing cold day, the protesters set out to highlight the complicity of Ahava in the expansion of Israeli settlements which are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The activists came from a range of organisations that includes the International Solidarity Movement, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for the Boycott of Israeli Goods and others. During the picket, numerous shoppers and passers by chatted with protesters, took leaflets and expressed their support and solidarity with the aims of the protest. There was a tiny counter-demonstration by three or four “Pro-Zionists” who tried to encourage people to enter the shop via bribes of £5 store vouchers. They also tried to harass the pro-Palestine demonstrators, but were ignored. 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Motive and mastermind still unclear in theft of Auschwitz sign 
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - WARSAW - A still unidentified resident of Sweden is suspected of being the middle man in the brazen theft of the infamous Arbeit Macht Frei ("Work Sets You Free") sign from the Auschwitz concentration camp last Friday. ...

Shalit deal hinges on Israel's demand to exile 100 prisoners 
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - At the center of Israel's demands regarding the deal to free abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit is an insistence that between 100 and 130 of the Palestinian prisoners who are to be released in exchange - individuals convicted of direct responsibility for the deaths of Israelis - will be expelled to the Gaza Strip or abroad and barred from returning to the West Bank. ... 

Abbas: I won't allow third intifada as long as I'm in office
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that he would not allow a third Intifada to take place on his watch, the Wall Street Journal reported. ...

Hamas official: No exile for prisoners freed in Shalit swap
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - A senior Hamas official on Tuesday said the Islamist group would refuse to allow the exile of prisoners released in the deal to free abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. ...

Austria to pay $28.5 million for restoration of Jewish cemeteries 
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - Austria's government said Tuesday it would pay $28.5 million for the restoration of the country's Jewish cemeteries, many of them in a sad state more than six decades after the end of the brutal Nazi era. ...

The Guardian

Israeli objections threaten to derail Gilad Shalit for Hamas prisoner swap
The Guardian 22 Dec 2009 - Deal being brokered by German official hinges on which Palestinians convicted of armed attacks would be freed Israel and Hamas were tonight facing serious disagreements that could scupper a long-awaited prisoner exchange likely to see hundreds...

Israel will work to free soldier Gilad Shalit but 'not at any price'
The Guardian 22 Dec 2009 - Ehud Barak responds to Hamas offer to free Gilad Shalit in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners Israel's defence minister today said his government was doing its utmost to win the release of Gilad Shalit, a...

The separation wall | Austen Ivereigh
The Guardian 22 Dec 2009 - I would get rid of the Israeli separation wall, not just for Christmas, but for all our sakes Within spitting distance of the very spot Jesus Christ was born is one of the world's great monstrosities, "...

Israel's doctors must allay torture fears | Antony Lerman
The Guardian 22 Dec 2009 - Allegations of Israeli doctors colluding in the torture of Palestinians must be investigated One of the disturbing features of the persistent use of torture by many countries in conflict situations around the world is the role...

Lift the Gaza blockade | Nick Clegg
The Guardian 22 Dec 2009 - The suffering is shocking. And nobody will benefit from the radicalism that confinement engenders On 27 December last year, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in Gaza , an overwhelming exercise of military force aimed at silencing the...

Help end Gaza blockade, aid groups urge EU
The Guardian 21 Dec 2009 - The EU should commit itself to ending the blockade of the Gaza Strip and put its relations with Israel on hold pending tangible progress, 16 humanitarian and human rights organisations say today in a report marking...

Nazareth dwelling discovery may shed light on boyhood of Jesus
The Guardian 21 Dec 2009 - Finds suggest Nazareth was an out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses, populated by Jews of modest means Israeli archaeologists today unveiled what could be the remains of the first dwelling in Nazareth that can be dated...

Israel's friendly football fans | Seth Freedman
The Guardian 21 Dec 2009 - Not all football supporter crews are allied to the hard right Hapoel Ultras fans are among those on the left who fight racism As in England and throughout Europe, most Israeli football teams have a hardcore...

Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent
The Guardian 21 Dec 2009 - Israel has admitted pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families a practice it said ended in the 1990s it emerged at the weekend. The admission, by the former head...

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...

Ha'aretz National page

Supreme court supports Arabic, but court museum shuns it 
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - The Court Heritage Museum in the Supreme Court Building has labels in Hebrew and English, but not in Arabic. There is also no Arabic version of a short film that is shown there. Arab sector educators say this harms students who come to visit the museum, and sends "a negative message of alienation." ... 

Ministry approves marijuana for teen with cancer 
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - A 14-year-old girl with hematological cancer may receive marijuana, the Health Ministry decided. ... 

Ashkenazi girls skip school to protest anti-segregation court ruling 
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - Some 70 students at the Beit Yaakov girls' school in Immanuel have not been attending class, in the wake of Education Ministry attempts to force the ultra-Orthodox institution to comply with a Supreme Court ruling against segregating Sephardi and Ashkenazi students. ... 

Poll shows Israelis ready to pay 'any price' for Shalit 
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - A majority of Israelis believe "any price" must be paid to restore prisoners in enemy hands to their families. ... 

Aluf Benn / Is it easier to divide Jerusalem or free terrorists? 
Ha'aretz 22 Dec 2009 - What is more important for Israel's security? Bombing a nuclear reactor, or bringing home a single soldier being held prisoner? Going to war, or the future address of Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for a prisoner? Setting the borders of the state, or the imprisonment of senior terrorists? ... 

Relief Web

Gaza's civilians still unable to rebuild one year after 'Operation Cast Lead'
Relief Web 22 Dec 2009 - Source: Amnesty, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, Christian Aid, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Trócaire

OPT: Press conference by General Assembly President
Relief Web 22 Dec 2009 - Source: UN Department of Public Information

UK surgeon in Gaza to conduct war and trauma surgery training
Relief Web 22 Dec 2009 - Source: Médecins du Monde

Gaza: One year after war, still no prospect of decent life
Relief Web 22 Dec 2009 - Source: ICRC

OPT: Explosive device targets building of Al al-Bait Society for Heritage and Sharia' Sciences and the National Center of Research and Studies in Gaza City
Relief Web 22 Dec 2009 - Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

On International Human Rights Day, Al Mezan and the High Commissioner organize a conference, Gaza and the Right to Water
Relief Web 22 Dec 2009 - Source: Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

YNet News

300 Palestinian pilgrims to leave Gaza for Christmas
YNet News 22 Dec 2009 - Defense establishment completes preparations ahead of holiday; 20,000 expected to attend midnight mass in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity plaza 

Israel estimates at least 10 days before Shalit deal finalized
YNet News 22 Dec 2009 - Hamas leaders to convene in Damascus after German mediator communicates Israel's latest stance on prisoner exchange; Islamist group figures say it will seriously consider proposal, in part due to heavy pressure from families of Palestinian prisoners 

Turkey ready to mediate in Israel-Syria talks
YNet News 22 Dec 2009 - Erdogan says Ankara willing to resume mediation role, but claims Israeli leaders believe he is biased against Israel 

Website: Hamas to meet German mission in Gaza on Shalit deal
YNet News 22 Dec 2009 - Hamas-affiliated website quotes Palestinian sources as saying mediators expected to present Israel's final position on Shalit deal 

Curb on veil in Egypt backed by Islamic clerics 
YNet News 22 Dec 2009 - Prominent religious leaders say social habit of wearing nigabs has no roots in Islamic law. 'Any girl is free to wear the niqab as long as she understands that when asked to reveal her face she should do so accordingly,' sheikh says 

Settlers: Border Guard officer 'took revenge' on our kids
YNet News 22 Dec 2009 - Ma'aleh Levona residents accuse Border Guard officer of violence against their children; say it was in retaliation for community preventing Civil Administration officers from serving freeze orders 

PM on Shalit talks: I'm guided by need to retrieve captives, protect citizens 
YNet News 22 Dec 2009 - Almagor Terror Victims Association reps try to convince Netanyahu not to approve prisoner exchange swap with Hamas. 'We told him deal dangerous, there are other ways,' they say. PM assured them he's considering all aspects of deal 

White House: Next steps have begun on Iran nuclear issue 
YNet News 22 Dec 2009 - 'International community considers deadline given to Iran very real,' spokesman Robert Gibbs says 

World has betrayed Gaza civilians, rights groups say 
YNet News 22 Dec 2009 - Amnesty, Oxfam among groups criticizing international community of failing to end Israeli siege, which they claim 'punishes everybody living there for the acts of a few' 

Daily Star

Ahmadinejad dismisses US deadline for nuclear deal
Daily Star 22 Dec 2009 TEHRAN: Iran's president on Tuesday dismissed a year-end deadline set by the Obama administration and the West for Tehran to accept a UN-drafted deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, and claimed his government is now "10 times stronger" than a year ago. "They say we have given Iran until the end of the Christian year. Who are they to set us a deadline?

International community has failed Gaza: aid groups
Daily Star 22 Dec 2009 The international community has betrayed the people of Gaza by failing to end an Israeli blockade to allow the territory to be rebuilt, a group of 16 rights groups said in a report on Tuesday. The report argued that Israel was in violation of international humanitarian law by enforcing a "collective punishment" with an indiscriminate blockade on Gaza - punishing all for the acts of a few.

Hamas blames Israel for delaying prisoner exchange talks
Daily Star 22 Dec 2009 Hamas blamed Israel on Tuesday for stalling efforts to swap hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for a captured soldier after the Jewish state sent a reply to the Islamists' most recent offer. The two sides had appeared to be close to reaching a deal, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding five meetings in less than 48 hours with six top ministers before passing an offer to Hamas via a German mediator.

Iran says Iraq border spat was 'a misunderstanding'
Daily Star 22 Dec 2009 Iran on Tuesday described a border incident with Iraq, which caused oil prices to rise late last week, as a "misunderstanding" and called for experts from both countries to look into border demarcation issues.The statement came two days after Iraqi officials said Iranian troops had withdrawn partially from a disputed oil area claimed by both Tehran and Baghdad, possibly defusing a border feud straining the two neighbors' ties.

Russia says stalled Mideast talks need extra push
Daily Star 22 Dec 2009 Russia on Tuesday said it planned to become more involved in resolving the Middle East conflict along with the European Union and the United States. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov, who is President Dmitry Medvedev's envoy to the region, told a conference in Jordan that new efforts were needed to break the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinian Information Center

General strike in Um Al-Faham to protest Israeli demolition policy
PIC 22 Dec 2009 - The municipality of Um Al-Faham has called for a comprehensive, general strike in the city next Thursday to protest the Israeli policy of demolition of Palestinian homes.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian home in Sheikh Jarrah
PIC 22 Dec 2009 - Extremist Israeli settlers attacked Monday evening the house of Al-Fityan family in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem, while Palestinian citizens hastened to defend the house and fend them off.

Ghussain: Interior ministry would not allow return of security chaos
PIC 22 Dec 2009 - The interior ministry, in the Palestinian government of Ismail Haneyya, would not allow the return of security chaos to the Gaza Strip, the ministry's spokesman Ihrab Al-Ghussain said on Tuesday.

Tadamun: Skin disease spreading among Palestinian prisoners in Askalan
PIC 22 Dec 2009 - A skin disease has spread among Palestinian prisoners in one of the wards in the Israeli Askalan jail with no medical treatment accorded by the prison administration, prisoner Abdul Hakim Hanani said.

Fatah forms new administrations of municipal councils in W. Bank
PIC 22 Dec 2009 - A Fatah insider revealed that his Movement formed new administrations to control the municipal councils in the West Bank after dissolving all elected councils run by Hamas Movement.

Bahr: The steel wall is part of the mass punishment policy imposed on Gaza
PIC 22 Dec 2009 - Dr. Ahmed Bahr stated that the building of the steel wall on the Palestinian-Egyptian borders is part of the policy of mass punishment imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Website: Shalit might die in captivity due to his government's obstinacy
PIC 22 Dec 2009 - The Palestinian almajd website has warned that the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit might die in captivity due to his government's intransigence.

Agriculture ministry: Gaza farmers barred from working lands in bombed areas
PIC 22 Dec 2009 - The ministry of agriculture in Gaza stated that it was forced after the Israeli war to prevent farmers from tending to their agricultural lands, using wells and grazing animals in the bombed areas.

Int'l organizations: The world community betrayed Gaza
PIC 22 Dec 2009 - 16 non-governmental organizations have charged the world community with betraying the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip after failing to end the Israeli siege on one and a half million Palestinians.

Mishaal: The building of a steel wall is a new war on Gaza
PIC 22 Dec 2009 - Khaled Mishaal, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, stated Monday that the building of the steel wall on the Palestinian-Egyptian borders is a new war against Gaza people and their resistance.

Los Angeles Times

Iranian dissident cleric's funeral draws huge crowds 
LA Times 22 Dec 2009 - The streets of the holy city of Qom see a mix of protest and mourning as tens of thousands attend the funeral of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who had become a vocal critic of the government. Tens of thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets Monday in Iran's main theological center and clashed with pro-government militiamen during the funeral of the country's top dissident cleric, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. 

Vatican, Israel joust over Jerusalem site 
LA Times 22 Dec 2009 - The Mt. Zion site where Jesus Christ is believed to have gathered his disciples for the Last Supper was lost to the Roman Catholic Church more than 450 years ago. No accord came of the latest talks. The government of Israel seems to be embracing the Christmas spirit. This week it is organizing carols and tree giveaways in Jerusalem, bus service to Bethlehem and even a fireworks show in Nazareth with an apparent eye on burnishing the nation's reputation for religious diversity. 

Egypt's barrier along Gaza border called 'wall of shame' 
LA Times 21 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. 

New York Times

Iranian Cleric's Office Reportedly Attacked
New York Times 22 Dec 2009 - According to an Iranian opposition Web site, members of the Basij militia, which supports Iran's government, attacked the office of a senior reformist cleric in Iran's holy city of Qum on Tuesday, one day after a funeral for another dissident cleric there turned into an opposition protest. 

Cleric’s Funeral Becomes Protest of Iran Leaders
New York Times 22 Dec 2009 - Mourners for a founding father of Iran’s Islamic revolution flooded the holy city of Qum and faced off with Iranian security forces, witnesses said. 

News Analysis: Lebanon Drama Adds Act With Leader’s Trip to Syria
New York Times 22 Dec 2009 - Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s trip to Syria had historical echoes for many Lebanese, and epitomized their national story. 

Jerusalem Journal: Challenging Traditions at the Heart of Judaism
New York Times 22 Dec 2009 - A group of women who meet for prayers at the Western Wall is challenging the Orthodox religious establishment, which operates the holy site. 

World Briefing | Middle East: Israel: Olmert Pleads Not Guilty
New York Times 21 Dec 2009 - Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is pleading not guilty to charges of illegally accepting funds from an American supporter and double-billing Jewish groups for trips abroad. 

World Briefing | Middle East: Egypt: Gaza Barrier Being Built
New York Times 21 Dec 2009 - Officials confirmed Monday that Egypt was building an underground steel barrier next to its border with Gaza, where Palestinians have built tunnels to smuggle in goods to circumvent an Israeli blockade. 

Misc

Diaries From East Jerusalem
Palestine Monitor - 22 Dec 2009 - For the last two months, every Friday several peace activists and ordinary citizens have organized a demonstration in East Jerusalem protesting against Israeli authorities who have evicted several Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. The eviction of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem is illegal...

Non-violent activists under attack
Palestine Monitor - 22 Dec 2009 - The West Bank villages of Bi'lin and Ni'lin have been invaded again on Saturday early morning by Israeli military: soldiers entered both villages and raided houses. For the last months residents of West Bank villages committed to non violent resistance, have been constantly subjected to arrests,...

PMRS's conference on World Aids Day 
Palestine Monitor - 21 Dec 2009 - On the occasion of the World AIDS Day, Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) held and organized a conference in the West Bank city of Hebron, focusing on preventing and fighting HIV/AIDS. The event brought together the President and founder of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Dr....

Likud MK: Israel is not ‘a Jewish and democratic state,’ but rather ‘a Jewish state with a democratic regime’
Mondoweiss - 22 Dec 2009 - The above video is part of the Knesset debate that Phil posted on earlier today . It begins with Palestinian MK Ahmed Tibi challenging two bills before the parliament. One pertains to a law that makes it impossible for non-Jewish Israeli citizens to extend their citizenship to...

How the mainstream media marginalize reasonable ideas
Mondoweiss - 22 Dec 2009 - I’m agnostic on the one-state solution. I think those people over there hate each other so much it might be good to keep them apart. The Balkans. India/Pakistan. But I sure do want to hear people talk about one state, and therefore I appreciate the LA...

Meet another Israeli settler being supported by the IRS, for now
Mondoweiss - 22 Dec 2009 - Thanks to the Palestine Note for posting the above video. It is an interview from Israeli television with Rabbi Dov Wolpe, the head of "The Task Force to Save the Nation and the Land" an organization which gives money to Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to...

Legislation would allow Israeli communities to bar Arab landowners from building
Mondoweiss - 22 Dec 2009 - Apartheid in action. Ahmed Tibi, a member of Knesset, states, "Israel is democratic for Jews , but Jewish for Arabs." Haaretz: The Knesset Law and Constitution Committee conducted a heated debate Tuesday on two parallel law proposals that would enable certain communities in Israel to handpick their...

Putting the anxiety back in Christmas
Mondoweiss - 22 Dec 2009 - We’re having an early Christmas dinner at my house. My wife’s family is coming over. The tree, which we got yesterday, is in the front door, and my wife asked me to hang lights on it today as she cleaned the house, getting ready. I resisted...

Jamal Juma’, Coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, In Israeli Jail
Alternative Information Center - 21 Dec 2009 - 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...


Articles

Has Obama Made a Devil’s Bargain With Israel? 
Rachelle Marshall, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 12/22/2009
      For Netanyahu the threat of peace has passed.—Uri Avnery in Haaretz, Sept. 23, 2009.
     The committee that awarded President Barack Obama the Nobel Prize for Peace may have been indulging in wishful thinking, hoping he will live up to the honor by achieving peace in the Middle East. If so, those hopes are yet to be realized. In an abrupt turnaround this fall, the administration abandoned its demand that Israel freeze settlement construction, rejected a U.N. report on Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, and responded to concessions by Iran with threats of harsher sanctions.
     The most generous explanation of such behavior is that Obama hopes that by going easy on Israel he will convince the Israelis to grant substantial concessions to the Palestinians and refrain from military action against Iran. He had reason to worry on both counts. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is unwilling even to slow settlement construction, and his hawkish foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, warns that an attack on Iran is only a matter of time.
     The Israeli-Palestinian peace process Obama promises to pursue is so far a distant fantasy. His special Middle East envoy George J. Mitchell made two visits to the Middle East this fall and left both times with the two sides further apart than ever. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insists on a complete settlement freeze, claiming the settlements spreading across the West Bank split the territory in two and make a Palestinian state impossible. Netanyahu told Mitchell there will be no settlement freeze and repeated his demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. more.. e-mail

Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? In Israeli prison, of course! 
Jo Ehrlich, Mondoweiss 12/21/2009
      Palestinian Joke #134
     Question: Where can Israel find the Palestinian Gandhi?
     Answer: Exactly where they put him, in administrative detention.
     Not that I’m in any way playing into the Palestinian Gandhi dialogue, I think its actually pretty diversionary/racist. But sometimes you have to laugh in order not to cry right?
     Jamal Juma’, the director of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, also known as Stop the Wall, was summoned for interrogation on the night of December 15th. Jamal has been detained by the Israeli military and has not had access to a lawyer since the 16th of December. I was in the Stop the Wall Office on the 15th of December. I said hi to Jamal. I’ve met him on a couple of occasions. He is a quiet man with a commanding presence. 
     I read the news of his arrest last night, sitting in the home of another non-violent Palestinian activist, Musa Abu Maria of the Palestine Solidarity Project. He was not surprised to hear about Jamal’s arrest. He told me the story of his first arrest and time in prison. An IDF commander showed up at his home and asked him to come with him for a few hours to talk over a cup of tea. Musa asked if he could have a minute to say goodbye to his family. He knew what tea and talk were code words for. He was nineteen years old.
     If past actions set precedence and they do. Jamal will likely not be charged with any crime (because he has not committed one) but will be held in prison for a long time (interrogated, tortured) without charges. Israel does this through a process called administrative detention that allows the state to hold Palestinians for periods of three months at a time (renewable indefinitely) without charges. more.. e-mail

Oybama 
Uri Avnery, Ma’an News Agency 12/20/2009
      ....In all the long Oslo speech, Obama devoted 16 whole words to us: “We see it in Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden.”
     Well, first of all, it is not a conflict between Arabs and Jews. It is between Palestinians and Israelis. That is an important difference: when one wants to solve a problem, one must first have a clear picture of it.
     More importantly: This is the remark of a bystander. A viewer sitting in his armchair and looking at the TV screen. A theater critic reviewing a performance. Should the President of the United States look at the conflict like this?
     If the conflict is indeed hardening, the US, and Obama personally, must carry much of the blame. His folding up on the settlement issue and his total surrender to the pro-Israel lobby in the US has encouraged our government to believe that it can do anything it likes.
     At the beginning, Binyamin Netanyahu was worried about the new president. But the fear has dissipated, and now our government is treating Obama and his people with scorn bordering on contempt. The agreements made with the last administration are being broken quite openly. President George W. Bush recognized the “settlement blocs” in return for an undertaking to freeze all the others permanently and to dismantle the outposts set up since March 2001. Not only has not a single outpost been dismantled, but this week the government accorded the status of “preferred area” to dozens of settlements outside the “blocs,” including the worst Kahanist nests. From one of these, the thugs went out this week and set fire to a mosque. more.. e-mail

Humanitarian, rights orgs. decry "international community's betrayal" of Gaza
Electronic Intifada: 22 Dec 2009 - The international community has betrayed the people of Gaza by failing to back their words with effective action to secure the ending of the Israeli blockade which is preventing reconstruction and recovery, say a group of 16 leading humanitarian and human rights groups in a new report released today. 

Palestinian refugees in Jordan stuck in a no man's land
Electronic Intifada: 22 Dec 2009 - AMMAN (IPS) - According to the records of the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), Jordan is home to 1.9 million displaced Palestinians. "Jordan hosts about 42 percent of the total refugee population," says Mattar Sakr, director of public relations for UNRWA in Jordan. Sakr adds that most refugees reside in 13 camps, three of them considered unofficial dwellings because they were not assigned by the government. 

Addameer: No peace agreement until political prisoners released 
Electronic Intifada: 22 Dec 2009 - "Reaching the 'No-Peace' Agreement: The Role of Palestinian Prisoner Releases in Permanent Status Negotiations," a briefing paper from Addameer, examines Israel's failure to comply with the bilateral agreements regarding the release of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli detention for their involvement in activities related to the ongoing belligerent Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. 

Grassroots activist and human rights defender Jamal Juma' arrested
Electronic Intifada: 21 Dec 2009 - The arrest of Jamal Juma' is the most high-profile case within an intensifying campaign of repression of grassroots mobilization against the wall and the settlements. Initially only arresting local activists from the villages affected by the wall, the Israeli authorities have recently begun to shift their attention to the detention of internationally-known human rights defenders. 

Diaries From East Jerusalem
Palestine Monitor: 22 Dec 2009 - For the last two months, every Friday several peace activists and ordinary citizens have organized a demonstration in East Jerusalem protesting against Israeli authorities who have evicted several Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. The eviction of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem is illegal under international law which forbids an occupying power from transferring its own people into an occupied area. Despite this the international community has done little to abate the appropriation of houses here. There is growing concern that Zionists are attempting to create a new Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem which will strengthen Israeli claims to complete autonomy of the capital. On Friday December 18, the peaceful protest of around 300 people was violently interrupted by Israeli police. In an attempt to prevent demonstrators from gathering at Sheikh Jarrah, Israeli police blocked all the accesses to the area. The demonstration culminated in the front yard...

Non-violent activists under attack
Palestine Monitor: 22 Dec 2009 - The West Bank villages of Bi'lin and Ni'lin have been invaded again on Saturday early morning by Israeli military: soldiers entered both villages and raided houses. For the last months residents of West Bank villages committed to non violent resistance, have been constantly subjected to arrests, night raids and any kind of intimidation and harassment. 31 Palestinian local peace activists from the Popular committees have been arrested in the last six months. Dozen of villagers of Bi'lin, Ni,lin, and other West Bank villages, mostly teenagers and young residents have been threatened, beaten, intimidated. Many others have been prevented from participating into the weekly demonstrations. Israeli authorities are targeting Palestinian human rights defenders and peace activists, in order to weaken the Palestinian civil society and the non violent resistance. As reported by ISM (International Solidarity Movement), on Saturday 19” In Bil'in, five military jeeps carrying about 30 soldiers entered the village...

What is the Aim of the Gaza Freedom March? - Interview
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Dec 2009 - By Bianca Zammit - Gaza As the days of December 2009 draw in, two events which each have a role to play in world peace draw closer. The first is on the 27th and is commemorating the start of the 22 day attacks on Gaza, an operation which targeted unarmed civilians, schools, hospitals, journalists and emergency staff. The second, The Gaza Freedom March will take place on the 31st. The Gaza Freedom March is a historic moment, the magnitude of which has not been seen in Palestine since 1967. Chiseled on the lessons learnt from South Africa' struggle for liberation against apartheid and from Gandhi' Satyagraha approach during the campaign for India' independence, the Gaza Freedom March is walking in the same shoes. In order to find out more about the Gaza Freedom March I met up with Dr. Haidar Eid, a member of the Steering Committee for the March in Gaza. What is the aim of the Gaza Freedom March? The goal of the Gaza Freedom March is to commemorate Gaza 2009. In January 2009 right after the end of operation Cast Lead we were all faced again by the deadly hermitic siege. The March is calling for an end to this siege. How did the Gaza Freedom March come about? In June CodePink led a delegation into Gaza and they started talking about a march. I was contacted by Palestinian solidarity groups from around the world and asked for my opinion. I liked the idea but it required...

A Call from Gaza
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Dec 2009 - 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 subjected to three weeks of relentless Israeli state terror, whereby Israeli warplanes systematically targeted civilian areas, reduced whole neighborhoods and vital civilian infrastructure to rubble and partially destroyed scores of schools, including several run by the UN, where civilians were taking shelter. This came after 18 months of an ongoing, crippling, deadly hermetic Israeli siege of Gaza, a severe form of collective punishment described by John Dugard,the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights as “a prelude to genocide.” The war on Gaza was predicated and advocated for by Israeli generals and politicians. Matan Vilnai, ex-Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, told Army Radio during “Operation Hot Winter” (29 February 2008): "They will bring upon...
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