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

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
1 May , 2009


International Middle East Media Center

Four injured, dozens suffer gas effects in Ni'lin weekly protest
1 May 2009 - Israeli soldiers on Friday attacked Palestinian and international peace activists holding the weekly non-violent protest against the Wall in Ni’lin village, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Four protestors were injured and dozens were treated for the effects gas inhalation. 

The military attack a nonviolent protest near Bethlehem; four injured six kidnapped
1 May 2009 - Scores of villagers from Al Ma'ssara near the southern west Bank city of Bethlehem protested the Israeli wall being built on their lands on Friday. 

Bil'in: Four injured and dozens suffered teargas inhalation
1 May 2009 - The residents of Bil’in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, gathered on Friday after the midday prayer along with international and Israeli activists and marched in recognition of May Day. The protesters carried Palestinian flags and banners calling for labor rights. 

UN demands Israel to freeze pending demolishing orders of East Jerusalem homes
1 May 2009 - The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs called on Israel to freeze demolishing orders against dozens of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. The Office added that the Palestinians can only build on 13% of Jerusalem’s lands while the Jewish settlements occupy more than 35% of Jerusalem. 

Israel enforces new punishments against Palestinian workers
1 May 2009 - As the World marks Mayday, the International Workers Day, Palestinian workers are facing further restrictions imposed on them by the Israeli occupation authorities and are subjected to further restrictions and abuse. 

PCHR Weekly Report: 20 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces this week
1 May 2009 - According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, during the week of 23 - 28 April 2009, 20 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, were wounded by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank. A number of these civilians were wounded by Israeli settlers during a joint attack with Israeli forces. Israeli forces have continued to impose a total siege and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world. 

Palestine UN mission: “Occupation stepping up settlements, especially in Jerusalem”
1 May 2009 - The acting head of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, Fida’ Abdul-Hadi Nasser, sent letters to the UN Secretary-General, to the head of the Security Council and to the head of the UN General Assembly informing them that the illegal Israeli measures and the ongoing settlement construction and expansion, especially in Jerusalem, are increasing the suffering of the Palestinians. 

Abbas to form a broad government soon
1 May 2009 - Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, intends to name a Prime Minister, who will most likely be an independent figure, to form a broad Palestinians government that includes Hamas and other factions. 

Unemployment rate in Gaza 65%, poverty 80%
1 May 2009 - The Palestinian Chamber of Commerce in Gaza reported on Wednesday that unemployment rates in the Gaza Strip reached 65%, and that poverty rates are now 80%, due to the ongoing Israeli-led siege and repeated assaults. 

Two Palestinians killed in a tunnel accident
1 May 2009 - Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that two Palestinians were killed on Thursday as they were in a tunnel that collapsed on them in the Rafah area, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. 

Settlers attack homes in Safa village, near Hebron
1 May 2009 - Palestinian sources in the southern West Bank city of Hebron reported on Thursday at night that a group of extremist Israeli settlers of Beit Ein settlement attacked a number of homes in Safa village, near the city. 

Haaretz: “Galilee Freedom Fighters group says seven detained Arabs are it members”
1 May 2009 - Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that it received an email from a group calling itself “Galilee Freedom Fighters” confirming that the seven Arab detained by Israel on suspicion of planning to abduct Israeli soldiers are members of the group. 

Ha'aretz Defense page

Palestinians hurt following spat with West Bank settlers
1 May 2009 - Samaria council officials say they do not know how Palestinians were injured, as the settlers "never went near them." 

IDF attacks Gaza tunnels following Qassam hit
1 May 2009 - IDF reports precise hit on Philadelphi Route smuggling tunnels; rocket came after a period of relative calm. 

Is Netanyahu bringing Israel closer to a 'second Holocaust'?
1 May 2009 - PM believes he is tasked with saving Israel and the Jewish people from 'inevitable' destruction by Iran. 

'Galilee Freedom Fighters': Israeli Arab terror suspects are our operatives
30 Apr 2009 - Shadowy group says other cells still planning attacks; 7 Israeli Arabs held over plot to kidnap troops. 

U.S. defense chief: Military strike won't halt Iran nuke program
30 Apr 2009 - Defense Secretary Gates: Sanctions make more sense, attack would send program further underground. 

Peres: Bombing Iran may not be the 'best solution'
29 Apr 2009 - President says attacking Iran nuclear sites would only postpone its ability to build atom bomb. 

Obama in 2012, after he fails to deal with Iran
29 Apr 2009 - A decision to thwart Tehran's nuclear ambitions could have prevented Mideast chaos and U.S. decline. 

Netanyahu: Threat of terror is greater than ever
28 Apr 2009 - Israeli leaders, bereaved families gather on Mt. Herzl to remember fallen IDF soldiers and terror victims. 

Ma'an News

Four injured at weekly anti-wall protest in Bil'in 
5/1/2009 - Ramallah – Ma’an – Four Palestinians were injured by Israeli tear-gas canisters at a weekly anti-wall protest in the West Bank village of Bil'in on Friday. The demonstrators choked on tear-gas in the Ramallah-area village after Friday prayers during a protest marking Labor Day. They were identified as Abdallah Abu Rahmah, Yaseen Mohammad Yaseen, as well as two children, Mamoud A’la Samara and Nashmi Mohammad Abu Rahmah. Israelis opened fire after demonstrators successfully reached the wall and destroyed sections of it, witnesses said. Bil'in's residents were joined by international peace activists who carried Palestinian flags and photos of Bassam Abu Rahmah, who was killed two weeks earlier by a tear-gas canister fired by the Israeli military in the same village. Demonstrators were seen marching through the village, shouting slogans denouncing the Israeli occupation. . . 

On eve of papal visit, Israeli police attack Palestinian Christian 
5/1/2009 - Jerusalem – Ma’an – A Palestinian Christian was hospitalized after being severely beaten by Israeli police in East Jerusalem's Old City on Friday. The Palestinian who lives on Latin Patriarch Street in East Jerusalem, Samer Andrea Karkar, was assaulted near an Italian restaurant and store, both of which he owns, on the same street. The pope is scheduled to visit the area during his upcoming visit to Jerusalem next Thursday. Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli police had prevented Palestinian residents from passing through the street under the pretext that it was being renovated before the pope's visit. When Samer tried to convince the police to allow his sister and her sleeping children to return home, police ordered him to leave one of them behind, for reasons that were not immediately clear. Police then told Samer that they "do not want to see him on the entire street". . . 

Israeli soldiers break into homes during Ni'lin demonstration 
5/1/2009 - Ramallah – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers invaded the West Bank village of Ni'lin on Friday, attempting to occupy the rooftops of two homes near the wall and where residents typically perform weekly prayers. The two homes broken into on Friday belong to Mustafa Shem’on A’meerah and A’zmi Al-Khawaja, both residents of the Ramallah-area village that hosts weekly demonstrations against the Israeli constructed separation barrier, which cuts off about half of the village's farmland. Residents attempted to prevent the soldiers from occupying the homes, clashing with them and suffering tear-gas canister shots and injuries from rubber-coated bullets. Four Palestinians were injured in the clashes. The Palestinians were marking Labor Day, according to Salah Al-Khawaja, who said that "the [Israeli] occupation's policy is to confiscate land for the construction of the wall, settlements, tunnels and roads, and is systematically starving the Palestinians. 

Israeli soldiers thieve cash and jewels during Yatta-area raid; detain nine 
5/1/2009 - Hebron – Ma’an – A troop of Israeli soldiers and police dogs broke into several Yatta-area homes overnight Thursdayand stole cash and jewelry after ransacking the family residences. Among the homes targeted was that of Iyad Abu Qabeita, head of the Yatta Youth Club. He said the soldiers forced his wife and children out of the home and knocked in the doors of each room, tearing out cement from the walls as they barged through. Abu Qabetia said the soldiers gave no justification for their raid, which lasted five hours. None of the family members were detained but noticed that Mrs Abu Qabetia’s jewelry box was missing along with about 8,000 shekels (aprox. 2,000 USD) in cash. Nine unidentified Palestinians were taken from their homes in neighboring villages. 

Israeli settlers attack young man from Qalqiliya village 
5/1/2009 - Qalqilia – Ma’an – Israli settlers from the illegal settlement of Gilad, east of the West Bank city of Qalqiliya, attacked 20-year-old Mohammad Ahmad Abu Baker on Friday. Ahmad was working on his land in the village of Jet, east of Qalqiliya, when he sustained bruises and burns in the face after being sprayed by an unknown gas substance. He was transferred to the local Darwish Hospital in Nazzal. Ma'an's Qalqiliya correspondent explained that "while he was working on his land south of Jet he was attacked by a group of settlers who were escorted by soldiers in the area and sprayed by this strange substance in this face, which was after they hit him with a stone all over his body and totally destroyed his tractor. " The settlers of Gild outpost, built on the lands of Palestinians from Jet and Fer’ata villages east of Qalqiliya, have repeatedly attacked residents of the two villages under protection from members of the Israeli military. 

UN peace coordinator visits Gaza 100 days post-Israeli war; calls situation “alarming” 
5/1/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry was in Gaza Thursday on a mission to assess the situation 100 days after the end of Israeli hostilities saw the death of 1,475 and injury of more than 5,000. “The situation is really alarming,” Serry said, and noted that fulfilling humanitarian needs and early recovery efforts would be impossible without adequate fuel, cash, and repair materials coming into the area through the Israeli crossing points. “Better access is crucial,” he said. Serry stressed the need to rebuild homes in Gaza and offer civilians protection from the “sweltering summer” rapidly approaching. He said the UN is “ready to help” in importing construction materials and will take responsibility to “ensure that imported building supplies are only used for their intended purposes. 

Israel announces tighter restrictions for Palestinian workers; threatens to revoke permits 
5/1/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli authorities announced tighter restrictions for Palestinians working in Israel on Labour Day Friday, including the possible revocation of permits if the holder returns to the West Bank after curfew. The restrictions come as Israel installs new computer systems at 13 military checkpoints between the West Bank, Israel and Jerusalem. Palestinians will no longer be able to enter Israeli controlled areas by points other than those outfitted with computers. According to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics 74,000 Palestinians work in Israel, about three-quarters of who are from the West Bank. The working permits of many West Bankers stipulate that its holder must leave Israel before six or eight o’clock. Under the new system limits and parameters of permits for many Palestinians will change, and for some who arrive at the checkpoints later than the time. . . 

Israel to investigate soldiers on charges of robbery and abuse in Dura 
5/1/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies -The Israeli army will investigate the case of 31-year-old Ayish Ajawi who reported being illegally detained, blindfolded, beaten, robbed and harassed during one of the regular Israeli invasions into the West Bank. According to the Israeli news outlet Yedioth Ahronoth Ajawi was detained on suspicion of throwing stones at an Israeli military vehicle earlier this year. The report said Ajawi and five others spent 12 hours being harassed in a military facility. The army said no formal complaint was been filed by Ajawi, who instead reported the incident to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselemwhich in turn reported the event to Israeli military authorities. According to the report Ajawi was visiting his sister in Dura in the southern West Bank and was detained during an Israel invasion of the town. 

Sixteen Gazans being treated in Egypt return to Strip via Rafah 
5/1/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Sixteen Palestinian patients returned to the Gaza Strip from Egypt where they were being treated for illnesses and injuries; they entered through the Rafah crossing overnight Thursday. The patients were critically ill individuals needing emergency treatment in Cairo, as well as those injured by Israeli weapons during the war on Gaza over the winter. Head of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Gaza Strip Muawiya Hassanein confirmed that all 16 had concluded their treatment in Egypt before returning to Gaza. He noted that an additional 20 patients are expected to travel into Gaza Friday. [end] 

Free Gaza Movement to launch new fleet of ships 
5/1/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Free Gaza Movement announced on Friday it plans to launch a new fleet of ships for the besieged Gaza Strip. "We sail again to break Israel’s blockade of 1. 5 million civilians, 80% unemployed because of Israel’s draconian siege," the group said in a statement to Ma'an. “I believe the Israeli government policies are against international law, against human rights, against the dignity of the Palestinian people,” said Mairead Maguire whose efforts for a peaceful solution to the violence in Northern Ireland earned her the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize. “And I feel grateful to be able to go again on one of these boats to visit the people of Gaza. ”The Free Gaza Movement will use the Free Gaza as the lead vessel in the flotilla. In August 2008, it was the first boat to dock in the Gaza port in 41 years. 

Ten Palestinians lightly injured at Bethlehem-area protest 
5/1/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - At least ten Palestinians were lightly injured at a demonstration near the WestBank city of Bethlehem on Friday, according to a union official. The Palestinians choked on tear gas, causing a few of them to faint, including Shaher Sa'ed, secretary-general of the Union of Palestinian Workers, as well as Franco Beneti, an Italian official within the Council of Italian Workers, and union activist Muna Jubran, who was struck by tear-gas canisters and stun grenades. Other demonstrators were arrested, among them an Italian union official and activists from the Popular Committee Against the Wall, including Azmi Ash-Shyukhi and brothers Hasan and Mohammad Buriejieyah. This week’s demonstration, which was organized by the Union of the Palestinian Workers in Bethlehem to mark Labor Day, took place near the village of Al-Ma’sara and the wall that was built on Palestinian. . . 

Three young men detained south of Jenin 
5/1/2009 - Jenin - Ma'an - Israeli forces detained three from the town of Az-Zababdeh south of Jenin during a raid targeting a dozen homes in the area before dawn on Friday. Security sources reported identified two of the men as Ahmad Khalil Al-Far and Issa Abu Zineh and Mahdi Ash-Sharkawi both in their twenties. The men were taken to an unknown location and Israeli forces searched their homes following their arrests. [end] 

Israeli warplanes raid tunnels in southern Gaza Strip 
5/1/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli warplanes raided tunnels in the Yebna area at the border in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. Medical sources confirmed that some Palestinians were injured. [end] 

Car belonging to kindergarden set ablaze in central Gaza 
5/1/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Unknown assailants set fire to a jeep belonging to Abed As-Salam Abu As-Serhed and a car affiliated with Al-Manar kindergarden in the central Gaza Strip on Friday. The car was used to transfer children to the kindergarden, and was driven by Hassan Abed As-Salam. The National Action Committee denounced the acts in a statement sent to Ma'an, describing them as "immoral and un-national acts," and adding that "our society will be considering such elements as destructive and it will be revealed sooner or later that they are attempting to spread panic and intimidation among Palestinians. "[end] 

Gaza: Kerem Shalom open for partial deliveries of aid, fuel into Strip 
5/1/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Israel will open the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip for part of the day on Friday, but the Karni and Nahal Oz crossings will remain closed. General Director at the Ministry of Economy in the de facto government Hatem Oweida Gazans expect 94 trucks to enter the area, as well as 334 tons of cooking gas and 732,000 liters of industrial fuel for the power plant. [end] 

PA Ministry of Agriculture ready to cooperate with Israel over swine flu eradication 
5/1/2009 - Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture announced they were ready to coordinate with any institution, including Israeli organizations, mandated to counter the current threat of influenza H1 N1, better known as swine flu, in the region. Head of Veterinary Services at the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in the West Bank Sa’id Syam said Friday that specialists are monitoring the two pig farms in Palestinian areas, both in the Bethlehem district with one in Beit Sahour and the other one in Beit Jala. He said both farms were currently under quarantine and samples of all animals have been taken to laboratories for testing. With regard to the wild pigs in the northern regions of the West Bank, Syam said the ministry would cooperate with Israeli authorities to ensure the animals were slaughtered to prevent the spread of the flu. 

Haniyeh: Gaza war aftermath a calculated tactic to pressure Palestinian politics 
5/1/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Dialogue is working and it is outside forces preventing Palestinian unity, de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said during a sermon in the An-Nuseirat Refugee Camp in Gaza on Friday. Haniyeh’s appearance at the Al-Qassam Mosque marked his second public appearance since the December-January Israeli war on Gaza. The de facto Prime Minister spoke at length about the war and its fallout, stressing that Gazans would be rewarded for their steadfastness. His rhetoric alluded to a continued battle, this time over politics and crossings. On the current internal negotiations Haniyeh said that progress was being made, but sides needed a breakthrough on severalcore controversial issues, but blamed “outside pressures” for the stall. “Parties that have relations with the outside world must to put an end to these interventions,” he told worshipers, noting“we are honestly. . . 

UN calls on Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes 
5/1/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The United Nations on Thursday called on Israel to cease demolitions of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. The report, "The Planning Crisis in East Jerusalem: Understanding the Phenomenon of 'Illegal' Construction," addresses the housing crisis for Palestinians in East Jerusalem due to the lack of adequate urban planning by the Israeli Jerusalem municipality, which controls East Jerusalem and the everyday life and housing needs of Palestinians. Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It considers the eastern half of the city part of its "eternal, undivided capital. " The UN report, commissioned by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) found that at least 28 percent of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem have been built without obtaining the requisite building permits, which Palestinians say Israel rarely actually offers them. 

Israel hosts Arab health reps over swine flu concerns 
5/1/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Israel's Health Ministry on Friday hosted Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian representatives in Jerusalem to discuss the swine flu outbreak in the region. The meeting lasted some four and half hours, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry, and took place at the World Health Organization's office in Jerusalem. Health Ministry officials from Israel, Palestine and Jordan attended the meeting, while Egypt was represented by the country's deputy ambassador to Tel Aviv. Meanwhile on Friday, the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture announced they were ready to coordinate with any institution, including Israeli organizations, mandated to counter the current threat of influenza H1N1, better known as swine flu, in the region. Head of Veterinary Services at the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in the West Bank Sa’id Syam said Friday. . . 

PPP: Hamas-Fatah dialogue to resume 16-17 May, all parties set to arrive in Cairo 18-19 for comprehensive talks 
5/1/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Palestinian conciliation talks have a set start date and concrete plans for a second phase, said Palestine People's Party member Walid Al-Awad on Friday. The last, and third, round of dialogue was between Hamas and Fatah leaders only, and was seemingly cut short before many of the unresolved issues were discussed. The meetings were originally set for 26 April but were postponed one day to the 27th, then lasted only a day and a half. Following the meetings parties said a fourth round was planned but no details were released. According to Al-Awad, however, a preliminary round of talks between Fatah and Hamas will start on 16 May and go for two days. If all goes well in those meetings, he said, Egyptian mediators plan to host all 13 factions and independents on the 18-19 May. Major issues to be worked out remain the structure of a transitional government. . . 

Palestinian analysts: Dialogue delay spells failure for reconciliation 
5/1/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian politicians said on Friday that “the continued foot dragging of the dialogue in Cairo is a nice recipe to announce its failure. ”Palestinian factions have been meeting in Cairo in an attempt to reestablish a Palestinian unity government. But earlier this month Fatah and Hamas officials announced the talks would be delayed until mid-May. Talal A’wkal, a writer and political analyst, wrote on Friday that “delaying the dialogue is a nice recipe to announce its failure” adding that “there is no desire in making a cut-off or media-rush to declare failure,” but that everyone knows it is coming. He told Ma’an that “there was time consumption without real outcomes in the four rounds and in the coming round in the middle of May" adding that “the breakthrough that happened in the last round was not real, especially on the issue of elections,” noting that “there was not agreement on the disputed percentages. 

Palestine Telegraph

Israel bombs Gaza again
Gaza Strip, May 1st, (Pal Telegraph) - Two Israeli fighter jets raided into four smuggling tunnels near the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Friday morning. Medical sources announced that no casualties resulted in the surprising attacks which caused an...

Palestinians in Europe to commemorate the 61 anniversary of Nakba “Catastrophe”
London, April 30, (Pal Telegraph) After 61 years of the Palestinian Nakba. Palestinians still adhere to their rights and legacy which was intended to be destroyed in the past decades but never it never happened. Palestinian communities, institutions and associations all over...

Two Palestinians killed in Gaza tunnels
Gaza, April 30 (Pal telegraph) - Two Palestinians were killed on Thursday when a smuggling tunnel linking the Gaza Strip and Egypt collapsed, Palestinian medics said. Three other people who were in the tunnel at the time of the collapse were still...

Britain raps 'unbalanced' UN rights Gaza report
Gaza, April 28 (Pal telegraph) - Britain criticised Wednesday a report by a UN human rights investigator on Israel's Gaza offensive as "unbalanced", but insisted it was extremely concerned by the situation in Gaza and the West Bank. Last month, the UN...

Report: Israeli Use of Palestinians As Human Shields
Gaza Strip, April 29 (Pal Telegraph) - The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights is a Gaza-based Palestinian NGO mandated "to promote, protect and prevent violations of human rights in general, and economic, social and cultural rights in particular, to provide effective...


UN calls on Israel to end evictions
1 May 2009 - Israel must freeze all pending east Jerusalem home demolitions, UN report says.

Lebanon frees Hariri suspects
29 Apr 2009 - Four generals imprisoned over ex-Lebanese PM's assassination released after four years.

UN says Egypt pig cull real mistake
29 Apr 2009 - Agency says no reason for slaughter as flu is spread from human-to-human.

Palestinian rivals end unity talks
28 Apr 2009 - Fatah and Hamas fail to reach agreement on a power-sharing government.


OPT: Gaza citizens at risk from rubbish, rubble, unexploded ordnance
GAZA CITY Thursday, April 30, 2009 (IRIN) - Unexploded ordnance (UXO) and the uncontrolled dumping of rubbish pose the greatest environmental and public health risks to residents of the Gaza Strip, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP). A further study is planned by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

MIDDLE EAST: Regional efforts to prepare for swine flu 
DUBAI Wednesday, April 29, 2009 (IRIN) - Middle East countries are taking precautionary measures against swine flu as the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the global influenza pandemic alert level to Phase 4 after the influenza A /H1N1 virus infection claimed more than 150 lives in Mexico and spread to several other countries. 

Inter Press Service

LEBANON: Generals’ Release May Influence June Election 
WASHINGTON, Apr 30 (IPS) - On Wednesday, a judge at the Hague-based "Special Tribunal for Lebanon" (STL) ordered Lebanon to release four senior Lebanese generals imprisoned since 2005 on suspicion of involvement in killing former prime minister Rafiq Hariri in February of that year.

ENVIRONMENT: Israel Stripping West Bank Quarries 
RAMALLAH, Apr 30 (IPS) - Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din is taking the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), the Israeli civil administration and a number of Israeli mining companies to court.

MIDEAST: A Former 'Terrorist' Speaks Out 
JENIN, Northern West Bank, Apr 30 (IPS) - A former high-level Palestinian resistance fighter, who spent years on the run from Israel's security forces, has just been appointed to the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs, and made honorary theatre director.

MIDEAST: Hamas Gaining International Legitimacy 
JERUSALEM, Apr 30 (IPS) - Delegations from the rival Fatah and Hamas organisations have again failed in Cairo to bridge their differences meant to usher in a Palestinian unity government, but this has in no way slowed inroads which the Islamist movement has been making to increase its international legitimacy...

Stop The Wall

Checkpoints along the Wall to be computerized
30 Apr 2009 - Earlier this week, Occupation authorities announced their intentions to computerize the permit system that controls West Bank Palestinians’ access to ’48 Palestine. This move increases the control exercised over the Palestinian population, adding to the hardships faced by workers and further sealing off Jerusalem. These high-tech additions also create space for the growth of particular sectors of Israeli industry, in turn increasing their strength in the international defense and homeland security markets. [

PCHR Latest

PCHR Condemns Political Detention of Fatah Activists in Gaza

PCHR Weekly Report

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 23 - 28 April 2009
PCHR - During the reporting period, 20 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, were wounded by IOF and Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

International Solidarity Movement

Palestine's Holocaust museum
International Solidarity Movement - 30 April 2009 - In a small anonymous home in the West Bank, a Palestinian academic has set up a project which is almost unheard of in the Occupied Territories. Hassan Musa is the curator of a museum exhibition dedicated to the Jewish Holocaust in Europe. The cracked white walls of this makeshift museum in the village of Ni'lin are covered from floor to ceiling with images of people forced out of their homes, tortured, imprisoned, starved and murdered. In addition to the pictures depicting the Nazi brutality against Jews in Europe, there are also images of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and the violence in Palestine since. On one wall, there is a picture of a scared Jewish boy holding up his hands as Nazi soldiers look on; the caption reads: “Make your final account with Hitler and the Nazi Germans, not with the Palestinians. 

End Palestinian demolitions in Jerusalem, UN tells Israel
International Solidarity Movement - 1 May 2009 - The United Nations has called on Israel to end its programme of demolishing homes in east Jerusalem and tackle a mounting housing crisis for Palestinians in the city. Dozens of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem are demolished each year because they do not have planning permits. Critics say the demolitions are part of an effort to extend Israeli control as Jewish settlements continue to expand. The 21-page report from the UN office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs is the latest round in an intensifying campaign on the issue. Although Israel's mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, has defended the planning policy as even-handed, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in March described demolitions as "unhelpful". An internal report for EU diplomats, released earlier and obtained by the Guardian, described them as illegal under international law and said they "fuel bitterness and extremism". 

Israeli forces invade Nil'in and kidnap one resident
International Solidarity Movement - 30 April 2009 - In the early morning on Thursday, 30 April 2009, around 2. 45 am, the Israeli army invaded Ni'lin. Soldiers entered the home of Hussein Mohammad al Khawadja, 21, blindfolded him and took him away. The soldiers tried to take another man as well, but he wasn't at home. The army stayed in the center of Ni'lin throwing sound bombs and tear gas until 4. 15 am. The al Khawadja family were awoken by soldiers forcefully pounding at their door. About 10 soldiers entered their home, forcing them, including the small children to get up from their beds, and go into the living room. The soldiers pointed their weapons at them and Hussein was kicked and assaulted while still in bed. "His studies are very important for him. I'm worried Hussein now will miss his final exams and therefore can´t continue next year. " 

The Israel boycott is biting
International Solidarity Movement - 30 April 2009 - On May 4, protesters will greet Motorola shareholders, already disgruntled by the company's losses, as they arrive for their annual meeting at the Rosemont Theater in Chicago, Illinois. The protest, organized by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, is part of a drive to "Hang Up On Motorola"¯ until it ends sales of communications and other products that support Israel's military occupation of Palestinian land. Inside the meeting, the Presbyterian, United Methodist and other churches will urge shareholders to support their resolution, which calls for corporate standards grounded in international law. Doing the right thing could also reduce the risk of "consumer boycotts, divestment campaigns and lawsuits. " ¯Although Motorola executives deny it, such risks must have played a part in their decision to sell the department making bomb. . . 

Azzun cut off from Palestinian infrastructure
International Solidarity Movement - 18 April 2009 - The status quo of Azzun - a town with 12. 000 inhabitants - is miserable and is getting worse in the distant future. Three big settlements were partly built on Azzun land so that the current city center is now circumscribed from the east, west and north western side. In addition to that there are plans for two new settler-only roads to be built. After completion of the roads Azzun will be completely isolated and surrounded by settlements and settler-only roads. Azzun consists of approximately 9130 dunams. When the first outpost near Azzun was built, land belonging to the Palestinian Authority and to farmers ofAzzun was taken. The first settlement was Qarne Shomron built in 1977 on the eastern part of Azzun. Maale Shomron was established in 1980 to the east of Azzun andAlfei Menashe took was built on the west of Azzun. 

Bil'in residents and activists gather to mark May Day
International Solidarity Movement - 1 May 2009 - The residents of Bil'in gathered today after the Friday prayer along with international and Israeli activists and marched in recognition of May Day. The protesters carried Palestinian flags and banners calling for labor rights. The Israeli occupation doesn't give even the simplest rights for workers and the Wall prevents workers from getting to their jobs and farmers from reaching their land. Protesters also carried posters for the martyr Bassem Abu Rahmah. Protesters marched towards the wall calling for the end of the occupation and to stop construction of the Wall. Protesters placed flowers next to the martyr's memorial for Bassem Abu Rahmah and stood there for a minute of silence out of respect for his spirit and those of other martyrs. The Israeli army had gathered in big numbers behind cement blocks and used razor wire to prevent the crowd from going through the gate. 

You cannot sink our boats
International Solidarity Movement - 1 May 2009 - In most of the world, May 1st is a day of international labor solidarity. It is a day of joy as workers picnic together with their families and celebrate the achievements of one of the most phenomenal movements of the 20th century. It is fitting, then, that the Free Gaza Movement chooses May 1 to announce the launching of the HOPE FLEET TO GAZA. We are leaving on June 1 as an act of solidarity with the Palestinians, a people who have been massacred, terrorized and suffocated by the Israeli military. We sail again to break Israel's blockade of 1. 5 million civilians, 80% unemployed because of Israel's draconian siege. "I believe the Israeli government policies are against international law, against human rights, against the dignity of the Palestinian people," said Mairead Maguire whose efforts for a peaceful solution to the violence in Northern Ireland earned her the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize. 

Seven arrested during non-violent demonstration in Umm Salamouna
International Solidarity Movement - 1 May 2009 - Residents gathered at 1. 30 pm for a weekly demonstration near the village of Al-Ma'sara in protest of the Apartheid Wall that was built on Palestinian land in the villages of Al-Ma'sara, Um Salamouna, Jourat Ash-Sham'ah and Mrah Mu'ala. Israeli forces began to throw sound and tear-gas grenades at the demonstrators, before arresting protesters at 2pm. Additionally, several of the arrested were severely assaulted by soldiers after their arrest. The army arrested three members of the Al-Ma'sara Committee against the Wall and Settlements; Hasan Buriejieyah, Mohammad Buriejieyah and Mahmoud Sawahre. Additionally, Israeli forces arrested Mustafa Fuara; a resident of Al-Ma'sara, Azmi Ash-Shyukhi; a resident of Hebron, Haggai Matar; an Israeli solidarity activist and Tom Stocker, a British national volunteering with the Holy Land Trust. 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Iraq to renovate tomb of prophet Ezekiel 
30 Apr 2009 - A spokesman for Iraq's tourism ministry stated that the Iraqi government plans to restore the tomb of the biblical prophet Ezekiel in the southern town of Kifl, Israel Radio said Friday. ...

'Syria-Turkey ties tighter because of Gaza war'
30 Apr 2009 - Turkey has tightened its relations with Syria as a result of Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip earlier this year, sources in Damascus told the A-Sharq Al-Awsat daily in a report published Friday. ... 

Israeli teams are becoming the anti-pirate heroes of the world
30 Apr 2009 - Pirates attacked the Italian cruise ship Melody, carrying more than 1,500 passengers and crew, 1,000 kilometers off Somalia last Saturday, but were repelled by Israeli security guards on board. The security guards fired over the pirates' heads, forcing them to retreat. ... 

'U.S. lied about Saudi king's talks with Peres'
30 Apr 2009 - Saudi Arabia demanded on Thursday that the U.S. State Department retract a claim that King Abdullah met Israel's president last year, in a rare public rebuke toward the kingdom's veteran ally. ...

Is Netanyahu bringing Israel closer to a 'second Holocaust'?
30 Apr 2009 - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's actions are shaped by a profound conviction that Israel will be in danger of extermination if Iran has nuclear weapons at its disposal. Removing the Iranian threat to Israel has been Netanyahu's main goal for years, and the Iranians' progress in this realm has only reinforced his awareness that the fateful hour of decision is fast approaching. ... 

The Guardian

Israel's budding autocracy | Dimi Reider
30 Apr 2009 - The arrest of members of a pacifist NGO is symptomatic of a country that is becoming militarised at an alarming pace The first raids took place at about 7am on Sunday. Across the country, activists in...

Photographer Ryuichi Hirokawa's best shot
29 Apr 2009 - I took this in 2002, at Al-Ram checkpoint on the West Bank. All the checkpoints had been closed by Israeli troops and these women were demonstrating to have them opened, so that food and medical supplies...

Members of US Congress sceptical of Palestinian aid plan
29 Apr 2009 - Obama administration has asked Congress to allow aid even if members of Hamas become part of government The Obama administration, already on treacherous domestic political ground with its outreach to Iran, Cuba and others, has opened...

Hezbollah spy thriller grips Arab world
29 Apr 2009 - Bugged cars, mini-bars and the 'party of God' … no wonder the arrest of four alleged moles has the Middle East abuzz It's the first rule of espionage not to get caught – and of counter-intelligence...

Ha'aretz National page

Israeli couple hospitalized over possible swine flu 
30 Apr 2009 - An Israeli couple was admitted to Tel Aviv's Icihilov Hospital on Friday following a suspicion that the two had contracted swine flu. ...

Haredi women get special tour of West Bank separation fence
30 Apr 2009 - An unusual delegation visited East Jerusalem's Abu Dis neighborhood two days ago, sparking the curiosity of many Palestinian residents. Some of them already recognize the group's guide, Shaul Arieli, from the Geneva Initiative, who periodically brings groups to the area to personally acquaint them with the West Bank separation fence, which bisects the neighborhood. ...

Two Israelis among Time's 100 most influential people 
30 Apr 2009 - Two Israelis have made their way into Time Magazine's annual 100 most influential people issue for 2009 ? Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi. ...

Two more suspected swine flu cases as Health Ministry raises alert
30 Apr 2009 - Two more Israelis are suspected of falling victim to swine flu as authorities on Thursday issued new recommendations to the public in a bid to contain the virus. ...

Olmert opened consulting firm before leaving PM's residence 
30 Apr 2009 - Former prime minister Ehud Olmert opened his own consulting firm last month, a mere week after leaving office. ... 

Relief Web

Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 256, 27 Apr - 03 May 2009
1 May 2009 - Source: World Health Organization

OPT: First Israeli strike in 2 months hits Gaza tunnels
1 May 2009 - Source: Reuters

OPT: UN human rights investigators leaving for Gaza next week
1 May 2009 - Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur

OCHA OPT special focus: The planning crisis in East Jerusalem - Understanding the phenomenon of illegal construction 
1 May 2009 - Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report, 22 - 28 Apr 2009
1 May 2009 - Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

OPT: Life and livelihoods in Gaza are being made impossible
30 Apr 2009 - Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

OPT: End of Gaza patients referral crisis
30 Apr 2009 - Source: Physicians for Human Rights

Israel/US: Clinton should press to end Gaza blockade
30 Apr 2009 - Source: Human Rights Watch

YNet News

Israel-Palestinian Authority cooperate on swine flu 
1 May 2009 - Health Ministry representatives from Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority meet to discuss swine flu pandemic. Jerusalem offers help with lab testing for H1N1. Tel Aviv couple hospitalized after returning from Mexico 

Palestinians say attacked by settlers 
1 May 2009 - Residents of West Bank village accuse settlers of ambushing them while they were trying to tend their fields, settlers say Palestinians were trespassing on their land

Yesha harvest 2009: Wine and settlements
1 May 2009 - Winery owners wish to expand approved project to include the building of several vacation homes next to their vineyard, only a km away from illegal outpost Migron

Palestinians discussing Egyptian truce proposal
1 May 2009 - Cairo urging Palestinian factions to consider possibility of renewing 'lull' with Israel, Ynet has learned. Source from Islamist group says factions leaning towards accepting the proposal. Egyptian President Mubarak expected to raise issue in meeting with PM Netanyahu this month 

Shalit activists protest outside Barak's home 
1 May 2009 - Reservists relay letter to defense minister saying, 'It's time for you to act; Gilad's fate is a reflection of Israeli society's moral resilience' 

IAF strikes Gaza smuggling tunnels
1 May 2009 - Aircraft launch two separate attacks on smuggling tunnels shortly after Qassam rocket lands in Negev; direct hits identified; Palestinians say one injured

Egypt's call to kill pigs amid flu scare ridiculed
1 May 2009 - Some Egyptians call government's decision to slaughter all of country's pigs knee-jerk overreaction; 'killing pigs is not a solution, otherwise, we should kill the people, because the virus spreads through them,' op-ed says 

British airline apologizes for deleting Israel from map
1 May 2009 - Telegraph reports most Israeli cities omitted from electronic screens showing flight maps on two BMI planes; Haifa identified by its Arab name; airline spokesman says 'no political agenda behind exclusion' 


Policemen sentenced to prison for incident exposed by B'Tselem
27 Apr 2009 - The Jerusalem District Court sentenced two additional border policemen for their involvement in the 2002 abduction and killing of ‘Imran Abu Hamdiya, a Palestinian from Hebron.

Testimony: Settlers assault young pregnant Palestinian
22 Apr 2009 - On 10 April, Roqaya al-Hazalin, together with a group of women and children, were grazing sheep near their village, in the Hebron District. According to her testimony, four armed settlers with sticks approached them. The other shepherds she was with ran a

Daily Star

7 Iranians plead guilty in US court to terror charges 
30 Apr 2009 - LOS ANGELES: Seven men have pleaded guilty to terrorism charges for raising funds for an Iranian opposition group that the United States has designated a foreign terrorist organization, authorities said. The seven, all of Iranian origin, entered the guilty pleas on Wednesday.

Egypt admits pig cull won't curb swine flu 
30 Apr 2009 - CAIRO: Egypt on Thursday said its cull of 250,000-400,000 pigs was a general health measure rather than a precaution against swine flu after the UN said there was no evidence the animals were spreading the disease. "We're at stage five, the matter is now human not animal," health ministry spokesman Abdel-Rahman Shahine.

Politics, security must be decoupled from Gaza aid 
30 Apr 2009 - As we near the end of the fourth month since hostilities in Gaza ended, it is increasingly apparent that massive needs are going unmet, and reconstruction is stalled. Donors have pledged money for humanitarian aid and for reconstruction, but on the ground the flow of goods compared to the needs is wholly inadequate.

Palestinian Information Center

Masri: Nakba is ongoing as long as occupation persists
1 May 2009 - Palestinian MP Mushir Al-Masri of Hamas Movement said on Friday that the moment of victory and liberation of the Palestinian people would, doubtlessly, come..

Israeli occupation gunboats fire at fishermen's boats off the coast of Rafah
1 May 2009 - Israeli occupation navy gunboats on Friday morning opened fire towards Palestinian fishermen's boats off the coast of Rafah and Khan Younis.

Hamas: Any government not approved by the PLC is illegitimate
1 May 2009 - The Hamas Movement stated that any government not approved by the PLC would be unconstitutional and illegitimate, and thus it would not deal with this government.

Thousands of Palestinians commemorate Palestine Nakba in Kafrin village
1 May 2009 - More than 3,000 Palestinians from the 1948 occupied lands on Wednesday flocked to the abandoned village of Kafrin to commemorate the 61st anniversary of Israel's establishment on usurped Palestine.

Press: Hamas denies election of new political bureau without Nazzal
1 May 2009 - Well informed sources in the Hamas Movement denied press speculations that a new political bureau for the Movement was elected and that it did not include Mohammed Nazzal.

UNICEF: Gaza children continue to suffer physically and psychologically
1 May 2009 - The UN children's fund (UNICEF) reported that children in Gaza continue to suffer both physically and psychologically despite the Israeli war, which ended 100 days ago.

Farwana: Barghouthi to enter Guinness book of records as oldest serving prisoner
1 May 2009 - Nael Al-Barghouthi, who has been held in Israeli occupation jails for more than 31 years, is to be registered in the Guinness book of records as the oldest serving prisoner.

Commerce chamber: The unemployment rate in Gaza reached 65 percent
1 May 2009 - The Palestinian chamber of commerce reported that the unemployment rate in Gaza reached 65 percent and the poverty rate rose by 80 percent, warning that these percentages are apt to increase.

Tafakji: Zionist scheme to settle one million Jews in Jerusalem, WB
1 May 2009 - Khalil Tafakji, an expert on Israeli settlements, said that Israel was strenuously working on creating greater Jerusalem that would eat up 10% of the entire West Bank area.

Khudari appeals to world's labor unions to support Gaza workers
1 May 2009 - MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, called on all labor unions around the world to seriously move on the international labor day to support Gaza workers.

Los Angeles Times

U.S. wants Iran talks soon 
1 May 2009 - Tehran seems likely to delay responding to Washington's overture. But pressure is building on the administration. The Obama administration is increasingly concerned about how long Iran may take to respond to its peace overture, and worried that delays will build pressure at home and abroad that could undermine the effort to overcome decades of antagonism through face-to-face talks. 

Roxana Saberi's case in Iran filled with intrigue 
1 May 2009 - The jailed reporter's ordeal could be seen as a fight between Iranian hard-liners and reformers. There's also tension between her parents and her boyfriend. International intrigue, a hunger strike and the motives of a teary-eyed boyfriend conspire in the tale of jailed American journalist Roxana Saberi. That this is unfolding in an Iran humming with political ploys and the whir of nuclear centrifuges makes it all the more tantalizing. 

U.S. worries Iran may delay response 
1 May 2009 - American officials say they intend to narrow the focus of any talks to concerns about Tehran's nuclear program to speed results, as pressure mounts from U.S. lawmakers and Israel. The Obama administration is increasingly concerned about how long Iran may take to respond to its peace overture and fears that delays will build pressure at home and abroad that could undermine the effort to overcome years of antagonism through talks. 

New York Times

U.N. Seeks End to Razing of Homes in East Jerusalem
1 May 2009 - The call for the cessation came in a new report that reflects growing international concern over developments in the contested city. 

Culling Pigs in Flu Fight, Egypt Angers Herders and Dismays U.N.
1 May 2009 - The decision to kill about 300,000 pigs is straining the tense relations between Egypt’s majority Muslims and its Coptic Christians. 

Palestinian Rivals to Try Once More for an Accord
28 Apr 2009 - After four rounds of reconciliation talks, Fatah and Hamas said they would try meeting one more time. 


The complicit silence continues 
Dr. Haidar Eid, The Palestine Telegraph 5/1/2009
      Millions of people looked forward to Barack Obama’s presidency with a sense of pride and hope. But Obama’s first 100 days have raised critical questions about the limits of what we can expect from a Democrat in the White House--and what it will take to get the change we want.
     What do you think of Obama’s 100 days? And what does the left need to do now to move the struggle forward? We asked a group of writers and activists for their answers to these questions. This commentary is from Haidar Eid, a professor, a resident of Gaza City, and a leading activist in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel’s apartheid.
     I NEVER had high expectations for Barack Obama, because he still represents the Democratic Party, which is a part of the American establishment. Obama’s victory in the presidential elections did not produce a change in the nature of American imperialism.
     I think the difference between the Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. is similar to the difference between Likud and the Labor Party in Palestine.
     I thought, even prior to his taking office, that Obama’s role would be to bring about a new fiction--or rather renew the of fiction--of a two-state solution in Palestine-Israel. That is, to breathe new life into the idea that one state for Jews and another state for Palestinians will bring peace to the region.

Obama and 'Two States' 
Ellen Cantarow, CounterPunch 4/30/2009
      A false claim is wafting through the press: Obama is hanging tough with Benjamin Netanyahu, he’s going to “twist Israel’s arm” and at long last force the Jewish state into a two-state agreement, settling the Israel-Palestine question for good. There’s even talk that Obama backs the Arab League’s 2002 peace initiative, complete with its main demand: Israel’s withdrawal to its 1967 borders.
     There’s no proof for any of this. Obama has said nothing about when, where, and with what boundaries a Palestinian state might be established. Neither did George Bush. The slide from one regime to the next has been seamless on the score of Israel and Palestine as on much else.
     In regard to a critical document invoked by Obama in his first policy speech about the region last January -- the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative -- Obama has not changed an iota, at least publicly. He gave the speech before State Department employees last January, announcing George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy. Most important, the speech delineated the clear outlines of Obama’s Middle East doctrine, as I described in my “The Problem Isn’t Avigdor Lieberman”
     Obama’s reference to the Arab Peace Initiative was crucial for what it omitted -- the proposal’s first part, the precondition for everything that follows: “Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.” Only after these preconditions have been laid out does the document continue: “Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following….” In “Consequently,” the intent is unmistakable: Once Israel fulfills the crucial condition requiring Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 lines, the Arab countries will do x, y, and z. One of the corollaries following the “Consequently” clause reads: “Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace [emphasis mine]”. Nothing could be clearer. Moreover, the Arab League’s request of Israel, “the context,” expresses the international consensus for the past 30 years, routinely blocked by the US and Israel.

Electronic Intifada
Palestinian women settlement workers' plight
1 May 2009 - Umm Raed's sick husband hasn't worked in more than 20 years. Her own family can't, or won't, help support her and her seven children. So her job in the Royalife factory in the Barkan industrial zone, built on illegally confiscated Palestinian land in the Salfit governorate in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was the household's main source of income. Sarah Irving reports for The Electronic Intifada. 

Book review: Resurrecting "America's Defense Line"
1 May 2009 - In his new book, America's Defense Line: the Justice Department's Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government , tenacious analyst Grant F. Smith focuses on an important aspect of the Israel lobby's origins that has implications for how it operates today. Muhammad Idrees Ahmad reviews for The Electronic Intifada. 

One Voice: manufacturing consent for Israeli apartheid
1 May 2009 - The American effort, started by the Bush Administration and continued by President Barack Obama to impose an Israeli-friendly Palestinian leadership has failed, according to new surveys of Palestinians. Hamas emerged from Israel's attack on Gaza with enhanced legitimacy. Meanwhile, barely a third of Palestinians still support a "two-state solution." Ali Abunimah analyzes these surveys, and how the pro-Israel group One Voice has used some results to mislead international opinion. 

Tunnels become a lifeline
30 Apr 2009 - RAFAH, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - Pickup trucks speed westward on the Barth highway that flanks the Israeli border in Egypt's North Sinai region, stacked high with cartons of petrol. They are headed "for Gaza," the Bedouin residents of Barth village say -- through the tunnels that burrow under the Egypt-Gaza border and are filling Gaza's aid gap in the aftermath of Israel's deadly assault on the territory. 

In Gaza
one day in Gaza
29 Apr 2009 - Some days in Gaza, if you are in an area where you don’t hear the drones hovering, spying, menacing…nor the Israeli gunboats harassing or injuring fishermen by shelling and shooting live ammunition…nor see Israeli soldiers shooting at farmers and civilians in the region along Gaza’s borders to Israel… nor see the manufactured, grinding poverty…nor see the remnants of buildings… nor see the remnants of limbs and lives…nor see the fatigue etched deeply into the faces of those all around….some days, if you stay in a café or under the covers, or miraculously miss all of these signs… you can relax a bit. I catch myself -with a whiff of coffee...

Palestine Chronicle
A Decade of Dedication: One More Reason to Give Today
1 May 2009 - To our deeply esteemed readers and supporters, Our fundraiser should have officially concluded on May 1st, 2009. While we are so grateful for the generous contributions we received from many of you, we are still short of our goal by $2,500. We have decided to extend our efforts for one more week, and we hope that you will consider giving to us today. You can plainly see your contributions at work through the launching of the newest aspect of our site, the Palestine Chronicle video page: . Our video page was just launched this week after a year of planning, designing and restructuring. We hope you will take a look at it and be convinced that this is one more reason that Palestine Chronicle needs to continue with its work. It is so rare to have access to an authentic Palestinian platform that provides a non-partisan, anti-factional presentation of the aspirations of the Palestine people. The Palestine Chronicle is one of very few venues that provides that platform to the world every day, with commentary, news reports, videos and much more, updated every day, free of charge and available to everyone. Please help us to make this happen for six more months. We cannot continue without you, and it is because of you that we have come this far in the past ten years. Thank you for a decade of dedication and support! We have complete trust that you will pull us though another six months. Please Click Here to...

Clinton's Unpromising Start
30 Apr 2009 - By Ramzy Baroud Incongruous. One can hardly think of a more suited term to describe the new US administration's approach to peacemaking in the Middle East. Though there is little evidence that previous US administrations had genuinely attempted to play a balanced role in forging a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians, many hoped -- and a few still hope -- that Barack Obama's administration would bring about new standards. However, if recent comments made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suffice as a general indication of the administration's Middle East policy, then little change is on the horizon. Clinton told US legislators 23 April that the key to peace between Israel and the Palestinians was Tehran; that without getting tough on Iran, Israel could not be expected to pursue peace with the Palestinians. "The two go hand in hand," she emphasised. What a baffling approach to peacemaking. In order for peace to prevail, Israel should engage Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority in "discussions" aimed at inspiring the isolation of Iran, for reasons entirely pertinent to US interests and Israeli "security". While Clinton's approach rests on luring Israel into her proposed peace discussions, what is Clinton's promise to the Palestinians, the Arabs, and indeed Iran but endless chatter, a regional cold war and sectarian divisions? Hasn't the Middle East seen enough of that? Is it not time to relegate such detrimental language and focus on positive engagement, regional stability and economic cooperation? In fact, there is concrete evidence that supports...

Understanding Lebanon's June Elections
30 Apr 2009 - By Rannie Amiri ".. it is in the interest of Lebanon and its stability that there is understanding and partnership among Lebanese in running their country's affairs." -- Hezbollah leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, on Lebanon’s upcoming parliamentary elections. "We will not take part in the government if the [Hezbollah-led] March 8 Alliance wins the elections .." -- Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri. In the Middle East, there are “elections” and there are elections. The majority, when they do occur, invariably fall under the first category. There are a few however, that fall under the second – transparent, legitimate, meaningful contests that have both domestic and regional implications. One of the most notable took place in January 2006 when Hamas swept Palestinian parliamentary polls, giving them the majority in the Palestine National Council and the ability to form a government. Monitored by the Carter Center, former President Jimmy Carter called them “open, honest, and fair contests.” The reaction they engendered in the U.S., Israel and Egypt – and the subsequent punishment meted out on the electorate – needs little elaboration. This June, two Middle East countries will be holding elections of consequence a mere five days apart; Lebanon on June 7 and Iran on June 12. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s faceoff against reformist candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi was recently discussed. Due to the Lebanon’s complex, sectarian-based political framework, understanding the mechanics and dynamics behind its upcoming parliamentary vote is more complicated. March 8 vs. March 14 In Lebanon today...

Crossing a Marker
30 Apr 2009 - By George S. Hishmeh Americans of all walks of life are busy nowadays assessing the first 100 days of the administration of Barrack Obama, a traditional yardstick by which a new president’s performance is measured. The general impression, in the words of one State Department announcement, is that this period has been among “the busiest in presidential history both in terms of domestic initiatives and foreign policy challenges”. This surely has been the case in the wake of the economic meltdown, in the US and elsewhere, and the round-the-clock meetings to steer the American ship of state back on the right track. It has also been the case with the president’s eye-catching forays in foreign lands, meeting with some friendly and some not-so-friendly leaders, eager to meet him, much to the expected chagrin of his few detractors at home. In an invitation to a conference that would examine Obama’s crossing the 100-day threshold, the Brookings Institution forecast that “the challenges facing the nation today seem likely to consume President Obama’s first two years - if not his entire first term”. King Abdullah, who spent several days here last week talking with Obama and other US officials, told a television interviewer that he would like to see “move[ment] towards Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, I hope, in the next month or two... .” Or else, he explained “people are looking for a signal [from] the United States. And I know that President Obama is waiting until [Israeli] Prime Minister Netanyahu comes here and listens...

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