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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
8 July , 2009


International Middle East Media Center

Hammad: ‘We arrested spy rings for Fateh in Gaza’
9 Jul 2009 - In a TV interview with the Al Aqsa TV, run by Hamas in Gaza, Minister of Interior at the dissolved Hamas government in Gaza, Fathi Hammad. stated that the security forces of his ministry arrested what he described as ‘spy rings’ working for Fateh. 

Settlers stepping up construction, attack Jewish Peace Now activists
9 Jul 2009 - The Israeli Peace Now movement published a video filmed by its activists in Dolev settlement in the occupied West Bank. 

Palestinians stop settler attempt to occupy a house in East Jerusalem
8 Jul 2009 - A group of Israeli settlers tried to take over a home in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, in East-Jerusalem on Tuesday night. The attempt was thwarted by senior Fatah officials that had gathered in the house, that belongs to a local Palestinian. 

Patient dies in Gaza due to the siege, death toll reaches 349
8 Jul 2009 - A Palestinian man from Gaza was announced dead on Wednesday after doctors were unable to treat him because of the Israeli siege on the Strip. 

The Israeli military kidnaps 13 civilians from the West Bank
8 Jul 2009 - The Israeli military kidnapped on Wednesday 13 Palestinian civilians during pre-dawn invasions targeting a number of West Bank communities. 

Hearings wrapped in Geneva
8 Jul 2009 - UN investigators wrapped up four days of public hearings on the Israeli invasion into the Gaza Strip, and would write it report to submit it to the United Nations Human Rights Council in August. 

PCATI: ‘Israel held detainees in Gaza, deprived them from water, food and restrooms’
8 Jul 2009 - A member of  the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) told the special UN committee, probing the war on Gaza, that Israeli soldiers held detainees from Gaza without providing them water, food or even restrooms, and that the detainees were subjected to violence and torture by Shin Bet interrogators. 

Political prisoner transferred to hospital in Nablus
8 Jul 2009 - Palestinian sources reported that a political prisoner detained at a Palestinian prison since more than seven months, was transferred to a hospital in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, after being subjected to torture in Jneid prison. 

P.A Health Ministry issues official report on Swine-Flu
8 Jul 2009 - The Palestinian Ministry of Health in the West Bank, the department of Public Health, issued a detailed report on swine-flu and officially diagnosed cases during the month of June. 

Army kidnapped 380 Palestinians in June
8 Jul 2009 - The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees reported that the Israeli army kidnapped more than 380 Palestinians in several parts of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem during the month of June. 

Al Ghoul: ‘Israel is still holding 36 legislators captive’
8 Jul 2009 - Palestinian Minister of Detainees and Freed Detainees at the dissolved government, Mohammad Al Ghoul, stated that there are 36 Palestinian Legislators and three Ministers of the tenth government, still imprisoned by Israel. 

Mousa: 'Settlements, negotiations cannot coexist'
8 Jul 2009 - Arab League Secretary General, Amro Mousa, stated Tuesday that the Arab League appreciates that US efforts to launch successful peace talks, but negotiations cannot resume amidst ongoing settlement construction. 

Ha'aretz Defense page

Hamas accuses Fatah of spying for Israel in Gaza
6 Jul 2009 - Ismail Haniyeh tells reporters that several Abbas-backed men arrested for channeling 'false information.' 

Al-Qaida suspected of plotting attack on Israel-Egypt gas lines
6 Jul 2009 - Same cell is believed to be behind a February bomb attack at Cairo's famous Khan el-Khalili market. 

Iran vows 'real and decisive' response if attacked by Israel
6 Jul 2009 - U.S. and Israel are aware of the consequence of an erroneous decision, says Tehran parliament official. 

U.S.: Letting Israel act freely on Iran isn't policy change
5 Jul 2009 - Vice President tells ABC: U.S. won't stop Israeli strike on Iran, regardless of what Obama does. 

Israel won't base submarines in Red Sea, says defense official
5 Jul 2009 - Speculations arose after Israeli Dolphin-class submarine took part in drill of Eilat last week. 

Israel charges Gaza man with plotting mass terror attack
5 Jul 2009 - Militant suspected of obtaining Shin Bet intelligence information, working to create network in Israel. 

Ma'an News

Brothers imprisoned by PA without charge for two years go on hunger strike
7/8/2009 - Tulkarem – Ma’an – Brothers held in a PA prison are on their fourth day of a hunger strike protesting their two-years of detention without trial, their father said Wednesday. Mu’ammar and Muthanna Muhammad Shahrour from Bal’a village east of Tulkarem were detained on 18 April 2007 on charges of killing a Nablus schoolteacher, Rashid Al-Bazari. The two were ordered released on 23 October 2007 but remain in the Bitunia prison in Ramallah. Their father appealed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to ensure the men were released immediately. [end] 

Europe takes note as Israel denies physicians entry into Strip
7/8/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli forces at Erez crossing were censured by French and British doctors Wednesday, after refusing a delegation of European physicians entry into the Strip where they were slated to perform dozens of teaching surgeries in Gaza hospitals. The British daily newspaper The Guardian quoted French organizer of the humanitarian mission Professor Christophe Oberlin as saying the move violated “basic international humanitarian law principles, [and] the obligations of Israel as the occupying power of the occupied territories. ”The team, who had applied for permission to enter Gaza and received appropriate documentation from Israeli authorities, attempted to enter the Strip Sunday and Monday. Dr Sonia Robbins, a reconstructive plastic surgeon who has assisted Gazan doctors with complex surgeries in the past, told The Guardian: "I don't know why we are being. . . 

Israel slams EC despite UN, World Bank, ICJ backing claims
7/8/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - “Israel strongly rejects the political allegations made by a European Commission technical assistant regarding the impact of Israeli security measures and settlements on the Palestinian economy,” a statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry said late Tuesday. The criticism was directed at a short news release from the European Commission’s Office, four paragraphs long, which announced the seventh payment from the EU-initiated PEGASE fund of Palestinian Authority civil servants salaries. “At the same,” the statement continued, “the European Commission expressed concern that Israel's settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory constrain economic growth, reduce the PA's revenues and are therefore likely to keep the PA dependent on donor funding for many years to come. ”Israel’s response to the expressed concern was to call in the EC representative. . . 

Israeli police fine European delegation’s Hebron city guides following settler attack
7/8/2009 - Hebron – Ma’an – An Israeli military fined two Palestinians 500 shekels each for “interfering with Israeli police” as the two guided a European delegation through the streets of Hebron Wednesday. The guides, Khaled Dudin and Muhammad Rabay’a, were accompanying the city mayor and a dozen European delegates when settlers occupying Palestinian homes in the city center began harassing the group. Hebron’s Mayor Dr Hussein Al-Araj said the settlers were attacking the group and the guides stepped in to intervene and began yelling at the settlers. Israeli police arrived at the scene and the riled-up guides yelled at them to halt the rash settler behavior. Police arrested the men and brought them to the station where they were fined. 

Two Gaza crossings open, third closed; bare minimum of goods transferred
7/8/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Limited quantities of fuel and 88-98 truckloads of food, and other goods will pass through two open crossings into the besieged Gaza Strip Wednesday, said crossings official Raed Fattouh. Kerem Shalom was set to deliver 88-98 truckloads of humanitarian aid, agricultural and commercial merchandise to Gaza, while the Nahal Oz terminal will allow the transfer of limited amounts of cooking gas and industrial diesel for the Gaza power plant. The Karni crossing, used to ship grain, will be closed, the official said. Before Israel imposed its siege on the Gaza Strip at least 400 truckloads of goods per day entered the area. Israeli crossings officials have said the bare minimum of basic goods will be permitted into the Strip so long as factions continue to hold captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. 

Settler takeover of East Jerusalem home thwarted by Fatah officials
7/8/2009 - Jerusalem – Ma’an – Senior Fatah figures rallied to prevent a group of Israeli settlers from occupying a home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah Tuesday night, Jerusalem official Hatem Albul-Qader said. According to reports, the settlers went accompanied by Israeli forces to take over a home they alleged was abandoned, though it is owned by Jerusalemite Suleiman Hejazi who holds deeds to the land the home is built on dating back to the 1940s. Half a dozen Fatah figures gathered at the home, including Minister for Jerusalem Affairs for the caretaker government Hatem Abudl Qader and Fatah spokesperson in Jerusalem Demitri Deliani in addition to other senior officials, remained at the home insisting it was Palestinian property and could not be taken over. Though heated arguments took place between the Fatah men, settlers and soldiers, no clashes were reported. 

Israel: 13 Palestinians detained from across the West Bank
7/8/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli troops invaded several West Bank areas in the early hours of Wednesday morning and detained 13 Palestinians, Israeli Radio said. According to the report they were all on Israel’s list of “wanted” men and women. Those overpowered and taken into Israeli custody will reportedly be taken in for questioning at an unnamed location. [end] 

Israel detains four from southern West Bank village
7/8/2009 - Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli troops detained four from Tarqumiya village west of Hebron Wednesday afternoon. Troops overran several quarters of the village, searched a dozen homes and detained youth identified as:Ala Mazen Dababseh, Yazan Ahmad Al-Mraktan, Raef Muhammad Kababjeh, Abdel Karim Tanineh. [end] 

Israel detains three north of Salfit
7/8/2009 - Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli troops overran on Deir Isteya village north of Salfit and detained three young men after raiding their houses. Palestinian sources said identified those detained as Sehrab Wade’a, Saher Abdel Aziz Salman and Jalal Abdel Latif Salman. [end] 

Hamas: We will have our rights and not bow to 'Quartet conditions'
7/8/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Gazans have the right to continue resisting a violent Israeli siege and occupation, and they have the right to be represented by the party they democratically elected, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said Tuesday night. “We will demand our rights and not bow to the conditions of the Middle East Quartet,” Abu Zuhri announced at a rally in Gaza City condemning the Israeli blockade of the coastal region. “They [the Quartet] have several options around how they want to deal with our position,” he added. The international position on connecting reconstruction to national reconciliation is a violation of the human rights of Gazans, Abu Zuhri declared, “It is our right to fight against oppression and continue resistance, and it is the right of our citizens to rebuild after Israel destroyed homes and businesses. 

Hamas denies Israeli reports of renewed Shalit talks
7/8/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hamas leaders have received no formal information from Egypt about the resumption of prisoner-swap talks and not drafted a new list of prisoners for the swap, spokesman Usamah Al-Mizeini said Wednesday. He added, however, that Hamas leaders did not rule out the possibility of returning to the negotiating table when Israel was ready to meet its demands. Israel’s Channel Ten reported Tuesday night around the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 450 listed Palestinian prisoners in Israel will resume, immediately, “from the point they left off four months ago,” under then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. An Israeli Channel Two claimed that Hamas prepared a new list of prisoners to be released in trade for Shalit. In the previous talks Olmert and his cabinet would not okay the release of between 50-100 of the names specified. . . 

Israeli paper announces US 'go ahead' for settlement construction
7/8/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli media tentatively announced an “okay” from the United States to continue building 2,500 settlements in the West Bank in Wednesday reports. The Israeli Hebrew daily Ma’ariv broke the story citing unnamed sources, while Yedioth Ahronoth reported Israel and the United States were "close to an agreement on settlements. ” The left-leaning Haaretz English publication reported both the Ma’ariv and Yedioth stories. The latter paper also sought statements from Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev, who had “no comment” on the issue, and the same answer came from the US embassy in Tel Aviv. [end] 

Fatah: Members prevented from leaving Strip
7/8/2009 - Gaza - Ma’an- The de facto government security forces confiscated the passports of a Fatah member in the Ministry of Finance and his wife and prevented to two from exiting the Strip via the Erez crossing, a Fatah statement said. The couple were informed that they are on the list of people who are prevented from traveling and were requested to report to the de facto government's security office in Gaza City. Musa Al-Wazir and his wife Zainab were leaving Gaza so she could receive medical treatment in Egypt. Zainab works in the de facto government’s Ministry of Education, according to Fatah officials in Gaza the two are "senior members" of the movement. According to the the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) "It is believed that these measures are intended to prevent the individuals from traveling, a violation of the right to freedom of movement. 

Hamas: PA forces arrest 11 supporters across West Bank
7/8/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Palestinian Authority security forces detained 11 Hamas members and supporters from across the West Bank Tuesday night, a party statement said. Hamas officials said those taken were from the Hebron area, as well as Nablus, Tulkarem and Jericho. [end] 

Independent Palestinians push for unity in high-level meetings
7/8/2009 - Gaza - Ma’an - Independent figures active in the quest for Palestinian unity have been working intensively in Palestine and the Arab world to end the political arrests file, widely seen as the major sticking point to conciliation, spokesman for the independents Dr Yasser Al-Wadieah said Wednesday. Al-Wadieah explained that a network of independent figures has been contacting Hamas and Fatah officials in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as Egyptian mediators of the dialogue effort in an effort to secure the release of all political detainees and secure a unity pact by the end of the month. “We are working on this because we believe it is in the national interest,” the independent figure said, “we must end division and unite against Israeli plans. ”Independent figures are working with supporters of the unity talks including members of the Arab League. 

PA to liaise with Jerusalem NGOs to support residents
7/8/2009 - Jerusalem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority will use non-governmental organizations to help fill in the government’s “shortcomings towards the residents of Jerusalem” Palestinian Minister of Social Affairs Majeda Al-Masri said in an interview last week. Israeli authorities made it illegal for the Palestinian Authority to operate in East Jerusalem, occupied and annexed to Israel after the 1967 war, and announced PA presence in the city illegal based on the classification of Jerusalem as a “final status” issue as yet un-resolved following the outbreak of the second Intifadah in 2000. “Jerusalem is a top priority for the government and Ministry of Social Affairs,” Al-Masri promised, “we are concerned about residents living under the wide rage Israel exacts on residents of the city, which affects all aspects of their lives. 

MOH: Two more H1N1 cases in Ramallah
7/8/2009 - Nablus – Ma’an – Another Palestinian arriving home from the United States was diagnosed with H1N1 on Wednesday, as well as a second man from Ramalah, the Ministry of Health said. Dr Sa’id Ar-Ramlawi, Head of Health Care at the Palestinian health ministry, confirmed that there have been 71 confirmed diagnoses, but no deaths. [end] 

The National

Achieving two states without a solution
8 Jul 2009 - Comment: Israel has been quietly assembling a framework for handing over a battered Gaza and West Bank without surrendering real control.

Israel strike threat on Iran back on table
6 Jul 2009 - Analysts are divided over whether the recent media noise indicates anything more than political posturing.

Minister calls for housing partition
5 Jul 2009 - Controversial plans to create an ultra-Orthodox Jewish town in the north of Israel are part of a plan to prevent an Arab takeover' of region. 

Saudi air space is not open' for attack on Iran 
5 Jul 2009 - Saudi analysts reject media reports the kingdom has given permission to Israel to use its air space for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Biden: US will not stand in Israel's way on Iran
5 Jul 2009 - The US vice president says America cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do . 


Iran attacks Biden's Israel remarks
7 Jul 2009 - Reacting to interview, Ali Larijani says US will be held responsible for any attack.

Egypt asks Israel to push for peace
7 Jul 2009 - Mubarak says Israeli leaders need political will to take difficult decisions peace.

Egypt funeral for stabbing victim
6 Jul 2009 - Egyptian woman killed in a knife attack in a Dresden courtroom is laid to rest.

Iran official urges media crackdown
5 Jul 2009 - Judiciary head wants "anti-regime satellite channels and websites" to be confronted.


OPT: Gaza-Egypt crossing to open three days a month 
GAZA CITY Thursday, July 02, 2009 (IRIN) - Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border opened briefly on 25, 26 and 27 June allowing Gaza patients in need of emergency care, students, and foreign visa holders to exit. 

ISRAEL-OPT: By the numbers 
TEL AVIV Tuesday, June 30, 2009 (IRIN) - A new report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) paints a grim picture of life in the Gaza Strip: insufficient housing, damaged infrastructure, limited access to clean water and the discharge of raw sewage into the sea. 

MIDDLE EAST: Swine flu cases on the rise
DUBAI Thursday, June 25, 2009 (IRIN) - The number of cases of the A(H1N1) virus, otherwise known as swine flu, is growing in the Middle East, with many new suspected and confirmed cases in the past few days, but so far no one has died of the disease.

Inter Press Service

RIGHTS-US: Muslim Groups Seek Reform of Charity Blacklisting 
NEW YORK, Jul 8 (IPS) - While President Barack Obama conceded in his speech in Cairo last month that U.S. rules on charitable giving "have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation", civil rights advocates are pressing the president to turn his words into action.

U.S.: Obama Discredits 'Green Light' for Israeli Attack on Iran 
WASHINGTON, Jul 7 (IPS) - Seeking to end speculation about whether his administration had eased its opposition to an Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday insisted that Washington's position remained unchanged.

RIGHTS: New Charges Added to Blackwater Lawsuit 
NEW YORK, Jul 7 (IPS) - New charges filed against private security contractor Blackwater accuse the company of murder, destruction of audio and videotaped evidence, distribution of controlled substances, tax evasion, child prostitution, and weapons smuggling.

TURKEY: Constitutional Crisis Escalating 
ANKARA, Jul 7 (IPS) - Tension between the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the high command of the Armed Forces (TSK) has escalated to new heights after a series of political coups and counter-coups.

Stop The Wall

New report denounces Israeli aggression against Palestinian communities
8 Jul 2009 - “Repression allowed, resistance denied: Israel’s suppression of the popular movement against the Apartheid Wall”, a joint report from Stop the Wall Campaign and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association examines Israel’s policies of arrest, detention and violent repression against Palestinian Popular Committees engaged in the struggle against the construction of Wall. Five years after the International Court of Justice’s landmark advisory opinion declaring the illegality of the Wall being constructed in the occupied Palestinian territory, the attention of those committed to the principles of international law should turn to the plight of those attempting to resist the Wall’s construction. [

Naomi Klein in the West Bank
3 Jul 2009 - Canadian author and activists Naomi Klein visited Palestine this past week for the release of the translation of her book, The Shock Doctrine. Mrs. Klein visited the village of Bil'in, where she held a press conference explaining her position on boycott. The following night, she spoke in front of pack hall in Ramallah about the importance of the global BDS campaign and why the Israeli establishment is so threatened by the movement. [

PCHR Latest

(08 July)  On 5th Anniversary of ICJ Advisory Opinion on ‘The Wall’ PCHR Highlight Israel’s Continued Violations of International Law, and the International Community’s Complicity in Illegal Acts

(08 July)  Individuals’ Passports Requisitioned to Prevent Them from Traveling ..::..

PCHR Weekly Report

(25 June- 01 July  2008)
During the reporting period, 5 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were wounded by IOF gunfire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

International Solidarity Movement

Israeli to UN: Palestinian detainees kept in ditches
International Solidarity Movement - YNet News, 7 July 2009 - A member of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) testified in Geneva on Tuesday before a United Nations investigation teamlooking into the Israeli offensivein Gaza about half a year ago. Attorney Majd Bader, an Arab Israeli, told the committee that Palestinians detained by Israel during Operation Cast Lead were held in detention under ‘disgraceful" conditions and were subjected to violent Shin Bet interrogations and constant threats. Speaking to Ynet, Bader said that during his testimony he spoke of the "acute problems of Gazans who are being held in Israeli prisons. ""Some of them said the IDF held detainees in ditches that had been prepared in advance; 50 to 70 people were squeezed into ditches two to three meters (6. 5-10 feet) deep and some 50 meters (164 feet) wide," he said. 

Israel criticised for thwarting medical mission to Palestinian territories
International Solidarity Movement - The Guardian, 7 July 2009 - Israel was yesterday criticised after it refused to allow a group of doctors on a humanitarian mission organised by the French government to enter Gaza. The team, including three British medics, was turned back by Israeli border guards on Sunday and Monday. They say their mission is purely humanitarian, aimed to helping those in medical need, and some of whom were left injured and in need of surgery after Israel's attack on Gaza earlier this year. One of the Britons refused entry to Gaza, Sonia Robbins, who is a reconstructive plastic surgeon, said: "I don't know why we are being refused permission to enter. "The consequences are that patients will not be operated on, children will have to wait until next time for surgery, and that won't happen until six months time. "I think it is unacceptable to refuse a humanitarian mission. . . . " 

PCHR: Highlights of Israel’s continued violations of international law on the 5th anniversary of the ICJ advisory opinion on the Apartheid Wall
International Solidarity Movement - Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 8 July 2009 - On 5th Anniversary of ICJ Advisory Opinion on "˜The Wall' PCHR Highlight Israel's Continued Violations of International Law, and the International Community's Complicity in Illegal Acts 9 July 2009 marks the five year anniversary of the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) landmark Advisory Opinion on "˜the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. ' This Advisory Opinion marked the first time that the ICJ turned its attention to the Israel-Palestine conflict. In its Advisory Opinion, which represents an authoritative interpretation of international law, the ICJ held, inter alia, that: the construction of the Wall and its associated administrative regime are illegal and amount to de facto annexation; the Wall violates Palestinians' legitimate right to self determination; the. . . 

Fmr. Congressmember Cynthia McKinney back in U.S. after being detained and deported from Israel
International Solidarity Movement - Democracy Now, 8 July 2009 - Guests: Cynthia McKinney, former U. S. Congresswoman and the 2008 Green Party presidential candidate. Adam Shapiro, documentary filmmaker, human rights activist and Palestinian rights activist. Adam was a co-founder of the ISM in Palestine. He was filming the voyage of the Arion for the Free Gaza Movement last week. AMY GOODMAN: Former Congress member Cynthia McKinney arrived back in the United States Tuesday following her deportation from Israel. McKinney was one of 21 activists seized by the Israeli military in international waters last week as they tried to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. Also aboard the Free Gaza boat was Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire. Last week's trip was the Free Gaza movement's first since it aborted an attempt in January after the Israeli navy threatened to shoot the civilian passengers on board. 

Israeli forces arrest Palestinian resident of Beit Ommar
International Solidarity Movement - Palestine Solidarity Project , 8 July 2009 - Yunis Al Alami, a 20 year old resident of Beit Ommar, was arrested by the Israeli army at 2 AM this morning in a military house raid. 3 jeeps carrying approximately 12 soldiers arrived at his home in the middle of the night, arresting him without warrant, charges or explanation. No one knows where he was taken, or when he will be released. Yunis is a student at Hebron University, and life-long resident of Beit Ommar. He was arrested in front of his parents and siblings, including three children. His 22 year old brother, Ahmed Al Alami, was arrested a year ago under similar circumstances, and is still being held without charges in Administrative Detention. The arrest is just one more incident in a series of political arrests of Palestinian youth by the Israeli military in Beit Ommar, including several that lead to Administrative Detention,. . . 

Israeli forces arrest 6 solidarity activists in Beit Ommar
International Solidarity Movement - Palestine Solidarity Project , 7 July 2009 - On July 7, 2009 at approximately 5pm, an Israeli military official called the mayor of Beit Ommar/ Saffa, Nasri Sabarneh, and informed him that settlers had set fire to some trees in the Abu Jabber Soleiby land in Saffa, just under the illegal Bat "˜Ayn settlement. A group of internationals, including one who also holds Israeli ID, went down into the valley to investigate and document the destruction. When they arrived, a group of Israeli soldiers was already present. While the group of internationals quickly began surveying the area, one soldier, Phillip, crossed the valley to a group of 4 activists and told them to leave. The group, who did not find evidence of a new fire (other than the old destruction of June 19, 2009 and June 22, 2009) began leaving the area, accompanied by the one soldier. 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

U.S.: No deal with Israel for construction of 2,500 settlement homes
8 Jul 2009 - The United States denied Wednesday that it has reached a compromise that would allow Israel to complete the construction of 2,500 housing units in West Bank settlements. ...

Sarkozy: G8 giving Iran talks until September
8 Jul 2009 - Major powers in the Group of Eight will give negotiations with Iran a chance until September, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday, upping the stakes in a dispute over the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions. ...

EU official: No chance of settlements deal with Israel
8 Jul 2009 - A senior European Union official rules out any compromise with Israel over the issue of settlements, unless reached in the framework of a final-status agreement with the Palestinians. ... 

Netanyahu aide blasts Israel's 'abominable' past failure on Iran
8 Jul 2009 - National Security Council head Uzi Arad says in an exclusive interview in Friday's Haaretz Magazine that the Benjamin Netanyahu government has inherited a "scorched earth" policy on the Iranian nuclear threat from the last administration. ...

Netanyahu's 'weakness' is good for Israel
8 Jul 2009 - Benjamin Netanyahu has absorbed 100 smears, one for each day on the job. Who has not excoriated the "squeezable" - now the most fashionable word in town - prime minister? Granted, this is not a bottle of catsup we are talking about, but rather a sitting prime minister. Nonetheless, there are advantages in this particular trait of Netanyahu's, even if it is, of course, limited consolation. ... 

The Guardian

The Dayton force dilemma | Nicholas Blincoe
8 Jul 2009 - A US-led Palestinian security force is said to be a barrier to unity government, but has brought a welcome calm to the West Bank A small battalion of soldiers had taken control of the main junction...

Israel criticised for thwarting humanitarian mission to Palestinian territories
7 Jul 2009 - • Border guards turn away team including British medics • Doctors had planned to perform surgeries on children Israel was yesterday criticised after it refused to allow a group of doctors on a humanitarian mission organised...

Israel deports former US politician and Nobel laureate
6 Jul 2009 - Israel has deported a former US congresswoman, a Nobel peace prize laureate and six other activists who were trying to break the naval blockade of the Gaza strip, Israeli officials said. It was the latest in...

Religious dogma has no place in the IDF | Seth Freedman
6 Jul 2009 - Secular Israelis are increasingly concerned that the army is falling into the clutches of the national religious camp A storm is brewing in Israel over the Israel Defence Forces' (IDF) chief rabbi's opposition to women serving...

Ha'aretz National page

Israel rabbi proposes 'virtual' kashrut supervision - via video cameras
8 Jul 2009 - The extended hours at Be'er Sheva bars and restaurants have brought the proprietors an additional expense: paying kashrut supervisors. So the city's chief rabbi, Yehuda Deri, proposed a solution: placing cameras in restaurant kitchens in order to send video feeds straight to the supervisors of Jewish dietary law. ... 

Low-cost carrier easyJet to launch new U.K.-Israel route
8 Jul 2009 - Low-cost carrier easyJet PLC said Wednesday that it will open a new service from England to Israel later this year. ...

Israel botanists discover plant that waters itself
7 Jul 2009 - A team of researchers from the University of Haifa have stumbled upon a rare desert plant living in Israel's mountainous Negev desert, which can irrigate itself. ...

Relief Web

OPT: Success story - Installation of main water line in Naqura
8 Jul 2009 - Source: US Agency for International Development

OPT: PM Netanyahu orders expansion of the Allenby border terminal's operating hours
8 Jul 2009 - Source: Government of Israel

OPT: Five years on, Israel continues to disregard the ICJ's Advisory Opinion on the Wall - OHCHR statement
8 Jul 2009 - Source: UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

OPT: Egypt's Red Crescent to send 3,000 tons of foodstuffs to Palestinians
8 Jul 2009 - Source: Government of Egypt

OPT: Individuals' passports requisitioned to prevent them from traveling
8 Jul 2009 - Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

OPT: On 5th anniversary of ICJ advisory opinion on The Wall' PCHR highlight Israel's continued violations of International Law, and the international community's complicity in illegal acts 
8 Jul 2009 - Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

OPT: Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children enhances the scope of services delivery for deaf children and their families
8 Jul 2009 - Source: Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children

OPT: Another day at an Israeli checkpoint
8 Jul 2009 - Source: Palestine Monitor

YNet News

EU apologizes for statements against settlements
8 Jul 2009 - Foreign Ministry says satisfied after EU apologizes for statement made by one of its officials in which he claimed European taxes were paying for damage caused by settlements. Meanwhile US State Department clarifies administration's position remains unchanged

France: 4 Jews suspected of attacking Palestinian store
8 Jul 2009 - Paris: Four youths connected to 'Jewish Defense League' arrested on suspicion they vandalized book store owned by pro-Palestinian couple. 'How can France consider itself democracy when problem of Palestine exists?' said store owner

Cell sent by Hezbollah to attack Israeli embassy
8 Jul 2009 - Azerbaijan media publish segments from hearing of 2 Lebanese, 4 locals accused of planning terror attack on Israeli embassy in capital city, Baku. According to indictment, suspects admit to being sent by Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and al-Qaeda

UN envoy hopes Israel to withdraw from Lebanese border village 
8 Jul 2009 - UN special coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams briefs UN Security Council on Lebanese border, says "hopes to see progress in next quarter.' Netanyahu reportedly favors withdrawal from Ghajar, village straddling Israeli-Lebanese border

Hamas demands Fatah extend parliament's term
8 Jul 2009 - Islamist group planning to add demand from rival faction in reconciliation talk, Ynet has learned. Hamas believes parliament's term should be extended because Israeli arrests of lawmakers, international boycott have prevented movement from realizing its power 

Fayyad urges UN to press Israel on fence
8 Jul 2009 - Palestinian Authority marks five years since Hague ruling condemning separation barrier, calls on international community to intervene. 'Israel continues to challenge the international ruling through the 'Judaization' of Jerusalem and the expansion of the settlements," Palestinian PM Fayyad's government says 

Netanyahu aide: US contrasting with Israel on Iran 
8 Jul 2009 - In response to US Vice President Biden's comments that 'Israel can decide for itself' whether to attack Iran over the country's purported nuclear development, Netanyahu's National Security Advisor Uzi Arad said US's comments directed at Iran, not Israel

Barak: Soldiers made up for senior officer's mistakes
8 Jul 2009 - 'Hezbollah misinterpreted our restraint,' defense minister says at memorial ceremony marking three years since Second Lebanon War. Knesset Speaker Rivlin: 'In many ways this terrible war opened our eyes'


High Court orders harsher indictment in Ni'lin shooting
30 Jun 2009 - In July '08, a soldier shot a handcuffed detainee in the presence of his commander, yet the two were charged only with “unbecoming conduct”. Today, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled in favor of changing the indictments to reflect the gravity of the 

New report: Foul Play
27 Jun 2009 - In its new report B'Tselem warns about the danger inherent in neglecting wastewater treatment in the West Bank. The report criticizes both Israel and the Palestinian Authority for their failures, which have harmed the health and future water supply of all

Palestinian Information Center

Omamah website exposed to closure attempts by PA and Israel
8 Jul 2009 - The Omamah website affiliated with Hamas was blocked once again on Tuesday after many previous attempts to close it by the Palestinian authorities in Ramallah and the Israeli intelligence.

Hamas: Arresting Hanbali rebuts Abbas’s denial of practicing political arrests
8 Jul 2009 - Hamas spokesman Abu Zuhri stated that the kidnapping of Omar Al-Hanbali after his release refutes the claims made by Abbas denying his involvement in practicing the policy of political arrests.

Change and reform bloc denounces IOF kidnap of MP's son
8 Jul 2009 - The change and reform parliamentary bloc, affiliated with Hamas Movement, on Wednesday denounced the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) for kidnapping the son of MP Fathi Al-Qar'awi.

Number of siege victims rose to 349
8 Jul 2009 - The number of victims of the Israeli siege on Gaza has risen to 349 after the death of Abdul Halim Zurub, who was suffering from a brain tumor, the health ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Hamas: No change in list of prisoners to be freed in return for Shalit
8 Jul 2009 - Hamas on Wednesday denied press reports that it was pondering a change in the list of prisoners names tabled with the IOA to be freed in return for the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israel forces Palestinian citizen to demolish his home in O. Jerusalem
8 Jul 2009 - Palestinian sources in occupied Jerusalem reported that the IOA coerced a Palestinian citizen into demolishing part of his home in Beit Hanina neighborhood at the pretext of unlicensed construction.

Delegation of European campaign to meet Solana today
8 Jul 2009 - A delegation of the European campaign for ending the siege is expected to meet on Wednesday with Javier Solana to explore ways of lifting the Israeli blockade imposed on impoverished Gaza people.

DFLP: Abbas's security imprisons NRB elements
8 Jul 2009 - Central committee member of DFLP Talal Abu Dharifa has revealed that West Bank security apparatuses loyal to former PA chief Mahmoud Abbas were holding elements of his Front's armed wing.

Al-Ghoul: IOA still detains 36 MPs and 3 former ministers
8 Jul 2009 - The minister of prisoners' affairs in the PA government in Gaza, Mohammed Al-Ghoul, sent his congratulations to MP Ibrahim Abu Salem on his release after serving 38 months in IOA jails.

Haneyya gov’t condemns PA security for its ongoing arrest campaigns in West Bank
8 Jul 2009 - The government denounced the PA security apparatuses for the persistent arrest campaigns in the West Bank especially against women, stressing that these arrests have no moral or legal dimension.

Los Angeles Times

Ahmadinejad says his reelection gave him a mandate 
8 Jul 2009 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the vote, despite being derided by critics, was the 'freest and the healthiest election the world has ever seen.' Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday declared that his disputed reelection gave him a mandate to continue his domestic and international policies and spoke out defiantly against the West in a televised speech meant to shore up his legitimacy amid continued political turmoil. 

French Iran-ophile takes unexpected trip -- to prison 
8 Jul 2009 - Clotilde Reiss has been fascinated by Iran since she was a child. Now she finds herself in the notorious Evin Prison, accused of espionage, a charge her friends call absurd. The young, quiet Frenchwoman became fascinated with Iran not because she wanted to fight against Islamic radicalism or because she was lured by the mystique of the Orient, like most scholars, but for more mundane reasons. 

Obama: U.S. has 'absolutely not' given OK for Israeli strike on Iran 
8 Jul 2009 - The president clarifies a statement by Vice President Joe Biden suggesting that the U.S. would stand aside if Israel wanted to launch an attack. President Obama, issuing an unusual clarification of his vice president's words, said Tuesday that his administration had "absolutely not" given its blessing for an Israeli attack on Iran. 

New York Times

Lod Journal: Polishing a Lost Gem to Dazzle Tourists
8 Jul 2009 - Officials in a poor town hope that a 1,700-year-old mosaic floor, one of the largest and finest tiled floors in Israel, will help restore their city’s past glory. 

Iran Releases Prisoners, but Still Holds 500 After Protests
8 Jul 2009 - A human rights group in New York says the government is continuing to make arrests after demonstrations protesting the disputed presidential election. 

A Peek Inside Iran Shows Protests Fading Under Withering Gaze
8 Jul 2009 - Interviews with Iranians in an Iraqi border town paint a picture of a polarized nation and a government that appears to be succeeding in silencing dissent. 


Israel Kept Palestinian Detainees in Ditches Without Food and Water - Antiwar. com, July 7, 2009 - UN Says 'Too Early' to Declare War Crimes - As the United Nations wrapped up the testimony gathering portion of its investigation into the Israeli war against the Gaza Strip, an Israeli human rights group today described the “disgraceful” treatment of some of the detainees held during the war. The group reported that the Israeli military kept the detainees in ditches, handcuffed and blindfolded, with no access to food, water or restroom facilities. The detainees were subjected to violent interrogations by Shin Bet, and their families were threatened. Many are still being held with no access to their lawyers. The Israeli government has declined to cooperate in any way with the probe, and abandoned its own probe despite several Israeli soldiers making serious accusations. The official position is that the military acted appropriately and even admirably in the war and the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians. 

State Department Denies Israel Settlements ‘Deal’ - Antiwar. com, July 8, 2009 - Israeli Paper Claims US Approved 2,500 Housing Units in Settlements - Following repeated reports that the US was in talks to find “common ground” with the Israeli government on the question of settlement growth, Israeli newspaper Maariv announced today that the United States had endorsed the continued expansion of the settlements, giving the green light to 2,500 housing units currently planned. The State Department denied the report, claiming that the US position has not changed. Spokesman Ian Kelly said “you know what our position is regarding settlements. ” President Obama has demanded that the Israeli government halt all construction in the West Bank. The Israeli government has repeatedly rejected the Obama Administration’s position, insisting it is unfair and that construction in the settlements will continue. 

Israeli activist goes on the record for Gaza 
Press TV - Press TV, 8 Jul 2009 - An Israeli human rights activist says detainees were held with no access to food, water or restrooms and subjected to violent interrogations during the Gaza war. Attorney Majd Bader of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) testified in Geneva on Tuesday before a UN investigation team that is probing into the three-week Israeli onslaught against Gaza which started in December. Bader told the committee that Palestinians seized during Operation Cast Lead were held in detention under "disgraceful" conditions and were subjected to violent interrogations by Israel Security Agency (ISA) -- commonly known as Shin bet. Israeli forces held detainees in ditches where "50 to 70 people were squeezed into ditches two to three meters (6. 5-10 feet) deep and some 50 meters (164 feet) wide," the Arab-Israeli lawyer later told reporters. 

Israel’s spying ’violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty’ 
Press TV - Press TV, 8 Jul 2009 - A top UN envoy says the running of spy networks by Israel in Lebanon is considered a serious violation of the country's sovereignty. "If these allegations are confirmed in court, this would constitute a very serious violation of Lebanon's sovereignty and consequently undermine relevant Security Council resolutions," Michael Williams said on Wednesday. Williams who spoke after briefing the 15-member council on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701, said "As special representative of the Secretary-General (Ban Ki-moon), I am acutely conscious of the great unease and worry that this has caused among the Lebanese. "Ban Ki-moon also expressed concern about reports that Israeli spy cells "have been operating in Lebanon and that the Israeli Defense Forces helped alleged spies to cross from Lebanon into Israel through the Blue Line. "He said that if the allegations were proven, they "could endanger the fragile cessation of hostilities that exists between Israel and Lebanon. " 

Israel criticised for thwarting medical mission to Palestinian territories 
The Guardian - The Guardian, 7 July 2009 - Border guards turn away team including British medics • Doctors had planned to perform surgeries on children - Israel was yesterday criticised after it refused to allow a group of doctors on a humanitarian mission organised by the French government to enter Gaza. The team, including three British medics, was turned back by Israeli border guards on Sunday and Monday. They say their mission is purely humanitarian, aimed to helping those in medical need, and some of whom were left injured and in need of surgery after Israel's attack on Gaza earlier this year. One of the Britons refused entry to Gaza, Sonia Robbins, who is a reconstructive plastic surgeon, said: "I don't know why we are being refused permission to enter. " The consequences are that patients will not be operated on, children will have to wait until next time for surgery, and that won't happen until six months time. 

B’tselem: 37% Increase in Colonies Population in 6 Years
WAFA - Palestine News Agency - TEL AVIV, June 8, 2009 (WAFA)- “Since Israel accepted the Road Map, which mandated a freeze of all settlement activity, the settler population in the West Bank has swelled from 211,400 to over 289,600 - an increase of 37% in six years,” B’tselem reported. In a report issued, Wednesday, B’tselemsa said the Israeli government has used the idea of 'natural growth' as a fig leaf to cover large-scale expansion of Jewish colonies. B’tselem added that the population of Israel increased at a rate of 1. 8%. Among the Jewish population the growth rate is 1. 6%. In that same year, the colonies increased by 5. 6%. Of that figure, a full 40% is directly attributable to immigration, from Israel and abroad. B’tselem continued that, “The Netanyahu government claims that barring 'natural growth' will tear families apart. But, B’tselem argued, people do not have an inalienable right to live in the neighborhood of their choosing. 

VIDEO - Settler assaults Peace Now volunteers, Channel 2 news broadcast 
YouTube - Israel's Channel 2 News report on Peace Now's Settlement Watch program, and an attack by a settler on Peace Now activists. [end] 

U.S. military chief says clock ticking on Iran nuke 
Reuters - Jul 8, 2009, WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U. S. military officer warned on Tuesday that time is running out for dialogue with Tehran to avoid either a nuclear-armed Iran or a possible military strike against the Islamic Republic. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U. S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it is critical for diplomatic efforts to reach a solution before Iran develops a nuclear weapon or faces an Israeli or U. S. strike to turn back its nuclear program. " That window is a very narrow window," Mullen told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. " There's a great deal that certainly depends on the dialogue and the engagement," he said. "I'm hopeful that that dialogue is productive. I worry about it a great deal if it's not. " Mullen noted that some forecasters believe Iran could be as little as a year away from developing a nuclear bomb, adding: "The clock has continued to tick. " 

Syria: No peace talks until Israel halts settlement activity 
Ha'aretz - Ha'aretz, 7/7/2009 - Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Tuesday that Israel must halt activity in West Bank settlements before Damascus considers renewing peace negotiations. Assad told visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier there is no real partner in Israel to make peace, repeating remarks he made last week. Syria has said it is willing to resume indirect peace talks mediated by Turkey as long as they focus on a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Steinmeier, meanwhile, declared during the meeting that regional entities must not waste in laying the groundwork for Middle East peace, adding that none of the sides involved could afford to push off the process of negotiations for another year. After meeting Monday with Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, Steinmeir called on the leadership in Damascus to do everything in its power to ensure a quick peace process. " 


Obama Slouching Towards an Iran War? 
Tony Karon, Rootless Cosmopolitan 7/7/2009
      “The Obama Administration has given Israel a green light to attack Iran.” That was the takeaway reported by leading U.S. news outlets as well the major papers and broadcasters across the spectrum in the Middle East from Sunday’s comments on ABC by Vice President Joe Biden.
     A careful read of the Biden interview transcript, of course, makes clear that while the Vice President kept reiterating that Israel was a sovereign state free to act as it deemed necessary in response to perceived threats, and to which the U.S. could not prescribe, he did also make clear — when asked about whether the U.S. would allow Israeli planes to overfly Iraqi airspace — that the U.S. would act in its own national interest on the Iran question. Given that he noted earlier in the same exchange that an attack on Iran was not in U.S. national interests — or Israel’s, for that matter — the media reporting of the exchange may have distorted his meaning. Indeed, the White House rushed to insist Monday that the U.S. position remained unchanged, and Obama himself underscored on Tuesday that he had NOT given Israel any such “green light”, and had instead told it to allow diplomacy to work. Biden, he said, had simply “stated a fact”, i.e. that Israel is a sovereign country that will make its own security decisions. (And the Israelis helpfully came out with reports suggesting that the Netanyahu government won’t ask permission — a frankly fanciful claim.)
     Unfortunately, Obama’s “sovereignty” argument is not good enough. Unless the White House declares loudly and clearly not only that it opposes any attack on Iran by Israel, but also that it will do whatever is in its power to prevent such an attack, the Obama Administration will be read as having made a plausibly-deniable but nonetheless real threat that Iran faces military action. The Great Sage of Statecraft, Dennis Ross (wait, what exactly are his achievements, again?) may think such ambiguity is devilishly clever, but it’s more likely to bring closer a war Obama obviously doesn’t want, helping him bring about through act and omission a strategic catastrophe that would dwarf Bush’s Iraq misadventure.

The Elephant in the Room: Israel’s Nuclear Weapons 
David Morrison, Electronic Intifada, Common Dreams 7/7/2009
      At a White House press conference on 18 May 2009, US President Barack Obama expressed "deepening concern" about "the potential pursuit of a nuclear weapon by Iran." He continued:
     "Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon would not only be a threat to Israel and a threat to the United States, but would be profoundly destabilizing in the international community as a whole and could set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East."
     By his side was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the room with them, there was an elephant, a large and formidably destructive elephant, which they and the assembled press pretended not to see.
     I am, of course, referring to Israel’s actual nuclear weapons systems, with which Netanyahu is capable of doing to numerous cities in the Middle East, including Tehran, what the US did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
     Iran, by contrast, has no nuclear weapons. The US President said so himself in Prague on 5 April 2009 in his major speech on nuclear disarmament. "Iran has yet to build a nuclear weapon," he admitted.
     Obama’s remark that "Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon" would be "profoundly destabilizing" and "could set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East" is profoundly dishonest. In reality, the race started in the early 1950s when Israel launched its nuclear weapons program.
     Let us suppose for a moment that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, capable of producing effective nuclear warheads and the means of delivering them to Israel, within a few years. Would that make Iran a serious threat to Israel, as Obama said? Of course not.

Electronic Intifada
Offering Israel new opportunities for obstruction
8 Jul 2009 - Israel has never been short of pretexts for obstructing progress towards a Middle East peace settlement. But recent moves to push Arab and Muslim states to normalize ties with Israel as a reward for agreeing to freeze settlement construction will likely provide Israel with more opportunities for obstruction rather than incentives for cooperation. Hasan Abu Nimah comments. 

Six months later, no reconstruction in Gaza
8 Jul 2009 - Mahmoud Abu al-Anzain and his wife, Umm Naim, and their three children used to live in a two-room, cement-roofed house. It wasn't a palace, but it was a home. The house was completely destroyed by Israeli army fire during last January's assault on the Gaza Strip. Six months later, the family is among those still living in tents. Rami Almeghari reports for The Electronic Intifada. 

Elections only fortify Lebanon's sectarian politics
7 Jul 2009 - Lebanon's elections last month confirmed yet again that in this tiny Mediterranean country, sectarian politics are paramount. Long gone from the collective consciousness are the lessons of the 15-year civil war that began as a political and class dispute and descended into sectarian enmity. Forgotten also are the post-war years that led up to the recent elections and were characterized by the ebb and flow of civil strife. Sami Halabi comments for Electronic Lebanon. 

Melbourne International Film Festival urged to not promote apartheid
7 Jul 2009 - The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is writing with grave concern over the Melbourne International Film Festival's cultural partnership with the Israeli state, as advertised in its promotional material. We write to urge the festival not to accept Israeli government funding or sustain this partnership with a state that practices occupation, colonialism and apartheid. 

In Gaza
lost tranquility
8 Jul 2009 - “Mohammed, Mohammed, and Ibrahim were their names. We used to love going out of Beit Hanoun a little ways to our favourite open area. We’d smoke nargila, drink tea, listen to music, cry…whatever, we were in a quiet place, alone but together, friends.” Ahmed, 24, has lived through some of Gaza’s worst years, including the last massacre, 3 weeks of non-stop Israeli bombing throughout Gaza. “ November 2006 was also a bad time in Beit Hanoun . The Israelis killed 18 people, almost all from the same family. And there were many other invasions,” terrible times, he explained. “I love this town, but it’s hard living here.” “The worst for me...

Palestine Chronicle
Forget the Headlines: Iraqi Freedom Deferred
8 Jul 2009 - By Ramzy Baroud As US combat troops redeployed to the outskirts of Iraqi cities on June 30, well-staged celebrations commenced. The pro-US Iraqi government declared “independence day” as police vehicles roamed the streets of war-weary Iraq in an unpersuasive show of national rejoicing. US mainstream media joined the chorus, as if commemorating the end of an era. Meanwhile, top US administration and army officials cautioned Iraqis of their own recklessness. “Biden Warns Iraq About Reverting to Sectarian Violence,” read a New York Times headline. “What will it take to make a good exit from Iraq?” inquired a Kansas City Star analysis. But missing from news headlines and commentary was any indication of direct US responsibility for the genocide that has befallen Iraq. How can one claim that US ambitions in Iraq have altered if the ongoing legacy in Iraq is being perceived as a strategic mistake, rather than a moral one? One thing remains the same, for sure: and that is the arrogance that has long permeated US relations with Iraq. “The president and I appreciate that Iraq has traveled a great distance over the past year, but there is a hard road ahead if Iraq is going to find lasting peace and stability,” said Vice President Biden during a visit to Baghdad on July 3rd. Biden’s remarks were saturated with the same hubris that defined the former administration’s attitude towards Iraq for years: ‘we did our share, that of liberating you, and now its your turn to take charge...

Once the Two-state Solution is Declared Dead
8 Jul 2009 - By Hasan Afif El-Hasan President Obama said his administration was committed to pursuing lasting peace and stability in the Middle East, but there is doubt as to whether he will be willing to pressure Israel to end the 40-year occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem which is a requirement for a durable peace. While continues to state in his speeches to Arab and Muslim audience that he believes the security of Israel is “paramount”, he ignores the security needs of the Palestinians. He praised the Arab peace initiative; but his focus was only on Arab states normalization with Israel and nothing about ending the occupation. In his first visit to the region, George Mitchell, Obama’s envoy to the Middle East who came to “listen rather than to dictate” refused to listen to any representative from Hamas movement, which won the 2006 legislative elections and currently controls Gaza, because it does not meet the Israeli conditions. Mitchell listened only to the US allies in the Arab countries whose opinion has already been known. And he did not visit Gaza, the site of the recent unspeakable massacres committed by Israel’s military that took the lives and maimed thousands; and reduced homes, schools, mosques, government civil administration and civil infrastructures to rubble. The tone of President Obama’s speeches and interviews differ substantially from those of his predecessor, but on the Palestinian issue, he works within the same parameters drawn by the Bush administration. His continuous support to the Israeli collective...

Al Franken, Chickenhawk
8 Jul 2009 - By Anthony Gregory I used to love Franken on Saturday Night Live. Although his Stuart Smally character got old very quickly, he did a wonderful Paul Tsongas impression. I’d link to an example on YouTube, but NBC takes its intellectual property very seriously and therefore hundreds of the most humorous bits ever to air on late night television have been tragically withheld from us. I enjoyed his 2003 book Lies (And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them): A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Well, I enjoyed the first half, much of which was a trenchant critique of modern, Fox-style conservatism. Some of the worst distortions of the Bush-era right were properly put in their place. The second half was just left-liberal boilerplate. But this is what has always stuck in my mind about Franken’s book. It includes an illustrated chapter called “Operation Chickenhawk: Episode One” in which he characterizes many modern war advocates as hypocrites for their effortless success in dodging “service” in Vietnam. The chapter discusses such prominent hawks as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill O’Reilly, and Bill Bennett. But one big problem with this humorous chapter is it includes Pat Buchanan, who, although we might all agree holds many bad positions, including on the Cold War, did not support the Iraq War. But do you know who did? Al Franken. In chapter 41 of Liars, Franken discusses how he was among the many deceived about the war, convinced by Bush of its necessity because, after...

Gaza from a Distance, but on the Horizon
8 Jul 2009 - By Dr. Mona El Farra It has been too long since I have been in contact with all of you. During this time, I have been incredibly busy and my situation has been constantly changing. Traveling between England, where my children live, and Cairo, where I have been fundraising for an urgently needed MRI machine, leaves me watching Gaza from a distance. However, I have had daily contact with my friends and colleagues in Gaza, and have also been visiting Palestinian patients from Gaza in Cairo. Listening to their stories and firsthand accounts reminds of the tragic reality for my people. It is hard to believe that the cardiovascular and cancer patients in Cairo from Gaza are the lucky ones. I have to stop for a moment to recognize what it means to be Gazan: that we refer to some who are terminally ill as the lucky ones. Very few succeed to cross the border of a siege imposed with the help of Egypt, but dictated by Israel and the US, while the vast majority must stay behind the bars in the prison that is Gaza. With broken heart, I watch the sluggish dialogue between Palestinian factions. We live and suffer under the occupation, and the lack of unity makes the problem of living under occupation more complex. By staying divided, we are giving to Israel a golden gift-we know they are no partner in peace, and their first rule as colonizers is to celebrate any divisions, and then conquer....

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