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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
2 September, 2009


International Middle East Media Center

Israel moves detained female reporter to Petah Tikva interrogation center
3 Sep 2009 - The Israeli Prison Authorities transferred Ghofran Zamil, a young Palestinian reporter, to the Petah Tikva interrogation facility after extending her remand for eight more days. 

Nine Hamas legislators released from Israeli detention centers
3 Sep 2009 - The Israeli Authorities released on Wednesday nine of the illegally detained Hamas legislators and elected officials after a long captivity without any legal grounds. 

Hamas slams Palestinian-Israeli Jerusalem meeting
2 Sep 2009 - Dr. Ismail Radwan, a political leader of the Hamas government, slammed a meeting that took place Wednesday between a Palestinian Minister of the P.A government in the West Bank and an Israeli minister in Jerusalem. 

Palestinian killed by stray bullet; PCHR demands an end to weapons chaos
2 Sep 2009 - The Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR), based in Gaza, issued a press release slamming the death of a Palestinian man who was shot by a stray bullet, and demanded the specialized authorities to put an end to misuse of arms in Gaza. 

Settlers set Palestinian land on fire in southern West Bank
2 Sep 2009 - A group of Israeli settlers set on fire on Wednesday to Palestinian owned lands located near the southern west bank city of Hebron.

18 year old Palestinian found dead in Jericho
2 Sep 2009 - An 18 year old Palestinian youth was found dead on Wednesday at the West Bank city of Jericho, Palestinian sources reported. 

The Israeli military kidnaps civilians from different parts of the West Bank
2 Sep 2009 - The Israeli military kidnapped on Wednesday at least five Palestinian civilians from different parts of West Bank.

Ha'aretz Defense page

Barak: IDF troops must be ready to die for Israel
2 Sep 2009 - Defense minister reiterated his position that Israel cannot pay any price for release of Gilad Shalit. 

EU official: Israel likely hijacked Mideast-bound ship
2 Sep 2009 - Admiral tells TIME Israel likely intercepted vessel en route to Algeria in July as it carried cargo of arms. 

IDF officer wounded in 2002 offensive to command Golani Brigade
2 Sep 2009 - Col. Ofek Buchris was seriously wounded in Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank. 

IDF denies killing Hamas gunmen in north Gaza
1 Sep 2009 - Hamas, Palestinian medics claim IDF tank fire killed two Hamas gunmen in Gaza Strip on Tuesday. 

Shalit family to Barak: Less talk, more action
1 Sep 2009 - Comments come after defense minister tells Israeli teens: State can't save every soldier. 

Ma'an News

Gaza children back calls for ICC probe of alleged war crimes
9/2/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - During a news conference in Gaza on Tuesday Palestinian children asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Israeli leaders for "war crimes. "In particular the children asked that the court prosecute Israeli "pilots, who wiped out the stone and the human without mercy. " The children renewed their demands that Israel respect their legitimate right to a decent life, and specifically to the freedom of movement without fear. The conference was made in a show of solidarity with 15-year-old Amira Al-Karam whose father, brother and sister were killed in front of her eyes by Israeli forces in the last Gaza war. Al-Karam lodged a complaint at the ICC in The Hague, the Netherlands on Monday seeking justice for her family. The children also appealed to all international institutions to provide the Gaza Strip for humanitarian supplies and medical equipment. . . 

Livni: I don’t believe in ceasefires
9/2/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli center-right opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Wednesday reiterated her refusal to hold talks with Hamas except on the issue case of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Livni was quoted by Israel Radio and other Israeli media outlets as saying during a visit to a Tel Aviv schools, "Hamas realized after the IDF offensive that the State of Israel will not accept a reality in which its citizens are threatened and attacked on a daily basis. " "I oppose any dialogue with Hamas, I don't believe in Hudnas (ceasefires) or in the prospect of peace coming from any agreement we may reach with them," the former foreign minister added. These comments came the morning after two Hamas fighters were killed in Gaza. Medical officials and Hamas said Israeli forces fired on the men, but the military denied any involvement. 

Hamas: Israel to release nine Palestinian lawmakers
9/2/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - Israel has decided to release nine Hamas lawmakers from prison, a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) official confirmed on Wednesday. According to PLC Secretary Mahmoud Ar-Ramahi, the members slated for release are: Khalid Abu Hassan, Khalid Yahiya, and Ibrahim Dahbour of Jenin, Reyad Radad from Tulkarem, Imad Nufel of Qalqiliya, Nasser Abed Al-Jawad of Salfit, Yaser Mansour and Hassan Al-Burini of Nablus, and Muhammad Abu Jahsheh of Hebron. The release lowers the number of Hamas deputies still in detention to 23. Seven of the remaining members are spending time in administrative detention. Prominent Fatah and leftist lawmakers also remain in prison. Ar-Ramahi said that even with this release of these men, the council still faces obstacles in ending two years of political stalemate. "The problem of the Legislative Council is political and not a legal problem,". . . 

Israel opens two Gaza crossings
9/2/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Israeli authorities decided to open the Kerem Shalom and Nahal Oz crossings on Wednesday to allow food and fuel into the besieged Gaza strip. Palestinian crossings representative Raed Fattouh said that the Kerem Shalom crossing would be open for 81 to 91 trucks carrying commercial merchandise, and humanitarian aid including 300 calves. The cattle are being shipped as part of a previous agreement to allow 3,000 of the animals during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Nahal Oz will be opened to deliver limited quantities of cooking gas, and European Union-supplied industrial diesel for the Gaza power plant. Karni crossing, formerly the main terminal for the delivery of goods, will be closed on Tuesday, according to Fattouh. Israel and Egypt have maintained a near-total blockade of the Gaza Strip since June 2007, severely curtailing imports of essential goods including food, fuel, medicine, and construction materials. 

Palestinian woman accused of setting fire near settlement
9/2/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli forces launched a search operation on Wednesday for a Palestinian woman accused to setting fire to land near the illegal settlement of Bat Ayin, southwest of Bethlehem Israeli sources did not disclose the name of the alleged arsonist. Bat Ayin is built on land belonging to Palestinians from the nearby town of Beit Ummar and its surrounding villages. Settlers have also set fires in the area over the past several months. [end] 

EU aid program ECHO lauches 'Hope and Will' campaign
9/2/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - The EU humanitarian aid program ECHO launched an extensive media campaign called "Hope and Will" on Wednesday. ECHO hopes to define their forthcoming initiatives and humanitarian services through the promotional campaign, scheduled to last one month. The campaign will focus on spreading hope, bolstering the will to perservere, and to encourage the determination needed to achieve the best for the Palestinian people. ECHO has provided about 500 million Euros worth of food and other services to some of the poorest people in the West Bank. They have also helped to provide primary health programs, assistance in emergency situations, access to clean water, mental healthcare, social work programs, and job opportunities. 

EU official suggests Israel hijacked Russian ship
9/2/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The European Union's rapporteur on piracy has suggested that Israel could have been responsible for the recent hijacking of the Russian-crewed cargo ship the Arctic Sea. In an interview with TIME Magazine published earlier this week the official, Admiral Tarmo Kouts, also the former commander of the Estonian armed forces, said that Israel could have been responsible for the ship's dissappearence in July because it was carrying weapons to another Middle Eastern country. The Arctic Sea went missing after departing Finland for Algeria, purportedly carrying a shipment of timber. The disappearance was thought to be the first instance of piracy in European waters in modern times. In mid August the Russian Navy boarded the ship and arrested the alleged hijackers. The captain, crew and cargo have all been detained. 

Hamas: Israel stalling on prisoner swap deal
9/2/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israel is making negotiations toward a potential prisoner exchange more difficult, a Hamas official was quoted as saying on Tuesday. "The Shalit family is paying the price of the negotiation ploys that their government is trying to carry out in a bid to present a better deal than its predecessor," the Hamas official told the Israeli news website Ynet. He added thatIsrael is trying to buy time by proposing new versions of the deal. Hours earlier Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak that Israel was working to release captive soldier Gilad Shalit from Gaza, but would not do so "at any price. "Hamas is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners in return for Shalit, who was seized by Palestinian fighters in 2006. Egypt and Germany are mediating in negotiations that recently resumed after being frozen since Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert left office in February. 

PA: Meeting with Israeli minister was non-political
9/2/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - An Israeli and a Palestinian minister held the highest-level talks in months in Jerusalem on Wednesday, but political issues were not on the agenda, Palestinian Minister of National Economy Bassem Khoury said. Khoury told Ma'an in an interview after the meeting that meeting with Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom mainly dealt with issues of Palestinian daily life. "We did not discuss anything political because the political file [requires] a settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and [Israeli] recognition of the two-state solution," he said. The minister said the meeting took place under "Protocol One of the Paris convention [which] demands a joint economic committee that discusses the Israeli and Palestinian economic situations. 

As school year begins, concerns abound over swine flu
9/2/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - The Palestinian Ministries of Health and Education have formed a joint task force to prevent the spread of of H1N1 flu as the new school year begins in the West Bank. This announcement came during a press conference on Tuesday with the Minister of Education, Lamis Al-Alami, the Minister of Health, Fath Abu Moghli, along with other officials who spoke about arrangements both ministries are making to combat the virus commonly known as swine flu. Al-Alami said that all schools have been ordered to provide health materials, distribute educational leaflets about the disease, and make sure that rest rooms are sanitized The minister also asked schools to rearrange pupils' desks inside the classrooms and to put students farther from one another. Schools were also told to talk about the H1N1 during the first class of the first day. 

Fayyad visits family of teen killed by Israeli army
9/2/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad visited Al-Jalazoun refugee camp near Ramallah on Tuesday evening to offer condolences to family of 15-year-old Muhammad Nayif who was killed by Israeli forces in the morning. Fayyad expressed his sorrow and sadness reminding of Muhammad's father, a Palestinian intelligence officer who was also killed by Israeli forces seven years ago. Fayyad also attended a Ramadan breakfast along with several ministers and officials and local residents. He said after the meal that it was a sad and painful day as the teenager Nayif was killed. He also highlighted that several residents of Al-Jalazoun were killed from the same Israeli military tower at Beit El settlement commanding the camp. Fayyad described it as "the damn tower. "  

MK Muhammad Baraka: Livni still thinks like a Mossad agent
9/2/2009 - Jerusalem - Ma'an - Palestinian Knesset member Muhammad Baraka slammed the chair of the opposition party Kadima Tzipi Livni on Tuesday over her demands that Arab citizens of Israel should accept the symbols of Israel and the Zionist movement. Baraka is chair of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash). He alleged on Tuesday that Livni has yet to give up the mentality of her past role in Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service. Livni delivered a speech at a school in Tel Aviv earlier on Tuesday in which she chastised Arab citizens, the Arab Higher Follow-Up Committee, Education committee, as well as the Committee of Arab Local Councils for refusing to play the Israeli national anthem at Arab schools. "Leaders of the Arab community in Israel should preach coexistence rather than segregation, because segregation might get them a few more parliament seats, yet. . . 

At-Tibi to Barak: Ease West Bank restrictions during Ramadan
9/2/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Vice-Chairman of the Knesset Ahmad At-Tibi requested that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak allow Palestinians from the West Bank into Jerusalem to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on any day of the week during Ramadan. Currently West Bank residents are only able to enter on Fridays. Only men over 50 and women over 45 are permitted. The statement from At-Tibi maintained that issuing permits on Friday would leave Jerusalem's Old City crowded with thousands of worshippers making it especially difficult for the elderly to enter and exit the mosque and Old City area. Last Friday, the Islamic Waqf (Endowment) in charge of Al-Aqsa reported that 170,000 Palestinians converged on the Al-Aqsa Compound for prayers. Israel deployed a heavy police presence. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam, a focal point of Palestinan religious life and a national symbol. 

Bethlehem University maintains stance despite student strike
9/2/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The administration of Bethlehem University responded to an ongoing strike led by the school's Student Senate on Wednesday by laying out its views in a public statement. The statement reiterates previously stated positions that, in the view of the University, the Student Senate is reneging on an agreement that students must repay their debts. The statement also denies charges that it discriminates against the children of the "martyrs" of the struggle against Israel, and argues that a recent increase in fees was both minimal and reasonable. Although two weeks of student protests that have shut down the campus down, the administration has shown no signs of backing down. The following is the Bethlehem University administration's statement in full: Bethlehem University Statement on the Suspension of Classes - Bethlehem University is committed to providing the best quality education for our students. . . 

PA arrests network for selling land under false pretenses
9/2/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an Exclusive - A Palestinian security source revealed on Wednesday that Preventative Security Service arrested a network of seven people accused of selling real estate by falsifying documents. The source also said that the network falsified Jordanian passports and identity cards, allowing them to pose as people who either emigrated from the country or died years ago. According to the source there is an ongoing investigation into how the network was able to sell dozens of acres of land illegally and forge official documents. [end] 

Haniyeh calls for Hamas-Fatah unity
9/2/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - De facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh extended an offer of unity to the Fatah movement, urging his rivals to forget the past. "I am telling Fatah to turn a new page and forget about what happened in the past and start a new Palestinian stage. I am calling for reconciliation and solutions for a positive result in the dialogue," the Hamas leader said. "Palestinians have no other choice; they have to sit for the dialogue," he said, referring to the currently dormant Egyptian-mediated unity negotiations. Haniyeh was speaking at an Iftar, the sundown meal the breaks the Ramadan fast, at his cabinet's headquarters in Gaza City. Hamas, the winner of 2006 parliamentary elections, seized full control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, shutting down Fatah-backed security forces. The takeover began more than two years of political disunity. 

The National

Jewish settlers plan massive construction
31 Aug 2009 - Anti-settlement group says plans for 150 housing units in East Jerusalem are backed by the national and municipal governments.

Not one penny has reached Gaza
31 Aug 2009 - Restrictions are blocking aid earmarked for reconstruction, delaying critical projects while leaving homes and institutions in rubble.

Olmert indicted on corruption charges
30 Aug 2009 - Ehud Olmert is indicted on three counts of corruption, becoming the first ex-premier to face criminal charges.


ElBaradei hits back at critics
2 Sep 2009 - Head of UN's nuclear watchdog says the nuclear threat posed by Iran has been "hyped".

Iran 'ready for new nuclear talks'
1 Sep 2009 - Tehran says that it has updated its proposal ahead of a US deadline.

Alternative Information Center

Did Leviev's Empire Succumb to Boycott?
2 Sep 2009 - On 31 August 2009, Lev Leviev, the sixth richest Israeli according to Forbes Magazine , convened a press conference and announced that his company Africa Israel will be unable to meet its financial obligations and repay its...

“This is Israel Here, not Palestine”
31 Aug 2009 - While the U.S. administration and the main EU Foreign Ministries seem to be in favor of slowing down the colonization process of occupied or annexed territories, the Israeli government is still responding to those efforts with...

Lower Education in Israel 
31 Aug 2009 - A direct line connects the plans of Israeli Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar, as published in the weekend newspapers in run to for the opening of the school year, and the remarks of Rivka Carmi, President...

Palestine News Network

Human rights campaign sues European Union over continued economic ties with Israelis
2 Sep 2009 - Brussels / PNN – The European Union is being sued over its relationship with the Israelis.The European Campaign to Lift the Siege on Gaza, in cooperation with European institutions and individuals, has filed a lawsuit. This is the first of its kind against the European Union.The purpose, organizers say, is to force the EU to end its economic partnership agreement with the Israelis....

Bishop talks about the silencing of a free voice in Bethlehem after Israeli forces shut down radio
2 Sep 2009 - Jerusalem / PNN - The Israeli assault on Palestinian media is not going unnoticed, with one of the most blatant acts being the recent confiscation of broadcast equipment at Radio Bethlehem 2000. The station is still off the air after Israeli forces threatened them with bombing if they returned.Bishop Atallah Hanna expressed his solidarity with Radio Bethlehem 2000, and with all Palestinian media,...

Mustafa Barghouthi warns of danger of Israeli efforts to split question of settlement freeze
1 Sep 2009 - Ramallah / PNN – The Israeli administration is looking for ways to excuse its ongoing illegal settlement policy in the face of international scrutiny, says Musfata Barghouthi. The parliamentarian and head of the Palestinian National Initiative said on Tuesday that a danger resounds from Israeli efforts to freeze settlements at a rate of 2,500 units beyond the current annual rate.Dr. Barghouthi said during...

Children boycott first day of school after Israeli soldiers shoot and kill classmate 
1 Sep 2009 - Kristen Ess - The new school year began on a tragic note with the killing of Mohammad Riad Nayef. Children in the central West Bank’s Jalazone Refugee Camp boycotted the first day. Israeli soldiers occupying Beit El Settlement in the central West Bank’s Ramallah gunned him down on Monday evening. He was reported dead at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital early Tuesday.His mother did...

Unite against Apartheid: call for week of nonviolent resistance against Wall 
1 Sep 2009 - Tear down the walls in PalestineBreak the siege in Gaza CALL FOR THE SEVENTH WEEK AGAINST THE APARTHEID WALL,NOVEMBER 9 – 16 2008. The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, its popular committees and member organizations call on activists to launch a week of global mobilization against the walls of apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza from November 9 to 16 2009....

EU contribution to UNRWA's Job Creation Programme in Gaza to create more than 1,4 million work days
1 Sep 2009 - The European Commission has today announced a contribution of €13 million to support the Job Creation Programme of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which will help to create more than 1,4 million work days for Gaza's unemployed. Christian Berger, the European Commission Representative for the West Bank and Gaza Strip and UNRWA, made the announcement to...

Human rights org: Israelis willfully kill child in Jalazoun Refugee Camp, northern Ramallah
1 Sep 2009 - The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the willful killing of a 15-year-old Palestinian child by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). The attack occurred yesterday, 31 August 2009, near the entrance of al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah. According to investigations conduced by PCHR, at approximately 21:30 on Monday, 31 August 2009, IOF troops stationed at a military observation tower inside...


OPT: Bleak Ramadan for Gaza residents
GAZA CITY Monday, August 31, 2009 (IRIN) - Ramadan, a festive time in many parts of the Muslim world, is bleak in Gaza because basic and traditional foodstuffs are unavailable due to the Israeli blockade, or out of reach due to soaring prices and poverty, according to officials.

MIDDLE EAST: Swine flu keeps Muslim pilgrims at home 
DUBAI Wednesday, August 26, 2009 (IRIN) - Far fewer Muslims than normal are undertaking the lesser pilgrimage known as ‘Umrah’ because of coordinated efforts by health ministers in the Gulf and beyond to counter the spread of H1N1 2009.

ISRAEL-OPT: Travel restrictions in West Bank eased for Ramadan 
TEL AVIV Monday, August 24, 2009 (IRIN) - Israel has eased some of its travel restrictions for Palestinians in the West Bank during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) spokesperson’s unit.

Inter Press Service

KYRGYZSTAN: A New Great Game Begins 
BISHKEK, Sep 2 (IPS) - A U.S. base located just 40km from a Russian base - it can happen in Kyrgyzstan, a new focal point in the great geopolitics of Central Asia where China and Turkey are beginning to show their cards as well.

MIDEAST: Olmert's Peace Plan May Go Down With Him 
JERUSALEM, Aug 31 (IPS) - The State of Israel against the former leader of the State of Israel - for the first time, a former prime minister will soon be in the defendant's chair in a criminal court.

MIDEAST: East Jerusalem Shuts Out Thousands of Prayers 
QALANDIA, West Bank, Aug 31 (IPS) - The future of East Jerusalem and of Palestinian access to it has again been brought under the spotlight.

Q&A: Economic Empowerment Gives Women Choices 
CAIRO, Aug 31 (IPS) - In Egypt, women have not achieved the same career levels as their male counterparts. Women are chiefly employed as civil servants, in small family businesses or as manual labour in the agricultural sector.

Stop The Wall

Mobilize for the seventh Week Against the Apartheid Wall
1 Sep 2009 - The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, its popular committees and member organizations call on activists to launch a week of global mobilization against the walls of apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza from November 9 to 16 2009. See the full call here. [

Farmers protest permits and gates
2 Sep 2009 - Farmers protested the permit and gate system which locks them out of their lands in the village of Beit Surik. Farmers from the surrounding villages marched to the gates, forcing them open before Occupation forces arrived. Access was blocked last December, and farmers have not been able to enter their lands since. [

PCHR Latest

IOF Willfully Kill a Palestinian Child in al-Jalazoun Refugee Camp, North of Ramallah

PCHR Weekly Report

(20 - 26 Aug.  2008), information on boycott, divestment and sanctions
During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, and wounded 9 others in the Gaza Strip.  Another Palestinian is also missing.  In the West Bank, one Palestinian civilian was wounded.

International Solidarity Movement

IOF willfully kill a Palestinian child in al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah
9/1/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) - The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the willful killing of a 15-year-old Palestinian child by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). The attack occurred yesterday, 31 August 2009, near the entrance of al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah. According to investigations conduced by PCHR, at approximately 21:30 on Monday, 31 August 2009, IOF troops stationed at a military observation tower inside "Beit Eil" settlement, north of Ramallah, opened fire at five Palestinian children who were near al-Jalazon UNRWA School, located near the southeastern entrance of al-Jalazoun refugee camp. One of the children, 15-year-old Mohammed Riad Nayef "˜Elayan, was wounded by three bullets to the chest. An ambulance from Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Ramallah attempted to reach the area. 

Israeli forces raid Bil’in, arrest one
9/1/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - Shortly after 3am, Bil'in was invaded again. 4 Jeeps and a military truck entered the village with over 50 soldiers. The Israeli occupation forces raided three homes simultaneously and arrested Abed Baset Mohammed Abu Rahme (age 19). In the second house, they tried to arrest Yaseen Mohammed Ali Yaseen (21), but he was not at home. They left a military order for him to turn himself in by 9am the next day. In the third house, they wanted to arrest Mohammed Ahmed Yaseen (age 21), but did not find him at his home either. The soldiers acted very swiftly. As they encountered many international activists who stood in their way filming and challenging their action as well as following the movement of the jeeps, the soldiers threw tear gas and sound bombs to disperse them and clear the way. They also used a laser beam on some of the activists as a means of intimidation. 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

New campaign targets Jews 'abducted' by intermarriage 
2 Sep 2009 - An organization that works to strengthen ties between Israel and Diaspora Jews Wednesday launched a scare-tactic campaign that urges Israelis to combat assimilation in North America by working to prevent the "loss" of their own Jewish acquaintances there. ... 

U.S. envoy Mitchell says had 'good meeting' with Israeli officials
2 Sep 2009 - U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell, who is seeking to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, said he had a "good meeting" with two Israeli officials on Wednesday and would continue discussions next week. ...

Obama blesses Muslim month of Ramadan as Israel envoy looks on
1 Sep 2009 - "Ramadan Kareem," was the blessing given by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday, where members of Congress and diplomats gathered for the Iftar meal to break the fast during the holy month in the Islamic calendar. ...

Israeli, Palestinian ministers meet for first time in half a year
1 Sep 2009 - Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom met with Palestinian Economic Minister Bassem Khoury in Jerusalem on Wednesday for the highest level talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials in half a year. ...

Lieberman: I hope Africa will help Mideast peace process
1 Sep 2009 - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday began his official state visit to Africa, the first time in over 20 years an Israeli foreign minister has visited the continent. ...

The Guardian

A blueprint for peace in the Middle East | Carlo Strenger
2 Sep 2009 - Summits don't work in isolation: Obama's peace process must adopt the Northern Ireland model, inviting all parties to the table Obama's decision to tackle the Middle East early in his presidential term has been welcomed by...

The lonely struggle of Uri Davis | Seth Freedman
1 Sep 2009 - The Jewish-born Fatah councillor is widely mocked. But his secular vision for a binational Israel is not so crazy Waiting for Uri Davis in a hotel forecourt in Ramallah, I reflect that his reputation precedes him...

Boycotts don't equal censorship
1 Sep 2009 - Film-makers should support the growing international movement to boycott Israel – it's wrong to cast our actions as censorship When we decided to pull our film Looking for Eric from the Melbourne International Film festival following...

Germany in talks to help secure release of Israeli soldier Shalit
30 Aug 2009 - Intelligence officials negotiating swap-deal between Israel and Hamas, says German news magazine German intelligence officials are involved in a new effort to secure the release of an Israeli soldier captured near Gaza more than three years...

Ha'aretz National page

Report: Dead Sea losing water more rapidly
2 Sep 2009 - The Dead Sea has dropped more quickly in the past two years than the average for the past decade, according to Water Authority figures released this week. ...

Ethiopian students affair shows prevalent racism in Israel
2 Sep 2009 - All of a sudden, we can say "racism." A shock wave has struck complacent Israeli society. A few dozen Ethiopian children were not accepted to religious schools in Petah Tikva. That is truly terrible, everyone tsked-tsked at the heart-rending picture of Aschalo Sama, a boy without a school. Even President Shimon Peres expressed shock. Everyone is permitted to be shocked; it is politically correct. ... 

Ethiopian students still left out of classrooms
2 Sep 2009 - An agreement was reached Wednesday evening to enroll another 36 children of Ethiopian origin in Petah Tikva's schools, after a second school day in which children and their parents waited for hours in the corridors of the city's education department to find out where their children would be studying. ... 

Relief Web

Food crisis: What the World Bank is doing, 02 Sep 2009
2 Sep 2009 - Source: World Bank

OPT: IDF Chief of Staff meets with Quartet envoy Blair
2 Sep 2009 - Source: Government of Israel

Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the CFSP, to visit the Middle East
2 Sep 2009 - Source: European Union

YNet News

US officials: Netanyahu at pivotal moment
2 Sep 2009 - Officials say Israel's ties with US depend on PM's decision regarding construction freeze in West Bank 

BGU president: Call for boycott unrelated to academic freedom
2 Sep 2009 - In LA Times op-ed Prof. Carmi says Israel being isolated due to lecturer's call for global boycott 

Palestinian minister downplays meeting with Shalom
2 Sep 2009 - PA minister says meeting with Silvan Shalom on economic peace 'had no political significance' 

Israel releases 9 Palestinian legislators
2 Sep 2009 - Israeli prisons still hold 24 members of Palestinian Legislative Council, two Hamas ministers arrested after Shalit's capture 

Palestinian Information Center

Nine Islamic MPs released after prolonged captivity in Zionist Jails
3 Sep 2009 - The Israeli apartheid regime on Wednesday freed nine Islamic-oriented members of the Legislative Council..

Hamas: Livni is the head of the Zionist terrorism
3 Sep 2009 - Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum stated that Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister, is the head of the Zionist terrorism because of her criminal war on the Gaza Strip.

Father of Gofran appeals for disclosing his daughter’s fate
3 Sep 2009 - The father of Gofran Al-Zamil, kidnapped days ago by IOF troops, appealed to all human rights organizations to intervene to release his daughter or disclose her whereabouts.

Amayreh: Settlements block any hope for Palestinian state
3 Sep 2009 - Palestinian expert in settlement affairs Khaled Al-Amayreh has said that the IOA settlement policy eliminates any possible success for a negotiated settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Resheq: The kidnapping of Mazloum intended for frustrating the national dialog
3 Sep 2009 - Ezzat Al-Resheq, a member of Hamas political bureau, stated that the kidnapping of Khaled Mazloum, the coordinator of Hamas lawmakers’ office in Ramallah, is aimed to thwart national dialog.

Hamdan: We look forward to normal relations with Jordan
3 Sep 2009 - Osama Hamdan, one of Hamas's prominent leaders, said that his Movement had covered major strides in its relations with Jordan and that it aspires to restore normal relations with Amman.

Red Crescent condemns IOF ban on its services to dying boy
3 Sep 2009 - The Palestinian Red Crescent has lashed out at the IOF for firing at its team that tried to extend urgently needed medical attention to a wounded boy who later died in an Israeli hospital.

European commission grants 13 million euros to alleviate Gaza unemployment
3 Sep 2009 - The European commission announced on Tuesday a donation of 3,000,000 euros to support the UNRWA job creation program in the Gaza Strip.

Two Qassam members killed in IOF tank shelling
3 Sep 2009 - Two members of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were killed on Tuesday night when the IOF fired a tank shell at them east of Jabalia to the north of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas: The PA and Israel killed in August seven Palestinians
3 Sep 2009 - Hamas said that Israel killed during August five Palestinians while two Palestinian citizens died in the Palestinian authority’s jails as a result of their exposure to torture.

Los Angeles Times

Israelis and Palestinians talking again after months-long freeze 
3 Sep 2009 - The two sides discuss the West Bank's promising economic recovery, and aides to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas say he's willing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a limited thaw of a frosty relationship, Israeli and Palestinian officials held their first high-level meeting in months Wednesday and discussed ways to bolster a promising economic recovery in the West Bank. 

Iran says it's ready to reopen nuclear talks 
2 Sep 2009 - The Islamic Republic's top nuclear negotiator says Tehran has updated its proposals for talks on its atomic program. Western powers, Russia and China are to meet to consider additional sanctions. Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Tuesday that the country was prepared to resume talks with world powers over its contentious nuclear technology program and that it had prepared a package of proposals for discussions. 

Once-legendary Fatah figure makes a comeback 
1 Sep 2009 - Mohammed Dahlan, driven into exile and blamed for 'losing Gaza' to the forces of Hamas, has once more maneuvered into the Palestinian movement's inner circles. He ran the Gaza Strip like the Godfather, dispensing brutal punishment and benevolent largess. But that was before his summer of disgrace, two years ago, when Hamas militants drove out his armed followers and allowed looters to pick apart his seaside villa. 

New York Times

Memo From Cairo: Hints of Pluralism in Egyptian Religious Debates
30 Aug 2009 - In Egypt, a man who has been preaching liberal Islamic views for decades says that only now, with the rise of independent media, has he had a chance to be heard. 

Iran News Agency Reports Prisoner Died of Abuse
31 Aug 2009 - The admission, if it is confirmed and leads to punishment, could shore up support for the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei among clerics. 

World Briefing | Middle East: Gaza: Cleric Denounces Possible Holocaust Education
31 Aug 2009 - A Hamas spiritual leader said Monday that teaching Palestinian children about the Nazis’ murder of six million Jews would be a “war crime.” 


Steve Rosen Accuses AIPAC of Espionage 
9/2/2009 - - Grant Smith - Steven J. Rosen’s defamation lawsuit against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is now entering a critical phase. A series of cross-filings stakes out the critical court terrain. Rosen intends to show that obtaining and leveraging classified U. S. government information in the service of Israel is common practice at AIPAC. He claims it was unfair for AIPAC to fire and malign him in the press after he was indicted on espionage charges in 2005. AIPAC’s defense team is committed to getting the case thrown out on technicalities before it goes to trial early next year. On March 2, 2009, Rosen filed the civil lawsuit against his former employer, directors, and an outside public relations firm for libel and slander. Rosen, AIPAC’s former foreign policy chief, seeks $5 million in damages from AIPAC, and punitive damages of $500,000 from each former board member, for a total claim of $21 million. 

’Jews who sell to Arabs are enemies’ 
9/2/2009 - Jerusalem Post - A Jew who sells land to an Arab in Israel should not be allowed to lead prayers in synagogue, should not be given the right to make a blessing during the Torah reading, should not be counted among the quorum needed for public prayers and is considered an abettor to the enemies of Israel, according to a halachic decision issued on Monday night by a group of rabbis calling themselves "The New Sanhedrin. " Prof. Hillel Weiss, a spokesman for the Sanhedrin, said that while the seller of land to Arabs is helping the Jewish people's enemies, this does not mean that he or she is guilty of a sin that entails the death penalty. Rabbis who participated in a meeting that took place in the capital's Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood on Monday evening included Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Rabbi Ya'acov Yosef, son of Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and former United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Menachem Porush, 93. 

’Time’: Israel behind Russian ship hijacking 
9/2/2009 - Jerusalem Post - The conspiracy theory which names Israel as the mastermind behind the mysterious hijacking of a Russian freighter in July appears to be gaining traction, with the European Union's rapporteur on piracy, Admiral Tarmo Kouts, expressing his support for that version of events. In an interview with Time magazine, Kouts said that the interception of the Arctic Sea, and the ship's subsequent total disappearance before being retrieved by the Russian navy, bared the marks of an Israeli operation, which he termed the most likely explanation. " There is the idea that there were missiles aboard, and one can't explain this situation in any other way," he told the magazine, becoming the highest-ranking official to date to support the theory. "As a sailor with years of experience, I can tell you that the official versions are not realistic. " 

Red Crescent: 'Army fired at our medics as they tried to save the life of a wounded child'
9/2/2009 - International Middle East Media Center - Mo’tasem Awad, in charge of the International Humanitarian Law department at the Red Crescent stated that Israeli soldiers opened fire at Red Crescent medics while they were trying to approach a wounded child who died of his wounds. The child, Mohammad Riyadh Nayef, 15, from al Jalazoun refugee camp, was shot and seriously wounded on Tuesday after a round of live ammunition hit him in the chest. As medics tried to approach the child, the army opened fire at them, and a soldier told one of the medics that “the army does not need anybody’s help, we have an ambulance on its way”. It took the Israeli ambulance nearly 90 minutes to reach the area, and its medics took the child to an Israeli hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Red Crescent slammed the Israeli violations, and said that Israeli soldiers repeatedly hindered the work of medical teams. It added that such measures are illegal and violate the Civilian Protection article of the Geneva Convention of 1949. 

Gaza: A People under Siege 
8/21/2009 - Pravda - The Israeli blockade of Gaza Strip, now in its third year, has shown the extremely deep seated hypocrisy in what is put forth as pristine, faultless, superior “western values. ” Westerners have been inoculated against any sympathy for the victims by the skillful portrayal in the western corporate media of them as perpetrators and mad suicide bombers, instead of people in the midst of a serious crisis of human dignity and people fighting for the right to live on their own land. Rather than feeling sympathy, the westerner at best has been taught that “both sides are at fault” and that people should “stop killing each other. ”Meanwhile Israel…exploding beyond its agreed upon borders, holds the power of life and death over all of them. They have the bombs, the jets, the armored vehicles and all the latest technology at their disposal. 

IDF troops kill Palestinian youth suspected of hurling firebombs 
9/1/2009 - Ha'aretz - Israel Defense Forces troops early Tuesday shot and killed a Palestinian youth suspected of hurling firebombs near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Teenager Muhammad Nayef, who age was given between 14 and 17, was critically wounded in the incident and died shortly after at Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center. The youth was shot during clashes with troops, who were searching the Jalazun refugee camp area for Palestinians who had earlier thrown Molotov cocktails at the fence bordering the settlement of Beit El. The IDF said only Nayef was hit when troops opened fire, although Palestinian media reported that two others Palestinian youths were wounded in the incident. IDF troops, meanwhile, arrested nine wanted Palestinian militants in overnight West Bank raids. The Israel Defense Forces is setting up a separate military court for West Bank youths, Haaretz learned last week. 

Lieberman to make first trip to Africa by Israel FM in 20 years 
9/1/2009 - Ha'aretz - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will depart Wednesday on a visit to Africa in a bid to boost trade ties and drum up diplomatic support in a continent where pro-Arab sentiment has long been strong. Lieberman's visit will be the first by an Israeli foreign minister to Africa in 20 years. An Israeli business delegation, along with delegates from the Foreign, Finance and Defense Ministries will accompany him on visits to Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana. " The aim is to reinvigorate our political and economic relations," said Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Lieberman. African nations often vote in blocs in United Nations forums where Israel is a frequent target of censure. Israel is trying to enlist support for international pressure on Iran to abandon its disputed nuclear program. Lieberman last month toured Latin America, another region that had not been high on Israel's diplomatic agenda. 

Jewish settlers plan massive construction 
9/1/2009 - The National - TEL AVIV // The accelerating pace of Jewish settlement expansion in East Jerusalem this year may spur violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the city and cripple new efforts by the Obama administration to kick-start peace talks, an Israeli anti-settlement group warned yesterday. The “massive” construction being planned by Jewish settlers within Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem is likely to prompt clashes, said Yudith Oppenheimer, the executive director of Ir Amim, a Jerusalem-based advocacy group. “There is a combination of factors, including settlers invading Palestinian neighbourhoods, already annoying with their presence and control of houses and land and their mass construction plans when, next door, Palestinian neighbours cannot even build a balcony because they do not get a permit. This creates the conditions for violence,” she said. 

Did Mossad hijack the Russian freighter? 
9/2/2009 - Sky News - The Mossad is blamed for pretty much any event that needs explaining, and even those that don’t. So it is not surprising that Israel’s intelligence agency has been fingered as being behind the mysterious month-long disappearance of the Russian freighter the Arctic Sea. But this is becoming more than a conspiracy theory. The story is straight out of a Frederick Forsyth novel. A ship carrying nothing more sinister than a consignment of timber sets sail from Finland mid July bound for Algeria. Two days later, it disappears, apparently hijacked as it passes through the English Channel. Only two weeks later, the Russians despatch a search party. A week after that the vessel turns up hundreds of miles off course near the Cape Verde Islands in the Atlantic. Moscow says it has been recovered in a rescue operation. Rumours of a secret military cargo on board and allegations of cover-up ensue. 

Did Israel Stop Russian Ship to Prevent Missile Delivery? 
9/2/2009 - ABC News - Russian Reporter Who Broke Story of Hijacked Ship Flees Country - MOSCOW - A top European Union official says that the cargo ship Arctic Sea that disappeared in the waters off of Portugal in late July was secretly carrying Russian missiles bound for the Middle East but was intercepted by Israel. The Russian maritime expert who broke the story of the ship's disappearance agrees that the ship was likely carrying something Russia doesn't want the world to see and has fled to Turkey after a mysterious phone call told him to "get the hell out of Russia. " "There is the idea that there were missiles aboard, and one can't explain this situation in any other way," the EU's rapporteur on piracy Admiral Tarmo Kouts told Time Magazine, confirming that he believes Israel was behind the interception of the Arctic Sea. "As a sailor with years of experience, I can tell you that the official versions are not realistic. " 

Minister Peled: No agreement on settlement freeze 
9/2/2009 - YNetNews - Minister who visited Germany recently as part of prime minister's entourage says he 'heard with his own ears' that 'Jews will continue to live and build in Jerusalem' and the West Bank - Minister Yossi Peled said Tuesday that the government had no plans to freeze construction in settlements or in Jerusalem. "I have heard with my own ears that there is no agreement on freezing construction in settlements," he said. Speaking at a conference labeled 'Preserving Jerusalem and the Golan Heights', Peled said he heard while visiting Germany with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that "Jews will continue to live and build in Jerusalem". Regarding the peace process he said, "We must talk with whoever is willing to talk with us, but we mustn't lose our assets. "Peled also called for unity in the Likud Party. "Let us raise a call in honor of Rosh Hashana: No more splits in the movement, despite differences and different opinions. " 


Beach Trips and the Managing of Perceptions 
Notsilvia Night, Notsylvia blog 8/31/2009
      A month ago Icelandic TV news showed images of Palestinian children while they were spending a day on Israeli beaches organized by Israeli peace groups.
     As most international news-items here I assumed that this one was also picked up from a large News Agency, most often it is Reuters. And sure enough, an internet check up comfirmed this time it came from the Associated Press. And the story about the beach trip of Palestinian families and groups of children, organized by Israeli peace organizations, went all over the western world, was shown on probably hundreds of TV channels and was reprinted in even more newspapers.
     Now, I do not doubt, that the families´ and the children who participated in those trips were really glad they had this opportunity to get out of the check-point controlled West-bank ghettoes to enjoy a beautiful day on the beach with their friends. And the members of those peace-groups, who organized the trips were most likely sincere, compassionate individuals, people who wanted to do everything in their power to bring on a just peace for Palestinians and Jews alike.
     And if those efforts had been going on in a quiet manner, or only being published in Israel and Palestine, they might have been indeed have been a tiny step forward towards peace, especially if the Israeli organizers would have made quite clear, how much they opposed the murderous and brutal policies of the Israeli government against the Palestinian people.
     But this isn´t what actually happened.... more.. e-mail

Israeli unilateralism and the peace process 
Ghassan Khatib, Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2009
      It’s been four years since Israel evacuated its settlers and army from the Gaza Strip. Since then, Israel has kept Gaza under a tight siege that has undermined the economy of the already impoverished Strip. 
     Now there seems to be consensus among most Palestinians and Israelis, though for different reasons, that the withdrawal was not constructive as far as peacemaking and ending the conflict are concerned. 
     In Israel, the right wing has disavowed any similar withdrawals from the West Bank, while the Israeli left maintains that a withdrawal outside the context of a negotiated process will not serve peace objectives. 
     On the Palestinian side, the PLO camp was very critical of the move from the outset. It was interpreted by the mainstream as an attempt to consolidate Israeli control over the West Bank, including continued expansion of settlements, rather than a step toward ending the occupation, as it was being promoted at the time by Israel.
     Indeed, and in order to put that dramatic event into perspective, it is useful to remember that the Gaza withdrawal was one component of a package that was presented by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Herzliya Conference in early 2005 and was described as a new unilateral approach to relations with the Palestinians. more.. e-mail

Electronic Intifada
Faithful warned against buying "occupation dates" this Ramadan
2 Sep 2009 - Israel's largest produce exporter, Agrexco, is once again under fire because of its dates produced in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. This year, the company's dates arrived in time for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, during which faithful Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and traditionally break their fast by eating a date. Adri Nieuwhof reports for The Electronic Intifada. 

Liberation, not a fictitious Palestinian "state"
2 Sep 2009 - From 1994 to 2006, more than eight billion US dollars were pumped into the Palestinian economy, making Palestinians the most aid-dependent people on earth. The PA received this aid ostensibly to build Palestinian institutions, improve socioeconomic development and support the creation of an independent state. The result however is that Palestinians are more destitute and aid-dependent than ever before, their institutions are totally dysfunctional, and their state remains a distant fantasy. 

In Jerusalem, separate and unequal
1 Sep 2009 - OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM (IPS) - Israel says "united" Jerusalem will be the eternal capital of the Jewish state. However, a quick walk across the Green Line which marks the international boundary dividing the two parts of the city reveals a city very much divided. Most of West Jerusalem is clean, well cared for and far more opulent than the poorer east. The streets of East Jerusalem are filled with litter, piles of uncollected garbage, potholes and vermin. 

Gaza-bound goods stuck at the border
31 Aug 2009 - GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - According to the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce in Gaza, there are currently over 1,700 containers of imported goods ordered by Gaza merchants being stored in Israel and the West Bank until they are allowed into Gaza. A breakdown of the items listed by the Chamber of Commerce includes clothing, shoes, electronics and toys. 

In Gaza
there’s beauty: Gaza Ramadan day 11
1 Sep 2009 - Looking for beauty when surrounded by injustices. Right up until maghreb , when the sun sets and the call to prayer rings out and the fasting masses can begin iftaar , Abu Adham related the events of yesterday’s Israeli navy shooting and shelling of his boat , destroying it. This is the third major Israeli harassment (to put it too lightly), and by far the worst, which Abu Adham’s boat has endured in the last year only. Prior incidents include: IOF shooting with live ammunition, IOF water-cannon dousings (high pressured water, sometimes laced with a nauseous toxic spray, aimed at key structural parts of the boat and at windows, which can knock fishermen...

Palestine Chronicle
Dream as Nightmare
2 Sep 2009 - By Jeremy Salt - Ankara In the Guardian recently , Carlo Strenger launched yet another defence of Israel as the democracy in the Middle East. His defence of himself is that he opposes 'many of Israel's policies' and fights the occupation 'day by day' but this is only the occupation of land seized and plundered in 1967 and not the land seized and plundered in 1948. Much of this land was never allocated to the state of Israel in the first place and the sovereignty conferred on Israel gave the Zionists no right to take it from its owners. Had they remained, a different kind of democracy would have developed in Palestine, one in which the indigenous people would have retained control of their land through the ballot box. That was why they had to go. Nothing less democratic can be imagined than the denial of the right even to live in the land of one’s birth. The Palestinian ‘refugees’ did not ‘emigrate’. They were not fleeing an oppressive political system. They were the majority and they were hounded out of their country because only without them could the ‘democracy’ known as Israel come into existence. Mr Strenger implies that Palestinian Muslim or Christian citizens of Israel enjoy the same rights as Jewish citizens. Of course they don’t. Free speech and the right to vote are not the sum total of democracy. Institutional and structural racist discrimination against ‘the Arabs’ extends from the top to the bottom of Israeli society. It...

US, Israel Versus Iran: The Nuclear Chess Game
2 Sep 2009 - By Dr. Elias Akleh Since 2003 Iran has been coerced into playing a nuclear chess game against US and Israel. Western media outlets have been playing the part of cheer leaders for the American Israeli side, preparing the observing masses for the expected American Israeli 'checkmate' move against Iran. Not a single day passes without the description and analyses of a tactical move, with each analysis ending with the question of when, rather than if, the Israelis would bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. Israeli Moves In their annual meeting, on February 18th 2009, Israeli military leaders officially declared Iran as their number one strategic enemy in the region, and that the alleged Iranian nuclear arms program constitutes an “existential threat” to the state of Israel. They declared the elimination of the Iranian nuclear threat a top priority for the Israeli military and political leaderships. Yet the Israelis seem to differ regarding the method of dealing with the Iranian threat. One group, represented by Barak, Netanyahu, Olmert, and Lieberman, called for a military strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities. Such a strike, they claim, would at least set the Iranian nuclear program back by ten years. They site Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility in June 1981, and the bombing of alleged Syrian Al-Kibar nuclear facility in September 2007 as safe and effective solution to any nuclear threat. They claim that since Western countries, especially US, and the neighboring Arab states are opposed to Iran’s nuclear program, Israel’s attack would receive...

A Palestinian State Within Two Years?
2 Sep 2009 - By Yacov Ben Efrat On Tuesday, August 25, 2009, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad presented his plan to establish a Palestinian state within two years. He stressed the internal changes that must be made in order to build its legal, economic and social infrastructure. It is not clear what led Fayyad to present his plan at a time when contacts between the Netanyahu government and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are at their lowest in half a year. It appears that he wants to build his political status on this attempt to flesh out the vision of US President Barack Obama. Fayyad has no public or party base. In the Palestinian arena he depends mainly on PA President Abu Mazen. He is the Great Palestinian Hope of the Americans, who condition all aid to the PA on Fayyad's being the one to administer the funds. This condition arouses the ire of Fatah members who want to dip their own hands into the public purse. That is apparently the reason why some old-timers came out against Fayyad's plan, accusing him of going over their heads in declaring a Palestinian state, when they are the ones who have devoted their lives to the cause. Hamas too opposes Fayyad, accusing him of compromising Palestinian principles, above all the refugees' right of return. Deep Internal Division The Palestinian factions are wrangling over the skin of a bear they haven't caught. Internally, they are more fractured than ever. At the height of the August heat we...

US Audacity of Hope Falters
31 Aug 2009 - By Ramzy Baroud The US has decided to be 'flexible' regarding its once touted call for a total Israeli freeze on the expansion of its occupied territories' settlements, all illegal under international law. A senior official spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity on August 27. “It was more important that the scope of a settlement freeze was acceptable to the Israelis and the Palestinians than to the United States,” Reuters reported, citing the senior official. This means that peace negotiations can resume while Israeli bulldozers are carving up Palestinian land, demolishing homes and cutting down trees. It also means that the Israeli rejection of the only US demand, which has thus far defined President Barack Obama’s relations to the Middle East conflict, has prevailed over the supposed American persistence. In other words, the US has officially succumbed to Israeli and pro-Israeli pressures, in Tel Aviv and Washington. Those not familiar with the connotation of certain terminology in this conflict may not appreciate what it truly means that the US will no longer demand an Israeli halt of the ‘natural growth’ of its settlements, especially in the occupied Jerusalem area where tens of thousands of Palestinians are vulnerable to Israeli ethnic cleansing. Families like the Hanoun and Ghawi family have been evicted from their homes and thrown out on the street before sunrise. “The police came for them at dawn on a Sunday, heavily armed, wearing helmets and riot shields as they broke down the metal doors of the houses...

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