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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
15 December, 2009


International Middle East Media Center

France To Grant The P.A 200 M Euros
IMEMC 15 Dec 2009 - Wednesday December 16, 2009 - 01:00, Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyadh Al Maliky, and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, signed on Tuesday an agreement in which France agrees to donate 200 Million Euros to support Palestinian development projects in the coming three years.

The Israeli military kidnaps 15 Palestinians from the West Bank
IMEMC 15 Dec 2009 - Tuesday December 15, 2009 - 18:36, The Israeli military kidnapped on Tuesday 15 Palestinian civilians during pre dawn invasions targeting a number of West Bank communities.

Patient died in Gaza, Death toll due to the siege reaches 366
IMEMC 15 Dec 2009 - Tuesday December 15, 2009 - 18:23, A Palestinian patient died on Tuesday after he was prevented by the Israeli military to leave the Gaza Strip for medical care.

Three found dead inside a tunnel in the Gaza Strip
IMEMC 15 Dec 2009 - Tuesday December 15, 2009 - 18:05, Three Palestinian civilians were found dead on Tuesday afternoon inside a tunnel between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

Three Palestinians Missing Under Collapsed Tunnel
IMEMC 15 Dec 2009 - Tuesday December 15, 2009 - 12:24, Egyptian security sources reported Tuesday morning that three Palestinians went missing when a border tunnel collapsed on them in an area close to the Rafah border terminal, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Former Israeli FM Tzipi Livni Will Be Arrested If Enters UK
IMEMC 15 Dec 2009 - Tuesday December 15, 2009 - 09:35, Arab and Israeli media sources reported Monday that a British court has issued an arrest warrant against former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for her role in orchestrating last winter's offensive against Gaza.

Ma'an News

Settlement construction continues under partial ban
12/15/2009 - Construction continues on one of the 3,000 West Bank settlement units exempt from the partial short-term construction moratorium announced unilaterally by the Israeli government in November. The images above are from the Har Gilo settlement, build on lands belonging to the village of Al-Walaja, an area sliced in two by the planned route of Israel's separation wall. Much of Al-Walaja is west of the small settlement, and has been annexed to Israel`s "greater Jerusalem area," though it is in the Bethlehem district. A map of Al-Walaja (image 2) shows the area in red, north of Har Gilo, south of the Green Line but annexed to Jerusalem. The gray line shows the planned route of the separation wall, though later plans amended the map and will construct the wall around the red outline with a narrow corridor connecting Al-Walaja to the West Bank. 

Three dead after Gaza tunnel collapses
12/15/2009 - Al-Arish - Ma'an - Three Palestinians were killed after a tunnel collapsed beneath the Egypt-Gaza border on Monday night. The three were reported missing early on Tuesday, and later found by rescue workers. Egyptian officials said they were informed of the collapse and the missing men by the Palestinian government in Gaza, the site of the collapsed tunnel was approximately 1,000 meters north of the Rafah crossing point, sources said. Smugglers maintain a large network of underground tunnels along the Rafah border, importing goods made scarce by an Israeli-led blockade of Gaza. Accidents in the tunnels are frequent. According to the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Mezan, 120 people have been killed working in the tunnel trade since its inception approximately three years ago. 

Official: Egypt launches anti-tunnel sweep
12/15/2009 - Al-Arish - Ma'an - Egyptian security forces launched a campaign to shut down smuggling tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip, a security official said on Tuesday. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Egyptian forces found ten tunnels in the Salah Ad-Din area of Egyptian Rafah, along the border with Gaza, after receiving a tip about a "large number" of tunnels. The forces seized five trucks worth of car parts near the openings of four tunnels, the source added. According to the same official, the closure and confiscation operation was ongoing at the time of this report. Egyptian army forces were seen throughout Rafah, searching houses for suspected smugglers and contraband, with at least one smuggler arrested, sources said. As many as 1,300 tunnels are thought to exist underneath the Gaza-Egypt border. 

15 Palestinians detained overnight in West Bank
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Israeli military said it detained 15 Palestinians overnight in the West Bank on Tuesday. A military spokesperson said two detainees were taken from Qabatiya south of Jenin, one from Qalqiliya, eight from the village of Jayyus, near Qalqiliya, one from Anata, south of Ramallah, two from Ubeidiya west of Bethlehem, and one from another village south of Bethlehem. However, witnesses reported that Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians from Jayyous, adding that armed soldiers stormed the village at dawn and demolished the main Jayyous municipality gate. The witnesses named those detained as Maher Aref 25, Wasif Abdel Qader,13, Waqis Abdel Qader,19, Layth Abdel Qader,20, Yahya Nofal, 12, Ahmad Al-Qadumi, 21, Yazan Al-Qadumi, 18, Abdul Rahim Khatib,35 and Farah Abdul Men'em,16. The military spokesperson said the detainees were "taken for security questioning. . . " 

Prisoners say poorly treated at Hadarim prison
12/15/2009 - Salfit - Ma'an - Palestinian prisoners detained at the Israeli Hadarim detention center wrote of numerous claims of poor treatment at the hands of Israeli prison guards, in a letter to the Palestinian Prisoners Society on Tuesday. According to the detainees, Israeli prison guards have been staging haphazard and sudden night searches for the last three weeks, under the pretext that prisoners are concealing mobile telephones, they wrote. Additionally, the prison administration has prohibited detainees from continuing their university studies. Detainee Jamal Abu Mhessen named three such examples in the letter: Ayman Ash-Sarbati,Mahmoud As-Sarkhi, Khaled Muheisen and Ammar Mardi. Abu Mhessen also told the Detainees' Society that many prisoners had been arbitrarily punished by being transferred to isolation cells, includingAhmad Al-Faransy, Ammar Mardy, and Nasser Sweilim. 

Report: Prisoner going blind as Israel refuses treatment
12/15/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - The People's Movement for Prisoners and Palestinian Rights demanded that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) allow a Palestinian detainee, held at Nafha prison, undergo treatment for his deteriorating health, a statement said Tuesday. Shawqi Abu Athera, 37, is going blind as a result of the Israeli Prison administration's refusal to allow him to undergo treatment, according to the movement. Despite having surgery on his right eye nine months ago, IPSprohibited Abu Athera from pursuing further necessary treatment for his condition, the general director of the movement said. The statement added that Abu Athera remains in "unbearable pain" as a result. Additionally, Abu Athera suffers from critical injuries to his left hand and back , which he sustained during the first Palestinian uprising. Abu Athera, originally from Beersheba, was detained on 13 December 2003 at the Rafah border crossing in Gaza. 

Israel bans tourists from key West Bank bus line
12/16/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Just days before Bethlehem's busiest tourist season begins, Israeli authorities implemented a ban on foreign-passport holders traveling to Jerusalem on Palestinian buses. On 11 December, Bethlehem tourists began to report being pulled off line 21, a route used predominantly by holders of East Jerusalem residency cards, as they stopped for inspection at the Jerusalem tunnel entrance into Israel. For years, foreign-passport holders using public transportation could choose between the tunnel bus, which departs near Beit Jala, or Israel's military checkpoint 300, known colloquially as Gilo or Rachel's Tomb. A high-ranking Israeli official confirmed the policy change on Monday. "This issue is being resolved presently. Everything will be completed in a day or so, possibly even today," the official said, confirming that, for now, redirecting foreign-passport holders from the tunnel to checkpoint 300 is a matter of policy. 

Two Ramallah villages protest settlements
12/15/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - Dozens of Palestinians rallied in the villages of Deir Nidham and An-Nabi Salih near Ramallah on Tuesday, protesting theexpansion of Israeli settlements and confiscation of land by Israel. Villagers gathered at the crossroads near An-Nabi Salih in the morning, carrying olive seedlings to plant on the lands settlers confiscated, now annexed to the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Hallamish, also known as Neve Zuf. "Residents are adamant to access their lands and plant them,"Bashir Tamimi, head of the joint local council of Deir Nidham and An-Nabi Salih told Ma'an from the scene. Settlers in turn gathered at the limits of the settlement and heated arguments erupted between the two sides before Israeli forces intervened. 

Mayor: Light of Christmas shines in Bethlehem despite wall
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - "Our message to the world in this glorious Christmas season is a message of love, peace and justice," Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh told assembled revelers at the official lighting ceremony for the city tree. Amid clergy, foreign diplomats, pilgrims and Palestinians, a bevy of local leaders joined hands and together turned on the lights of the tree. Among those present were the current and former governors of Bethlehem, the current and former ministers of tourism, representative of the president's office Rafiq Al-Husseini and local police chiefs. The tree, a 20 foot tall pine that stands outside the Nativity Church in Bethlehem's Manger Square, was set alight, following a Christmas message from Bethlehem to the world, delivered by the city's mayor. "Even though the message of our Lord Jesus Christ is a message of love. . . " 

Detainee’s mother released after two days
12/15/2009 - Salfit - Ma'an - Israeli forces released Um Baker Bilal on Monday evening after detaining her for two days, her lawyer said. Adbul Malek Dahamsheh, Um Baker's lawyer, said that she was detained by Israeli forces in an attempt to place pressure on her detained sons as a means of blackmail. The head of the Ahrar detianees' center condemned the detention of Um Baker and the Israeli policy of detaining parents of prisoners, further calling on international human rights organizations to intervene. [end] 

Two Gaza crossings open; four remain closed
12/15/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Israeli authorites opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing and the Nahal Oz fuel terminal to allow the transfer of goods into the beseiged Gaza Strip on Tuesday, while the Karni crossing remained closed, a Palestinian crossings official said. The official, Raed Fattouh, said 80 truckloads of commercial merchandize and humanitarian aid would be allowed through Kerem Shalom. Furthermore, limited quantities of domestic gas and industrial diesel for Gaza's sole power plant would be permitted via both the Kerem Shalom and Nahal Oz crossings. Egyptian and Israeli authorities maintain a tight grip on the flow of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, in addition to limiting the movement of Palestinians. The two border crossings into Egypt and Israel, Rafah and Erez respectively, allow Palestinians to travel solely with permits. 

UNRWA union secures pay raise, benefits for workers
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Following months of on-and-off strikes, UNRWA and its workers' union leaders reached an agreement to increase retirement benefits and raise wages for staff in Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. According to the report, the deal will see a 1. 5% increase in the retired employee's annual salary for each year of service, from 8. 5 to 10 % for all staff retiring after 1 January 2010. The paper quoted chief of UNRWA's public information office and agency spokesperson Sami Mshasha as saying a 3% wage increase would also go ahead, in addition to unspecified adjustments to wages to ensure they were on par with peers in the public sector. The Times said a statement from the agency indicated that similar changes would go through in Syria and Lebanon where necessary. The news of salary and benefits increases comes after the USA and the UAE both pledged millions of. . . 

Chaos at Beit Jala checkpoint: 2 detained
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Beit Jala-Jerusalem checkpoint was temporarily closed Tuesday night as a car accident injured an unknown number of people and Israeli border police detained two youth from the Bethlehem area, sources said. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed an accident caused the checkpoint closure, but could not confirm the identities of those injured. Israeli media reported the closure was due to the discovery of Palestinians with explosives. The checkpoint was re-opened by 10pm, military sources said. Two youth from the Duheisha Refugee Camp in Bethlehem were in fact detained, the military spokeswoman said, noting they were transferred to Israeli border police. She said the two were carrying a "15cm knife and a Japanese knife" respectively. The border police were not immediately available for comment on the issue. 

PA cabinet praises EU statement on Jerusalem
12/15/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - The cabinet of the caretaker administration in the West Bank on Monday evening hailed the European Union foreign minister's statement calling for the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. The EU ministers adopted conclusions on Tuesday calling for a resumption of negotiations and condemning Israeli violations in Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority cabinet said in a statement this document reflects the EU's "solidarity" with the Palestinian people and its recognition of their inalienable rights. The cabinet said they would also hold the Israeli cabinet responsible for Friday's settler attack on the mosque in the West Bank village of Yasuf. The ministers also praised the UK for issuing new guidelines calling for clearer labeling of products made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. 

Peres: Hamas split delaying prisoner deal
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli President Shimon Peres blamed internal divisions in Hamas for delaying a deal that could see the release of a captured soldier and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Speaking to a group of Israeli soldiers on Monday said the division was between Hamas' leaders in the Gaza Strip and those in its exiled political leadership, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz. It was the first time in more than a week that a senior Israeli official has spoken publicly about the ongoing indirect negotiations with Hamas about the fate of captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Haaretz said Peres was responding to questions from soldiers during a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony on a military base near Israel's border with Gaza, where Shalit is held. "Israel will do everything possible to bring our soldier son home safe and sound. . . . " 

Report: Prisoner deal a week away
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - A prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel could be concluded within a week, a high-ranking Egyptian source told the Syrian newspaper Al-Watan in a report that appeared on Tuesday. The source claimed that Egypt invited a Hamas delegation to Cairo in order to follow up with the swap deal. A German mediator also apparently told Cairo that Israel was showing flexibility regarding 20 prisoners whose status in the swap was holding up the deal. The German mediator told the Egyptian side, according to Al-Watan, that the deal would be finalized in a week if negotiations go on as planned. "Therefore, we invited a Hamas delegation to Cairo in order to crystallize a final agreement. The delegation will be in Cairo within three or four days," the Egyptian source was quoted as saying. 

Obama tells Lebanon to stop arms trade
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - US President Barack Obama urged Lebanon on Tuesday to clamp down on the smuggling of weapons he said could pose a threat to Israel. Obama was responding to a journalist's question about whether he and Lebanese President Michel Sleiman discussed the Shia armed group Hizbullah during a meeting at the White House earlier in the day. "I emphasized to him our concerns about the extensive arms that are smuggled into Lebanon that potentially serve as a threat to Israel," Obama said, according to a transcript. Obama also called for the full implementation of UN Security Council 1701, which ended a 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah that killed more than a thousand Lebanese and hundreds of Israelis. The resolution bans unauthorized weapons between the Litani River in southern Lebanon and the Blue Line, the de facto border with Israel. 

Mash’al meets top Iranian leader Rafsanjani
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Hamas leader Khalid Mash'al met with senior Iranian official Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in Tehran, the country's state news agency IRNA reported on Tuesday. During the meeting, Rafsanjani said the Islamic world must act to break the Israeli-led siege of Gaza. "The oppression and injustice observed against the Gaza residents today is extremely heartbreaking and putting an end to it is the sheer duty of the Islamic world," Iran's former president said. "The Islamic world had better step in and take the necessary moves aimed at breaking the siege of Gaza," he was quoted as saying. The report also said Mash'al, the head of Hamas' Political Bureau in who lives in exile in Syria, thanked Iran for its "political and spiritual support" for Palestinians. Mash'al arrived in Tehran on Sunday. 

Israel, UK confirm Livni arrest warrant
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israel and the UK confirmed on Tuesday that a British court issued an arrest warrant against its former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for charges related to Israel's winter war on Gaza. The incident marks the first time an Israeli official faced arrest in the UK in connection with the Gaza conflict. The British daily The Guardian reported late on Monday that the Westminster magistrates' court issued the warrant at the request of lawyers acting on behalf some of the Palestinian victims of the Gaza war. The warrant was later dropped when it was ascertained that Livni, who served as foreign minister during the three-week attack which left more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead, was not in the country. In the first government statement on the subject the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the warrant would harm relations between the two countries. 

Abbas: Israel remains intransigent
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - President Mahmoud Abbas told Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leaders that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will return to negotiations once Israel abides by its previous commitments, as well as reiterated that he will not seek reelection. "The PA will restart peace negotiations once Israel halts all settlement construction and recognizes the 1967 borders as the official borders of the future Palestinian state," Abbas said. Abbas denied that the PA is moving towards a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state but said "our actions fall within the framework of the international resolutions and legitimacy, while Israel remains intransigent with regard to settlements, borders, the ongoing siege on Gaza, and Palestinian detentions. Israel is the one taking unilateral decisions. 

Jewish activist seeks meeting with Mash’al to talk peace
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - "The Israeli occupation is the largest example of terrorism in the world" prominent American Jewish activist and member of the Bereaved Families Forum Isaac Frankental said in an interview Tuesday. Speaking with Chief Editor of Ma'an News Agency Nasser Lahham, Frankental stressed his support for the values of human rights and said he hoped one day to meet Hamas leader in exile Khalid Mash'al. "I'd like to get to know him and exchange points of view," Frankental told Lahham. "I hope Mash'al reads this report," he continued, saying he would even go to Damascus if it meant straining ties with Israel. Frankental was well known as a friend to the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who the latter once described as "like a son" to him, following more than 80 visits between the two as part of the work of the families forum. 

Fatah Revolutionary Council urges Abbas to stay on
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Fatah's Revolutionary Council recommended Mahmoud Abbas remain in office as president of the Palestinian Authority, following an emergency session held in Ramallah on Monday evening. The PLO Central Council is expected to issue a similar call on Tuesday during its meeting in Ramallah. In November, Abbas said he had "no desire" to seek another term following his call for elections to be held in January. Plans for elections however, were postponed due to continued mistrust between the West Bank government and the Hamas authority in Gaza. According to the Palestinian Basic Law, Abbas' term expired in January 2009. The PLO issued a decision extending his term to January 2010, though the move was contested by Hamas. The Revolutionary Council, Fatah's second largest internal body, also expressed astonishment at the European call for negotiations on Jerusalem. . . 

Fayyad: Literal PA institution building underway
12/15/2009 - Ramallah - The Palestinian caretaker government intends to undertake the construction of its institutions rather than depending on renting buildings that were originally designed for residential purposes, said the Ramallah-based government's Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Monday. Whilst pointing out that several PA institutions owned the buildings they worked in, such as the Ministry of Finance, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and the Palestinian National Forces, the majority of headquarters of public sector institutions were rented, Fayyad said. Additionally, a compound for all ministries is being constructed, Fayyed said. The prime minister explained that laying the cornerstone for the headquarters of the Palestinian National Fund, in addition to launching postal services, were all appropriate steps towards establishing sovereign institutions of a future Palestinian state. 

Poll: 57% back Abbas not running
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - A majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip support President Mahmoud Abbas' decision not to run in the next elections, results of an independent poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) showed Monday. From its findings, PSR concluded, "While the balance of power between Fatah and Hamas remains as it was before the eruption of the Goldstone report crisis, the majority do not blame Hamas for the continued split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip or for the failure to hold national elections. "Indeed, a majority supports the president's decision not to run in the next elections and a majority opposes holding elections before reconciliation," a summary of the poll suggested. Barghouthi would beat Haniyeh - The poll, undertaken between 10 and 12 December, shows that 57% of Palestinians support Abbas' decision not to run in a presidential election while 36% oppose it. 

Marwan Barghouthi: no elections without unity
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Detained Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi said Palestinian elections cannot be held before Fatah and Hamas officials sign the Egyptian-backed reconciliation document, in an interview with AFP published Tuesday said. "Presidential and parliamentary elections must be held after reconciliation and in the context of a complete national agreement," AFP quoted Barghouthi as saying. The Fatah leader, currently held at the Israeli Hadarim Detention Center and detained in 2002, further asserted that he would "make the appropriate decision" around announcing his candidacy for the presidency, noting the decision would be made only when a reconciliation document is signed and dates for the general Palestinian elections are set. Barghouthi said general and presidential elections must be undertaken across the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem. . . 

MoH in Gaza to provide H1N1 vaccines
12/15/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - The Gaza government's Health Ministry attended on Monday a meeting with the national committee for the prevention of H1N1 in Gaza, to discuss the various measures the ministry should undertake to minimize the spread of the virus. The national committee monitoring the H1N1 virus includes representatives of several ministries and health organizations, in addition to the World Health Organization and UNWRA. Minister of Health Basem Naim said during the meeting that the Ministry will be providing Palestinians in Gaza with the H1N1 vaccine and stated that the majority of confirmed swine flu cases in the Gaza Strip had been treated. The fatalities caused by the H1N1 virus, he added, were largely attributed to patients who further suffered from pre-existing conditions. The committee's chairman, Fuad Eisawi, explained that of a 216 suspected cases, 92 patients were diagnosed with swine flu of which 52 have recovered. 

Abbas promises PLO Central Council ’no surprise decisions’
12/15/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - Official sources in the Fatah movement said they secured a promise from President Mahmud Abbas that he would not "make any surprise decisions" around whether or not to run for reelection in the next Palestinian vote. The source said Abbas made the commitment front of the Fatah Central Committee, which met Tuesday in Ramallah. The committee reportedly took the comments as a sign that Abbas would not resign before elections are held. Abbas was also quoted as telling the party's highest governing body that "there remain steps I can take, but I will discuss them at a later date. "The source said Abbas' words dispelled fears that the president would resign, and "pave the way for further internal Fatah discussions," adding that it was necessary to develop a clear position on the issue, particularly since it comes amid a unity stalemate. 

PSE drops: Al-Quds Index down 0.07%
12/15/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Stocks fell slightly on the Palestine Securities Exchange (PSE) in Nablus on Tuesday. At the close of trading the Al-Quds Index stood at 493. 16, marking a decrease of 0. 34 points (0. 07%). Trading volume for Tuesday was 754,529 shares, a total value of 1,552,438. 6 US dollars, executed through 284 trades. The shares of 19 companies were traded. The shares prices of seven companies rose, and seven others dropped. The top five gainers were APC by 4. 85%, VOIC by 3. 86%, UCI by 3. 39%, BOP by 3. 06%, and ISBK by 1. 43%. The top five losers were NCI by 3. 33%, JCC by 3. 11%, WASSEL by 1. 67%, PIIC by 1. 39%, and AMB by 1. 33%. [end] 

Ha'aretz Defense page

Report: Iran captured spy who gathered intel on Qom nuke site
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Western spy arrested two months ago after spying on newly disclosed nuclear facility, Channel 2 reports. 

Hamas: Deal for Shalit release still a long way off
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Peres tells IDF soldiers: Schism between Hamas leaders in Gaza and Syria delaying prisoner swap talks. 

MI chief: Iran has enough nuclear material for bomb
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Yadlin says Iran's 'sophisticated strategy' means its 'technological clock is almost done winding.' 

Border Policewoman wounded in fresh clash with settlers
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Policewoman moderately hurt as officials try to enforce West Bank settlement freeze; three arrested. 

Hamas: All Islamist groups will unite with Iran if Israel attacks
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Hamas leader makes comments in Iran, following Iranian threats of retaliation to Israeli strike. 

Chief rabbi: Palestinian mosque burning harkens to Kristallnacht
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Metzger visits Yasuf to express his 'revulsion' over attack, pelted by rocks on way out of village. 

Ukrainian shipwreck may have been result of fuel smuggling
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Police suspect the ship was smuggling diesel fuel; five surviving sailors released from Haifa hospital. 

Egypt destroys tunnel used for smuggling cars into Gaza
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Entrance to tunnel found 300 meters from Gaza, days after Egypt announced construction of iron border wall. 

Far-right yeshiva head: My duty is to tell troops to refuse orders
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Har Bracha is one of two yeshivas funded by Defense Min. which encourage refusal of settlement evacuation orders. 

Taiwan probing reports of illicit nuclear sale to Iran
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Taipei last week said it had no knowledge of 100 European-made transducers shipped to Tehran. 

Israeli town on Gaza border blooms amid fragile truce
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Newcomers say high central-Israel costs are causing unlikely real estate boom near the embattled Strip. 

Shin Bet gets new deputy, as race to succeed Diskin heats up
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - New appointment marks three candidates lined up to succeed Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin. 

Barak orders IDF to cut ties with far-right yeshiva
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, head of Har Bracha yeshiva, urged troops to refuse orders to evacuate settlements. 

WATCH: Dramatic footage of IDF rescue of sailors lost at sea
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Five Ukrainian crewmen were pulled from sea after their cargo ship sank off the coast of Lebanon. 

Hezbollah: We're not responsible for rocket fire into Israel
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - But group's deputy leader denies militant group has ceased to take part in fight against Israel. 

IDF officer convicted of striking Palestinian in 2008 West Bank arrest
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - 1st Lt. (res.) Adam Malul of the Kfir brigade convicted of assault, conduct unbecoming an officer. 

IDF cutting anti-terror activity to support settlement freeze
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Authorities are concerned that Palestinian terrorists could use the opportunity to launch attack. 

Palestinian wounds Israeli woman in West Bank stabbing
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - 20-year-old moderately hurt; settler leader: Government's weakness causing terrorists to strike. 

Qassam hits Israel, despite Hamas moratorium on Gaza rocket fire
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - A second rocket fired by militants explodes in PA territory; no casualties or damage caused. 

Officials fear Palestinian reprisals in wake of mosque attack
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Israeli woman, 22, moderately wounded in stabbing in West Bank; police searching for suspect. 


Britain apologizes to Livni over arrest warrant
Uruknet December 15, 2009 - British Foreign Secretary David Milliband yesterday apologized to MK Tzipi Livni and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for the arrest warrant issued against Livni in London earlier this week. He also promised Lieberman to begin working immediately to change the UK laws that enable the issue of arrest warrants against Israeli officials accused of war crimes. Britain's...

A media reading of recent Jewish fatwas on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.
Uruknet December 15, 2009 - Media and human rights sources have expressed their outrage at the teshuvah (Jewish legal opinion, literally a "response") of the Israeli Sanhedrin (Rabbis' council) to kill Palestinian prisoners and kidnap elected members of the Palestinian legislature. The Sanhedrin was prompted to issue this opinion by news of the recent negotiations for the release of Israeli soldier...

Israeli occupation forces make mass arrests
Uruknet December 15, 2009 - Israeli occupation forces have launched another campaign of mass arrests in the occupied West Bank. Starting in the early hours of Monday morning, December 14, the target area encompassed several cities and villages. An Israeli army spokesman said that its troops arrested at least 21 Palestinians from different parts of the occupied territory. He did not...

Report: Prisoner going blind as Israel refuses treatment
Uruknet December 15, 2009 - The People's Movement for Prisoners and Palestinian Rights demanded that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) allow a Palestinian detainee, held at Nafha prison, undergo treatment for his deteriorating health, a statement said Tuesday. Shawqi Abu Athera, 37, is going blind as a result of the Israeli Prison administration's refusal to allow him to undergo treatment, according...

Um Bakir: I tasted the real suffering of my sons after two days in prison
Uruknet December 15, 2009 -- Um Bakir, a mother of five Palestinian prisoners, said Monday that she experienced the real suffering of her sons in Israeli jails after she spent only two days in detention. In a press statement to Safa news agency, Um Bakir, who was released yesterday from Israeli jails, added that her sons told her what they face...

Patient died in Gaza, Death toll due to the siege reaches 366
Uruknet December 15, 2009 - A Palestinian patient died on Tuesday after he was prevented by the Israeli military to leave the Gaza Strip for medical care. Walied Madi, 38 years old, had Tuberculosis. Palestinian doctors were unable to treat him locally because of the siege. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip announced that with Madi death the...

Heroism in a Vanishing Landscape Resistance in Bethlehem's Villages
Uruknet December 15, 2009 - Christmas is coming. My e-mail has returned at least one plea to help Bethlehem - Christ's birthplace crucified by Israel's segregation wall; 25 foot-high concrete punctuated by militarized watch towers surrounds the entire town. PEACE BE WITH YOU reads a huge legend on the wall without (apparently) the slightest trace of irony; stenciled in English. Hebrew,...

Palestinian Man Prevented By Jewish Municipality From Building On His Own Land
Uruknet December 15, 2009 - Aadel Suad, a Palestinian resident of the town of Mitzpe Ramon in southern Israel, has been prevented for twelve years from building on his own land, and continues to live in a temporary shack with his family. When Suad first applied for a permit to build a home in 1997, he says a senior official told...

U.S. tax dollars fund rabbi who excused killing gentile babies
Uruknet December 15, 2009 - The White House condemns the torching of a mosque, yet respectable Americans contribute to a yeshiva whose rabbi said it's okay to kill gentile babies. It is no surprise that the American administration tacitly, if unenthusiastically, accepted the excuse that the map of national priority zones the cabinet approved on Sunday does not violate the decision...

Report: "Excavations Ongoing At The Al Aqsa Mosque Area"
Uruknet December 15, 2009 - The Aqsa foundation for Waqf and Heritage has revealed large scale Israeli excavations being executed in the area adjacent to the southern wall of Al-Aqsa mosque, the area is also known as the Umayyad Palaces area. The foundation confirmed that some of the excavation works were being carried out at night, especially in one of the...

Would Barak Have Protested if he Knew Who I Am?
Uruknet December 15, 2009 - Yesterday, the Israeli minister of war Ehud Barak, the Israeli commander of the occupation arrived in Vienna on an official visit as a guest of Austrian Defense Minister Norbert Darabos. The press office at the Austrian Defense Ministry announced the visit only a few days before his arrival. The news of the visit of Barak to...

Palestine Telegraph

“The European Campaign” Called on Banki Mon to take practical action to end Gaza siege and assist hu
UK, December 15, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) - "The European Campaign": UN construction of one clay house in Gaza "considered a flagrant international incompetence" Brussels, December 14, 2009 "The European Campaign to end the siege on Gaza" considered UNRWA declaration of constructing the first clay house in Gaza, a year after the last Israeli war on Gaza Strip, which the ongoing...

Tomorrow, Future of Palestinian Refugees is discussed in London
West Bank, December 15, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) -The Palestinian Return Center in London will launch its international conference entitled "UNRWA and the future of Palestinian refugees." Tomorrow, Wednesday 16th December 2009.

JeninStan of Mr. Dayton and the “Two-States” Solution !!!
I cant see but pantostons in the West Bank (sorry, Historic Yesrael), and this is at the meantime before the zionists double the number of the settlers again. After 26 year of occupying the West Bank, in 1993, the number of the settlers was only 120, 000 in scattered settlements. As the whole world was talking of “peace” the Zionists...

West Bank: IOF Detain 15 Palestinians Overnight
West Bank, December 15, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) -The Israeli occupation forces jailed 15 Palestinians in raids at dawn, in Jenin, Qalqilia and Bethlehem in West Bank .Local sources demonstrated that yesrerday Israeli forces overran small town in Qalqilia governorate and detained nine youngmen . Besides, thses sources listed the detainees' names: Maher Aref Jaser ,25; Sayf Abdu El-Qader,13; Qays  Abdu El-Qader ,...

Ban Ki-moon worried over impact of siege on Gaza people
New York, December 15, 2009, (Pal Telegraph) - The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern over the worsening humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip as a result of the stringent Israeli siege. He told reporters in New York on Monday that the situation in Gaza is still a cause for concern, adding that he was "seriously working with...

The National

US hikers’ future is hanging in the balance
The National 15 Dec 2009 - The fate of the three American hikers is now linked to several Iranians that Tehran says the US has “illegally” detained.

Israel warns UK over war crimes warrants
The National 15 Dec 2009 - Israel warns Britain that ties between the two countries are threatened because UK courts keep issuing war crimes warrants against visiting Israeli ministers and officials.

Syria to subsidise heating oil for one million
The National 15 Dec 2009 - After heating fuel cost rise fourfold in two years, households with an annual income of less than $8,700 will qualify for payment of $215.


Israel angry over UK Livni warrant
AlJazeera 15 Dec 2009 - British court's order to arrest former foreign minister sparks furore.

Iran to try detained US citizens
AlJazeera 14 Dec 2009 - Hikers to face trial after entering the country "with suspicious aims", Tehran says.

Hamas vows to continue resistance
AlJazeera 14 Dec 2009 - Haniya tells anniversary rally in Gaza City that peace talks have "failed".

Alternative Information Center

A Palestinian Christian Call to End the Occupation 
Alternative Information Center 14 Dec 2009 - A group of Palestinian Christians representing a variety of churches and church-related organizations have issued an animated and prayerful call for an end to occupation of Palestine by Israel. The call, issued at a 11 December...

23 Palestinian Youth Learn Empowerment and Creative Resistance through Art
Alternative Information Center 14 Dec 2009 - This past Saturday, 12 December, the Alternative Information Center (AIC) conducted the graduation ceremony for its second series of art empowerment training workshops, conducted weekly throughout the second half of 2009 in the West Bank city...

Palestine News Network

Mahmoud Dabdoub The Photographer
PNN 15 Dec 2009 - Mahmoud Dabdoub was born in Lebanon in 1958 and worked from 1976 to 1982 in the Palestinian cultural office in Beirut. He went to the German Democratic Republic in 1981 and studied at the College for Graphics and Printing in Leipzig. Since 1987, he has continued to work there as a freelance journalist and photographer.Life in a divided landFor almost a decade,...

A l'Ombre des Mots, (In the Shade of Words) Le Trio Joubran 
PNN 15 Dec 2009 - It is difficult to speak about our work In the Shade of Words because it is, in fact, in the shade of a man whom we, Le Trio Joubran, accompanied in love and respect for more than twelve years. A man from the kingdom of the verb who pronounced a word, crafted a letter, a note, a sentence, enchanted us and brought...

Abbas gives terms for resuming stalled peace talks
PNN 15 Dec 2009 - President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday said the Palestinians would resume suspended peace talks with Israel if it halts settlement building and recognises pre-1967 borders as a basis for a Palestinian state. Addressing a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's central council, Abbas said he would not accept any return to violence against Israel. When Israel stops settlement activity for a specific period...

British court issued Gaza arrest warrant for former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni 
PNN 15 Dec 2009 - Warrant issued over war crimes accusations was withdrawn when it emerged former minister had cancelled plan to visit. A British court issued an arrest warrant for Israel ('s former foreign minister over war crimes allegedly committed in Gaza ( this year – only to withdraw it when it was discovered that she was not in the UK, it emerged today.Tzipi Livni, a...

Palestinians fake cancer to flee blockaded Gaza
PNN 14 Dec 2009 - GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A healthy man in blockaded Gaza faked cancer, hoping the deadly disease would be his ticket out of the territory that has become an open-air prison for its 1.4 million residents. His ploy failed, but several thousand others succeeded in fleeing this shabby sliver of land this year using bribes and fake medical reports, a sign of...

Stone thrower-turned-violinist gives Palestinians music, and hope
PNN 14 Dec 2009 - NABLUS, West Bank — If no one had handed Ramzi Aburedwan a violin when he was a stone-throwing teenager in a refugee camp, he might've ended up languishing in an Israeli prison cell. He might've become little more than an obscure fatality lost amid the thousands of young Palestinians killed in the seemingly intractable conflict. However, music teachers from Ramallah to Boston...

Palestinians argue on first contest to choose Miss Palestine 
PNN 14 Dec 2009 - The declaration of a commercial Palestinian company on Saturday to organize the first-ever contest to choose Miss Palestine aroused a large argument among the conservative Palestinians who considered the contest a contradiction with Islamic traditions. A private Ramallah-based commercial company called Trip Fashion announced on Saturday that it intends to organize soon the first-ever contest to choose Miss Palestine under the title...

Jerusalem Post

Peres honors survivors on Hanukkah
Jeruslalem Post 15 Dec 2009 - President acknowledges contributions to establishment, security and existance of Israel.

High Court upholds ban on Gazan inmate visits
Jeruslalem Post 15 Dec 2009 - Ruling continues prohibition on Gaza strip residents visiting family members imprisoned in Israeli jails.

'Iran arrested Western spy'
Jeruslalem Post 15 Dec 2009 - Channel 2: Teheran told IAEA about clandestine enrichment plant to minimize spy damage.

Otniel Yeshiva head to take steps to protest Har
Jeruslalem Post 15 Dec 2009 - Ontiel hesder yeshiva head to cease cooperating with IDF in issuing service extensions to students.

Outraged Jerusalem says Livni warrant threatens ties with UK
Jeruslalem Post 15 Dec 2009 - Miliband calls Kadima leader to express 'shock' as diplomatic crisis escalates; PM slams British attempt to issue arrest warrant for Livni.

Analysis: Most ministers would face arrest in UK
Jeruslalem Post 15 Dec 2009 - Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni is one among many who face the near-certainty of arrest in Britain.

'Recognition of '67 border before talks'
Jeruslalem Post 15 Dec 2009 - Abbas: Moratorium "not considered a stop of settlement activity"; Lieberman rejects comments.

Iran sanctions approved in US Congress
Jeruslalem Post 15 Dec 2009 - House of Representatives votes to impose sanctions; lawmakers doubt Teheran will cooperate.

Barak's wife questioned over Filipino cleaner
Jeruslalem Post 15 Dec 2009 - Aides to defense minister say woman no longer employed.


EGYPT: River pollution hits Nile fishermen
IRIN CAIRO Sunday, December 13, 2009 (IRIN) - “It’s becoming so hard these days. I only managed to get a few fish yesterday,” said Galal Saed, 35, casting his net into the Nile near the village of Hawamdia, 25km south of Cairo.

ISRAEL: HIV-positive migrants lack access to care - NGO 
IRIN TEL AVIV Monday, December 07, 2009 (IRIN) - A prominent local NGO working on HIV-related issues says HIV-positive asylum-seekers and migrants face difficulties in accessing free AIDS services in Israel, including treatment.

In Brief: First swine flu cases confirmed in Gaza
IRIN TEL AVIV Monday, December 07, 2009 (IRIN) - Nearly seven months after the first H1N1 influenza cases were registered in Israel and the West Bank, five cases of the disease were confirmed in the Gaza Strip on 6 December, according to the Palestinian health authority.

Inter Press Service

US-IRAN: House Passes Sanctions Bill, Senate Urged to Wait 
IPS WASHINGTON, Dec 15 (IPS) - In advance of U.S. President Barack Obama's end of the year deadline for Iran to respond to negotiations aimed at bringing a halt to the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme, the House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday to sanction companies that sell refined petroleum to...

MIDEAST: Occupation Eats Away Israel's Heart and Soul 
IPS JERUSALEM, Dec 15 (IPS) - After Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank torched a mosque and desecrated copies of the Quran in the Palestinian village of Yasuf, last Friday morning, they ran into a wall of condemnation.

PCHR Weekly Report

(03- 09 Dec. 2009)
PCHR During the reporting period, one Palestinian civilian was wounded when Israeli forces used force to disperse a peaceful demonstration organized by Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders to protest the construction of the Annexation Wall in the West Bank.  

International Solidarity Movement

Palestinians in Bir Idd win the right to use local road
12/15/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - 13 December - It seems that a major victory has been won regarding Palestinians using their road to get to and from town. Israeli settlers have demanded that only Jews be allowed to use the Palestinian road. For the most part, Israeli soldiers have been following setter orders, not the orders of their superiors or the Israeli courts. The Israeli courts and the Israeli military have agreed that the Palestinians may use Palestinian roads. Another factor is that the fields the villagers have have been using have now been planted, so it is less tempting for the villagers to go through the fields to avoid conflicts with soldiers and settlers. This is a major victory for the villagers, due to persistence on the part of the Palestinians, support from Israeli activists, and the presence of internationals in the village In addition to all this, the Palestinians have Israeli law, justice, and just plain common decency on their side. 

British court issued Gaza arrest warrant for former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni
12/15/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - The Guardian, 14 December - A British court issued an arrest warrant for Israel's former foreign minister over war crimes allegedly committed in Gaza this year - only to withdraw it when it was discovered that she was not in the UK, it emerged today. Tzipi Livni, a member of the war cabinet during Operation Cast Lead, had been due to address a meeting in London on Sunday but cancelled her attendance in advance. The Guardian has established that Westminster magistrates' court issued the warrant at the request of lawyers acting for some of the Palestinian victims of the fighting but it was later dropped. The warrant marks the first time an Israeli minister or former minister has faced arrest in the UK and is evidence of a growing effort to pursue war crimes allegations under "universal jurisidiction". 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

UN: Much of West Bank closed to Palestinian building 
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Israel effectively allows Palestinians to build in only 1 percent of Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank over which it retains full control, according to a new report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. ... 

MI chief: Syria is not natural member of 'radical axis' 
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Syria is a potential peace partner for Israel because it is a secular country that is not completely entrenched in the "radical axis" of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, despite increased cooperation among all four entities, Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin said Tuesday. ... 

Witness in Demjanjuk trial may be implicated in Treblinka killings 
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - German authorities are investigating whether a man due to testify at the war-crimes trial of John Demjanjuk may have committed killings himself as a concentration camp guard, a prosecutor said yesterday. ... 

U.S. planning to restart Israel-PA talks based on '67 borders
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - The United States and Egypt, along with France, are planning a joint move to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks on the basis of the June 4, 1967, borders, territorial exchanges and a complete freeze of construction beyond the Green Line, including East Jerusalem. The freeze would not be announced publicly. ... 

Aluf Benn / Obama will back dialogue with Hamas
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Barack Obama's speech upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize should be called "the realist manifesto." The U.S. president summed up his political worldview in seven words: "I face the world as it is." Not a messiah, not a prophet and not a dreamer. Rather, a leader who recognizes the limits of human nature and sees statecraft as a power game. A leader who envisions the highest ideals but understands that they cannot be attained through willpower and persuasion alone. A leader who believes in evolution and does not receive divine inspiration for his political moves like his predecessor George W. Bush. ... 

The Guardian

Letters: Israeli politicians' fear of legal action
The Guardian 15 Dec 2009 - Tzipi Livni's refusal to enter Britain because she fears arrest on war crimes charges increases the number of Israeli ministers and ex-ministers who fear legal action, and is to be welcomed ( British court issued Gaza arrest...

UK to review war crimes warrants after Tzipi Livni arrest row
The Guardian 15 Dec 2009 - Israel condemns London court's move against former foreign minister over Gaza Britain is reviewing procedures for issuing arrest warrants in war crimes cases after a diplomatic row with Israel over allegations against its former foreign minister....

Tzipi Livni arrest warrant prompts Israeli government travel 'ban'
The Guardian 15 Dec 2009 - No senior officials to visit UK until matter resolved, reports say British role in peace process damaged, ambassador told Israel hit back at Britain today over the arrest warrant issued for former foreign minister Tzipi Livni...

Palestinian tunnel tycoons feeding demand for banned goods
The Guardian 14 Dec 2009 - Boom in illicit trade in motorbikes, dismantled in Egypt and smuggled into Gaza, brings deadly consequences Mahmoud is proud of the motorbike he bought two months ago for $700, now parked in the sand at the...

Israeli minister Moshe Ya'alon turned down UK visit over arrest fears
The Guardian 14 Dec 2009 - Vice-prime minister pulled out of fundraising event after being warned he could be held on suspicion of war crimes Moshe Ya'alon, the Israeli deputy prime minister and strategic affairs minister, turned down an invitation to appear...

British court issued Gaza arrest warrant for former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni
The Guardian 14 Dec 2009 - Warrant issued over war crimes accusations was withdrawn when it emerged former minister had cancelled plan to visit A British court issued an arrest warrant for Israel's former foreign minister over war crimes allegedly committed in...

No freeze on Palestinian suffering | Seth Freedman
The Guardian 14 Dec 2009 - International excitement about the West Bank settlement freeze means little to those facing the sharp end of Israeli military rule Within minutes of our arrival in Tuwani , in the south Hebron hills of the West Bank,...

Letter: Stop the sale of 'West Bank' produce
The Guardian 13 Dec 2009 - Under new labelling rules, customers will be able to distinguish between Israeli settlement products and Palestinian goods from the occupied West Bank ( Report , 11 December). It should also be made clear that those settlements are illegal...

Ha'aretz National page

Jerusalem court rejects request to postpone Olmert case
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - The Jerusalem District Court yesterday refused a request from former prime minister Ehud Olmert's defense attorneys to postpone the opening of the evidentiary stage of his graft trial due to the resignation of one of the attorneys, Yehuda Weinstein, who was recently appointed attorney general. ... 

How cyberwarfare has made MI a combat arm of the IDF
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Using computer networks for espionage is as important to warfare today as the advent of air support was to warfare in the 20th century, Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin said Tuesday. ... 

Accident averted as Russian jet misses landing strip at Ben Gurion
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - An accident was narrowly averted at Ben Gurion airport on Tuesday evening after a Russian aircraft missed its landing strip twice. ...

Police bust Israeli Internet gambling ring
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - Police on Tuesday exposed an Internet gambling network, which was operated by Israelis using a server in Eastern Europe. ...

Are Likud leaders traitors, or is the Right out of touch?
Ha'aretz 15 Dec 2009 - As expected, Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of treason by right-wing ideologues, in particular from those among the settlers. This has happened to every prime minister from the right since 1977. It's not always clear whether the accusers only mean treason against right-wing ideology or against the country, but they usually have a hard time distinguishing between the two. ...

Relief Web

Israel's violations risk undermining international legal system, warns statement adopted by Bureau of Palestinian rights committee
Relief Web 15 Dec 2009 - Source: UN General Assembly

Restricting Space in the oPt (as of Dec 2009)
Relief Web 15 Dec 2009 - Source: OCHA

OPT: Abbas sticks by terms for talks, rules out violence
Relief Web 15 Dec 2009 - Source: Reuters - AlertNet

OCHA oPt special focus: Restricting space - The planning regime applied by Israel in area C of the West Bank
Relief Web 15 Dec 2009 - Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

OPT: Egypt's Gaza smugglers shrug off reports of border barrier
Relief Web 15 Dec 2009 - Source: Agence France-Presse

Speech by the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Karen Koning AbuZayd, at the Arab League special session marking UNRWA's 60th Anniversary
Relief Web 14 Dec 2009 - Source: UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

YNet News

US: House votes to expand sanctions on Iran
YNet News 15 Dec 2009 - Approved legislation will end access to US markets for foreign companies selling refined petroleum products to Iran; no Senate action on the legislation expected this year. 'Obama has offered Iran an outstretched hand, but regrettably, Iran has not unclenched its fist,' Foreign Affairs Committee chairman says 

Jerusalem demands London plug legislative loophole 
YNet News 15 Dec 2009 - Israel wants UK to change legal situation which afforded arrest warrant against former FM Tzipi Livni. British Foreign Secretary Miliband promises 'government is looking urgently at ways in which the UK system might be changed' 

British agent exposed true purpose of Qom reactor
YNet News 15 Dec 2009 - Iran revealed construction of secret plant to IAEA only after learning that MI-6 agent told operatives it was designated for uranium enrichment 

'Sorry, but we blew up your laptop'
YNet News 15 Dec 2009 - American student trying to cross from Egypt to Israel loses laptop to security check. 'Was it my peeling Arabic stickers on the keyboard?" she wonders 

Reservists in North to IDF chief: Situation improved since war
YNet News 15 Dec 2009 - Ashkenazi lights fifth Hanukkah candle with soldiers stationed along Lebanon border, tells them, 'It's our job to make sure Israel exists another 6,000 years' 

Officer, 11 settlers injured during clashes in Tzofim 
YNet News 15 Dec 2009 - Civil Administration inspectors enforcing construction moratorium arrive at West Bank settlement to seize excavator; female Border Guard officer sustains moderate wounds in ensuing violence, locals lightly hurt. 'Due to Barak's political whims officers being instructed to injure innocent civilians,' Tzofim resident says 

Miliband denounces Livni arrest warrant 
YNet News 15 Dec 2009 - Netanyahu's office condemns warrant issued against former FM following complaint charging her with 'war crimes' in Gaza. PMO statement says Israel won't abide having IDF personnel being war criminals. UK foreign secretary stresses importance of ties with Israel 

Daily Star

Abbas sticks by terms for talks, rules out violence
Daily Star 15 Dec 2009 President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday Palestinians would only resume peace talks if Israel fully halted illegal settlement building in the occupied West Bank, but ruled out any return to violence. Addressing a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) central council, which is expected to extend his term as president.

Israel protests British arrest warrant against ex-FM Livni
Daily Star 15 Dec 2009 Israel demanded Britain change its law on Tuesday after reports that ex-foreign minister Tzipi Livni would have risked arrest on war crimes charges over last year's Gaza offensive, had she not cancelled a visit to London. The legal jeopardy faced by Israeli politicians and military officers could damage Britain's efforts to play a role in Middle East peacemaking.

Iran's protest movement has entered a new phase
Daily Star 15 Dec 2009 Last week, six months after Iran's June 12 presidential elections, thousands of students protested against the government in universities across Iran - a strong signal that Iran's domestic crisis is far from over, and moreover, entering a new phase. Six months ago, the major focus of the hundreds of thousands of protesters who marched the streets of Tehran.

Egypt's Gaza smugglers shrug off reports of border barrier
Daily Star 15 Dec 2009 Trucks filled with contraband trundle along on a road leading to Egypt's frontier with the besieged Gaza Strip. Their cargo will be sorted into bags and then slipped into Gaza through the tunnels. "That one has concrete," said Abu Khaled, as he parked his mud-camouflaged pick-up by the side of the road. The gaunt, bearded bedouin operates a tunnel himself.

Rights group condemns Yemen security force 'abuses' in south
Daily Star 15 Dec 2009 Human Rights Watch (HRW) have condemned Yemeni security forces for abuses in the country's south, including the killing of at least 11 unarmed protestors during the past two years. A report released Tuesday by the global rights group, said Yemeni forces had "carried out widespread abuses in the south - unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions.

Rival student groups hold rallies in Tehran - IRNA
Daily Star 15 Dec 2009 Pro-government and pro-opposition students staged rival rallies at a Tehran university on Tuesday, the official IRNA news agency reported, in a sign of continuing tension after clashes during protests last week. IRNA said about 700 pro-government students gathered at a Tehran branch of Azad University protesting against an "insult" to the Islamic Republic's late founder.

Hamas says it will unite with Iran if Israel attacks
Daily Star 15 Dec 2009 Islamist militant groups will fight alongside Iran if the country is attacked by Israel, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said in Tehran on Tuesday. Israel has not ruled out military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to end a dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, which the United States and its allies suspect is aimed at building an atomic bomb.

Iran ex-rebels defy Iraq police order to quit camp
Daily Star 15 Dec 2009 Disarmed Iranian rebels and their families defied Iraqi police instructions Tuesday for them to leave a border camp the government has ordered closed. Police toured the camp reminding residents over loudspeakers of the deadline set by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for their departure for alternative accommodation in southern Iraq but they refused to leave.

Violent protests in Indian Kashmir over women's deaths
Daily Star 15 Dec 2009 Protesters shut down much of Indian Kashmir Tuesday after investigators said two women allegedly raped and murdered had actually died by drowning, triggering furious claims of a cover-up. Mass rallies and outbreaks of violence shook the region in May after the bodies of the two Muslim women were found in a stream. Locals said they had been sexually abused and killed by the security forces.Violent protests in Indian Kashmir over women's deaths.

Palestinian Information Center

Get the war criminals arrested now
PIC 16 Dec 2009 - We owe it to the innocent children, who were mercilessly annihilated by the Nazis of our time, to seek justice for them and their families.

IOF troops round up 15 West Bankers
PIC 16 Dec 2009 - The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up 15 Palestinians in the West Bank districts of Jenin, Bethlehem and Qalqilia at dawn Tuesday, radio Israel announced.

Hamas: Abbas’s speech aimed to pave the way for his return to negotiation
PIC 16 Dec 2009 - Hamas stated that Mahmoud Abbas’s speech before the central council of the Palestine liberation organization is an attempt to pave the way for his return to the frivolous negotiations with Israel.

Medical sources: 3 Palestinians of one family killed in tunnel collapse
PIC 16 Dec 2009 - Three Palestinian citizens were killed on Monday night after the tunnel they were inside collapsed over their heads in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, medical sources said on Tuesday.

Abu Obaida: Painful strikes awaiting any fresh IOF invasion of Gaza
PIC 16 Dec 2009 - Abu Obaida, the spokesman of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has warned that painful strikes were awaiting the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) if they ventured into Gaza anew.

Tawtheeq hails British justice for issuing arrest warrant against Livni
PIC 16 Dec 2009 - The central commission for documentation and prosecution of Israeli war criminals (Tawtheeq) welcomed the warrant issued by a British judge for the arrest of Tzipi Livni.

Um Bakir: I tasted the real suffering of my sons after two days in prison
PIC 16 Dec 2009 - Um Bakir, a mother of five Palestinian prisoners, said Monday that she experienced the real suffering of her sons in Israeli jails after she spent only two days in detention.

Hamas political leadership meets with top Iranian officials
PIC 16 Dec 2009 - The Hamas political leadership met with Sa’eed Jalili, the chief negotiator of Iran’s nuclear file, as well as the head of the expediency discernment council and the minister of foreign affairs.

Dweik: National unity, constitutional freedoms must be restored
PIC 16 Dec 2009 - Dr. Aziz Al-Dweik, the speaker of the Palestinian legislative council, has asserted that national unity should be restored to end the internal division, which he described as "fatal".

Haneyya states six strategic points to end internal crisis
PIC 16 Dec 2009 - Palestinian premier Ismail Haneyya stated six strategic points for the national rescue initiative suggested by Khaled Mishaal, which is aimed to end the internal crisis in the Palestinian arena.

Los Angeles Times

L.A. Iranian Americans driven to protect young celebrators 
LA Times 14 Dec 2009 - A nonprofit is providing free taxi vouchers in memory of a young member of the close-knit community killed in a drunk driving accident. When 25-year-old Daniel Levian was killed in a 2008 drunk driving accident, news of the sudden loss jolted the city's tight-knit Iranian American community. Word spread at popular Westside eateries and synagogues, and through Persian-language radio. 

Burning of Ayatollah Khomeini's picture sparks uproar in Iran 
LA Times 14 Dec 2009 - Iran's current supreme leader blames the anti-government protest movement, and seminary students and some lawmakers condemn the burning. But opposition protesters say the incident was staged. Political turmoil built Sunday over the burning of an image of Iran's revolutionary founder, which was aired, in a controversial move, on state television. Accusations that the incident was carried out by anti-government demonstrators sparked protests as well as threats against reformist leaders. 

Secret Iranian nuclear paper assessed 
LA Times 14 Dec 2009 - The document appears to show that nuclear scientists are testing a key component for the detonation of a warhead. Western and U.N. nuclear officials are evaluating a secret Iranian technical document that appears to show that the country's nuclear scientists are testing a key component used in the detonation of a nuclear warhead, according to intelligence officials and weapons experts familiar with the document. 

New York Times

Nuclear Memo in Persian Puzzles Spy Agencies
New York Times 15 Dec 2009 - An unauthenticated memorandum about Iran and its nuclear research raises as many questions as it answers. 

Relations With Turkey Kindle Hopes in Syria
New York Times 15 Dec 2009 - For Syrians, the new relationship suggests an embrace of a more open society and holds the promise of a revitalized regional economy. 

Letter from Egypt: Complaints of Bias Can Go Both Ways in Egypt
New York Times 15 Dec 2009 - While Muslims are protesting Switzerland's ban on minarets, they're continuing to restrict the construction of churches by the Coptic minority. 

World Briefing | Middle East: Iran: Arrests on Charges of Destroying Leaders’ Photos
New York Times 15 Dec 2009 - The authorities have arrested several people accused of destroying photos of the Islamic republic’s founder as well as the current supreme leader at student demonstrations, the state media reported Monday. 

World Briefing | Middle East: West Bank: Israeli Rabbi Decries Burning of a Mosque
New York Times 15 Dec 2009 - Israel’s chief rabbi visited the Palestinian village of Yasuf to condemn the burning of a mosque there, saying the attack brought back memories of the Holocaust. 

In Iran, Protests Gaining a Radical Tinge
New York Times 14 Dec 2009 - The creeping radicalization of Iran’s opposition movement has underscored a rift within it, analysts say, and poses a dilemma for its leaders. 


Police Shoot U.S. Student’s Laptop Upon Entry To Israel
12/16/2009 - Political Theatrics - Israel Border Police officers shot at an American student’s laptop as she entered Israel via Taba, Egypt, two weeks ago. Lily Sussman, 21, wrote on her blog that border police subjected her to two hours of questioning and searches prior to shooting her Apple Macbook three times. “They had pressed every sock and scarf with a security device, ripped open soap and had me strip extra layers. They asked me tons of questions? where are you going? ” Sussman wrote, describing the experience. “Who do you know? Do you have a boyfriend? Is he Arab, Egyptian, Palestinian? Why do you live in Egypt? Why not Israel? What do you know about the ‘conflict’ here? What do you think? They quizzed me on Judaism, which I know nothing about,” she continued. Sussman said that she then heard an announcement on the loudspeaker. “It was something along the lines of, ‘Do not to be alarmed by gunshots because the. . . . " 

VIDEO - The Shooting of Ashraf Abu Rahma
12/15/2009 - Political Theatrics - Interview with Salam Kanaan in Ni'lin - Salam Kanaan is the 17 year old who filmed the shooting of Ashraf Abu Rahma, a bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoner, in Ni’lin in July 2008. [end] 

OCHA: Construction Prohibited in 70% of Area C in WB
12/15/2009 - WAFA - Palestine News Agency - JERUSALEM, December 15, 2009 (WAFA)- “Palestinian construction is effectively prohibited in some 70 percent of Area C” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in occupied Palestinian territory (OCHA) said Tuesday. OCHA had Special Focus covered the planning and zoning regime applied by the Israeli authorities in Area C of the West Bank. Under this regime, Palestinian construction is effectively prohibited in some 70 percent of Area C, while in the remaining 30 percent, a range of restrictions virtually eliminates the possibility of obtaining a building permit. It noted that the Israeli authorities generally allow Palestinian construction only within the boundaries of an Israeli-approved plan and these cover less than one percent of Area C, much of which is already built-up. “As a result, Palestinians are left with no choice but to build - illegally - and risk demolition of their structures and displacement. . . . "-- Link: Restricting Space: The Planning Regime Applied by Israel in Area C of the West Bank. . . . " 

U.S. Tax Dollars Funds Settlement, Located in Heart of WB
12/15/2009 - WAFA - Palestine News Agency - TEL AVIV, December 15, 2009(WAFA)-“How can President Barack Obama object to furthering education in a settlement like Yitzhar, located in the heart of the West Bank? After all, his own tax revenues contribute to the flourishing of the Od Yosef Chai Shechem yeshiva, the settlement's crowning glory,” Akiva Eldar wrote in Haaretz today. He said “the White House condemned the torching of a mosque, yet respectable Americans contribute to a yeshiva whose rabbi said it's okay to kill gentile babies. It is no surprise that the American administration tacitly, if unenthusiastically, accepted the excuse that the map of national priority zones the cabinet approved on Sunday does not violate the decision to freeze construction in the settlements. ”He reported, “the [Israeli] Education Ministry's division for Torah institutions transferred more than NIS1 million to this yeshiva in 2006 and 2007. 

Salfeet Welcomes New American Corner as Sign of Friendship, Cooperation
12/15/2009 - WAFA - Palestine News Agency - SALFEET, December 15, 2009 (WAFA)- The Governor of Salfeet, Brigadier General Munir Aboushi; the Mayor of Salfeet,Tahseen Abd Al-Haleem Salimah; and U. S. Consul General Daniel Rubinstein joined Tuesday the people of Salfeet to celebrate the opening of a new American Corner. The Consul General acknowledged the efforts and cooperation of the people of the Governorate of Salfeet, emphasizing that this new American Corner “symbolizes the commitment of the United States to continue building mutual understanding and cooperation between Americans and the Palestinian people. ” American Corners are partnerships between U. S. embassies or consulates and local communities. They serve as a resource for residents of those local communities, offering access to information about American culture, society, and values, as well as information on educational opportunities in the United States. 

U.S. Provides $75 Million in Budget Support to Palestinian Authority
12/15/2009 - WAFA - Palestine News Agency - RAMALLAH, December 15,2009 (WAFA)– Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, U. S. Consul General Daniel Rubinstein, USAID West Bank/Gaza Mission Director Howard Sumka and Director General for External Relations at the PA Ministry of Finance Mazen Jadallah announced the delivery of $75 million in budget support for the PA during a ceremony today at the Council of Ministers in Ramallah. The Consul General noted that President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad have established a two-year program to build the institutions of a modern state, and to develop the Palestinian economy and civil society institutions. The Consul General added, “The President and Prime Minister have our strong support in fulfilling the goals and priorities of this program, which we see as integral to U. S. efforts to help achieve a two-state solution and comprehensive peace in the region. 

International community must act against Israeli settlements – UN committee
12/15/2009 - United Nations - 15 December 2009 – A United Nations committee on Palestinian rights today called on the international community “to take urgent and decisive action against the continued illegal Israeli actions,” warning that Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory risk undermining the whole structure of international law. “Israel’s violation of international law goes far beyond the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and may affect conflict situations in other parts of the world by discrediting, disregarding and seriously undermining the existing international legal system,” the UN Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People said in a statement. Israel’s temporary suspension of settlement activity falls far short of its obligations under the Road Map – the internationally endorsed plan for a two-State solution to the. . . . 

UN agency for Palestinian refugees seeks $323 million for 2010
12/15/2009 - United Nations - 15 December 2009 – The United Nations agency entrusted with assisting millions of Palestinian refugees has launched its 2010 appeal for over $323 million at a meeting of the 22-member League of Arab States in Cairo, with a focus on those people in Gaza and the West Bank who have been hit hardest by Israel’s closures and access restrictions. “The past 12 months have seen an intensification of the crisis in the oPt [occupied Palestinian territory], with lives and livelihoods ravaged by a combination of Israeli-imposed restrictions on access and movement and persistent conflict,” UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a news release. “The year began with Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, which resulted in death and destruction on a massive scale. The humanitarian crisis in the Strip was compounded by the ongoing siege on Gaza’s borders. . . . " 

Tzipi Livni arrest warrant prompts Israeli government travel ’ban’
12/15/2009 - The Guardian - No senior officials to visit UK until matter resolved, reports say • British role in peace process damaged, ambassador told - A British court issued an arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni on war crimes charges but withdrew it on finding she had cancelled a planned trip to Britain. Photograph: Gil Cohen Magen/ReutersIsrael hit back at Britain today over the arrest warrant issued for former foreign minister Tzipi Livni for alleged war crimes, warning that until the matter was resolved senior officials would not be visiting the UK. Israelis prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, called the warrant absurd, the Ynet website reported. The British ambassador, Tom Phillips, was summoned to the foreign ministry in Jerusalem where a senior Israeli official told him the row over Livni meant that Britain's ability to play a role in the Middle East peace process had been damaged. 

UK to review war crimes warrants after Tzipi Livni arrest row
12/15/2009 - The Guardian - Israel condemns London court's move against former foreign minister over Gaza - Britain is reviewing procedures for issuing arrest warrants in war crimes cases after a diplomatic row with Israel over allegations against its former foreign minister. David Miliband, the foreign secretary, saidtonight the government was "looking urgently" at ways the legal system might be changed following action against Tzipi Livni, Israel's opposition leader, over her role in the Gaza war. The dispute erupted after Westminster magistrates court in London issued an unprecedented arrest warrant for Livni on Sunday – a move described by Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, as an "absurdity. "Miliband said Israeli leaders "must be able to visit and have a proper dialogue with the British government. " Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador to Britain, said after talks with Miliband: "The British government. . . . " 

UK ponders law change after Tzipi Livni arrest warrant
12/15/2009 - BBC Online - Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis: "This can never ever happen again" - The government is "urgently" looking into reforming the law after a UK court issued an arrest warrant for former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni. The warrant was granted by a London court at the request of Palestinian plaintiffs, provoking Israeli anger. It was revoked on Monday when it was found Ms Livni was not visiting the UK. Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Israel was a "close friend" of the UK's and stressed he was keen to "avoid this sort of situation arising again". Pro-Palestinian campaigners have tried several times to have Israeli officials arrested under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which holds that some alleged crimes are so grave that they can be tried anywhere, regardless of where the offences were committed. 

Reshuffling the Cards? (I): Syria’s Evolving Strategy
12/14/2009 - International Crisis Group - MENA Report N°92 - EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS: Syria’s foreign policy sits atop a mountain of apparent contradictions that have long bedevilled outsiders. Its self-proclaimed goal is peace with Israel, yet it has allied itself with partners vowed to Israel’s destruction. It takes pride in being a bastion of secularism even as it makes common cause with Islamist movements. It simultaneously has backed Iraqi Sunni insurgents and a Lebanese Shiite armed group. The U. S. has wavered between different approaches in unsuccessful attempts to persuade Damascus to clarify its stance, from a peace process focus in the 1990s to isolation and pressure under George W. Bush in the following decade. Barack Obama, having turned an old page without settling on a new one, seems intent on engagement on bilateral issues, albeit more cautious than ambitious. 

West Decries Iran’s Latest Nuclear Offer
12/15/2009 - Wall Street Journal - MANAMA, Bahrain -- Western officials said the Iranian foreign minister's weekend comments that Tehran would be willing to make a uranium trade in small batches, and on Iranian soil, fell well short of their demands. A proposed deal hammered out in October between U. S. , French, Russian and International Atomic Energy Agency negotiators and their Iranian counterparts had called for Iran to ship the bulk of its low-enriched uranium outside the country to be further enriched, and then shipped back to Iran for use in a medical-research reactor. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, left, shakes hands with David Bloomer, a Bahrain-based British radio journalist who was briefly detained by Iran's Revolutionary Guards last month, on Dec. 12. Senior Iranian officials, however, have refused to endorse the proposal, instead offering a series of sometimes-contradictory counteroffers and demands for major changes, in public comments. 

Binyamin Netanyahu must decide whether to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities
12/14/2009 - Times of London - The moment is fast approaching when Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, may have to make the most difficult decision of his career — whether to launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities and risk triggering a conflagration that could spread across the Middle East. Israeli experts believe the point of no return may be only six months away when Iran’s nuclear programme will have — if it has not already — metastasised into a multitude of smaller, difficult-to-trace facilities in deserts and mountains, while its main reactor at Bushehr will have come online and bombing it would send a radioactive cloud over the Gulf nations. Mr Netanyahu has consistently called Iran the most serious threat Israel faces. President Ahmadinejad of Iran has called for Israel to be obliterated and his Revolutionary Guards supply training, money and weapons to both Hezbollah in Lebanon,. . . . 


Vanunu and Israel’s Undeclared Nukes 
Eileen Fleming, Consortium News 12/14/2009
      Mordechai Vanunu was released from Ashkelon prison to open air captivity in east Jerusalem on April 21, 2004, after 18 years, mostly all in solitary confinement.
     In 1986, Vanunu had been clubbed, drugged, bound and kidnapped from Rome by the Mossad because he told the truth and provided the photographic proof of Israel’s clandestine seven-story underground WMD facility in the Negev.
     After returning Vanunu to Israel, the whistleblower was treated as a traitor and locked away, while few protests were heard from the United States despite the significance of his evidence regarding Israel’s undeclared arsenal of nuclear weapons.
     Vanunu, who had been a technician in Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility, denied that he was a “traitor” to Israel.
     “I’m a man with a conscience who did what he did out of a deep belief after much thought and many doubts,” Vanunu said. “But I knew that I had to do it, that I had no choice. …Somebody had to do it. … I contributed my share by making public what the public ought to know and they shut my mouth behind the prison walls.”
     Americans also need to know that the restrictions that have held him captive in Jerusalem come from the Emergency Defense Regulations which were implemented by Britain against Palestinians and Jews after World War II.
     After WW II, Attorney Yaccov Shapiro, who later became Israel’s Minister of Justice, described the draconian Emergency Defense Regulations as "unparalleled in any civilized country: there were no such laws in Nazi Germany." more.. e-mail

Restricting Space: The Planning Regime Applied by Israel in Area C of the West Bank 
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OPT (OCHA) 12/15/2009
      SPECIAL FOCUS December 2009
     This OCHA Special Focus covers the planning and zoning regime applied by the Israeli authorities in Area C of the West Bank. Under this regime, Palestinian construction is effectively prohibited in some 70 percent of Area C, while in the remaining 30 percent, a range of restrictions virtually eliminate the possibility of obtaining a building permit. In practice, the Israeli authorities generally allow Palestinian construction only within the boundaries of an Israeli-approved plan and these cover less than one percent of Area C, much of which is already built-up. As a result, Palestinians are left with no choice but to build “illegally” and risk demolition of their structures and displacement. The consequences of the current regime are wide-ranging and extend to the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank.
     Since the onset of its occupation in 1967, the Government of Israel has implemented a range of measures that restrict Palestinians’ use of land and resources in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). One of the primary ways Israel has done this has been through the application of restrictive planning and zoning regimes to Palestinian communities. Such restrictions continue to be prevalent in the over 60 percent of the West Bank that was classified as Area C in the Oslo accords of the 1990s.1 While the 1995 Interim Agreement called for the gradual transfer of power and responsibility in the sphere of lanning and zoning in Area C to move from the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) to the Palestinian Authority (PA), this transfer was never implemented.2 As a result, though the arrangements set up in the Interim Agreement were intended to last no longer than 1999, ten years later, any Area C construction, whether a private home, an animal shelter or a donor-funded infrastructure project, still requires the approval of the ICA, which is under the authority of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Under the planning regime applied by the ICA, Palestinian construction is effectively prohibited in some 70 percent of Area C, or approximately 44 percent of the West Bank, in areas that have been largely designated for the use of Israeli settlements or the Israeli military. These include areas that have been placed under the jurisdiction of Israeli settlements’ Local and Regional councils (the majority of which was previously declared as “state” land), areas closed by the Israeli military for training, along with nature reserves, Israeli military bases and a “buffer zone” around the Barrier. In the remaining 30 percent of Area C (approximately 18 percent of the West Bank), there are a range of other restrictions that greatly reduce the possibility of obtaining a building permit. more.. e-mail

'Saving Israel' or Assisting It To Commit Suicide? 
Alan Hart, Political Theatrics 12/15/2009
      I had to struggle with myself to decide which of two headlines was most appropriate for this article – the one above or “The hard core of lunatics are pulling up the drawbridge”.
     A Jewish friend in Canada drew my attention to an article in the Jewish Ledger, an independent weekly newspaper in Westport, Connecticut. The headline over it is Saving Israel” Expert says American Jews key to Israel’s survival. I have rarely read such dangerous nonsense. It’s the voice of Zionism, deluded as ever, but with more than a hint of panic.
     The “expert” quoted is Dr. Daniel Gordis, senior vice president of the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center, which describes itself as a research and education institute. He had addressed a standing-room only crowd of close to 300 in the small sanctuary of Westport’s Conservative Synagogue.
     His main point was that Israel has survived all conventional military attacks and frustrated their aims (never mind that Israel’s survival was never in question), and has reduced terrorism to a minor threat, but there is now a threat “that is capable of succeeding and against which Israel has no defense.”
     What, according to Gordis, is this new threat?
     “The direct assault that Israel is now under by the Arabs via appeals to the world community. This co-ordinated effort aims to delegitimize the Jewish state and cause it to be treated as an international pariah, whose products and scholars will be boycotted and ostracized from the international community.” more.. e-mail

US trade unionists: boycott, divest from apartheid Israel
Electronic Intifada: 16 Dec 2009 - In the following open letter from Labor for Palestine to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, trade unions call for the immediate and complete divestment from State of Israel Bonds, the support of workers' refusal to handle Israeli cargo, the breaking of ties with the Zionist trade union Histadrut and the opposition of US military and economic aid for Israel. 

Palestine refugees face service cuts due to UNRWA financial crisis
Electronic Intifada: 15 Dec 2009 - The United Nations agency Palestine refugees (UNRWA) faces a severe deficit that could lead to cuts of essential services to more than 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. According to UNRWA, the agency's 2009 funds are already exhausted and it faces a shortfall of US $140 million for 2010. Rami Almeghari reports from the occupied Gaza Strip. 

Report: Israeli academic institutions' role in the occupation
Electronic Intifada: 14 Dec 2009 - A new report by the Alternative Information Center aims to inform and empower the debate on an academic boycott by giving information not on the Israeli violence and violations of International law and human rights, but on the part in the Israeli occupation played by the very academic institutions in question, and how vulnerable are they to a possible boycott. 

Bilin activist: "Words are not enough" 
Electronic Intifada: 14 Dec 2009 - I started my life in jail at 17, during the first intifada, a popular uprising amongst ordinary Palestinians. It was not the first time I participated in nonviolent resistance. I have always believed that this is the way to end the occupation. But as the intifada clearly showed, the Israeli military does not understand let alone sympathize with such methods. Iyad Burnat's story as told to The Electronic Intifada contributor Jody McIntyre. 

Like Strasbourg, Like Gaza and the West Bank?
Palestine Chronicle: 15 Dec 2009 - By Dallas Darling When Jewish extremists in Palestinian territory attacked a mosque and set fire to Muslim holy books and prayer carpets, it was reminiscent of the cremation of the Strasbourg Jews. Only in this case, it is the cremation of Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank, and it includes their dream of an independent state and self-determination. Several days earlier, extremists also set fire to Palestinian houses and vehicles and burned a grove of olive trees in a village near Bethlehem. In 1349, six-hundred-and-sixty years ago, Jacob von Konigshofen wrote that over 2000 Jews were burned on a wooden platform in their cemetery. They had been blamed for the widespread horrors of the Black Death. Europeans were searching for the causes of the Black Death, when rumors spread Jews had poisoned water wells. It was in Strasbourg, a city along the Rhine River, where Jews were rounded-up, detained, and cremated. After killing the Jews, the Strasbourg Council seized all of their cash and possessions. All debts to those who were cremated were canceled. For many years, the Strasbourg Jews had been dehumanized. Their synagogues were attacked and religious relics burned. The desecration of a peoples belongings and faith are usually first steps in justifying their elimination. Today, Israel has demolished Palestinian homes and farms and committed night raids and military incursions. They have retaliated with punitive blockades, mass arrests, and imprisonments (including children). Israel has cut-off water and electricity and has isolated Palestinians from the rest of...

Israeli-style 'Justice' for Berlanty: Official Version
Palestine Chronicle: 15 Dec 2009 - By Stuart Littlewood – London The dragged-out scandal of final-year Bethlehem student Berlanty Azzam's arrest and abduction - handcuffed and blindfolded – and subsequent dumping in Gaza in the middle of the night just weeks before she was due to complete her degree, has horrified the Christian world far beyond the walled-in, imprisoned city of modern-day Bethlehem. Berlanty, a young Christian girl, is being persecuted and cruelly denied her inalienable rights by the illegal invader and occupier, just like any of her Muslim friends and neighbours. She was snatched by the Israeli military while returning from a job interview in Ramallah. That was around six weeks ago. Since then she has been forced to kick her heels far from the University at this most important time in her studies.... and in her young life. After her first fruitless hearing, I wrote again to the Israeli embassy in London asking for the Ambassador's further thoughts and advice on this regrettable incident and reminding him that time was short. I have just received this reply...... "On 9th December 2009 the Supreme Court held a hearing on Ms Azzam’s case. The court, comprised of three judges, decided to reject the appeal of Ms Azzam, who currently resides in the Gaza Strip, to return to the West Bank to complete her studies at Bethlehem University. "The court ruled that despite the mitigating circumstances cited by the appeal (that Ms Azzam is close to completing her studies, and that there were procedural faults in the...

Obama: A Monument to Hip-ocrisy
Palestine Chronicle: 15 Dec 2009 - By Mary Rizzo Barack Obama is a very handsome man. He has the charisma of a showman. He speaks very well, and what's more, he can even dance. It's not clear whether that is sufficient criteria to make one into a president, oops, not "a" president but "The President", but it certainly was enough to get one elected for the position. And yet, Obama is nothing if not humble. He recognised that he really didn't (yet) deserve the world's most important honour, the Nobel Peace Prize, but he also recognised last week that while he is “The President”, someone else is “The Boss”. What does all of this mean in the big picture? Quite a lot, actually, because whether he deserves it or not, Obama is there, in the highest echelons of power and glory, getting the greatest achievement awards for being … handsome, charismatic and cool. Since the advent of widespread mass media, style has definitely overcome substance as the top priority, the winning attribute. As a matter of fact, the soul of commerce is advertising, and Obama has been selected to represent the “American Image” that wants to be loved once again, whether or not they deserve it. In the world of advertising, the biggest question is about appearance, finding a soundbite, a face, a slogan. Enormous resources are invested in developing a successful image. As Joseph Levine wrote “You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big...

Hope He Will Fall Asleep
Palestine Chronicle: 14 Dec 2009 - By Catherine Wilson - London As the sun touched the horizon, a rose glow filled the sky over the town of Beet Jala, near Bethlehem. In the home of Palestinian artist, Rana Bishara, the haunting voice of Palestinian vocalist, Sanaa Moussa, delivering the lullaby, Yllah Ynam (‘Hope he will fall asleep’) resonated through the room. Her sonorous voice swept in waves through the space, around a half-created sculpture of a kufiyeh on the kitchen floor, through the double windows and across the sky at dusk. It evoked the tender entreaty to a child, the cry of a lament and the power of human resilience. Rana Bishara was born in Tarshiha, Galilee, where her ancestors have lived and owned land for generations. Her life and art are profoundly influenced by stories of her parents’ resistance of Israel’s invasion in 1948 and her father’s subsequent exile to Lebanon and Syria for two years. Rana’s childhood was shaped by the natural beauty of Galilee, the artistic heritage of jewellery making in her family, inextricable from her sense of identity and belonging, and the violation of that identity through Israel’s attempts to cleanse the region of Palestinian history and culture and establish a Jewish majority. For Bishara, creativity is vital to resistance of the occupation and as important as the time and energy she devotes to supporting families rendered homeless by Israel’s demolition of houses in Jerusalem. She claims that art “challenges the most vicious weapon and inhuman acts. Art is a sensible language...
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