Saturday, November 18, 2006

Meanwhile in Palestine

Israel issues an order to annex hundreds of Dunams in the West Bank: Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Right Center (Musaada) demanded the Legal Counselor of the Israeli so-called Civil Administration Office in the occupied West Bank, to cancel a decision that aims at annexing 1238 Dunams of farmlands that belong to residents of Anata town. The center reported that the Israeli Military Commander did not inform the residents and the Anata local council of the annexation order, which did not give them a chance to appeal against it.

Child killed in Beit Lahia, woman dies of heart attack as shell exploded near her home: Palestinian medical sources in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip reported that a 16-year old child was killed by Israeli military fire. A 70-year old woman died of a heart attack, on Friday evening, when a shell landed and detonated near her home in Gaza city.

A committed intellectual: Edward Said came to embody the Palestinian cause via the broader and more abstract gateway of his intellect, through his espousal of noble and universal humanitarian values and his finely honed sense of truth and justice. It was, in a sense, with his mind before his heart that he perceived the horror his people are living through, and grasped the extent of the crime perpetrated against them. He was simultaneously acute to the complicit hypocritical silence kept by various intellectuals, political bodies and international agencies.

Anti-wall demonstration in Bil’in suffers from Israeli violence: The demonstration against Israel's apartheid wall in Bil'in today was resolute, if small. Protesting against the construction of the barrier that is effectively annexing land to Israel for the use of Jewish-only settlements (illegal under international law), the villagers were once again joined by Israeli and international supporters — about 100 demonstrators in total. Six Palestinians were injured by rubber-bullets, tear gas canisters and shrapnel from the concussion grenades.

Israeli hospital refuses continued treatment for Palestinian shot by special forces: An Israeli hospital is refusing to continue the medical treatement of a Palestinian resident shot by Israeli special forces, Waleed Athba, 23, was near his home in the northwestern West Bank's Qalqilia city center when he was shot near the heart. Due to the severity of the injury, he was taken to an Israeli settlement hospital under guard.

Abbas, Shabir to hold first meet; source: Gov't to quit within days: Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is expected Friday to hold his first meeting with Mohammed Shabir, who is expected to take over as Palestinian prime minister once a new PA unity government is formed. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will also attend the meeting.

Beit Hanun families planning to sue Israel for monetary damages: The three Palestinian families who lost 19 relatives in last week's shelling by the Israel Defense Forces of Beit Hanun plan to sue Israel for monetary damages. Representatives of the Athamneh, Kassem and Aduan families have already hired attorney Ehud Segev to represent them in their suit.

Twenty-five Palestinians injured in Qalqilia, three taken prisoner: Palestinian sources in Qalqilia town, in the northern part of the West Bank, reported that twenty-five Palestinians were injured on Friday evening during clashes that erupted after the army surrounded a house of a Hamas activist, south of the town. Six residents, including three brothers were taken prisoner by the army.

EU, UN soften language of resolution on Beit Hanun deaths: European Union diplomats at the United Nations were busy yesterday with efforts to soften the language of a draft resolution on the deaths of at least 19 Palestinian civilians in an accidental IDF shelling of Beit Hanun last Wednesday. The resolution will be brought to a vote on Friday at an emergency session of the General Assembly.

Spanish FM: Nothing in peace plan 'Israel can reject': Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Angel Moratinos sought Friday to reassure Israel over a new Mideast peace initiative proposed the day before by Spain, France and Italy, saying that there was nothing in the plan "that Israel can reject."

Israel rejects European draft for Middle East peace initiative: Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday that Israel rejected out of hand a new peace initiative sponsored by Spain, Italy and France, which calls for increased international intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Livni told her Spanish counterpart, Miguel Angel Moratinos, that it was unacceptable for an initiative concerning Israel to be launched without cooridnation with (OCCUPIED) Jerusalem.

State to pay millions to families of October 2000 riot victims: Yesterday, Jabarin said the families had emphasized at all times the civil damages suit was filed in addition to the criminal proceedings. "In the criminal case, we will forge ahead until those responsible serve their sentences."

A project of dispossession can never be a noble cause: Before Donald Rumsfeld departed from the Pentagon, the "Transformation Group" he headed worked with an Israeli army team to develop ideas for controlling the Palestinians after Israel withdraws from the occupied territories. Eyal Weizman, an Israeli academic who has written about this cooperation, tells us that they decided to do this through an invisible occupation: Israel would "seal the hard envelopes" around Palestinian towns and generate "effects" directed against the "human elements of resistance".

Wanted: A moderate pro-Israel lobby: AIPAC claims that it champions the policies of the elected Israeli government, whatever they may be. But it does not faithfully live up to this promise: Over the past 20 years, it has supported right-wing governments in Israel wholeheartedly, while being halfhearted, or worse, about the policies of left-wing administrations. I am a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Israel's UN envoy walks out of session on Beit Hanun shelling: Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman walked out of a UN General Assembly emergency session on Gaza Strip shelling in protest Friday, saying his words were falling on deaf ears and that he was better off holding a nearby press conference.

China feels deeply concerned about Israel-Palestine situation: Jiang Yu, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, made the remarks Thursday in Beijing at a regular press conference. "China calls upon Israel to stop its military action immediately, and hopes the two sides respond to the mediating efforts and prevent deterioration of the situation," she said.

Blair: New initiatives could come soon to resolve Mideast conflict: Blair, who plans to travel to the Middle East in coming weeks, said leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan are among the nations eager for progress in resolving the conflict, the Washington Post reported.

'Creating a balance of fear': On Tuesday morning, Martyrs' Square in the center of town here was practically deserted. A small group of children sat at the foot of the minaret of the Nasser Mosque, the only remnant of the 250-year-old structure, whose walls were razed by Israel Defense Forces bulldozers.

U.S. envoy in Jordan to revive peace talks: Welch's talks with Foreign Minister Abdul-Ilah al-Khatib in Amman came a day after he participated in a Cairo gathering of envoys from the "Quartet" of patrons of the peace process - the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

PM nixes broad IDF operation in Gaza Strip: "There are many thoughts on how to deal with the Qassam rocket attacks, and we should remember that this is not a war with a 'quick fix' solution," Olmert told reporters on the plane to Israel.

In Memory of Edward Said, a Discussion on Orientalism: Though almost 30 years old, Orientalism, the late Edward Said’s famous thesis, has found renewed relevance in today’s climate. As such, it has also found recent appeal with Turkish audiences. For a closer look, Istanbul will host an international symposium Dec. 9-10 in memory of Edward Said (1935-2003), a Palestinian-born intellectual.

Realities of death - By Azmi Bishara: The premise might be correct but just think of the implications of such reasoning were it not. If the occupation did not rebound negatively on the society and government of the occupying power, then the only way for an occupied people to damage the occupier is to exact an ever greater price for the premeditated crime of occupation so as to open eyes, not only to the practical dangers of occupation, but to its moral dangers as well.

A simple solution: Rights or sovereignty for Palestinians: While peace has remained elusive, the solution is quite simple. Two people live in the same land. About five million Jewish Israelis enjoy the full range of rights accorded to citizens of any democracy. And roughly five million Christian and Muslim Palestinians live either as second-class citizens in Israel, or in the Occupied Territories, where they enjoy virtually no rights. Every aspect of their lives is controlled by a foreign army, and their land and resources are systematically taken for the use of Jewish settlers.

Washington gets real: Experts, diplomats and historians who only a few years ago believed in the power of the United States to transform the Middle East into a paradise of peace and prosperity are now bewailing "the end of American dominance" in the region. As they see it, the double failure of the U.S. army in Iraq and the Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon embodies the depth of the fall, and the rise of the counter-bloc of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.

The summit of the bunglers: Bush has let his secretary of defense go; Ehud Olmert is still in partnership with his. Both were dragged into a military campaign without thinking about the consequences or the price tag. Both are doing poorly in the opinion polls. Some 72 percent of Israelis are in favor of ousting the defense minister and the chief of staff, and Olmert's popularity has taken a similar dive.

There is something that can be done: How far can our curiosity be strained with Ehud Olmert's declarations that he is going to surprise the world with concessions, if Abu Mazen will just agree to talk with him? There is nothing to disturb Olmert from speaking with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and from revealing to him at last what he intends to do. Olmert is the one who is stopping Olmert from doing this.

Strife feeds the blues at West Bank zoo: The number of visitors dropped off, employees had to work under curfew, three zebras perished after tear gas was fired near their enclosure. And in 2002, during an Israeli incursion into the city, soldiers fired at demonstrating students from a nearby high school, and Brownie, terrified and galloping around his enclosure, ran straight into a metal pole. He fell over and died, leaving Ruti alone.

Founder of Holocaust museum in Nazareth invited to Tehran: The founder of a private Holocaust museum in Nazareth has been invited to address a Holocaust study conference to take place next month in Iran. Nazareth resident Khaled Ksab Mahamid is waiting for permission from the Foreign Ministry and final authorization from Tehran to attend the conference.

French troops in Lebanon take 'preparatory steps' over IAF jets: No hostile action from either side was reported in the incident, which was the second time in three weeks that French forces have come close to firing on Israeli aircraft over flying Lebanon.

Evacuate? Settlers continue to expand outposts: Settlers continue to expand outposts and to build permanent structures in blatant disregard for impending evacuation. This emerged from a Ynet tour of the Binyamin region of the West Bank. It turns out that a number of outposts north of Jerusalem are being built up under the noses of the civil administration.

Al Haq: Legal challenge to British government support of Israel: Al-Haq is cooperating with solicitor Phil Shiner of the Public Interest Lawyers firm (PIL) as part of its efforts to secure the implementation of the July 2004 International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on Israel's wall. Al-Haq has provided PIL with documentation on numerous cases regarding the impact of the Wall. On November 15, 2006, PIL lodged a complaint against the UK government in the High Court in London on behalf of Palestinians suffering as a result of the construction of the Wall.

Soldiers, settlers obstruct families from harvesting their olive trees: Several families of Tal village, west of Nablus city, in the northern part of the West Bank, complained that Israeli soldiers and settlers are obstructing their Olive harvest in their orchards, which is costing the families significant losses.

State to compensate families of those killed in October 2000 riots: The Ministry of Justice said in a statement that "in light of the tragic outcome of the [October 2000] events, and out of a genuine wish to bring the lawsuit to a just and dignified closure, the State has agreed, beyond the letter of the law and despite its belief that it is not responsible for damages caused during the events, and without confirming the plaintiff's allegations, to pay the amount ..."

Oct. 2000 victims' families: Deal won't make up for loss: Bahajat Hamaisa, whose brother was killed in Kfar Qana, told Ynet: "Nobody can bring our sons back to us and nobody can compensate for the pain. The agreement to pay us is just a step on the way." "I have never heard such a bad joke," Siam said. "Do you know anyone who will agree to pay for something he is not responsible for? They are shooting themselves in the foot."

Israel secretly studies 'bold' peace bid: Bedevilled by the continuing scourge of homemade Qassam rocket attacks, Israeli officials are believed to be exploring a new diplomatic overture that calls for the surrender of large swathes of the West Bank to a new Palestinian leadership in exchange for a decade-long ceasefire.

Israeli police break up non-violent student demonstrations in Jerusalem: The Israeli occupation police on Wednesday, stopped a peaceful demonstration, organized by hundreds of Palestinian students, commemorating the 18th anniversary of the declaration of Palestinian independence. The police intervened immediately as the demonstration started, throwing tear gas bombs at the demonstrators in Sultan Solomon Street. They arrested a number of them, charging them with “sedition”.

Palestinian FM: Iran donated $120M to Hamas-led government: "Iran has so far given $120 million to the Palestinain government and they have told us that they will provide more financial help," Zahar told reporters in Tehran after talks.

PA lauds European draft for Mideast peace plan: Spain will sponsor a new Middle East peace initiative along with France and Italy, the Spanish prime minister said Thursday, stressing that the international community cannot remain idle as violence rages between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Rudineh said Thursday that his government welcomed the initiative, particularly it emphasis on international intervention.

Hamas official: Abbas and Meshal to meet on unity government: Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas plan to meet this month to iron out problems preventing the formation of a Palestinian unity government, a senior Hamas official said on Thursday.

New Israeli Cabinet minister threatens to target heads of Hamas, Islamic Jihad: Lieberman, who took post as deputy prime minister and minister of strategic affairs minister in late October, said leaders of Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Islamic Jihad(Holy War) should be targeted, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on its website.

UN to convene session on Beit Hanun: A draft of the proposal includes the main operative measures that made up the Qatari proposal vetoed by the United States last week. The draft calls on the UN secretary-general to dispatch a "fact-finding mission" to investigate the Beit Hanun incident.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DECIDES TO URGENTLY DISPATCH A HIGH-LEVEL FACT-FINDING MISSION TO BEIT HANOUN: The Council said the high-level fact-finding mission would assess the situation of victims, address the needs of survivors, and make recommendations on ways and means to protect Palestinian civilians against further Israeli assaults. The mission was requested to report to the Council no later than the middle of December 2006 on progress made towards the fulfilment of its mandate.

New European peace initiative: French President Jacques Chirac announced Thursday that his country, in cooperation with Spain and Italy, are drafting a new diplomatic initiative for the Middle East. Chirac said that he held a conference call Thursday with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, in order to reach an agreement on an initiative aimed at finding a solution for the Palestinian problem.

Father of abducted soldier: Gov't not doing enough to free my son: Noam Shalit, the father of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, on Thursday criticized the government for what he called insufficient efforts to secure his son's release.

Soccer / Palestinian soccer team laments Gaza travel ban: The head of the Palestinian Football Association said his national team's no-show at an Asian Cup qualifier against hosts Singapore yesterday was due to Israel's refusal to allow players to travel from Gaza.

3 Qassams hit Negev; local schools to stay closed: The High Court of Justice on Wednesday gave the state two weeks to explain why clasrooms in the Sderot region have not been reinforced. The state had told the court that there was no way to protect Sderot schoolchildren from the threat of Qassam missiles.

Abbas tells Israel: 'Don't waste the chance for peace': Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday called on Israel to resume peace negotiations and insisted on a full Israeli pullout from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The appeal came as the so-called Quartet of Middle East peace mediators met in Cairo to discuss a common response to the much-awaited formation of a Palestinian unity government.

Hamas says talks on captive Israeli soldier frozen: He said Hamas officials learned during the trip that Israel had rejected the latest proposals for releasing Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Corporal Gilad Shalit.

Impact of the international embargo and the attacks by the Israeli army on Gaza's health status: Since February 2006, the Occupied Palestinian Territories have suffered the effects of the international economic embargo ordered by the main western donors after Hamas's victory in the parli amentary elections of 25 January 2006. The suspension of aid causes extra problems for the Palestinian civilian population, whose living conditions have continued to deteriorate ever more sharply since 2000.

Peretz warns: We will deliver painful blow to Gaza: Peretz said in the weekly security assessment held in his Tel Aviv office that if the current trends in the Palestinian Authority continue and the moderates aren't strengthened: "Israel will deliver terrorism a powerful blow, a hard and painful blow."

Olmert says he favors pinpoint strikes, not broad Gaza offensive: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signaled on Thursday that Israel has no plans for a massive military operation in Gaza to try to stop deadly Palestinian rocket fire, easing fears of a new spasm of violence that could derail tentative progress toward getting Israelis and Palestinians talking again.

Students Gather For Gaza Vigil: The students, dressed in black, held signs listing the names of 18 civilians killed by Israeli shells on Nov. 8, along with their ages and the circumstances of their deaths. The vigil was organized by the Palestinian Solidarity Coalition (PSC), a Harvard student group.

Research: Dozens of Dutch companies support or facilitate Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territories: Dutch NGO platform United Civilians for Peace (UCP) today publishes a research about “Dutch economic links in support of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and/or Syrian territories”. This research reveals that dozens of Dutch companies through their activities support or facilitate the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territories.

ANALYSIS-A bold move by Hamas, or a crafty concession?: To some it's a concession. To others it shows Hamas's failure since coming to power. To the man himself, it's a sacrifice for the good of the people. The decision last week by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to offer to step aside, possibly allowing the formation of a new government and the lifting of Western sanctions, means different things to different people.

Sderot: Everybody wants out: Hundreds of Sderot residents flocked to the local city hall Thursday afternoon, with the hope of being granted a spot on one of the buses taking locals to Eilat for a week-long vacation courtesy of business mogul Arcadi Gaydamak.

Bush gives go-ahead for 'Bush Center' in Israel: U.S. President George Bush was informed on Tuesday of an initiative to establish a center under his name in Israel, as a sign of gratitude for his support for the country and its security. Outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the United States Daniel Ayalon asked Bush for the go-ahead to establish such a center during a farewell meeting with the president and his deputy, Dick Cheney.

Azzam Azzam suing Tefron for millions: Azzam Azzam, an Israeli Druze textile worker from the town of Mughar who spent eight years in an Egyptian prison for allegedly spying for Israel, is suing his former employer Tefron for millions.

Secret cell making explosive belts uncovered in West Bank: report: Israeli security forces had uncovered a West Bank militant cell manufacturing explosive belts with liquid material, which can not be detected by metal detectors, Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday.

Palestinian villagers to hold non-violent protest against Israeli ghettoization and annexation: It is feared that ten houses and large tracts of agricultural land will be cut off from the rest of the village and effectively annexed to Israel. Azun Atme, in the Qalqilya region and near the village of Mas’ha, is already surrounded on both sides by illegal Israeli settlements. The village is about 2 km outside of Israel and within the internationally recognized Green Line, or 1949 ceasefire line.

Israeli firm gets Mexico border wall contract: How ironic. We noted in August that ex-Israeli security chief Uza Dayan was warning the US against emulating Israeli strategies in securing the Mexican border. Now it appears that Elbit Systems, an Israeli firm which is building the "Aparthied Wall" in occupied Palestine, has been awarded a contract, along with Boeing, to build the wall on the Mexican border.

Journalists' Coverage of Middle East Shallow and Distorted - By Robert Fisk :Journalists in the "West" should feel a burden of guilt for much that has happened in the Middle East because they have, with their gullibility, sold a fictitious version of events. Their constant references to a "fence" instead of a wall, to "settlements" or "neighborhoods" instead of colonies, their description of the West Bank as "disputed" rather than occupied, has bred a kind of slackness in reporting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Red Cross says strike worsening West Bank health situation: "Only two days ago, a child suffering from acute fever was turned away by the local hospital," ICRC health coordinator Eileen Daly said. "The doctors and nurses, unpaid for months, were on strike. The mother spent all morning traveling to various clinics, only to find out she could not afford their fees. Her little girl died."

Making a decent living: small business transforming lives in the West Bank: Trying to make ends meet in the West Bank is a daily battle, with spiralling costs, diminishing incomes, road blockades cutting off access to fields and markets and a worsening water shortage. Despite immense challenges, our SAFES project, is helping nearly 800 families increase their income and food supplies by providing sheep, goats and fodder as well as crucial training in how to make their flocks and gardens more profitable.

Palestine-Israel Peace Road Map Not Workable, Says Malaysia: Syed Hamid said Malaysia felt that there must be a new approach to the peace efforts because "the road map is being ignored and blatantly sidelined." He stressed that it was important to recognise the Palestinian issue as an international issue and not only as an Arab issue. "It is the issue of injustice committed against a nation and the international community must be able to handle it," he said.

Israeli forces raid southern West Bank and arrest two mothers: Both were blindfolded, bound, and taken to unknown locations. The Dura woman is the mother of five children and the Al Fawwar mother has eight sons. They are added to the 10,500 political prisoners in Israeli jails, the latest figure released by Palestinian Legislative Council deputy and former Director of the Palestinian Prisoner Society, Issa Qaraqa'.

International actions against Gaza massacres and Apartheid Wall: In Montreal on Saturday, protestors marched through the streets carrying a symbolic coffin with the writing ‘United Nations' to represent the international community's failure to condemn the Gaza atrocities. A vigil was held after the march. In New York on Saturday a day of action against the Apartheid Wall was held by the Ad-Hoc Coalition for Justice in the Middle East and DRUM (Desis Rising Up & Moving)...

“The truth here is plain for anyone with eyes to see it”: One woman and her daughter were startled by a concussion grenade thrown outside their window and, unable to go back to sleep, moved into the living-room. Ten minutes later, 12 soldiers crawled through a large hole in the wall, knocking a heavy wardrobe onto the bed where the two women had been sleeping only moments before. Sledgehammer in hand, the first soldier to enter the home ordered the women to get into the kitchen and locked the door.

The Guardian: “Getting to know the neighbours”: The 16-year-old was lying in bed when a bullet pierced her window and hit her thigh at around 3.30am. She screamed and the soldiers threw a percussion grenade at the window. It detonated, shattering glass over her sister, Sabrine, 18, who had gone to her aid. The pair are two of the 10 injured during a raid on al-Ein refugee camp in Nablus that began at 2am on Tuesday and ended at 10.30am.

Preparing for the next invasion: The management of the Beit Hanun hospital decided to dig a well in the hospital's yard. By Saturday, laborers and bulldozers were already on the job. That is how the hospital is readying itself for the next invasion by the Israeli army.

Palestine Independence Day - By Prof. Francis A. Boyle
Moreover, as another express condition for its admission to the United Nations Organization, the government of Israel officially endorsed and agreed to carry out UN General Assembly Resolution 194(III) of 1948, which determined that Palestinian refugees have a right to return to their homes, or that compensation should be paid to those who choose not to return. Furthermore, that same article 13(2) of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human rights which Soviet Jews relied upon to justify their emigration from the former Soviet Union provides that: "Everyone has the right...to return to his country."

Historic Black Churches Delegation to Holy Land Finds Pain and Hope: A delegation of leaders from historic African American churches just returning from Jerusalem and the Holy Land says conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank painfully echo the injustices suffered by people of color during South Africa's apartheid era and during the pre-civil rights era in America.

Qatar's emir criticizes Western attitudes to Hamas: "The Palestinian government, formed by Hamas in accordance with the free will of the Palestinian people, should have the opportunity to work for the people who elected it," he told the European Parliament. But "instead of rewarding the Palestinian people for practising democracy, something rarely witnessed in our region, they have been punished for it," with an international embargo, he said. "Is this not a double standard: to demand free elections, and then object to the results?"

EU lawmakers criticize IDF maneuvers in Gaza: "Israel is a democratic country which needs to ask questions. We should ask them how they can describe something like Beit Hanoun as an accident. In democracy people who are responsible need to be held up to their responsibilities," said Martin Schulz, leader of the Socialists in the European Parliament.

UN Rights Council to send fact-finding mission to Gaza: Members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference were joined by China, Russia and Cuba in criticizing Israel for alleged rights abuses, deploring the IDF artillery barrage in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun that killed 19 civilians last week.

PA soccer team: No-show at qualifier due to Gaza travel ban: The head of the Palestinian Football Association said his national team's no-show at an Asian Cup qualifier against hosts Singapore on Wednesday was due to Israel's refusal to allow players to travel from Gaza.

Hamas: Unity government will not be based on our ideology: But hinting at a possible indirect recognition by the planned unity government of Israel's right to exist, he added: "Certainly the position of Hamas is different from that of the new national unity government, which would not be based upon (either) Hamas or Fatah ideologies, but on the prisoners' document."

Kidnappers blame Israel for impasse in Shalit hostage talks: Abu Obaydeh, a spokesman for Hamas' military wing, told Haaretz that Israel had withdrawn its consent to certain elements of an emerging agreement that it had previously accepted, and that is why the talks were halted. Among other things, he said, Israel is refusing to allow the Palestinian organizations to decide which prisoners from their ranks Israel should release as part of the exchange; instead, it insists it decide which prisoners (DETAINEES) to free.

Arab MKs slurred in Sderot: Barakeh told Ynet: "It was necessary for us to be in Sderot, as we need to make an unequivocal statement against harming citizens. We wanted to say enough to calls for revenge and plans for escalation. We are here to share the city's bereavement and that of the bereaved family. But, at the end of the funeral some teenagers shouted slurs at members of the Hadash faction. Residents were restrained."

Hamas deputy tries to enter Gaza Strip with 2 millio euros: A Palestinian official in Egypt confirmed Masri had been delayed while trying to take cash across the border, which is jointly operated by Egypt and the Palestinians, and overseen by European monitors. He said the money was aid for the Palestinian people.

Israel and Palestine are key to peace, says Blair: The Prime Minister - speaking by video link to the ISG, headed by former US Secretary of State James Baker - argued that without progress on a secure two-state solution, moderate Muslim countries would not support efforts to rebuild Iraq. Mr Blair said greater priority must be given to resolving the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Speaker: We need to‘push people’ for peace: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem have separate schools and for the most part speak different languages. The Palestinian Authority has designated East Jerusalem as the future capital of the Palestinian state. Many Jewish people are afraid to go to a mosque because they feel Muslims are terrorists. For the Muslim, it is the same, he said. Christians are caught in a delicate position. Their numbers have dwindled dramatically to about 2 percent of the entire population, he said.

Military sales to Israel challenged: The government is being taken to court today over the sale of military equipment to Israel including parts for Apache helicopter gunships, laser range finders, and communications equipment. Saleh Hasan, a Palestinian who lives in Bethlehem, argues that the sales are in breach of the government's guidelines covering arms exports and are unlawful. The guidelines say exports should be blocked when there is a "clear risk" they "might be used for internal repression".

Independence Day in Palestine: a lifeless holiday: Palestinians living under Israeli occupation aspire to liberation and freedom, but eighteen years after the Palestinian leadership, from exile, announced the Palestinian independence day, the Palestinian people are still under Israeli military occupation, facing daily attacks by the army, and even further from independence than they were in 1988 when the holiday was declared. The following is a segment of the declaration of independence, written November 14, 1988...

Dear student, what does Dad think of the army?: Although these numbers include Arab and ultra-Orthodox youth, even according to IDF statistics only 65 percent of those who are supposed to be drafted each year are in fact drafted, or complete three full years of service in the IDF. Of them, according to data recently published by the IDF Personnel Directorate, in 2005, 4.7 percent of the draftees were released for psychiatric reasons. In 2006 this percentage rose to 5.6 percent.

State: No way to reinforce all Sderot classrooms: The state claims that the NIS 210 million budget promised for the reinforcement of the Gaza envelope communities was already disbursed to the Home Front Command, and was used to secure communities near the Gaza border against terrorist infiltration.

Majority isn't always right: Fifteen months after the uprooting of Gush Katif, the northern Gaza Strip settlements, and settlements in northern Samaria, it seems that most people prefer not to talk about, and not even to think about, this traumatic event, at the time euphemistically misnamed disengagement.

Settlers attack residents in Hebron; three children and two women were injured: Three Palestinian children and two women were injured on Saturday when settlers of the Ramat Yishai illegal outpost carried several attacks against residents, houses and school students in Hebron city, in the southern part of the West Bank.

TOMORROW: Palestinians to hold non-violent demonstration at Qalandia checkpoint against Israeli war crimes in Gaza: Palestinian activists joined by international supporters will hold a non-violent demonstration at the Qalandia checkpoint near Ramallah against the ongoing Israeli attacks in Gaza and the Beit Hannoun massacre. The demonstration will be a “die-in”, with protesters donning white t-shirts splattered with mock-blood. Although the Western media’s attention seems to have moved on from it’s fleeting glance at the massacre in Beit Hannoun, the Israeli aggression there continues.

Israeli settlers harrass olive-pickers in Hebron: One Palestinian man and a settler were arrested for fighting. The soldiers formed a line and moved the Palestinians back from the tree. They continued to allow the settlers to trespass and trample the olives. The Palestinian family called Rabbis for Human Rights, who spoke to the DCO and alerted the press to what was happening. Eventually the Border Police asked the Palestinians to move off the land. They threatened to arrest the HRW who was filming with them unless she left too, which she did.

Foreign Ministry: UN hindering fight against terror: "Israel left the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians continued to fire Qassams at Israel and hurt innocent civilians," read a ministry statement. "Nonetheless, UN member nations prefer to oppose those who fight against terror instead of opposing the terrorists themselves."

Leftists: We have 1 casualty, they have 80: The protest, organized by Peace Now, was held under the title, “Only negotiations will stop Qassams.” Addressing the rally journalist Gideon Levi declared that there is no room for comparisons between Sderot and Beit Hanoun . “Sderot is weeping over one victim, while Beit Hanoun mourns 80,” Levi said.

2 Palestinians, ages 16 and 20, killed by IDF fire in northern Gaza: Two Palestinians, ages 16 and 20, were killed Saturday by Israel Defense Forces fire in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia. Five Palestinians were wounded in the operation. Three Palestinians were killed and 30 wounded Friday night by IDF fire in the West Bank city of Qalqilyah.

Edward Said's son WSU law professor candidate protested: A pro-Israel group says the son of a prominent Palestinian intellectual should not be considered for a law professor post at Wayne State University, and local leaders of Palestinian and Arab descent say the effort is part of an attempt to marginalize their community in Metro Detroit. Said is a lawyer and professor in California.

Activists seize IDF tanks in Gaza in protest at army 'war machine': Activists of the left-wing group Anarchists Against the Fence on Saturday took over Israel Defense Forces tanks and bulldozers between the Erez and Karni crossings in the Gaza Strip. The activists said their intention was to "stop the war machine, as citizens in whose name the army operates."

UN slams Israel over Beit Hanun shelling, approves inquiry panel: Representatives of 156 countries voted in favor of the resolution, seven objected and six abstained. Voting "no" were the United States, Israel, Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau. Abstaining were Canada, Ivory Coast, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Palestinian group may consider "calm" with Israel: "The president asked us officially for calm (a ceasefire). We said that we would consider this but it must be reciprocal, Israel must first end its attacks in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank," Habib told Reuters after meeting Abbas.

OIC vows to 'break blockade' on Palestinians: Members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference have vowed to "break the blockade" gripping the Palestinian economy since Islamists Hamas swept to power earlier this year.

Hamas Spokesman: U.S. policy on group main obstacle to peace: "The Americans should not demand from the Palestinian side to commit or to abide by the Quartet conditions. The Americans should change their own policy and ask Israel to change its policies toward the Palestinian people," he added.

Ignore Abbas, wipe out Hamas leaders, take back Gaza border: Israel's deputy prime minister: Israel should ignore moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, wipe out the Hamas leadership and walk away from the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan, Israel's new deputy prime minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said Saturday, laying out his views on the conflict with the Palestinians. Olmert's spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, had no comment Saturday on Lieberman's latest remarks.

Palestine Welcomes Spain's Peace Plan: A Middle East peace plan presented by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Thursday has been welcomed by Palestine but rejected by Israel. The five-part plan foresees an immediate ceasefire, a national unity government to be formed in Palestine that will be recognized by the rest of the world, the exchange of prisoners between Israel and Palestine, sending observation forces to the area to make sure the ceasefire holds and holding an international conference on Middle East peace.

Spanish FM: Nothing in peace plan 'Israel can reject': Moratinos said that he had been anticipating a poor reception, but remained confident that the plan would be taken seriously. "We assume our responsibilities," he said. "I knew that in the beginning there will be a negative reaction but I have full confidence that the initiative will go through."

Mideast Quartet talks should be expanded - Russia: The Quartet of international mediators on the Middle East conflict should meet again as soon as possible, and talks should ideally include Israel and Palestine as well as other regional states, Russia's foreign minister said Thursday.

PALESTINE: PALESTINIAN AMBASSADOR, OPEN TO ISRAELI COMMUNITY: The Palestinian ambassador to Italy, Sabri Ateyeh, also took part in the Milanese demonstration for "peace and justice in the Middle East. He pointed out that the aims of this demonstration "coincide with our own expectations, which are to have two peoples and two states living together in peace. A Palestinian state living together in peace with Israel".

US general: Islamic militancy could yield third world war: Abizaid said the world faces three major hurdles in stabilizing the Middle East region: Easing Arab-Israeli tensions, stemming the spread of militant extremism, and dealing with Iran, which Washington has accused of seeking to develop nuclear bombs.

Soccer / Palestinian soccer team laments Gaza travel ban: Afifi said the Palestinian FA had appealed to world soccer's governing body, FIFA, which he had urged to reschedule the match. "Israel has refused to allow the team to pass through the Erez crossing to travel to Jordan and from there to Singapore but FIFA insisted that the game must be held on time," Afifi told reporters in Gaza.

Concerns mount over Palestine's attendance: Palestine withdrew from its AFC Asian Cup qualifying match against Singapore on Wednesday due to the heightened political tensions in Gaza. The kingdom is concerned Palestine may not travel, meaning Group C will contain Thailand, Yemen and Kuwait.

Six months of failures: Anyone who is not blind must understand that the coming months are crucial. We must not waste them the way the first six months of 2006 were wasted. We must make every effort to prevent war and to enlist all our resources to prepare for war.

European states offer Middle East peace plan without UK: In a sign of growing frustration at diplomatic inaction as Israeli-Palestinian violence escalates, Spain, France and Italy yesterday unveiled a five-point peace initiative, taking Britain by surprise. Downing Street confirmed last night that it had not been consulted and had no prior knowledge of the plan, which envisages a leading role for Europe in ending the conflict. Foreign Office sources said they had first learned of it from a news item on the BBC.

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