Saturday, December 16, 2006
DEBKAfile’s military sources reveal that last week, US and Israel transferred a quantity of automatic rifles to Abu Mazen’s Fatah forces
December 17, 2006, 8:14 AM (GMT+02:00)
The guns reached Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan who handed them over to the faction’s suicide wing, al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Abbas’ only reliable strike force. Dahlan is now in command of the armed campaign against Hamas from presidential headquarters in Ramallah. Israeli officials are turning a blind eye to transfer of the arms into the hands of the most badly-wanted masterminds of Fatah suicide killings, such as Jemal Tirawi from Nablus.
Iraqi politicians start national reconciliation conference: However, the meeting was boycotted by some Iraqi political groups, including the Sadr movement known for its anti-U.S. stance and the Iraqi National Dialogue Front. "We support any conference that serve the interests of the Iraqi people, but not under the occupation," Nassar al-Rubaie, spokesman of Sadr movement, told Xinhua.
Britain never thought Saddam was threat - diplomat: The British government never believed Saddam Hussein posed a threat to British interests and warned the US that toppling him would lead to "chaos", according to a Foreign Office diplomat closely involved in negotiations in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Iraq: At least 18 killed in anpther bloody in Iraq: Police in Baquba sent the bodies of 10 unidentified people, including a woman, to the city's morgue
New push for Iraq reconciliation: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has called on former members of Saddam Hussein's army to return - in a move to win over disaffected Sunnis.
Bush ready to send more troops to Iraq: President George W Bush is poised to increase troop numbers in Iraq as part of a dramatic new strategy designed to regain control of Baghdad and suffocate the Sunni insurgency.
U.S. preparing surge of forces into Iraq?: The 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division is expected in Kuwait shortly after the new year, a senior Defense Department official told The Associated Press on Friday. The official requested anonymity because the plans had not yet been announced.
Poll call a 'risky political move': As president, however, Mr Abbas does not have authority to order the new elections and he has referred the matter to the Palestinian election commission to see whether or not they can be held.
Israel says it supports Abbas on poll: ISRAEL said today it supported moderate Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas after his call to hold early presidential and parliamentary elections.
Jewish groups oppose Palestinian act: More than a dozen local Jewish groups signed a petition urging President Bush not to sign legislation that would isolate the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.
Catholic Church cancels Christmas Crib: The Sacred Heart Catholic church in St Ives has cancelled its annual ‘Live Crib' event in protest against the Israeli wall being built around the holy city of Bethlehem. In place of crib, there will be erected a life-size replica portion of the Israeli concrete blockade that is causing untold suffering to the ordinary citizens of the city. The wall will stand as a symbol of the plight of these ‘abandoned' people.
Mufti of Jerusalem Condemns Israeli Measures: The General Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian lands Sheikh Mohammad Hussein denounced on Saturday the Israeli efforts to interfere in the affairs of the holy Aqsa. Sheikh Hussein called the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and Arab and Muslim leaders to help in facing the interference of non Muslims in the affairs of Al Aqsa Mosque.
Rice to seek additional funds to boost Abbas' security forces: United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday she would ask the U.S. Congress for tens of millions of dollars to strengthen the security forces of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas calls for fresh PA elections as soon as possible: Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert respects Abbas and "hopes that he will have the capability to assert his leadership over the Palestinian people, and to bring about a government that will comply with the international community's principles."
Hamas: Abbas' declaration a call for civil war: Following Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas; declaration that the general elections in the Palestinian Authority will be moved up, thousands of Fatah activists, including hundreds of gunmen from the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's military wing, took to the streets of Gaza Saturday and began shooting in the air.
Medical officials: 18 wounded in Hamas-Fatah clashes in Gaza: Seven people were wounded by gunfire and eight by stones in the towns of Khan Younis, Gaza City and Rafah, according to reports from Hamas and hospital officials. Three others were treated after being trampled in Gaza City, medical officials said.
One Palestinian man killed by Israeli army fire in Nablus north of the West Bank:
Palestinian sources reported on Saturday morning that an Israeli army force invaded the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and killed on man. Ameen Makhluf, 20, was killed after being shot by the soldiers in his neck, chest and both of his legs, medical sources in the city reported.
Israeli troops attack a Palestinian police station near Hebron: Soldiers stormed the station, searched and ransacked it then detained and questioned the officers there for several hours before withdrawing from the village, Palestinian police sources reported.
Action Alert: Ask Veolia advisors to take a stand for Justice in Palestine!
Connex / Veolia and Alstom are the international investors in the Citypass consortium that will build and run a light rail project in Jerusalem that incorporates a number of Jewish settlements around East Jerusalem, built on stolen Palestinian land. It ensures the contiguity of these colonies with the central areas of the city and plays a key role in sustaining the settlements and ensuring they become a permanent fixture upon Palestinian land.
Hamas rallies in Gaza against Abbas call for early elections: Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters and members took to the streets in Gaza city Saturday evening in protest against President Mahmoud Abbas' call for early elections. Armed confrontations erupted in Gaza City between Hamas militants and Palestinian security forces, and witnesses said that at least two Palestinians were injured, and one policeman was kidnapped.
Damascus-based Palestinian factions reject Abbas' decision to call early elections: "The factions confirm their oppositions to the call to hold early parliamentary elections because there is no justification for it and it is illegal and lacks real Palestinian consensus," said a statement read by Maher Taher, a leader of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Committee led by Fateh to supervise negotiations with all parties, Arabs, internationals & Israelis: Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that Al Qaddumi does not represent the Fateh movement either “directly or even remotely.” He said that President Abbas, in his capacity as Commander in Chief of Fateh, has decided to form a committee to organize the country under the leadership of Fateh in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to begin work immediately.
UN demands an immediate halt to Israeli settlements: The United Nations has demanded that Israel immediately halt its controversial settlement policy, it was reported Saturday. "Settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights (are) illegal and an obstacle to peace as well as economic and social development," a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly with 162 votes in favour late Friday in New York said.
Twilight Zone / Death sentence: What is now going through the mind of the soldier who fired a loaded weapon at a boy on the Sunday before last - and killed him? What was he thinking when he aimed at the boy's head? Is he still thinking about his victim? Why does live ammunition have to be used against children, even if they are throwing stones at a armored vehicles? Don't the soldiers have other means of punishment? And what about the security cabinet's decision to promote calm in the West Bank, too?
The Independent - Gaza City: ‘Free the women and you free the whole country’: She found that Palestinian women were trapped between the savage Israeli occupation and a suffocatingly patriarchal Palestinian society. She knew there was only one way to free them - by getting them jobs and hard earning power. Her proposal to establish an organisation providing jobs for women was refused by the Israeli occupying authorities, but Ms Ahmad refused to let this stop her.
Two State Solution Best Way Forward To End Israel-Palestine Conflict: "It is not enough merely talking about the two state solution as mentioned in the Road Map For Peace...it must clearly defined that the two state solution must be based on the 1967 border boundaries," he said when giving his views on the second day of the United Nations-Asian Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People here.
British PM: Coming days critical for Middle East peace process: Blair held lunchtime talks with President Hosni Mubarak, a key player in ending spiraling violence between rival Palestinian factions that has seen kidnappings and gun battles in the West Bank and Gaza. The British prime minister also planned to meet Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the grand sheikh of al-Azhar Mosque, the Sunni Islamic world's most important institution.
Blair calls on world to rally behind Palestinian president: British Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged the international community to throw all its weight behind Mahmud Abbas after the Palestinian president called for early elections.
US, UK welcome call for early Palestinian elections: The Bush administration supports an effort toward peace between the Israelis and Palestinians under the principles of the Middle East Quartet that includes the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.
PALESTINE. D'ALEMA: U.S. TO SHOW GREATER COMMITMENT: "Europe has been leading, for some time now, the reconstruction of Palestine, even through plenty of material aid. Europe is present, but its efforts alone are not enough. The US and other middle eastern countries should show a greater commitment", said Italian FM Massimo D'Alema, on the sidelines of a convention in Florence.
Gaza: a prison again: Since Hamas and other Gaza militants seized the Israeli corporal, Gilad Shalit, and killed two of his comrades in late June, shells, drones and machine-gun fire from Israeli forces have killed some 400 Palestinians, including civilians -- women and children among them -- in a conflict overshadowed to a large extent by the war in Lebanon.
Israel-Palestine: It's Time to Go With the Saudi Plan & NATO: Today's news indicates that Palestinians are on the brink of a civil war which would surely spill over into Israel (militants will try to undermine President Abbas by launching mortar and/or suicide bombings), This would be disastrous for Palestinians, Israelis and Americans. The United States needs to start pushing hard for diplomatic movement that offers a political horizon for Palestinians to aim for. As the Baker commission tells us, America is badly damaged by continuation of this insanity.
IDF the unready: The absence of a sense of an extreme threat - along with a sharpening of the discourse concerning the occupation in the territories - made the kind of talk heard in the movie about commitment and service the province of only certain ideological and social groups. These changes are significant in terms of understanding what occurred here this past summer.
Corporate complicity in Israel's crimes: This report examines corporate involvement in the military occupation of Palestine, focusing in particular on the three sectors of construction, retail and transport. As well as providing information on the activities of these companies, the report calls on all readers to take action to bring them to account. This is War on Want's mission more widely: to support people in developing countries in their struggle for survival, but also to inspire people in rich countries to challenge the root causes of poverty around the world.
"The speech of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Friday in Ramallah was one of a man preparing to do battle. The chairman and his
associates have no more illusions. Neither about the possibility of a unity government, nor of ideological change in Hamas.
Without such a change, a Fatah-Hamas government cannot arise whose guidelines would meet the well-known three international demands for the lifting of the siege on the PA: recognition of Israel, cessation of violence and acceptance of past agreements. Of that Abbas is certain. Hamas, on the other hand, believes it possible to fight the siege without giving up the ideology of non-recognition of Israel. How? By bringing suitcases full of money from Iran.
Abbas and his people clearly recognize that they must prepare for a confrontation that will involve violence. The chairman did not say Friday when he intends to issue an order to disperse the cabinet, and when approximately he intends to hold early elections.
Everyone knows why: Fatah, in its various components, is not ready for a campaign against Hamas, and needs time. First of all, money must be obtained for the payment of salaries - at lest those of the security personnel under Abbas. Saudi Arabia has promised the funds.
The United States has also pledged to take care of this, and perhaps other countries as well. Nothing is final. Second, the soldiers have to be organized - that is, the security forces loyal to the chairman. There are discussions of reinforcements coming in, in the form of the Palestinian Badr force from Jordan, but that issue also has not yet been finalized. Third, weapons are needed. The Palestinian media has recently reported that the Egyptian army intends to transfer arms to Mahmoud Dahlan's units in Gaza.
Meanwhile, though, there are only rumors.
But most important is Abbas' ability to rehabilitate his movement, Fatah, to stand united against Hamas. That is a hard task. Fatah is headed by a group of men aged 70 and above, who refuse to give up their places or the benefits they enjoy. And there are divisions even within that group.
No less important, Abbas needs to show his people that his policy of political restraint offers some kind of chance.
Money, soldiers, weapons, unity, political restraint. Will Abbas be able to obtain everything he needs for his campaign against Hamas? Even his friends are pessimistic."
"CAIRO (AFP) - Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged the international community to throw all its weight behind Mahmud Abbas after the Palestinian president called for early elections.
"Mahmud Abbas's decision to call early elections is a strong sign that the Palestinian president is seeking a way out of the deadlock in the peace process," Blair said Saturday during a visit to Cairo."
Israel says it supports Abbas on poll
"ISRAEL said today it supported moderate Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas after his call to hold early presidential and parliamentary elections.
“The Israeli Government supports moderate Palestinians who manage to negotiate with Israel without resorting to violence. Abu Mazen (Abbas) is this type of leader,” government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said.
“We hope that he will be able to assert his authority over all of the Palestinian people,” Mr Eisin said in the first Israeli reaction to Mr Abbas's call for early polls.
Mr Abbas called today for early elections as a way to resolve months of political standoff with the Palestinian ruling Hamas movement, which has been in power only since March. "
I want to say a few words about Holocaust Denial in the Muslim world. I believe the main reason for the existence of Holocaust denial in the Muslim world is Israel. People who are rightfully furious about the tragedy the founding of Israel has had upon the Arab world have seized upon Holocaust Denial as a way of bolstering their arguments against Israel. They believe that if there were no Holocaust, there need be no state of Israel. Firstly, one can never disprove the events of the Holocaust. Furthermore, the denial of the Holocaust is absolutely unnecessary for criticism of Israel. In my opinion, the issue is not the "need for a state of Israel". This is an argument that it is impossible to prove one way or another. The issue at hand is not whether Jews worldwide need a refuge from discrimination, in the form of an exclusive state, but the impossibility of the maintenance of the state without continued grave human rights violations against those this state dispossesses. Therefore, Holocaust denial hurts the Palestinian cause more than it hurts the Jews, not only because the historical facts of the Holocaust are impossible to disprove, but also because it distracts from the issue at hand, the tragic and continuous uprooting of the Palestinian people. Even if the Holocaust created the need for a refuge for the Jewish people, it cannot, and should not, come with such tragic results for another people. And it is impossible to create a state on another's land without these results. The lesson we must all learn from the Jewish Holocaust is not that all persecuted minorities need their own state regardless of the cost to others, but that minorities must be protected in every state, and that no sort of Holocaust or dispossession is ethically permissable for any people.
Katie Miranda’s “postcards” create visual dispatches to the American people of life, death, and innocence demolished in Palestine
Two young men, backs turned, wrists bound, heads hanging – paired with anger, a mouth stretched wide open in rage and spewing hate. “You are disgusting Arabs and you should be beaten like animals and stay in jail”.
You don’t look at Katie Miranda’s work. You feel it, a punch in the gut that sucks the wind out, replaces it with incredulity, then knocks you down again as you struggle to get up. Yet her pieces, reflections of life in occupied Palestine, are anything but hyperbolic. Both an artist living
in the West Bank city of Hebron and a volunteer in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Katie Miranda has walked the streets of the West Bank alongside Palestinians, drank the same water, protected their children, broken bread with their families – and her paintings reflect it. Her “Postcards from Palestine” series is an eternal testimony to a wounded people. The ongoing collection of paintings of people she has met comes with a message to the American people, exactly like a postcard – although instead of margaritas, sunsets and dolphins, the paintings reflect the violence committed against Palestinians by the IOF and settlers in the territories.
“I wanted to use my artistic ability to tell the story about what’s happening here,” says Katie, a 31-year-old San Francisco native. “I’m an illustrator by trade, so creating pictures that tell a story is what I was trained in… I just decided to interview people about their life and paint about individuals and about situations I witnessed.” As a human rights worker in the West Bank, she has a deep reservoir of stories; most burst with acts of hatred, moments of irony, wisps of humour. “A good deal of the violence is perpetuated by children because of an Israeli law that allows them to be free from arrest and prosecution if they are under the age of 12,” explains Katie.
In one postcard, the innocence of children is portrayed in the hopeless eyes of a girl holding a stuffed rabbit, her father killed by IOF soldiers and her house demolished, which are juxtaposed with a carefree boy playing with a ball, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. It’s difficult to imagine humans so jaded so young. But again, they have never known an unoccupied Palestine, freedom of movement, or simple justice for their friends and family slain during four decades of war.
Katie recalls an incident when life and art collided. It was the day after she arrived in Palestine, back in May. The ISM was called to the Balata refugee camp because the IOF had invaded and, the reports said, were killing people randomly. “ISM helps with medical evacuations in these situations,” Katie explains. “Sometimes when a person is shot or injured, the soldiers refuse to let the ambulance leave, so we try to negotiate with them to allow the ambulance pass. Right before we got there these two kids were killed.” Best friends Ibrahim Issa and Mohammad Natoor, both 17, were drinking tea on the roof of their apartment when they were shot by a sniper. Katie documented their funeral in one of her postcards, and in her message to the American people noted what they loved and how they smiled – and just how young they were. She transcribed the words of Ibrahim’s brother:
“Anywhere you see him, you will see Mohammad Natoor with him and anywhere you see Ibrahim and Mohammad, you will see them smile at you and say ‘hello, how can we help you?’” Mohammad was killed by Israeli forces on his 17th birthday.
The pair are immortalised on one of Katie’s postcards. “It was such an emotional experience because they were just kids, you know, they hadn’t done anything wrong,” says the artist. “And no one will be held responsible. It was a meaningless death. I couldn’t get the image of those kids’ faces out of my head for weeks. So I dealt with that and the trauma of being in a place under siege by painting the picture of Ibrahim during his funeral procession that wouldn’t leave my head.” She later painted a picture of him from a photo studio portrait. “When I gave it to the family it was really emotional. I could tell they were really touched and really liked it – but of course it also reminded them that their son or brother was dead. It was hard for me to look at his brother’s face when I gave him the portrait.”
In another postcard, a fairly innocuous image, a young boy is shown with his mouth gaping open and a few teeth missing. But it is rendered appalling by the explanation – a settler woman had filled his mouth with rocks and slammed his jaw shut, shattering his teeth. Another postcard elevates a Palestinian man, now paraplegic after a shot to the neck by an Israeli sniper in 2000, by painting him at a sharp angle, facing upwards, with the colours of the Palestinian flag bursting behind his head. Katie hopes this empowers the wheelchair-bound former karate champion.
The “Postcards”, though, are only her latest artistic project in Palestine. Katie, who estimates she has been attacked by settlers and soldiers around 50 times since arriving to Hebron in May, originally wanted to paint over the settlers’ anti-Arab graffiti. In one case, she covered up the words “Die Arab sand-niggers” with a mural of children playing in the sun. “When I first saw that graffiti it really disgusted me,” she says. “I wanted to get rid of it and I thought a nice cheerful mural of kids playing would be a good solution. It’s the idea of fighting hate with love.” “The mural is still there, but it has been defaced by the settlers, which I knew would happen. But it doesn’t really bother me because I was expecting it and it’s just another example of how hateful these people are.” She also wanted to obscure another spray-painted slogan, spread over two metal doors, that read “Gas the Arabs.” The Palestinian residents opposed the idea, explaining that the racist graffiti should stay precisely because it is so shocking. “When tourists, journalists and NGOs come into the area they are so shocked and horrified that they write and talk about it,” says Katie. “It’s also a great opportunity to see visual evidence of the disgusting nature of these people who live [in the settlements].”
While in Palestine, Katie also painted on what is becoming the largest canvas in the world – the West Bank wall. Her politically relevant reinterpretation of Michelangelo’s Pieta remains on the grey concrete near the Qalandia checkpoint. Eyes shut, palm upturned – in resignation, desperation – a woman holds a dead husband/brother/father/son who is slumped on her lap. “When I got the idea [in 2004], I knew that it had to be painted on the apartheid wall,” she says. “But I never imagined I’d actually be able to get it together to go to Palestine and do it.” She also painted a Soviet-esque angular figure of a man in black and white swinging a sledge-hammer into the wall – denting it but not yet breaking it down. “I hope [the murals] are destroyed when the wall comes down, inshallah,” says Katie. Her creativity enhances her non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation. Along with an ISM colleague, Katie performed “fire circuses” in Hebron. “No one had ever seen anything like it before and it was a big hit, especially the kids… We’d start performing when we’d see soldiers detaining and harassing Palestinians. It’s just such an absurd situation to see a bunch of teenage punks with guns start acting disrespectfully and physically aggressive towards women and old men for no reason at all. We dealt with that absurdity by adding to it… it had the effect of drawing the soldier’s attention away from the Palestinians and also entertaining the Palestinians while they were being detained.”
One of the greatest challenges of living in Palestine, says Katie, is having to accepting that my tax dollars as an American go towards funding the Occupation and the violence. “Americans grow up learning the values that everyone is equal and everyone, in theory, has the same rights. “To see that this is neither true in theory nor in practice in Palestine turned my world upside down – it’s like all of a sudden someone tells you 1 + 1 = 3 and you just have to accept it.” As Katie asks in her blog, also entitled Postcards from Palestine “Is this apartheid yet?”
Katie shares with Skin her top altercations with the IDF:
1. Water supplies being poisoned by Israeli soldiers
Our water is kept in tanks on the roof of our apartment building. The IDF soldiers occasionally use our roof as one of their outposts. One day we discovered some creepy-crawly things in the water coming out of the kitchen sink faucet. We went up on the roof to investigate and discovered that our water tanks had been turned into an IDF garbage dump. The garbage included forks, spoons, knives, army netting, unexploded bullets, paper, plastic, glass, bricks, broken pipes, pudding containers, an extremely outdated, unopened yoghurt package, and plastic trays on which soldiers’ meals are served. The water on the bottom of the tank was completely black but the water on the top was clear. When I smelled it I felt like I was going to throw up. Since we get the water on the top of the tank first, we didn’t notice a problem until we noticed wriggly things in our water. After we made the discovery I went to the doctor who found that I had some kind of gnarly amoebas living in my stomach. One volunteer was diagnosed with tapeworm.
2. Being trampled by a police horse
There were some Israeli mounted police who were allowing the horses to s**t all over this area in Jerusalem where Palestinians frequently pray… I went up to one of them, asked them if they had any intention of cleaning up after their horses and the cop jerked the reins of the horse so the horse’s head knocked my head and then the cop ran the horse into me, causing me to fall over. I wound up under the horse that then trampled on my foot. When my friend came to my assistance and started screaming at the cops, he was beaten. We were really lucky in that neither of us were hurt badly.
3. False accusations of assault on a settlerI was taken to the Israeli Hebron police station on suspicion of assault after a settler accused me of scratching her as I escorted a woman past a group of settlers who had been taunting, harassing and throwing rocks at Palestinians. The Israeli police present did nothing to rein in the settlers and did not see me assault anyone because of course I didn’t. But nevertheless I was taken into custody and interrogated.
Gov`t spokesperson: Olmert hopes Abbas is able to assert leadership over PA (AP)
Blair praises Abbas for `determination to move on` without Hamas if necessary (AP)
This Travel Warning is being issued to update information on the
general security environment in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and
the Gaza Strip, and to reiterate threats to foreign nationals,
especially American citizens. Although the situation in Israel is
seemingly calm, the fact of the matter remains that Israel continues to
aggressively violate International Humanitarian and Human Rights Laws
daily. A disconcerting development is the Israeli practice of denying
entry of Palestinian Christians and Muslims to the Holy Land; embodying
religious discrimination during the high holy season. As Palestinians,
we have always looked forward to your being with us during Christmas,
Easter and other holiday feasts. In the past, it has been a time to
welcome you into our land, our churches, our mosques, and our homes,
despite the troubled times we have witnessed throughout the decades.
In order to visit any of the Holy sites you must pass through an
Israeli-controlled point of entry (airport or bridge), since Israel
controls all access to the Israeli occupied Palestinian territory,
where Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the Church of the Nativity and Holy
Sepulcher are located. Since March of this year, an extraordinary
number of foreigners have been denied entry through Israeli ports. Many
of these foreign nationals have been turned away at the airport or
bridges and sent back to their country of residence or to Jordan. The
Israeli authorities seldom give a reason for barring foreign tourists,
so people find themselves spending money to fly into the Israeli
airport or come to the Israeli-controlled border crossings not knowing
that they may be turned away without having the opportunity to visit
the Holy Land or visit their friends and families.
If this Israeli policy is allowed to continue it can literally empty
Palestine of another half a million Palestinians. Given that four
decades of Israeli occupation have already successfully reduced the
Christian population in Bethlehem from 15% to less than 2%, it becomes
clear that Israel's goal is to reduce the entire Palestinian
population to insignificant numbers.
We would like to welcome you to Bethlehem in occupied Palestine this
Christmas season. However, to avoid spending money unnecessarily and
facing a humiliating experience, we recommend that you call the Israeli
Embassy or Consulate nearest you before embarking on your trip this
Christmas season. Please ask the Embassy or Consulate if you will be
able to pass through the airport or via one of the bridges from Jordan
in order to reach Bethlehem, particularly given the fact that thousands
who are trying to reach the Israeli occupied Palestinian territory are
being turned back.
While speaking to the Israeli Embassy officials, confirm that
Palestinians - Muslims and Christians - have not been allowed to
worship in their holy places for many years. In fact, no Palestinians
from the West Bank and Gaza have been allowed to enter Jerusalem
without Israeli military permission since 1993 and very few are granted
permits to enter Jerusalem, whether for worship during Lent, Advent or
The building of the illegal Israeli Separation Wall (which is mostly
built on Palestinian lands acquired by force 1967) has made it even
more difficult for Palestinians and internationals to travel to
Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The Separation Wall has not been built for
security reasons, but rather to separate people from one another, from
their livelihood, from their places of worship, and from their future.
Walls do not create the conditions for peace with justice.
Historically, walls separate and divide and bring widespread despair,
which we are witnessing now.
Although the U.S. State Department's Travel Advisory for this same
area "urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to the West Bank and to
avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip," we would ask that you rather not
despair and actively attempt to join us in Bethlehem and Jerusalem this
If we acknowledge the international community's concurrence to allow
Israel to get away with denying the world's citizens the right to
worship and blatant, daily violations of human rights, then we would
all be accomplices to the war crimes being committed against
Thus, we hope to see you all this Christmas season. Please contact us
when you are here so we visit and worship with you. You may contact us
either via email at email@example.com or mobile at 059-817-3953.
If you cannot be with us, then please keep Bethlehem, Jerusalem and
Palestinians in your prayers and actions this holiday season.
Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re- Entry to the Occupied Palestinian
Mr. Basil Ayish
Coordinator, Media Committee
Nigel Parry, The Electronic Intifada, 15 December 2006
"Since the Palestinian elections on 25 January 2006 brought a resounding Hamas victory, Fatah and its US and Israeli allies have been working to destabilize the democratically-elected government.
Hamas truly did deserve a chance at power after a year of unilateral ceasefire in the face of Israeli assassinations of its leaders, massive Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land, and the ongoing daily brutality of Israel's military occupation. And it certainly deserved the opportunity after seven years of Fatah's abject failure during the "peace process", leaving nothing but a legacy of continuously-colonized land while Fatah officials blatantly embraced self-serving corruption and overt pandering to US and Israeli interests.....
The obvious and ultimate end to this brutish and fundamentally anti-human means is civil war. You can only squeeze an entire population for so long, and employ the combined political might of the United States with Israel's military might — to attempt to shore up a failed, corrupt party against a democratically-elected government — before the fault lines you encouraged start rumbling and the ground starts shaking. And civil war is the obvious direction things are heading towards.
With the help of one faction of Palestinian prisoners, the US prison administrators and Israeli prison guards are rattling the cage and encouraging the brawl. Today, as if to demonstrate how the conflict between the US-Israel-Fatah alliance and Hamas has spiraled to new lows, news reports quote Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declaring that she intends to ask Congress for tens of millions of dollars to "strengthen the security forces" of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Thus, putting more guns in the hands of the people that were not elected. And of course, this was not the first US payoff to Abbas for this very same purpose......"
However much you re-label the jar, the contents remain the same
"There must be some deeply ingrained sectarian/tribal dimension to Arab society that impedes democratisation and the evolution of a modern state. As if it is not enough that doctrinal differences within the same religion escalate into sectarian divides, political differences are almost invariably cast and played out as tribal or sectarian rivalries. Clearly such "support your brother right or wrong" attitudes are at odds, not only with conceptions of the modern polity but with the codified value systems of universalist religions that hold the individual responsible for his conduct before God.
Arab societies face enough problems of their own making -- the transition to modernism, to the nation-state, and to the concept of the individual as citizen -- without having to contend with the attempts of colonialist powers, since Sykes-Picot and San Remo, to fragment the only historical basis -- the cultural and geographic bond -- upon which the Arabs could build a nation.
The colonialists took a straight-edge ruler in order to carve up the region into separate political entities which they administered by relying on existing organic tribal and sectarian affiliations, some of which they elevated over others by granting them positions of power and influence in the government and the army........
....Sectarianism by any other name: now the idea is to support "moderate Sunnis". But several problems muddy this tidy picture. Michel Aoun and the Free National Movement has aligned itself with the resistance, as if to deliberately expose the fallacy of the new nomenclature. Hamas (the Sunni-affiliated Palestinian resistance movement) is allied with (the Shia) Hizbullah and the fact that it has been labelled "terrorist" does not obviate the blurring of the Sunni-Shia divide that Israel and the US are playing on. Then there is the Iraqi resistance, which defies any neat categorisation.....
Rather than moving towards a national unity government, tensions between Fatah and Hamas are threatening to tear the Palestinian street apart
Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank
"........The incessant and unmitigated pressure by a determined anti-Hamas group within Fatah, which Hamas often refers to as "Fatah's Israeli lobby" might yet succeed in persuading Abbas to cross the Rubicon. Certainly, the Palestinian president appears to have little room for manoeuvre, facing few choices, all of them fraught with uncertainty and not a small amount of risk.
If he decides to adopt the PLO executive committee recommendation and call for early elections without Hamas's consent, the resistance movement is likely to challenge the constitutionality and legality of the move. Most Palestinian legal and constitutional experts agree that while the president of the Palestinian Authority can dissolve the government, he cannot dissolve the legislative council.
Abbas, some observers suggest, might seek to pressure Hamas to consent to early general elections by ordering his security forces to take over government buildings and ministries in a de facto coup, but it is a scenario that could trigger a confrontation with Hamas, especially in the Gaza Strip, and Abbas would be blamed for the consequences.
Abbas also feels he must do something to appease Fatah and maintain his status as president. This could prompt him to call for early presidential elections, probably within 60 to 90 days, in the hope that he will be re-elected. With a popular mandate he would have a much stronger hand if he subsequently decided to dissolve the government and call for early elections.
This scenario, too, is fraught with uncertainty since Hamas will likely field its own presidential candidate, possibly the current premier Ismail Haniyeh, who might snatch the presidency from Abbas.
There have been suggestions that Abbas is asking Israel to free jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti to stand as Fatah candidate for president of the PA.
Assuming that Israel will accede to Abbas's request in this regard, and that is by no means certain, the choice of Barghouti as the PA's next president is unlikely to be acceptable to either Israel or the United States given Barghouti's rejection of any settlement with Israel that does not include total Israeli withdrawal from all territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem.
Barghouti's views in this regard are similar to those of Hamas and his election as PA president would be a victory for Hamas as much as for Fatah........"
"WASHINGTON - It hasn't been a good year for neocons, that group of conservative American intellectuals pulling some strings of US policy, particularly during the George W. Bush administration.
The strongest indictment against them is the war in Iraq, a quagmire in which the US is currently stuck up to its neck. And as Bush's days in the White House grow numbered, they are leaving one by one.
Among the few remaining neocons is David Wurmser, an advisor for Vice President Dick Cheney on Middle Eastern affairs. Wurmser is a Middle East expert, just like his wife, Israeli Meyrav Wurmser, a researcher at the conservative Hudson Institute.
Meyrav Wurmser was also one of the co-founders of MEMRI, which tracks Arab leaders and translating their political statements from Arabic to English.
Despite the fact that many neocons are no longer part of the government, it turns out they're still one big happy family, who make sure to remain in touch.
Many are Jews, who share a love for Israel. Some of the accusations against the government regarding the war in Iraq is that it was undertaken primarily for Israel's sake and that the attack on Iraq was actually an Israeli objective. In an interview with Ynet, Dr. Meyrav Wurmser refutes the accusations and criticism.......
...."The objective was to change the face of the Middle East. But it was impossible to create a mini-democracy amidst a sea of dictatorships looking to destroy this poor democracy, and thus, where do insurgents in Iraq come from? From Iran and Syria." .......
Everyone feels beaten after last 5 years
At their prime, the neocons held the reigns of American decision making. In the Pentagon, there were Deputy Defense Minister Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith, and Harold Rhode, a senior Pentagon advisor on Islam. In the vice president's office were Louis Libby and John Hannah. Richard Perle headed the committee advising to the Pentagon. In the White House were Deputy National Security Adviser for Global Democracy Strategy Elliott Abrams and Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, who later became the US ambassador to the UN."
Rice to seek additional funds to boost Abbas' security forces
"United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday she would ask the U.S. Congress for tens of millions of dollars to strengthen the security forces of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
"We will request funding to support the security reform [of Abbas's forces] and I think we will get support," said Rice in an interview with Reuters, adding that the aid would be in the range of tens of millions of dollars.
The funding request comes as tensions are at their highest in a decade in the Palestinian Authority, with government unity talks stalled and Hamas accusing Abbas of trying to start a civil war.
The United States wants to ensure that Abbas, whose Fatah party was trounced by Hamas in elections last January, emerges victorious in any power struggle with Hamas and has been saying for months that more needs to be done to boost his forces.
But Rice cautioned this could take some time. "You can't build security forces overnight to deal with the kind of lawlessness that is there in Gaza which largely derives from an inability to govern," she said.
"Their (the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority) inability to govern, of course, comes from their unwillingness to meet international standards," she added.
State Department officials have been discussing the request in recent weeks with key staff on Capitol Hill, trying to convince them the money will not reach Hamas.
"We are going to adopt extremely concrete and tight measures to make sure that the money is going to the right places," said Rice."
"Ramallah - Hamas Movement has affirmed that the PA presidential guard apparatus along with other security apparatuses working under the command of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas have played an extremely bad role in the bloody incidents in Ramallah city.
PA security forces loyal to Abbas harshly quelled a peaceful rally organized by Hamas supporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday in celebration of the Movement's 19th anniversary, leading to tens of injuries (some critical) among the unarmed Hamas cadres and supporters.
A responsible source in Hamas affirmed later on Friday, "Abbas' forces started shooting at the peaceful demonstrators, and assaulted them with batons." He charged that coup-mongers within Fatah faction attempted to replicate the Algerian bloody experience in occupied Palestine after failure of their attempts to topple the Hamas-led PA government.
Furthermore, the source unveiled that Abbas' forces installed roadblocks in Ramallah's street where the march was supposed to pass in a bid to disturb and prevent it from going ahead.
"TV cameras that clearly showed Abbas' forces shooting live bullets at Palestinian citizens and wounding a number of them have indeed refuted fabrications made by certain Fatah officials that attempted to mislead the Palestinian people into believing that the clashes were between Fatah and Hamas supporters, and that Abbas' forces intervened to break them up", the source underlined.
Tens of Hamas' supporters were wounded with bullets of Abbas' forces; injuries of a number of the victims were described as "serious" with media reports saying that a 13-year-boy had died of his wounds.
PA presidential guards dubbed as "Force 17" along with elements of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, armed wing of Fatah, have warned Thursday that they will forcibly block any attempt by Hamas' followers to hold the rally.
But leaders of Hamas in the West Bank were prudent enough to prevent more Palestinian sacred blood to spill with Palestinian bullets as they affirmed that the Movement, despite the conspiracies against it, "will remain the safety valve of the Palestinian national unity, and the thorn in the throats of Israel and its local agents".
In 1994, Fatah-controlled PA security apparatuses killed 14 Palestinian citizens and wounded scores others while going out of Palestine mosque in Gaza city.
Real role of "Force 17":
For his part, representative of Hamas in the Islamic and nationalist forces follow up committee Khalil Nofal affirmed that the unfortunate incidents in Ramallah had indeed unmasked the real role of the PA presidential guard (Force 17) in the PA-run land after USA trained and armed them.
"It became clear for the Palestinian people that the role of that force wasn’t to protect them, but rather to implement the American agenda in Palestine, and to confront and sideline Hamas in the Palestinian arena", Nofal charged.
"The injury of around 40 Hamas supporters (some were hit in the head and the neck) with bullets of that force displays the kind of vicious brainwashing of those forces against Hamas and its cadres", he furthermore asserted.
He also scorned fabrications made by Fatah leaders that the assassination attempt against PA premier Ismail Haneyya that killed one of his bodyguards, and wounded his son and his political consultant was the result of Hamas cadres firing against each other, describing such claims as "a falsification to clear the (Fatah) faction of responsibility, in addition to being an obvious undermining of the minds of the Palestinian people". "
Friday, December 15, 2006
Exposed: Iraq Psy-Ops Campaign: A mysterious psychological operations campaign is underway in Iraq, with Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army as its target. In recent days, Baghdad residents report receiving phone calls that caller ID show to be originating from outside Iraq.
Diplomat's suppressed document lays bare the lies behind Iraq war: The Government's case for going to war in Iraq has been torn apart by the publication of previously suppressed evidence that Tony Blair lied over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
Three US occupation force soldiers killed in Iraq: Two US marines killed in occupied province of Al-Anbar, one soldier killed in Nineveh province.
No yellow ribbons for this soldier!: Missing Soldier Classified As Captured In Iraq: Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie, a 41-year-old Iraqi-born resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., was snatched off the street while he was visiting his Iraqi wife in Baghdad on Oct. 23.
Iraqi Red Crescent accuses U.S. forces of attacks: The Iraqi Red Crescent accused U.S. forces on Friday of carrying out a spate of attacks on its offices over the last three years during operations to flush out suspected militants.
Tribal Leaders Don't Trust Iraq Soldiers: Tribal leaders and some political groups in the strife-ridden Iraqi province of Diyala are turning to terrorists and insurgents for protection rather than trust Iraqi soldiers and police, the commander of U.S. forces in that area said Friday.
Sadrists want U.S., British embassies in Iraq closed: The political committee in al-Shaheed al-Sadr's office urged the Iraqi government to close down the U.S. and British embassies in Baghdad and expel the two ambassadors
Top general calls for more troops: The Army's top general warned on Thursday that his force ``will break'' without thousands more active duty troops and greater use of the reserves. He issued the warning as President Bush considers new strategies for Iraq.
Bush weighing deeper commitment in Iraq, officials say: - President Bush is weighing whether to make a deeper American commitment in Iraq despite growing public unhappiness with the war, according to senior U.S. officials and former officials familiar with Bush's high-level review.
Graham Says 20-Thousand More Troops Needed In Iraq: South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham says about 20,000 more American troops are needed if Iraq is going to establish a working democracy.
U.S. considers 35,000 more troops for Iraq: Senator John McCain said that U.S. military commanders were discussing the possibility of adding as many as 10 more U.S. combat brigades — a maximum of about 35,000 troops — to "bring the situation under control" while Iraq's divided political leaders seek solutions to the worsening bloodshed here.
Despite Its $168 Billion Budget: The Army Faces a Cash Crunch: At a time when the war in Iraq is deepening, and debate over pulling out the troops is intensifying, the rising cost of waging the fight is outpacing even the Army's huge budget. The financial squeeze is leaving the Army short of equipment and key personnel.
Democrats Expected to Increase U.S. Military Spending: This year's Pentagon budget is $436 billion. That amount does not include more than $140 billion that's being spent this year alone on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rice hints Baker report to be snubbed: US secretary of state tells Washington Post that US will not 'trade away' Lebanon to Syria nor allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons – in exchange for peace in Iraq. Says administrations stepping up efforts for Israeli-Palestinian calm.
Former President Carter says he won't visit Brandeis: "I don't want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz," Carter told The Boston Globe. "There is no need ... for me to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."
Israel boycott may be the way to peace: Ten Palestinians are killed for every Israeli death; more than 200, many of them children, have been killed since the summer.
The Green Line is the border: It is hard to understand why the line's deletion was justified and its restoration deemed unacceptable by settlers and their supporters. It is true that there is no sanctity in the cease-fire line beyond the fact that turning it into an official border is the only possible basis for determining Israel's final territorial arrangements and for ending the war both with the Palestinians and with the Arab countries.
Analysis: Building up force is PA Chairman Abbas' top priority: When news of the closure was broadcast this afternoon, a vendor at the New Gate in the Old City in Jerusalem cried out: "Do the Israelis want to starve us? Haniyeh is bringing in money for people who want to eat. Where else in the world is there such cruelty?" The anger against Israel is undermining the political power of Abbas who is calling for negotiations with Israel and peaceful coexistence. Aides to Abbas from the Fatah leadership have already concluded that there is no way of avoiding a direct and violent confrontation with Hamas.
Beyond imagination: While Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is still counting on the US and the EU -- and probably Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well -- to "strengthen" his position against the Hamas-led government, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has been scoring success after success in his extended tour of a number of Arab and Muslim states in the region.
EU backs peace plan worded by Spain, France, Italy: The 25 foreign ministers reaffirmed the initiative Thursday and leaders from the 25 EU nations will formally endorse it Friday. Diplomats said the leaders' statement nudges Syria into doing more for peace and urges Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to keep up his efforts to form a government of national unity.
Assad to Olmert: Take a chance, See if we're bluffing: Syrian President Bashar Assad called on Israel in an interview published on Friday to renew talks with Damascus. Asked about this week's conference sponsored by Iran questioning the Holocaust - the killing of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany in World War Two - Assad said: "Listen, Europe has a complex about the Holocaust. We don't because we didn't do it."
EU summit urges Syria to play constructive peace role, warns Iran on sanctions: The European Union on Thursday embraced a Middle East peace initiative that urges Syria to play a constructive role in the region and hints to Iran of impending international sanctions over its nuclear program. It also condemned a move by the Palestinian militant group Hamas to seize a key EU-monitored border crossing Thursday between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
Rice hints Baker report to be snubbed: Rice stressed that the administration will continue to push for a democratic Mideast, insisting it is a "matter of strategic interest," this as opposed to the Baker-Hamilton report which made a point of underplaying that goal. She reiterated the US's commitment to peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, saying that there will be many Mideast visits in the near future.
EU extends Palestinian aid deal that bypasses Hamas-led gov't: EU leaders said "the protracted deterioration" of the Palestinian situation justified continuing the World Bank-monitored aid scheme that has funneled hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) directly to Palestinians.
Rocket threat: Sderot factories at risk of closing down: In wake of this incident, the Ministry has demanded that all structures at the plants be fortified. However, in light of the dire economic situation in the region, due in large part to the almost daily Qassam attacks, both factories said they were unable to pay for such works.
Israeli Lawmaker Wants to Abolish Palestinian Authority in West Bank: "After 13 years of incitement and violence and terrorism and agreement violations, one should say that enough is enough. It is high time [that Israel] should abolish the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] and transfer the leadership to Gaza," said Israeli lawmaker Yuval Steinitz.
General Assembly adopts resolutions criticizing Israeli actions against Palestinians: The Assembly also adopted a text on Israeli settlements by 162 votes in favour to 8 against and with 10 abstentions reaffirming that "settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan, were illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development." It also reiterated its demand for the complete cessation of all such activity.
Hamas wants simultaneous swap of Shalit, Palestinian prisoners: "The Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will never be freed unless our hero prisoners, the long-serving and the faction leaders are freed in a reciprocal and simultaneous manner," senior Hamas leader Khalil Al-Hayya told a large Hamas rally in Gaza.
Haniyeh: We're Shahids, not ministers: The Palestinian leader called for unity among the Palestinian factions, after days of continually escalating violence in the Strip and the West Bank. "Palestinian blood must be safeguarded; we must unite for the fight to free our lands and holy sites," he said. With that, Haniyeh said no amount of pressures on his government would lead Hamas to modify its stances.
Nonviolent protest in Damon Prison against strip searches: For the third day in a row Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli Damon Prison are on hunger strike. This nonviolent action is in protest of the prison administration's arbitrary attempts to force Palestinians to submit to strip searches before visiting relatives.
Dahlan: "Accusing me of attempting to kill Haniyya, a clear lie, a bid for my assassination": Dahlan stated that Hamas gunmen were the ones who fired lat Monday at the vehicle of Major Baha' Balousha, killing his three children on their way to school, instead of him; the three children are Osama, 10, Ahmad, 6, and Salam, 3 years old. He added that Hamas knows the killers of the three children.
Hamas accuses Dahlan, presidential security of attempting to assassinate Haniyya: Hamas' media spokesperson Ismail Radwan said in a press release from Gaza that Haniyya survived an assassination attempt carried out "by a spiteful group led by Mohammad Dahlan who prepared and planned this attack", according to Radwan. Hamas accused the presidential guards of attacking the Prime Minister's convoy.
Dahlan vows to decimate Hamas:
"I told them [Hamas] that they would eat [expletive] if they recognised Israel and would eat [expletive] if they didn't recognise Israel. They would eat [expletive] if they recognised the Arab initiative and would eat [expletive] if they didn't."
Dahlan also tacitly admits that he has been behind much of the lawlessness and security chaos in Gaza: "I just deploy two jeeps, and people would say Gaza is on fire."
Dahlan says Hamas's victory in the elections was "a disaster", or nakba, for the movement, and yet, "Hamas is now the weakest Palestinian faction. They are whining and complaining. Well, they will have to suffer yet more until they are damned to the seventh ancestor. I will haunt them from now till the end of their term in four years. And I swear, whoever within Fatah says 'we should join the government," I will humiliate them."
Nonviolent protest in Damon Prison against strip searches: For the third day in a row Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli Damon Prison are on hunger strike. This nonviolent action is in protest of the prison administration's arbitrary attempts to force Palestinians to submit to strip searches before visiting relatives.
Israel to tighten enforcement of int'l boycott of PA: Security sources in Israel said that Hamas officials who will attempt in the future to bypass the economic embargo on the Palestinian Authority will also not be allowed to cross back into the Gaza Strip.
'Silent Transfer' presentation at TAU: It soon became obvious from the large number of people who had either been denied entry or had had their passports stamped 'last permit,' that in March 2006 Israel had instituted a new policy, a policy that would either separate families or cause families to leave. Recently, 105 passports were returned with visas not later than the end of December 2006, and all stamped "last permit." A week later 125 were returned with 'entry denied' stamped on them.
'Sacred Space' screened at St. Stephen's: Narrated by Nagle's wife Joy, the film focuses on the building of the wall around the area of the "Bethlehem Triangle," consisting of the towns of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour." In many areas, including Bethlehem, the wall has been build well inside the West Bank, in order to include the settlements," Nagle tells viewers. "This wall confiscates Palestinian lands, attaching them to the settlements and making them part of Israel."
Jerusalem by numbers: changing birthrates: The team began to conduct the study after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke, earlier this year, of a plan to partition the city, claiming that placing tens of thousands of Arabs outside the municipal boundaries would preserve the Jewish majority in Jerusalem.
John Berger rallies artists for cultural boycott of Israel: The celebrated novelist, critic and artist John Berger today calls on British writers and artists to undertake a "cultural boycott" of Israel. In a letter to the Guardian, co-signed by, among others, the artist Cornelia Parker, the musician Brian Eno, and writers Arundhati Roy and Ahdaf Soueif, Berger calls for support for "our Palestinian and Israeli colleagues". He suggests boycott tactics; in his case it meant declining to be published by a large mainstream Israeli publisher, he says.
Former President Carter says he won't visit Brandeis: "I don't want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz," Carter told The Boston Globe. "There is no need to for me to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine." The debate request is proof that many in the United States are unwilling to hear an alternative view on the nation's most taboo foreign policy issue, Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory, Carter said.
'Barrier will be done by end of 2008': Construction of the West Bank security barrier will be completed by the end of 2008, a senior defense official.
Make Mideast peace urgent policy priority, interreligious leaders urge U.S. government: In the strongly worded, 2,500-word statement dated Dec. 12 and released Dec. 14, 35 leaders of national religious bodies, compelled by "our shared Abrahamic faith," said the United States has "an inescapable responsibility and an indispensable role to provide creative, determined leadership for building a just peace for all in the Middle East."
More lands confiscated from Kafr al-Labad, east of Tulkarem: Israeli forces have confiscated hundreds of acres of Palestinian lands belonging to the northern West Bank town of Kafr al-Labad, east of Tulkarem. The lands have been confiscated for the establishment of the separation wall around the Israeli settlement of Avne Hefez. Ma'an's correspondent has visited the location and reported that the lands are planted with olive trees and occupy some 144.6 dunums.
Haniyeh's bodyguard killed, son wounded in shooting attack: Haniyeh's convoy came under fire as it crossed, and it was forced to speed away. Officials said Haniyeh was unharmed. Government official Taher Nunu, an adviser to the Palestinian foreign minister, said Haniyeh's son Abed was wounded in the exchange.
Hamas and Fatah trade fire in power struggle: Violence between rival Palestinian groups edged closer towards civil war today as security forces loyal to the ruling Fatah organisation fired on Hamas supporters rallying in the West Bank. At least 32 Hamas supporters in Ramallah were wounded by gunfire from Fatah-loyal forces, hospital officials were quoted as saying by Reuters.
Non-violent march in Bil'in village met by Israeli military violence: "After the march, the army invaded the village and fired concussion grenades and teargas. Lately, they have been invading the village every Friday after our weekly protest", said Abu Rahme. He continued, "This is a clear attempt by the Israeli military to stifle our right to non-violently protest the unjust Israeli annexation Wall that is being built on our land." As of this report, the Israeli military is still in the village, occupying a number of houses and using those homes as sniper-posts.
Hillary Clinton: I join Israel against Ahmadinejad : Clinton called him a serious threat on Israel and her allies and continued to say that Iran must not be allowed to obtain and develop nuclear weapons.
Hamas, Fatah wage Gaza gun battle: Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was eventually allowed to cross without the estimated $35 million cash but on the Gaza side of the border, his convoy came under intense fire from Fatah gunmen and one of his bodyguards was killed. Hamas said the gunmen had been aiming to kill the prime minister.
Hamas, Fatah Clash in Deepening Violence: - Gunmen allied with Hamas and Fatah clashed at a West Bank mosque and in Gaza Strip streets on Friday, as violence spread to areas of the Palestinian territories normally untouched by factional strife.
Gaza border shots 'targeted PM': The Palestinian Hamas group says a rival faction has tried to assassinate Prime Minister Ismail Haniya as he crossed back into Gaza from Egypt.
Hamas says Abbas wants war: A senior Hamas official has accused Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and leader of Fatah, of starting a war after his security forces opened fire on a Hamas rally in the West Bank and firefights broke out in Gaza.
U.S. fermenting civil war: U.S. training Fatah in anti-terror tactics: U.S. officials training Palestinian security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas are emphasizing urban anti-terrorist techniques as part of a systematic effort to bolster Abbas and his Fatah loyalists to counter the political success of Hamas, according to Palestinian analysts and officers receiving the training.
The enemy within: There are hundreds, possibly thousands of Palestinians working covertly for the Israeli intelligence services.
By VIRGINIA TILLEY
Johannesburg, South Africa
"......We know you are still pursuing the old, fatal, futile fantasy: finally to redeem the Zionist dream by demolishing Palestinian nationalism. To break Palestinian national unity on the rocks of occupation. To reduce the Palestinians to Indians on reservations who decline into despair, alcoholism and emigration. To make them irrelevant to you.....
The Palestinians are five-million strong, equal to you in numbers. And they live within your borders. When their leadership ruins itself, bashing each other like rams fighting to the death, they will finally turn their five million pairs of burning eyes on you, for you will be the only power left over them. And you will be defenseless, because your paper shelter - your Fatah or PA quislings - will be damaged goods, cracked vessels, discredited, gone. And it will then be you and those you have disenfranchised - you and the Palestinians, in one state, with no Oslo or Road Map myth to protect you. And by then, they will truly hate you.......
We could appeal to the leader of the Fatah thugs, Mr. Abbas, shuffling at the feet of Israeli power, to find some spine. Or to the ubiquitous Mr. Erekat, who never had a political vision in his life, to develop one overnight.
We could appeal to the Fatah thugs to reject Mr. Abbas and Mr. Erekat and the fat cement contracts you gave them to build the Wall that imprisons them, and seek a high road they have never glimpsed.
We could appeal to the microscopic PFLP and DFLP, clutching their old programs too stale to chew and consumed by their acrid, decades-old bitterness and rivalry with Fatah, to lift their heads at long last beyond the old and new grievances.
We could appeal to the US, but no one bothers to do that.
We could appeal to the EU, but no one bothers to do that, either.
We could appeal to the world, but it only stands aghast.
We could appeal to the world media, but it is frozen with its ass in the air.
We can only appeal to you, Israel. To think what you are doing, if not to care.
For you are crafting your own destruction......"
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas is helped by his bodyguards during a rally at the Yarmouk in Gaza City, Friday, Dec. 15, 2006 (AP)
Hamas supporters attend a Hamas rally marking the 19th anniversary of Hamas' foundation in Gaza December 15, 2006 (Reuters)
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas is surrounded by bodyguards as he waves to supporters during a rally in Gaza City, Friday, Dec. 15, 2006 (AP)
Thousands of supporters gather as Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, not seen, delivers a speech during a rally in Gaza City, Friday, Dec. 15, 2006 (AP)
The Middle East faces "one of the worst crises in years," EU leaders said, stating their readiness to work with a "legitimate" unity Palestinian government acceptable to the international community.
Arab League envoys this week mediated a tentative agreement between the Lebanese government and the opposition on a national unity cabinet.
EU leaders also condemned the assassination last month of anti-Syrian Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, and decried any other attempts to "destabilize Lebanon through political assassinations or terrorist acts."
Chirac said France would host an international donor conference for Lebanese reconstruction on January 25. "More than ever, Lebanon needs our help," he said.
Assad told Rome's la Repubblica newspaper Damascus was ready to cooperate with Washington to resolve regional issues and challenged Israel to open up to Syria. He also said Europe had a "complex" over the Jewish Holocaust.
"The fact is that we (Syrians) live in this region, we know it well," he said in the long interview, adding that Washington "needs our help" to formulate a plan for Iraq.
Asked if he was ready to work constructively with Washington, he said, "Certainly we are ready to do so. Because if you don't resolve regional questions - Iraq, Lebanon, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - it will be we bordering countries that will pay the highest price."
Syria had "excellent relations" with many factions in Iraq and could support a national conference on the future of the country, he said. Assad also said the United States and Europe "must talk to Tehran."
A report released last week in Washington by a special panel recommended the United States engage Syria and Iran to bring about stability in Iraq.
The White House has so far rejected such contacts and President George W. Bush renewed his criticism of Damascus on Wednesday, accusing Syria of human rights abuses and of trying to undermine Lebanese sovereignty.
Assad said the Iraq Study Group report vindicated Syria's position that it had to be listened to.
Assad said Israel should also take up Syria's offer to hold talks. "I say to [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert: 'Take a chance. Discover if we are bluffing or not.'"
Israel is firmly opposed to talks with Syria, saying Damascus needs first to cut its links to the anti-Israeli militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Syria wants talks to recover the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in
Asked about this week's conference sponsored by Iran questioning the Holocaust, Assad said: "Listen, Europe has a complex about the Holocaust. We don't because we didn't do it.
However, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has rejected a bipartisan panel's recommendation that the Bush administration engage Syria and Iran in efforts to stabilize Iraq, The Washington Post reported
The "compensation" required for any such deal might be too high, Rice told the paper in an interview.
Rice said she did not want to trade away Lebanese sovereignty to Syria or allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon as a price for peace in Iraq, the Post reported.
She also argued that neither Syria nor Iran should need incentives to help achieve stability in Iraq, the Post reported.
"If they have an interest in a stable Iraq, they will do it anyway," Rice said.
Rice told The Washington Post that Bush could be "quite expansive" in the policy review and that the new plan would be a "departure." However, she told the newspaper that Bush would not radically change any of his long-term goals or commitment to Iraq.
Rice also said the administration would not retreat from its push to promote democracy in the Middle East and reiterated her commitment to pursuing peace between Palestinians and Israelis, the Post said.
"Get ready. We are going to the Middle East a lot," Rice said.
|Gaza City) PCHR|
|Friday, 15 December 2006|
The PCHR issued its report for the week of 7 through 13 December outlining human rights abuses in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces arrested 40 Palestinians this week, including six children and attacked two radio stations.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights photo that accompanied the weekly report ran with the caption, "Thousands of Palestinian civilians waiting for the Rafah border crossing to open."
The full text of the report follows:
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)
Two Palestinian couple were killed by the explosion of a mysterious object from the remainders of IOF.
A Palestinian woman died from a heart attack when IOF detonated a sound bomb inside her house.
11 Palestinian civilians, including two children, were wounded by IOF.
IOF conducted 27 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
IOF arrested 40 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children.
IOF raided offices of two local radio stations in Hebron.
An IOF bloodhound bit and injured a Palestinian woman in Nablus.
IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT; IOF have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
IOF have continued to construct the Annexation Wall inside the West Ban; IOF have continued to construct a section of the Wall in ‘Azzoun ‘Atma village, south of Qalqilya.
Israeli violations of international law and humanitarian law continued in the OPT during the reported period (7 – 13 December 2006):
Killing: During the reported period, a Palestinian couple were killed in Sa’ir village, northeast of Hebron, and their child was seriously wounded on 9 December 2006, when a mysterious object exploded in junks collected by the husband from an area used by IOF as a training site. On 12 December 2006, a 56-year-old Palestinian woman died from a heart attack when IOF detonated a sound bombs inside her house. On 10 December 2006, a Palestinian child was wounded in al-Fara’a refugee camp, southeast of Jenin, when IOF fired at a number of children who demonstrated against them.
In the Gaza Strip, in violation of the truce between IOF and the Palestinian side, IOF fired at a number of Palestinian civilians, wounding 10 of them. On 7 December 2006, 4 Palestinian civilians, including two brothers, were wounded in separate incidents of shooting by IOF in the northern Gaza Strip. On 8 December 2006, two Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded when IOF fired at a number of Palestinian civilians who were searching for wires and metals in the northern Gaza Strip. On 10 December 2006, IOF fired at a Palestinian civilian who was farming his land in the northern Gaza Strip, wounding him seriously. On 13 December 2006, an IOF gunboat opened fire at a fishing boat opposite to Rafah seashore, wounding 3 Palestinian fishermen, including two brothers.
Despite the very minimal demands laid upon Israel under UN resolution 1701, Israel has been constantly violating the terms of the ceasefire agreement.
Monday December 11, 2006
Israeli jets violated airspace in southern Lebanon Monday by flying at low altitude over areas where UN peacekeepers are stationed. The jets also flew over the cities of Tyre, Marjayun and Nabatiyeh. (DPA)
Friday November 17, 2006
THREE Israeli warplanes violated again the Lebanese airspace. The fighter-bombers overflew the Tyre and Bint Jbeil areas where troops of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) are deployed, intruding at high altitude repeatedly.(AFP)
Thursday November 9, 2006
Twelve Israeli jets violated Lebanese airspace on Thursday. The fighter-bombers entered Lebanon at 12:25 p.m. and flew high over the coastal town of Naqoura, headquarters of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) near the borders with Israel. They then flew over other Southern regions before flying at a lower altitude over the eastern city of Baalbek, the army added. The 12 planes left Lebanese airspace at 1 p.m. after flying over Tripoli and Akkar in the North.(AP)
Tuesday October 31, 2006
Israeli fighter jets dived low over the southern suburbs at least six times before roaring back into the sky. Lebanese security officials said eight Israeli jets had crossed the border and dispersed, flying over southern and central Lebanon, with some reaching south Beirut.Israeli fighter jets dived low over the southern suburbs at least six times before roaring back into the sky. Lebanese security officials said eight Israeli jets had crossed the border and dispersed, flying over southern and central Lebanon, with some reaching south Beirut.
Tuesday’s show was the heaviest aerial incursion of Lebanon since the end of Israel’s 34-day offensive against the Hezbollah militant group. Lebanon, with United Nations support, has frequently protested Israeli flights over its territory. (Reuters)
Wednesday October 25, 2006
Two Israeli warplanes and a German navy vessel have clashed off the Lebanese coast, the Defence Ministry in Berlin said on Wednesday without giving further details. Germany daily Der Tagesspiegel earlier on Wednesday quoted a junior German defence minister as telling a parliamentary committee that two Israeli F-16 fighters flew low over the German ship and fired two shots. The jets also released infra-red countermeasures to ward off any rocket attack, the paper quoted him as saying. “I can confirm that there was an incident,” a ministry spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday. An investigation was underway and he therefore was unable to provide further information, he added. (Reuters)
Monday October 23, 2006
Israeli Airforce planes swooped low over Lebanon on Monday, a day after Israel rejected a call by France’s defence minister to halt violations of its neighbor’s airspace. The planes conducted mock raids over much of southern Lebanon, Reuters reported, and residents saw them flying low over the capital Beirut, but neither Hezbollah nor the Lebanese army fired anti-aircraft rounds at them as they have done in previous years.
Tuesday October 17, 2006
Israeli troops, along with two bulldozers, crossed the UN demarcated Blue Line near the Lebanese border village of Kfar Kila on Tuesday. “The Israeli troops cut the barbed wire separating Israel and Lebanon and placed the water pipe 40 metres inside Lebanese territory,” the Lebanese army source said. “The incident took place in the sight of the French and Spanish peacekeepers who acknowledged that there was a breach of the Lebanese territories,” the source said without elaborating. The army source said that on Tuesday, Spanish UNIFIL troops were observing the area as the Israeli bulldozers broke the barbed wire to place a pipe to divert the rain-water into Lebanese territories. The Spanish troops did not interfere but took pictures of the breaches.
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