Friday, December 22, 2006

Meanwhile in Palestine

We need bridges not walls in Israel-Palestine, say UK church leaders: The Israeli separation wall is "a sign of all that is wrong in the human heart", the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has said today in Bethlehem - calling for bridges rather than barriers to deal with problems of violence and division. Each of the British church leaders – who will meet with Christians, Muslims and Jews on their trip – expressed concern about the effect of the wall on the people of Bethlehem and surrounding towns.

Be'lin Weekly Demonstration Against Illegal Israeli Seperation Wall: Today, like the past 2 years, the demonstrations in Be'lin started after Friday prayers with participants including residents of the village, Internationals and Israeli activists participating. This week there was a high percentage of International demonstrators, in which the majority came from the countries of Poland and Spain. During the protest the Israeli army surrounded the village of Be'lin, where they clashed with local youth using tear gas, sound grenades and rubber bullets.

Mass goers to hear of Bethlehem plight: Congregations at Catholic churches will be told about the plight of those living in the West Bank town of Bethlehem at Christmas Mass. The Irish Bishop's Conference (IBC) circulated a Christmas statement to priests saying that the birthplace of Jesus has been transformed from a "bustling cultural and spiritual centre" to "a big prison".

Father of 14-year-old girl killed by IDF released on bail to mourn: Nasser Abd al-Qadr, whose 14-year-old daughter was shot dead by Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday, was released from lock-up at Abu-Kabir on bail on Friday. MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) and MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List) paid Abd al-Qadr's NIS 10,000 bail, after earlier it seemed as though no guarantors would be found in time for him to reach the mourning period. Tibi put his name down as Abd al-Qadr's guarantor, but police refused to allow Abd al-Qadr to leave Abu-Kabir on his own and meet with reporters. Instead, they insisted on driving Abd al-Qadr to Taibeh crossing in an armored vehicle.

At least nine hurt in clashes between Hamas, Fatah in Nablus: Gunmen loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah opened fire on Hamas members in the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday, wounding at least nine people, hospital officials and witnesses said. At least one of the wounded was said to be in very serious condition.

Gaza truce holds for third day despite clash: A civilian died overnight in Gaza in clashes between Hamas and a powerful local clan, but otherwise a truce aimed at halting violence between rival Palestinian factions held for a third day.

IDF didn't notice family returned to Hebron home: A family that was evacuated from Hebron's wholesale market a year ago secretly returned about four months ago, but was discovered only recently by the Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration. As a result, the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court decided it cannot be evacuated via the fast-track method used to evacuate squatters within the first 30 days.

Haniyya: “We are ready to start talks on unity government”: Haniyya called on the Palestinian factions and armed groups to have more self restraint and hold their responsibilities in maintaining the national unity and void all causes of internal clashes. He added that the government and several specialized security devices are closely following and investigating the incidents that caused the renewed clashes between Fateh and Hamas gunmen over the last two days.

UN: Palestinians trying to flee Iraq for Syria stuck at border: Syrian authorities allowed more than 280 Palestinians stranded for two months on the Iraq-Jordan border to enter its territory in what Syria said was a "humanitarian" gesture. But the Syrian Foreign Ministry announced later it would not allow more Palestinians coming from Iraq to enter its territory, where more than 500,000 Palestinian refugees already live.

Dispute over Israeli gestures could delay PM-Abbas meeting: Olmert and Abbas aides met Thursday to discuss the gestures the Palestinians expect, which relate to freeing Palestinian prisoners and transferring tax funds, in further preparatory talks ahead of the leaders' planned meeting. While Palestinian officials said they believe the Olmert-Abbas meeting will take place in Jerusalem this coming Monday, the Prime Minister's Office said no date for the meeting will be set until the preparatory talks are brought to a successful conclusion.

EU: PA will end cash "smuggling" by Hamas in order to further starve the Palestinian people: The European Union's chief monitor at the Rafah crossing said yesterday that the Palestinian Authority has agreed to put an end to Hamas' fund smuggling from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. At a news conference at the EU mission in Ashkelon, Captain Pietro Pistolese said that anyone who objects to the agreement would not be allowed to cross through the Rafah crossing.

Bush signs law banning aid to Hamas government: Secondly, that the Hamas-controlled PA has made "demonstrable progress" toward purging individuals with ties to terrorism from its security services, dismantling all terrorist infrastructure with its jurisdiction, confiscating unauthorized weapons, arresting and bringing terrorists to justice, destroying unauthorized arms factories, thwarting and preempting terrorist attacks, and fully cooperating with Israel's security services.

Israelis endorse facists: Ratings of Israel's right surge: Israel's main right-wing opposition party, Likud, has seen its ratings surge on the back of disappointment with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's coalition and would win an election should one be held now, according to an opinion poll.

Jordanian king: Progress on peace critical in 2007: “2007 will be a very crucial year and if we do not see progress in the next six or seven months, I think that we will never arrive at our objective. The consequences will be disastrous for us all, including for Israel”, he added.

To live and let live, among the olive groves: For the 39th consecutive year, Palestinian Christians in towns and villages like Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Aboud will celebrate Christmas under Israeli military occupation. In Aboud, our hardships increased in October 2005, when the Israeli military issued confiscation orders to seize land owned by village residents to build Israel's security barrier, or wall. The orders were given without consultation with the land owners, contradicting what is expected from a democratic government.

Cease-fire number 2: Two armed men stood next to the checkpoint and prevented people from continuing south from there. People said that one of them, who was masked, was actually from Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and not from Force 17. "No passage allowed," he said. We're journalists, Mazen lied. We need to get around, and anyway, why isn't it allowed? Things have calmed down. The masked man answered: "We still don't believe the Hamas people. They harbor a lot of hostility toward us and so we have to stay here."

End the policy of isolation: But the U.S. policy of isolation had already spilled over into the Palestinian arena. As just one more way of imposing his foreign policy in the Middle East, Bush called for a boycott of Hamas once the movement won democratic parliamentary elections last January. The United States had been an active advocate of democratic elections during the rule of the late president Yasser Arafat, but when the time came the results proved not to be to America's liking.

First for Israeli-Arabs: Campaign against underage marriage: The campaign aims to prevent mother and fathers from marrying off their underage daughters. The campaign includes testimony from doctors who explain the damage that arises from pregnancy at an early age, and attempts to create a discussion on the status of girls who are still in school by directly addressing their parents.

Israel 'poisoning the Palestinians':
"Analyses carried out in laboratories outside Palestine have shown that Israel has had recourse to banned chemical weapons and depleted uranium" in the territories, said environment minister Yussef Abu Sofia in Algiers.

Get Carter:
Jimmy Carter, by publishing his book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, walked straight into the buzz saw that is the Israel lobby.

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