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 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.


Allawi shapes up as Iraq's iron man

Times Online

"A FORMER Iraqi prime minister who is tipped to return as a “strongman” leader if Baghdad’s faltering government falls has challenged the American-led coalition’s objective of creating a western-style democracy even though the country is in turmoil.

Iyad Allawi, an ally of the United States and Britain who ran the first Iraqi government after the fall of Saddam Hussein, said that elections were no solution when the overriding problem was a security crisis caused by militias who had infiltrated the police and were killing with impunity. The slaughter has triggered an exodus of middle-class professionals.

Iraq was not and is not ready for elections,” Allawi said in an interview last week.

With sectarian violence spiralling out of control and the government of Nouri al-Maliki unable to stop it, Allawi said that various political groupings were discussing alternatives.

These included the possibility that Iraq’s parliament might now be forced to override the results of last January’s elections and appoint a new administration of technocrats with free rein to confront the militias head on if necessary.

Maliki has repeatedly promised to disarm the death squads but has failed to curb the powers of the Mahdi army headed by Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shi’ite cleric, or the Badr organisation, the armed wing of one of the leading political parties, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Maliki depends heavily on the support of Sadr and SCIRI.

Allawi believes that if the militias refuse to halt their violence they should be wiped out. “We need to have a strong core of military and police loyal to the country with a clear cut leadership who can implement law and order in the country and take the militias out — by force if necessary, if dialogue fails,” he said.

He also warned that a crackdown would require a radical overhaul of the security forces and the establishment of a new police service capable of commanding trust. The current forces lacked a strong chain of command, he said, and most of the people in them owed their allegiance to particular political leaders rather than the country as a whole.

Allawi’s comments coincided with growing speculation that the Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by James Baker, the former US secretary of state, will conclude in its report next month that stability and security are the most important objectives, rather than an American-imposed ideal of democracy.

One idea circulating in Washington is to let a “strongman” impose order, allowing US forces to hand over responsibility for security to the Iraqis and begin a staged withdrawal. George W Bush recently had to reassure Maliki that he was not seeking to unseat him, but he has gone on to define success in Iraq as “a government that can defend, govern and sustain itself”, toning down his prodemocracy rhetoric.

Iraqi politicians have held discreet meetings in recent weeks to discuss a change of government, including talks in Dubai. Allawi denied taking part but confirmed that he was aware of the Dubai talks and others in Baghdad and Amman. Some are understood to have been conducted with the knowledge of American officials.

Asked whether he would be willing to lead a new government, Allawi said he had found his premiership “so lonely” — but hinted that he could be ready to “give it a final try”.

“Things cannot be left as they stand now,” said Allawi.

The present government needed help to be strong but if it could not do its job, new people should be appointed to senior posts or a fresh administration formed, he said. Otherwise violence, extremism and sectarianism would escalate and institutionalised militias would end up controlling every region of the country and even the judiciary." "


Israel orders killing of Hamas politicians

Times Online

"IN A desperate attempt to stop the barrage of rockets fired by Hamas at Israeli villages, Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, has ordered his security chiefs to target the Islamic movement’s political leadership.
According to Israeli security sources, a decision to assassinate leading Hamas politicians was taken by Olmert and his defence minister, Amir Peretz. Early yesterday Israeli missiles struck Hamas targets in Gaza, including a charity run by the group.

Since withdrawing from Gaza more than a year ago, Israel has targeted Hamas’s military activists, but that has not stopped the rockets. Outraged by an attack last Wednesday on the village of Sderot, Israel is determined to ensure the political leadership in Gaza, the West Bank and abroad will “no longer escape responsibility”.

The controversial change in tactics has been driven by Peretz, who broke down in tears when one of his bodyguards was badly injured in Sderot, his home village. The army has been battling against Palestinian rocket units in northern Gaza for months and has intensified its operations there in recent weeks. Since the beginning of this month, 98 Palestinians have been killed.

“The Gaza Strip is about to turn into the biggest terrorist compound on earth,” Yuval Diskin, the head of the Israeli internal security service, warned a parliamentary committee last week. “We have no choice but to consider a massive military operation there.”

Yesterday, deputy prime minister Avigdor Lieberman called for the assassination of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders. "They have to disappear, go to paradise, all of them," he said."

Bolton in extraordinary outburst against United Nations

"The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, launched a scathing attack on the United Nations Friday.

Bolton was furious over the adoption by the General Assembly of a resolution which said the assembly regretted the deaths of 19 civilians in an attack by the Israeli military in the town of Beit Hanoun last week.

Despite the resolution being significantly watered down at the behest of the United States, and being passing by 156 votes to seven, Bolton launched a blistering attack on the UN, and many of its members.

"Many of the sponsors of that resolution are notorious abusers of human rights themselves, and were seeking to deflect criticism of their own policies," he said.

"This type of resolution serves only to exacerbate tensions by serving the interests of elements hostile to Israel's inalienable and recognized right to exist."

"This deepens suspicions about the United Nations that will lead many to conclude that the organization is incapable of playing a helpful role in the region," Bolton continued.

"In a larger sense, the United Nations must confront a more significant question, that of its relevance and utility in confronting the challenges of the 21st century. We believe that the United Nations is ill served when its members seek to transform the organization into a forum that is a little more than a self-serving and a polemical attack against Israel or the United States," he said.

"The Human Rights Council has quickly fallen into the same trap and de-legitimized itself by focusing attention exclusively on Israel. Meanwhile, it has failed to address real human rights abuses in Burma, Darfur, the DPRK, and other countries," Bolton charged.

"The problem of anti-Israel bias is not unique to the Human Rights Council. It is endemic to the culture of the United Nations. It is a decades-old, systematic problem that transcends the whole panoply of the UN organizations and agencies," he continued.

The United States, and Australia joined Israel in voting against the motion, together with four small Pacific island nations. All countries in Europe, including Britain, voted to support the resolution.

The original text condemned Israel over the Beit Hanoun attack and its operations in Gaza, however the adopted resolution had the General Assembly expressing, "regret."

Rather than an outright investigation of the incident the assembly resolved to form a committee, "to look into the facts." The resolution also carried a demand that the Palestinian Authority take action to stop rocket attacks on Israel.

Bolton launched his attack despite gaining these concessions.

Equally critical was Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman who stormed out of the session after telling members, "I caution everyone who will support this resolution. By doing so, you will be an accomplice to terror. The blood of more innocents will be on your hands."

The resolution was taken to the General Assembly after the United States used its veto to squash a similar motion in the Security Council. It was the 31st time the U.S. had used its veto at the UN to stop resolutions concerning Israel and the Palestinians."


By The Great Brazilian Cartoonist, Latuff

Palestinian leaders meet Barney

"Palestinian leaders met a key candidate for prime minister in Gaza on Saturday, suggesting progress was being made toward naming a unity government that could overcome a Western aid blockade, officials said.

It was the first time Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the ruling Hamas faction had met together with Mohammed Shabir since he agreed last week to be nominated to head a joint government.

A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz before the meeting with Shabir that Abbas was to present the candidate with his diplomatic proposals and his expectations of the new unity government, and expected Shabir to reply as to whether or not he could meet them.

Among other things, Abbas expects the new government to accept the two-state solution along the 1967 cease-fire lines, the U.S.-drafted road map for peace, and the "Prisoner's Document."


Barney told Abbas that he had no problems meeting his demands. He said that he was ready to recognize Israel, accept Oslo, the Road Map and anything the U.S. and Israel dictate AS LONG AS IT REMAINED SECRET.

He concluded by serenading Abbas, "I love you, you love me; we're a happy family!"

Palestinians inspect the rubble of a house after it was demolished by Israeli army bulldozers during a raid in the West Bank town of Qalqilya November 18, 2006.(REUTERS)

Palestinian women inspect the damage caused by an overnight Israeli missile strike at the building housing Al Islah, a Hamas charity organization, in Gaza City Saturday Nov. 18, 2006. The air strikes demolished the targets and damaged several neighboring buildings, Palestinian security officials said.(AP Photo)

A Palestinian boy searches the rubble of a house demolished by Israeli troops during an incursion into the northern West Bank town of Qalqiliya. Two Palestinians were killed. (AFP)

Palestinians inspect the damaged library of Al-Salah mosque in Gaza city following Israeli shelling overnight on Gaza City. Two Palestinians were killed as Israel continued air and ground operations in the Gaza Strip, a day after the UN General Assembly urged an end to the violence.(AFP)
Books Are Dangerous!

(Photo by Reuters)
A U.S. Helicopter, Flown By Israelis, Delivering Presents To Palestinian Children In Gaza.
But Why Do They Hate Us?

Iran Turns up the Heat

By Mike Whitney

"Iran is playing a clever game in Iraq using US occupation forces to crush the Ba’athist-led resistance while expanding their influence via the Shiite militias. This is a “lose-lose” situation for the United States. American troops must continue to focus on one enemy while they inadvertently strengthen the other. How long will it be before the Bush administration sees that they’ve been supporting the very group which is most hostile to American interests?

Al-Maliki has clearly cast his lot with his Shiite base.

While the militias do not take their orders directly from Tehran, it’s clear that there’s a tacit agreement between the two and their objectives are nearly identical. Both are determined to defeat the Sunni-led resistance so that the Ba’ath Party can never return to power. The mass abductions show that they are moving as quickly as possible to execute their strategy.

Who could have imagined that US forces would be acting as security guards for Iranian-backed militias?

Of course, Iranians have to be discreet in their support for the ongoing occupation, but the truth is obvious; Bush is laying the groundwork for a fundamentalist regime in Baghdad by quashing the secular, Ba’athist-backed resistance.

The Baker group was formed as a last-gasp attempt to avert the greatest foreign policy train-wreck in American history. It’s no surprise that Bush and Israeli PM Olmert decided to conduct their high-level meetings on the same day that the Iraq Study Group met in the Oval Office. It was clearly meant to subvert Baker’s impact on the news-cycle. As soon as Bush had used Baker as a prop for his public relations photo-op (showing Bush’s “openness to new ideas”) the ex-diplomats were bundled out the servants’ exit so Bush could put the final touches on the plans for bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Bush has opened Pandora’s Box and there’ll be a terrible price to pay. He has allowed Iran to take root in Baghdad and upset the regional balance of power. Now, there really are no easy solutions. The only question is whether the impending holocaust is containable or if it will consume the entire region."

Top Democrats to Voters: Enough Already, Now Shut Up!

"We've Got a War to Run!"


"On the other side is the massed legions of cold war liberalism, of whom the notorious neo-cons ­ now denouncing Bush and Rumsfeld -- are but one battalion. Remember the origins of the neocons, as shock troops of the Israel lobby. Back in the mid-70s Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol , Albert Wohlstetter and the others saw the US facing impending defeat in Vietnam, and feared that the McGovernite peaceniks would rot the resolve of the Democratic Party to stand behind Israel. So they fanned out into the Committee on the Present Danger, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and stoked up the furnaces of the new cold war and greased the wheels of the Reagan campaign.

The apex neocons are a pretty discredited lot these days but there are legions like them spread across the nation's think tanks and policy institutes, all imbued with exactly the same fears that reverberated across the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Commentary, and the New Republic a generation ago: that America's "resolve" will soften; that there will be accommodation with Iran; that Israel will be abandoned. And in fact such fears are now more vivid. Thirty years ago the weight of the Israel lobby wasn't being excoriated by mainstream professors from Harvard and Chicago. Thirty years ago respectable professors like Tony Judt weren't publicly pillorying the Anti Defamation League. Thirty years the name of Israel, blowing apart children in Beit Hanoun and Gaza didn't stink in as many nostrils as it does today.

So the stakes are very high, and the party of permanent war ­ represented at its purest distillation in the form of senators like Joe Biden and congressmen like Rahm Emanuel are regrouping for a counter-attack, their numbers refreshed by a phalanx of incoming blue dogs, ranged against the 60-80 "out now" Democrats. You think pro-war Tom Lantos ­ one of the most rabid Zionists in Congress -- will be an improvement on antiwar Jim Leach as chair of the House International Relations Committee? The Democratic foreign policy establishment cannot and will not tolerate the notion of Cut and Run in Iraq. Expect the Israel lobby to say, post November 7, "We're back, stronger than ever!" Expect reassertions of the essential nobility of the attack that ousted Saddam Hussein, a deprecation of the destruction of Iraq as a society, a minimization of the outrages committed by US forces. "

Hollow Visions of Palestine's Future

Peace will need more than David Grossman – or Uri Avnery
by Jonathan Cook

David Grossman's widely publicized speech at the annual memorial rally for Yitzhak Rabin earlier this month has prompted some fine deconstruction of his "words of peace" from critics.

Grossman, one of Israel's foremost writers and a figurehead for its main peace movement, Peace Now, personifies the caring, tortured face of Zionism that so many of the country's apologists – in Israel and abroad, trenchant and wavering alike – desperately want to believe survives, despite the evidence of the Qanas, Beit Hanouns and other massacres committed by the Israeli army against Arab civilians. Grossman makes it possible to believe, for a moment, that the Ariel Sharons and Ehud Olmerts are not the real upholders of Zionism's legacy, merely a temporary deviation from its true path.

In reality, of course, Grossman draws from the same ideological well-spring as Israel's founders and its greatest warriors. He embodies the same anguished values of Labor Zionism that won Israel international legitimacy just as it was carrying out one of history's great acts of ethnic cleansing: the expulsion of some 750,000 Palestinians, or 80 per cent the native population, from the borders of the newly established Jewish state.

(Even critical historians usually gloss over the fact that the percentage of the Palestinian population expelled by the Israeli army was, in truth, far higher. Many Palestinians forced out during the 1948 war ended up back inside Israel's borders either because under the terms of the 1949 armistice with Jordan they were annexed to Israel, along with a small but densely populated area of the West Bank known as the Little Triangle, or because they managed to slip back across the porous border with Lebanon and Syria in the months following the war and hide inside the few Palestinian villages inside Israel that had not been destroyed.)

Remove the halo with which he has been crowned by the world's liberal media and Grossman is little different from Zionism's most distinguished statesmen, those who also ostentatiously displayed their hand-wringing or peace credentials as, first, they dispossessed the Palestinian people of most of their homeland; then dispossessed them of the rest; then ensured the original act of ethnic cleansing would not unravel; and today are working on the slow genocide of the Palestinians, through a combined strategy of their physical destruction and their dispersion as a people.

David Ben Gurion, for example, masterminded the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 before very publicly agonizing over the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza – even if only because of the demographic damage that would be done to the Jewish state as a result.

Golda Meir refused to recognize the existence of the Palestinian people as she launched the settlement enterprise in the occupied territories, but did recognize the anguish of Jewish soldiers forced to "shoot and cry" to defend the settlements. Or as she put it: "We can forgive you [the Palestinians] for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours."

Yitzhak Rabin, Grossman's most direct inspiration, may have initiated a "peace process" at Oslo (even if only the terminally optimistic today believe that peace was really its goal), but as a soldier and politician he also personally oversaw the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian cities like Lid in 1948; he ordered tanks into Arab villages inside Israel during the Land Day protests of 1976, leading to the deaths of half a dozen unarmed Palestinian citizens; and in 1988 he ordered his army to crush the first intifada by "breaking the bones" of Palestinians, including women and children, who threw stones at the occupying troops.

Like them, Grossman conspires in these original war crimes by preferring to hold on to what Israel has, or even extend it further, rather than confront the genuinely painful truth of his responsibility for the fate of the Palestinians, including the hundreds of thousands of refugees and the millions of their descendants.

Every day that Grossman denies a Right of Return for the Palestinians, even as he supports a Law of Return for the Jews, he excuses and maintains the act of ethnic cleansing that dispossessed the Palestinian refugees more than half a century ago.

And every day that he sells a message of peace to Israelis who look to him for moral guidance that fails to offer the Palestinians a just solution – and that takes instead as its moral yardstick the primacy of Israel's survival as a Jewish state – then he perverts the meaning of peace.

Another Israeli peace activist, Uri Avnery, diagnoses the problem posed by Grossman and his ilk with acute insight in a recent article. Although Grossman wants peace in the abstract, Avnery observes, he offers no solutions as to how it might be secured in concrete terms and no clues about what sacrifices he or other Israelis will have to make to achieve it. His "peace" is empty of content, a mere rhetorical device.

Rather than suggest what Israel should talk about to the Palestinians' elected leaders, Grossman argues that Israel should talk over their heads to the "moderates," Palestinians with whom Israel's leaders can do business. The goal is to find Palestinians, any Palestinians, who will agree to Israel's "peace." The Oslo process in new clothes.

Grossman's speech looks like a gesture towards a solution only because Israel's current leaders do not want to speak with anybody on the Palestinian side, whether "moderate" or "fanatic." The only interlocutor is Washington, and a passive one at that.

If Grossman's words are as as "hollow" as those of Ehud Olmert, Avnery offers no clue as to reasons for the author's evasiveness. In truth, Grossman cannot deal in solutions because there is almost no constituency in Israel for the kind of peace plan that might prove acceptable even to the Palestinian "moderates" Grossman so wants his government to talk to.

Were Grossman to set out the terms of his vision of peace, it might become clear to all that the problem is not Palestinian intransigence.

Although surveys regularly show that a majority of Israelis support a Palestinian state, they are conducted by pollsters who never specify to their sampling audience what might be entailed by the creation of the state posited in their question. Equally the pollsters do not require from their Israeli respondents any information about what kind of Palestinian state each envisages. This makes the nature of the Palestinian state being talked about by Israelis almost as empty of content as the alluring word "peace."

After all, according to most Israelis, Gazans are enjoying the fruits of the end of Israel's occupation. And according to Olmert, his proposed "convergence" – a very limited withdrawal from the West Bank – would have established the basis for a Palestinian state there too.

When Israelis are asked about their view of more specific peace plans, their responses are overwhelmingly negative. In 2003, for example, 78 per cent of Israeli Jews said they favored a two-state solution, but when asked if they supported the Geneva Initiative – which envisions a very circumscribed Palestinian state on less than all of the West Bank and Gaza – only a quarter did so. Barely more than half of the supposedly leftwing voters of Labor backed the Geneva Initiative.

This low level of support for a barely viable Palestinian state contrasts with the consistently high levels of support among Israeli Jews for a concrete, but very different, solution to the conflict: "transfer," or ethnic cleansing. In opinion polls, 60 per cent of Israeli Jews regularly favor the emigration of Arab citizens from the as-yet-undetermined borders of the Jewish state.

So when Grossman warns us that "a peace of no choice" is inevitable and that "the land will be divided, a Palestinian state will arise," we should not be lulled into false hopes. Grossman's state is almost certainly as "hollow" as his audience's idea of peace.

Grossman's refusal to confront the lack of sympathy among the Israeli public for the Palestinians, or challenge it with solutions that will require of Israelis that they make real sacrifices for peace, deserves our condemnation. He and the other gurus of Israel's mainstream peace movement, writers like Amos Oz and A B Yehoshua, have failed in their duty to articulate to Israelis a vision of a fair future and a lasting peace.

So what is the way out of the impasse created by the beatification of figures like Grossman? What other routes are open to those of us who refuse to believe that Grossman stands at the very precipice before which any sane peace activist would tremble? Can we look to other members of the Israeli left for inspiration?

Uri Avnery again steps forward. He claims that there are only two peace camps in Israel: a Zionist one, based on a national consensus rooted in the Peace Now of David Grossman; and what he calls a "radical peace camp" led by … well, himself and his group of a few thousand Israelis known as Gush Shalom.

By this, one might be tempted to infer that Avnery styles his own peace bloc as non-Zionist or even anti-Zionist. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Avnery and most, though not all, of his supporters in Israel are staunchly in the Zionist camp.

The bottom line in any peace for Avnery is the continued existence and success of Israel as a Jewish state. That rigidly limits his ideas about what sort of peace a "radical" Israeli peace activist ought to be pursuing.

Like Grossman, Avnery supports a two-state solution because, in both their views, the future of the Jewish state cannot be guaranteed without a Palestinian state alongside it. This is why Avnery finds himself agreeing with 90 per cent of Grossman's speech. If the Jews are to prosper as a demographic (and democratic) majority in their state, then the non-Jews must have a state too, one in which they can exercise their own, separate sovereign rights and, consequently, abandon any claims on the Jewish state.

However, unlike Grossman, Avnery not only supports a Palestinian state in the abstract but a "just" Palestinian state in the concrete, meaning for him the evacuation of all the settlers and a full withdrawal by the Israeli army to the 1967 lines. Avnery's peace plan would give back east Jerusalem and the whole of the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians.

The difference between Grossman and Avnery on this point can be explained by their different understanding of what is needed to ensure the Jewish state's survival. Avnery believes that a lasting peace will hold only if the Palestinian state meets the minimal aspirations of the Palestinian people. In his view, the Palestinians can be persuaded under the right leadership to settle for 22 per cent of their historic homeland – and in that way the Jewish state will be saved.

Of itself, there is nothing wrong with Avnery's position. It has encouraged him to take a leading and impressive role in the Israeli peace movement for many decades. Bravely he has crossed over national confrontation lines to visit the besieged Palestinian leadership when other Israelis have shied away. He has taken a courageous stand against the separation wall, facing down Israeli soldiers alongside Palestinian, Israeli and foreign peace activists. And through his journalism he has highlighted the Palestinian cause and educated Israelis, Palestinians and outside observers about the conflict. For all these reasons, Avnery should be praised as a genuine peacemaker.

But there is a serious danger that, because Palestinian solidarity movements have misunderstood Avnery's motives, they may continue to be guided by him beyond the point where he is contributing to a peaceful solution or a just future for the Palestinians. In fact, that moment may be upon us.

During the Oslo years, Avnery was desperate to see Israel complete its supposed peace agreement with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. As he often argued, he believed that Arafat alone could unify the Palestinians and persuade them to settle for the only two-state solution on the table: a big Israel, alongside a small Palestine.

In truth, Avnery's position was no so far from that of the distinctly unradical Oslo crowd of Rabin, Peres and Yossi Beilin. All four of them regarded Arafat as the Palestinian strongman who could secure Israel's future: Rabin hoped Arafat would police the Palestinians on Israel's behalf in their ghettoes; while Avnery hoped Arafat would forge a nation, democratic or otherwise, that would contain the Palestinians' ambitions for territory and a just solution to the refugee problem.

Now with Arafat gone, Avnery and Gush Shalom have lost their ready-made solution to the conflict. Today, they still back two states and support engagement with Hamas. They have also not deviated from their long-standing positions on the main issues – Jerusalem, borders, settlements and refugees – even if they no longer have the glue, Arafat, that was supposed to make it all stick together.

But without Arafat as their strongman, Gush Shalom have no idea about how to address the impending issues of factionalism and potential civil war that Israel's meddling in the Palestinian political process are unleashing.

They will also have no response if the tide on the Palestinian street turns against the two-state mirage offered by Oslo. If Palestinians look for other ways out of the current impasse, as they are starting to do, Avnery will quickly become an obstacle to peace rather than its great defender.

In fact, such a development is all but certain. Few knowledgeable observers of the conflict believe the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines is feasible any longer, given Israel's entrenchment of its settlers in Jerusalem and the West Bank, now numbering nearly half a million. Even the Americans have publicly admitted that most of the settlements cannot be undone. It is only a matter of time before Palestinians make the same calculation.

What will Avnery, and the die-hards of Gush Shalom, do in this event? How will they respond if Palestinians start to clamor for a single state embracing both Israelis and Palestinians, for example?

The answer is that the "radical" peaceniks will quickly need to find another solution to protect their Jewish state. There are not too many available:

  • There is the "Carry on with the occupation regardless" of Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud;
  • There is the "Seal the Palestinians into ghettoes and hope eventually they will leave of their own accord," in its Kadima (hard) and Labor (soft) incarnations;
  • And there is the "Expel them all" of Avigdor Lieberman, Olmert's new Minister of Strategic Threats.
  • Paradoxically, a variation on the last option may be the most appealing to the disillusioned peaceniks of Gush Shalom. Lieberman has his own fanatical and moderate positions, depending on his audience and the current realities. To some he says he wants all Palestinians expelled from Greater Israel so that it is available only for Jews. But to others, particularly in the diplomatic arena, he suggests a formula of territorial and population swaps between Israel and the Palestinians that would create a "Separation of Nations." Israel would get the settlements back in return for handing over some small areas of Israel, like the Little Triangle, densely populated with Palestinians.

    A generous version of such an exchange – though a violation of international law – would achieve a similar outcome to Gush Shalom's attempts to create a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel. Even if Avnery is unlikely to be lured down this path himself, there is a real danger that others in the "radical" peace camp will prefer this kind of solution over sacrificing their commitment at any price to the Jewish state.

    But fortunately, whatever Avnery claims, his peace camp is not the only alternative to the sham agonizing of Peace Now. Avnery is no more standing at the very edge of the abyss than Grossman. The only abyss Avnery is looking into is the demise of his Jewish state.

    Other Zionist Jews, in Israel and abroad, have been grappling with the same kinds of issues as Avnery but begun to move in a different direction, away from the doomed two-state solution towards a binational state. A few prominent intellectuals like Tony Judt, Meron Benvenisti and Jeff Halper have publicly begun to question their commitment to Zionism and consider whether it is not part of the problem rather than the solution.

    They are not doing this alone. Small groups of Israelis, smaller than Gush Shalom, are abandoning Zionism and coalescing around new ideas about how Israeli Jews and Palestinians might live peacefully together, including inside a single state. They include Taayush, Anarchists Against the Wall, Zochrot and elements within the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions and Gush Shalom itself.

    Avnery hopes that his peace camp may be the small wheel that can push the larger wheel of organizations like Peace Now in a new direction and thereby shift Israeli opinion towards a real two-state solution. Given the realities on the ground, that seems highly unlikely. But one day, wheels currently smaller than Gush Shalom may begin to push Israel in the direction needed for peace.

    Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”

    “Hegemony is as old as Mankind…” -Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. National Security Advisor

    A Good Report
    by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

    "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s speech on the "New Middle East" had set the stage. The Israeli attacks on Lebanon --which had been fully endorsed by Washington and London-- have further compromised and validated the existence of the geostrategic objectives of the United States, Britain, and Israel. According to Professor Mark Levine the “neo-liberal globalizers and neo-conservatives, and ultimately the Bush Administration, would latch on to creative destruction as a way of describing the process by which they hoped to create their new world orders,” and that “creative destruction [in] the United States was, in the words of neo-conservative philosopher and Bush adviser Michael Ledeen, ‘an awesome revolutionary force’ for (…) creative destruction…”2

    Anglo-American occupied Iraq, particularly Iraqi Kurdistan, seems to be the preparatory ground for the balkanization (division) and finlandization (pacification) of the Middle East. Already the legislative framework, under the Iraqi Parliament and the name of Iraqi federalization, for the partition of Iraq into three portions is being drawn out. (See map below)

    Moreover, the Anglo-American military roadmap appears to be vying an entry into Central Asia via the Middle East. The Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are stepping stones for extending U.S. influence into the former Soviet Union and the ex-Soviet Republics of Central Asia. The Middle East is to some extent the southern tier of Central Asia. Central Asia in turn is also termed as “Russia’s Southern Tier” or the Russian “Near Abroad.”

    Many Russian and Central Asian scholars, military planners, strategists, security advisors, economists, and politicians consider Central Asia (“Russia’s Southern Tier”) to be the vulnerable and “soft under-belly” of the Russian Federation.3

    The redrawing and partition of the Middle East from the Eastern Mediterranean shores of Lebanon and Syria to Anatolia (Asia Minor), Arabia, the Persian Gulf, and the Iranian Plateau responds to broad economic, strategic and military objectives, which are part of a longstanding Anglo-American and Israeli agenda in the region.

    The Middle East has been conditioned by outside forces into a powder keg that is ready to explode with the right trigger, possibly the launching of Anglo-American and/or Israeli air raids against Iran and Syria. A wider war in the Middle East could result in redrawn borders that are strategically advantageous to Anglo-American interests and Israel.

    NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan has been successfully divided, all but in name. Animosity has been inseminated in the Levant, where a Palestinian civil war is being nurtured and divisions in Lebanon agitated. The Eastern Mediterranean has been successfully militarized by NATO. Syria and Iran continue to be demonized by the Western media, with a view to justifying a military agenda. In turn, the Western media has fed, on a daily basis, incorrect and biased notions that the populations of Iraq cannot co-exist and that the conflict is not a war of occupation but a "civil war" characterised by domestic strife between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

    Attempts at intentionally creating animosity between the different ethno-cultural and religious groups of the Middle East have been systematic. In fact, they are part of carefully designed covert intelligence agenda.

    Even more ominous, many Middle Eastern governments, such as that of Saudi Arabia, are assisting Washington in fomenting divisions between Middle Eastern populations. The ultimate objective is to weaken the resistance movement against foreign occupation through a "divide and conquer strategy" which serves Anglo-American and Israeli interests in the broader region."