Today in Palestine! ~ Headlines ~

Land Theft/Destruction
Israel escalates settlement construction in the occupied West Bank
Israeli sources reported Friday that Israel recently escalated its settlement activities in Palestinian areas east of the Annexation Wall in the occupied West Bank. These activities included new outposts, and new structures in existing settlements.

Weekly nonviolent resistance denounces decision by Israeli Interior Minister to confiscate more land
Consultant to the Prime Minister on Jerusalem Affairs, Hatem Abdel Qader reported that Salam Fayyad will be joining Friday prayers today.  Demonstrations are held weekly throughout the West Bank and in East Jerusalem as part of noon prayers. Prime Minister Fayyad will participate on land threatened with confiscation in the Sawahreh area of East Jerusalem’s Abu Dis.

Al-Ma’asara village continues demonstrations despite increased army repression
On the 8th of May, 2009, residents of the southern West Bank village of  Al-Ma’asara conducted their weekly demonstration against Israel’s annexation barrier, despite increased repression from Israeli forces.  At last week’s demonstration, five nonviolent Palestinian organizers were arrested, and they continue to be held in an Israeli prison.  This Friday, Israeli soldiers created at least three flying checkpoints on the roads leading to the village in an attempt to stop participants from reaching the demonstration.  Soldiers turned back all Palestinian cars and only allowed settler vehicles to pass.  Five military jeeps and two police cars were also stationed at the entrance to Al-Ma’asara, much further into the village than during past Friday demonstrations.  Israeli and international solidarity activists who were able to reach the village by going around the checkpoints were showed papers that declared the entire village a closed military zone.

Salah exposes new Zionist plans to Judaize Jerusalem
The prominent Muslim leader in the 1948-occupied Palestinian lands Shiekh Raed Salah has exposed on Thursday an Israeli scheme which targets the Muslim identity of Jerusalem.

Netanyahu: Israel will never withdraw from Golan
Remaining on the Golan will ensure Israel has a strategic advantage in cases of military conflict with Syria," Netanyahu said during a briefing he gave to the reporters.  ...Netanyahu said that he intends to emphasize to Obama the need to deal with Iran and its "nuclear program, which is a major obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

Israeli military uses excessive force to disperse protesters in Palestinian villages near Wall
Nablus / Amin Abu Wardeh - Three Palestinians died last week, two in the Gaza Strip and one in the West Bank, and ten others were wounded, including four children and one woman, according to the weekly report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.  In the southern Gaza Strip, two Palestinians were killed on 1 May when Israeli warplanes dropped three missiles into Rafah. The stated Israeli “target” was a tunnel along the border with Egypt near the Salah Addin Gate District next to Ibn Taymiyah Mosque. The tunnel collapsed from the bombing, killing two people.

Israeli soldiers injure dozens at West Bank anti-wall protest

Ni'lin - Ma'an - Israeli soldiers injured dozens of Palestinian protesters on Friday in the West Bank village of Ni'lin, which hosts weekly marches against the separation wall. At least five Palestinian demonstrators were treated for non-tear-gas-related wounds, while dozens suffered light injuries from gas inhalation during the protest that began shortly after noon prayers on Friday.

Israeli forces declare closed military zone near Beit Umar
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli forces declared the area around the Bat Ayn settlement near Safa village a closed military zone and prevented a dozen farmers from Beit Umar from accessing their lands.  International Solidarity Activists accompanying the farmers reported the closure, which was announced only ten minutes after the group arrived in the area to harvest their crops.  According to the activists four jeeps of Israeli border police entered the area and forced the farmers to leave. As they left the area settler children were heard yelling “death to Arabs” from the nearby colony.

Palestinian journalists now under house arrest as Israeli administration practices grave censorship
Jerusalem / Maisa Abu Ghazaleh - The Office of the Adviser to the Prime Minister for Jerusalem Affairs on Friday evening announced the launch of an international campaign of solidarity with the journalist Khader Shaheen.  The host of "Good Morning" on the Voice of Palestine and an Al Ahlam correspondent, along with his colleague Mohamed Sarhan, is being subjected to home confinement for three months.

Protests for the Ma’sara prisoners
Nearly 20 people were injured in protests against the Wall this Friday, several of which were held in solidarity for the five activists who were arrested in al-Ma’sara last week. In addition to a large demonstration in the Bethlehem area, the demonstrations in Ni’lin and Bil’in also called for their release. The people of Bi’lin themed the weekly action around “Occupation Flu”, and a demonstration was also held in Jayyus.

War Crimes

Arab Foreign Ministers to file a lawsuit to the ICJ against Israeli violations
Arab Foreign Ministers decided on Friday to start preparations to file a lawsuit against Israel for its violations against the Palestinians and their homes in East Jerusalem.

Martin says Israel must be held to account over Gaza
MINISTER FOR Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has told United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon that Israel must be held to account for its actions during the recent conflict in Gaza.  During a meeting in New York yesterday morning, the two men discussed a United Nations board of inquiry report that accused Israel of "reckless disregard" for human life in using white phosphorus munitions that killed and injured Palestinians sheltering in a UN school in Gaza.

Humanitarian Issues

UN Experts to visit Gaza to probe war crimes
UN experts are planning to visit Gaza in the coming period to probe claims of Israeli military war crimes committed during the offensive against the Gaza Strip in which more than 14000 Palestinians, mainly civilians, were killed and thousands were wounded.

Hassanein: kidney patients in Gaza suffer due to the siege
Medical sources in the besieged Gaza Strip have warned that the number of kidney patients in Gaza was increasing rapidly as a result of the Israeli closure of the Strip's crossing points.

Sarah Holewinski: Will Israel Help Gaza's Victims?
Ask any civilian who has lost a loved one, a limb, or a home in war and they're likely to tell you they never received anything for their suffering. I've always found it shocking that international law doesn't generally require warring parties to help the people they've harmed.

Dayton program aims at reducing army ‘footprint’
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The U.S. general directing training for Palestinian security forces said U.S. funds for the program would help reduce the IDF presence in the West Bank.
Gen. Keith Dayton, addressing the annual Washington Institute for Near East Policy conference on Thursday, said the funds he is seeking for 2009 would be used “to explore options to reduce the IDF footprint,” referring to the Israel Defense Forces.

Israel says FM invited to Egypt

AFP - Israel's ultra-nationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has been invited to visit Egypt, a senior ministry official said on Saturday drawing a stiff denial from Cairo.

Political Developments

Mustapha Barghouti: We are Heading For A Third Intifada
Mustafa Barghouti, an eminent personality and exponent of Palestinian civil society, a former candidate at the presidential elections of the Palestinian National Authority in 2005, then Information Minister in the national unity government headed by Ismail Haniye, is also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Barghouthi on Netanyahu: Israelis looking to procrastinate for another twenty years
Benjamin Netanyahu says that the principle of two states for two peoples is “non-viable in the foreseeable future.”  This is a significant risk, comments Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi of the Palestinian National Initiative and Legislative Council.

'Dear Mr. Lieberman, in General, You Are not Welcome Here'
Throughout his political career, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has rattled sabers in the Middle East. On Thursday, Germany's foreign minister is meeting with the ultranationalist. Here's the dressing down Frank-Walter Steinmeier should give him when the press isn't listening.,1518,623361,00.html

'Lieberman sees us Europeans as a bunch of cowards'
An expert on German foreign policy accused Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of "seeing Europeans as a bunch of cowards" Thursday, despite Lieberman's efforts to avoid media exposure of his visit.

Europe unconvinced as Israeli FM ends maiden trip

AFP - Israel's outspoken Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman failed to convince Europe of his peacemaking credentials as he returned home Friday from his first foreign tour.

Lieberman gets frank talk from Germans

BERLIN (JTA) -- German officials told Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman they hoped Israel would adhere to past agreements with the Palestinians.  Germany's Foreign Ministry described the talks with Lieberman this week as "very frank," according to Reuters.  Lieberman went to Europe this week as part of his first official overseas trip as foreign minister. In Germany, he met with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and members of Germany's parliament.

Other News
After nine years in exile, Nativity Church deportees call for return
Gaza – Ma’an – One of the 2002 Nativity Church deportees is calling on Palestinian and international officials to intervene and allow him to return to the West Bank, according to statements made on Saturday.  The Palestinian, Hatem Ihmud, told Ma'an that his father died while he was away, "and I could not see him or receive people in my family home" in the West Bank.

South Africa issues statement of regret at Israeli ban on travel for Palestinian official
Palestinian official and special envoy to President Abbas, Abdul Rahim Mallouh was refused exit from the West Bank.  He had a visa to attend the inauguration of the new South African president, but the occupying Israeli administration held him at the border crossing with Jordan and will not let him out.

Gaza forces prevent Fatah official from traveling to Jordan
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Senior Fatah official Ibrahim Abu An-Naja told Ma’an that de facto security forces had prevented him from leaving Gaza on Friday.  He was supposed to leave to travel to Jordan to attend the meetings of the preliminary committee for Fatah's sixth conference, expected to be held on Saturday.  Abu An-Naja added that "a post affiliated with the de facto security forces present at Beit Hanoun stopped me for 20 minutes" and searched his luggage, as well as asked him to answer questions from the department of Internal Security.

Survey: Almost half of Israeli Jews believe Israel expelled Palestinians in 1948
The JTA reports on an interesting new study measuring "the Israeli-Jewish Collective Memory of the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian Conflict," and it has some surprising results. Perhaps the most important is that 47% of Israeli Jews believe that the Palestinian refugees were expelled by Israel in 1948.  The study was conducted by two Israeli researchers last summer, Rafi Nets-Zehngut, a fellow at the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Teachers College of Columbia University, and Daniel Bar-Tal, a faculty member at the School of Education at Tel Aviv University. You can find all the survey results here.  Although some of the results are still pretty disturbing (56% still believe that Arafat rejected the "generous offer" because he did not want peace with Israel), the report shows a positive trend where younger Israeli Jews are less likely to believe the Zionist narrative.

Islamic bloc boycotts student council elections at Jenin University

Gaza – Ma’an – The student council party representing the Islamic bloc announced that it would be boycotting student council elections at the Arab American University in the West Bank city of Jenin, set to take place Tuesday.

Despairing Gaza youths become fans of motorcycle
Every Friday afternoon, Mohamed el-Abadla, a 23-year-old young man, drives his Chinese-made motorcycle to join his friends to have fun on the hills of sands in southern Gaza Strip.    "We usually come here to get out of boredom. The political situation in Gaza is so boring and frustrating, so we come here to have fun and change our moods," said Abadla.

Sadat's widow: Israel would be attacking Egypt if not for peace treaty
Jehan Sadat, the widow of assassinated Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat, said that were it not for the peace treaty signed 30 years ago, Israel would be attacking Egypt just as it is attacking the Gaza Strip.

Solidarity/Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment
They shoot children, don't they?
Just in from Just Peace. According to Monthly Review there has been a fly poster campaign in and around University College Berkeley campus.

Palestinian Children’s Day celebrations come a month late: clowns, dancing, sack races and relay

On Friday 8 May 2009 Holy Land Trust’s Nonviolence Department organized and participated in Palestinian Children’s Day.  Although this was originally scheduled to take place on 5 April, it was postponed because of funding issues. The event was held in coordination with the Palestinian Ministry of Sport and Youth, along with sixteen different sports clubs and organizations working with children.

Tel Aviv U protects a Palestinian student who has called for boycott of the school

The following letter speaks for itself. It is from the President of Tel Aviv University and is posted on a new site that monitors "anti-Israel" expression on campuses within Israel. There is a campaign, evidently, to expel a Palestinian student at Tel Aviv who has supported the BDS campaign. The president's calm response should serve as a model to the rest of Israeli society, and to American schools plagued by outside harassment. Imagine if UC Santa Barbara had told Abe Foxman just to go away?


Beyond "Violent Extremism"
My remarks contrasted sharply with the vision outlined by General Michael Herzog (Ehud Barak's chief of staff at the Israeli Ministry of Defense) in the plenary session.  Herzog offered this graphic, if familiar, imagery: Iran is the head, Syria the body, and Hamas and Hezbollah the two arms reaching out to strangle Israel.  I countered that this conflation of different challenges was misleading, dangerous, and unhelpful. Hamas and Hezbollah are two of the most popular forces in the Arab world -- why "give" them to Iran?  Treat Hezbollah as a Lebanese issue, Hamas as a Palestinian issue, and resolve them on their own terms.  Address Syria's national interests in a direct dialogue.  And engage with Iran seriously, not just as a show before getting on to sanctions or military confrontation.

Will Israelis ever accept the Arab Peace Initiative?

Gershon Baskin - Open Democracy - After 16 years of Israeli-Palestinian bilateral negotiations for peace there is a growing realisation that there is very little likelihood of a bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiated agreement. This realisation seems equally evident in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Brussels, Moscow and now in Washington.

Some Palestinians in Ni'lin experienced ethnic cleansing before
Today I figure there will be the weekly demonstration in Ni'lin against the separation wall that is confiscating Palestinian land east of the old green line. Israel has opened an investigation into the army's lethal firing of teargas shells during these demonstrations. One of the victims, Tristan Anderson of California, was savagely injured in March when he joined a demonstration in Ni'lin.

Living Next to Settlers
Last week the Hebron team (Simphiwe, Elaine and I) made it a priority to visit the Da’ana family in Wadi al-Hussein. We soon discovered what it was like for an isolated Palestinian family to be located beside a settlement. The Da’ana family (17) live on an isolated farm land with no Palestinian neighbors. Their land and house is located very close to the Harsina settlement in the Wadi al-Hussein valley. The gravity of the situation is marked by the presence of a huge Russian winter tent in their garden, where ISM, other internationals and Israeli peace activists often sleep over to support the family and provide a protective presence.

ANALYSIS / Netanyahu is beginning to look worried

This week, for the first time since he took office, Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu has been looking worried. People who have spoken with him found him short-tempered, almost testy. The problems piling up on his desk are burying the sweet victory of his return to the Prime Minister's Bureau: His approaching visit with U.S. President Barack Obama is looking less and less like cause for rejoicing amid the ill winds emanating from Washington. Before that he has Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to deal with, and in between, a budget that skimps on education, welfare and health, and is cruel to children at risk, the unemployed, demobilized soldiers, widows and new mothers.

Who Will Stop AIPAC Before It Is Too Late?

While I was being tackled by security guards at Washington's Convention Center during the AIPAC conference Monday for unfurling a banner that asked "What about Gaza?" my heart was aching. I wasn't bothered so much by the burly guards who were yanking my arms behind by back and dragging me -- along with five other CODEPINK members -- out of the hall. They were doing their job.

Obama and Israel's nukes, by Helena Cobban

My IPS news analysis piece yesterday was on the Obama administration's intriguing injection of Israel's nuclear weapons into the global and regional diplomacy. It's here.

Peace in our time for the Middle East?, by Ben White

There is growing speculation about a revamped peace plan for the Middle East. But what will it contain – or achieve?

The Pope inspires no hope
While ready to pay homage to shrines of Jewish suffering, Pontiff Benedict XVI consigns to despair millions in refusing to visit Gaza or speak out about the Israeli military occupation of Palestine, writes Nicola Nasser*


Gen. Rifi: More Spy Cells to Be Uncovered Soon
Lebanese Internal Security Forces chief Ashraf Rifi told Assafir daily that the ISF had arrested an agent with the Israeli Mossad a few months ago, but kept his identity disclosed. He added that this move have paved the way for the dismantling of many spying cells in Lebanon. On Friday, security forces dismantled another two Israeli spying networks in south Lebanon comprising five Lebanese nationals.

Hezbollah: UN envoy biased in favor of Israel
The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has condemned recent comments by a senior UN envoy in which he criticized the organization for providing support to Palestinian fighters in Gaza from Egypt.

Hezbollah condemns UN envoy comments over supporting Gaza

Gaza, May 9, 2009 (RAMATTAN) – Hezbollah condemned on Saturday recent comments by a senior UN envoy in which he criticized the group for providing support to Palestinians in Gaza from Egypt.

25 killed by bombing in Baghdad
Thursday: A car bomb exploded at the entrance to a fruit and vegetable market in south Baghdad, killing at least 25 people and wounding about 40, police and hospital officials said, in the latest sign of rising attacks.

Iraq Police General Shot Dead in Basra
09/05/2009 An Iraqi police general was assassinated on the street near the oil hub of Basra on Saturday, police said, in a rare instance of violence in the country's third largest city.  A gunman shot dead Hakeem Jassim as he stood in front of his son's shop in the district of Zubair, south of the city centre, a police official said. No further details were immediately available.

Iraq says Turkey and Iran threatening flow of shared waters
Iraq accused both Iran and Turkey of reneging on promises to allow the flow of sufficient water to secure this year’s agricultural needs.   The flow of rivers originating in both Turkey and Iran has been so low prompting the authorities to advise farmers in central and southern Iraq to leave their land fallow.   “There are fears that there will not be enough water this year to cultivate land according to plans,” a statement by the Ministry of Water Resources warned.\

Q&A with Iraqi PM Nuri al Maliki
London, Asharq Al-Awsat - On his recent state visit to Britain, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat about his aspirations for Iraq, its domestic affairs and foreign relations.

US on track to exit Iraqi cities by end June: commander
AFP - US forces are on track to pull out of all Iraqi cities by the end of June in line with a deal struck with Iraq, Washington's top commander in the country said on Friday.

The Return of the Suicide Bombers
Suicide bombings are back in Iraq, signaling that the Iraq War is far from over. After a significant downturn, with only six suicide attacks between December 2008 and March 2009, there have been 25 suicide bombings in Iraq in the last two months, contributing to the worst spate of violence in Iraq in nearly a year. The bombers have revealed a new audacity and sophistication, striking in all parts of the country and against many seemingly highly secured targets.

THE FAREWELL KISS ...a look behind the headlines at the Iraqi Shoe Thrower

It's been about five months since George Bush went to Iraq to dodge a pair of flying shoes. It was a funny scene. Every one laughed.  Well, not everyone. Muntadher al Zaidi, the guy who threw the shoe was pulled from the room and beaten, so chances are he wasn't laughing.

U.S. and Other world news

US renews sanctions on Syria
State Department says Obama has 'serious concerns about Syrian behavior, activities in world'.,7340,L-3712933,00.html

US interrogators may have killed dozens, human rights researcher and rights group say

United States interrogators killed nearly four dozen detainees during or after their interrogations, according a report published by a human rights researcher based on a Human Rights First report and followup investigations.

Declassified manual details the methods used in Honduras; Agency denials refuted
The Baltimore Sun, Monday 27 January 1997, Final Edition.  WASHINGTON -- A newly declassified CIA training manual details torture methods used against suspected subversives in Central America during the 1980s, refuting claims by the agency that no such methods were taught there.  "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual -- 1983" was released Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by The Sun on May 26, 1994.

In case you missed it: School of the Americas CIA Torture Manual
Manuals used by the U.S. Army's School of the Americas between 1982 and 1991 appeared to condone executions, beatings and other human rights abuses, the Pentagon said in a disclosure that prompted renewed calls for the school's closure.

Court Upholds Searches Of Muslim Groups in Va

An appeals court yesterday upheld the legality of federal raids on a Herndon-based network of Muslim charities, businesses and think tanks, a case that caused a firestorm in the Muslim community.

Obama to make major address to Muslims in Egypt

AFP - President Barack Obama will make his long-awaited direct address to Muslims in a major speech in Egypt on June 4, accelerating his effort to rebuild the tattered US image in the Islamic world.

Violent protests follow deadly US air strikes

Furious protesters vented their frustration in the western Afghan city of Farah after the reported killing of up to 100 civilians during US-led air strikes earlier this week. US military and Afghan officials have stepped up an inquiry into the raids.

Robert Fisk: Civilians pay price of war from above

Of course there will be an inquiry. And in the meantime, we shall be told that all the dead Afghan civilians were being used as "human shields" by the Taliban and we shall say that we "deeply regret" innocent lives that were lost. But we shall say that it's all the fault of the terrorists, not our heroic pilots and the US Marine special forces who were target spotting around Bala Baluk and Ganjabad.

UAE: Detention in Torture Case
(New York) - The reported detention of a member of the United Arab Emirates royal family, Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, in connection with the videotaped torture of an Afghan grain dealer is a significant development, but much more needs to be done to restore faith in the country's police and justice system.

Pope to visit mosque in Jordan, address Muslims
Reuters - Pope Benedict makes his second visit to a mosque on Saturday in another bid to wipe away the residual bitterness in the Muslim world over a speech in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor who linked Islam to violence.

Robert Fisk’s World: If every picture tells a story, what do they say to each other?

Pictures maketh the man. But do they? I look around my Beirut apartment and am frightened at the choice of paintings and lithographs and photographs on my walls. There are American soldiers leading Iraqis into captivity in 1991. There is a startling poster of Iraqi refugees in 2003, drawn for a lecture I gave in Galway by a young Irishman who had never been to Iraq. The fear in a little girl's eyes stares back at me from this blood-red poster. There is even a painting of an Irish ghost train by Ted Turton, puffing contentedly – carriages all lit up – over a moonlit railway bridge of which only the piers still exist.
For further information contact Shadi Fadda

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