Today in Palestine! ~ Headlines ~

Land theft/Ethnic cleansing

Jerusalemites rally outside two Sheikh Jarrah homes slated for evacuation
The Al-Hanoun and Al-Ghawi families have been stationed in front of their Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem, homes since early on 14 March in an effort to prevent their forced evacuation. The two families, comprising a total of 52 members, received evacuation orders effective 15 March, after which point Israeli authorities said they intend to demolish the homes ... According to the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), both the Al-Ghawei and Al-Hanoun families were evicted from their homes by Israeli police in 2002, after Israeli settlers used falsified documents to claim ownership of these houses. Family members lived in tents for four months before returning to their homes. The families were able to present their documents proving their legal ownership before the courts on the 19th of February, but the eviction orders still remain in effect.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36453

Sheikh and archbishop condemn Jerusalem home evictions
There is an Israeli plan to evacuate and demolish at least 1,700 homes owned by Palestinians in Jerusalem in 2009, warned head of the Islamic movement in Israel Sheikh Raed Salah on Sunday. Sheikh Salah revealed information at a media conference in Jerusalem on Sunday that demolition orders or re-zoning plans would make homeless more than 17,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem. He described the situation as the most dangerous since Israel�s annexation of the area in 1967. Also at the conference was Archbishop Attalla Hanna, who assured that Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem are united in the face of Israeli threats trying to defend the city�s heritage in the Arab nation. The archbishop accused Israel of responding to the 2009 Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture by ordering the demolitions.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36463

British consul-general in Jerusalem 'concerned' over Israeli decision to demolish 88 homes
British Consul General in Jerusalem Richard Makepeace expressed his concern over the Israeli decision to demolish 88 Palestinian-owned homes in Silwan, East Jerusalem in a statement released on Thursday. Makepeace�s statement was directed to the residents of Silwan, to whom he reiterated that the demolition of homes in an occupied area is in contradiction to the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as the Road Map, which Israel signed. He noted that the action would cause many to question Israel�s commitment to peace with Palestinians.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36448

Siege/Assault aftermath/Testimonies

Israel continues to allow minimal, basic goods into Gaza
According to Raed Fattuh, chair of the Gazan committee for the entry of goods, Israel partially opened the Kerem Shalom crossing to let in 110 truckloads, 23 of humanitarian aid for the UN and other agencies and 75 trucks destined for the Gazan private sector, including frozen meats, flour, sugar, rice, beans, cooking oil, disposable diapers, toilet paper and blankets in addition to 12 trucks carrying fruits. The Nahal Oz crossing was opened to allow the transfer of 44 tons of cooking gas and 280,000 liters of industrial diesel to run the power-generating station in Gaza. This will allow the Gaza power plant to operate at full capacity for just over half a day. The admission of minimal goods following the day and a half closure of the crossings for the Israeli weekend continues the trend of the past two-and-a-half months ... Regular grade diesel and benzene have not been allowed in for over five months.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36456

Children's play area arises from the ruins of Hay Salaam in Gaza
On Saturday [March 7], over a hundred children made homeless by the bombing of Gaza found a little light relief in the temporary Samoud Camp in Jabalia�s detroyed Hay Salaam area. Local youth leaders and international supporters from the International Solidarity Movement who put the space together named it FreeGaza Kids Space after the project that helped to fund it. Tents, toys, and snacks for the kids came from independent donations. Children aged 5 to 12 crowded into the separate girls and boys� tents. Most of them come from houses now flattened or no longer even locatable ... Some games were just for fun; others had children identifying their fears: �the dark�; �when the bombs fall�; �Israeli soldiers�. The youth leaders, all of whom have experience of psychosocial work with young people are volunteers, but will receive a meal each day they work, and minimal expenses. They plan to open the play space for 3 afternoons a week.
http://www.imemc.org/article/59250

Video: Painting on the walls of Gaza
By Asmaa. It is nothing new in Gaza seeing lots of words in great lines on any wall you pass it in Gaza .. Some of them talk about the political situation .. Another is talking about the Social events.. many of them are talking about whom left their families and died during the last war or previous Israeli military operations in Gaza .. with their names and their painting faces .. It is the fast, cheap, easy way to express your opinion , And to reach what you want the other Gazans to know freely .. Even it stays for a short time .. [and the Israelis think they can defeat these people?!?]
http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5393

When a 2nd home isn't due to wealth
[with excellent photos] We were visiting hospital dietician S�s family in Al Fukhary. They all fled their home during the attacks, except for S�s dad who stayed behind to confront the tanks. And literally did - S shows us where the tanks got to: the back garden. At this point, his dad went to the back door and looked the solider in the tank in the eye. The soldier in the tank looked back. And then he turned the tank around and left. I guess Abu S has one great stern look. As we are leaving we pass several houses totally destroyed, in amongst houses still standing. Why these houses? Nobody knows. A kindergarten is also destroyed, and there is no logic in that either.
http://talestotell.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/march-12-when-a-2nd-home-isnt-due-to-wealth/

Photo essay: Paint over the bullet hole
By Dr. Mustafa Barghouti. Here I want to discuss how, despite the occupation, and sometimes because of it, Palestinians have been given the chance to constantly prove their humanity while the world disregards their human rights � and while Israel works so hard to disprove it. How, we not only rebuild broken structures, but how we put ourselves and our creativity into the task. It is one thing to replace a bombed out wall or window; what makes our determination inspiring is that we go beyond replacing it, we make it beautiful.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article861

Going, going, Gaza
By Accidental Tourist. �You are beautifu-u-u-l! I love yo-o-o-u!� the taxi driver screamed at me maniacally, slapping me vigorously on the upper thigh. Just go with the flow, I thought. �Thank you!� I screamed back. �You too!� I slapped him on his thigh and shouted: �Y�alla, Y�alla!� (Arabic slang for �let�s move!�). The taxi sped off into the charming darkness of Gaza City. Another cup of Herculean, Arabic coffee awaited me, as did a spicy, sweet Bahraini shisha and another unforgettable night in Palestine.
http://www.thetimes.co.za/PrintEdition/Lifestyle/Article.aspx?id=956150

Al Jazeera videos 13 March: Gaza blockade
"In this week's show we look at how the Israeli blockade continues to hinder life in Gaza.  We have an interview with George Galloway and feature a new campaign by an Israeli anti-blockade group. Plus we follow one fishermen as he tries to provide food for his family. "
http://palestinianpundit.blogspot.com/2009/03/al-jazeera-video-gaza-blockade-13-march.html

Attacks/Arrests; Protests

Israelis 'firing live rounds' at West Bank protesters
By Peter Beaumont. Israeli armed forces and border police used the cover of the war against Hamas in Gaza to reintroduce the firing of .22 rifle bullets - as well as the extensive use of a new model of tear-gas canister - against unarmed demonstrators in the Occupied West Bank protesting at the building of Israel's "separation wall". The tactics were highlighted on Friday, when a US protester, Tristan Anderson, 38, was hit in the head by one of the new extended-range gas canisters in the village of Ni'ilin, suffering an open wound in his skull and substantial brain damage. Anderson's friend, Gabrielle Silverman, claims he was struck by a canister fired from a high-velocity rifle ... The extended-range canisters have been brought into service at the same time that the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and border police have again been using live rounds fired from Ruger sniper rifles, banned in 2001 by Israel's then military advocate general, Menahem Finkelstein.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/15/israel-hamas-gaza-weapons

Four Palestinians taken by Israeli troops near Ramallah Saturday night
Israeli troops took four Palestinians as they passed a military checkpoint north of Ramallah Saturday night, sources said. The men were alleged to have weapons in their possession. East of Qalqiliya, Israeli soldiers claimed two Palestinians threw a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli military vehicle. The two men were also taken into custody and removed to an unknown location. [End]
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36447

For third week, Qalqilia's villagers confront Israeli bulldozers
Dozens of Palestinians and international peace activists confronted Israeli bulldozers working in the towns of Ras Teera and Wad Ar-Rasha, southeast of the West Bank city of Qalqiliya ... The residents called on international organizations to immediately intervene to stop the bulldozing of their land that would lead to destroying sections of electricity, water networks, greenhouses and water wells.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36464

American in stable condition after being seriously hurt in West Bank protest
Tristan Anderson, 38, of Oakland, California, was hit in the head by a tear gas canister during a protest against Israel's separation barrier Friday and underwent surgery at a hospital near Tel Aviv. A hospital spokeswoman said Anderson is still on a respirator but in stable condition. She spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday because of the issue's sensitivity.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1071189.html

Israeli justice: Arrest young boys for toy guns and unfounded allegations of 'stone throwing'
By Kristen Ess. ...It was Thursday/Friday night (12-13 March) in the northern West Bank�s Hares. Israeli forces hit the area near the village old mosque. Residents report the time of the invasion as being between 1:30 and 3:00 am. Incursions are becoming alarmingly more frequent in the town according to the international women�s house that keeps a 24 hour presence in the town. Israeli soldiers broke into a sleeping home, assaulted a family, and arrested a child who suffers from kidney malfunction, as IWPS tells PNN ... The family of 14, including a three month old baby and pregnant woman, were then forced at gunpoint into the street. Israeli soldiers made them sit on the road in the cold, dead of night, while continuing to lob concussion grenades.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4952&Itemid=27

Negotiations/Diplomacy/Politics

Government and Elections committees continue to meet; DFLP gives details on elections sticking points
Palestinian unity committees with unresolved issues continue to meet Sunday despite an initial tentative deadline of Saturday night for the first stage of talks. With the PLO, Reconciliation and Security committees finished, only the Government and Elections committees remain to complete their tasks. The five committees, higher committee and two follow-up committees are in Cairo this week in an effort to pave the way for the creation of a transitional consensus government for Palestinians, which will end the state of division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. (The three elections sticking points are: elections date, proportional representation, and the Central Elections committee.)
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36446

Olmert: We will decide on Shalit deal on Monday
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced on Sunday that the government would decide on the following day on a deal to secure the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Israel sent a message to Hamas Saturday that the final date for reaching an agreement on a prisoner exchange involving Shalit will be Sunday night. In Cairo, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that there had been no new developments, and he considered Olmert's statement, and the arrival of Israeli negotiators in Cairo, to be bargaining tactics.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1071054.html

'Arab' prisoners want in on Shalit deal
Arab-Israeli prisoners serving time in Israeli prisons for security-related offenses are demanding that Hamas include them in the list of prisoners to be released in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit ... There are currently 140 Arab-Israeli prisoners being held in jails throughout the country for security-related crimes. One third acted for the benefit of Hamas and the rest on behalf of other organizations. A number of these prisoners have been held for over 20 years.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3686784,00.html

Bardawil: Fatah is trying to drag Hamas into recognizing the Israeli occupation

GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, the spokesman for the Hamas parliamentary bloc, stated Saturday that the Fatah faction is trying to drag his Movement into recognizing the Israeli occupation and into involvement in issues that had already proven their failure, while the issues which must be recognized are the Palestinian people's rights. In an exclusive interview with the PIC, Dr. Bardawil said that the main dispute is over Fatah's insistence that the next government should abide by the PLO's obligations, considering it a failed attempt to make Hamas recognize the occupation.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en/

EU to press for Fatah-Hamas unity government
(AP) The European Union will press Egypt Sunday to step up its mediation efforts to secure a Fatah-Hamas Palestinian unity government and re-ignite the Mideast peace process. Diplomats have said a Palestinian unity government would lead the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip after an Israeli offensive against Hamas. Hamas says power-sharing talks with its Palestinian rival Fatah are stuck because of disagreements over the political program of a future government. The talks between key European Union, Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian officials will also focus on efforts to open more crossings into Gaza for humanitarian aid.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1071176.html

EU parliamentarians meet Mashal in Syria
A number of European parliamentarians met in Syria on Saturday with Khalid Mashal, head of the Hamas political bureau, and demanded EU countries to engage in dialog with the movement. Clair Short, a former UK minister, member of the British Labor Party, said that the visit aims at encouraging EU parliamentarians to hold talks with Hamas. Short added that the international community must hold talks with the movement and listen to its points of view. She also said that the visit does not represent the countries of the parliamentarians, and added that this visit is an indication that future talks with Hamas are possible, similar to the recent talks between the UK and Hizbollah party. Chris Andrew, an Irish politician, said that holding talks with Hamas helps in elevating the suffering of the Palestinian people.
http://www.imemc.org/article/59340

Olmert: My government went further in peace talks than anyone before
Addressing the peace process with the Palestinians, Olmert said that his government had "gone further in the peace negotiations than any previous government." The prime minister added that it was the Palestinian leadership that didn't have enough courage to made the necessary decisions on the path to peace.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1071175.html

Other news

Israel shuts down major military checkpoint near Nablus, installs smaller gate nearby

The Israeli military checkpoint at Beit Iba west of Nablus will be removed, Israeli officials announced Sunday, and replaced by a large iron gate two kilometers away. According to an Israeli Government Press Office statement, the move is part of �general plan of goodwill.� There are currently 13 military checkpoints 39 earth mounds, 12 road blocks and 26 road gates preventing Palestinians from moving freely in the Nablus area alone. The removal of the Beit Iba checkpoint will reduce the number of manned zones to 12, but will increase the number of road blocks and road gates to 13 and 27, respectively.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36460

IDF to station troops in Hebron's 'House of Contention'
The Israel Defense Forces has decided to station troops at the so-called "House of Contention" in the West Bank city of Hebron, the building from which the army forcibly evacuated settlers about three months ago. The decision was reached as part of a plan to allow Palestinian vehicles entry to the "Zion route," which connects the settlement of Kiryat Arba to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The army seeks to better protect Israeli and Palestinian residents with the deployment of the soldiers. The significance of the move is that the owners of the building will be unable to use it as long as it is held by the IDF ... The IDF Spokesman's Office told Haaretz that the troops' presence in the building is only temporary. It said there is nothing in the decision that would influence disputed ownership rights over the building and a court hearing between various the claimants, which is currently underway. Hebron settlers harshly criticized the move, claiming that the army had not formally notified them of it and that it would endanger lives.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1071164.html

Hearing on petitions against the Citizenship Law
On 15 March 2009, the High Court of Justice will hold a hearing � by an extended panel of 7 Justices � on petitions against the Citizenship Law submitted by HaMoked, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Adalah and MK Zehava Galon: the petitioners demand the HCJ strike down this Law, as it is unconstitutional, motivated by racist-demographic and economic considerations, and contradicts the HCJ's previous ruling
http://www.hamoked.org.il/news_main_en.asp?id=722

Palestinian civil servants begin receiving salaries in Gaza Strip
Financial sources in the Gaza Strip announced on Sunday that banks have began to pay civil servant salaries after a two-week delay. Ma�an has learned that salaries are to be paid in all currencies available, including Israeli shekels, Jordanian dinars, and US dollars. However, one source pointed out that once salaries are paid, banks could experience a cash crisis if Israel insists on refusing to allow the entry of currency.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36459

New anti-fraud, five year term, black-covered passports to be issued by PA
Revamped Palestinian passports will hit the streets next week, sporting new black covers and several anti-fraud devices, head of the passports department in the West Bank Yousef Harb said Saturday. The new passports, printed in France, have a five (rather than three) year term of validity and are meant to help ease restrictions on passport renewal for Palestinians at home and abroad. The new passport will cost 210 shekels (50 US dollars).
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36444

Palestinian security training center opens
(AP) The Palestinian Authority has opened a new training center for its elite presidential guard in the West Bank town of Jericho.Most of the funding for the $11.5 million center was provided by the United States.   The center is part of the US effort to boost Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. A special security envoy, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, has coordinated several years of efforts to help train Palestinian forces. Israel and the United States have said the Palestinians' ability to handle internal security is a prerequisite for statehood
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3686780,00.html

Committee continues to prepare Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture opening event in Jerusalem
Preparations for the now two-and-a-half months overdue launch of Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture events continued in Bethlehem Saturday, with officials meeting with planning committee members in an effort to pull together plans for the celebrations. The main celebrations for Al-Quds (Jerusalem, in Arabic) Capital of Arab Culture events would mostly take place in Bethlehem. While a significant portion of the year-long celebration�s budget will go to support cultural and community centers in Jerusalem, the impossibility of being granted permits for Palestinian public events in the Israeli-occupied city makes large gatherings both dangerous and illegal.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36452

Freed Tulkarem prisoner visits family of fellow jailed Palestinian
A Palestinian ex-prisoner, 36-year-old Ghassan Mahdawi, was released on Wednesday 11 March after serving 19 years in Israel�s custody. On Sunday, he visited the family of his fellow prisoner, Hatim Jayyousi, who is serving six life terms and an additional 55 years in an Israeli jail.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36457

Music center in Jenin burned to ground; police suspect arson
Unidentified vandals set fire to the Al-Kamanjati Society for Music in Jenin Saturday night, incinerating all the furniture and instruments inside, and destroying the building. Police said they opened an investigation into the incident, after firefighters, who rushed to the scene after locals called in the blaze, found empty fuel bottles and matches littered around the building.
Al-Kamanjat (Violinist) is a non-governmental organization in Jenin that teaches music to the area�s children. [End]
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=36455

More rockets fired at south
At least two more rockets landed in open area in the south Saturday night, bringing the number of rockets and mortar shells fired at the western Negev since the end of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza to about 100.  No injuries or damages were reported in the latest attacks.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3686275,00.html

Police foil second Jerusalem stabbing attack in one week
For the second time in a week, the Israel Police foiled a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday, arresting a young Palestinian woman, carrying a kitchen knife, in the Old City. During questioning, the young woman confessed that she had planned to stab a police officer. On Monday, police arrested two Arab youths carrying a commando knife in the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood of Jerusalem, foiling a stabbing attack. During a preliminary investigation, the pair said they had planned on carrying out a terror attack.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1070348.html

Police call off terror alert in south Tel Aviv
Police in Tel Aviv on Sunday called off a terror alert after having carried out extensive searches in the south of the city for a suspected terrorist. Police were acting on an intelligence warning of a man in the area believed to be involved in terrorist activities.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1071177.html

School boycott in Sakhnin
The parents association in the Arab town of Sakhnin, in northern Israel, announced that it was heading a boycott of all local schools on Saturday, after a middle-school teacher was physically assaulted by two parents on Thursday. The boycott, which went into effect on Saturday, is an effort to "kick off a struggle against violence in our society," said the association's chairman, Adel Abed.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3686112,00.html

'Chastity Squad' mercenary jailed for four years
The Jerusalem District Court sentenced Elhanan Buzaglo to four years in prison on Sunday, after finding him guilty of aggravated assault, extortion, aiding an extortion and intimidation. He was also ordered to pay the complainant against him NIS 10,000 (about $2,400) in damages. Buzaglo, a known member of the Jerusalem haredi neighborhoods' "Chastity Squad," pled guilty as part of a plea bargain struck with the State Prosecutor's Office. The "chastity squad" is a notorious group operating within the haredi community in the capital with the sole objective of fighting what it deems "female immodesty," and using methods of violence and intimidation to obtain its goal, if need be.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3686680,00.html

Britain denies entry to Hezbollah official
Britain has denied an entry visa to a Hezbollah official who had been invited to speak at a London university. The United Kingdom's Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was quoted by British news outlets as ruling that Ibrahim Moussawi's presence in Britain would not be "conducive to the public good." Moussawi had been due to speak at the London School of Oriental and African Studies as part of a course on political Islam. The university had billed him as "an expert on Hezbollah and Islamist political theory." ... The move came after the U.K. announced last week a decision to reestablish ties with Hezbollah.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1071168.html

Solidarity

Protest the shooting of Tristan Anderson - Tel Aviv
Women's Coalition for Peace - Demonstration in Front of the Ministry of Defense, Kaplan Street, Tel Aviv, 7 PM, Sunday. CWP works year-round to end the occupation, stop the siege on Gaza, expose the economy of the occupation, resist militarism, empower and mobilize women, reach out to youth and build strong and ongoing partnership between Palestinian and Jewish women. ** We need your help TODAY to continue our work tomorrow! **
http://www.coalitionofwomen.org/donate
http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com/

Analysis/Opinion

An interview with Haidar Eid: Massacre in slow motion
By Eric Ruder. Israel has already made the two-state solution impossible, and we definitely need to begin discussing an alternative program to the fiction of the two-state solution. The first thing to do is to dismantle the Palestinian Authority. The PA was a product of the Oslo Accords, and it sends the wrong message to the international community and to solidarity groups all over the world. The existence of the PA suggests that what exists in Palestine are two equal parties--the Israeli state with its army and the Palestinian state with its army. We need to get rid of the PA in order to correct the equation. The relationship that exists is not between equals, but between an occupier and an occupied, an oppressor and an oppressed.
http://www.counterpunch.org/ruder03132009.html

Gideon Levy / Don't protest for release of Shalit, protest for release of terrorists
If you want Shalit to return then shout out for the release of Palestinian prisoners. Protest the lost time wasted on a campaign of fear against the question of the "price," or Shalit will become a second Arad. Don't believe the tall tales that the war in Gaza helped in talks with Hamas, and campaigns for his release are damaging. Don't believe that "progress" is being made in talks over his release. Hold to account our cowardly leaders who did not do everything they could - just as was the case with Arad.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1071064.html

Home free?
By Avi Issacharoff. All signs indicate that jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti will be freed as part of a deal to release Gilad Shalit. Who exactly is this man who, based on a recent survey, has a good chance of winning the election for the Palestinian presidency?
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1070733.html

Gaza's new line of defense
By Yair Lapid.  A total of $4.4 billion was collected in the recent Sharm conference dedicated to rebuilding the Gaza Strip. At this time of a global economic crisis, this is an incomprehensible sum. Yet the identity of the donors is no less important than the sum of money donated. Our best friends put their hands deep into their empty pockets. The donors emphasized, of course, that all this money will only be earmarked for humanitarian purposes. It will be used to rebuild roads, schools, hospitals, public buildings, and residential homes. It all sounds very positive, until we recall that we are talking about the roads and buildings that we destroyed. Very quietly, without us noticing it, a new line of defense is being established in the Gaza Strip: The money line. After all, these good people did not donate billions of dollars just so the IDF�s list of potential targets can be expanded later on. If they are willing to spend such huge sums in Gaza, it means they are assuming that we do not intend to dispatch our F-16 fighter jets to the Strip yet again. So the next time we wish to launch a military operation, we will have to ask ourselves whether we can afford to destroy the �Shifa-Berlusconi� hospital, bomb the Carla Bruni school, or raze the �Clinton Center for Culture and Arts.�
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3685825,00.html

Zvi Bar'el / Becoming a footnote

The following is a list of political events that took place this past week in the Middle East, and Israel was not invited. Turkish President Abdullah Gul, who was supposed to visit Israel in January, visited Iran with full media coverage. In Riyadh, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia hosted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the Kuwaiti ruler and Syrian President Bashar Assad for a little four-way summit. The gathering marked the great Arab reconciliation with Syria and the ending of the distinction between "moderate" and "extremist" Arab states ... The results of the Israeli elections have made it clear to the Arab leadership that they can present a moderate Arab Middle East vis-a-vis the extremist right in Israel; a sober and practical Middle East. Vis-a-vis the opponents in Jerusalem of a two-state solution, they are formulating a worthy Arab alternative that Washington will find appealing.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1071065.html

Zvi Bar'el / Fatah-Hamas unity would pose major dilemma for Israel
Should Jerusalem recognize a united Palestinian government comprised of Hamas and other factions, or should it adopt anew the position of Israel's government since the elections in 2006 which posits that any entity of which Hamas is a part is illegitimate? ... If Israel decides not to recognize a united government, it must also take into account that a Fatah-Hamas coalition will make it easier for the European Union, perhaps even Washington as well, to hold direct contacts with it. The rationale would be that such a government is one that rules with a mandate from all Palestinians, even if that government does not recognize Israel. It goes without saying that should Israel reject the idea of two states for two peoples, it would find itself on a collision course with the American administration.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1070949.html

Zionism is the problem
The Zionist ideal of a Jewish state is keeping Israelis and Palestinians from living in peace. By Ben Ehrenreich. ...Yet it is no longer possible to believe with an honest conscience that the deplorable conditions in which Palestinians live and die in Gaza and the West Bank come as the result of specific policies, leaders or parties on either side of the impasse. The problem is fundamental: Founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion (think of the 139-square-mile prison camp that Gaza has become) or to wholesale ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism ... Establishing a secular, pluralist, democratic government in Israel and Palestine would of course mean the abandonment of the Zionist dream. It might also mean the only salvation for the Jewish ideals of justice that date back to Jeremiah.
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/sunday/commentary/la-oe-ehrenreich15-
2009mar15,0,4405950.story


CIA predicts collapse of Israeli state
According to respected international lawyer Franklin Lamb a recent CIA report gives the Israeli state 20 years before it collapses. Apparently members of the US Senate Intelligence Committee have seen the report which argues that a two-state solution is no longer realistic and that a one-state solution is the only viable democratic option ... According to Lamb the CIA refers to the rapid and unexpected downfall of Apartheid South Africa (unexpected by the CIA that is which was of course a supporter of the racist regime, with the US government refusing to support sanctions, along with Thatcher's Britain) and of the Soviet Union. The authors of the CIA paper believe that hundreds of thousands of Israelis will leave for the US. ... 15 March: Franklin Lamb contacted Gaza Solidarity today to confirm the report's existence and he expects an Executive Summary of it to be posted on Wikileaks in the near future.
http://gazasolidarity.blogspot.com/2009/03/cia-predicts-collapse-of-israeli-state.html

By all means, let us have the dual loyalty debate
Charles Lane in the Washington Post and David Rothkopf on Foreign Policy make the same angry point: the Freeman affair has devolved into a regrettable argument about whether Israel's supporters have dual loyalties. Lane wants Obama to repudiate the charge for the health of our "political culture." ... These two writers are hardly the first to be up in arms about dual loyalty. Gabriel Schoenfeld and Alan Dershowitz both responded to Walt and Mearsheimer 2 and 3 years back by saying that the scholars were implicitly accusing Israel supporters of suffering from dual loyalty conflicts. The answer to all these men is, Of course American supporters of Israel are vulnerable to a dual loyalty problem.
http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2009/03/

Uri Avnery / The rape of Washington/
In the US, the intelligence chiefs famously supplied President George W. Bush with the (false) intelligence he needed to justify his invasion of Iraq. All this shows how vitally important it is to have an estimates chief of intellectual integrity and wide experience and knowledge. Admiral Blair could not have chosen a better person than Charles Freeman, a man of sterling character and uncontested expertise, especially about China and the Arab world. And that was his undoing.
http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1237069006/

AIPAC takes another scalp - what the Chas Freeman fight was really about
By Peter Lee. Israel�s access to buckets of U.S. money and shiploads of arms is secure as long as the grass grows and the rivers run, no matter what it does with settlements on the West Bank or to the people of Gaza. The real significance of the fight against Freeman takes us away from the traditional need to affirm the right of Israel to exist, enjoy America�s commitment to its continued survival, and consume its yearly entitlement from the U.S. budget. It has everything to do with trying to disrupt Obama�s initiative to engage with Iran � an initiative that has the active encouragement of Russia, probably tacit support from China, and the active interest of Iran itself.
http://www.counterpunch.org/lee03132009.html


Iraq


Saturday: 10 Iraqis killed, 10 wounded
Excerpt: At least 10 Iraqis were killed and another 10 were wounded in the latest violence. Six of the dead were killed during a prison transfer. Meanwhile, voters in Karbala are demanding changes to Iraq�s byzantine method of assigning seats to election winners. No Coalition deaths were reported.
http://antiwar.com/updates/?articleid=14402

Sunday: 6 Iraqis, 4 PKK rebels killed
Excerpt: At least six Iraqis and four PKK rebels were killed in the latest attacks. No wounded nor Coalition deaths were reported. Meanwhile former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said that the U.S. has accomplished nearly everything it wanted in Iraq. Also, U.S. troops will continue to conduct combat operations after they withdraw to rural bases in June, according to a U.S. military spokesman.
http://www.antiwar.com/updates/?articleid=14404

Al-Maliki: US will stay in insecure areas

(AP) BAGHDAD � Iraq's prime minister says U.S. troops will not be withdrawn from areas of the country that are not completely secure. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki tells The Associated Press in an interview that he has informed President Barack Obama and other top U.S. officials that the Iraqi government must agree to any withdrawals "and must be linked to the security situation." Al-Maliki says that he does not want U.S. troops taken out of any area unless it is "considered 100 percent secure and under control." Otherwise, withdrawals will be postponed.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090315/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq
For further information contact Shadi Fadda

 
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