Occupied Palestine: News and Articles.

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Occupied Palestine: News and Articles


Officials: Israel ready to transfer withheld tax revenues to PA
Reuters, Ha’aretz 6/1/2007
Israel is prepared to transfer withheld tax revenues to the Palestinians through a mechanism that guarantees none of the money will go to the Hamas-led government or militants, Israeli officials said on Thursday. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States and European Union have been discussing the issue and that Israel would be ready to release funds once a mechanism with sufficient safeguards were agreed upon and put in place. Israel has long resisted European calls to transfer Palestinian tax revenues, now totaling some $700 million, to stave off collapse of the Palestinian Authority and bolster PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah faction has been locked in a power struggle with the dominant Hamas. But Israel finds itself increasingly isolated on the money issue.

U.S. envoy to PA slams Israel for refusing to ease PA conditions
Shmuel Rosner, Ha’aretz 6/1/2007
Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, the top American security envoy to the Palestinian Authority, has criticized Israel for its failure to help define a "security horizon" for the Palestinians and its refusal to ease conditions in the Palestinian Authority. In his reports to Washington, Dayton says forces loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have improved their performance in recent battles with Hamas. Dayton told the United States Congress and Department that the security force loyal to Abbas was demonstrating satisfactory progress and that he detected signs that Hamas was weakening. Among other things, Abbas loyalists had blocked a Hamas offensive despite a high number of fatalities in their ranks, and closed two tunnels used for smuggling arms from Egypt, Dayton said.

Israel air strike hits Gaza
Al Jazeera 5/31/2007
At least two Palestinians have been injured in an Israeli air strike against rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip, residents said. The Israeli army said on Thursday that no civilians were in the area at the time. An Israeli army spokesman said: "There were several rocket launchers. One launched and at least one other rocket launcher was ready to launch." Israel has rebuffed calls by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, for a ceasefire under which Gaza fighters would halt cross-border rocket attacks and Israel would stop its bombing campaign in the coastal strip. Hamas, which formed a unity government with Abbas’s Fatah faction two months ago, says any ceasefire must include an immediate end to all Israeli attacks in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank – a demand rejected repeatedly by Israel.

U.K. public services union to consider boycott of Israel
Assaf Uni, Ha’aretz 6/1/2007
BRITAIN – The United Kingdom’s public services union UNISON will consider a proposal for imposing a boycott on Israel during its annual conference in mid-June, in the wake of Wednesday’s decision by a British lecturers union to back a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. UNISON representatives who are in contact with the Histadrut labor federation have in recent days presented the Histadrut’s international activities director, Avital Shapira, with a copy of the proposal. According to the proposal, UNISON, which has some 1. 4 million members, will urge other British unions to follow its lead and cut off all economic and cultural ties with Israel. Histadrut sources said the impression they have received is that UNISON will vote in favor of the boycott.

Israeli army closes the local vegetable market in Beta town near Nablus
Nisreen Qumsieh – 1 of International Middle East Media Center – IMEMC, International Middle East Media Center 5/31/2007
The municipal government of Beta town has condemned the procedures of the Israeli army after the local vegetable market was closed, causing huge problems for local merchants. Abu Husien, the Deputy Mayor, told IMEMC that a massive Israeli force invaded the town on Wednesday night and, without any reason, imposed a curfew on the area. The following morning, merchants were forced to close the local vegetable market as it was regarded as a closed military area. The troops refused to discuss the problems caused by this move with Municipality representatives. Abu Hussein said that it was not the first time that the army had closed the market. In a separate operation in the town last week, the Israeli army kidnapped Arab Al Shourfa, the Mayor of the town, during an Israeli operation aimed at abducting all those mayors…

Israeli forces killed 19 Palestinians and injured 67 last week, PCHR reports
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has reported that 19 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army last week in the occupied Palestinian territories and 67 were injured. Of the 19 killed, two were extra-judicially executed and 12 were killed by Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip. Two other Palestinians, including one woman, died of wounds sustained during previous Israeli attacks. Of the 67 injured, 8 were children and 9 were women. Also two paramedics and one journalist were wounded by Israeli military fire in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to PCHR, the Israeli army fired 46 missiles at Palestinian civilian and security targets. The Israeli army carried out 56 incursions into the West Bank and one into the Khan Younis area of the Gaza Strip, PCHR says.

Rice Cautions Israel on Syria
Glenn Kessler, MIFTAH 5/31/2007
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday cautioned against a growing sentiment in Israel to pursue peace with Syria instead of with warring Palestinian factions, saying there is "no substitute" for creating a Palestinian state. Rice, who will discuss the stalled peace process with diplomats here Wednesday, has worked for months to lay the groundwork for Palestinians and Israelis to begin discussing what she calls a "political horizon" — the parameters of a possible Palestinian state. But with violence erupting between Palestinian factions — and with Israel
under constant attack from rockets launched from the Gaza Strip — Rice has faced criticism from some outside experts for spending so much time on a diplomatic long shot, rather than seeking to quickly end the violence.

White House: Bush, Olmert to hold summit on June 19 in Washington
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 6/1/2007
WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet with U.S. President George Bush in Washington on June 19, according to an official White House announcement issued Thursday. The two leaders will discuss regional developments, including the Arab peace initiative, the situation in the Palestinian Authority and efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear plans. Olmert views the Washington trip as an opportunity to divert attention from his internal political troubles and shift the national focus to diplomatic efforts. The visit is scheduled to take place only days after the second round of the Labor Party primaries and the presidential election. The prime minister hopes the meeting with Bush, who supported Olmert throughout the internal political crisis in Israel, will ’re-launch’ his leadership.

Knesset Constitution Cmte. Chair: Israeli Arabs to have collective rights
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 6/1/2007
Israeli Arabs will receive certain collective rights that will be guaranteed by a future constitution said Menachem Ben-Sasson, chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Thursday. According to Ben-Sasson, the rights would be similar to those granted to minority groups by other nations’ constitutions, and relate to language, culture, education, as well as proportional representation in state institutions. "Jews in the Middle Ages, who lived under Islamic rule, had collective rights, and therefore the Arab public in Israel should also enjoy such rights," said Ben-Sasson, during a Tel Aviv conference on the issue organized by the Musawa Center for Arab Rights in Israel. "Citizens succeed when they have an attachment to their community," he said.

Shalit deal: Israel waiting for Hamas’ new prisoner list
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 5/31/2007
Israel is waiting for Hamas to give it another list of Palestinian prisoners whom it would be willing to receive in exchange for kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. The government ruled out releasing most of the 350 prisoners on the list Hamas gave it two months ago. Israel gave the names of those whom it was prepared to free – apparently only a few dozen of the 350 – to an Egyptian mediator, but he has apparently not yet transferred it to Hamas. According to a senior source involved in the mediation efforts, Israel did agree to release some Palestinians sentenced to life in prison, but only a very few. Security sources told Haaretz the negotiations were currently on hold due to the escalation in fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Israel the third most dangerous place to live on the planet
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit has labeled Israel as the third most violent and dangerous place in the world to live. Only Sudan and Iraq were described as worse in the annual survey, which listed 121 countries according to how peaceful each country is, based on levels of violence and organised crime within the country, as well as levels of military expenditure. Israel ranked at number 119 amongst the most peaceful and tranquil countries out of 121 included in the report, as a result of the ongoing crisis in the Middle East and the high expenses on military. Scandinavian countries fared well as the most peaceful places in the world, with both Norway (1) and Denmark (3) in the top three. The report highlights that the US invasion of Iraq, and the high level of criminal acts conducted…

Troops kidnap the deputy Mayor of Nablus
Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 6/1/2007
Thursday afternoon, Israeli soldiers kidnapped Engineer Mahdi Al Hanbaly, the deputy mayor of Nablus as he was attempting to cross Za’atara Israeli military roadblock on the main road between Nablus and Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank. Al Hanbaly was heading back from Ramallah after participating in a conference discussing the Israeli abductions of Palestinian officials, union leaders and members of city councils in the West Bank. It is worth mentioning that Nablus mayor Adli Ya’ish, and Nablus municipal council member Fayyad Al Aghbar were recently kidnapped by the Israeli forces. In a separate incident, Israeli soldiers invaded Tal village near Nablus, and fired rounds of live ammunition at several houses and electricity poles causing power failure in the town.

Testimony: Three Palestinians beaten at flying checkpoint
B”Tselem, Electronic Intifada 5/31/2007
Saturday evening (5 May 2007) around 5:00pm, I was in a taxi on my way from Birzeit University back to my village — ’Ajjul. We saw a flying checkpoint about three kilometers after the ’Atarah checkpoint in the Kurnit Al-Bir area — a mountainous and uninhabited area. The distance from that area to ’Ajjul is approximately two kilometers. A Border police jeep was standing in the middle of the road blocking the traffic. When we arrived, there were two cars in front of us but more cars started arriving and stopping behind us. I am not sure how many cars there were exactly but I assume it was around ten or fifteen. There were two Border police officers at the checkpoint, but they were not inspecting people or cars like they usually do. I neither knew what they were doing nor what the purpose of the checkpoint was.

Israeli woman attacks foreign solidarity activists in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Hebron – Ma’an – An Israeli woman from the settlement of Kiryat Arba’ in Hebron in the southern West Bank attacked on Thursday a group of foreign solidarity activists and Palestinians with tomatoes and eggs. As a result, the Palestinian Badi’ Dweik was hurt. The solidarity activists were clearing Palestinian land near the Israeli settlement in order to prepare it for planting. Eyewitnesses told our Hebron correspondent that the Israeli police detained the woman along with the Reuters photojournalist, Nayif Hashlamoun, after they confiscated his camera. The Israeli police said that they interrogated the wife of the right-wing extremist settler, Itamar Ben Gabir, after she lobbed eggs at left-wing activists who came to Hebron to show solidarity with the
Palestinians against the Israeli settlers’ assaults.

Palestinian prisoners: Hunger strike called for Thursday dinnertime in Israeli jails
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are conducting a hunger strike on Thursday to show solidarity with prisoners kept in solitary confinement. In a statement received by Ma’an, they declared, "our solidarity [action] includes a hunger strike for Thursday’s dinner, which is to be returned back to the prisons’ administration in protest against the policy of solitary confinement." The prisoners called on the Palestinian people and national institutions, led by the presidency and the government, in addition to the resistance factions, "to endeavor to end the solitary confinement against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails". 18 Palestinian prisoners are in solitary confinement at the Ramla jail, deprived of outside human contact, even contact with other prisoners in the same jail.

Sit-in strike held to protest Israeli abduction of elected Palestinian officials
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Ramallah – Ma’an – Dozens of Palestinians employees and relatives of abducted ministers, PLC members and other officials organized a sit-in strike, in front of the German representative office to the PA in Ramallah city on Thursday. The protestors expressed their condemnation of the Israeli abductions, and their solidarity with the imprisoned Palestinian officials. They stated that the Israeli kidnapping of elected officials was "an assassination of the democracy, which is spoken about so often by the countries of the world, especially the European Union." They urged Germany, as the EU current president, "to do its best to pressure the Israeli authorities to release them". Participants in the strike included PLC members and Palestinian unions, who handed a letter to the German representative, calling for…

Settlers stone Palestinian woman and children in Hebron
Tel Rumeida, HEBRON–At approximately 17:40 on Wed, International Solidarity Movement 5/31/2007
Tel Rumeida, HEBRON–At approximately 17:40 on Wed. May 30, a female Human Rights Worker (HRW) was sat at the top of Tel Rumeida street opposite the Israeli solider post. Four Israeli settler children approached, between the age of 8 "“ 10 years of age. The settlers proceeded to take out a camera and begin taking photos of the HRW. When the female HRW began filming the incident, the settlers approached her. They spoke to her aggressively in Hebrew but she did not respond. The settlers surrounded the female HRW, continuing to take photos. One of the settlers tried to grab the camera and tried to hit her. At the time there were two Israeli soldiers present at the guard post, one of whom approached and asked the children to leave. The settlers, however, refused and persisted to surround the female HRW.

Israeli army invades several villages near Jenin and kidnaps five Palestinians
Ghassan Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 5/31/2007
Israeli army forces stormed a number of villages near Jenin city, in the northern part of the West Bank, and kidnapped five civilians on Thursday morning. Local sources identified the three as Mustafa Zaied, 22, Adieb Samoudi, 22, and Morad Nawahda. They were all taken from the village of Al Yamoun, west of Jenin. Witnesses said that troops entered Al Yamoun from several directions. During the search, soldiers ransacked homes and forced families into the street. Witnesses added that troops opened fire into the homes of residents causing some damage but no injuries. The operation lasted for five hours. While the Israeli army claimed that they were looking for Palestinian activists on their wanted list, local sources stated that the three kidnapped are civilians.

Palestinian resistance fighters escape Israeli air strike
Ghassan Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 5/31/2007
Palestinian sources reported that a group of Palestinian resistance fighters escaped a deadly Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza strip on Thursday. Medical sources reported that two men were only slightly injured in the attack. Al Nasser Salah Al Deen brigades, the armed wing of the popular resistance committees in Gaza, stated that one of their groups had been targeted. The brigades added that the fighters were trying to fire home made shells at Israeli targets when they were attacked by an Israeli war plane. Israeli army sources confirmed the attack but said that they were only targeting some shells that were ready to be fired. No people were believed to be in the area. Early on Thursday morning a Palestinian home-made shell landed in open space in the Negev without causing any damage or injuries.

Shin Bet arrests 3 Hamas militants who tried to attack IDF troops
Haaretz Correspondent and Reuters, By Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 5/31/2007
The Shin Bet recently arrested three Hamas militants from the Hebron area who placed two explosive devices and planned to carry out additional attacks, according to information made public yesterday. The militants are suspected of placing the devices in April to kill IDF troops in Halhul, north of Hebron. Following their arrest, dozens of kilograms of explosives a were found in their possession. Meanwhile, an IAF strike on Qassam rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip yesterday injured at least two people, local residents said. An IDF spokeswoman said that an air strike was carried out, but no one was in the area. Two Qassam rockets fired from Gaza in the morning landed in open areas in the western Negev. Two more rockets were fired in the afternoon, but it was not clear where they struck.

Hamas: the assassination in Nablus clouds Abbas-Olmert meeting
Nisreen Qumsieh – IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center 5/31/2007
A car bomb, allegedly planted by the Israeli military, killed two teenage boys and left scores injured on Wednesday night in the old city of Nablus in the West Bank, said local medical officials. Hamas, the majority party in the Palestinian National Authority, criticized the assassination that came days before a possible meeting between Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, said Hamas in a statement. Al Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, reported that the Israeli attack failed to assassinate its target Sufian Qandeel, one of the organization’s brigade l
eaders. A Hamas spokesperson said that Israel continuously carries out military operations – invasions, assassinations, and abductions – in the occupied territories, and lies to the international community about it.

PM Haniyeh appoints Nablus governor as head of Palestinian police
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has issued an order for the governor of Nablus, Kamal Ash-Sheikh, to be transferred to the ministry of interior and to appoint him as general director of the Palestinian police. He also ordered the promotion of former police general director Husni Rabay’ah to the post of minister’s assistant in the northern governorates. Haniyeh’s decisions came following his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza on Wednesday in which they discussed a wide range of issues. The head of the prime minister’s office, Mohammad Al-Madhoun, confirmed that preparations are underway in order to start the implementation of the security plan. In a press conference in Gaza on Wednesday evening, he said that it was agreed upon to make important decisions with…

Hamas movement will not leave government prematurely
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Hamas movement on Thursday assured that it would remain in the unity government, excluding the idea of a potential withdrawal from power and a return to opposition. The spokesperson of Hamas, Fawzi Barhoum, stated "Hamas entered the political process with a political vision, based on enhancing rights and preserving the unchangeable principles." He told Ma’an via telephone: "Hamas supports the unity government because it represents the majority of the Palestinian people. We are now fighting a battle for the unchangeable principles, and for that very reason, the government is besieged. Hamas entered the government to stay, rather than to leave, and it will remain steadfast until the embargo is lifted, and until the Palestinian government is accepted by the international community.

New appointments to lead the security services
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Gaza – Ma’an – The head of the office of the Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr Muhammad Al-Madhoun, said on Thursday that a decision had been ratified to appoint Major General Sa’id Abu Fanouna leader of the joint forces. Maj. Gen. Abu Fanouna will be in charge of implementing the much-talked about security plan. The Palestinian prime minister also recently appointed a new leader of the Palestinian police, Kamal Shiekh, and he appointed the former police chief, Ala’ Husni, as the assistant Minister of Interior, with responsibility for the West Bank. [end]

Israeli army arrests 8 ’wanted’ West Bankers on Thursday; Israeli forces raid northern villages, impose curfew
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
West Bank – Ma’an – Israel forces arrested eight Palestinian in various areas of the occupied West Bank on Thursday, claiming that they are "wanted". Israeli media sources said that the arrests took place in more than one city in the occupied Palestinian territories and that the campaign included Hamas and Fatah members. Israeli sources also said that the Israeli forces in Jenin were attacked by explosive devices being thrown at them by Palestinian armed operatives but said that no casualties occurred. In the Jenin region of the northern West Bank, the Israeli forces arrested four Palestinians in the villages of Yamun and Kafr Dan, located west of Jenin. The same sources confirmed that another Israeli force invaded Kafr Dan and broke into many houses before arresting Rasim As’ad, 50, and his son Manna’a, 20.

Armed factions fire projectiles at Sderot and other targets
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Gaza – Ma’an – Armed wings representing various Palestinian political factions have issued statements claiming responsibility for firing projectiles at Sderot and other Israeli targets, both military and civilian. The An Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), have also claimed to have fired at an israeli soldier stationed in the northern Gaza Strip. The brigades have claimed that these actions are the "natural retaliation" for the "Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people". The Al Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, have claimed responsibility for launching one homemade projectile at the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Thursday morning. In a statement, the brigades said that the operation was part "of a series of reactions against the Israeli…

Two Palestinian men injured after Israeli strike on northern Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Gaza – Ma’an – Two young Palestinian men were injured on Thursday morning when Israeli forces fired a missile at a house in the Sikka area of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. Medical sources in Beit Hanoun hospital reported that two Gazan citizens were admitted to the hospital suffering from shrapnel in different parts of their bodies. They were said to be in a stable condition. [end]

Arsonists attack a military intelligence officer’s car in Gaza City
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Gaza – Ma’an – Unknown arsonists set fire to a car belonging to a Palestinian military intelligence officer in Shati (Beach) refugee camp in Gaza City soon after midnight on Wednesday, Palestinian security sources have reported. The sources added that the car, which was parked outside the officer’s house, was burned totally. No casualties or injuries were reported. The sources did not disclose the name of the officer but added that the reasons behind the act were not yet known. [end]

Israeli tanks withdraw from northern Gaza after ten days of ground invasion
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Gaza – Ma’an – The tanks of the Israeli military, which invaded the northern Gaza Strip 10 days ago finally withdrew on Thursday evening, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Our Gaza correspondent reported that Israeli tanks were stationed in the former Israeli settlements of Dugit and Elei Sinai, which were evacuated in 2005. Gazan citizens expressed worr
ies that the Israeli withdrawal was merely one tactic in a wider assault. There seems to be an undeclared and uneasy ceasefire in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, with the Israeli air forces not conducting any raids or bombings since Wednesday evening. [end]

Israeli military claim to have foiled attempt to attack Israeli-only road in occupied West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli media sources have claimed that the Israeli military have thwarted an attempt by Hamas-affiliated militants to detonate explosive devices along Israeli-only roads within the occupied West Bank. Three Palestinians have been arrested, and identified as Hadi Abu Aisha, 23, Ta’ar Abu Aisha and Sa’ad Abu Aisha. The Israeli Shin Bet security service have alleged that the men had planned to place three explosive devices along the road between the Israeli settlements of Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Arba, north of Hebron. [end]

Israel, militants exchange limited fire in Gaza
Source: Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 5/31/2007
Israel launched air strikes against militants and a rocket launching site in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, injuring two Palestinians, but the number of attacks from both sides appeared to be dropping off. The relative lull prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser, Nabil Abu Rdainah, to suggest an "undeclared truce" was taking hold after two weeks of escalating violence. Militants fired two makeshift rockets on Thursday. Israel launched two air strikes. Militants fired five rockets on Wednesday and three on Tuesday, down from 14 rockets on Monday. It is unclear how long the lull will last. Both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Hamas’s armed wing have publicly rebuffed Abbas’s repeated calls for a ceasefire. Abbas will meet next week with Olmert, most likely in the West Bank city of Jericho.

Violence shakes Gaza despite calls for calm
ReliefWeb 5/31/2007
by Adel Zaanoun GAZA CITY, May 31, 2007 (AFP) – An Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip wounded two Palestinians trying to fire a rocket on Thursday as violence continued in the lawless territory despite international appeals for restraint. With no sign of an end to the conflict, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will travel to Washington to meet US President George W. Bush on June 19 to discuss Iran’s controversial nuclear programme and the Middle East conflict. The two leaders last met in November in Washington, and in the meantime Israel’s main ally has stepped up its efforts to revive dormant peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Olmert will also meet moderate Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas next week after a two-month hiatus in an apparent effort to end violence between the two sides.

U.K. minister slams British boycott of Israeli academic institutions
Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 6/1/2007
A British minister slammed his country’s lecturers union for boycotting Israeli academe on Thursday, saying the decision "does nothing to promote the Middle East peace process." "The U. K. government fully supports academic freedom and is firmly against any academic boycotts of Israel or Israeli academics," said Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education Bill Rammell. "Whilst I appreciate the independence of the UCU, I am very disappointed that the union has decided to pass a motion which encourages its members to consider boycotting Israeli academics and education institutions." The vote was passed by 158 votes to 99 at the University and College Union (UCU) conference in Bournemouth on Wednesday. Professor Uriel Reichman, President of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, said…

U.K. envoy to Israel: British lecturers’ boycott call unlikely to affect bilateral ties
Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, Ha’aretz 6/1/2007
British Ambassador to Israel Tom Phillips told Haaretz on Thursday that he believes it is unlikely that a British lecturers’ union decision to back an academic boycott of Israel would have an impact on bilateral relations between the two countries. "I can appreciate your frustration with the UCU decision, but I do not believe that it will have any implications on bilateral relations," said Phillips. He stressed that Wednesday’s decision did not impose a boycott but rather called for the issue to be discussed and decided upon by the branches of the union. The ambassador pointed out that there was a good chance that this boycott attempt would eventually fail, as happened with two prior attempts by other academic unions. The ambassador also stressed that the British government opposes the boycott, but added that…

Academics express outrage at Israeli boycott
In a hard-hitting statement, the Russell group "rejected outright" the, The Guardian 5/31/2007
Academics and students today hit back at the decision by university lecturers to support calls for a boycott of Israeli institutions. Yesterday the University and College Union decided by 158 votes to 99 to circulate a motion to all its branches to discuss calls from Palestinian trade unions for a "comprehensive and consistent international boycott of all Israeli academic institutions". The motion is going to branches for "their information and discussion". But the decision taken at the inaugural UCU national conference in Bournemouth was condemned by the Russell group of research-led universities, the National Union of Students and organisations with an interest in Israel and academic free speech. In a hard-hitting statement, the Russell group "rejected outright" the boycott call.

Civil servants join fray / Another U.K. union considers Israel boycott
Haim Bior, Ha’aretz 5/31/2007
Britain’s second-largest trade union will soon debate an economic boycott of Israel, following on the heels of Wednesday’s decision by the country’s lecturers union to recommend an academic boycott. UNISON, the civil servants union, is due to discuss the boycott measure at its annual conference June 19-22. If enacted, it could have serious economic consequences, as the 1. 5 million-member union has considerable economic clout. The boycott proposal was submitted by the union’s community and mental health branch in Manchester, which has consistently advanced anti-Israel initiatives at union meetings in recent ye
ars. Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini termed the resolution "dangerous, as it is liable to hurt many workers and employers in Israel.

Norway resumes direct aid to the Palestinian Authority
Source: Agence France-Presse – AFP, ReliefWeb 5/31/2007
OSLO, May 31, 2007 (AFP) – Norway, the only Western country to have normalised ties with the new Palestinian government, announced Thursday it had resumed direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, unlike the EU and US. The Scandinavian state has given 10 million US dollars (7. 4 million euros) in aid to pay Palestinian civil servants’ salaries, the government said. "We hope our contribution will help solve the social crisis that the Palestinian people are living amid, especially for the families that are dependent on one salary," Norway’s foreign minister Jonas Gahr Store said in a statement. The Norwegian government announced in March it was normalising its ties to the Palestinian unity cabinet formed a few days earlier, making it the first, and so far only, western state to resume relations.

Netherlands funds police in Palestinian Territories
Source: Government of the Netherlands, ReliefWeb 5/31/2007
Development minister Bert Koenders and foreign minister Maxime Verhagen are giving the Palestinian police €6. 3 million in financial support this year The Palestinian civilian police have played an important role in recent months in containing and calming disturbances among Palestinians, notably in the Gaza Strip; the police must be strengthened to maintain and enhance safety and public order in the Palestinian Territories. The Netherlands is making funds available for this purpose through the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM). The Dutch contribution will be used to pay all Palestinian police employees an allowance of roughly €360. This allowance will not only help increase safety in the Territories but also improve living conditions for the over 17,000 police officers and their families.

OPT: Norway disburses NOK 60 million for salaries in the Palestinian civilian public sector
Source: Government of Norway, ReliefWeb 5/31/2007
According to Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, Norway has now disbursed NOK 60 million (about USD 10 million) for salaries of employees in the Palestinian civilian public sector. "We hope our contribution will help to alleviate the current social crisis in the Palestinian Territory, particularly for the many extended families with only one breadwinner," said the Foreign Minister. "The critical situation in Gaza has many causes, but it has been exacerbated by social destitution and despair. It is therefore particularly important that the Palestinian authorities receive financial support from the international community," said Mr Støre. "It is important that not all of the assistance is provided in the form of humanitarian emergency relief, but that we also support the Palestinian state-building process by providing funds for the operation of key Palestinian institutions.

Egypt blasts Quartet for blaming recent violence on Palestinians
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/31/2007
Egypt blasted the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers on Thursday, saying it was blaming the Palestinians for the recent upsurge in fighting and sparing Israel any criticism. The Quartet, which includes Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the EU, urged an end to fighting Wednesday between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, calling on the Palestinian government to do everything necessary to restore law and order. The group, which met in Berlin, also urged all Palestinians to immediately renounce all acts of violence and respect the cease-fire. Alaa el-Hadidy, a spokesman for Egypt’s foreign ministry, described the Quartet’s statement Thursday as unbalanced. "This is tantamount to giving a green light to Israel to continue its operations in the Palestinian territories," el-Hadidy said in a statement.

Olmert exploring third-party talks with Damascus
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 5/31/2007
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is exploring, via a third party, the possibility of resuming peace talks with Syria. A government source said there was no direct contact between Israeli and Syrian officials, "but a very serious assessment is underway." What is being assessed is what Israel would get in return for pulling out of the Golan Heights, the nature of future bilateral relations and whether Syria would consider cutting its ties with Iran, Hezbollah and Palestinian terror organizations, Israel’s main enemies in the region. Olmert has recently referred to the possible resumption of talks with Syria in closed meetings. "The price is clear. There may be a debate on the payment terms, discounts etc. but the main question is what Israel would receive in return.

Quartet urges BBC man’s release
BBC Online 5/31/2007
The four main international mediators for the Middle East have called for the release of BBC journalist Alan Johnston, abducted in Gaza on 12 March. The so-called Quartet of the US, Russia, the UN and the EU said "everything necessary" must be done to bring about Mr Johnston’s release. Palestinian officials have said he is alive and safe and that they are doing all they can to obtain his release. Mr Johnston, 45, was seized nearly 12 weeks ago in Gaza City on his way home. Speaking after a meeting in Berlin, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon read a statement from the Quartet expressing its deep concern over the recent factional violence in Gaza. The Quartet "called upon the Palestinian Authority government in co-operation with [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas and regional actors…

Security Council Called Hypocritical on Nukes
Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service 6/1/2007
UNITED NATIONS, May 31(IPS) – The political and moral authority of the five veto-wielding members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to sit in judgment over nuclear non-proliferation is being challenged in a new report released Thursday. By virtue of the U. N. charter, says the study, the Security Council has broad powers to enforce disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation requirements, including the imposition of economic sanctions and authorisation of military action. But the five permanent member sta
tes (P-5), the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, all with huge nuclear arsenals, "are showing no operational signs of intending to eliminate" the deadly weapons. "This means that UNSC decisions regarding compliance with nuclear non-proliferation requirements are automatically…

FM talks with Pakistani minister, Iraqi First Lady at Vienna conference
Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, Ha’aretz 6/1/2007
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni attended a conference of women leaders on Thursday in Vienna, Austria, where she met with women from all parts of the Arab and Muslim world, including first lady of Iraq, Hero Ibrahim Ahmed Talabani. Talabani and Livni spent several minutes discussing the peace process while they participated in a panel on the topic. In discussion with Talabani, Livni described the situation faced by residents of Sderot in Israel’s south, who are terrorized daily by Qassam rockets fired from the nearby Gaza Strip. Over the past two weeks, during the conflict between Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces, Hamas has launched around 275 rockets causing two deaths, many injuries, and extensive damage to homes in the town. Israel has responded with continuous air strikes at Hamas targets in the Gaza strip, killing around 50 people, mostly militants.

Defiant Hamas Leader Says Attacks on Israel will Go on Despite Heavy Human Cost
Ian Black in Damascus, MIFTAH 5/31/2007
Khaled Mashal, the influential political leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, insists attacks on Israel will continue despite overwhelming Israeli retaliation that has cost scores of lives in the Gaza Strip in the past two weeks. Speaking in Damascus yesterday he asserted it was the right of the Palestinians to resist "Zionist aggression" regardless of whether their actions were effective. The continuing siege of the Palestinians would lead to an explosion that would affect the entire Middle East, he predicted. "Under occupation people don’t ask whether their means are effective in hurting the enemy," he told the Guardian in a rare interview at his heavily guarded offices, plastered with images of Jerusalem and "martyrs" killed by the Israelis.

Women Leaders Meet in Vienna for Conference on Peace Efforts in Mideast
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 5/31/2007
VIENNA, Austria: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, her Israeli counterpart and others gather in Vienna on Thursday for a high-level conference focused on women’s peace efforts in the Middle East. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU’s external relations commissioner, will also attend the meeting hosted by Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik. Other participants include Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi and Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, outgoing president of the U. N. General Assembly. On the eve of the conference, Sheikha Haya said she hoped it would encourage other women to become decision-makers. "We think that (with) this kind of meeting, we can give them examples," she told reporters Wednesday.

Call for Mid-East women’s rights
BBC Online 5/31/2007
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called for more political rights for women in the Middle East. She said women needed such rights to be able to choose how to balance tradition with empowerment in their societies. Ms Rice was speaking at a conference in Vienna which has been examining the contribution women can make to peace efforts in the Middle East. Attending the meeting are a number of prominent women from the region. These include the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, Palestinian MP Hanan Ashrawi, the wife of the Iraqi president, Hira Talabani, and Sheikha Haya Rashed al-Khalifa, the outgoing Bahraini president of the UN General Assembly. "It’s absolutely the case that unless women are fully participants of their societies, these societies cannot really be fully democratic, and that is something we’re absolutely devoted to," Ms Rice said.

Governer of Florida says no to ties with Iran
Jerusalem Post 6/1/2007
The Governor of Florida, Charlie Christ, assured Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday night that the American state would not have any economical or trade ties with factors connected to Iran until Iran retracts its comments on Israel. Israel Radio reported that Olmert praised Israel’s relationship with Florida especially in the research and development field. [end]

Fatah: "Yasser Arafat frequently called for international forces to monitor West Bank; Gaza never mentioned"
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Ramallah – Ma’an – The spokesperson of the Fatah movement, Jamal Nazzal, has told the German Radio 3 station on Thursday that "the idea of deploying international forces as monitors in the Palestinian territories was initiated first by former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. He aimed to establish an international mechanism to monitor the occupation’s policy and protect the Palestinian people". Nazzal said, "Yasser Arafat never ceased suggesting the deployment of international force in the West Bank to separate the Israelis and the Palestinians." Nazzal added that the question of international or Arab forces being deployed in the Gaza Strip was never proposed for discussion. According to Nazzal, "Fatah will neither reject nor accept such a proposal before studying it formally and for enough time".

Statement of the Quartet, 30 May 2007
Source: Middle East Quartet, ReliefWeb 5/30/2007
The Quartet Principals — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner – met today in Berlin to discuss the situation in the Middle East. The Quartet expressed its deep concern over recent factional violence in Gaza. It called for all Palestinians to immediately renounce all acts of violence and respect the ceasefire. It called upon the Palestinian Authority government, in cooperation with President Abbas and regional actors, to do everything necessary to restore law and order, including the release of kidnapped BBC journalist Ala
n Johnston.

Policemen convicted of assault on anti-disengagement activist
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 6/1/2007
A police officer and his deputy were convicted Thursday of assaulting a right-wing activist while he demonstrated against Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in June 2005. Officer Eran Naim testified in Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court that he inserted his fingers into then 19-year-old Akiva Vitkin’s nostrils and used them to pull his head over backwards in order to cause pain and neutralize him. Naim said that this was legitimate police practice. Demonstrators on June 29, 2005 blocked a road in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, however Judge Chanan Efrati stressed that it was non-violent, and that Vitkin did not resist when police forced him to lie down. Judge Efrati deemed the officer’s use of force excessive. Naim’s second-in-command, Abraham Eliran, was also convicted of assaulting Vitkin while he was in custody at Ramat Gan police station.

Aid agencies assist families displaced from Nahr al-Bared camp
Report, Electronic Intifada 5/31/2007
BEIRUT, 31 May 2007 (IRIN) – With no immediate end in sight to the stand-off between the army and Islamist militants in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon, and with neighbouring Beddawi camp already full to bursting, aid agencies have delivered relief to several hundred families displaced further to the east and south of the country. According to figures from the UN Palestinian relief organisation UNRWA, some 309 families, or about 1,500 people, have fled Nahr al-Bared for the camps of Borj Barajneh, Shatila and Mar Elias, located in and around Beirut. Sixty-one families have fled the north for the eastern Bekaa valley, staying with host families in villages or in the Wavel camp, while in the south 90 displaced families are being hosted by relatives in Rashadiyeh and Al-Buss camps in and around Tyre.

In pictures: Peacemakers: Physicians for Human Rights
BBC Online 5/31/2007
Positive relationshipsEvery weekend, the Israeli organisation Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) holds a clinic in the West Bank. Israeli doctors, nurses, and pharmacists join Palestinian medics to provide healthcare for Palestinians. For many, access to health care is restricted due to the difficulties of travel in the Israeli occupied West Bank. PHR believes that health care is a fundamental human right, and the organisation aims to build positive relationships between Israelis and Palestinians. Click below for more images

Israeli human right group report exposes Israeli violations in detention camps
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center 5/31/2007
The Israeli popular committee against torture has issued a reported proving that Israeli interrogators use methods against Palestinian political prisoners that contradict with the third Geneva agreement regarding the treatment of prisoners. The reported stated that Israeli interrogators use methods such as physical torture and not allowing the prisoners to sleep for several days. The Palestinian minister of information Dr. Mustafa Al Barghouthi stated on Thursday that this report exposes the Israeli government and its brutal policy of dealing with Palestinian political prisoners. Al Barghouthi added that Israel does not respect international law and attempts to evade any implementation of the forth Geneva Convention, arguing that this law does not apply to Palestinian areas.

June 2007: 40 years of Israeli occupation of Palestinian land; rallies and demos planned worldwide
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Bethlehem – Ma’an – As we enter June, preparations are underway around the world for protests, rallies, lectures, exhibitions and other commemorative activities marking the 40th anniversary of the six-day war and the subsequent Israeli military occupation of the West Bank (including east Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. On June 1st, a coalition of prominent Israeli human rights organizations active in the occupied territories, is holding a day of public events in Tel Aviv, a leisure site for Israeli families. According to Sarit Michaeli, Communications Director of the Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem, the event "is intended to generate discussion among the mainstream Israeli public regarding the implications of the ongoing violation of Palestinian human rights on Israeli society.

Salem military court imprisons Palestinian man on charges of Islamic Jihad activism, releases son of PLC member
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Jenin – Tulkarem – Ma’an – The Israeli military court of Salem has convicted Palestinian prisoner Najih Sharqawi to 12 months’ imprisonment and a fine of 100 NIS. Lawyer Fuad Hawwash from Jenin said that Sharqawi was accused of being an Islamic Jihad activist and member. On the other hand, the Israeli authorities released Palestinian prisoner Hamza Qarawi from Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem after 30 months’ imprisonment. Qarawi, who is the son of Palestinian Legislative Council member Fathi Qarawi, was a student at An-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus when he was arrested in January 2005. His father, Sheikh Fathi Qarawi is also imprisoned by the Israeli authorities.

40 years after 1967 war, ICRC organises conference on the legal aspects of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land
Ma’an News Agency 5/31/2007
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Forty years after the Six-Day War and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Minerva Centre for Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University, in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, are organising a three-day conference on "Forty Years after 1967: reappraising the Role and Limits of the Legal Discourse on Occupation in the Israeli Palestinian Context". From 5 to 7 June, 29 panellists and guest speakers from Israel, the West Bank, UK (including Northern Ireland), Canada, Finland, Ireland, Germany, the United States and Australia, as well as experts from the ICRC’s legal departments in Tel Aviv and Geneva, will debate the issue in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Dovish Groups Mull Mega-Merger in Bid to Build Peace Powerhouse
Nathan Guttman, MIFTAH 5/31/2007
Merger talks are heating up among three leading dovish Israel advocacy groups in a development that proponents hope will produce a new mega-organization with greater political clout and more money to push for a two-

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