Johara Baker: "What Israel wants, Israel Gets": There is a consistent thread, a pattern, which designs Israel’s policies in the Palestinian territories. Any scrutinizing observer will notice how Israel first pitches an idea to the public – however preposterous – then allows the Palestinians and the international community to absorb it before putting it into action. This way, policies and measures are less shocking and seem more acceptable once the dust has been allowed to settle. We have all seen it time and time again. When the Aqsa Intifada first broke out, there was no Qalandia or Huwwara checkpoint and there was no separation wall. Jerusalem, although technically closed off to the West Bank by ineffective and extremely liquid checkpoints, was more or less accessible to most Palestinians. Not that the situation was ideal for the Palestinians because if this were the case, there would never have been an Intifada. Still, there is a world of difference between the situation prior to September 29, 2000 and the present, this new reality creeping up on us like slow-growing cancer. Today, the tumor has grown to exponential proportions and will be extremely difficult to excise.
Calling Gaza a "prison" and a "ghetto," European Union parliamentarians harshly condemned Israeli actions there in a special session held in Brussels on Wednesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday described Iranian nuclear weapons as "a strategic threat." Putin emphasized that nuclear weapons in Iranian hands was also a strategic threat to Russia, even more than to other countries. This is because the missiles Iran can launch can easily reach Russia - not other European countries or the U.S. Putin made the unusual statement at a meeting in Moscow Wednesday with 11 European Jewish Congress leaders. The statement about the dangers of Iranian nuclear weapons came later in the day, after Putin made another statement saying he had no evidence Iran was attempting to produce a nuclear bomb. He also expressed opposition to further steps against the Iranians.
Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction ruled out talks with Hamas on Thursday, while Israel said any such dialogue with the Islamists could "torpedo" a peace deal. Palestinian sources familiar with the matter said members of Hamas and Fatah had discussed holding peace talks, but Fatah leaders said they had not backed any meeting and rejected dialogue with Hamas unless it cedes control of the Gaza Strip, which it seized in fighting with Abbas's forces in June. "What happened in Gaza was a military coup against legitimacy and against democracy," Abdallah Franji, who is close to Abbas and a member of Fatah's central committee, told Reuters. "If they retreat then we can talk. Now we cannot."
In an assessment offered recently to the government leadership, Military Intelligence expressed doubts about the likelihood of success at the regional peace summit scheduled for late November in Annapolis, Maryland. According to the MI's assessment, the Palestinians would like to make immediate gains at the summit, but in return will postpone or fail to carry out their commitments, primarily countering terrorist activities.
A Palestinian man named Zayid Al-Qudra was injured when a bomb went off in a car belonging to a Hamas supporter in Gaza City. The Palestinian police found the body of twenty-five-year-old Ja'far Abu Salih in front of his home in the town of Surif north of Hebron Wednesday evening. A police source said the man had been shot dead. The Middle East Quartet Envoy, Tony Blair, visited the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday for meetings with Mayor Khalid Al-Isaily and Governor Hussein Al-Ara. Blair also met with Head of Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) Karl Henrick Shorsein to be updated on the situation in Hebron in order to devise a plan for the area's economy.
Israel on Thursday denied a report that claimed it believes Israel Defense Forces soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were killed during their abduction by Hezbollah last year.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published Thursday that Israel is trying to cover up the failure of an Israel Air Force strike on his country early last month. IAF jets raided a target in northeastern Syria on Sept. 6, which Assad has described as an unused military building while Israeli officials have maintained an unprecedented wall of silence over the affair, though there have been reports - denied by Syria - that the target was a nascent nuclear facility being built with North Korean help. Assad, in the interview, said Israel's silence reflected the failure of Israeli or U.S. intelligence. "They are trying to cover up their failure by shrouding it with mystery," he said.
The number of calls made to hotlines for victims of domestic violence in the Orthodox community has increased three-fold over the past few years, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday. The number of haredi women who called the hotlines jumped from 477 in 2004 to 1,402 in 2007, while the number of women who were housed in shelters for battered women each month nearly doubled, from 24 to 40 on average.
Israel Harel: "Constitution is not a spin": At the opening of the winter session of the Knesset, the prime minister announced that the best gift the Knesset could give the country for its 60th year of independence was an agreed-upon proposal for a constitution. "And I stress - agreed upon." And indeed, as he put it, "For 60 years, we have not had an agreed-upon constitution, but rather a patchwork of basic laws."
Israeli model Bar Rafaeli sues Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper for libel. [Move on, Sister!]
Israelische Panzerflottille operiert im Gazastreifen. Bislang 5 Verletzte.
Ilene Prisher: "Pressure in Israel for Missile Defense" +++++ Gregory Levey: "Israels Rising Rigth-Wing"
Nour Odeh: Gaza's paralysed legal system has left the territory in chaos, but recent steps taken by Hamas to resolve the issue have been criticised both by Hamas's rival Fatah faction and by human rights groups.
The Times: A Palestinian man today launched a High Court challenge to the legality of the Government’s grant of export licences for arms sales to Israel.
Jeremy Bowen: "MidEast-Prospects" + Rami Khouri: "So that Annapolis will not be a failure" + Gershon Baskin: "The Test of the Leadership"
DPA: Israel allows 3500 to stay in Westbank.