Bibi tells Hillary that (purported) settlement freeze is over in 30 days

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and other news from Today in Palestine

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Netanyahu rules out extension on settlement moratorium (AFP)
AFP – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton there would be no extension of an Israeli moratorium on settlement construction that expires at the end of the month, his office said Wednesday.*

Settlers: We’ll violate settlement freeze in response to attack
Four Israelis were killed Tuesday in a shooting attack near Hebron, on the eve of the resumption of direct Mideast peace talks in Washington.

Bedouin families told to leave by June
JERICHO (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities issued warrants ordered Bedouin families lodging in tents and sheds on land between Jericho and Jerusalem to leave the area by June 2011.  Ahmad Ka’abna, who was issued a warrant, said around 600 households would face evacuation if the order is enforced.  Resident Fayiz Ka’abna, who supports a family of 11, asked “We have been living in the area for more than half a century when the West bank was under Jordanian rule, and we are to leave now?”  Civil Administration representatives were not immediately available by phone for comment.

What the wall has done
Israel began constructing the wall in June 2002 following its invasion of cities in the West Bank, which it dubbed "Operation Defensive Shield." The immense scale of the 2002 invasion — characterized by the destruction of Palestinian civilian infrastructure, mass arrests, assassinations and massacres — ensured that the construction of the wall would commence with as little resistance as possible. Jamal Juma’ comments.

Claim for Native Title Threatens Jewish State, Jonathan Cook – Hura, the Negev
Nuri al Uqbi’s small cinderblock home in a ramshackle neighbourhood of Hura, a Bedouin town in Israel’s Negev desert, hardly looks like the epicentre of a legal struggle that some observers say threatens Israel’s Jewish character.  Inside, the 68-year-old Bedouin activist has stacks of bulging folders of tattered and browning documents, many older than the state of Israel itself, that he hopes will overturn decades of harsh government policy towards the Negev’s 180,000 Bedouin.  For the past few months, Mr al Uqbi has been in court pursuing a case that has pitted his own expert witnesses against those of the state.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
Palestinians demonstrate against negotiations
RAMALLAH, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — Hundreds of Palestinians on Wednesday demonstrated in the Gaza Strip and West Bank against the resumption of direct peace talks with Israel scheduled for Thursday.  The two demonstrations were organized by leftist factions and groups representing independent figures in the society.  The people were protesting the Palestinian National Authority ( PNA)’s acceptance of the U.S. call to resume the negotiations on Thursday without an Israeli commitment to stop Jewish settlement in the occupied territories.

8th Week against the Apartheid Wall, November 9 – 16 2010
September 1st, 2010– Eight years into the construction of the Apartheid Wall, over 60% has already been built to ghettoize communities, threatening over 260,000 people with displacement and stealing land and water resources.

Demonstrations face heightened Israeli military repression
On the third Friday of Ramadan the Bil’in popular committee marked the 9th anniversary of the assassination Abu Ali Mustafa, former PFLP secretary general. A large number of internationals, including British and French people, supported the demonstration, with many protestors wearing masks depicting the face of Abdallah Abu Rahma, recently convicted by Israel for the ‘crime’ of organizing peaceful resistance. One Palestinian youth was hurt when shot in the knee with a rubber coated steel bullet. The army’s harsh repression of the unarmed protest with unnecessary use of force continued the patter of the previous week.

Success as Pollokshields, Glasgow joins boycott of Israeli dates
Hard work by Friends of Al Aqsa and SPSC activists pays off as Asian shops in key area of Glasgow declare themselves Israeli produce free!  In the month leading up to Ramadan SPSC Glasgow have combined the promoting of the Rod Cox/Gideon Levy event with joining Friends of al Aqsa in their campaign to urge Muslim shoppers and shopkeepers to boycott Israeli Medjoul dates, which are in fact produced in illegal settlements, particularly in the Jordan Valley.

Communist Party of Israel supports actors boycott
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hundreds gathered Monday at the Habima National Theater in Tel Aviv to demonstrate support for its actors who are boycotting performances in the occupied West Bank settlement of Ariel.  A Communist Party of Israel member, Knesset member Dov Henin, said at the rally that "the Israeli theater is not and will not be a puppet theater. It is a theater of people with independent thoughts and consciences."  Peace Now general secretary Yariv Oppenheimer also said the rally "wasn’t only sending a message about the occupation, but also about democracy," a Communist Party statement said.

Code Pink aims to stage barbed-wire Gaza outside White House tomorrow
From CodePink’s press release on a street theater action planned for the front of the White House tomorrow: A Peace Charade – A Theatre Parody of the Peace Talks.

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism
Palestinians: IDF placed village under curfew
Palestinian sources said the IDF placed the Bani Naim village under curfew following the shooting attack in which four Israelis were killed.  The Palestinians added that the IDF sealed the entrances to Hebron.,7340,L-3947122,00.html

A school of 290 students, 289 of them black; Petah Tikvah city hall won’t let Ethiopian kids transfer out of elementary school
Dozens of parents of Ethiopian origin have been blocked by the Petah Tikva municipality from moving their children from the majority-Ethiopian religious Ner Etzion elementary school to other schools in the city.Most of the requests were based on the parents’ desire not to have their children studying in a school whose student population was nearly exclusively Ethiopian. The municipality, backed by the Education Ministry, rejected most of the requests, saying that it could not force the other religious schools, private and public, to accept a large group of Ethiopian students.

Violence/Provocations Against Palestinians
Voices from the Occupation
The human cost of the blockade – children shot whilst collecting building material in Gaza.

Settlers harass family near settlement
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Approximately 50 Israeli settlers attacked the home of a Palestinian family near the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement on Wednesday, reportedly in response to the killing of four Israelis one day earlier.  A witness told Ma’an that the settlers threw empty bottles and stones at the home of Younis Idrees, and then set fire to the grass outside the building.  Israeli forces reportedly deployed at the scene and prevented further assaults. A military representative said she would investigate the report.

PA official: Settlers vandalize cars after Hebron shooting
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers broke car windows Tuesday evening and cut down olive trees hours after four Israelis were killed in a shooting near a West Bank settlement in Hebron, an official said.  Ghassan Doughlas, who heads the Palestinian Authority file on northern West Bank settlement activity, told Ma’an that several cars were vandalized along the Jet junction between Nablus and Qalqiliya.

Israeli Settlers Attack Families And The Military Abducts Two In Hebron
Israeli troops abducted two Palestinian brothers and settlers attack another house in the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday morning.

Israeli Settlers Attack Palestinian Farmers Near Salfit
A group of Israeli settlers opened fire at a group of Palestinian farmers while working on their lands near the village of Deir Istiah, near Salfit In the northern West Bank, Palestinians said.

East Jerusalem Neighborhood Attacked By Israeli Soldiers; At Least 4 Detained
The Silwan neighborhood, which has been the site of an Israeli municipal plan to rid the neighborhood of its Palestinian residents, came under fire once again on Monday when Israeli forces invaded to abduct Palestinians that they claim took part in clashes with settlers last Thursday.

Israeli minister demands more weapons for Israeli settlers
Jerusalem, September 1, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai instructed his government today to facilitate the granting of licenses for the possession of arms and weapons to the Israeli settlers of the West Bank, following the killing of four Israeli settlers in the "torrent of fire" operation done by the resistance of the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam brigades which is the armed wing of Hamas movement on Tuesday evening.

Attack on Settlers
4 Israelis killed in shooting attack
Initial report: At least four Israelis murdered in West Bank shooting attack Tuesday evening ahead of resumption of peace talks in Washington; security forces, rescue services rush to scene of attack in Gush Etzion area.,7340,L-3947089,00.html

Hamas claims West Bank killings as direct peace talks set to resume
Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip issued a statement on Tuesday claiming responsibility for a shooting attack that killed four Israelis in the occupied West Bank on the eve of peace talks in Washington.  The statement from the armed wing of Hamas, a group that opposes any dialogue with Israel, said the “Qassam Brigades announces its full responsibility for the heroic operation in Hebron.”  Four Israelis, one of them a pregnant woman, were shot dead near the occupied West Bank Jewish settlement of Kyriat Arba on Tuesday, in what police and the military said was a Palestinian ambush.

Previously unknown group claims Hebron attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian group calling itself the Al-Haq ("Rights") Brigades has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s shooting that left four Israeli citizens dead in the occupied West Bank.  The previously unknown group said in a statement to Ma’an that its operatives successfully fled capture following the attack which targeted an Israeli-plated car near Hebron’s illegal Kiryat Arba settlement.  The operation was in response to the PLO’s decision to return to negotiations with Israel, the statement said.

Fatah splinter group: Hebron shooting ‘natural response’
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Former Fatah splinter group and Islamist party Al-Ahrar said Tuesday’s shooting, which left four Israelis dead, was a "natural response to the Israeli occupation’s crimes against the Palestinians and holy places,"  Calling for more attacks, the group said the Hamas-affiliated military wing’s "success in carrying out the attack is evidence that is bigger than all those at the hands of the Israeli army against the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank."

Israel’s Arab Police Force, what do they get in return?
PA carries out ‘one of largest arrest waves of all time’ in West Bank
Crackdown on Hamas operatives in the region, in which more than 300 were arrested, follows deadly terror attack near Hebron.

Crackdown after West Bank shooting
On the eve of peace talks, Palestinian police arrest 150 Hamas supporters after group’s armed wing kills four settlers.

Palestinian PM says will prevent more W.Bank attacks
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Aug 31 (Reuters) – The West Bank-based Palestinian Authority said it would take action to prevent a repeat of a militant attack which killed four Israeli settlers in the West Bank on Tuesday.  In a statement issued by his office, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad condemned the attack, which was claimed by the armed wing of the Hamas Islamist movement which governs the Gaza Strip.  "We condemn this operation, which goes against Palestinian interests," Fayyad said.

Egypt seizes Hamas official in northern Sinai
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) — Egyptian authorities on Tuesday detained a Hamas internal security official while en route to Egypt.
Identified only by his initials, S.A., 30, from Khan Younis in southern Gaza, was found in a taxi in the northern Sinai when he was arrested.

Political Developments

Mahmoud Abbas: Double Agent, JEFFREY BLANKFORT
This coming week we will witness the latest challenge for the man who is arguably the most extraordinary double agent in the Middle East. What is unusual about Mahmoud Abbas, or Abu Mazen, as he was known when his fellow Palestinians had yet to take his measure, is that most of what he does for his Israeli and US masters he does in plain sight.  To which of the two he is most beholden will be determined during his upcoming visit to Washington for the latest chapter in what has euphemistically been referred to as the “peace process” since it was launched in the aftermath of the Oslo Agreement.  The odds are it will be Israel. In Oslo, it should be recalled, Abbas, as the chief Palestinian negotiator, played Neville Chamberlain for Tel Aviv, agreeing to surrender occupied Palestinian land with a view toward putting a permanent end to Palestinian resistance and, immediately, to the first Intifada.

Chief PA Buffoon seeks approval of Israelis

You have to watch him.  He out did himself.

Yasser `Abd Rabbu seeks approval of Israelis

This is as pathetic as it can get, really.

Palestinians won’t accept state of ‘left-overs’
The Palestinians will not accept a state of “left-overs” on land next to Israel and new peace talks must go straight to the substance of a deal.  Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Tuesday that  Israeli politicians should rethink their ideas for settling the six-decade-old conflict with the Palestinians, who aim to found a state on land Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.  A new round of U.S.-backed negotiations, the latest chapter in a 17-year-old peace process, will get under way in Washington on Thursday. Fayyad said solutions should be based on international law.  “When one hears statements made, descriptions or characterisations, about a State of Palestine given by Israeli officials, as a matter of fact, one cannot be terribly reassured,” Fayyad told Reuters in an interview.

Khaled Meshaal Interview: Hamas Chief Weighs In on Eve of Peace Talks
Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas’ political bureau, is an unassuming man who sauntered into our interview room unattended and chatted with me in English while we awaited his staff.  The young father of seven — three daughters and four sons, in that order — is grounded, smart and energetic. We met at 1:00 a.m. when I was fading fast, and he was just getting started. There was a lot of ground to cover, but more than anything I wanted to leave the interview knowing what Hamas stood for. The resistance group, I felt, had left people confused in recent years. By moderating their stances and altering their language to accommodate changing realities in the Middle East, Hamas had become a bit blurry at the edges.

Netanyahu: shooting means "no compromise" in talks
ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Maryland, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will tell U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that a deadly West Bank attack shows there should be "no compromise" on Israeli security demands in peace talks, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.

Jerusalem to remain ‘undivided capital of Israel’
WASHINGTON — Jerusalem should remain the "undivided capital of Israel," an aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday, clarifying Israel’s position after published comments from defense minister Ehud Barak suggested division was a possibility.  "The position of the prime minister is that Jerusalem is one of the core issues that are on the table at the talks," the aide said.  "Our position is that Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of Israel."

Barak: Israel ready to cede parts of Jerusalem in peace deal
Ahead of start of direct peace talks in Washington, Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods will be part of a Palestinian state; a ‘special regime’ to govern holy sites.

US does not see Hamas joining peace talks yet (AFP)
AFP – US negotiators do not believe Palestinian militants Hamas will join direct Middle East peace talks set to resume this week, US envoy George Mitchell said Tuesday.*

Clinton meets with Mideast leaders on peace talks (AP)
AP – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has a busy day of meetings with Middle East officials to prepare for this week’s relaunch of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.*

US welcomes Middle East players as direct talks to resume (AFP)
AFP – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began talks Tuesday with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, the first in a flurry of contacts with key players in the runup to new direct Israeli-Palestinian talks.*

Obama envoy seeks to quell doubts on Mideast peace (Reuters)
Reuters – President Barack Obama’s envoy said on the eve of a Middle East peace summit that it was time to take advantage of a "window of opportunity" to end the decades-old conflict as he sought to overcome broad skepticism about the U.S. diplomatic effort.*

US seeks Israeli peace talks with Syria, Lebanon (AFP)
AFP – The United States is pushing for peace talks between Israel, Syria and Lebanon, US envoy George Mitchell said, as the Israelis prepared to resume direct negotiations with the Palestinians.*

U.S.: Despite concerns, direct talks can achieve Mideast peace in one year
Speaking to reporters, Special U.S. envoy Mitchell says President Obama places comprehensive Mideast peace negotiations at a ‘very high priority.’

Challenges facing US-brokered Middle East peace talks
The US administration led by Barack Obama faces a formidable challenge, with the failure of past talks looming over the latest effort under way. Many of the issues remain unresolved since the creation of Israel in 1948, as both the Palestinian and Israeli sides meet in Washington this week. Top-level talks in search of the elusive peace deal broke off in 2008 when Israel invaded the Palestinian Gaza Strip. Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem correspondent Jacky Rowland looks back at missed opportunities. (Sept 01, 2010)

Analysis of Peace Talks

"Security for Everyone, Not Just Settlers and Occupiers" Ali Abunimah on Opening of U.S.-Brokered Mideast Peace Talks
U.S.-brokered talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority begin today in Washington. Both sides agreed to sit down last month after the U.S. successfully pressured Palestinian leaders to drop their pre-condition of an Israeli settlement freeze. On the eve of the summit, Palestinian militants killed four Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank. We speak with Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.

Inside Story – Achieving real peace, Diana Butto
Direct peace talks between Israelis and palestine are set to begin on Thursday after being frozen for two years. But with Hamas noticeably missing, can real peace be achieved? Is it time for the other players to recognise them? Or could talks with the Palestinian Authority simply make Hamas less relevant?

A Middle East peace that wreaks havoc | Ghada Karmi
What an irony that the Palestinians’ arch-enemy, Israel, should also be their saviour. There is a real danger that the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks due to starton September 2 in Washington could yield a botched deal that falls far short of the needs of international law or elemental justice, and sets back the cause of Palestine for decades, if not for ever. Fortunately this will not happen as long as Israel’s obduracy can be relied on to save the Palestinians from such an outcome.

Talks could be the funeral of the two-state solution, Philip Weiss
Yesterday Amjad Atallah, Daniel Levy, and Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation held a conference call (audio here) about the direct talks that begin today. There was a lot of experience and wisdom on the call, including from the callers-in, among them Tony Karon, so let me summarize.  The overall thrust of the talk was bleak indeed. The failure of the talks is already being anticipated so the blame game has begun even before the talks have begun, said Levy. The parties to the talks are more limited than they were under George Bush at Annapolis and far less than Madrid in 1991, Atallah said. Few “stakeholders” are there. Of course Hamas is not there. Neither are Syria nor the Arab League. Egypt is here, in the person of Mubarak’s son. Democracy in action.

Flotilla Fallout/Developments
Report: U.S. threatens to shun military drill with Turkey if it bans Israel
Turkish daily Hürriyet reports that the U.S. relayed its position to Ankara after invitations for a joint drill were sent out to several countries, but not to Israel.

Israel gave ‘licence to kill’ on Gaza ship: Israeli Arab MP (AFP)
AFP – Outspoken Arab Israeli MP Haneen Zuabi on Tuesday told a UN human rights inquiry into Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that its commandos had a "licence to kill."*

The Reut Report on the Assault on the Gaza Flotilla; Israel’s Vision Problem, PAUL LARUDEE
Israel and I are close in age, so it is not surprising that we suffer some of the same ailments. I have both myopia and hyperopia (nearsightedness and farsightedness), due to stretching of the eye globe and increasing rigidity of the lens, making it difficult to focus on both nearby and distant objects without correction. In addition, cataracts filter and reduce the incoming light. In Israel’s case, these vision impairments are due to overstretching of credibility and rigidity of mindset, while paranoia filters incoming facts and reduces the perception of reality. Israel also needs correction.

Other News
Israel’s ‘Kfir’ brigade to quit WestBank, join Northern Command
BEIRUT: The Israeli Army is set to redeploy one of its brigades from the occupied West Bank in 2011 to the Israeli-Lebanon -Syria border, press reports claimed on Monday. For the last 20 years the 900th brigade has been tasked with performing counter-terrorism operations in the West Bank.

Comptroller releases scathing report on IDF appointments
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss describes the current process of appointing major generals as ‘negotiations between the chief of staff and defense minister.’

Palestinian PM: financial deficit exceeds 1 billion dollars
RAMALLAH, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Wednesday said that financial shortfall within the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has exceeded one billion U.S. dollar.  In an interview with Wafa, the official news agency, Fayyad said the deficit is 1.2 billion, hoping that donor countries would pay for the PNA to overcome the shortage before the end of this year.  The PNA is in need for 1.8 billion dollars and it only got 605 million since the beginning of 2009, Fayyad added.

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
The State and Local Bases of Zionist Power in America, James Petras
Any serious effort to understand the extraordinary influence of the Zionist power configuration over US foreign policy must examine the presence of key operatives in strategic positions in the government and the activities of local Zionist organizations affiliated with mainstream Jewish organizations and religious orders.

Ali Abunimah “exposed” as smooth sophisticate by bigots

StandWithUs again attempts to take someone down, in this case Palestinian American author Ali Abunimah. As one might expect from such a hateful crew, they don’t do a very good job.

Martin Indyk’s racism: only Jewish lives count. Notice he provides no count for Palestinian casualties in the same period
"These efforts, combined with more effective Israeli security measures, have meant that the number of Israeli civilians killed in terrorist attacks has dropped from an intifada high of 452 in 2002 to 6 last year and only 2 so far this year."

Defence of Apartheid Israel Unjustifiable, Iqbal Jassat – Pretoria
I wonder whether pro-Israeli apologists ever sense the sheer hopelessness of their desperate attempts to shield the apartheid regime from legitimate and necessary criticism.  Having had the misfortune of reading the misguided views of Benjamin Pogrund [Sunday Independent, August 29], I am convinced that his angry attempt to admonish South Africans vis-à-vis their negative stance against Israel, reflects poor judgment.  By calling into question the actions of striking people within the public sector, he then demands that due to the unacceptable behavior accompanying the strikes, South Africa has no right to stand in judgment of poor little Israel.

Smear campaign targets pro-Palestinian Brooklyn College professor; alum suspends ’significant bequest’
A campaign reminiscent of past academic battles over Israel is afoot, this time targeting Brooklyn College professor Moustafa Bayoumi, who edited the newly released book titled Midnight on the Mavi Marmara: The Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and How it Changed the Course of the Israel/Palestine Conflict.

In the Heart of Hebron, ‘America’ is Light Years Away, Nijim Dabbour for MIFTAH
As a Palestinian American born and raised in the States, I grew up with an eye on the conflict since I learned to speak. CNN reports of house demolitions, suicide attacks, peace processes and gunship assaults were a constant background theme at home that I barely registered and hardly understood as a child.  As I grew up I began to learn what was actually happening: the gradual destruction of a nation. Yet I still only studied it from afar, a distant observer reading secondhand accounts from halfway around the world. It wasn’t enough for me to truly feel like I belonged to that nation, I felt I couldn’t live my life comfortable and happy as an American and still say I am Palestinian when so much of what gives Palestinians their identity is the suffering they are subject to daily. So after graduating with a degree in journalism, I found my way here to begin my career.

In search of a Palestinian partner for Mark Regev
Following yesterday’s fatal attack on 4 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, responsibility for which was claimed by the military wing of Hamas, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev informed Al Jazeera that this episode was evidence of how all Israelis are now considered equally valid targets—with no mention of course that Israelis not located on illegal settlements have in recent years generally been targeted by Hamas only following Israeli breakage of ceasefires, and that such targeting during the Gaza War of 2008-09 resulted in the deaths of 3 Israeli civilians compared to over 1200 Palestinian civilians. The latter figure did not prevent Regev from claiming at the time that Israel had “made every possible effort to target enemy combatants only”.

Chas Freeman calls for European, Arab activism on Israeli-Palestinian peace
The experienced American diplomatist Chas W. Freeman, Jr, has issued a strong call for European and Arab states to work together to ensure speedy attainment of Israeli-Palestinian peace, arguing that "Only a peace process that is protected from Israel’s ability to manipulate American politics can succeed."

Yishai: Lebanon war lost due to distance from God
In sulfurous speech, minister declares whoever doesn’t believe Israel is ‘above nature’ a sinner.,7340,L-3947337,00.html

Berri pledges to uphold both UNSCR 1701, right of resistance
BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri reiterated Tuesday Lebanon’s commitment to Resolution 1701, stressing that the resistance against Israel was a Lebanese necessity.  Addressing crowds who gathered in the southern coastal city of Tyre to mark 32 years since the disappearance of Imam Musa al-Sadr, the founder of the Amal Movement, Berri hailed the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). He highlighted the close relations between the multinational force and southerners, lashing out at the “silly attacks on some of their statues.”

Jumblatt holds talks with Iranian ambassador in attempt to mend relations with Tehran
BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) leader MP Walid Jumblatt held talks with the Iranian ambassador, media reports said on Tuesday. Jumblatt visited the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on Monday night, the reports said. He held talks with Iranian Ambassador Ghazanfar Roknabadi. Jumblatt said his visit to the embassy was part of an attempt to start a new chapter.

Lebanon sends warrant for suspected spy to Interpol
Lebanon’s chief prosecutor on Wednesday sent an arrest warrant against a suspected spy for Israel to international police agency Interpol, after reports the suspect, who fled the country last year, may be in France.  Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah first spoke of Ghassan al-Jid during a news conference last month in which he was presenting testimony that he said linked Israel to the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.,7340,L-3947638,00.html

Bsharri MPs seek amendment to ‘honor crime’ clause
BEIRUT: Bsharri MPs Streeda Geagea and Elie Keyrouz sent a draft law to Speaker Nabih Berri on Tuesday, calling for the cancellation of a legal clause allowing men implicated in "honor crimes" to benefit from reduced sentences.

UN: refugee camps have higher jobless rates than Palestine
BEIRUT/GENEVA: Unemployment among Palestinians continues to be a crippling problem in the Occupied Territories but is still significantly lower than the rate among refugees in Lebanon, a new United Nations report revealed on Tuesday.

Three civilians wounded in Iraq blast
Unknown gunmen opened fire on an Iraqi civilian on Wednesday near Al Marfoua village in eastern Baaquba. Three civilians were wounded when a bomb stuck to a civilian car exploded on Tuesday in Al Khodar region, northern Babel.

Monday: 1 US Soldier, 4 Iraqis Killed; 5 Iraqis Wounded
As the United States marks the change in mission for Iraq, one American soldier was killed in sniper fire in Tikrit. At least four Iraqis were killed and five more were wounded in unusually light violence that could be the result of a media blackout.

Iraq to spend $13B on U.S. arms, equipment
Iraq is preparing to buy as much as $13 billion in American arms and military equipment, a huge order of tanks, ships and hardware that U.S. officials say shows Iraqi-U.S. military ties will be tight for years to come.

US spies worry about Iraq’s political deadlock (AFP)
AFP – US spy agencies view political stalemate in Iraq as the biggest threat to security in Iraq as the American military scales back its mission in the country, a senior official said on Tuesday.*

US lawmaker: Complete Iraq pull-out needed (AFP)
AFP – A leading US Congress critic of the Iraq war on Tuesday welcomed the formal end of US combat operations there but warned only a full troop withdrawal could bring stability to the strife-torn country.*

Gates: Iraq war premise ‘not valid’
During surprise trip to American base, US defence secretary says outcome of the war will remain ‘clouded’.

IRAQ: Trauma leaves an indelible mark
Source: IRIN US President Barack Obama may have hailed the end of US combat operations in Iraq, but the seven-year war has left an indelible mark on many ordinary people who are still traumatized by the horrific things they experienced.

Invisible War: How Thirteen Years of US-Imposed Economic Sanctions Devastated Iraq Before the 2003 Invasion
While the US invasion and occupation of Iraq over the past seven years has inflicted multiple disasters on the country, many argue that the US assault on Iraq really began 20 years ago with the US-imposed economic sanctions. Joy Gordon, author of Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions, writes, "U.S. policymakers effectively turned a program of international governance into a legitimized act of mass slaughter."

Withdrawal or Enduring Presence? U.S. Military Continues to Invest Hundreds of Millions in Iraq Bases
In his Oval Office address Tuesday night, President Obama said the US had closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. But many US bases remain in Iraq as well as the massive US embassy in Baghdad–the size of eighty football fields. We play a report on US bases in Iraq by independent journalist Jacquie Soohen of Big Noise Films.

"Iraq is a Shattered Country" – Nir Rosen on Obama Declaring an End to U.S. Combat Mission in Iraq
President Obama declared an end to the combat mission in Iraq Tuesday night in the second Oval Office address of his presidency. Although tens of thousands of US troops, special operations forces and private contractors remain in Iraq, Obama announced that Operation Iraqi Freedom is now officially over. We go to Baghdad to speak with independent journalist Nir Rosen.

Riz Khan – Iraq’s uncertain future
Iraq is mired in a political standoff and security crisis as the US marks the official end of its combat operations on August 31, seven years after it invaded the country to get rid of Saddam Hussein. How can Iraq resolve its political and sectarian differences; and what lessons – if any – has the US learned from its occupation?

Mixed views on US withdrawal
The United States might have handed over reponsibility for combat duties in Iraq. But its legacy is all too present. Figures just out show that 426 civilians and Iraqi security forces died in the last month alone. That is down from previous month, but still a heavy toll. And Iraq still does not have a government for this key time of transition. Iraqis have mixed views on the withdrawal. While some welcome the withdrwal of American troops, others think that their security forces are not ready to take over the country. Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reports from Baghdad.

How Paul Wolfowitz and David Brooks Are Whitewashing the Failure in Iraq, Stephen M. Walt
On the eve of President Obama’s speech to the nation on Iraq, some of the people who dreamed up this foolish war or helped persuade the nation that it was a good idea are getting out their paintbrushes and whitewash. I refer, of course, to the twin op-eds in today’s New York Times by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and neoconservative columnist David Brooks.Wolfowitz, you will recall, was one of the main architects of the war, having pushed the invasion during the 1990s and as soon as he became Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Bush adminstration. He was the guy who recommended invading Iraq four days after 9/11, even though Osama bin Laden was nowhere near Iraq and there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with it. For his part, Brooks was an enthusiastic cheerleader for the war in the months prior to the invasion, and he continued to defend it long after the original rationale had been exposed as a sham.

James Denselow: Obama’s Orwellian Iraq
Two years ago candidate Barack Obama criticised his rival John McCain for offering ‘fake’ change by stating that "you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig". This evening President Obama will apply lipstick to the catastrophe that was the Iraq war. He will seek to suck the political poison out of America’s involvement in Iraq by presenting a far more nuanced case for victory in the country than George W Bush’s ill-advised words spoken on an aircraft carrier over seven years ago.

We can’t take the US at its word
With US combat operations ending in Iraq on Tuesday, US Vice President Joe Biden said about Iraqis, "They’re going to be just fine." Last week, President Barack Obama said Iraqi forces were ready to take control of their country’s security situation.

U.S. and Other World News/Islam in America
A Trillion-Dollar Catastrophe; Yes, Iraq Was a Headline War
The west is leaving Iraq in a pool of blood, dust and dollars. It remains wedded to Iraq’s twin sister in folly, Afghanistan.

Military Subcontractors Bribing U.S. Personnel With Prostitutes?
Taxpayer cash is flowing to subcontractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, who engage in shady, illegal practices with few repercussions.

In poll of New Yorkers, 71 percent want mosque ‘voluntarily’ built elsewhere
New York voters overwhelmingly do not want a mosque to be built near the New York City site of the September 11, 2011 terrorist strikes, according to a new poll out Tuesday.  By a 71-21 percent margin, those surveyed by Quinnipiac University agreed that the project’s backers "should voluntarily build the mosque somewhere else" to accommodate the feelings of relatives of those killed in the attacks.  And 71 percent said that New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo should investigate the financing of the project, a community center including a mosque two blocks from "Ground Zero" where the World Trade Center towers once stood.

Maddow: Islamic Center Opponents Could Be Stoking Anti-Muslim Attacks
Rachel Maddow said that the opposition to the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero could be the reason behind a wave of anti-Muslim incidents around the country.  On her MSNBC show Monday, Maddow ran down a list of the many different anti-Muslim attacks that have taken place in recent weeks — from the possible arson at a mosque in Tennessee to the stabbing of a Muslim cabdriver in New York to protests against mosques in states around America.

CAMERA doth protest too much re its role in Boston anti-mosque campaign from Mondoweiss, Jeff Klein
CAMERA’s Dexter van Zile responded to a post by Jeff Klein critiquing the Israel lobby organization. Klein now responds:  CAMERA apparently didn’t like being mentioned in my piece on the anti-Mosque campaign in Boston. However, their complaint is a good example of their regular method of obfuscation and misdirection. CAMERA responds to something I did not write and proceeds to pick a couple of nits that have no bearing on the thrust (and truth) of the piece.  Here is a more detailed account, which situates CAMERA within a network of Likudnik activists who have been using anti-Islam demagoguery as an organizing tactic in service to Israel. The Boston campaign was a kind of trial run for the extremes of Islamophobic racism that are being marshaled around the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York. The subject is worthy of a much longer treatment, which I hope to compile sometime in the future.

Unchallenged violence and intimidation, coming soon to a mosque near you, Alex Kane
Reading accounts of the far-right English Defense League’s (EDL) recent anti-Muslim rally in Bradford, England is disturbing. EDL members, shouting slogans that state that Allah is a “pedophile” and that they “love the floods” currently devastating Pakistan, clashed with riot police during a rally held last Saturday in a city with a significant Muslim presence.  More disturbingly, recent events here don’t seem to be far from what Muslims in England have experienced. And no one in power is doing anything to stop it.

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