Jenin Freedom Theatre Director Zakaria Zubeidi ordered by Israel to turn himself in to PA security services

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Palestinian pardoned by Israel put back on wanted list
Zakaria Zbeidi, the former commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin who now runs the Freedom Theater, says he did not know his pardon was canceled. Zakaria Zbeidi, the former commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin who was pardoned by Israel two years ago, has been added to Israel’s wanted list again. In recent days, Palestinian security services informed Zbeidi that upon Israel’s request, he must remain in the Palestinian Authority’s detention facilities during all hours of the day and night, otherwise Israel will arrest him. Zbeidi confirmed the report to Haaretz, yet said he did not know why the pardon was rescinded. Last week, Palestinian security forces arrested one of Zbeidi’s brothers, along with one of the workers at Jenin’s Freedom Theater, which Zbeidi directs.

Land, Property Theft & Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Apartheid / Refugees 

IOA to transfer thousands of W. Bank Bedouins to other areas
Head and lawyer of Abu Dis defense committee Bassam Bahr said the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) intends to transfer thousands of Abu Dis Bedouins near Ma’ale Adumim to another area.

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces ordered the demolition of 13 structures in two hamlets in the southernmost border of the West Bank on Thursday. The soldiers blocked all entrances to Imneizil before delivering 10 demolition orders to residents, and three more to neighboring Haribat al-Nabi.  Forces also gave residents of Imneizil, south of Hebron, a map of the village showing the confiscation of 160 dunums of their land. 
Violence and Aggression

PLO: Israel killed 180 Palestinians including 21 children in 2011
The Israeli occupation forces killed 180 Palestinians in 2011 including 21 children and arrested 3300, a report by the Palestine liberation organization (PLO) said on Wednesday.

An important precedent was recently set that could challenge the entrenched system of impunity for Israeli interrogators who torture and abuse Palestinian detainees.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli war planes bombed central and northern Gaza Strip early Thursday, with no injuries reported. Israeli forces struck a training site of Islamic Jihad armed wing the Al-Quds Brigades in Al-Zahra district of central Gaza, flattening the compound and damaging nearby houses. Another airstrike hit a location in the northern Gaza Strip. 

Israel navy attempts to capsize international monitoring boat off Gaza, injures captain, Ali Abunimah
An Israeli gunboat attacked the Oliva today off the shores of Gaza, according to two crew members, injuring the Palestinian captain. The Oliva, a boat operated by the Civil Peace Service Gaza (CPSGAZA) accompanies Gaza fishermen to sea to monitor frequent Israeli attacks and harassment of Palestinian fishing boats.

IOF soldiers round up 17 Palestinians including journalist, minors
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) blasted their way into the home of Palestinian journalist Amin Abu Warda at the entrance to Balata refugee camp east of Nablus city on Wednesday before taking him away.


IOF soldiers round up 5 Palestinians, storm home of disabled
Israeli occupation forces rounded up five Palestinian citizens in three West Bank provinces at dawn Thursday and stormed the home of a disabled father in Al-Khalil last night, local sources reported.
We’ve written before about Dr. Yousef Abdul Haq, 70, a leading Nablus intellectual who has been in an Israeli prison for 16 days.  Ma’an says he was transferred to a prison hospital due to failing health (per translation by Saed Abu-Hijleh, Abdul Haq’s friend) 
Ramallah, 27 December 2011 – On the third anniversary of Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip (27 December 2008–18 January 2009), Addameer reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the Israeli policy that has denied residents from Gaza detained in Israeli prisons family visits for over four years.
On Tuesday, dozens of Palestinians staged a sit-in in front of the International Red Cross building in Ramallah in the West Bank in order to express solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli prisons.
Rizka: Abbas received $35m for Gaza reconstruction
The Arab League secretary general Nabil Al-Arabi has handed PA chief Mahmoud Abbas 35 million dollars three months ago that were allocated for the Gaza reconstruction, Yousef Rizka disclosed.


Israel ‘will launch significant Gaza offensive sooner or later’
Israel Defence Forces chief of staff speaks on third anniversary of start of a major three-week Gaza assault. A new Israeli military offensive against Gaza will be launched “sooner or later” and will be “swift and painful”, Israel’s most senior military officer has warned. Benny Gantz, the chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces, was speaking on the third anniversary of the start of a major three-week assault on Gaza during which around 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed. That offensive was “an excellent operation that achieved deterrence for Israel vis-a-vis Hamas”, Gantz told Army Radio on Tuesday. He added there were signs that the deterrent effect was wearing thin.


“I miss them all the time, sometimes I even go to look for one of them in the house in the split second before I remember they were killed”

Racism / Sexism / Discrimination

Report: FM irked by secret EU report on Israeli Arabs
Confidential memo by European diplomats outlining growing gaps between Israel’s Jewish, Arab communities reportedly enrages Foreign Ministry.

 In a development that harkens back to the Nuremberg Laws and the old racialist broadsides of Rabbi Meir Kahane, MK Danny Danon has proposed a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist: he’s claimed that over 1,000 Jewish women have complained about being kidnapped by Palestinians and forced to become sex slaves.  The settler internet portal Arutz 7 reports on a Knesset hearing at which Danon deliberated on this imaginary social cataclysm (if you know Hebrew you really must watch the video documenting the drivel and ranting of the MKs and witnesses).  A member of the committee, Danny Simon, asked a policewoman testifying whether she was aware of any such problems.  The officer said she knew of none.
Islamophobic and Zionist websites are actively promoting a claim that Norway – and perhaps Europe – is experiencing an “epidemic” of rapes carried out by Muslim men. This has been given added credibility for some because the claim appears to be based on data in a recent research study by the Oslo Police District, and a news report on that study by Norway’s state broadcaster NRK.
‘Unwritten rule’ bars women’s singing in Knesset
Senior House sources admit female singers no longer perform in official Knesset ceremonies so not to ‘upset’ religious MKs.

Posters were plastered on information boards across Jerusalem, warning, ‘All daughters of Israel who vie for the title of ‘queen of ugliness’ will be ostracized by the power of the sacred Torah, and their name disgraced among the people of Israel.’

Preschool form asks for parents’ sexual orientation
Education Ministry updates preschool registration forms, creates special ‘sexual orientation’ checkbox. Parents outraged; ministry says will revise form.,7340,L-4168862,00.html

Solidarity / Activism / BDS
LONDON (Ma’an) — Hundreds of people in the United Kingdom rallied on Tuesday evening in front of the Israeli embassy in London to commemorate the third anniversary of Israel’s military offensive on Gaza. The rally was organized by the Palestinian Forum in the UK. Representatives from Palestinian solidarity movements spoke during the rally and reiterated their support for the Palestinian right to freedom and self determination. 

Anti-Semitism claims against UC Berkeley dismissed (AP)
AP – A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by two Jewish students who claimed the University of California, Berkeley, fostered an atmosphere of anti-Semitism by not doing enough to curb alleged harassment during pro-Palestinian protests that included mock checkpoints.

Lebanon’s chapter supporting the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign of Israel has called for a boycott of Armin van Buuren’s concerts scheduled to be held in Beirut this weekend. Samah Idriss of the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel (CBSI) said a protest has been organized at the entrance of Biel – the venue of Buuren’s performance – on Friday at 9.30pm. Lebanese activists have targeted Buuren due to several concerts he performed in Israel. ”One cannot perform in Israel and say what’s going on does not concern me,” Idriss said.
Political Developments / Diplomacy
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas on Thursday denied an Israeli media report that the party’s leader ordered the group’s armed wing to cease attacks on Israel.  Citing senior Fatah sources, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported Thursday that Khalid Mashaal had instructed Hamas militants not to fire at Israel, after reconciliation talks with Fatah leader and President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Ma’an the report was “worthless” and did not merit a response. He said the article reflected Israel’s confusion in the face of Hamas’ success.
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas met with Hamas representatives in his Ramallah headquarters on Monday to discuss the latest regional developments. Abbas discussed the recent Cairo meetings and possible formation of a new national council to give all Palestinian factions a chance to participate in reconciliation.  The president expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of bilateral meetings between Fatah and Hamas on Dec. 18 and 19 in Cairo.

Congress frees $40 million in aid to Palestinians 
AP – Lawmakers have freed up a little more than 20 percent of $187 million in U.S. assistance to the Palestinians that had been frozen over the Palestinian bid for U.N. membership.

Other Middle East News

Egypt court adjourns Mubarak trial

Court proceedings to resume on January 2 in murder case against the deposed Egyptian president.

Alaa Abd El Fattah, Egyptian Blogger and Critic of Military Regime, Speaks Out After Months in Jail
Alaa Abd El Fattah, a prominent Egyptian revolutionary activist and blogger, has been released from prison after nearly two months behind bars. Fattah was ordered jailed by a military court on October 30 and summoned to face charges that included inciting violence—a charge he firmly denies. He refused to cooperate, rejecting the legitimacy of the military court who wanted to try him as a civilian. We speak to Fattah about the Egyptian revolution’s ongoing struggle against the military regime and his ordeal in one of Egypt’s worst prisons, which prevented him from attending the birth of his first son. Fattah’s trial comes just as Egypt’s ousted leader, Hosni Mubarak, returns to a Cairo courtroom today to face charges over the deaths of 840 protesters during the uprising against his rule. “What comes next might be even tougher and even more difficult,” Fattah says, “but I don’t think that this revolution is going to end without really completely renegotiating the order of power in Egypt and across the Arab world.”

Syria: Detainees Hidden From International Monitors
Syrian authorities have transferred perhaps hundreds of detainees to off-limits military sites to hide them from Arab League monitors now in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. The Arab League should insist on full access to all Syrian sites used for detention, consistent with its agreement with the Syrian government.


Controversy over Arab League mission to Syria 
Syrian activists have criticised the choice of Mustafa al-Dabi, a Sudanese general, to head the Arab League’s observer mission to Syria. Al-Dabi is a staunch loyalist of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide committed in Darfur. Al-Dabi was Sudan’s military intelligence chief, and was sent to Darfur to quell the unrest there. He is accused of creating the Arab militias known as the Janjaweed.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades have issued a statement denying their involvement in the twin suicide bombings in Damascus last Friday, pointing the finger at the Syrian regime. The statement is the eighth in an ongoing series that the Brigades have been releasing, entitled “Showing the Ways of the Criminals,” which is intended to “expose Hezbollah and its role in preventing al-Qaeda fighters from carrying out attacks against the Israeli occupation.”
Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdelkarim Ali, has called on the Lebanese government to take “decisive measures” to stop weapons from being smuggled across the border. The envoy also urged Lebanon not to “succumb to foreign pressures” regarding its stance towards the Syrian crisis, in an interview with Hezbollah’s al-Intiqad website. Lebanon is one of the few Arab states to not endorse Arab League efforts to isolate the Syrian regime.

Bahrain to try 8 in terror case next month
AP – Bahrain’s top prosecutor says the Gulf kingdom has wrapped up an investigation into an alleged Iranian-linked terror cell and plans to put the eight defendants on trial next month.


Air strike kills 30 in southeast Turkey: mayor
Reuters – Turkish warplanes killed 30 people in an air strike in southeastern Turkey near the Iraqi border overnight, apparently mistaking smugglers for Kurdish militants, a local official told Reuters on Thursday.

Tensions build as Iraqi leader accrues powers (AP)
AP – In the week since the last American troops left Iraq, Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered an arrest warrant for the country’s highest-ranking Sunni official, threatened to exclude the rival sect’s main political party from his government and warned that “rivers of blood” would flow if Sunnis seek an autonomous region.

The Obama administration is poised to announce the sale of nearly $30 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The deal will send 84 new fighter jets and upgrades for 70 more, for a total of $29.4 billion, according to the officials, who requested anonymity because the sale has not been made public. The agreement boosts the military strength of Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, at a time when the Obama administration is looking to counter Iranian threats in the region. Underscoring that effort was a fresh threat this week from Tehran, which warned that it could disrupt traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital Persian Gulf oil transport route, if Washington levies new sanctions targeting Iran’s crude oil exports.

Saudi Arabia frees seven Shia protesters: activists
Saudi Arabia released seven Shia protesters detained after pro-democracy protests in the oil-rich Eastern Province earlier this year, activists said. The group attended a “guidance session” by a Shia cleric before leaving prison, the same sources said. They were arrested during demonstrations supporting mass pro-democracy protests led by the Shia majority in neighboring Bahrain, and denouncing the intervention of Saudi troops there.

Analysis / Op-ed

Gingrich’s backer Adelson outdoes ‘invented people’ smear in address to ‘Birthright’ youth, Alex Kane

Kiera Feldman’s July 2011 investigative piece in the Nation on Birthright Israel exposed the program for what it is: a racist, settlement-promoting propaganda organization that is trying to raise the next generation of American Zionists. Sheldon Adelson’s recent comments to young Jews on a Birthright trip shine an unflattering light on the organization’s ethos.

Palestine: Those Who Inspired Us in 2011, Ramzy Baroud
Mustafa Tamimi was a 28-year-old resident of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. His meticulously trimmed beard served as the centerpiece of his handsome face.  In December 2009, when an Israeli soldier shot him from a short distance with a tear gas canister, half of Mustafa’s face went missing. More soldiers laughed as his horrified family tried to accompany him to a nearby hospital, according to activists present at the scene. Only the mother was finally able to obtain a special permit from the Israeli military, which allowed her to be with her son.


J Street Jeremy: Being Pro-Israel Never Talking about Palestinian Rights, Ira Glunts
On a dreary, rainy evening in late November my friend Pat Carmeli and I were driving to Syracuse to hear Jeremy Ben-Ami speak.  I smiled when Pat turned to me and said, ‘I’m going to ask him a question about human rights and the Palestinians.’ I responded enthusiastically: ‘All right! That should liven things up.’ I am not a big fan of Ben-Ami and went along mainly to see Pat and some Syracuse Israel/Palestine activists I knew would be there.  Yet from the moment Jeremy started to address us, I had the feeling this would be an interesting evening.  Jeremy Ben-Ami, the founder and president of J Street, the self-described “political home for pro-peace, pro-Israel Americans” came to town in order to convince about 100 mostly elderly Jewish suburbanites that Israel should pursue a negotiated two-state resolution with the Palestinians.  And also to help promote a new local chapter of his organization.  The event, which was held at the Jewish Community Center (JCC), was tightly secured by two burly armed uniformed city policemen who were working privately, as is the custom at most Jewish events in and around this medium-sized city in the center of New York State.  (I have previously written about my surprised reaction to the very visible police presence and a bit about Jeremy’s presentation here.)  


Remember These Children Mr. President, Clive Hambidge
Happy Christmas Mr President or may I call you Barack this Yule Tide? As you know ‘Christmas is the day that holds all time together’ (Alexander Smith) certainly as you rustle through your Christmas stocking and wrestle with your conscience perhaps to find as you dig deep in both and  past ‘hegemonic imperatives’ an  olive twig or a so-called ‘peace process’? Perhaps not. But as you dig, can you hear the whispers?  No. They are not the whispers from the Presidents of Christmas past, we will come to them; no? You are not listening attentively Mr President; that’s because you’ve been genuflecting on the Christmas message of that other great statesman Prime Minister Netanyahu, “we are living in a time of great uncertainty and instability in the Middle East and Israel, throughout this instability, remains a beacon of religious freedom and pluralism.” Wow. On what rock is Israel built and how Netanyahu bestrides it as America holds it, for “As the builders say, the larger stones do not lie well without the lesser” (Plato). And which is which?

Poor Bibi, he don’t get no respect.  Even his Mossad chief is bad-mouthing his cherished dogmas about Iran being an existential threat to Israel.  This week, the MFA hosts its annual confab for its ambassadors in which they hear off the record pep talks and briefings from the high and mighty in the political, military and intelligence hierarchy.  Among the speakers was Tamir Pardo, the Mossad director, who spoke candidly about Iran.
From cartoons depicting remotely controlled protesters to claims that traditional herb chewing “induces” homosexuality, coverage of dissent in the Saudi Kingdom is becoming increasingly untenable.



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I didn’t know that you could “rescind” a pardon.

Imagine a death penalty prisoner pardoned on the last day. Then a few months later: “Oh, by the way, the Governor called. Something about ‘rescinded.'”