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A flurry of attacks against Palestinian women, students and children

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
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Land / Property and Resource Theft / Ethnic Cleansing / Restriction of Movement
Israeli gov’t funds new settlement project 
Ramallah, May 29 (Petra) — Israel’s municipality of Jerusalem and the Ministry of Tourism will jointly earmark more than $4 million to fund a new settlement project in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Tuesday. According to the paper, the municipality had posted banners in Silwan to promote tourism in the so-called “City of David” settler outpost as part of the “National Park” tourism scheme undertaken by the pro-settlement Elad Organization to enhance Jewish presence in the predominently Arab neighbourhood south of al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The daily said the municipality’s financial committee last week decided to contribute half the funds while the tourism ministry would pay the rest. Jerusalem Deputy Mayor, Yosef ‘Pepe’ Alalu of the leftist Meretz Bloc, who opposed the project, was quoted as saying “the municipality and the ministry are engaged anew in maneuvers to transfer the funds to an organization seeking to tighten Jewish control of Silwan”.
Negev conference told settlement expansion will follow displacement of Arabs
MEMO 28 May — The Fifth Conference on the Development of the Negev and Galilee has been told that there are plans for 10 new settlements in the Negev Desert. This comes at a time when the Israeli government is moving towards the implementation of the Prawer Plan for uprooting and displacing the indigenous Arab people of the region … Minister Silvan Shalom told the conference that his ministry will continue to establish settlements with the aim of bringing 300,000 Jews to the Negev and housing them in existing and new units. He said that he will continue to work towards changing the Negev into an important economic centre and pointed to the large number of projects for construction, schools and educational and cultural centres in Jewish communities to encourage Jews to settle in the Negev.

VIDEO: ‘Increase’ in West Bank demolitions
There has been a big increase in the number of Palestinian homes in the West Bank which have been demolished by Israeli forces, according to figures released by the United Nations.

Jewish settlers set Palestinian farmland on fire
Palestinian locals in Qufin village, north of Tulkarem, have charged Jewish settlers with setting dozens of cultivated dunums on fire in the village.

Israeli Forces Demolish Gas Station, Shop North of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM, May 29, 2012 (WAFA) – Israeli bulldozers Tuesday demolished a gas station and a shop in Hizma, a town north of Jerusalem city, under the pretext of building without permit, according to local sources. They said that Israeli bulldozers, under a large military force protection, demolished the gas station and shop, claiming it was built in a prohibited area due to its close location of the Israeli military crossing. Israeli forces have previously demolished several gas stations and shops in the area under similar pretexts.

Israeli Forces Raze Land, Destroy Irrigation System in Hebron
HEBRON, May 29, 2012 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Tuesday razed about 30 dunums of agricultural land, destroyed and confiscated its irrigation systems in  al-Baqa’a, an  area east of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, according to a local farmer. Farmer Ata Jaber said that Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by Israeli forces and a taff from Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, destroyed about 30 dunums of land planted with vegetables, as well as the infrastructure of the irrigation system and confiscated its irrigation equipments. cartographer and settlement expert Abdul Hadi Hantash said the Israeli forces’ targeting of this area comes as part of the Israeli policy that aims to seize its land for the benefit of expanding a nearby settlement.

Israel Prevents Jerusalem Sheikh From Entering Al-Aqsa Mosque
The Israeli Authorities ordered Sheikh Ra’fat Sameeh Najeeb, 30, from Al-Wad area, in occupied East Jerusalem, from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque for four months.

Under Guise Of Tourism, Settler Group In Charge Of “National Park”
The Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism will be allocating 4 million Israeli Shekels for a “sound and light” project, in what Israel calls the “City of David National Park” in Silwan Palestinian town, in occupied East Jerusalem. The project is run entirely by the Elad Association, the largest supporter of settlement in occupied Jerusalem.

Tent of Nations: A Role Model for Self-Sustainability.
The Tent of Nations, situated outside of Bethlehem, has become a symbol of self-sufficiency and self-sustainability for Palestine as the Nassar family fights for the land it has owned for nearly a century.

Israel gas finds launch navy into troubled waters
TEL AVIV (Reuters) – When Israeli economists contemplate their country’s untapped natural gas finds far out in the Mediterranean, they dream of energy independence and lucrative export deals. Those charged with Israel’s defense, however, worry that the navy — small and long a middling priority in budgets — may be hard put to protect the multinational drilling platforms and rigs out at sea. “We will do our best, but without a major boost to our capabilities, our best will not be enough,” a senior military planner said in one of a series of Reuters interviews with Israeli decision-makers on the subject. That all spoke on condition of anonymity indicates concern that such doubts over security might scare off investors and, perhaps, even encourage sea-borne attacks by Hezbollah, the Lebanese movement hostile to Israel and to its exploration of gas fields also claimed by Beirut.
Siege of Gaza
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — A U.N. official responsible for Palestinian refugees says Israel has been too slow to relax its blockade of Gaza, which has obliterated the isolated economy while failing to achieve its security goals. U.N. official Filippo Grandi told The Associated Press in Australia that he is unhappy that exports of manufactured goods from Gaza to Israel and the West Bank continue to be banned almost five years after the blockade began. Grandi said Tuesday: “The economy of Gaza has been completely obliterated.” Israel and Egypt closed their crossings with Gaza to all but humanitarian aid after the Islamic militant group Hamas violently seized power in the coastal strip in June 2007, exacerbating the poverty among the 1.4 million residents.

Two workers injured in tunnel fall including one seriously
Two Palestinian workers fell in a tunnel while working inside it in Rafah, to the southernmost tip of the Gaza Strip, on Saturday.

Fuel Crisis Impacts Water and Sanitation Services in Gaza
The current fuel crisis in Gaza, now in its fifth month, is causing extended power outages that severely disrupt the lives, health and livelihood of the region’s 1.6 million residents. It also severely affects the fuel-dependent fishing industry, already crippled by restricted access to Gaza’s fishing waters imposed by Israel’s blockade.

Youth Activists Voice Opposition to UN Agencies in Gaza
Ma’an news has reported on Monday that, pending a meeting to resolve the issue, youth activists in the Gaza Strip have suspended their demonstrations against the UN International Childrens Emergency Fund (UNICEF) which reportedly placed contracts with Israeli companies for reconstruction projects in Gaza.

UNICEF insists on dealing with Israeli companies for its projects in Gaza
UNICEF official Jane Koch insisted on accepting the tenders for projects offered by Israeli companies and threatened not to carry out these projects if thy were boycotted by contractors.

Israeli Violence and Aggression
Witnesses: Israeli forces enter southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces entered the southern Gaza Strip early Tuesday morning and razed land, witnesses said. Israeli army bulldozers entered 200 meters into the enclave in the al-Qarara area and turned over land, locals told Ma’an. The Israeli army makes frequent incursions to the area. An Israeli military spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment

Witnesses: Israeli soldiers attack students near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A group of Israeli soldiers on Tuesday attacked schoolchildren in Beit Jala near Bethlehem, witnesses said. Israeli soldiers stepped out of a military jeep to question children leaving al-Amal school and then verbally and physically assaulted the students, onlookers said. Soldiers then took two students to the Israeli District Coordination Offices on the outskirts of Beit Jala, witnesses said. An Israeli military spokesman told Ma’an he was not familiar with any clashes in the area.

IOF attack worshipers inside Mosque in Beit Ummar
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) attacked at dawn the grand Mosque of Beit Ummar north of Al-Khalil city with smoke and tear gas grenades as many Palestinian worshipers were inside.

Attacked By Israeli Fundamentalist In Tel Aviv, Six Female Arab Students Injured
Six teenage Arab students of the at-Tur School in Jerusalem were injured, on Thursday, at the Menachem Begin Public Park in the Yarkon area of Tel Aviv, after being attacked by extremist Israelis who hit them with sticks and hurled stones at them.

Extremist youth gang attacks women and children in Jerusalem
A group of right-wing Israeli extremists attacked a group of Palestinian women and their children in  Al-Shuraf quarter at  Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday 27 May. Eim al-Rahman al-Dadu stated that she and her group of nine people, including her 60-year old sister, her 2 sons (aged 15 and one and a half) and friends, had lost their way in Al-Shuraf whilst on their way from Al-Aqsa Mosque  to Bell Garden in  Jerusalem . When al-Rahman’s family approached a group of Israeli teenagers to ask directions the youth, numbering a dozen, attacked them verbally and physically, spraying one of the children, Abed al-Rahman, in the eyes with pepper spray. Al-Rahman stated that: “we don’t know what triggered this gang’s racist attack on us. Thank God nobody was seriously injured.” The father of the children has informed the police and is pressing charges against the attackers but Police did not act to arrest any one.

Jewish settlers beat up Jerusalemite child
A group of Jewish settlers assaulted a Jerusalemite child when he was passing near a settlement outpost to the entrance of Wadi Hilwe suburb in occupied Jerusalem.

Palestinian Citizen Wounded by Settler
PNN has reported Israeli sources as announcing that a resident of the Palestinian village of Urif near Nablus had been seriously wounded during a confrontation with Israeli settlers. 
Settlers attack mosque imam, IOF arrest a boy
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 27 May — A number of Jewish settlers attacked on Saturday the imam of Ain Silwan mosque in Silwan town in Jerusalem after storming the neighboring area. Jerusalemite sources stated that the settlers attacked the seventy-year-old imam of Ain Silwan mosque, Adam Samreen, under the pretext of enabling tourists to enter the place. Meanwhile, the Zionist settlers raided the neighboring area, and attacked the guard causing him injuries. 

Settlers assault Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 28 May — A group of extremist settlers Monday assaulted a Palestinian youth in Wadi Hilweh area in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, according to witnesses. They said confrontations erupted between Wadi Hilweh residents and the settlers as the residents tried to help the boy … 
Meanwhile, Israeli police arrested four Palestinians after raiding a number of houses in Silwan. They were transferred to the Russian compound for interrogation.

Soldiers Invade Bil’in, Break Into Home Of Local Peace Activist
Late on Sunday night Israeli soldiers invaded the village of Bil’in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and attempted to kidnap a local peace activist, one of the organizers of nonviolent peaceful protests against the illegal Israeli Annexation Wall and settlements in the area.


Soldiers Invade Village Near Qalqilia
Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday evening, Kufr Qaddoum village, near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and kidnapped a Palestinian security officer; clashes were reported between local residents and the invading Israeli soldiers.

IOF soldiers hoist Israeli flag inside the Aqsa mosque
A group of Israeli occupation soldiers hoisted a three-meter long Israeli flag inside the holy Aqsa mosque on Monday and took photos with it as background.

Al-Aqsa Foundation Slams Provocative Settler Tour
The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage, in occupied East Jerusalem, stated that dozens of Israeli settlers and soldiers conducted a provocative tour in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, raising Israeli flags, and preventing local worshipers from access the site.
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinians must respond to settler attacks by reactivating popular watch groups, a leader from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said Sunday. Qais Abed al-Karim stressed the importance of forming popular watch committees to protect Palestinians and their property from increasing settler violence.  He also called on the international community to protect Palestinian civilians from settler violence. 
Detainees / Hunger Strike / Prisoner News
IOF kidnap 10 Palestinians in W. Bank raids
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Tuesday kidnapped 10 Palestinians in the occupied territories of Jerusalem, Jenin, Qalqiliya and Bethlehem.
Lawyer: Al-Sarsak frequently losing consciousness
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — After 72 days on hunger strike, prisoner Mahmoud al-Sarsak is frequently losing consciousness and has difficulty standing, a lawyer said Tuesday. Fadi Ubeidat, who visited al-Sarsak in Israel’s Ramle prison hospital, said the detainee was emaciated with low blood sugar levels, the PA Ministry of Detainee Affairs said in a statement. Al-Sarsak told the lawyer he had been put in solitary confinement and urged the Palestinian Authority and Egyptian mediators to intervene. A soccer player in Palestine’s national team, al-Sarsak has been detained without charge for almost two years and is on hunger strike to demand his release. He was detained by Israeli forces while leaving the Gaza Strip in June 2009 on his way to join his team in the West Bank. He is detained him under the “unlawful combatant law,” which allows Israel to imprison suspects without presenting any charges and without a trial. Al-Sarsak has still not been told why he is in jail.

Qassam fighter Abdullah Aker starts hunger strike in PA jail
Palestinian prisoner Abdullah Al-Aker, a fighter from Al-Qassam Brigades, went on open hunger strike on Sunday to protest his detention without guilt in a Palestinian authority jail.

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) –Jailed leftist leader Ahmad Saadat on Monday said the mass prisoner hunger strike had restored unity among detainees. Around 2,000 prisoners ended a month-long hunger strike on May 15 after Israeli authorities agreed to their demands, which included the release of detainees from solitary confinement. Saadat, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was released from solitary confinement after spending three years in isolation in Shatta prison.

HRW: Tamimi conviction violates right of free assembly
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli military court’s conviction of Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi of leading illegal demonstrations violates his right to freedom of assembly, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. His conviction, on May 20, of urging children to throw stones on the basis of a child’s statement also raises serious concerns about the fairness of his trial, the New York-based group said. “The Israeli military authorities seem to have known it would be hard to justify convicting an activist for only leading peaceful protests, so they apparently used oppressive methods to produce evidence that he also encouraged children to throw stones,” said Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Mideast director.

Bassem Tamimi to Receive Sentence from Military Court, on Tuesday
PNN has reported on Monday that the Ofer Military Court will deliver its sentence in the case of non-violent activist Bassem Tamimi on Tuesday, May 29.

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israel’s high court on Sunday rejected an appeal to end the administrative detention of Palestinian MP Hussam Khader, his lawyer said. Khader has been detained without charge or trial since June 2011. He was due to be released on June 1 but an Israeli military commander extended his detention by six months.

Palestinian prisoners reject Israeli proposal on family visits
Palestinian detainees from Gaza on Tuesday rejected an Israeli proposal to allow them just one half-hour family visit every two months. The proposal came as a result of the Egypt-brokered deal between prisoners and Israeli authorities, which ended the month-long hunger strike of more than 2,000 Palestinian detainees. Detainees from Gaza have demanded visits from their families be restarted after Israel banned them in 2007.

RAMALLAH, May 28, 2012 (WAFA) – The Israeli Prison Service punished a prisoner for refusing to wear prison uniform by transferring him to a cell in Shatta prison in central Israel, the Palestinian Prisoner Club (PPC) said Monday. A spokeswoman for the PPC told WAFA that the Gilboa prison administration transferred Kifah Hattab to Shatta for refusing to wear the prison uniform or stand up for headcount. She said Hattab, a former pilot and director of the civil defense department in Tulkarm, was transferred to Shatta prison as a punitive measure where he will be kept in a cell, describing his new situation as sort of solitary confinement compared to Gilboa where prisoners share big rooms.

Hamas: Political detention in West Bank still rampant
Hamas movement issued a statement in the West Bank charging that Palestinian Authority’s security agencies did not stop their arrest campaigns in lines of Hamas supporters.

A mother sends ‘a message to the whole world’ about the Palestinian will, Annie Robbins
This is a story of an amazing bittersweet twist of fate, of a  mother’s love for her son and how she stepped in to save his dreams in a system designed to crush Palestinians. On May 23, Israeli forces stormed the dormitory of An-Najah University in Nablus. They arrested Nidal Izziden Fattash, a graduate student, hours before he was due to present his master’s thesis to the university committee. He had just completed his project at 2 am.

Palestinian “prisoner of conscience” freed despite sentence
A Palestinian activist walked free of an Israeli courtroom on Tuesday, despite being sentenced for organizing opposition to illegal Jewish settlements. The Israeli military court accused Bassam al-Tamimi of inciting rock-throwing at Israeli soldiers and sentenced him for 13 months in jail. However Al-Tamimi had spent that period of time in jail while awaiting his trial, and was therefore released immediately after the verdict. The 45-year-old activist led marches in the village of Nabi Saleh to protest the seizing of a nearby well by extremist Jewish settlers.

Silwan welcomes home released prisoner Imad al-Abassi
The people of Silwan welcomed home released Palestinian prisoner Imad al-Abassi this week, with a host of activities taking place within Silwan and around the country. Al-Abassi has just served a 10-year sentence in multiple Israeli prisons after being charged on 2002 with firing a gun at an Israeli police station in Jerusalem and at an Israeli settlement in Ein Silwan which was a police station, later came under control of Israeli settlement organization Elad as part of a deal. Al-Abassi was welcomed by the people of Silwan in a series of ceremonies: on Mukabber Mount, at the entrance to Ein Aluza , and near his family home. The final ceremony was marred by a settler security guard attempting to disrupt the celebration by driving their Jeep through the proceedings. Young men threw stones at the Jeep, breaking the windowpane and fixing a Fatah flag to the car. The settler guard remains uncharged by police for his actions, despite the fact that Palestinian committing a similar crime would have received the maximum penalties.

Lajee Tour from Palestine to Scotland: Aida Refugee Camp a Culture of Resistance
Join us at the Scottish Youth Theatre as Glasgow hosts the Lajee Centre tour who will bring 12 Palestinian youth from Aida Refugee camp to Scotland and the rest of the UK.
The event in Glasgow will showcase a photography exhibition throughout the day displaying work created by the young artists from the Lajee Centre in Bethlehem.

I am a Palestinian and I Refuse to be Silent
Below is an excerpt from the second trip report of the Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) delegation to Palestine/Israel. My participation in the May 2012 delegation was blocked by Israeli officials at the airport who deemed me “a security risk.” After an eight-hour wait with several interrogations, I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea that a Quaker mother of two had the ability to be a risk to one of the most powerful countries in the world.

Anti-Palestinian / Pro-Apartheid

Dublin’s newspapers declare open season on Palestine solidarity campaign
Two Irish newspapers have published misinformed rants attacking the Palestine solidarity movement this weekend.


WATCH: Protestors forcefully removed from London performance of Israel’s Habima theatre, Ali Abunimah
Protestors unfurling banners and Palestinian flags were forcefully removed from a performance of Israel’s Habima theatre in London.

London theater promises “enhanced security” for Israel, as activists set to disrupt Habima tonight, Asa Winstanley
Bag and body searches to be undertaken on visitors to the prestigious Globe theater as Israeli drama group performs Shakespeare.


Madonna Brings Peace to the Middle East with Additional Concert Dubbed “Dirty Laundry”, Tali Shapiro
A surprise peak of Madonna concert ticket sales comes from a small territory in the Middle East known as “The Dictatorship Formerly Known as Palestine”. A war-torn land, which’s people have obviously suffered enough. 

Eric Alterman has published an anti-BDS argument in a Nation forum on the question. Addressing BDS proponent Omar Barghouti, Alterman calls for incremental political progress that will engage Israelis and American Jews– and likens Barghouti’s call for the right of return to Ahmadinejad’s threats to Israel…

Racism and Discrimination

Obama campaign releases blatantly anti-Arab video ad, Ali Abunimah
US President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has just released a blatantly anti-Arab video ad on its official YouTube channel.

No prosecution for Rabbis approving of the killing of civilians
Jeremy Sharon – After years of deliberations, Attorney Genral Weinbstein decided not to proseucte rabbis who published the highly controversial book “Torat Hamelech” (literally, “The King`s Teachings” , “The King” being God.). The book sets out specific situations where, under Jewish religious law as the writers understand it, it it “permissable” and even “praiseworthy” and “pleasing to God” to kill unarmed civilians. Various Human Rights groups regard this as plain incitement to murder. However, the Attorney General ruled there was no clear evidence that the rabbis who published the book actually intended anybody to actually act accordly, and that it might have been meant it as a theoretcial exercise.

Yet for the four years he applied to all five of Israel’s medical schools, Hijazi was repeatedly rejected. Officials told him he kept failing the pre-admission personality interview, but the 25-year-old Arab Israeli suspects another reason: He believes that recent changes in the enrollment process are designed to discourage non-Jewish applicants.  ”And it works,” said Hijazi, 25, who is now pursuing a medical degree in Poland.  High enrollment in medical schools has long been a rare success story for Israel’s 1.6 million Arab Israelis, who complain of discrimination by the government in many spheres of their lives.  Nationwide, an estimated 19% of medical school students are Arab, according to a 2009 parliamentary study. The ratio is in line with Israel’s Arab population, which is about 20%, and is impressive considering Arabs account for just 9% of the total number of university students and about 6% of government employees.  Arab activists say the rising number of Arabs in medical schools over the last two decades has alarmed Israeli officials and led to an effort to restrict enrollment.,0,1686735.story

I’m a “lucky” Palestinian: instead of being jailed, I’m subjected to racial profiling, Yara Hawari
A Palestinian with Israeli citizenship says she is always subjected to racial profiling and humiliating “security checks” at the Tel Aviv airport.
Clip shows man exiting his car, attacking migrant with raw egg while being cheered on by friend.

Regev apologizes to cancer victims for comparing them to Sudanese refugees: Israeli MK: I didn’t mean to shame Holocaust by calling African migrants a ‘cancer’
…However, speaking to Israeli media outlets over the weekend and on Sunday, Regev chose to apologize for calling the Sudanese a cancer, opting however, to direct her apology to Holocaust survivors and cancer patients. When I compared the migrant worker phenomenon to cancer I was referring to the way the phenomenon had spread, and not anything else. If anyone took it otherwise and was consequently offended, I apologize and I surely did not intend to hurt either Holocaust survivors or cancer patients,” she said.

Couple detained while touring Old City of Jerusalem because Palestinian’s one-day permit cited Makassed Hospital as his destination.
It appears not everyone “liked” Mark Zuckerberg’s surprise announcement last weekend.Following Zuckerberg’s marriage to his longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan on Saturday, the 28-year-old Facebook founder and CEO received a letter from Benzi Gopstein, head of the Lehava Organization for the Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land that criticized his intermarriage, according to Israel National News.Gopstein, who refers to Zuckerberg in the letter by his Hebrew name, Mordechai, writes that he didn’t “like” Zuckerberg’s wedding announcement on Facebook unlike the over 1.5 million others that did.” 
The “race riots” in Tel Aviv last week — a mass demonstration that turned into a pogrom against about 60,000 asylum seekers, an overwhelming majority of them from Eritrea, the rest mostly from Sudan (Darfur and South Sudan) and a few other African countries — gives a revealing glimpse into Israeli realities under the current fascist government.

Israelis must shun racism, not African migrants

I am as afraid to live in the Israel of 2012 as any right-minded German should have been in 1938, or as any right-minded American should have been in the 1960s.

Other News and Developments
UN envoy warns of ‘one-state reality’
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The United Nations envoy for the Middle East peace process warned a session of the UN Security Council on Tuesday of the continuing diplomatic impasse between Israel and the PLO. Robert Serry told the council “if the parties do not grasp the current opportunity, they should realize the implication is not merely slowing progress toward a two-state solution. “Instead, we could be moving down the path toward a one-state reality, which would also move us further away from regional peace in the spirit of the Arab Peace Initiative”.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas began talks to form a unity government on Monday in a renewed bid to heal political rifts, paving the way for a general election. Hamas runs the Gaza Strip – cut off from the West Bank by Israeli territory – as a separate entity, ignoring policies set by Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The split has divided the Palestinians politically as well as geographically.
PA’s W. Bank General Intelligence Service wants to use Global Network for Rights, Development as a front to affect int’l policy.  The Palestinian Authority has plans to use an international human rights organization as a front for intelligence gathering and discrediting Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, according to documents leaked to a number of Palestinian news websites over the weekend.

Though Israel has refrained from issuing an official response to indictments, sources within the foreign ministry say move reflects tailspin in relations between Ankara and Jerusalem.
Analyses / Op-ed
Gaza residents are captivated by Egypt’s presidential race, wondering what the result will mean for them, writes Saleh Al-Naami, Although she is studying for her final exams in her freshman year in college, Israa is intently monitoring the presidential race in Egypt on Egyptian satellite stations and enthusiastically supports Mohamed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party candidate. Israa, who lives in Berket Al-Wez in central Gaza, quickly influenced her sisters, brothers and mother to also become enthusiastic Mursi fans. Her father, however, prefers Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh. Discussions and debates on the matter take up a lot of the family’s time. Israa believes that a win for Mursi would be poetic justice for a group that has been suppressed by successive regimes in Egypt and banned from political life. The Brotherhood must be given a chance to put its programme to the test if that is the choice of the Egyptian people, she argues.
The official results of the first round of the historic Egyptian presidential elections, the first ever in Mother Egypt where the results were not known in advance, present an encouraging snapshot of “new democratic Egypt” given that the choice of  close to 50 per cent of Egypt’s approximately 50 million eligible voters, some standing in line to vote in scorching heat for hours, will not be officially announced until late May.
In the end, whether Israel’s penchant for serial atrocities encounters an effective obstacle will hinge on two types of resistance, elicited not from the fictitious “international community”, but from the active opponents of Israel’s ongoing projects, and from the withdrawal of moral and financial support for the ongoing reproduction of Israel as an apartheid Zionist State.

When the next intifada breaks out, Netanyahu will have only himself to blame, Akiva Eldar
Fatah and Hamas will soon set a date for new Palestinian elections, but negotiations for a final settlement with Israel continue to recede into the distance.

US President Barack Obama refused to rule out further invasions in the Middle East as he spoke to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on Monday. Obama said sending troops into battle was the “most wrenching decision” a president could ever make but refused to specifically rule out attacks on Iran and Syria, saying the country would attack if “necessary.” The majority of US troops left Iraq last year after a decade-long occupation that destroyed the country, while thousands remain in Afghanistan despite opposition.

Trojan Horse at the Gate?: Political Islamists & Democratization in the Aftermath of the Arab Spring
Democratic regimes mushroomed under the “third wave”[i] of democratization, as authoritarian regimes were increasingly abandoned for the institutionalization and consolidation of democratic procedures, processes, and structures.[ii] Notably absent from this third wave, however, has been the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).  In the limited cases where democracy has seeped through MENA regimes, the overwhelming result has been a restricted form of democracy for which democratic principles concerning human rights, contestation, and freedom of speech hold tenuously.

Human Development & Public Engagement: Making Transitional Justice Work for the Arab Spring
In the last year, the Middle East and North Africa have witnessed the toppling of long-standing regimes and the ouster of once untouchable dictators. In the midst of these events, many regional countries have been confronted by issues of transitional justice, in the form of criminal trials for government officials, past and present, accused of crimes allegedly committed prior to and during the popular uprisings. How these countries handle these transitional justice issues will profoundly impact the lasting success of these revolutions, the future of these states, and the prospects for democracy in the region.

The West is horrified by children’s slaughter now. Soon we’ll forget, Robert Fisk
Bashar al-Assad will get away with it. He got away with Deraa. He got away with Homs. And he’ll get away with Houla. So will the armed opposition to the regime, along with al-Qa’ida and any other outfits joining in Syria’s tragedy. Yes, this may be the critical moment, the “tipping point” of horror, when Baathist collapse becomes inevitable rather than probable. And dear Mr Hague may be “absolutely” appalled. The UN, too. We all are.

The going price of getting away with murder… would $33m be enough?,Robert Fisk
La Clinton hath spoken. Thirty-three million smackers lopped off Pakistan’s aid budget because its spooks banged up poor old Dr Shakeel Afridi for 33 years after a secret trial. And, as the world knows, Dr Afridi’s crime was to confirm the presence of that old has-been Osama bin Laden in his grotty Abbottabad villa.

A leading Bahraini opposition figure, who has been on hunger strike for over 100 days, has said he will end his protest tonight, his daughter confirmed to Al-Akhbar. Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, is facing a life sentence on charges of seeking to overthrow Bahrain’s autocratic rulers. Abdulhadi led mass pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in 2011, and was arrested as part of a fierce crackdown by authorities to crush dissent to the Al-Khalifa family’s authoritarian rule.

Bahrain activist Rajab released on bail
Nabeel Rajab, still faces travel ban and criminal charges for “inciting” protests and “defaming” security forces.

Bahraini activist AngryArabiya to be released
Jailed Bahraini activist Zainab al-Khawaja is due to be released today after a month in jail, her sister has confirmed. Zainab, known for her writing under the Twitter pseudonym AngryArabiya, was arrested last month and charged with a number of offenses, including assaulting a police officer. She denied the charges, which she said were politically motivated, and refused to accept the legitimacy of the country’s courts. Her sister Maryam, herself a human rights activist, said they had been told she would be released but was still awaiting news.

Bahraini activists convicted over ‘Iran plot’
Six activists given up to 15 years in prison for allegedly working with Iran to topple government, charges they deny.

Egypt protesters storm Shafiq’s Cairo office
Thousands gather in Tahrir Square after official election runoff results announced, exposing poll’s polarising impact.


Ahmed Shafik Counting on Egyptian Elites’ Fears
The expected runoff between Ahmed Shafik, a Mubarak associate, and Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, is a rematch of an old struggle between secular authoritarians and Islamists.

Egypt Islamist candidate reassures women, Copts
The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate in next month’s runoff vote for Egypt’s president says he will ensure the full rights of Christians and women if he is elected.

Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi said he will not accept a vice presidential position under the Muslim Brotherhood in a raucous press conference Saturday evening. “I won’t accept a position or a title,” he told crowds of screaming supporters. “I won’t compromise.” He also pledged that he will expose all violations in the elections process, and thanked all voters who cast ballots for “candidates of the revolution.” ”Even if the results of the appeals we have made are not what we expect them to be, that does not mean that Egypt did not choose a future, and choose justice,” he said. “We wait for the final results, and we hope for victory.”
Amr Moussa’s campaign has called for investigations into voting fraud, after reports emerged of police officers issuing fake identification cards, which security force members used to vote under false identities. In a statement Saturday, Moussa’s campaign said that over 900,000 national cards were issued.* Hamdeen Sabbahi is also filing a lawsuit calling for the suspension of Egypt’s presidential election because of alleged voting irregularities and a pending case over the right of former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq to stand, Sabbahi’s lawyer said Saturday.

Egypt’s Moussa offers no endorsement for runoff
CAIRO — Egypt’s former foreign minister Amr Moussa on Monday declined to endorse either of the presumed candidates in a presidential election runoff, rejecting both a religious state and a “return to the old regime.” Moussa spoke as unofficial figures showed that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsy was set for a second round runoff against Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under ousted president Hosni Mubarak. Both candidates have already called on their former rivals, including Moussa, to join with them, but the former foreign minister — who appeared to have come fifth in the first round vote — declined to endorse either. A “return to the old regime is unacceptable. So is exploiting religion in politics,” he told a press conference.
The deputy head of Jama’a al-Islamiya’s Development and Construction Party, Hassan Hamdy, called Saturday on Islamic movements to apologize to Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh for betraying him in the presidential election. The former Muslim Brotherhood member came fourth in the first round of the election, held Wednesday and Thursday, meaning he will not make it to next month’s run-off. ”Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh was subject to a fatal betrayal by Islamic movements that announced they backed him and then voted in favor of another candidate,” he said. 
In a high-profile strategic meeting called by Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy, longtime Mubarak-opposition leader Ayman Nour said he would only back Morsy in a runoff if the Brotherhood leader denounced the religious organization and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party. Nour also said, in order for Morsy to get his support, he would have to form a constitutional committee “worthy of all Egyptians,” and form a presidential committee and a coalition government where each minister has three deputies.  Also present was Abul Ela al-Mady, president of the Wasat party. In the meeting, he said he hoped the powers could find a road map to save the revolution through concessions from the Freedom and Justice Party.

Report From Cairo: Protests Erupt in Egypt As Mubarak’s Ex-PM Secures Spot in Presidential Runoff
Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from Egypt where protests erupted last night after final results were announced in the country’s first-ever competitive presidential election. The top two candidates in the first round of the race are Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister under Hosni Mubarak — who was ousted in a popular uprising 15 months ago. “[Shafik] speaks the language of Mubarak’s regime and what that means is the retention of broad discretionary powers given to the executive and given to security forces, a very strong role for Security Agency involvement whether the intelligence services or Ministry of Interior Security agencies to ensure stability and control over protests, which as far as he is concerned, are the source of instability,” says Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch. Morsi and Shafik will face each other in a runoff vote set to begin June 16. Special thanks to Democracy Now! video producer Hany Massoud.

The following is a statement issued by Egypt’s Revolutionary Socialist Movement regarding pro-regime candidate Ahmed Shafiq’s strong showing in the first round of voting held in Egypt’s presidential elections. The Revolutionary Socialists Movement confirms its opposition on principle to the candidate of the Military Council, the dissolved National Democratic Party and the forces of the counter-revolution, Ahmad Shafiq. Shafiq has managed to reach the second round of the presidential elections to face the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, Dr Mohammed Morsi.
A Cairo criminal court on Sunday sentenced ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s former chief of staff to seven years in jail on corruption charges, a judicial source said. Zakaria Azmi was also ordered to pay a fine of 38 million Egyptian pounds (around $6.2 million), the source said. Azmi was jailed last year and put on trial in October, charged with illegal acquisition of funds. An aide to Mubarak since 1989, Azmi was considered an influential figure in the presidency and in the now-dissolved National Democratic Party.

Iranian official denies organization of Shia rituals in Egypt
Iran is not connected to Shia groups in Egypt that recently held Husseiniat, rituals performed in memory of the death of Prophet Mohamed’s grandson Hussein, an Iranian official has said, according to German news agency DPA. Mohamed Mahdi Taskhiri, secretary general of the World Assembly for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, said such practices harm the possibility of dialogue and Islamic unity, and hence are irresponsible. He described them as individual practices. Anti-Shia rhetoric is prevalent in Egypt, especially among Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi movement, which are predominately Sunni. 

The aesthetic and political significance of the murals and the graffiti of Mohammed Mahmud Street continue to draw much attention through to their mesmerizing beauty and their crucial significance for the visual and artistic narration of the revolution. It is not only the murals’ aesthetic appeal that has captured the imagination of many observers, but also how they exemplify a fascinating fusion between a variety of cultural artistic traditions that portray Egypt’s rich history, namely Pharaonic, popular Islamic, and contemporary traditions. They all reinvent, adapt to and adopt universal schools of painting, adding a fascinating “Egyptian twist” to express—sometimes humorously—the spirit of rebellion and resistance. 

‘We Egyptians,’ No More?, Abdelrahman Rashdan
Consider this a very opinionated piece and let me talk in the ‘I’ figure of speech because the presidential elections proved that not all Egyptians believe in what I believe in. ‘I’ because I am against Mubarak’s tyranny and authoritarianism; ‘I’ because I supported and still support the revolution; ‘I’ because I do not accept, by any means, my freedom to be stolen away from me again; and ‘I’ because I am a proud Egyptian who believes in the glory of the Egyptian revolution and who believes that Egypt can present the best model for a free, democratic and virtuous state to the whole world. A state that does not allow running blindly after its interests to supersede its values, a state that pushes its best people to rule and not its most sneaky sweet talking politicians to take control.

The Pentagon has a plan ready for military action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but the United States and its allies remain focused on reaching a diplomatic solution, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Netanyahu deputy hints at Israeli involvement in Iran cyber attack
In Israel’s first official comment on Flame worm, which was revealed on Monday to have infected computers in Iran and various Arab countries, Vice PM Ya’alon says such steps ‘reasonable’ in face of Iranian threat.

Iran devises new technique for avoiding sanctions

The governor of Iran’s central bank has designed a system to avoid US and European Union sanctions on conducting international transactions with the country, he announced on Saturday. Mahmoud Bahmani told state media the new system, which has already been activated, would replace the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) – the common way for transferring money. SWIFT announced in March that they would stop offering services to Iranian banks as they are due to be hit by the fresh sanctions. Under the EU new rules, due to come into force next month, member countries are forbidden from importing Iranian oil or dealing with the central bank.

Iran to West: drop sanctions threat
Iran’s foreign ministry on Tuesday warned Western countries that pressuring Iran with sanctions while continuing nuclear talks would jeopardize chances of reaching an agreement, Iranian media reported. “This approach of pressure (from sanctions) concurrent with negotiations…will never work. These (Western) countries should not enter negotiations with such illusions and misinterpretations,” foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said during a news conference broadcast by state network Press TV.

Iran delays launch of observation satellite
Iran announced on Tuesday it has delayed the launch of an experimental observation satellite that was supposed to have happened a week ago, saying it would now take place sometime within the next 10 months. The country’s space agency chief, Hamid Fazeli, announced the new window for launch to the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). He gave no explanation for the delay. The head of Iran’s aerospatial industries, Mehdi Farahi, had told IRNA on May 14 that the Fajr satellite would be launched on May 23.

Iran relaunches Russian-made submarine
Iran’s state TV is reporting the country’s navy relaunched one of its Russian-made submarines after repairing its systems with locally-made replacement parts.

Iran chides Saudi for increasing oil output
Tehran’s OPEC representative on Tuesday hit out at fellow cartel member Saudi Arabia for pumping extra oil into the market as Iran’s crude exports were targeted by Western sanctions. “Increasing production by some OPEC members, especially Saudi Arabia, will create instability in the market and will likely lead to a serious decline in oil prices which undermines OPEC’s goals,” Mohammad Ali Khatibi was quoted as saying on the oil ministry’s news website SHANA.

The Iranians assess that the Obama Administration has an interest in keeping the negotiations going at least through the U.S. presidential election in November.  As Flynt points out, they have been using the talks as a way of probing Western seriousness about a potential deal. We anticipate that Tehran will continue using the talks for this purpose for some time; at this point, neither side is taking an approach that, in the near term, is likely to prompt a complete breakdown.  There will be another round of discussions in Moscow next month, and it is easy to imagine further meetings through the summer and into the early fall.  But the talks are not going to produce anything of strategic significance unless the United States substantially alters its approach…

Nuclear talks with Iran highlight the downside of America’s ongoing quest for Middle East hegemony
Last week, Flynt appeared on Antiwar Radio to talk about the P5+1 nuclear talks with the Islamic Republic; it can be heard here.  As in previous interviews, see here [link to previous post], Flynt emphasized that President Obama and his foreign policy team seem no more prepared to deal with the major issues that must be addressed to enable a meaningful agreement—accepting internationally safeguarded enrichment in Iran and recognizing that a negotiated solution will necessarily entail significant sanctions relief—than it was during its previous attempt at nuclear diplomacy during 2009-2010.  And as long as this is the case, there is little chance of “success” in the negotiations.   


Iraqi security forces were on high alert for several hours until Sunday morning following clashes between the Syrian army and rebel forces near the border, officers said. From 11:00 pm (2000 GMT) on Saturday until Sunday morning, Iraqi forces were on their highest level of alert in the area surrounding the village of Albu Kamal, on the Iraq-Syria border. “Our forces stepped up security after clashes broke out and explosions were heard on the Syrian side of the border,” border guards Captain Ali Juwair said. “The warning means we have to be on full alert, and we have to stay in our positions unless advised to do otherwise.” Juwair said the clashes were between Syrian government troops and the rebel Free Syrian Army at several checkpoints in Albu Kamal. He said later that the alert level was lowered on Sunday morning, but did not specify a time. An Iraqi army liaison officer charged with handling communications between the border guards and the army said that the clashes broke out at around 11:00 pm on Saturday, at which point Iraq’s forces were put on alert.
A top Kurdish politician warned on Monday of Baghdad’s continued desire for “ethnic cleansing,” the latest in a series of attacks by Kurdish leaders on premier Nouri al-Maliki’s leadership. The remarks from Kurdistan region prime minister Nechirvan Barzani, nephew of the autonomous region’s president Massoud Barzani, come amid increasingly fractured ties between the Baghdad central government and the Kurdish region.
Jordan has raised the price of gasoline and electricity for major mining firms, hotels and banks, officials have confirmed, sparking fears of further street protests in the autocratic nation. The move, announced by the cabinet, takes effect on Sunday and is the first major rise in retail gasoline prices since street protests early last year inspired by the wave of Arab unrest pushed the authorities to expand social spending and freeze fuel price hikes, including gasoline.

Massive military drills held in Jordan 
More than 12,000 troops from 19 nations are taking part in a massive military exercise in Jordan. Publically, Jordanian officials say the drills are unrelated to the conflict in neighbouring Syria. But observers nevertheless believe some of the exercises, including how to deal with a flow of refugees, are held at this time for a reason. The drills also focused on border security, counter-terrorism operations, and attacks involving chemical, biological and radiation weaponry. Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from southern Jordan, near the border with Saudi Arabia.

BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s chief official in south Lebanon Sheikh Nabil Qaouk said that the resistance party has never fought and will never fight in Syria, and that its job is to protect Lebanon, the National News Agency reported Sunday. Qaouk’s comments came during a festival in the Nabatiyeh town of Nmeirieh, south Lebanon, honoring the resistance The Hezbollah official said: “The forces of evil insist on dragging Lebanon into the fire raging in Syria…” He added that his party backs the majority of Syrians, who want reform in their country and also support the resistance in Lebanon. Qaouk emphasized that his party has never fielded fighters in Syria and has no intention to do so now, given that “Hezbollah is here to protect Lebanon from descending into the Syrian quagmire.”

Lebanese hostages in Syria could ignite tensions
The mysterious case of 11 Lebanese Shiites who were taken hostage in Syria last week is raising fears of renewed street battles in Beirut as Lebanon increasingly gets drawn into the swirling chaos next door.

Conflicting reports dominated the story of the Lebanese pilgrims that were captured in Syria near the Turkish border. The event has transcended the captors and the abductees to become a foreign policy priority for many countries involved in the Middle Eastern crises.

Burhan Ghalyun: the advocate of kidnapping, As’ad AbuKhalil
Burhan Ghalyun, who was recently ousted from leading the lousy Syrian National Council, initially said that the Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped by gangs of the Syrian regime.  But when it became clear that gangs of the Free Syrian Army were the party that kidnapped the Lebanese pilgrims, Ghalyun lied again and changed his tune: he said today that the kidnapped were agents of Hizbullah.  So the agents of Hizbullah decided to travel with their wives, and some of those agents are in their 60s, and were from Amal movement?  And you want me to believe this guy and his claims about anything? PS Of course, lies of the exile Syrian opposition or of the FSA never get exposed in the Western media.

Lebanon’s Future Hangs On Hezbollah’s Syria Stance
The recent clashes in Lebanon have placed the spotlight on the country’s questionable ability to prevent the Syrian crisis from spreading to its territory. Tension is at a peak in the country, with a number of various incidents, unrelated to each other, but all in a way related to the Syrian crisis, threatening to return chaos to a country all too familiar with it.

Lebanon on the Brink (II of II), Asad AbuKhalil
The current crisis in Lebanon – like all crises in Lebanese contemporary history – has domestic and foreign dimensions. Typically, the domestic dimensions have foreign connections, and vice versa.

Lebanon: A Victim of The Arab Spring
More than a year after it began, what we Westerners have taken to calling the Arab Spring has finally come to Lebanon – and like much of the country’s economy and politics, it arrives as an import that can benefit only the very few. Predictably, understanding what is happening – and what is not happening – in Lebanon requires reference to neighboring Syria. Just six years removed from mass protests and heavy Western pressure that ended its “tutelage” in Lebanon after almost 30 years, Damascus now faces an open revolt at home, one which, involving the use of heavy weapons on both sides and a death toll of approximately 10,000, now qualifies as a civil war.

Doing Politics in a Bazaar of Causes,  Walid el Houri

On Sunday May 13, a march in support of a proportional electoral law that sees Lebanon as one district, took place. The event, as is the case for most alternative actions that do not fall in one or the other main political blocks in Lebanon, almost passed unnoticed by the media. The absence of visibility of such political events (usually and curiously covered in the ‘society’ or ‘miscellaneous’ sections in the media rather than under ‘politics’ – usually reserved for random receptions of politicians) is symptomatic of both the meaning of politics in Lebanon and the role of civil society within the country.
Dahiyeh’s Cafes: A World Unto Their Own, Ahmad Mohsen

Usually suburbs host a scene less vibrant than the center of the city, but it may be that Beirut’s southern suburb, Dahiyeh [literally ‘suburb’], is a very unique exception to this rule. The area has gone through several stages to become what it is perceived to be today, a place many people regard as a ghetto and the exclusive reserve of the Shia community. There were many key milestones in the development of Dahiyeh, one of which is the attempt to inject a hybrid modernity into the area after the July 2006 war. This brought with it a boom in cafes, each with its own secrets.
Saudi Arabia
Amnesty urges Saudi to free Shiite prisoners
Amnesty International urged Saudi Arabia to free Shiite prisoners arrested for taking part in “peaceful” protests and those detained without charge in the kingdom’s Eastern province.

Annan holds talks with Syrian president
UN-Arab special envoy meets Bashar al-Assad in Damascus amid international horror over the Houla massacre.

Israeli “humanitarians”:  Yishai accused of preventing treatment for wounded Syrian
Israeli group working secretly to aid victims of Assad regime says interior minister is demanding exorbitant monetary guarantee to allow wounded man into Israel for an emergency surgery.,7340,L-4235305,00.html

More than 13,000 killed in Syria since March 2011: NGO
More than 13,000 people have been killed in Syria since an anti-regime revolt broke out in March 2011, Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP on Sunday.

19 dead in Syria violence, including 7 in Homs: NGO
At least 19 people were killed in violence on Tuesday in Syria, where clashes between regime troops and rebels raged, monitors said, as envoy Kofi Annan held talks with President Bashar al-Assad.

Activists: Bomb hits security vehicle in Syria
Activists say that a bomb has struck a security vehicle in the Syrian capital of Damascus, causing casualties.


Activists: Syrian troops shell central regions
Government troops shelled residential areas in central Syria on Sunday, activists said, two days after the bombardment of a string of villages in the same region killed more than 90, many of them children.

UN condemns Syria over Houla massacre
Security Council calls for government to cease use of heavy weapons in population centres.

UN: Most of 108 killed in Syria were executed
The U.N.’s human rights office said Tuesday that most of the 108 victims of a chilling massacre in Syria last week were shot at close range, some of them women and children who were gunned down in their homes.

An 11-year old boy has described how he smeared himself in the blood of his slain brother and played dead as loyalist gunmen burst into his home and killed six members of his family during the start of a massacre in Houla, central Syria. The young survivor’s chilling account emerged as Russia continued to blame both Syrian troops and opposition militias for the weekend rampage in the town that left at least 116 people dead and prompted fresh outrage against the regime’s crackdown.

Both Syrian sides to blame for deaths, says Russian Foreign Minister

“Both sides have obviously had a hand in the deaths of innocent people, including several dozen women and children. This area is controlled by the rebels, but it is also surrounded by government troops,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks in Moscow with visiting British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Russia slammed a call on Tuesday by Syria’s external opposition for the UN Security Council to mandate military action, saying it would incite a civil war. The Syrian National Council called on Tuesday for the UN body to authorize the “use of force” and welcomed the expulsion of top diplomats from several Western countries. After economic sanctions and the diplomatic shutout, the UN Security Council should “adopt a resolution under Chapter VII (of the UN Charter) allowing the use of necessary force in order to put a stop to the genocide and the murders committed by the regime’s militias,” the SNC said.
The Syrian government is “not at all” responsible for the massacre of at least 92 people in the central town of Houla which has sparked an international outcry, foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said on Sunday. Opposition groups had blamed the government for the killings, which included 25 children, with the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights calling the deaths a “massacre.” ”We completely deny responsibility for this terrorist massacre against our people,” Makdissi told a news conference.

Assad to Annan: peace plan depends on ‘end of terrorism’
The success of Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan depends on “the end of terrorism,” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the UN-Arab League envoy on Tuesday, state television reported.
Syrian National Council delivers a call to arms 
Syria’s opposition has reacted to the Houla massacre — effectively saying that all bets are off. Burhan Ghalioun, who heads the Syrian National Council, says if the international community does not intervene with force, then the battle for freedom will begin. Earlier, Syria’s government denied any responsibility for the massacre, which left more than 90 people dead — a third of them children. Al Jazeer’a Rosiland Jordan reports.

French president expels Syrian ambassador
French President Francois Hollande announced on Tuesday the expulsion of the Syrian ambassador and said Paris would host a new meeting of the Friends of Syria group in July. The ambassador will be formally notified of the decision, which was taken in response to the weekend massacre of at least 108 people in the central town of Houla, “today (Tuesday) or tomorrow,” Hollande told a press conference.

Australia expels two Syrian diplomats
Australia has expelled two Syrian diplomats in response to last week’s massacre in Syria in which more than 100 people, mostly women and children, were killed.

US expels Syrian charge d’affaires over massacre
The United States ordered Tuesday the expulsion of Syria’s top diplomat in Washington over the weekend massacre in Houla in which more than 90 people were killed, including at least 30 children.

Syria’s Dignity Strike: City Merchants Speak
Following the massacre in the town of Houla in Syria, opposition activists called for a “Dignity Strike.” With the calls for strikes attention automatically shifts to Syria’s biggest economic hubs, Damascus and Aleppo.

The Kurdish issue in Syria has a history and trajectory that are different from sectarian problems in the region. It is not a sectarian problem, as the Kurds are not a sect of Arabs or a special Islamic group. They belong to a people that are forty million strong and are distributed over a number of countries, and they are the largest national group in both the region and the world that is deprived of a political counterpart to its existence: an independent state. The aspects of the region’s Kurdish question differ from the revival of sectarian problems in Arab-Islamic society.
This is what a Syrian commentator wrote on one of the social media outlets this morning: “Anyone that mentions the name of sect or religion in Syria, in any context, and all those who incite sect or religion in Syria, in any context and all those who try to show a range as a victim and a look executioner in any context is a traitor to Syria and Syria is innocent of it. All intolerance for other than Syria is betrayal. Martyrs have one religion and one sect and that is Syria. Blood flowing on the soil of Syria have a single identity and that is the identity of Syria.”
Parts of Syria are convulsed by civil war, while in other areas life continues almost as normal. At the same moment as more than 30 children had their throats cut and dozens of civilians were killed by shelling in Houla in central Syria on Friday, people in Damascus were picnicking on the slopes of Mount Qassioun, overlooking the capital. Syria yesterday denied that its forces had carried out the massacre of at least 116 people including dozens of children in Houla, claiming that the slaughter was the work of rebels.
Other World News
Report: Obama personally oversees Al-Qaeda ‘kill list’
US President Barack Obama has personally overseen a top-secret process for determining which Al-Qaeda suspects should be placed on a “kill list,” the New York Times reported Tuesday. The Times, citing dozens of top officials and former advisers, said the administration had developed what it termed the “kill list” as part of a stepped-up drone war against Al-Qaeda and its affiliates inPakistan and Yemen. “He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” it quoted National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon as saying. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world… He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”
Two adults and their six children allegedly killed in incident in eastern Paktia province, according to local officials.

Mauritania’s ‘overlooked’ Arab spring
Protests in the little-known west African country have so far received little media attention, but that could soon change. Mauritania. Many people have never heard of it, and most would probably be unable to pinpoint it on a map, even though its land mass is larger than France and Germany combined. Many Arabs are unaware that it is a member of the Arab League. Even BlackBerry does not recognise it. Its messenger service auto-corrects “Mauritania” to “Martian” and, given public ignorance of the country, Mauritania might as well be on Mars. However, this could and should change.

Protesters in Casablanca accuse the government of failing to deliver on the pledges of social justice.

In the Gulf, Boys Falling Behind in School
Despite sweeping education reform in Abu Dhabi and massive education funding in Doha, dropout rates for high school boys remain alarmingly high.

Anti-war protester confronts Blair at tribunal
LONDON (Reuters) – A protester interrupted the evidence of former Prime Minister Tony Blair to a judicial inquiry on Monday, shouting anti-war slogans and calling the former Labour leader a war criminal for joining the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The man entered the media press inquiry at the High Court in London from behind the stand where Blair and the judge were seated, and shouted: “this man should be arrested for war crimes. The man is a war criminal.

Israel, Iran, Lebanon hit by “Flame” super-virus
Security experts have discovered a new data-stealing virus dubbed Flame they say has lurked inside thousands of computers across the Middle East for as long as five years as part of a sophisticated cyber warfare campaign. It is the most complex piece of malicious software discovered to date, said Kaspersky Lab security senior researcher Roel Schouwenberg, whose company discovered the virus. The results of the Lab’s work were made available on Monday.


4 Responses

  1. Blake
    May 29, 2012, 4:24 pm

    I know this is Off Topic but I am having a problem getting the Mondoweiss homepage since last night. Keeps showing this message:

    Site maintenance
    Sorry about any inconvenience. Please try again in few minutes.

    Am I the only one experiencing this?

  2. Rusty Pipes
    May 29, 2012, 7:34 pm

    The photo in the Ynet piece about Syria is priceless — talk about Assadwashing! Under a photo of a woman holding a sign that says “Stop Killing Syrians: The Syrian American Council” is a caption: “A Bahreini woman protests the violence in Syria. (Photo: Reuters).” Look at that horrible Syria, again (certainly not at our allies Israel or Bahrain) !

  3. Rusty Pipes
    May 29, 2012, 8:52 pm

    Is FLAME limited to the Middle East?

    O Murchu: Flame is an information-stealing threat that we have recently discovered and it’s interesting because it has been found in Middle Eastern countries exclusively. We haven’t found it anywhere except in the Middle East. It’s capable of stealing all sorts of information — keystrokes, it’s able to take screenshots of your computer, it’s able to listen in on your microphone and it’s able to discover Bluetooth devices that are nearby.

    Ryssdal: You mention that it’s an intelligence-gathering tool. Could it do physical damage? Could it get into an electical grid? Could it get into some kind of corporate network?

    O Murchu: Well the way that Flame is written is that it’s very modular, so the attackers can add in new modules at any time and they could update it very easily. So the attackers could choose to do that in the future, but from what we see right now, it’s exclusively being used for information stealing and to spread to other computers. So it’s able to infect other computers on your network and is able to spread to them and it’s able to collect the information from all of those computers.

    Ryssdal: Is it like Stuxnet in that it’s designed to do physical damage to equipment, famously the centrifuges over in Iran?

    O Murchu: No, so Flame is not able to change how physical machinery works in the way that Stuxnet did. It is strictly for stealing information and the reason that it’s similar to Stuxnet is that it appears to be a politically-motivated threat, a cover threat, that is operated in Middle Eastern countries, which is very similar to where Stuxnet operated. But the threats themselves are different. They have different capabilities, and they’re written by different people.

    Ryssdal: There’s probably a short list of countries that would get behind this. Care to hazard any guesses?

    O Murchu: Well we don’t know actually, but it’s interesting to see that we found this threat — or at least the threat has been reported — in Iran, Lebanon, and Palestinian West Bank. So that does narrow down who is likely to be behind it.

    Ryssdal: Do I have to worry about this thing on my laptop at home?

    O Murchu: Probably not so much, particularly now because seeing as how this is a very targeted attack — unless you are living in the Middle East and are engaged in something that the attackers are interested in, you probably don’t need to worry about this threat.

    If you are engaged in something the attackers are interested in and not living in the Middle East (such as supporting BDS or some other existential threat like “delegitimizing” the “Only Democracy in the Middle East”) why should you worry about such a virus?

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