Benjamin Netanyahu and aides in desperate effort to appease US

John Lyons; 19/3/10; (4 Items)

Israel’s inner cabinet is trying to formulate a response that will satisfy the Obama administration as a way to restart the Middle East peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has held marathon meetings with the six most powerful ministers to come up with a course of action that will satisfy the US, particularly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In a 43-minute phone call this week between Mrs Clinton and Mr Netanyahu, a fiery Secretary of State demanded that Israel reply to questions following the visit to Israel of US Vice-President Joe Biden. The deliberations with the six ministers – Avigdor Lieberman, Eli Yishai, Ehud Barak, Moshe Yaalon, Dan Meridor and Benny Begin – came as US President Barack Obama denied a crisis, saying: “We and the Israeli people have a special bond that’s not going to go away. But friends are going to disagree sometimes … there is a disagreement in terms of how we can move this peace process forward,” he said, urging Israelis and Palestinians to rebuild trust.

See:; US criticism of Israel ignites firestorm in Congress; Matthew Lee; 16/3/10;

Elderly Palestinian secures return of confiscated lands
Mohammad Mari; 19/3/10
An Israeli court ordered the return of 730 dunams (730 hectares) of lands to a Palestinian in the village of Khirbet Zakariya after years of dispute with Israeli legal system. Mohammed Atallah, the head of Khirbet Zakariya village council, said that the Israeli authorities confiscated the 730 dunams for the expansion of Gush Etzion settlement bloc, near West Bank city of Bethlehem. Atallah said the lands belong to 100-year-old resident, Haj Ibrahim Atallah. He said the Israeli court accepted a petition by Palestinian attorney Mohammed Al-Dahleh and ordered the Israeli government to return the lands to its Palestinian owner; See:;
The US-Israeli feud; Rami G. Khouri;; Jerusalem construction is now a national obsession; Doron Rosenblum; 18/3/10;; Haaretz Poll: Most Israelis see Obama as fair and friendly; Yossi Verter;

A prayer for Rachel Corrie
Aijaz Zka Syed; 18/3/10
I thought people like Rachel Corrie only existed in books and movies; people who can stare death in the face and put their own lives on line to save someone else’s life. Corrie just did that. The 23-year-old student activist traveled thousands of miles from her Ivy League university in the United States to form a human shield protecting Palestinian families. This happened in March 2003 when all of us were obsessing over Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Full of idealism and dreams about creating a better and just world, Corrie was too young to die. At a time when most of her friends and fellow students were having a good time experimenting with drugs and booze Corrie joined the International Solidarity Movement, a peace movement against Israeli occupation, to travel all the way to occupied Palestinian territories. She wanted to help and make a difference to the long tormented Palestinians. She was so passionate about her cause that she spent many months learning Arabic and educating herself and her family and friends about the Middle East and appalling humanitarian situation in Palestinian territories. Corrie first went to the West Bank for training with the ISM. And then she volunteered to go to Gaza, to Rafah in particular, as she felt it was the most forsaken part of Palestinian territories and needed her attention.

DF vs. democracy and freedom of speech
Haaretz Editorial; 18/3/10
The Israel Defense Forces decision to declare the Palestinian villages Bil’in and Na’alin closed military zones on Fridays for the next six months is a serious anti-democratic move. The order issued by the GOC Central Command implementing this restriction is an act against the freedom to demonstrate. The fact that the army issued such a sweeping order, and that it is supposed to be in effect for such a long period, requires an immediate petition to the High Court of Justice asking it to block this dangerous and damaging move, which lacks any justification. The freedom to demonstrate is a basic right and an extension of freedom of expression. In recent years, the two villages have come to symbolize the struggle against the separation fence that separates the villagers from their lands. The struggle is legitimate. It contributed substantially to the High Court order to alter the route of the fence near Bil’in, a decision that the IDF has yet to implement – which is also a blatant anti-democratic failing.