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Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories

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“Big Brother” bumbles into West Bank


bb2_3112_live_boker5It’s a reality television show whose contestants are isolated from the outside world, but “Big Brother” in Israel has managed to set off yet another controversy over Palestine policies.

Cameras at the studio-cum-commune outside Jerusalem caught Edna Canetti, a 54-year-old liberal activist, telling fellow residents over the weekend she wanted to see a peaceful popular campaign against Israel’s West Bank occupation.

“It bothers me that you’re silent. What’s needed is a revolt,” she declared after refusing to play along with a challenge in which contestants were divided into two groups — “rich” versus “poor” — with a plexiglass barrier between them.

Shifting to Middle East politics, Canetti said Palestinians should similarly tell Israel: “Shove your laws … We’re not going through that checkpoint and we’re not showing you IDs … This is our land.”

The Opportunity Cost


(Read the English transcript of Shalit’s video message here.)

It’s been two days since the exchange of the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit’s proof-of-life video for Israel’s release of 20 Palestinian female prisoners. The final prisoner of the 20 was freed today as the last step to the soldier-video swap.

After being made public, the video has been replayed nonstop on television, radio, and video web-hosting sites. As of Monday, the endless number of video uploads by individual users on Youtube had each been viewed over at least 40,000 times.

Predicting a Third Intifada


Picture 3.pngLast week: Sunday – clashes in the Old City of Jerusalem which to some resemble the events that led to the outbreak of the Second Intifada nine years ago; Tuesday – shooting by Palestinians wounds an Israeli motorist in the West Bank; Wednesday – an Israeli Army jeep hitting and killing a 17-year-old Palestinian. (Read more about the September 27th, 2009 clashes here.)

This week: Sunday again – hundreds of Arabs clash again with police in the Old City of Jerusalem. Police briefly block all access to the  al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Aziz Dweik interview



Aziz Dweik was the speaker of the Hamas-led Palestinian parliament until his arrest and imprisonment by Israel 3 years ago. He was one of dozens of Hamas lawmakers rounded up across the occupied West Bank in the summer of 2006 after gunmen from Hamas and other militants from Gaza abducted an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in a cross-border raid. 

Dweik was released earlier this week after serving nearly the full term of his prison sentence.

Power Play




If you were an investor in the power plant above and you saw a picture of it engulfed in flames after being bombarded from the air by a fighter jet you might worry about your future ROI, right?

Well – as we explain here in our latest story on fiscal transparency and governance in the Palestinian Territories - it’s not always that simple.

Breaking Ranks



Its been two months since Israel ended its 22-day offensive in Gaza – two months during which Israel has been weighing up the costs and the benefits of what was achieved in the fierce fighting.

Strong international condemnation of the offensive – and the slew of boycotts, bans and blunt dioplomacy that have followed – has been met with a mix of incredulity, anger and resignation in Israel.

Captured Israeli soldier’s parents take protest to Olmert’s doorstep


Dubbed Israel’s most polite protesters by one Israeli newspaper columnist, the parents of captured soldier Gilad Shalit have set up a protest tent outside Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Jerusalem residence to press for his release.



Shalit, 22, has been held since 2006 by militants from Hamas and two other groups who tunnelled into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Hamas has demanded Israel release hundreds of its members held in Israeli prisons in exchange for the soldier.

A Palestinian Nelson Mandela?



Wearing brown, prison-issue garb, the Palestinian on trial on murder charges in a Tel Aviv criminal court barely seemed to be paying attention as prosecutors ticked off his alleged crimes. But he was quick to respond whenever his accusers described him as a “michabel”, Hebrew for “terrorist”.

“The occupation is terrorism,” the defendant, Marwan Barghouthi, would shout — in Hebrew — and then go back to ignoring the proceedings in a court which he said had no jurisdiction to try him.