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Welcome to Palestine Today a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, for Tuesday, July 20, 2010.

Killer of peace activist goes free earlier than expected and loyalty oath passes in the cabinet meeting these stories and more coming up, stay tuned.

A former IDF soldier will be released years earlier than expected after he was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of British peace activist Thomas Hurndall.

The former IDF soldier, Taysir Heib, received an eight year sentence in 2005 for manslaughter in addition to obstruction of justice and giving false testimony. Military Advocate General Avichai Mendelbit, a Brigadier General, opposed his early release, but the decision to shorten his sentence was made by an army committee.

Hurndall, aged 22 at the time of his death, was shot in the head while photographing activists from the International Solidarity Movement. He had been helping keep Palestinian children away from Israeli tanks, at the time.

Activists from the International Solidarity Movement often use their bodies as human shields to protect Palestinians in military operations.

The family of Thomas Hurndall was informed of the early release not by Israeli sources but by a message from the British Foreign Office.

The victim’s older sister Sophie said that, “We have had to deal with cover ups and lies and a total lack of accountability throughout – and this is in line with that. It’s symptomatic,” She added that the family was not so much angry about Heib’s actions, but rather the IDF and the Israeli authorities’ lax stance when it comes to harming civilians.

This past weekend the Israeli cabinet has approved a provision that would require all Israeli citizenship seekers to swear allegiance to a ‘Jewish and democratic state’.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the passing of the law as it will maintain Israel’s ‘Jewish and democratic character.’

The law has faced condemnation from Human rights groups as it would make the already arduous process of getting Israeli citizenship more difficult for Palestinians.

The Israeli Association for Civil Rights slammed the loyalty oath, calling it ‘racist’ and ‘dangerous.’ Adalah, an Israeli NGO said that the new law will be an impediment for families trying to reunify and an attempt to pressure non-Jews to support Zionism.

On Monday, Syrian President al-Assad met with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu in Damascus. The two discussed Turkish-Syrian relations, but kept their focus on Palestinian issues.

They both agreed that ‘additional, reinforced efforts’ are necessary to end Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip.

Speaking on Turkey’s eroding relations with Israel, President Assad encouraged the re-strengthening of those ties as Turkey will be essential in negotiating a peace deal between Israel and Syria.

There are also reports that President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt rejected Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan for peace as unacceptable in a Sunday meeting between the two.

He urged Netanyahu to redraw Israel’s proposed borders for a peace plan along the lines of the 1967 borders as established in UN resolutions.

Thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem, you have been listening to Palestine Today from the International Middle East Media Center, for constant update, please visit our website at This report has been brought to you by Brian Ennis.