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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, for Monday August 30th, 2010.

As the Palestinian President prepares to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister in Washington this week, Palestinian political leaders have come together to voice concern with the planned talks. these stores and more are coming up stay tuned

A meeting held in Ramallah late last week consisting of around 200 political, academic and non-profit leaders opposed to the talks was broken up when a group of men disrupted the meeting and Palestinian security officers outside harassed the people attending the meeting.

Palestinians opposed to the talks have argued that the past agreements, such as the Oslo Agreement and the Camp David Accords, have never been enforced, and instead of embarking on a new stage of talks, past agreements should instead be enforced.

Over the weekend, a non-violent demonstration against Israeli settlements in the Hebron area was met with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets on Saturday afternoon, when Israeli forces attacked the protest.

The protest was organized by the Popular Committee Against the Wall to protest the expansion of the settlement of Karmi Zur, which was built on land belonging to the people of Beit Ummar village, near Hebron.

Residents gathered Saturday afternoon to march to the site of settlement construction. Before they reached the construction site, Israeli forces began firing tear gas projectiles and rubber-coated steel bullets into the crowd. No injuries were reported.

Also this weekend, the spiritual leader of Shas movement in Israel, Rabbi Ovadia Yusef, wished death upon the Palestinian people during his weekly sermon on Israeli radio.

The sermon was widely criticized by the Palestinian leadership, but the Israeli government gave no official response.

Late Sunday night, Israeli tanks, bulldozers and armored vehicles invaded the southern Gaza Strip, east of Rafah, and began bulldozing land in the An-Nahda neighborhood.

A spokesperson for the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of the Fateh party, said its fighters exchanged fire with the invading Israeli soldiers, leading the troops to retreat back to their base on the southern Gaza border.

The Israeli military did not confirm the incident, but did report that one mortar shell was fired Monday morning by Palestinian fighters from the Gaza Strip into an open field in southern Israel.

In other news, dozens of prominent artists in the Israeli theatre community – including actors, playwrights and directors — have signed a pledge that they will not perform in a newly-constructed cultural center in the Israeli settlement of Ariel.

The pledge could cause the artists to be fired from the government-funded guild for theatre professionals, but they argue that this act of conscience is more important than their salaries.

Signatories include some of Israel’s most prominent actors like Yousef Sweid and Rami Heuberger, as well as playwright Joseph Sobol, famous for a play he wrote about the Holocaust called ‘Ghetto’.

Some of those who signed the boycott pledge say that it is ironic that the new cultural center in Ariel settlement will be inaugurated with performances of the plays of Bertolt Brecht.

They say Brecht was a playwright who believed in justice for the oppressed, and that he would be turning in his grave if he knew his plays were being used as a tool of political oppression.

Israeli analyst Gideon Levy wrote that this is a turning point for the Israeli theatre community, in which the performers show themselves to be either people with conscience, or puppets for the Israeli regime.

Thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem, you have been listening to Palestine Today from the International Middle East Media Center, for constant updates, please visit our website at this report has been brought to you by George Rishmawi and Husam Qassis.