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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for Monday, December 06 2010.
On Sunday evening, firefighters were finally able to extinguish the fires in the Carmel region, in Haifa, after burning 50,000 dunams of forest and destroying several homes. The number of casualties stands now at 41 dead with dozens injured, and at least 12.000 residents evacuated from nearby areas. The blaze started on Thursday and spread in more areas in Haifa. In total, 35 local and international firefighting aircraft, participated in the effort to help Israel contain the disaster, after Prime Minister Netanyahu appealed to the international community. Three Palestinian firefighters were also sent by President Abbas to help in countering the fires.
Also in a statement, Palestinian President Abbas threatened to dissolve the Palestinian Authority and the self-rule government in the territories if Israel fails to stop all of its settlement construction activities. Abbas explained publicly that he cannot accept to stay in the position of a president of an authority that does not currently exist in the face of Israel’s ongoing occupation.
A newly published report by the Higher Committee for Supporting the Detainees revealed that in the month of November, 280 Palestinians, including 43 children and three women, were kidnapped by Israeli military in several area across the West Bank and in occupied East Jerusalem. Currently, over 8000 people are detained by Israel, hundreds of whom are children and women. At least 27 of them were kidnapped and imprisoned more than 25 years ago.
In other news, several discussions between Israeli and US diplomats were found among the revelations made by the US diplomatic cables released last week. In one leaked conversation, an Israeli official reportedly told his US counterpart that Israel’s narrow ‘security concerns’ often clash with US broader interests in the region. The interests that the Israeli official referred to include a desire by US weapons manufacturers, to sell as many weapons as possible, including to countries in the Middle East, in contrast with Israel’s desire to remain the military superpower of the region.
In addition, the Israeli government approved the building of 846 housing units in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. Last week, it was also reported that Israel confirmed plans for the construction of 130 new units in Gilo settlement, south of Jerusalem, and started the expansion of a number of settlements in the northern part of the city.
Israeli President Peres stated, on Sunday, that peace negotiations are ‘still half way’ and added that ‘any deal would be better than not to reach any agreement.’ Peres also said that a peace agreement must include clear arrangements about the Israeli settlements and the Palestinian borders. However, he did not clarify the solution for Jerusalem and refrained from discussing the issue of right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Local sources said that six Palestinians were arrested in a series of Israeli army raids, between Sunday night and Monday morning, in the area of Ramallah. The detainees have not been identified as the military conducted the invasions in the middle of the night and left before daylight.
In separate reports, President of Argentina Kirchner, confirmed on Sunday her recognition of an independent Palestine within its 1967 borders. The announcement follows Brazil’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state within the same parameters. So far, over 100 countries have recognized an independent Palestine within the ’67 borders, including all Arab countries, most African nations and some of the new Asian economic potencies, such as China and India.
Also today, several banks in Nablus closed at 10 a.m. to protest the P.A.’s decision to impose a new tax ranging from 3 to 30% on benefits of both civil servants and private sector employees, Ma’an News reported.
Also according to a report by Ha’aretz, Turkish and Israeli diplomats met in Geneva, on Sunday, in a move to restore relations between the two countries strained since after last May’s Israeli military raid on the Gaza flotilla.
That sums up our news for today, thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem, you have been listening to Palestine Today, from International Middle East Media Center. For more updates, please visit our website at www.imemc.org. This report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and Alessandra Bajec.