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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for Tuesday, December 14th 2010.

The Jerusalem Post said on Monday that the US Congress warned the Palestinian Authority to resume peace talks threatening to cut American funding.

Members of the Congress also warned the PA against a unilateral declaration of statehood. The mounting pressure follows the PA threats to demand the UN to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and the recent set of recognitions made publicly, last week, by some South American countries including Brazil and Argentina. In response to such pressure, AFP reported today that Palestinian President Abbas wants ‘guarantees and answers’ from the United States before he accepts to return to any negotiations. Two key conditions for reviving the talks are: a total halt on Israeli settlement building activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and a recognition of a Palestinian state within ’67 borders.

Today, Israeli Civil Administration officials destroyed five wells and several sheds in a small Bedouin community between the villages of At-Tuwani and Umm Lasafa, south of Hebron. The demolition was reportedly carried out because the farmers did not have permits to build the wells.

In addition, 31 Palestinians were arrested in a round of overnight Israeli raids across the West Bank. Amongst the arrestees identified are a 20-year-old university student of Tubas, two boys, known as Asad Mash’al, 17, and Ahmed Nidal Ibrahim Asleem, 15, from the Qalqiliya district, and Kamal Ahmed Abu Zahra, 23 from Yatta, near Hebron. The identities or locations of the other 27 arrestees were not confirmed.

Meanwhile, Israeli troops demolished, in the morning, two Palestinian homes in two neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, near Silwan. According to local sources, the houses were two of estimated 60,000 with demolition orders stating the homes lacked building permits.

In Gaza, medical sources reported that two young Palestinians were injured on Monday by Israel’s shelling in Beit Lahiya, the northwest of the strip. The two injured were transferred to the Kamal Odwan Hospital.

Also, Haaretz reported today that Israel cancelled its ceremony to honour the Palestinian firefighters that helped in the joint rescue mission to extinguish the fire in the Haifa region, after refusing entrance for all firefighters. Entry permits were issued to seven of the ten concerned Palestinian Authority firefighters, although they were all cleared to enter during the humanitarian operation.

With regard to the flotilla, 2 solidarity ships will be sailing to the Gaza Strip next spring in order to challenge Israel’s siege on the coastal enclave by delivering much needed humanitarian and medical supplies. The new Flotilla organizers said that activists from twenty countries, mainly from Europe, will be participating in the convoy.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, denied reports stating that Israel intends to pay compensation to the families of the nine Turkish peace activists who were killed when the Israeli army attacked the solidarity ship in May.

In addition, the Israeli Authorities released the head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Raed Salah, after serving a five-month sentence issued against him by an Israeli court. Sheikh Salah was onboard the Turkish solidarity ship that was heading to Gaza, as part of the Freedom Flotilla, to deliver humanitarian supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip.

Also today, Israeli Rabbi Haim Druckman, presented his own version of resolving the issue of not renting homes at Arabs, by suggesting that a “loyal Arab” can rent or buy a flat while “haters of Israel” will be denied this right. Druckman opposed a controversial edict issued last week by fifty fundamentalist Rabbis, against renting or selling apartments to all Arabs, because he stated that an Arab who is ‘loyal to Israel’ must be granted equal rights.

In a separate report by Ma’an News, Palestinian Attorney General, Ahmad Al-Mughni, announced the closure of 12 local radio and television stations in the West Bank, due to failure to abide by a new permit system following months of time allowance and re-negotiation of fees. The Palestinian Journalist union condemned the decision accusing the committee of not giving any notice nor enough time to act upon the passage of new regulations.

In other news, the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence is due to launch a new book, ‘Occupation of the Territories – Israeli Soldier Testimonies 2000-2010’, which contains testimonies from male and female military personnel in the West Bank and Gaza since the start of the second intifada. The text seeks to transfer awareness to Israeli society that there is a part of the army that is critical to the occupation

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.

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