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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for Tuesday , January 18 2011

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s aides said the Prime Minister believes that the Labor Party split will actually help move forward the peace talks with the Palestinians. According to Netanyahu, now that the Labor ministers have left the government, the Palestinians will understand that the Israeli government will not collapse and therefore they will have no choice but to conduct direct negotiations with Israel.

A group of 175 Ethiopians who claim Jewish heritage arrived in Israel on Monday, with the intention of becoming citizens of the Jewish state. Israeli governments have authorized the immigration of some 11,000 new Ethiopian immigrants claiming Jewish heritage

On Tuesday morning, the homes of three men in the southern West Bank towns of Beit Ummar and Dhahiriya were raided and searched by Israeli forces, resulting in the men’s detention.

Boycott from Within, the Israeli-based Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) group, is taking credit for the cancellation of the French pop star, Vanessa Paradis’ Tel Aviv engagement. Officially, her concert was cancelled for ā€˜professional reasonsā€™ but those close to the singer believe that she was persuaded by calls for boycott.

According to a report by IRIN, UN agencies and European Union (EU) officials in occupied Palestine are calling for the implementation of international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem from forced displacement. Between 5 and 11 January, the Israeli authorities demolished five Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem because they did not have Israeli-issued building permits. Meanwhile, there are at least 1,500 pending demolition orders in East Jerusalem, potentially affecting the livelihoods of thousands.

Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin said on Tuesday that he believed that international recognition of a Palestinian state will spread. According to Army Radio Diskin warned the committee that ‘The UN General Assembly may declare a Palestinian state within 1967 borders as early as September’.

Interpal has responded in writing to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, published last week, regarding Israelā€™s ban on 163 foreign charities, including Interpal, suspected of ā€˜supporting terrorismā€™. The Chair of Interpal trustees wrote that the organization had never knowingly or unknowingly been in a position where charitable funds from Interpol were used for illegal purposes of any kind, let alone terrorism.

Prior to Russian president Dmitri Medvedevā€™s visit to the West Bank on Tuesday, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas called the trip ā€œhistoricā€ and a top negotiator said he expected Medvedev to reaffirm his countryā€™s recognition of an independent state of Palestine. Russia already recognizes a Palestinian state based on its 1967 borders, but this recognition dates from 1988 when it was part of the now-defunct Soviet Union.

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 Colin Bell

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