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Welcome to Palestine Today a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, for Tuesday May 17, 2011

The Palestinian Authority has stated it will delay local elections due to be held in July. The elections are now due to be held on the 22nd of October in order to give time to allow for voters to be registered in the Gaza strip. Elections were initially called by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in February, to be held in July, due to pressure from mass democracy movements around the Middle East. The delay, however, has been expected given the surprise unity government deal in April, which allows for full national elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the first time since the election of Hamas in 2006. The elections will come at an important time in the wake of the proposed declaration of statehood by Palestinian delegates to the UN in September.

The UN Agency for Palestinian refugees has stated that Israel has displaced 149 children, through housing demolitions, in the West Bank so far this year. A total of 333 Palestinians were displaced from January to April as a result of the destruction of 78 residential units. The figures show a more than doubling of Israeli housing demolitions since the same period last year when 142 Palestinians were forcibly displaced

Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that he would be willing to return some of the illegal Israeli settlement blocks established in the West Bank for the sake of peace. The Israeli PM stated he would be willing to give up isolated settlements but not the major blocs. The talk was the first time Netanyahu has hinted that Israel would be willing to give up any of the West Bank settlements as part of a peace agreement. Israeli human rights group, Gush Shalom, in response to the statement, has stated Israel must play its part in any peace treaty by giving up all lands gained in 1967 as per international law, ending all settlements and withdrawing all military forces
Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh and two other Palestinians are expected to be released on bail Tuesday morning from the Israeli Ofer prison. The three will be released on bail equal to 500 Shekels each. No court hearing was assigned for them. Dr. Qumsiyeh together with 11 other Palestinian and international peace activists and reporters were detained Sunday by the Israeli military as they attempted to march to the old village of al Walaja, near the West Bank town of Bethlehem, to mark the 63rd anniversary of Al-Nakba. Dr. Qumsiyeh is the Chairman of the Board of the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People, the parent organization of the IMEMC.

After a number of controversial posts on Facebook and other websites in recent months, the Israeli military has ordered its commanders to cut off access to the internet for nearly every computer accessed by soldiers. The move comes after the Israeli Attorney General ordered the investigation of several Israeli Facebook Groups for racist, anti-Arab incitement in January. A number of incidents involving Israeli soldiers posting photos and videos of themselves humiliating and abusing Palestinians while serving in the West Bank and Gaza Strip also surfaced in the last few months. The Israeli police, however, continue to have full access to the internet on duty – despite recent controversy surrounding their failure to delete racist, offensive comments from their official Facebook page.

Thats all for today from the IMEMC. This was the Tuesday 17 of May’s daily roundup of news from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We hope you will join us again tomorrow. This was brought to you by Husam Qassis and me David steele