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Welcome to Palestine Today a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, for Tuesday June 21, 2011

On Monday evening, Hamas leader, head of the Hamas-led government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyya, stated during a welcome ceremony for the “Miles of Smiles 3” solidarity convoy that flotillas and convoys challenging Israel’s siege on Gaza expose the Israeli crimes and the true nature of Israel’s aggression.

In an interview with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC), Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, said that he has the right to name the head of the upcoming Palestinian transitional government that would serve for 10 or 11 months.

Abbas stated that the transitional government would be in charge of two main tasks; rebuilding the Gaza Strip, and preparing for general and presidential elections. He also said that the government would follow his lead and policies as the president of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Hamas spokesperson Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, denounced the Monday statements of President Mahmoud Abbas regarding the upcoming unity government, and described the statements as an “unnecessary media escalation”.

In an interview with the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Center on Monday evening, Abu Zuhri said that the statements of Abbas are false, and are harmful to the efforts to ensure national unity. Hamas is also accusing the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank of resuming political arrests and political prosecution of Hamas members and supporters.

The Palestinian Census Bureau reported that nearly half of the Palestinians in the occupied territories are internally displaced refugees, and that, since its creation in Palestine in 1948, Israel forcibly removed two-thirds of the Arab population.

US President Barrack Obama has reaffirmed his US administration’s “unbreakable” bonds with Israel and described differences between him and the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu as “purely tactical”. Obama made the comments at a Democratic “Friends of Israel” event where he was fundraising for his upcoming 2012 campaign for a second 4 year presidential term.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his belief that Israel need to disengage from Palestinian areas in the West Bank in order to avoid the demographic nature of Israel as a Jewish state from being challenged by Palestinian population growth, according to Haaretz newspaper

The Israeli military prosecutor has filed an indictment against an Israeli officer for illegally ordering the ramming of a mentally disabled Palestinian civilian in an incident in the West Bank in 2008, according to Israeli media reports and the human rights organization B’Tselem.

The Major who issued the order will be prosecuted by the Military Advocate General’s Office if successfully indicted. The soldier who carried out the illegal order, however, will not be prosecuted since he was discharged from the Israeli military before the completion of the two and a half year long investigation and filing. Military officials claim that the soldier cannot be held criminally responsible as a result of his discharge.

B’Tselem has criticized the length of the investigation and the resulting impunity for the suspected driver. While approving the precedent set by the indictment of the officer who issued the order, B’Tselem feels that the inability to prosecute the driver undermines that precedent, making it difficult to hold Israeli soldiers accountable for their actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

On 19 November 2008 in the West Bank village of Kufr a-Dik, Ma’an Naji, who is mentally disabled, suffered multiple injuries, including breaks in his ribs, jaw, and teeth, when a soldier rammed him with his vehicle, despite the fact that he posed no threat to the Israeli forces or any civilians.

The Israeli High Court presided over a hearing on Monday regarding two separate petitions brought against the controversial Israeli “Acceptance to Community Law”. The petitions were brought by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah, a Palestinian rights movement. The court ruled that the government was required to explain within 60 days why the law should not be deemed unconstitutional.

The controversial “Acceptance to Community Law” gives powers to towns and villages to screen individuals looking to live in the area and accept or reject them based on their fit with “the communities make up”. Human rights activists, however, have criticized the law on the basis that it will be used to discriminate against non Jews, Palestinians, same sex couples and single parents.

The petition before the court included previous petitions from individuals denied entrance to the towns or villages including a family of migrants, Arab families and a family of Mizrachi Jews (Jews from the Middle East and North Africa). The petition also included a quote from MK David Rotem, who promoted the law in the Knesset, saying that the law was designed to limit the residency in the “communal” villages to Jews only.

A poll released today by the Rafi Smith polling company on behalf of the campaign to release Gilad Shalit and published in Haaretz newspaper shows that a majority of the Israeli public, 63%, believes 1,000 Palestinian prisoners should be swapped in a prisoner exchange for Gilad Shalit.

The Palestine News Network reports that four homes belonging to Palestinian villagers in al-Hadidyah have been demolished by the Israeli army, in spite of the owners showing proof of ownership. Such demolitions are illegal under article 53 of the 4th Geneva Convention.

Thats all for today from the IMEMC. This was the Tuesday 21 of June 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 Daviud Steele