Gaza building project experiments with clay and rubble

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) - In the face of the ongoing Israeli ban on imports of building materials Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are looking at new building methods, and one project is using clay and rubble. Local Palestinian non-governmental organization Mercy Association for Children began building a school for handicapped children in Gaza City on 24 May to test a recently developed method using clay blocks, salt and rubble. 

Gaza aid still in Egypt

AL-ARISH (IRIN) - The lack of proper warehousing facilities in the northeastern Egyptian cities of al-Arish and Rafah is partly to blame for bottlenecks and inefficiencies in delivering food and other aid to the Gaza Strip, a former senior Egyptian aid official has said. The only working warehouse in al-Arish had been part-rented to the World Food Programme with only some of its space allocated to the Egyptian Red Crescent Society. 

US pressures Israel over settlements

JERUSALEM (IPS) - A showdown over Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is looming between Israel and the United States barely a week after the encounter at the White House between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What’s becoming increasingly clear is that the 18 May encounter was no friendly “getting-to-know-you” meeting between a new president and a new prime minister of the Middle East’s most enduring alliance. 

The PA's small window of opportunity

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - While the US appears to be optimistic about Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, inter-Palestinian rivalry, a recalcitrant Israeli government, and an international community with its own agenda could well scuttle a settlement. For the first time in decades the US, under President Barack Obama’s new administration, appears to be putting pressure on Israel through Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new hard-line and far-right government. 

Gaza banking system on verge of collapse

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) - A banking and liquidity crisis is affecting the lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip: Civil servants are struggling to get their salaries, and humanitarian aid is being delayed. Thousands of welfare benefit recipients are not getting their dues. This week Israel allowed the transfer of 50 million new Israeli shekels (NIS - equivalent to $12.7 million) to Gaza towards the payment of 65,000 employees of the Ramallah (West Bank)-based Palestinian Authority. 

Israeli army contaminating water sources

TEL AVIV (IRIN) - Israeli army bases in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and Israel are contaminating land and water sources, says a letter addressed to Major General Gadi Shamni, commander-in-chief of the central command in Israel. According to the 12 May letter signed by Issac Ben David, deputy director at the Ministry of the Environment, and seen by IRIN, five bases in the OPT are a major source of contamination due to poor handling of diesel fuel and oil. 

West Bank water access mired in politics

Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) is calling for the replacement of committees, which control the West Bank’s water, for having “failed both sides” with “catastrophic” consequences. “It is time to replace the failed mechanism of the Joint Water Committees established under Oslo [the peace accords of the mid-1990s], with an institution where Palestinians and Israelis are true partners in both water supply and management responsibilities,” said Nader Khateeb, the Palestinian Director of FoEME. Arwa Aburawa reports for The Electronic Intifada. 

Obama gov't restores visa to former spy, Netanhayu adviser

As might be expected of a former senior official with Israel’s spy agency Mossad, Uzi Arad — the most trusted political adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister — has become used to being in the shadows as he exerts influence. But that is fast changing. Arad was prominent in preparing Netanyahu’s tough positions as he headed for Washington this week to meet Barack Obama, the US president, who is seeking to advance a Middle East peace plan. Jonathan Cook analyzes.