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>JN May 21, 1001, Vol. 9, No. 87

Poland Gives Permission to Exhume Bodies of Jews

By VOA News

Poland has given investigators permission to exhume the remains of hundreds of Jews massacred by their Polish neighbors and buried in a mass grave in the town of Jedwabne in northeastern Podlaskie province in 1941.

The Institute of National Remembrance asked to exhume the remains to determine how many people died and to verify the existence of other mass graves. Poland wants to establish a memorial for the victims at the site in time for July's 60th anniversary of the tragedy.


Israeli Tanks Shell Palestinian Official's Home

By VOA News

Israeli tanks shelled the home of a top Palestinian security chief in the West Bank town of Ramallah Sunday. The Palestinian Authority said the security chief, Jibril Rajoub, and his family were at home during the attack but escaped injury. Three bodyguards were wounded.

The PA charged the attack was a deliberate attempt to assassinate Rajoub. Witnesses said one shell hit the house and two others landed outside. The Palestinians have accused Israel of deliberately killing Palestinian officials in a bid to quash the eight-month Palestinian uprising.


Sharon Threatens Using Military Might Against Palestinians

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel said it will use as much military power as necessary to contain Palestinians. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon issued the warning Sunday despite fierce international criticism over Israel's use of warplanes in Friday's deadly attacks on towns in the West Bank.

In response to a huge international outcry, Sharon defended the air strikes that were launched in retaliation for the deaths of five Israelis killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber in a shopping mall. He said his government would do everything necessary and use everything necessary to protect Israeli citizens.

However, Sharon also said he is still prepared to enter into diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians but only after they end their wave of terrorism against Israel.

His stand has been publicly supported by his Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin, who said Israel is at war and the enemy is Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. "We are fighting terrorism. And it is very difficult for a state like Israel to fight terrorism but we are in a war and as strong as the terrorist act will be, the retaliation should be. And it has to be very well understood that those terrorism acts, which are on a daily basis against Israel, are being led by Mr. Arafat and he is the only responsible for the entire situation in the Middle East."

But in the Israeli media, Sharon was being hammered over his actions. The mass circulation Hebrew daily, Yedioth Ahronoth asked in an editorial -"This begs the question - why did you do it, to flex your muscles?" The left-wing Ha'aretz newspaper described the use of fighter aircraft as a "superfluous escalation which invites international condemnation and pressure against Israel."


Cheney: Middle East Conflict Could Lead to Disaster

By David Gollust (VOA-White House)

Vice President Dick Cheney, reflecting growing Bush administration concern about the Middle East, said Sunday that the pattern of escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence could lead to a disaster.

The Vice President said the events of the last few days, including a Palestinian suicide bombing at an Israeli shopping mall and Israel's use of F-16 fighter planes in retaliatory strikes, are very worrisome. He said a way has to be found to get both sides to, as he put it - back off.

Appearing on the NBC television program "Meet the Press", Cheney stopped short of explicitly condemning Israel for its use of U.S.- supplied warplanes. But pressed about the airstrikes, the first of their kind since the 1967 Middle East War, he said both parties should consider where the escalating violence might be heading.

"Where we have this much violence on both sides - a terrorist attack on Israelis, a bombing attack by Israelis against Palestinians, innocent children on both sides being killed - this clearly goes beyond anything that can be justified by either side, I think," Cheney said. Asked whether Israel should stop using the F-16's, Cheney said both sides should stop. "They, I think, they should stop, both sides should stop, and think about where they are headed here and recognize that down this road lies disaster."

He said chances of getting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat together at this point are - pretty remote. But he said Secretary of State Colin Powell may meet with one or both of them on the trip to Africa and Europe that he begins this week.


Mubarak Fears Middle East Has Reached Point of No Return

By Dale Gavlak (VOA-Cairo)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak expressed fear that the Middle East has reached the point of no return after Israel's use of F-16 warplanes against Palestinians targets Friday. But he said he has not closed the door on diplomatic efforts to try to resolve the crisis.

Mubarak, speaking to reporters at Cairo's Ittihadiyya Palace, said the situation between Israel and the Palestinians is deteriorating in a serious manner and will only get more complicated. But he said Egypt and Jordan will continue their efforts to get Palestinian-Israeli peace talks going again.

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