Newsletter : 2fax0415.txt
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Female Combatants to Serve Three Years
The army hopes to have a new regulation approved in time for the
August 2002 draft by which females volunteering for combat units
would be required to serve for three years, as is the case with
their male counterparts. Beginning with that draft, females would
serve for two years instead of the current one year and nine
months. If the new regulation goes into effect, inductees entering
combat units such as pilot training, artillery, or other combat
positions, would be required to serve for three years.
Powell: Meeting With Arafat 'Constructive'
By VOA News
Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday's talks with
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat were useful and constructive. After
the three-hour meeting at Arafat's heavily-damaged Ramallah
headquarters, Powell said he and the Palestinian leader discussed
specific steps on moving forward. He said staff-level meetings
between his and Arafat's delegations would continue Monday.
As Sunday's talks began, a cordon of Israeli troops and tanks
parted to allow Powell's convoy to approach the battered
Palestinian facility, which has been under siege by Israeli forces
for more than two weeks.
After the talks, Powell appeared alone outside the Palestinian
leader's wrecked office building to talk to journalists.
Palestinian officials said Arafat stayed inside for security
reasons. Israeli forces resumed their positions as Powell left
Ramallah for meetings in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Ariel
Powell had planned to meet Arafat on Saturday, but postponed the
talks after another Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem killed
seven people Friday.
The secretary of state agreed to meet with Arafat only after the
Palestinian leader issued a statement in Arabic condemning all
terrorist activities against civilians, including Friday's attack.
The militant group Hamas immediately rejected the statement, saying
it would continue attacks against Israel.
Israel to Lift Ban on Entering West Bank Areas
By VOA News
Israel's military said it would lift the ban on entering many of
the Palestinian areas in the West Bank occupied by Israeli forces.
When the lifting of the ban takes effect, humanitarian groups would
be able to distribute badly needed supplies, and journalists would
be able to take a look at what Palestinians say has been severe
devastation. Some areas will remain closed.
In Bethlehem, where Palestinian gunmen remain under siege inside
the Church of the Nativity, witnesses said Israeli soldiers shot
dead a Palestinian policeman who had come out of the church. The
Israeli army said its soldiers did not fire on the church complex,
but did not comment further.
Earlier, Christian leaders in Jerusalem sent Secretary of State
Colin Powell a plan to end the 12-day standoff. They are calling
for a three-day truce to allow Israeli forces to withdraw from the
area. Then, the Palestinian Authority would be asked to confiscate
the weapons of around 200 Palestinians who have taken refuge in the
church. Powell and Israel have yet to comment on the proposal.
The Church of the Nativity is built at the place where Christians
believe Jesus Christ was born.
Germany: Tunisia Blast Near Synagogue Was Deliberate
By VOA News
Germany said a deadly blast outside a synagogue in Tunisia
apparently was a deliberate attack, not an accident. In an
interview with German television Saturday, German Interior Minister
Otto Schily said investigators from both Germany and Tunisia have
concluded the explosion was a planned attack. He gave no details of
the evidence they collected.
Ten German tourists were among 16 people killed when a truck
carrying cooking gas crashed and exploded Thursday outside the
Ghriba synagogue on Tunisia's Djerba island. The death toll
increased Sunday when two severely-wounded German women died
Tunisian officials and leaders of the country's small Jewish
community said the explosion was an accident, but the Israeli
government contended it was an act of terrorism.
Peace Joke Received Via the Internet
A journalist assigned to the Jerusalem bureau had an apartment
overlooking the Western Wall and every day when she looked out of
her window, she saw an old bearded a Jew praying vigorously.
Certain he would be a good interview, the journalist waited until
he left the section of the Kotel reserved for men and introduced
She asked: "You come every day to the Wall. Sir, how long have you
been doing this, and what are you praying for?"
The old man replied, "I have come here to pray every day since the
Six Day War in 1967. In the morning I pray for world peace and for
the brotherhood of man. I go home, have a cup of tea, and I come
back and pray for the eradication of illness and disease from the
earth. And very, very importantly, I pray for peace and
understanding between Israelis and Palestinians."
The journalist is impressed. "How does it make you feel to come
here everyday for nearly 35 years and pray for these wonderful
things?" she asked.
The old man looked at her for a moment and then, very calmly,
replied, "Like I'm talking to a wall."
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