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Terrorist Involved in Passover Massacre Captured


The terrorist who provided the explosives to the suicide bomber who murdered 27 Israelis at the Passover seder in Netanya has been captured by Israeli security forces. The terrorist is connected to the Islamist Hamas group, operating in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Hamas Threatens Israeli Leaders

By VOA News

The Palestinian militant group Hamas has threatened Israeli leaders with assassination for the arrest of Marwan Barghouti, a leader of Yasir Arafat's Fatah faction.

Israel arrested Barghouti in Ramallah Monday. He is on Israel's wanted list for allegedly masterminding suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis.

In a statement issued in Beirut, Hamas warned Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and members of his government that they are now considered legitimate targets. It adds that the Israeli officials have "opened the gates of hell" by arresting Barghouti.

Elsewhere, heavy gunfire erupted Tuesday near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where Israeli forces have besieged armed Palestinians for two weeks.

The exchanges stopped after about half an hour. The Associated Press said a Palestinian near the clash was hit by a stray bullet. Palestinians said Israeli forces staged an attack on the church. The Israeli army confirmed shooting in the area but said its forces had not attacked.

The church is built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born. It is considered one of the holiest sites in Christianity.

Earlier Tuesday, Israeli tanks and troops rolled into three suburbs of East Jerusalem, imposing a curfew and confining tens of thousands of Palestinians to their homes.

The incursions into Abu Dis, Izzariyeh and Sawahra a-Sharkiyeh came one day after Sharon said he would withdraw Israeli forces from most of the West Bank within a week. Israel launched its West Bank operation March 29 in response to a wave of deadly Palestinian suicide attacks.

Powell, Sharon Discuss Proposed Mideast Summit

By VOA News

Secretary of State Colin Powell and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have wrapped up what is expected to be their last meeting before Powell leaves the region.

Sharon later told Israeli television that the meeting focused on a proposed regional summit aimed at re-starting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Sharon said the meeting could take place in June in the United States and that he expected to head the Israeli delegation. But Syria and Lebanon have already rejected the summit idea.

Wednesday, Powell plans to meet with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat at his Israeli-besieged headquarters in Ramallah. From there, he heads to Cairo for a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before going home.

Earlier Tuesday, Powell said he thought he was "making progress" in talks with the Israelis and Palestinians. But he indicated any deal would be something less than a formal ceasefire.

Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo disputed any notion of progress, saying none is possible without an Israeli withdrawal from all Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps.

New York City Cancels Sale of UN Plaza to Israel's Brack

By Elazar Levin (courtesy of Israel's Business Arena)

The New York City municipality has canceled a deal to sell a complex of three office buildings in Manhattan to Israel's BCH Brack Capital Holdings (formerly VSP Capital Holdings) for $161 million. Brack said that the city had changed its position and no longer supported the contract. The three buildings, collectively termed the UN Plaza complex, are leased to the United Nations.

"Globes" reported last month that the deal was likely to be canceled because the United Nations was against it. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan announced in October 2001 that he was against the sale, saying the buildings should be controlled by public authorities like the city government, "which would show sympathy to the United Nations." The U.S. government was also against the deal.

Sources close to the sale suggested that Brack Capital would attempt to undertake legal proceedings against the New York City municipality. However, it is unclear whether the company will take such measures, for two reasons.

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