Newsletter : 2fax0516.txt
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U.S. Citizen Taken into Custody for Alleged Terror Ties
Israeli authorities Wednesday have given the media permission to
report that U.S. citizen Abed el-Qarem was taken into custody in
Ben-Gurion International Airport recently by agents of the General
Security Service - Shin/Bet, and police on suspicion of connections
to terror organization. El-Qarem is alleged to be affiliated with
the Hamas fund raising arm HLF.
Bush Welcomes Arafat's Call for Palestinian Reform
By VOA's Scott Stearns (Washington) & Meredith Buel (Jerusalem)
President Bush has welcomed Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's call
for reforming the Palestinian Authority. The Bush Administration
and Israel are both calling for an end to corruption in the
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Bush is waiting to see
whether Arafat follows-up his words with actions. "Yasir Arafat's
words in his speech were positive, but what is most important to
President Bush is to see action, more than words," the spokesman
"And so the president will wait to see whether or not Yasir Arafat
and others in the Palestinian Authority actually take action that
lead to a better life for the Palestinian people and actions that
lead to a region that can live in more stability and security."
In a speech in the West Bank town of Ramallah Wednesday, Arafat
admitted making "mistakes" and called for a review of all
administrative and ministerial offices as well as Palestinian
President Bush is sending CIA Director George Tenet back to the
region to help restructure those security forces under a single,
unified command to give the Authority what the president called
"accountability" in the fight against terrorism.
Arafat also called for "speedy preparation" for elections to ensure
the separation of powers in the Palestinian Authority. Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he would not start peace talks
until the Authority undergoes structural reforms in all areas. The
Israeli leader said there cannot be any peace with what he called
"a dictatorial, corrupt, tyrannical regime."
Arafat said peace with Israel remains his strategic option. He said
he will never abandon the option of peace with Israel, saying peace
is in the common interest of both peoples.
The Palestinian leader says a "new formula" is needed for
administering the Palestinian Authority and its security forces.
Arafat said there is a need to "re-evaluate" those institutions and
see where mistakes have been made. He also proposed "speedy
preparations" for new elections, but did not set a date or provide
Arafat reiterated his call for an end to terrorist attacks against
Israeli civilians, saying such operations do not serve the
Palestinians' efforts toward statehood. The Palestinian chairman
said he is responsible for recent controversial deals ending
Israel's siege of his headquarters in Ramallah and the Church of
the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Cannes Film Festival Opens Amid Controversy
By Lisa Bryant (VOA-Paris)
France's celebrated Cannes Film Festival opened Wednesday night
with a special appearance by Woody Allen - and some real drama. An
American group has urged the U.S. film industry to boycott the
festival, because of recent anti-Jewish attacks in France.
The 55th Cannes Film Festival promises to be a spectacular 12 days
of movie debuts, parties, star gazing, and business negotiations
among movie moguls. As usual, the festival in southern France is
expected to draw a glittering cast of actors, directors, and other
What is new this year is who may not attend. The American Jewish
Congress has urged the Hollywood film industry to boycott the
Cannes Film Festival, because of several recent attacks in France
against Jewish schools, synagogues, and other institutions.
Police blame many of the attacks on angry French youth, many of
them Muslims sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. But the American
Jewish Congress has compared the incidents to those under France's
pro-Nazi Vichy government of World War II.
The boycott call has drawn strong criticism - not only from the
French government, but most recently from Woody Allen. In an
interview on French radio Allen, who is Jewish, said the Nazis once
called for boycotts as well - but against Jews. "Well, I think any
boycott is wrong, because I think boycotts are exactly what the
Germans were doing against the Jews."
Tuesday evening, a group of North African youths violently
assaulted five young Jews, and several of the latter suffered
broken jaws. A local police officer reported that the attackers
numbered 20 people.
Israeli Arab Sisters Charged with Aiding Islamic Jihad Terrorists
A second pair of Israeli Arab sisters are being charged with
working with terrorists and planning terror attacks.
Lina (28) and Lamis (29) Nasser, from Arabe in the Galilee, are
being charged with working to assist terrorists, working to get
them Israeli identity cards, and plan attacks. The indictment was
handed down in the Haifa District Court Wednesday. Earlier in the
week, INN reported that other sisters, from Sakhnin, were being
charged with aiding terrorists and planning an attack in a shopping
Cellular Phones to Be Banned in Gas Stations
Israeli government agencies are working to finalize legislation
that will make it illegal to use a cellular telephone in gas
stations. The move is being prompted by a fire in a gas station in
Europe some time ago that investigators feel may have been the
result of a spark emanated from a cellular telephone.
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