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Israel to Dismantle Some Outposts, Allows Palestinians to Return Work

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has ordered the removal of three more Jewish outposts in the West Bank and at the same time is allowing thousands of Palestinians in Gaza to return to work inside Israel. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his defense minister signed an executive order for the removal of an additional three illegal West Bank outposts.

The government has listed 28 settlements for dismantling, including 18 inhabited by 400 people who will be relocated to other more established settlements. Jewish settler leaders have protested the decision and say they want to hold talks aimed at reaching a compromise. But the government says it is not willing to negotiate.

The order follows sustained pressure from the U.S. administration, which wants all settlement activity to stop in order to help pave the way for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

In a separate development, Israel lifted a ban on Palestinian workers from Gaza entering the Jewish State. The ban followed a suicide bombing at a crossing point last week that killed four people. A 22-year-old Palestinian mother of two, who was a member of the militant group Hamas, carried out the attack.

The Israeli Army has authorized up to 15,000 Palestinians from Gaza to enter Israel for employment. Israel has been strongly criticized by the international community for not allowing more Palestinians to work inside the Jewish State. Israel also imposes tight travel restrictions within the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which Palestinians say have helped to ruin their economy. The restrictions were applied following the start of a Palestinian uprising against Israel in September 2000, which has so far taken the lives of more than 3,000 people on both sides.

The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz says Israeli authorities have tightened restrictions on who may cross into Israel from Gaza, raising the minimum age for Palestinians seeking border passage from 28 to 35.

Ambassador Mazel's "Performance Art"


Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Tzvi Mazel caused an international diplomatic incident Friday with his act of protest against an installation art piece equating an Islamist suicide bomber with her Israeli victims. He literally pulled the plug on the exhibit, on display at Stockholm's Museum of National Antiquities.

The piece, entitled "Snow White and the Madness of Truth", consisted of a pool of red liquid - to represent blood - with a miniature raft carrying a smiling headshot of the female terrorist who blew up the Maxim restaurant in Haifa on Oct. 4, 2003, killing 21 Israelis.

The fairytale-like text accompanying the display referred to the terrorist as "Snow White," "you poor child," and mourned the loss of her "innocent heart." The text concluded: "And many people are indeed crying: the Zer Aviv family, the Almog family, all the relatives and friends of the dead and the wounded, and the red looked beautiful upon the white."

Enraged by the artistic defamation of the Israeli victims of terror, and the whitewashing of the Islamist terrorist, Mazel unplugged the floodlights illuminating the exhibit, letting one fall in the water. He was subsequently asked to leave the museum premises.

The artists behind the installation piece are Dror Feiler, an expatriate Israeli, and his Swedish wife, Gunilla Skold Feiler. The ambassador explained afterwards that he did not act until Swedish officials refused to comply with his requests to remove the exhibit. Mazel told the Swedish press, "As ambassador, I could not remain indifferent to such an obscene misrepresentation of reality."

President Moshe Katzav, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak (who appointed Mazel to his post) and other Israeli officials have expressed their unequivocal support for the Israeli Ambassador to Sweden. Prime Minister Sharon called Mazel and praised his "stand against anti-Semitism." Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi praised Mazel, saying that he should receive a special citation for his actions. Minister-Without-Portfolio Natan Sharansky stated that anyone supporting the "art" exhibit that glorified the Maxim Restaurant suicide bomber encourages and supports those who wish to eradicate the Jewish People.

IDF General: Destroying Yesha is a 'Mission Impossible'


IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Oded Tira told the IDF's weekly BaMachaneh magazine that the only solution for the communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza is "agreement by dialogue," and not force. Tira oversaw the 1982 destruction of the city of Yamit in Sinai in the aftermath of the peace agreement with Egypt.

Tira feels that "tens of divisions would be required to remove 50,000 Jews from their Yesha homes," and that even this would not be the end, as "many of them will continue efforts to return to their homes again and again, and the entire operation will last a year... with the world being treated to daily doses of these horrifying scenes on their television screens."

Tira, who today heads the Israel Manufacturers Association, said that for the army to remove 150,000 Yesha residents from their homes would be a "mission impossible." He said that in Yamit, it took two months for the division to deal with only 4,000-7,000 persons. Tira feels that the difficult television scenes of Jews striking Jews will cause even those who are in favor of leaving Yesha to have second thoughts, and that "in addition, many soldiers will refuse to take part in such operations. The army will thus have to operate without a national consensus behind it."

Tirah adds with certainty that "18 and 19-year-old soldiers and 21-and 22-year-old officers will not be capable of such a mission." In Yamit, he said, "we used older and more mature officers to head each team. But today this would be a totally different and much more complicated mission."

Druze Religious Leader Commits to Noahide 'Seven Laws'


The spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, Sheikh Mowafak Tarif, this weekend signed a declaration calling on non-Jews in Israel to observe the Seven Noahide Commandments, as laid down in the Bible and expounded upon in Jewish tradition. Several weeks ago, the mayor of the primarily Druze city of Shfaram, in the Galilee, also signed the document.

The declaration includes the commitment to make a better "humane world based on the Seven Noachide Commandments and the values they represent commanded by the Creator to all mankind through Moses on Mount Sinai."

According to the Torah, all humankind (the offspring of Noah) is subject to seven Divine commandments. They are: to refrain from idolatry; to refrain from sexual immorality; to refrain from blasphemy; to refrain from murder; to refrain from theft; to refrain from eating the limb of a living animal; and to establish courts of law.

Support for the spread of the Seven Noahide Commandments by the Druze spiritual leader contains within it echoes of the Biblical narrative itself. The Druze community reveres as a prophet the non-Jewish father-in-law of Moses, Jethro (Yitro), whom they call Shu'eib. According to the biblical narrative, Jethro joined and assisted the Jewish people in the desert during the Exodus, accepted monotheism, but ultimately rejoined his own people. The Tiberias tomb of Jethro is the most important religious site for the Druze community.

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