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CBS News Fires Producer Over Arafat Special Report

By Reuters

CBS News has fired the producer responsible for interrupting the last five minutes of a hit crime drama with a special report on the death of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, a network source said. Word of the dismissal came a day after CBS apologized to viewers for breaking into "CSI: NY," one of its top-rated shows, on Wednesday night. "An overly aggressive CBS News producer jumped the gun with a report that should have been offered to local stations for their late news. We sincerely regret the error," the network said in a statement. The network, owned by Viacom Inc., declined comment. According to a source, the producer failed to follow standard procedures that require a senior CBS News executive to be consulted before interrupting regular programming.

Two Abbas Bodyguards Killed in Clash with Gunmen in Gaza

By Ha'aretz & VOA News

Two bodyguards for former Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) were killed Sunday in an exchange of fire with masked gunmen as Abbas paid a visit to an official mourning tent for Yasir Arafat in Gaza City. The former prime minister, who was named earlier Sunday as Fatah's candidate for the Palestinian Authority chairmanship, was unhurt in the shooting; five other people were wounded.

Mohammed Dahlan, the former Palestinian security chief in the Gaza Strip, accompanied the 69-year-old Abbas. Dahlan, who served as security affairs minister during Abbas' tenure as premier, had provided the guards for Abbas. The chaos erupted after masked gunmen, clad in green, walked by Abbas shouting "No to Abu Mazen" as he stood outside the mourning tent.

"We were paying condolences. Emotions were high. There was random gunfire and pushing in the crowd," a calm-looking Abbas told reporters at his office afterward. "There was chaos and there was previous chaos [in Gaza], and perhaps that was one of the reasons leading to today's events."

Associated Press Television News pictures showed a group of about 20 men entering the mourning tent where Abbas, Dahlan and other key Palestinian leaders had come to mourn for Arafat. The gunmen shouted, "Abbas and Dahlan are agents for the Americans" and opened fire. Suleiman Mahdi, a Palestinian Authority driver, said Abbas was shaking hands with visitors when the gunfire erupted.

The shooting went on for several minutes as Abbas arrived late in the day at the tent. Witnesses said gunfire started about five minutes after Abbas arrived. The gunmen, clad in green, shouted "Abbas and Dahlan are agents for the Americans." Gunfire then tore through the tent. Abbas was hustled into a corner and thrown to the ground by his bodyguards as frightened mourners fled. He was quickly taken away from the scene.

New "Yasser" Rocket Almost Ready for Firing - at Ashkelon


The Al-Aksa Brigades terror group, which has just been renamed the "Arafat Brigades," unveiled a new weapon Sunday: the "Yasser" rocket. It can hit the fuel refineries on the Ashkelon coast. The new weapon is named for the deceased arch-terrorist who founded Fatah. The Yasser has a range of nine miles, putting the populous Israeli city of Ashkelon within striking distance of Gaza-launched missiles. It is said to be almost ready for activation.

Members of the terror gang paraded through the streets of Gaza City Sunday, displaying the new rocket and declaring their intention to begin firing the rocket at Ashkelon - within Israel's pre-1967 borders. They marched towards the mourning tent set up in honor of Arafat, and announced that the rocket would help "fulfill Yasir Arafat's dream."

The Ynet internet site reported that the Fatah terrorists are also working on the development of an additional rocket capable of striking targets at a distance of 11 miles. The terrorists are competing with Hamas' Kassam rockets, which have been used to bombard the city of Sderot, within Israel's pre-1967 borders, as well as Jewish towns in Gush Katif.

Ashkelon's mayor, Roni Mahatzri, isn't taking any chances. He told Ynet that his city was preparing for the worst, and has asked the IDF's Homefront Command for help in establishing an emergency center.

French Official Says No Sign Arafat Poisoned By VOA News


France's health minister said there was no indication the death of Yasir Arafat was the result of poisoning - amid rumors in the Arab world that the Palestinian leader was poisoned by Israel.

Philippe Douste-Blazy told an interviewer Sunday, he has not seen Arafat's medical records himself, but said he was aware of no evidence suggesting Arafat was poisoned. Members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas had accused Israel of poisoning him - accusation Israeli officials have strongly denied.

Saturday, the Palestinian representative in Paris, Leila Shahid, said it was possible Arafat had been poisoned - but she said there was no proof. Neither Palestinian officials nor Arafat's French medical team announced the cause of death, which Israel Faxx previously quoted Romanian sources as resulting from AIDS.

Jerusalem Arabs to Vote for PA Chairman?


Interior Minister Avraham Poraz of the left-wing Shinui Party continued Sunday to take controversial positions about allowing Jerusalem Arabs to vote in the PA and freeing Marwan Barghouti.

"It cannot be, in this day and age, that there's a population group that is not able to vote anywhere," Poraz said, referring to the Arabs of eastern Jerusalem - who are not permitted to vote in Israeli national elections. PA officials say they hope to hold their election in two months, setting Jan. 9, 2005 as their target date.

He added, "It would be possible, "under certain circumstances," to consider releasing the murderer Barghouti from prison. Barghouti has been imprisoned since April 2002. He was convicted in a civilian court of murdering five Israelis and was sentenced to several life terms in prison. The court also found that he was responsible for the murder of some 30 other Israelis.

Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who served as Mayor of Jerusalem for almost a decade, said he remains opposed to this idea. Residents of "areas that will remain part of Israel in the future" may not take part in PA elections, Olmert said. Minister HaNegbi also said that it was unthinkable that eastern Jerusalem residents should vote in the PA: "Whoever wants to live in the PA may move to Jenin and the like," he said. Education Minister Limor Livnat is also against the idea.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, for his part, does not rule out permitting the Arabs of eastern Jerusalem to vote in the upcoming PA election. Sharon noted that they voted in the previous PA election, and that the matter would have to be taken into consideration. The U.S. is also in favor of enabling the Arabs of eastern Jerusalem to take part in the election.

World Council of Churches Praises Arafat in Controversial Statement

By BosNewsLife

In a move expected to raise controversy, the World Council of Churches (WCC) expressed its condolences last week to the Palestinians following the death of Yasir Arafat

Although Israeli government officials and some of their Christian supporters in Jerusalem criticized Arafat for his links to terrorist networks, a WCC official described him as someone who should be honored for upholding the place of both Christians and Muslims in Palestinian society, as "participants in its affairs and as shapers of its future".

In a letter sent to the Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei', the director of WCC's International Affairs Commission, Peter Weiderud, said his Geneva based organization believes "President Arafat will be remembered for bringing the Palestinian people together and for his unique and tenacious contribution to the cause of establishing their national home."

The official stressed the WCC, the "largest inter-church body in the world" will "ask God's comfort for the members of his family in this time of deep grief." Weiderud said "the WCC Churches of the Holy Land" honor Arafat's "commitment to their place in the Palestinian society" and he lashed out to Israel's "occupation" of Palestinian territories. "His path has now ended, amid the rocks and thorns of occupation, at a distance from the goal he sought. As he is laid to rest the world will see - from the location of his final resting place - how far the Palestinian people must still travel together," he added in the letter seen by BosNewsLife.

Israeli Court Recognizes Gays' Right to Inherit Partner's Property

By Ha'aretz

In an unprecedented ruling, Nazareth District Court ruled on Sunday that the term "man and woman" as spelled out in the inheritance law can also include same sex couples. The judges accepted the petition of an elderly man from Kiryat Shmona, who appealed a decision by Family Court to prohibit him from inheriting the estate of his companion, after they had lived together for many years.

In light of the Nazareth court ruling, the case has been returned to the Family Court, which must now decide on factual matters relating to the petitioner's relationship with the deceased companion. Nonetheless, it appears the state will appeal the decision, which runs contrary to the Attorney General's position on the matters. The judges' decision comes despite the language of the inheritance law, which specifically relates to "a man and a woman."

According to the law, a woman and a man who share a household but are not married, are entitled to inherit their partner's property in the case of his or her death, as they would have if they were married to the deceased.

Judges Nissim Maman and Gabriela Levy, who issued the majority opinion, based their decision on a loose interpretation of the term "partner" as defined in other court rulings, such as those dealing with issues related to employment benefits, and thus applied the interpretation to the inheritance law. The acting president of the Nazareth District Court, Menachem Ben-David, issued opposed the ruling, arguing that the legal text should not be interpreted in such a way that it contradicts the meaning of the original text.

Irish Police Probing link Between Anti-Semitism, Web Site

By Ha'aretz

Republic of Ireland police are investigating links between an Irish neo-fascist website and an upsurge in anti-Semitism in Dublin, according to the British newspaper The Observer. Three Jewish sites in Dublin were targeted overnight Thursday, with swastikas daubed on a synagogue, a museum and a cemetery, the newspaper said.

Detectives are now exploring if there are any connections between the anti-Semitic incidents and the Stormfront Ireland discussion forum, which is part of the Stormfront/White Pride-World Wide internet site, according to the report.

The paper quoted Jewish leaders in the city as saying the vandalism was unprecedented in modern times. A swastika was sprayed in black paint on the wall of the Irish Jewish Museum and Heritage Centre at Portobello. The museum's curator, Raphael Siev, discovered it. "The paint was still wet when I spotted it. This museum is almost 20 years old, as Chaim Herzog, a former president of Israel, opened it in 1985. There has never been anything of a negative nature like this on our walls before," he told The Observer.

'I am very upset about this as it is very worrying because this is an attack on a part of the history and cultural heritage of Dublin. On Friday I received many messages of support from our neighbors around us. This museum charts the lives of Jewish people in this city over the last 150 years, so it is worrying that something like this could happen,' he said. Siev added that the museum has never received any hate mail, let alone been subjected to anti-Semitic attacks.

The Observer said that there had been similar acts of vandalism on a synagogue and on graves at a Jewish cemetery, saying that in both incidents the same black spray paint had been used to daub swastikas. A senior police source said they had to consider the possibility of links between an emerging neo-fascist group in Dublin and the apparently co-ordinated vandalism, the paper said.

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