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Train from Gaza to Hebron


According to a report on the, plans are on the table for a train to connect the Erez crossing in northern Gaza with Har Hebron. According to the report Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres met with the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority to discuss the plans. The planned route will cross through Ashkelon and then to Kiryat Gat before it reaches Hebron, and is considered by Israel to be the best option to connect the East and West areas of PA-controlled territory. Interior Security Minister Gideon Ezra maintains that the train represents "a relatively secure passage compared to other options." The line is planned as a shuttle that will carry both passengers and cargo.

Bush, Abbas Meet Thursday

By Scott Stearns (VOA-White House)

President Bush and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will meet at the White House Thursday for the first time since Israeli settlers withdrew from the Gaza Strip. U.S. officials are hoping to resume negotiations that were suspended after attacks on Israeli civilians in the West Bank.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush has a real opportunity to help Palestinians move forward toward realizing their aspirations for a separate democratic state. "...and it's important to seize this opportunity. It's important that the Palestinian leadership act to prevent violence and dismantle terrorist infrastructure. There is more that can be done."

McClellan said Israelis and Palestinians both have responsibilities to get back to a peace plan that lays out a timetable for power sharing ahead of the eventual creation of a separate Palestinian state, adding President Bush is strongly committed to that goal in his work with both Mr. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

During their White House meeting, McClellan says Bush and Abbas will discuss preparations for Palestinian elections January 25. Bush Administration officials want Palestinian leaders to require candidates in that vote to renounce violence in hopes of discouraging more militant groups from participating. Sharon says participation in that vote by the terrorist group Hamas would be unacceptable.

If Israel were to restrict travel for security purposes on Election Day that would likely affect the vote's outcome. Palestinian leaders say Abbas wants President Bush to convince Israel to dismantle remaining illegal outposts and allow January's vote to proceed freely. He is also looking for the president to pressure Sharon to reverse a ban on Palestinian motorists using the main West Bank roads.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio Wednesday that his government has every interest in complying with U.S. requests to ease restrictions on Palestinians, but not at what he called the price of terrorism and casualties.

Volunteers Join Search for Temple Relics


Dozens of volunteers searched through refuse dumped at the site by the Muslim Wakf (religious authority) in Jerusalem's Old City during the Wakf's construction of underground mosques on the Temple Mount. Archaeologists have found among the refuse many artifacts of historical import, including seals discovered just three weeks ago that date from the era of the First Temple (that built by the biblical King Solomon).

The volunteers are working at the Ein Tzurim reserve under the direction of archaeologist Tzachi Twig. The general public has been invited to take part in the work, although a poor response was expected due to rainy weather. Sukkas (booths), in honor of the Sukkot holiday, have been erected at the site to display the artifacts recently found during the excavations.

The organizers have faced a number of difficulties from the police regarding the construction of the booths at the site and a permit for the dig. They have lodged a petition with the High Court of Justice requesting an injunction against the police, which would allow the sukkas at Ein Tzurim, as was originally agreed with the Nature and Parks Authority. "The police have caused problems for us," stated one of the organizers. "They said that the event wasn't authorized. This is the police - which is particularly unhelpful to the Jews."

35 percent of Israeli Jews Favor Eliminating Arabic as an Official Language

By Ha'aretz

Thirty-five percent of Jewish citizens oppose the law designating Arabic as an official language of the State of Israel, a poll conducted by Mossawa, The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, revealed on Wednesday.

The poll also showed that 45 percent of Jewish citizens said they oppose the decision to reopen a police investigation into the October 2000 riots in which 13 Arabs - 12 Israeli citizens and one Palestinian - were killed by police.

Thirty-four percent of poll respondents said they oppose closing probes into the October 2000 events and 17 percent said they had no opinion on the matter.

Sixty percent of Jewish citizens feel that there exists anti-Arab racism in Israel while 29 percent believe Arab citizens are not the targets of racism.

Fifty-one percent of Israeli Jews feels the Arab population should be granted the right to independently manage their education system, cultural life and other community matters.

The poll drew distinctions between the Russian Jewish sector and the general Jewish population. It was found that 57 percent of immigrants from the former Soviet Union say they believe that Israeli Arabs should not be granted collective rights. Only 26 percent of immigrants from the FSU believe Israeli Arabs face discrimination while 50 percent say they believe there is no anti-Arab racism in Israel.

The survey was published to mark the opening of the Mossawa Days Festival in Nazareth. ("Mossawa" in Arabic means "equality").

Anti-Semitic Poem in Children's School Book

By Israel Faxx News Services

A poem that praises the murder of Jews by the Nazis has been included in a book of children's poetry to be distributed amongst schools in the United Kingdom. The publication, entitled Great Minds, features the work of school children aged 11 to 18 who won a nationwide literary competition.

But one poem has generated outrage amongst Jewish groups, politicians and Holocaust charities for its anti-Semitic content.

The entry by the 14-year-old Gideon Taylor is apparently written from the viewpoint of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It includes the lines "Jews are here, Jews are there, Jews are almost everywhere, filling up the darkest places, evil looks upon their faces."

Another part reads: "Make them take many paces for being one of the worst races, on their way to a gas chamber, where they will sleep in their manger... I'll be happy Jews have died."

The book was produced by Forward Press who ran the Great Minds competition through its website. According to the Jewish Telegraph newspaper, the poem was the only entry in the entire book not to include the writer's school or location.

Young Writers editor Steve Twelvetree, who also edited the book, said the poem was included as it illustrated how the writer was able to empathize with the infamous Nazi Fuehrer.

"Make them take many paces for being one of the worst races, on their way to a gas chamber, where they will sleep in their manger... I'll be happy Jews have died," the poem reads.

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