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China is Fond of Israeli Food

By YnetNews.com

The demand for unique Israeli food products in foreign markets increased in 2005. Israel's exports of milk products and ice cream increased by about 84 percent to $25.2 million. Chocolate exports rose by 34.5 percent, totaling $11.7 million. Exports of pastries – including bakery products, biscuits, waffles and matzo – were up by about 13 percent in 2005, amounting to $49.3 million. An analysis of food export data according to geographical destinations reveals that a significant growth of 94 percent was noted in food exports to China in 2005, which totaled an estimated $16 million.


Ze'evi Murderers Surrender to IDF After Prison Siege

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem) & IsraelNationalNews.com

Israeli military authorities said a siege at a prison in the West Bank city of Jericho has ended with the surrender of a leading Palestinian murderer and five of his henchmen. The prison siege led to the kidnapping of at least 17 westerners in the Palestinian territories, most of whom have now been released.

After a day-long siege by Israeli troops using tanks, helicopters and bulldozers, Ahmed Saadat the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the PFLP, surrendered to Israeli military authorities.

Saadat and a number of other Palestinian terrorists were being held at the prison under the supervision of British and U.S. monitors. Those linked to Saadat were detained after the PFLP claimed responsibility for the assassination of Rehavan Zeevi, Israel's tourism minister, in 2001.

Israeli General Guy Tzur said the military operation was to prevent the release of Saadat, and other terrorists, who he said would now be put on trial in Israel for the killing of the Israeli minister. "This was our obligation and that was the reason we prepared our forces around the city in order to prevent this release," said Tzur.

Israeli troops moved into Jericho early Tuesday after British and U.S. monitors who have been responsible for monitoring the prisoners under an international agreement vacated the facility, citing security concerns.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cut short a trip to Europe to return to the Palestinian territories to deal with the crisis. Abbas said the withdrawal of the international monitors led to the Israeli action.

However British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw speaking in Parliament on Tuesday rejected the criticism, saying Palestinian authorities had received advance notice of the withdrawal, and it was Palestinian authorities who had failed to fulfill their obligations to provide adequate security at the facility.

Incoming Hamas prime minister designate, Ismail Haniyeh, also criticized the Israeli action, saying it was undertaken as a get-tough election strategy by Israel's acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Haniyeh said Palestinian blood is being shed to help Israeli politicians win elections, and he warned Israeli officials they would suffer consequences if Saadat is harmed.

Israel will "pay dearly" for the siege of the Jericho prison and the capture of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Ahmed Saadat, the PFLP warned Tuesday evening. A senior member of the organization's military wing warned during a televised interview with al-Arabiya that if Saadat was physically harmed, the group would respond severely.

As news of the prison siege spread violence erupted across the Palestinian territories. Protesters in Gaza set fire to a building housing the offices of the British Council. A vehicle evacuating westerners from the Gaza Strip was fired on but no injuries were reported. There were also a number of reported abductions of westerners in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but most were reported released after a few hours.

Ze'evi's killers surrendered along with 202 other prisoners after nine hours of shelling with heavy artillery and machine gunfire. The six will be taken to a prison in Israel. Three Arabs were killed and several others wounded during the day-long siege. The IDF released 76 prisoners after it was determined they had not been involved in terrorist activity.

IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz made a personal call to Ze'evi's family to inform them of the capture. "This is a great day for Israelis," said Palmach Ze'evi, the son of the murdered tourism minister. He also said, however, that Israel should have "settled the score right then and there" on the day his father was assassinated.


Israel Vows to Keep Large West Bank Settlement Blocs

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's acting prime minister on Tuesday vowed to include a large West Bank settlement in his plan to unilaterally draw Israel's border with Palestinians. The comments come just two weeks before Israelis vote in general elections on March 28.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told residents of the settlement of Ariel that he plans to include the settlement town inside Israel, as part of his plan to draw Israel's final borders with the Palestinians by 2010.

Olmert said the Ariel settlement is part of Israel and will remain so forever. He said he hoped he would be able to ensure that Ariel's territorial contiguity with Israel would be formalized in a border agreement by 2010.

At the same time, Olmert said he intends to pursue negotiations based on the "road map peace plan," which calls on Israelis and Palestinians to reach a negotiated settlement towards a two-state solution.

Ariel which is about 36 miles north of Jerusalem lies in the heart of the West Bank. In recent days Olmert has said he intends to evacuate some West Bank settlements and move settlers who live in those settlements, to three large settlement blocs in the West Bank, including Ariel.

Akiva Aldar, a columnist with Ha'aretz said the plan is popular with some Israelis who like the idea of unilaterally withdrawing from some Palestinian territory, and who do not see Palestinians as reliable negotiating partners.

"I think you have all kinds of possible scenarios here that will be based on a platform that is suggesting interim arrangements and agreements and unilateralism, and the same kind of disengagement that does not require difficult decisions such as final status settlements, refugees and especially Jerusalem," he said.

Olmert said he has briefed U.S. officials about his plan to unilaterally draw Israel's final borders. The Israeli prime minister has said that since the terrorist group Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections Israel does not have a Palestinian partner to negotiate with. However, in a sign that Olmert might be softening his position, a key ally of Olmert, former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday in Jordan.

U.S. officials, including President Bush, said they believe Israel would hold onto some settlement blocs in any agreement with the Palestinians, but that Israel should halt any further settlement construction in the West Bank, including construction that links large settlement blocs like Ariel to Israeli territory.


Newspaper Association Admits Failure to Aid Jews Fleeing Hitler

By IsraelNationalNews.com

In response to a petition by more than 80 leading journalists and journalism professors, the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) has publicly expressed regret at the failure of U.S. newspaper publishers to aid Jewish refugee journalists fleeing Nazi Germany. The NAA has also pledged to highlight the issue at its forthcoming national convention and board of directors meeting.

The petition was organized by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and former New York Times reporter Laurence Zuckerman. It was based on new research by Prof. Laurel Leff of Northeastern University revealing that U.S. journalism schools refused all requests to take in German Jewish journalists fleeing Hitler, and that the American Newspaper Publishers Association (precursor to the Newspaper Association of America) rejected a request by Harvard Prof. Carl Friedrich to discuss the issue for 10 minutes at its 1939 convention. Leff found evidence that some of the refusals to help were motivated at least in part by anti-Semitism.

Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute, said, "We strongly commend [NAA President] John Sturm and the NAA for facing up to the failure of U.S. journalists and publishers to aid Jewish refugee journalists, just as other public figures, corporations, and governments have in recent years faced up to their own failures during the Holocaust. Acknowledging and regretting past mistakes is the first step in ensuring that they will never be repeated."


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