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Israeli Officials: Al-Qaeda Heading for Israel


The Al-Qaeda terror organization is working to establish a foothold in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, according to unidentified Israeli officials. Followers of Abu Musaab Al-Zarqawi, the group's leader in Iraq, have already established contacts with Arabs in Gaza and other PA-controlled areas. The organization already has links with operatives in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Two PA Arabs were indicted on Tuesday for receiving funds from the group that were earmarked for a major attack planned for Jerusalem.

Centrist Kadima Party Slips in Israeli Polls

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

A poll released less than a week before Israeli's March 28 general elections shows the centrist Kadima Party of acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert slipping slightly in the polls. A close associate of Olmert, former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, told reporters that Kadima would like to reach a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, but with Hamas in charge of the Palestinian Authority there seems to be little chance of that happening.

A leading poll said Olmert's Kadima Party will get 36 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, easily winning next week's election, but not enough seats to form a government on its own. The poll indicates that since last week, Kadima appears to have lost three seats.

According to the poll, Israel's left-wing Labor Party is getting stronger, gaining two seats, while the right-wing Likud Party is losing strength and may only win 14 seats.

Speaking to a leading Hebrew-language daily newspaper, Olmert said any parties who want to join his government will have to agree to his plan of drawing Israel's final border with Palestinians by the year 2010, and withdrawing from most West Bank settlements, while keeping three large settlement blocs. Olmert said Israel's separation barrier would serve as the outline for a future border.

Peres, who is expected to get a senior post in a future Kadima government, told reporters on Thursday that Israel would move quickly to implement the plan. "We are ready immediately after the elections to open a negotiation with the Palestinians that are willing to negotiate and willing to accept the 'road map' in order to arrive at the agreement to mark future borders and to do it on an acceptable basis with the rest of the world."

Under the "road map" peace plan Palestinians are to forego violence and Israel is to stop building settlements in the West Bank. But there has been little or no progress in recent months between the two sides on implementing any of the Roadmap provisions.

Peres said Israel still views Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a negotiating partner, but would have nothing to do with Hamas, the Islamic terrorist group that won Palestinian parliamentary elections and which refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist. "In order to agree, you have to agree that you accept international agreements," he added. "And if want to destroy Israel what do we have to talk about?"

Palestinians across the political spectrum have harshly criticized the Kadima proposal, which was first put forth last year by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, shortly before he was sidelined by a massive stroke. Palestinians said any future Palestinian state should include all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as east Jerusalem.

Germany: Islamists threaten EU, Israel

By Reuters

Germany's intelligence chief said on Thursday that the success of Germany and other countries in hunting down terrorists has done little to reduce the threat "Islamic terrorism" poses to Europe and Israel.

In a rare public appearance, Ernst Uhrlau, head of Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency, said Europe had been transformed from an Islamist recruitment and financing center into a target of Islamist extremism.

Hamas Makes Statements to Western Press, Denies Them in Arabic


The Hamas terror group, as part of its new role as head of the Palestinian Authority, when presented in a conciliatory light in Western media, denies in Arabic, statements heralded as moderate.

Ismail Haniyah of Hamas told CBS on March 16 that he hoped to some day sign a peace agreement with Israel. In his CBS interview, Haniyah said that he was "seeking a peace settlement and stability in this region," "looking forward to peace and tranquility in this region," and "seeking American administration to create this missing peace."

According to a subsequent article in Al Hayat Al Jadida – translated by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), "[Hamas] Member of Parliament Mushir Al-Masri denied what was reported in various places in the media about Hamas abandoning its principles, relying on statements attributed to the Prime Minister designate, Ismail Haniyah, according to which he hopes that a peace treaty will be signed with the Israelis.

"He said that these statements, released on CBS, are unfounded [lit: naked of all truth]. Al-Masri said that these matters are part of a crazy campaign which aims at embarrassing and confusing the Palestinian arena and undermining the trust of the masses in Hamas movement."

As to the Haniyah's statements, Al-Masri said: "the American channel [CBS] broadcast that Sheikh Ismail Haniyah had said in an interview that he hoped that a treaty with Israel would be signed in the White House. I believe that the basis for the controversy over the [Hamas] political plan are (sic) the [peace] agreements, which in our opinion bring no benefit."

PMW Director Itamar Marcus said that Hamas' behavior is not surprising. "It should be noted that the reason for this strong rejection of the willingness for peace with Israel is that it violates the most basic tenet of Hamas' belief, that Islam demands the destruction of Israel. Article 13 of the Hamas charter states: `Renouncing any part of Palestine [i.e. accepting Israel] means renouncing part of the religion.' Hamas would have to scrap and recreate the basis of its religious ideology to accept Israel.

It should be noted that while former PLO Yasir Arafat would regularly make overtures toward compromise in English, while expressing the opposite in Arabic, Hamas has refused to do so on the same scale. This has not stopped Western journalists from trying to detect and broadcast moderation in the Hamas leadership's stance following its landslide election victory.

Landau Concerned Over Plans to Hand Over Old City


Likud Knesset member Uzi Landau, commenting on statements made by Otniel Schneller, who stated Israel can give away areas of the eastern capital to become part of a Palestinian state, expressed grave concerns.

According to Landau, plans to hand over portions of the eastern capital, predominately Arab neighborhoods, to the Palestinian Authority, are intended to lay the groundwork for Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Shimon Peres to hand over the Temple Mount and the Old City to Hamas.

Landau spoke of "Olmert's and Peres' political and security stupidity, which will compromise the security of the city's residents and expose them to terror attacks from Hamas troops that will be stationed along the walls of the Old City."

Killing Chickens Is Good Money


Workers who are willing to kill chickens in the Sharon region will receive a hefty sum for the job, which involves denying the birds food and drink, and then offering them poisoned water.

The Agriculture Ministry and Union of Local Authorities told Ha'aretz that workers would earn NIS 2,000 per day (about $430) because there are not enough people willing to do the job.

The work would be available for a seven-day period. People who are experienced in working with animals are preferred, and all those who apply are required to sign a document that says they will not hold the employer responsible if they catch the avian flu.

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