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Televangelist to Launch Christian Pro-Israel Lobby


Televangelist John Hagee told Jewish community leaders over the weekend that the 40 million evangelical Christians in the U.S. support Israel and that he plans to utilize this power to help Israel by launching a Christian pro-Israel lobby. The lobby, Christians United for Israel, is slated to launch in July, during a Washington conference in which hundreds of American evangelicals are slated to participate. He said his group would be a Christian - and more powerful - version of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a large pro-Israel lobby, and would target senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill.

Israel Begins Forming New Government

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli President Moshe Katzav opened talks with political parties presenting their choices for the country's next prime minister. Katzav is expected to appoint acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to form the next government.

Olmert's Kadima party won the most parliamentary seats, with 28. Since that is far short of a majority in the 120-member Knesset, or parliament, he will have to form a coalition with other parties.

Olmert should be able to cobble together a coalition with dovish, left-wing parties that support his plan for unilateral withdrawals from large parts of the West Bank during the next four years. He said that, with the recent election of the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, Israel does not have a Palestinian peace partner. So, Israel would draw its own borders unilaterally.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon began the process when he pulled Israel out of the Gaza Strip last August and dismantled all 21 settlements there. Sharon is in a coma, after suffering a stroke in January, and now Olmert is picking up where he left off.

"We are going in the area of conflict management," said Israeli spokesman Dore Gold. "This conflict, at present, with Hamas in power, cannot be resolved. The best way we can manage it may be with unilateralism, but, most importantly, from my perspective, it is maintaining something, which is really the Sharon tradition and the Sharon legacy. And that is defensible borders for Israel."

Palestinians reject the plan, because those borders include Israeli annexation of big West Bank settlement blocs. "If Israel does not choose to evacuate the West Bank the way it has evacuated the Gaza Strip, and decides not to opt for negotiations with the Palestinians, that will pose a problem, definitely," commented former Palestinian legislator Sabri Saddam. Hamas says the Israeli plan is a land grab that will lead to confrontation, not peace.

PA Foreign Minister: `No Place' for Israel on Middle East Map


The Palestinian Authority's new foreign minister, Mahmoud Al-Zahar of the Hamas told Xinhua, China's official news agency, that he envisions a map of the Middle East that does not have Israel on it.

Al-Zahar, who took office last week with the swearing in of the PA's new Hamas government, said, "I dream of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it."

Al-Zahar's statement echoes that of Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which he vowed "to wipe Israel off the map. I hope…to have our independent state on all historic Palestine (including Israel)."

The Hamas leader said he was confident his dream would ultimately turn into a reality "because there is no place for the state of Israel on this land." Al-Zahar emphasized that the Hamas opposed any negotiations with the Jewish state, and said the new PA government would reconsider all the previous agreements made between the PA and Israel, claiming those agreements were destroyed by Israel. "Do you want us to repeat the same experience?" he asked the interviewer.

"Israel wants to negotiate only for the sake of negotiations, but on the ground, it expands settlements and continues building the separation fence on the Palestinian territories," he said. "Israel doesn't want peace nor does it have any peace project. Therefore, we should not cheat our people and tell them that there will be negotiations."

Al-Zahar was pessimistic regarding the possibility of eventually accepting some form of two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, which might at least form the basis for a long-term cease-fire. "I want to ask, does Israel believe in the idea of two states?" he said. "Israel is deceiving the international community and it actually wants only a Jewish state and it just hopes to see the Palestinians have an autonomous regime."

Al-Zahar said the new Hamas cabinet might allow contacts with Israelis on certain occasions, as necessary for the day-to-day affairs of the Arab population it rules, but would not allow talks on the political level.

The Bush Administration, with the backing of the Quartet (the European Union, the UN, the U.S. and Russia), has been promoting a peace plan, called the "road map" which provides for establishing a peaceful Palestinian state living alongside Israel, as a means for resolving the Arab- Israeli dispute.

The U.S. had hoped to implement the road map with a PA government led by Fatah, the party of ruling PA head Mahmoud Abbas, which was more amenable to reaching a territorial compromise with Israel.

One of the conditions for implementing the road map was disarming the various Arab terrorist factions, including Hamas, which periodically launch deadly strikes at Israel from PA controlled territory. Al-Zahar said he opposed disarming Izzadin al-Qassam, the military wing of the Hamas, insisting the new Hamas government would continue supporting terrorist attacks against Israel. "Why should we disarm…while the Palestinian territories are still occupied?"

Despite Hamas' role in the murder of hundreds of Israelis since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, Al-Zahar said his organization does not hate Jews. He said Jews as well as Christians would still be able to live in the holy land, but only under the sovereignty of an Islamic state.

Gaza Casino Destroyed in IDF Bombing


A main reason for the withdrawal from Northern Gaza, some estimate, was only in order to build a casino - which has now been destroyed by the IDF in response to ongoing Kassam attacks.

Arab terrorists in Gaza have continuously fired Kassam rockets into the Negev and towards Ashkelon. From March 25-30, for instance, 11 Kassams and one mortar shell were fired at Israel, and another 15 were fired since then, including four today.

In response to the ongoing terrorism and attacks from the Palestinian Authority, the IDF has stepped up its artillery response over the Sabbath, from both the air and the sea. A seaside building used as a shelter for terrorists and for firing Kassams - and designated for future use as a casino - was partially destroyed in an IDF bombing on Friday night. The building is located just off the Mediterranean Sea shore in northern Gaza, very close to the former Jewish community of Elei Sinai.

In addition, two open and unpopulated areas were strafed in Gaza City. Afterwards, early Saturday morning, Israel Navy ships fired heavily at two areas in northern Gaza from where terrorists often fire rockets towards Ashkelon. IDF artillery units also shot dozens of shells at areas from where rockets are launched at Israel.

The bombed casino building served, according to evidence and testimony received by the IDF, as a center for firing Kassam rockets towards Israel. Its construction was completed not long ago, and it was originally to have served as a casino and entertainment center.

Some argue that the entire reason the withdrawal included the three Jewish communities in northern Gaza was in order to facilitate the construction of a casino in the area. Arutz-7 reported in July 2005 that ex-MK Shmuel Flatto-Sharon, together with Ariel Sharon's crony Cyril Kern, planned to build a casino in northern Gaza. This helped explain to many why the three northern Gaza Jewish communities were included in the withdrawal plans, despite all logic to the contrary, according to news analyst Haggai Huberman.

Huberman noted that northern Gaza was not included in the original Disengagement plan. "Even noted left-wingers such as Ami Ayalon, Ehud Barak and Uzi Dayan," Huberman wrote, "were opposed to withdrawing from northern Gaza, and did not see any logic to evacuating those communities. There was no Arab population there, and Israel had recently put up a separation fence in the area at a cost of 80 million shekels."

Flatto-Sharon told Arutz-7's Itzik Wolf, last July, that he had already been in contact with the Palestinian Authority regarding his plans to build the casino on the lands of what was Elei Sinai, one of the three Jewish communities in northern Gaza. Among his partners he counted a Saudi Arabian billionaire and Kern, an old war-time buddy of Ariel Sharon who has long lived in South Africa. In 2003, the police began investigating a $1.5 million loan that Kern made to Sharon and/or his sons. The information was considered so damaging by a State Prosecution attorney that just three weeks before the national elections, she secretly faxed the story to a reporter, later explaining that she hoped it would prevent Sharon from being re-elected as Prime Minister.

Construction on the building that was bombed, however, appears to have begun before Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last summer. The casino plan was also to include a motel and a 5-star, 400-room hotel. Security sources later said, however, that Israelis would not have been allowed into the area, thus placing the financial wisdom of such a plan in doubt.

Anglo Voters Sound Off on Election Apathy

By Ruben Brosbe (Jerusalem Post)

(This material is published under license from the publisher through ProQuest Information and Learning Company, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Israel News Faxx is a vendor to the Proquest database. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to ProQuest Information and Learning Company.)

Many Anglo voters reacted with disappointment and disillusionment to last Tuesday's record-low voter turnout and sounded off on the possible causes. "Even the weather was reacting to the election - gray. That summed up the election. There was no color, no excitement, just gray," said Nicole Greenspan, a 25 year-old immigrant from Toronto. When asked why so few people turned out to vote, Greenspan posited, "I feel that many people were just disappointed in our so-called options."

Sarra Zacks, a 26-year-old Detroit native who made aliyah in 2003, cited widespread apathy as the cause for the 63.2 percent voter turnout. Zacks was dismayed the lower turnout didn't benefit her choice, National Union/National Religious Party, as she expected prior to the elections. "I thought that they would have more votes and would be able to have more of a say in this Knesset."

"What surprised me was the lack of enthusiasm," 25- year-old Darrell Ginsberg told The Jerusalem Post. A Kadima voter originally from Toronto, Ginsberg was upset by "voter turnout being so low, a vote that could have gone so many ways. At 10 o'clock people weren't glued to their TVs. Nobody really cared."

Elana Kirsh, 23, a new immigrant from Sydney, said that "coming from a country where it's mandatory to vote, the concept of voter turnout is very foreign to me." Kirsh, a Labor voter, expressed surprise about Israel's political apathy. "I find it strange that in a country like Israel, where it seems like everyone has at least one strong opinion on something, that more people don't use voting as their chance to have their voice heard."

Golan Canaan, a 29-year-old immigration from Cincinnati, also voiced frustration. "With the whole national holiday type thing it doesn't seem like there is much excuse to not go in and vote. To have that few people go in vote seems sad."

Several Anglos also voiced dismay concerning the political system itself. For Canaan, the voting system seemed "primitive," adding that "the whole process was so basic and people were very unhelpful and standoffish."

(Editor's Note: Golan Canaan is the son of Israel News Faxx editor Don Canaan.)

Greenspan, a Likud voter didn't see a positive outlook for the new government's future. "The way the election turned out, and the poor numbers, I wouldn't be surprised if we find ourselves in another election in the next 14 months."

Zacks also expressed discontent: "I think it is a system where each party has only their interests at heart, and there is no party who is working for the good of the whole country. It is a system that easily lends room for bribery and corruption."

Dissatisfaction with the political system was an issue some parties tried to capitalize on before elections. "Kadima's offering an emphasis on governmental reform and American-style reform and constituency-based politics into a more stable democracy," said Alexander Chester, an Anglo Kadima activist.

However, Kadima failed to win a commanding majority and results show Israel heading towards another round of complicated coalition bargaining. It's an outcome that many Anglos hoped to avoid.

"I would rather that one party would have got enough votes so they wouldn't have to make these weak coalitions where you want to please too many people at once," said Darrell Ginsberg, an immigrant from Toronto.

(Copyright 2006 Jerusalem Post. All Rights Reserved. This material is published under license from the publisher through ProQuest Information and Learning Company, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Israel News Faxx is a vendor to the Proquest database. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to ProQuest Information and Learning Company.)

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