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Electric Power Cuts to Prevent Massive Blackouts


Israel's electric company has initiated selective power cuts throughout the country in order to prevent a massive blackout due to demands during the current heat wave. The situation of virtually no excess capacity at the country's generating stations is becoming increasingly grave each winter and summer during severe heat and cold waves. The electric company apologized and said the power cuts will be short. Hundreds have been stranded in elevators and some people have been taken to hospitals when their home-based medical equipment failed.

Ex-Mossad Chief Warns of Muslim European Cities


Ephraim Halevy, a former Mossad director, said Sunday that `by mid-century major cities in Germany, Russia will have Muslim majority; We are in the middle of World War Three."

Halevy told a meeting of the board of trustees of the Technion in Haifa that in his estimation "by the middle of the century major cities in Germany will have a Muslim majority and so will many federations in Russia."

He said that he had spoken recently with a Russian official who disagreed with his prediction regarding the growing Muslim population in Europe.

The former head of the Mossad also addressed the issue of Hamas, saying it is "a young movement, only 19 years-old, and it is a ruthless enemy of Israel. The success of the defense establishment in fighting this organization is immense. Since the disengagement Hamas is not working against Israel, not because it likes Israel but because it's acting against its own interests."

Halevy said he was pondering over whether Hamas' proposal for a long-term Hudna (ceasefire) should be reexamined: "Despite it all, in a changing world like ours, we to think differently, and I suggest we assess the long-term Hudna proposal. If the Hudna is for many years, that means it's no longer a ceasefire but a truce. That begs the question – can yesterday's devil become today's partner?"

He said he does not believe Israel should insist that Hamas recognize Israel. "We don't need its recognition. It needs Israel's recognition more."

Olmert Says Talks with Palestinians His Top Priority

By VOA News &

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said peace talks with the Palestinians are his top priority, but said the Palestinians must carry out all their international commitments.

During his first visit to Egypt as Prime Minister Sunday, Olmert announced plans to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at a date still to be chosen. However, Mubarak is scheduled to meet with Abbas on Monday, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Information.

The two leaders met at the presidential estate in Sharm el-Sheikh. Although Olmert and Mubarak have had numerous phone conversations since former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was felled by a massive stroke in January, this was the first meeting between the two men since Olmert became prime minister.

He said he hopes the Palestinians will take advantage of what he calls this opportunity and implement all their commitments so both sides can proceed along the road map to peace, the two-state solution for the Middle East. Olmert has threatened to unilaterally redraw the Israeli border with the West Bank if no deal can be reached with the Palestinians.

During the meeting and the news conference that followed, Olmert tendered an official apology to Mubarak for last week's shooting which took the lives of two Egyptian police officers. The formation of a joint Israeli-Egyptian committee was announced prior to the meeting to investigate the shooting.

IDF soldiers fired when three men they believed were terrorists crossed the border into Israeli territory late last week. Two were killed and a third man fled. Israeli security forces later confirmed that the three were Egyptian police officers. Their bodies were returned to Egypt.

Meanwhile, at least four Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip Sunday - including a woman eight months pregnant - in violence between Hamas and Fatah factions. The woman died when a gunman opened fire on her car carrying two suspected Hamas terrorists in the town of Khan Yunis. Three bystanders were also killed in Gaza City during a shootout between Hamas and Fatah gunmen.

Palestinian Tensions Rise as New Militia Deploys in West Bank

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

The deployment of a new security force in the West Bank is raising tensions between rival Palestinian factions. And with a financial crisis deepening, terrorist groups have issued threats against Palestinian banks.

A 2,500-man security force, loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement, has deployed in the West Bank town of Jenin, in a new challenge to the government led by Hamas.

Members of the so-called "Special Protection Unit" marched in the streets, carrying a picture of former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. About 70 of the men were armed.

Members of the new force said it was a response to Hamas' deployment of a similar unit in Gaza two weeks ago. That led to gun battles between Hamas and Fatah militiamen, raising fears of a Palestinian civil war.

Israeli analyst Gil Yaron said Fatah, which lost parliamentary elections in January, is settling accounts with Hamas. "I think, they have reverse roles, and Fatah is openly saying it. They're saying, 'you know exactly what you did to us when we were in power, [now] we're going to do to you, so you won't have a chance to succeed."

Aggravating tensions are international sanctions that have left the Hamas government flat broke. The salaries of 165,000 government employees are three months overdue. The U.S. and Europe have offered to restore hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, if Hamas renounces violence and recognizes Israel, but the group has refused.

To alleviate the financial crisis, Palestinian banks have decided to provide interest-free loans to some 40,000 government employees. The banks had been reluctant to cooperate with the Hamas government, fearing U.S. sanctions. But the loans were announced after four armed Palestinian factions threatened to attack the banks, if salaries to government workers were not paid.

Poll: 44 Percent of West Bank Settlers Prepared to Leave Homes

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

With Israel's new government planning to relinquish large parts of the West Bank, a growing number of Jewish settlers are giving up the struggle for their homes. At the same time, Israel is strengthening settlements in areas it plans to keep.

A poll shows that 44 percent of Jewish settlers would be ready to leave their West Bank homes, without resistance, if the Israeli government decides to remove them. That's an increase of 25 percent over a year ago.

Times have changed since Israel dismantled all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip last August. Back then, many settlers resisted the pullout.

There are few illusions this time around. With Prime Minister Ehud Olmert planning unilateral withdrawals from most of the West Bank, many settlers believe that fighting for their homes is a lost cause.

Parliamentarian Benny Eilon heads the far-right wing National Union party, which supports settlement in all the biblical land of Israel. He says many settlers do not want to be part of a project that is no longer supported by their government.

"They are strong, but even strong people can feel that this is a real crisis," he said. "And I hope, and I wish, that we'll overcome these obstacles."

While Olmert plans to remove dozens of settlements, his plan also calls for annexing major settlement blocs. Israel also intends to hold on to the strategic Jordan Valley in the West Bank as a buffer zone. With that in mind, officials have revealed that a new settlement is under construction in the Jordan Valley, to ensure that the area is not handed over to the Palestinians.

Palestinians say the new settlement, called Maskiot, violates the "road map" peace plan, which calls for a settlement freeze. But with the Islamic militant group Hamas heading the Palestinian Authority, Israel believes the road map to peace is dead. So, it is making plans to draw its final border on its own.

Rabin Assassin Retracts Denial of Semen Smuggling Charges

By Ha'aretz

The assassin of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin has retracted his claim that the Shin Bet security service fabricated charges that he attempted to smuggle his own semen out of prison to his fiancée.

A video tape showing Yigal Amir attempting to smuggle a plastic bag containing his own semen out of prison to his fianceé, Larisa Trimbobler, was screened last week during a retrial over the decision recommending he stand trial for the attempt. After viewing the tape, Amir retracted his claim against the Shin Bet.

The smuggling attempt took place two and a half months ago. Amir was punished with a 30-day revocation of his visitation rights, a 14-day revocation of his telephone privileges, and a NIS100 (about $22) fine.

Amir has been fighting for his right to marry and have children for the last two years. The murder convict married Trimbobler by proxy after the Israel Prisons Service, backed by the attorney general, forbade holding the ceremony in prison.

The couple attempted to smuggle the sperm only a day after the IPS announced it would allow Amir and Trimbobler to conduct an artificial insemination procedure. Conjugal visits were denied for security reasons.

New Religious-Zionist Pamphlet: "Our Way at This Time"


A pamphlet distributed in synagogues throughout the country attempts to set a path for consensus in the religious-Zionist sector in the event of future withdrawals.

Signed on the 15-paragraph document are leading religious-Zionist leaders such as Rabbis Chaim Druckman, Yaakov Ariel, Shlomo Aviner, Tzfaniah Drori, Moti Elon, Eli Sadan, Aryeh Stern, Chananel Etrog, Yigal Kaminetzky, David Stav, Avi Gisser, and more.

Some of them, however, agree more with the "spirit" of what is written, rather than all of its details.

The document begins with this introduction: "Out of a true connection with the public, and out of a sincere attentiveness to the troubles we face today, we sense the need to map clear directions for the public in times of crisis; and out of a recognition that where there is a vacuum, all sorts of unclear opinions burst forth - the undersigned group of rabbis has gathered to formulate clear guidelines regarding the path of Religious Zionism at this time, and to take responsibility for disseminating these principles and teaching by their light."

The document makes the following assertions: "We are in the midst of the Divine process of the Return to Zion. We are seeing, with our own eyes, the fulfillment of the vision of the Prophets and of our prayers after 2,000 years of exile. At the same time, we are also in a period of crisis, placing before us fundamental questions as to the way in which this vision will be fulfilled and how we are to relate to the difficult events we are experiencing.

"We will not allow ourselves to be dragged into a civil war; we will not raise our hand against our brother; we will act with all our might to increase unity among the nation. Throughout history, whatever we achieved was the result of our unity, and the troubles that befell us resulted from disunity.

"The entire Nation of Israel - not a particular party or sector - is the object of Redemption. The Divine Spirit upon the entire nation is that which arouses us - openly and hiddenly - to act with G-d in bringing about the Redemption. Whatever we do to build the Nation and rejuvenate it in its Land is therefore for the Nation and in its service [b'shlichutah].

"The State of Israel is the actual manifestation of the Jewish People's sovereignty in its Land. It has its shortcomings, but above all, it features the Sanctification of G-d's Name in the very fact of the return of the Jewish People as a living nation in its Land…

"Certainly, we are all loyal only to G-d and His Torah... We are partners in this state in order to fulfill G-d's will, to inherit the Land and to be a unified nation here. This means that if we are told, in the name of the State or the army, to violate a Torah command, even a minor one, we will not listen. This is the partnership we all agreed to: the State cannot tell an individual to act against his conscience - but the individual or a minority can also not force his opinion on the majority. We therefore will not act with force to impose our will on the general public - not regarding Torah and its commandments, and not regarding the Land of Israel."

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