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Falafel Sellers in Iraq Face Death


Iraq has banned the falafel and sellers of the deep-fried chickpea food staple face death. The reasoning behind the new law is that falafels did not exist when the Muslim prophet Mohammed lived. Several falafel vendors already have been shot and killed, UPI reported, without noting a specific number. The news service noted that automatic rifles also did not exist during Mohammed's lifetime.

Netanyahu: Overthrow Hamas


Former Prime Minister Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu told Voice of Israel Radio that the Hamas government should be overthrown. He said it could be done by economic and other means. "After all, there are cracks there."

He denounced Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan for more withdrawals and demolitions of Jewish communities as a step away from peace because "when the time of peace of will arrive, as I hope it will - we will have nothing on which to conduct peace (talks). We gave away everything."

The Likud party chairman reminded listeners that prior to last year's expulsions of Jews from the Gaza area, "we were assured that upon the first firing of a Kassam, a massive reaction would entail."

Hamas Agrees to Withdraw Militia from Public View in Gaza

By VOA News

An official of the Hamas-led Palestinian government said the Islamic group has agreed to withdraw its militia from public view in the Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad said Wednesday the group agreed to move its militia away from major roads and public places in a bid to ease tensions in Gaza.

Hamas took office after elections in January. Friction between it and the Fatah faction has led to clashes that have left at least 16 people dead. The Hamas decision to redeploy comes as tensions between the two groups continue to escalate.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah, has given Hamas until the end of the week to agree to a statehood plan that recognizes Israel. If Hamas does not agree, Abbas said he would schedule a referendum on the matter.

A spokesman for Abbas said Wednesday he would issue a decree Saturday on the referendum if Hamas does not agree to the statehood plan. Hamas does not accept Israel's right to exist.

The Hamas-led Palestinian government missed Abbas' initial deadline for accepting the plan, which was written by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. It calls for a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip alongside Israel.

Hamas has said it would not bow to international pressure and recognize the Jewish state. Western nations have suspended aid to the Palestinian Authority as a result, fueling a humanitarian crisis in the territories. A poll released on Tuesday indicates 77 percent of Palestinians favor a referendum.

Jordan's King Calls on Israel to Negotiate With Palestinians

By VOA News

Jordan's King Abdullah is calling on Israel to restart peace talks with the Palestinians. In an interview Wednesday with Yedioth Ahronoth, King Abdullah said Israel's relations with Jordan may be harmed if the Jewish state goes ahead with a unilateral pullout from parts of the occupied West Bank.

The interview came one day before Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert travels to Amman for talks with the king. Olmert has said he would set Israel's final borders by 2010 even if there is no Palestinian partner for peace. Israel refuses to negotiate with the Hamas-led Palestinian government and has called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, of the Fatah faction, irrelevant.

King Abdullah said that Israel should negotiate with Abbas who the king calls the Palestinian partner for peace. In the interview, King Abdullah said he supports a referendum planned by the Palestinian president. The referendum would ask Palestinians if they endorse a peace document drawn up by Palestinian prisoners. The document calls for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and recognizes the Jewish state.

The King said he hoped Olmert would present plans for re-starting peace negotiations. But Israeli political sources said Olmert hopes to win support for his unilateral plan to set Israel's borders if peace talks with the Palestinians fail.

Californian Tried to Use Birthright to Work for Arabs


The Birthright program that helps Jews discover Israel has found out that a California woman planned to join a pro-Arab program called Birthright Unplugged after arriving in Israel.

The mother of the woman, who goes by the name of Sierra and has refused to be interviewed, leaked her plans to Birthright out of fears for her daughter's safety. Birthright Unplugged's mission is to advance the "right of return" for "millions of Palestinians born in the land that has become Israel."

Solar Power Station to be Built in Negev


The Israeli government, in cooperation with private companies headed by former defense establishment officials, plans to build a solar power plant in the Negev. Within two and half years, Israelis are set to enjoy energy produced at the station, which according to plans will provide 50 percent of the country's electricity consumption in the future.

The revolutionary project is being promoted by Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who already received Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's blessing to go ahead with the program. The station is set to be erected near the Jordanian border and supply energy to the neighboring kingdom as well. King Abdullah himself has already expressed great interest in the initiative.

Peres said that Israel must develop technologies for producing solar energy that can replace the country's total dependency on gas, coal and fuel. "Israel must become a global leader in this field. It's better for us to rely on the sunlight, which we have in abundance, than on the politically-flavored Saudi oil," he stated.

Among the prominent people leading the program, the names of Arrow and Comet missiles developer, Engineer Dov Raviv, and of former Prime Minister's Office Director-General Amos Yaron, stand out.

In the coming days, the State is expected to sign an agreement with Raviv's company MST, which will invest $5 million in the project. "Israel is facing a serious problem, and solar energy is a source that can sustain us for billions of years," Raviv said.

Raviv claimed that the world's oil and gas reserves stand to run out within 40 years. The power station, he said, would be able to provide 50 percent of Israel's energy consumption after 15 years, and 80 percent of consumption after 30. The project will also supply jobs for thousands of employees, mostly Negev residents.

25th Anniversary of Israeli Bombing of Iraq´s Nuclear Plant


Wednesday, June 7, marked the 25th anniversary of the world's first air strike against a nuclear plant - the Israel Air Force bombing of the French-built Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq in 1981.

The 70-megawatt uranium-powered reactor, located 18 miles south of Baghdad, was near completion at the time, but was not stocked with nuclear fuel. This meant there was no danger of a leak or contamination as a result of the bombing.

The Israeli Government explained afterwards that the reactor would have been ready, within 10 weeks, to produce Hiroshima-size atomic bombs, presenting "a mortal danger to the people of Israel... Under no circumstances will we allow an enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction against our people." The government scheduled the attack for a Sunday, when the French workers at the site would be off duty.

To mark the anniversary, BBC interviewed former Iraqi scientist Dr. Imad Khadduri, who witnessed the Israeli bombing. He made headlines by saying that the attack led Iraq to develop its nuclear program. Khadduri admitted that there had been some "dabbling" in nuclear physics beforehand, but charged that the "political decision ordering us to make the bomb" followed the Israeli attack.

Khadduri told BBC that Iraq "managed exceedingly well in hiding the scope of its program from foreign intelligence eyes - whether it was Mossad, the CIA or MI6 - until after the 1991 war" when the U.S. attacked Iraq following the latter's invasion of Kuwait. "When the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors arrived, they finally managed to put the pieces of the program together on the ground, but only over a period of one year after that war." Iran will be able to learn from Iraq's experience in this area, Khadduri said.

BBC also spoke with strategic experts at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. Yossi Alpher said he believes the attack "definitely made both Israel and the Middle East a safer place for years to come."

The Center's deputy head Ephraim Kam was more specific, saying that if Osirak had not been destroyed, Iraq would likely have had a nuclear weapon before it invaded Kuwait. Such a weapon, he said, would likely have prevented the U.S. from fighting against Iraq in 1991 or in 2003.

Many Israelis note that Iraq fired deadly Scud missiles at it during the 1991 war - a poor substitute for the bomb it would have liked to use instead.

Six F-15 jets and two F-15s took part in the mission. They were flown by Mission Commander Ze'ev Raz, Amir Nachumi, Amos Yadlin, Dubi Yaffe, Haggai Katz, Yiftach Spector, Yisrael Relik Shafir, and Ilan Ramon. Ramon later became Israel's first astronaut, and was killed in the Columbia shuttle spacecraft in 2003.

One of the last to brief the pilots and wish them well was the late IDF Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan, known as Raful. Still in the seven-day mourning period for his son Yoram, an air force pilot who had been killed in a training accident, Raful told them, "You've all read the Bible. You know the history of our people." After mentioning Moses, Joshua's entry into the Promised Land, Kings David and Solomon, and the dispersion among the nations, Raful continued, "We've kept our identity as a people. And now, nearly 2,000 years later, we are reunited as a nation...

"And now, we are faced with the greatest threat in the long history of Israel - annihilation and destruction of our country with atomic bombs by a madman terrorist who cares nothing for human life. We must not allow him to achieve the ability to build the bomb that could destroy us."

The final word at that early Sunday morning meeting was had by Air Force Commander David Ivry, who said, "God be with you."

The Israeli attack, which was totally successful and totally destroyed the reactor, was condemned at the time by the world community, including the United States and the UN Security Council. Then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who had authorized the mission, despite objections by then-opposition leader Shimon Peres, did not go on the defensive.

"Despite all the condemnations which have been heaped on Israel for the last 24 hours," Begin announced, "Israel has nothing to apologize for. In simple logic, we decided to act now, before it is too late. We shall defend our people with all the means at our disposal."

The United States suspended the sale of F-16s to Israel in response to the attack, but quietly canceled the suspension less than three months later.

In 1991, just a week after the U.S. invaded Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, a photograph was handed to the man who served in 1981 as head of Israel's Air Force, David Ivry. The photo showed the bombed Osirak reactor, and included a hand-written note on the bottom: "With thanks and appreciation. You made our job easier in Desert Storm." It was signed: "Dick Cheney" - the man who served at the time as U.S. Secretary of Defense, and is now the Vice President of the United States.

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