Newsletter : 7fax0402.txt
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German Chancellor Merkel Meets Israeli, Palestinian Leaders
By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem) & IsraelNationalNews.com
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Israeli and Palestinian leaders Sunday in the
latest international bid to revive the Middle East peace process. Germany and Israel enjoy
warm ties, but Merkel kept the Palestinian Authority at arms length.
Merkel is trying to build on fresh diplomatic momentum that has raised hopes of getting
the peace process back on track. Last week, Arab leaders revived a peace initiative,
offering Israel full diplomatic ties with all Arab states in exchange for an Israeli
return to the 1967 borders.
The chancellor holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, which is a key
player in the Middle East peace process. Her first meeting was with Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert in Jerusalem. He said that while Israel faces grave threats from its enemies, there
is also a new opportunity for peace with its Arab neighbors.
Olmert said the strong friendship between Israel and Germany will enable the two
countries to work together toward peace. Merkel said that Germany and the European Union
are committed to Israel's security. She said Europe would make every effort to help Israel
and the Palestinians get back to the negotiating table.
Merkel also traveled to the West Bank town of Ramallah for talks with Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas who urged Israel to accept the Arab peace initiative and take
constructive steps to move it forward.
But underscoring the complexities, Merkel refused to meet with Palestinian Cabinet
ministers from the Islamic terrorist group Hamas. Even though Hamas formed a unity
government with (current) moderates including Abbas last month, the group continues to
reject international demands to renounce violence and recognize Israel. She said that
until Hamas meets those conditions it cannot be a partner in the peace process.
Olmert used his news conference Sunday evening with Merkel to extend an invitation to
the king of Saudi Arabia, and to ask the king to invite him. "I would like to use the
opportunity that I am here with the President of the European Union," Olmert said, "to
invite all of the Arab leaders, including the Saudi king."
"I do not intend to tell them what to say, nor will I take dictations from them," he
said. "I want to announce to the leaders of the Arab states that if the Saudi king
initiates a meeting of the moderate states and invites me and the head of the Palestinian
Authority, I would be glad to go there and voice our opinions."
In related news, Olmert said that Israel is not planning to attack Syria. "The rumors
as if there is an American plan to attack Iran in coordination with Israel and that Israel
will attack Syria and the Hizbullah in Lebanon at the same time is (sic) unfamiliar to us,
untrue and unfounded."
Israel's military intelligence chief, Amos Yadlin, said Sunday that Syria, Iran and the
Hizbullah expect to be attacked in the summer and are building up their forces
Yadlin said the two states and the proxy army do not intend to open hostilities
themselves but are, rather, in a defensive mode. "They think there will be war in the
summer," said Yadlin, "not (initiated) by Israel but, for instance, by the USA."
Yadlin explained that a situation like this is volatile because of the danger that one
side might misinterpret actions taken by the other. Israel needs to prepare itself, he
said, but also to be careful not to take steps which might be misunderstood by the other
side. He mentioned the Six Day War and said that today, too, Israel "could find itself in
a war that no one wants."
Hamas Recruits Children to Terror Squads via TV Programs
A new Hamas video encourages the participation of children in terrorism and has been
broadcast on Hamas TV. The video focuses on Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin and portrays young
children as continuing the slain Islamist sheikh's legacy. Children are portrayed wearing
uniforms, holding rifles and participating in military training.
This is the second Hamas TV video in less than a week promoting terrorist activities to children. The first was the video dramatization of the four-year old daughter of female suicide bomber Reem Riyashi, singing to her dead mother and vowing to follow in her footsteps(See video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqHUdwePfbM).
High Court Suit: Strip Three Arab Knesset Members of Citizenship
In a precedent-setting petition to the Supreme Court, the Israel Law Center maintains
that three Arab Knesset members lost their Israeli citizenship - and thus their right to
be Knesset Members - when they traveled to Syria, an enemy country, last September.
The three Arab MKs are Azmi Bishara, Wassel Taha and Jamal Zehalka, of the Balad Party.
During their visit to Syria, they met with Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad and leading
members of the ruling Baath Party.
Israel Law Center's suit quotes Clause 5 of Israel's Emergency Regulations regarding
travel abroad (1948, 1954). The clause states, "An Israeli citizen or resident may not
enter [Syria or other specified countries] without permission from the Interior Minister
or the Prime Minister" - permission that was not received by the three MKs.
In addition, Clause 11 of the Citizenship Law of 1952 states, "An Israeli citizen who
left Israel illegally to one of the [forbidden countries]... shall be viewed as having
ceded his Israeli citizenship, and it shall be voided as of the day he left Israel."
Therefore, the ILC concludes, "Their Israeli citizenship was voided as of the day they
left Israel, and since a Knesset Member must be an Israeli citizen, they must be dismissed
as Knesset Members."
The ILC turned to Interior Minister Roni Bar-On two months ago, asking that the
citizenship of the three MKs be revoked. It also turned to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik at
the same time, demanding that she act to replace the three MKs in question with those who
succeed them on the Balad Party list.
Though Bar-On did not reply at all, Itzik responded that the MKs are protected by their
parliamentary immunity, which allows them to travel freely abroad except in time of war.
The lawsuit argues at length, however, that parliamentary immunity does not apply to the
loss of citizenship - and that even if it does apply in principle, a trip to Syria is
certainly not an inherent part of an MK's parliamentary duties that would protect him from
the penalties required by the law.
Leitner said, "The time has come to enforce the law against MKs who feel free to visit
enemy countries whose goal it is to liquidate the State of Israel, and to meet with
leaders who back the most murderous of attacks in Israel. The freedom to travel to these
countries granted to these MKs will end now; an Arab MK who wants to join up with the
enemy may no longer serve as a Knesset member."
First Army Salary: Negative Shekels
Before going off to serve in Israel's Defense Forces, often at risk of one's life and
for the paltry salary of 600 NIS (less than $150) per month, military recruits often start
off service with a personal deficit: A brief survey of some new recruits last month
revealed that a large percentage of them bought supplementary gear for the army, from
their own cash stores.
In many cases, recruits and their parents buy unnecessary equipment, or such that is
already provided by the army. In fact, the IDF insists that new recruits require no
personal gear in order to be fully equipped for service.
So why the shopping sprees? They are often due to uncertainty by parents and children
about what the enlistment process entails or simply due to efforts by army supply stores
to convince recruits that they need more stuff.
Dudu Yeffet, manager of the Ricochet military supply chain's branch in a central
Israeli mall, said that purchases by new recruits average between 600 to 800 NIS (about
$150 to $200) and can reach sums as high as 2,500 NIS (over $600).
The following is a list of the average supply list personally purchased for the
military (and based on the assumption that the three pair of 'delicates' and the three
cotton undershirts provided by the military will not last for the two or more weeks that
soldiers usually spend in the field).
The list includes six pair of underwear 150 NIS ($36); six pair of socks
100 NIS ($24); six pair of undershirts 150 NIS ($36); Locks 30 NIS ($7);
Shower shoes 30 NIS ($7; Flashlight 50 NIS ($12); Shoe polish - 20 NIS ($5);
Anti-chafing cream 40 NIS ($10); Insect repellent 25 NIS ($6); Insoles
50 NIS ($12); and toiletries 80 NIS ($20)
The total already reaches 725 NIS ($180), and that's before even factoring in a
backpack, wristwatch, laundry bag, gloves or wet-wipes. One can only hope that avoiding a
rash, shin splints or intense body odor is worth the cost.
IDF Sells Chametz, Dogs to Non-Jew
As part of the Passover preparations, the Israel Defense Forces has sold all the
military-owned dogs, along with the chametz (leavened food from one of the five primary
grains) to Laviv Naser al-Din, a Druze from Daliyat al-Carmel.
Jews traditionally sell their chametz to a non-Jew, so that it will not be in their
possession over the holiday while avoiding heavy losses. This year the IDF decided to sell
the dogs as well, as the dog-food supplier informed them that he could not supply 'Kosher
for Pesach' dog food. Therefore, the dogs had to be removed from Jewish ownership.
The sale ceremony was performed Sunday by Rabbi Avi Ronsky, IDF chief rabbi. Naser
al-Din paid a down payment for the chametz and the dogs. At the end of the holiday the
deal will be voided and both the chametz and the money will be returned to their
As the IDF rabbinate had never encountered this problem, approval had to be gained from
Defense Minister Amir Peretz, which caused a delay to the ceremony.
In reality, the dogs will remain with the soldiers, as the foodstuffs remain in army
warehouses, although they will officially belong to Naser al-Din over the holiday.
Secret of Pyramids Revealed?
A French architect said on Friday he had cracked a 4,500-year-old mystery surrounding
Egypt's Great Pyramid, saying it was built from the inside out.
Previous theories have suggested Pharaoh Khufu's tomb, the last surviving example of
the seven great wonders of antiquity, was built using either a vast frontal ramp or a ramp
in a corkscrew shape around the exterior to haul up the stonework.
But flouting previous wisdom, Jean-Pierre Houdin said advanced 3D technology had shown
the main ramp which was used to haul the massive stones to the apex was contained 10-15
meters beneath the outer skin, tracing a pyramid within a pyramid. "This is better than
the other theories, because it is the only theory that works," Houdin told Reuters after
unveiling his hypothesis in a lavish ceremony using 3D computer simulation.
Houdin began working full-time on the riddle eight years ago after a flash of intuition
passed to him by his engineer father, and five years before actually visiting the site. He
found that a frontal, mile-long ramp would have used up as much stone as the pyramid,
while being too steep near the top. He believes an external ramp was used only to supply
An external corkscrew ramp would have blocked the sight lines needed to build an
accurate pyramid and been difficult to fix to the surface, while leaving little room to
work. "What characterized the Egyptians was their sense of perfection and economy. We talk
of durable development now, but it was the Egyptians who invented it. They didn't waste a
single stone. They relied purely on intelligence," Houdin said.
Houdin also claimed to have shed light on a second enigma surrounding the purpose of a
Grand Gallery inside the pyramid. The Frenchman believes its tall, narrow shape suggests
it accommodated a giant counter-weight to help haul five 60-tonne granite beams to their
position above the King's Chamber.
He thinks that no more than 4,000 people could have built the pyramid using these
techniques rather than the 100,000 or so assigned by past historians to the task of
burying the pharaoh.
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