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Shtetl in the Negev: New Hareidi City Planned

By IsraelNationalNews.com

The government is expected to approve the establishment of a new city in the Negev sometime next week.

The new city, to be called Kasif, will provide housing for the rapidly growing hareidi-religious community. It will be located near Be'er Sheva, and planners hope that it will come to include over 20,000 hareidi families.

The project was planned by Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit, with the blessings of leading rabbis in the hareidi-religious community.


Hamas Issues Islamic Call for Genocide

By IsraelNationalNews.com

While Hamas has sought to strike a moderate tone in order to renew international funding since the Mecca Agreement with Fatah, it continues the calls for genocide of Jews.

In a recent sermon on PA TV, Hamas spokesman Dr. Ismail Radwan reiterated Hamas' classic ideology that: The Hour – the Islamic resurrection and end of days – is dependent on the killing of Jews by Muslims; The remaining Jews will unsuccessfully attempt to hide, but the rocks and trees will expose them, calling out "there is a Jew behind me, kill him"; "Palestine… will be liberated through the rifle," meaning that Israel will be destroyed through violence.

The Hamas spokesman ended his sermon with a prayer to Allah to "take" Israel and the USA. The following is the full text of the Hamas spokesman's call for genocide of Jews, translated by Palestinian Media Watch:

Hamas spokesman, Dr. Ismail Radwan (PA TV, March 30, 2007): "The Hour [Resurrection] will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, and the rock and the tree will say: `Oh, Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, kill him!'

"We must remind our Arab and Muslim nation, its leaders and people, its scholars and students, remind them that Palestine and the Al Aqsa mosque will not be liberated through summits nor by international resolutions, but it will be liberated through the rifle. It will not be liberated through negotiations, but through the rifle, since this occupation knows no language but the language of force…

"O Allah, strengthen Islam and Muslims, and bring victory to your Jihad-fighting worshipers, in Palestine and everywhere… Allah take the oppressor Jews and Americans and their supporters!"


Israel's Parliament Reviews Unofficial Israel-Syria Talks

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

A Syrian-American businessman and a former senior Israeli diplomat briefed a high-level Israeli parliamentary committee Thursday about their efforts to revive Israeli-Syrian peace talks. Both said peace is possible between the countries.

Ibrahim Suleiman, a Syrian-American businessman with close ties to Syria's leadership, and Alon Liel, the former director general of the Israeli foreign ministry briefed the influential Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee about the prospects for peace with Syria. After their talks, they told reporters they believe Israel and Syria could conclude a peace agreement in six months.

Suleiman and Liel held eight rounds of Swiss-brokered unofficial talks over the past three years. Both men said the talks took place with the knowledge and approval of senior officials in both countries. Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has downplayed the talks, saying Suleiman does not speak for the Syrian government, but Knesset members invited him to Israel to explain Syria's position. Suleiman said Syria is ready for peace with Israel.

"Syria is ready to talk peace right now," he said. "I am convinced that Bashar Assad [Syria's leader] is very sincere and very realistic in his talk. He wants to talk peace with Israel. Israel, please answer him. Talk peace to him."

Israel and Syria held multiple rounds of peace talks brokered by officials in the Clinton administration, but the talks collapsed in 2000 over the issue of who would control the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Israel captured the area along with the Golan Heights in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

During their unofficial talks, Suleiman and Liel drew up a plan for Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, and for Syria to stop its support for Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon and Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas. Under their plan the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee would be turned into a park that could be used by both Syrians and Israelis.

The two men said they submitted the plan to their respective governments, but received no response. Liel said he doubts if further progress can be made unless Syria scales back its ties with Iran, but if Syria does that, peace talks could be revived.

Israel's government had no official comment on Thursday's meeting. Unofficial talks between Israelis and their Arab neighbors are nothing new. Similar talks between Israelis and Palestinians in the early 1990s led to direct talks resulting in the 1993 Oslo Peace Accord.


Arab MK Wants All Israeli-Arab Terrorists Freed

By IsraelNationalNews.com

In a letter to Prime Minister Olmert, Knesset member Abbas Zakour said releasing all 150 Israeli-Arab terrorists from prison would "open a new page in Israeli-Arab relations."

The list of incarcerated terrorists whose freedom Hamas demands in return for the release of captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is under consideration by the Prime Minister. Olmert has expressed his "disappointment" with the inclusion on the list of several arch-terrorists responsible for many Israeli deaths.

Also on the list are some Israeli-Arab terrorist prisoners - and Arab MK Abbas Zakour said there should be more. "There are today nearly 150 Arab security prisoners [terrorists - ed.], men and women, residents of the State of Israel, who are imprisoned in Israeli jails, in most difficult conditions," Zakour wrote to Olmert.

"Mr. Prime Minister," wrote Zakour, "I think the time has come for the State of Israel and its government to open a new page with the Arab residents of the State. It would be right for the State of Israel to agree to the release of all the Arab prisoners - something that would contribute to co-existence in the State between the two sectors [Jewish and Arab]."

Israeli-Arabs have increasingly become involved in terrorist acts in Israel, and an internal Shabak (General Security Service) document says Israel's Arabs are a long-range strategic danger to Israel's character and very existence. The GSS has found that in the year 2006, 21 Israeli-Arab terror cells were uncovered, involving 24 Arab citizens. In 2005, the numbers were 17 terror cells involving 22 Arabs.

Arabs of Israel are generally recruited into terrorist gangs based on their family or business ties with Arabs of Judea and Samaria (Yesha). The terrorists in Yesha find it easier to transport weapons using the services of Israeli-Arabs who are not bound by restrictions at checkpoints and the like.

For instance, in November 2006, a smuggling cell of 10 Israeli-Arabs was found to be active in smuggling weapons from pre-1967 Israel to Judea and Samaria. In July 2006, an Israeli-Arab was arrested who confessed that during the war with Hizbullah, he transmitted information to a Lebanese Hizbullah drug-dealer regarding IDF forces, military plans, and location of rocket hits.

And on Thursday, two Israeli-Arabs - and one Jew - were each sentenced to 13 years in prison for having driven a Palestinian suicide terrorist to Netanya in the summer of 2005, in exchange for 1,000 shekels. The terrorist blew himself up outside a Netanya mall, murdering five and wounding 30. The lawyer for the Jewish defendant said his client did not know his passenger, whom they had driven before, was a terrorist, and that he would appeal.

Tel Aviv Magistrates Court Judge said they had been frequently warned of the dangers involved, and that on the day of the attack, they did not care enough to act on their suspicions even though they asked their passenger what he had in his bag. The Prosecution is considering appealing the light sentence.

A recent Haifa University survey found that though tens of thousands of Israeli-Arabs were forced into bomb shelters during last summer's war with Hizbullah, 90 percent of the Arab sector considers Israel's bombing of Lebanon to have constituted war crimes. Nearly half (48 percent) believe that Hizbullah's shelling of Israel was justified, and the same amount believe that Hizbullah's kidnapping of IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser was justified.


Peres: Invest in the Sea, not Judea/Samaria

By IsraelNationalNews.com

At a conference entitled "The Sea as an Economic Resource," Shimon Peres said Israel should stop investing in Judea and Samaria and build artificial islands in the Mediterranean instead.

The conference, which opened Wednesday, in the seaside town of Mikhmoret, north of Netanya, deals with "opportunities and threats presented by the sea." Topics on the agenda include pollution of the sea and coasts, the economic potential of the sea for Israel, and more. The conference is sponsored by the Ruppin Academic Center.

In his remarks, Peres said, "The State of Israel has a narrow waistline [less than 10 miles between Netanya and Tul Karem, for instance - ed.]... Israel has invested some 60 billion shekels in the territories [Judea, Samaria and Gaza]. Instead of this, we must invest in the sea, and stretch our western border in that direction by building artificial islands."

It was Peres who, as Minister of Defense in the mid-1970s, approved the establishment of the first Jewish communities, Kedumim and Elkanah, in Samaria. He has since become very anti-settlement.

Some view with irony his remarks about investing in the sea, especially in light of his well-known position in favor of a New Middle East and well-known Arab threats to throw the Jews into the sea.

Peres' support for artificial islands, though not a lone voice, is also controversial. Plans to build an international airport a quarter-mile offshore from north Tel Aviv are currently being discussed by an inter-ministerial committee. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Transportation Minister Sha'ul Mofaz recently agreed to proceed with plans on between one and five such islands along the central Israel coast between Bat Yam and Netanya as a way of alleviating central Israel's land shortage problem.

However, environmental groups such as the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (IUED) said that the idea gravely threatens the future of Israel's tranquil Mediterranean waters and sandy beaches. "Before the airport-island scheme gains irreversible momentum," IUED urges "full exploration of terrestrial alternatives, including direct development costs, environmental impacts, and feasibility of rail transport links to population centers."


Vatican Threatens to Boycott Jerusalem's Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony

By Reuters

The Vatican ambassador to Israel threatened on Thursday to boycott a Holocaust memorial ceremony next week over a museum's portrayal of Pope Pius XII's conduct during the Nazis' killing of Jews in World War Two.

Archbishop Antonio Franco said he had written to the director of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum asking for the revision of a caption suggesting the wartime Pope had been apathetic to the Jews' plight.

The caption, quoted in the Israeli press, says Pope Pius XII "abstained from signing the Allied declaration condemning the extermination of the Jews" and "maintained his neutral position throughout the war."

Archbishop Franco said that in his letter he advised the Holocaust museum he "would not feel comfortable going to Yad Vashem" unless the wording was amended or the photo removed. The photo appears in a new part of the museum that was opened in 2005.

Yad Vashem hosts Israel's annual state ceremony to mark Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, which will take place on Sunday.

Defenders of Pope Pius XII have said he did everything possible to help Jews, while critics have portrayed him as an anti-Semite and Germanophile whose views were formed while working in Germany before his election as Pope in 1939.

Yad Vashem, which contains the largest archive of data on the Holocaust, said in a statement it had told the Vatican's representative "it was willing to continue examining the issue." In its statement, Yad Vashem said it would welcome the opportunity to study the Vatican's archives relating to Pope Pius XII "to possibly learn new and different information" about him.

Historians have called on the Vatican to fully open archives for the papacy of Pius XII, which ended in 1958.


Spider Venom to Replace Viagra?

By YnetNews.com

The Rambam Medical Center in Haifa may be able to bring new hope for men suffering from impotence problems. A study being conducted at the hospital's sexual health clinic is aimed at determining whether a toxin secreted by spiders can help improve sexual performance among men.

The study was launched after researchers learned that men who had been bitten by spiders suffered from unusually prolonged erections.

Senior urologist Dr Ilan Gruenwald, of the Rambam neurology unit and sexual health clinic, has recently approached several pharmaceutical companies and asked them to participate in studies on the subject. A few of the firms have already shown great interest in the new research, which may bring about a revolution in the field of impotence therapy.

"This study is the first of its kind, and may help many men," Gruenwald stated. He explained that in the framework of the research, three types of spiders, which originate in South America and Africa, will be bred in a special habitat. The spiders' venom will be milked with a special sponge. One type of spiders to be used in the study is the notorious black widow.


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