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Labor Candidate: Ready to Give Away the Golan?


According to an online paper by his supporters, Knesset member Ami Ayalon, a candidate for Labor party head, supports giving the Golan to Syria as part of a future peace deal.

Ayalon would keep Jewish settlements, his supporters explained, by renting part of the area from Syria. Supporters explained that Ayalon's political views are "a bit to the right of [Labor candidate Ehud] Barak and a bit to the left of [Likud head Binyamin] Netanyahu."

They said that the idea of renting the Golan was not meant to mean giving up the Golan, but rather to "send a message of hope" that "things could be different."

Israel Rules Out Large Scale Offensive in Gaza

By VOA News

Israeli officials said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has authorized limited operations against Palestinian terrorists in Gaza following Tuesday's rocket attacks. But the officials said Olmert decided against a large-scale military operation in the Palestinian territory when he met Wednesday with his top Cabinet ministers and military commanders.

The armed wing of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas said Tuesday that a five-month truce with Israel was over. It said it fired the barrage of rockets and mortar shells from Gaza into Israel to avenge Israel's killing of nine Palestinians a few days ago. Israel said the attacks caused no injuries or damage.

On Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas blamed Israel for the escalation, but he stopped short of saying the truce was over. Israel blames Hamas for the escalation, saying they have been involved in helping other terrorists attack the Jewish state.

Journalists Demonstrate at Gaza Border for Release of BBC Correspondent

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Foreign and Palestinian journalists demonstrated on both sides of the Israel-Gaza border Wednesday calling for the release of BBC Gaza Correspondent Alan Johnston, kidnapped more than six weeks ago.

Johnston's colleagues called for his release on Wednesday, 45 days after he was abducted by gunmen in the Gaza Strip. More than 100 members of the Foreign Press Association traveled to the Erez Crossing on the Israel-Gaza border for the demonstration.

And on the other side of the crossing, dozens of Palestinian journalists held a similar demonstration.

FPA chairman Simon McGregor-Wood noted that since Johnston's kidnapping most foreign journalists have avoided Gaza. "This place is as far as many of us feel safe to go since Alan's abduction. We need to go to Gaza," he said. "We need to be able to cover this important story, to understand what's going on and to tell people's stories. We need the kidnappings to stop."

Alan Johnston was the only foreign correspondent permanently based in the Gaza Strip. He was kidnapped just days before his three-year posting was scheduled to end. Nothing has been heard from him since, and fears have been raised about his safety.

Last week, an unknown Palestinian group said Johnston was killed because Israel refused to release Palestinian prisoners. Just a few days ago, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he had good information that Johnston is alive and well, but he gave no indication about when he might be released.

Media reports say Johnston is being held by a large Gaza clan said to be involved in smuggling and other criminal activities.

Jonathan Miller, the BBC's deputy head of newsgathering, appealed again on Wednesday to those holding Johnston to release him, saying his colleague has paid a heavy price for trying to bring the Palestinian story to the rest of the world.

"And we make a plea directly to those who are holding Alan, to set him free," he said. "His only offense was to expose himself to personal danger of because of a strong desire to bring the story of Gaza to the outside world. He has paid a heavy and undeserved price for his commitment. He has suffered enough. Let him go."

More than a dozen foreign journalists and aid workers have been kidnapped in Gaza in recent months, although nearly all have been released after being held for only a short period of time.

Gag-Order Lifted: Arab Ex-MK Suspected of Aiding Hizbullah


The gag-order preventing the publication of the crimes of which former Arab Knesset member Azmi Bishara is accused was removed by an Israeli court Wednesday afternoon.

Bishara is accused of aiding an enemy during wartime, transmitting information to an enemy, and contact with a foreign agent, violations of money-laundering laws, and more. He is under suspicion of having received a large amount of money for his acts, some of which occurred during last year's Second War in Lebanon. The former MK allegedly pocketed the money in his personal bank account.

A Petach Tikva court partially lifted the gag-order on the inquiry on Wednesday afternoon. The court plans to allow publication of the full story within a week.

Bishara, who was questioned by police twice in the past, told his interrogators that he plans to leave the country, but would return for a continued investigation. After leaving the country last month, friends now say it is not certain whether he plans to return in the near future. He has surfaced in Jordan, Qatar and Egypt, and his family returned to Israel last week.

Bishara's resignation, submitted to the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Sunday, took effect Tuesday).

MK Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) said that Bishara "must be caught, wherever he is in the world, and brought to Israel on charges of treason." Some instances of treason during wartime, as well as Nazi war crimes, are the only crimes punishable by death under Israeli law.

MK Yoel Hason (Kadima) said he will work to establish a Knesset inquiry committee into the former Knesset Member's behavior and the grave suspicions against him. "Today the true face of Israel's greatest traitor has been revealed," Hason said. "The Knesset must investigate, and must decide regarding security clearances for all MKs, and for Arab-party MKs in particular."

A Yisrael Beiteinu party statement reads: "Azmi Bishara is not the problem, but rather its display window. Bishara and his friends have long crossed the red line, but the State has hidden its head in the sand. Our party tried in the past to prevent the entry of the Trojan horse into the Knesset..."

Hebron activist Baruch Marzel demanded that the Attorney General outlaw Bishara's political party, Balad. "The Attorney General must correct the injustice that was done when our pleas [to outlaw Balad] were not answered," Marzel said, noting that the Israeli political system outlawed Rabbi Meir Kahane's Kach party in the 1980s.

Obama: 'Tough' Talk Needed on Mideast

By Israel Faxx News Services

A two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires outreach and a "tough discussion," Sen. Barack Obama, a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination for president, said.

"We have to be very hardheaded and clear-eyed about the dangers that exist throughout the Middle East in those who seek to perpetrate terror against the United States as well as Israel," Obama (D-Ill.) said Tuesday at the National Jewish Democratic Council's Washington conference, where he appeared with every other Democratic candidate for the presidency.

"But we also have to recognize that the status quo is not inevitable, that we can aspire to something greater, and that if we can find partners on the other side who are committed to recognizing Israel and are committed to renouncing violence, that we have the need to reach out to them and that we should want to have that difficult, tough discussion, but nevertheless have that discussion about how we're going to arrive at what I think everybody wants, which is two states living side by side in peace and security."

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