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Ahmadinejad: Dialogue Won't Stop Our Nuke Plans


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he welcomes the possibility of talks being carried out with the USA at the conference between Iraq's neighbors that is due to be held in Egypt.

However, speaking at the city of Sirjan in Iran, added ominously: "if the US thinks that it can stop Iran's nuclear plan through dialogue, it is mistaken."

Israel's Foreign Minister Calls on Olmert to Resign

By Jim Teeple (VOA News)

Pressure mounted on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign on Wednesday. Israel's Foreign Minister called on Olmert to step down following the publication this week of a report critical of his leadership during last year's war in Lebanon.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who consistently scores high in the polls, called a news conference late Wednesday to say she is withdrawing her support from Israel's increasingly beleaguered Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Livni said that in a meeting she had with Olmert she told him resigning is the right thing to do, but she said she has no idea of whether he will follow her advice. At the same time, she said she will seek to replace Olmert as leader of the centrist Kadima Party and that she opposes new elections for the time being.

Livni is the most senior Israeli politician so far to call for Olmert to step down. Earlier in the day, the Kadima Party leader in the Knesset also said it is time to form a new coalition with a new prime minister. Polls published Wednesday in major newspapers indicate about two-thirds of Israelis want Olmert to step down.

Olmert said he would not resign, despite the publication of a report on Monday that blamed him, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former Defense Forces Chief Dan Halutz, for not having a proper plan when Israel went to war in Lebanon, last year. Halutz resigned in January, and Peretz is expected to step down shortly.

Newspaper columnist Uri Dromi said another key test of whether Olmert stays or goes would come Thursday. He said support for the prime minister is slipping away. "It is wavering. It all depends on what the response of the public will be. People are organizing a rally for Thursday, hoping that thousands and thousands will show up and take to the streets - eventually start such a snowball effect that will bring the prime minister down."

If Olmert resigns he could remain as a caretaker prime minister until a new coalition is formed. Israel's caretaker president could also name a successor to form a new government. Media reports said a leading candidate to replace Olmert is Tzipi Livni.

Arab-Israelis Fear Bishara Affair May Lead to Mass Deportation


Israel's Arab minority fear the revelation that former Knesset Member Azmi Bishara is suspected of aiding Hizbullah during last summer's war will dent their precarious relations with the Jewish majority, Arab Israeli leaders said Wednesday. Some of them fear that the Jewish State will deport its Arab citizens during a future war.

According to suspicions, Bishara contacted a Hizbullah official during last summer's war in Lebanon and handed him information on strategic locations in Israel for the Shiite group to target. Bishara allegedly received hundreds of thousands of shekels in exchange for his cooperation.

"Perhaps in the short term the Jews will not pay attention to the Bishara affair due to the Winograd report, but in the long term this will affect relations," said Prof. Aziz Haidar of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. "The Jews will perceive the allegations as further proof that `some action must be taken against the Arabs'."

Haidar said a mass deportation of Israel's Arab citizens is not out of the question. "The Jewish public is prepared to accept any act against the Arab population; therefore, the Arabs are discussing the possibility of a second Nakba ("catastrophe" in Arabic - refers to the flight of Palestinian Arabs during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war).

"In a situation of chaos and war in the Middle East, Israel will use all means possible to repeat what happened in 1948. If, God forbid, another war breaks out, the chances would increase that Israel would expel thousands of Arabs from their homes to `diminish the demographic threat'," he said.

"I have been claiming for a while now that if the current situation persists, a confrontation between the two communities will erupt soon and will be more severe than the October 2000 riots. I intend to say this to Prime Minster Ehud Olmert during our scheduled meeting with him next week."

Jafar Farah, director of the The Mossawa Center - The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel – is also fearful of mass deportation. "The Arab population is not taking the calls for a `transfer' and evacuation lightly," he said. "This atmosphere of incitement is already being expressed in verbal attacks against the Arab-Israelis. I fear that certain elements will try to take advantage of the situation and the lack of leadership to physically attack Arab citizens. The media must prevent this deterioration, which is being led by the extreme right."

According to Haidar, many Israeli Jews believe the allegations against Bishara are well-founded, as they "are always willing to accept anything related to security issues without asking questions. "I believe the Shin Bet learned its lesson, and instead of letting Bishara become a martyr they kicked him out of the country."

Abbas: Location of Kidnapped British Reporter Known

By VOA News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said security forces know the location of a kidnapped British reporter Alan Johnston but fear a rescue operation could endanger his life.

Abbas said Wednesday that he is working to find a safe way to end Johnston's detention. An in Gaza City, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said negotiators have persuaded Johnston's captors to drop some of their demands.

Palestinian security official Rashid Abu Shbak said Tuesday his forces know the identity of Johnston's kidnappers. But the official said Britain has asked Palestinian authorities not to mount a rescue operation out of fear it could endanger Johnston's safety.

Johnston was the only Western reporter permanently based in the Gaza Strip at the time of his abduction. Nothing has been heard from him since he was kidnapped on March 12.

A previously unknown Palestinian terrorist group, calling itself The Brigades of Tawheed and Jihad, said last month it had killed him. The Committee to Protect Journalists said 14 journalists have been abducted in Gaza since 2004 but that all the other journalists were released unharmed.

Jewish Family Secretly Leaves Iraq


A Jewish family secretly left Iraq several days ago and settled in a community in northern Israel, Jewish Agency head Zeev Bielski reported to the prime minister Tuesday.

According to the report, the family used to live in the Baghdad area and arrived in Israel through a European country. The parents and their two children had lived among Muslims and concealed their religious affiliation from their neighbors.

Jews rarely immigrate to Israel from Iraq. The large majority of the country's Jewish community, which comprises several thousand people, lives in the Kurd region in northern Iraq. Some 30 to 40 Jews still reside inside Baghdad, and another few thousand mixed families live just outside the capital.

"The Kurdish Jews are eager to come to Israel, but the Iraqi Jews are less interested. They do not conduct a Jewish lifestyle and they conceal their Jewishness so not to arouse suspicion. In most cases, their neighbors don't know that they are Jewish," Yossi Shraga, head of the Middle East and Iran aliyah desk in the Jewish Agency explained.

Following the second Gulf War, the Jewish Agency sent an emissary to Iraq to meet with the Jewish community in the country and help those wishing to emigrate to do so. Seven Jews were brought to Israel after that visit. Since then, only a few Jews have arrived in the country each year. But in 2006, several dozen Jews emigrated from Iraq.

Civilian Security: Israel's "Golden Egg"


A delegation of managers of some of the largest airports in the US is on its way to Israel to learn the latest developments in airport security. The directors of airports in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Oakland and nine other cities are scheduled to arrive in Israel on May 6 as guests of the Foreign Ministry and the Export Institute.

The delegation will visit Israel's upgraded international airport known as Natbag [Ben Gurion International Airport] 2000, as well as Israel Police control installations, and more. The Americans will meet with security experts responsible for the sites.

Meetings will also be held with the heads of 30 Israeli companies providing security solutions. It is hoped and expected that the meetings will lead to the signing of contracts with the Americans.

Export Institute Chairman David Artzi said that the export of civilian security systems is considered the "golden egg" of Israeli exports. In 2006, Artzi said, this sector grew by 20 percent, to $1 billion. This year it is expected to grow by another 20 percent, to $1.2 billion.

Was Jack the Ripper a Polish Jew?

By Israel Faxx News Services

A South African historian says he may have identified Jack the Ripper as a Polish Jew. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Charles van Onselen's new book notes parallels between the unsolved London case and the exploits of Joseph Silver of Johannesburg.

Toward the end of "The Fox and The Flies: The World of Joseph Silver, Racketeer and Psychopath," van Onselen cites overlap between the life and personality of Silver, a Polish-born Jew also known as "King of Pimps," and Jack the Ripper, who killed at least five prostitutes in the late 19th century.

Silver was in White Chapel during that period, and as a brothel owner would have had access to local prostitutes, van Onselen noted. He also shared Jack the Ripper's hatred of women and his tendency to write litigious letters.

Van Onselen, a crime historian, acknowledged that these could be coincidences, but "in terms of a template for this person, in terms of age, personality, mental illness, pattern for rest of life, this is the best fit there has ever been," he told the AP.

A Polish-born Jew was a prime suspect in the case at the time, leading to an anti-Semitic backlash. Silver was executed by Poland in 1918 for spying.

Middle East Peace a Reality in New Game

By Reuters

Many have tried. All have failed. But with a new computer game, you can make peace in the Middle East.

ADVERTISEMENT The software, called "PeaceMaker" and manufactured by Israeli and U.S. programmers in the United States, allows you to play the part of the Israeli prime minister or the Palestinian president and make diplomatic, security and economic decisions.

The interface shows a map of Israel and the Palestinian territories. Windows pop up periodically, each presenting a picture or video of a scenario, such as a Palestinian suicide bombing or an Israeli air strike, likely to trigger a response.

As in real life, each move leads to a reaction by a party to the conflict or within the international community. The goal of the peacemaker is to reach compromises and eventually a peace agreement, leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state. "The secret is to opt for the middle route, to walk between the drops and not make radical decisions," said one of the developers, Israeli native Asi Burak. "You have to know when to ignore things and when to respond."

If you play the Israeli leader and order an air strike following a Palestinian attack, you risk stoking Palestinian anger and more violence. A tough military response might also draw criticism from world powers, who may deny you support. But if you choose not to respond militarily, you may face criticism at home, and could eventually be voted out of office.

As Palestinian president, you will likely win support from Israel and the international community if you rein in militants after a suicide bombing in the Jewish state, according to the game's parameters.

But confronting militants could make you unpopular among a Palestinian electorate that voted the Islamic group Hamas into office in 2006. A more cautious approach might be to demand Israel stop military action in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

Burak and Eric Brown created the game as a project during their time at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, which has since used it in its courses. They began selling it online earlier this year under their label ImpactGames. "We tried to answer all the things that we felt were critical—Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem, so that it would stay timeless," Burak said. "We did not name names of leaders."

He said he and Brown consulted with Palestinian students as they were developing the game and also had Muslims and Jews, including Palestinians and Israelis, test it periodically. Still, he said, some people let bias cloud their judgment.

"It depends how people approach it psychologically and what kind of baggage they are carrying," Burak said. "Many Israelis have said they found it very difficult playing the Palestinian side, for example. Also, people tend to play their own side. "The scenarios pop up randomly, but many are based on sequences of events that have occurred in the past between Israel and the Palestinians, Burak said.

If you play the game correctly, windows showing scenarios that indicate progress towards peace will appear. You may learn, as the Israeli or Palestinian leader, that opinion polls show your people appreciate your efforts to resolve the conflict.

The PeaceMaker game is being sold on the company's Web site for $20. It can be played in English, Hebrew or Arabic.

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