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Israeli Who Sold Poison Gas to Iran Denied Early Parole


On Tuesday the Israel Prisons Service Parole Board denied a request by former businessman and convicted traitor Nachum Manbar that his 16-year sentence be reduced by a third.

In 1997 Manbar was found guilty of treason for aiding an enemy making war on Israel and providing information intended to damage Israel's security. Manbar sold Iran $18 million worth of mustard gas and nerve gas, as well as technology for the construction of a factory to build missile warheads which could carry them.

Prosecutor Dvorah Chen called it the most serious crime in Israeli history, and asked for a sentence of life in prison. The Tel Aviv District Court sentenced Manbar to 16 years, but Manbar has been allowed out on prison leave 56 times since being jailed in 1997.

Israel Offers Palestinians Control of Temple Mount

By, VOA News & DEBKAfile

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office Tuesday presented the Palestinian Authority with a formal plan in which the Jewish state would forfeit the Temple Mount – Judaism's holiest site – to Muslim control, according to top Palestinian sources.

The sources said Olmert's plan calls for the entire Temple Mount plaza to fall under Arab sovereignty; Jerusalem's Old City holy sites near the Mount to be governed by a Jewish, Christian and Muslim task force; and the Western Wall plaza below the Mount to be controlled by Israel.

The report follows a WND exclusive article last week stating Palestinian negotiators drafting an agreement behind the scenes with Olmert's office made clear they would not accept any final peace deal with Israel unless the Jewish state forfeits the Temple Mount.

According to Palestinian negotiators who took part in Tuesday's Olmert-Abbas meeting, the Israeli leader also presented Abbas with a plan for Israel to evacuate most of the West Bank and cede eastern sections of Jerusalem. The plan called for Israel to retain three main settlement blocks and in exchange Israel would offer the Palestinians Israeli Arab towns in the north of the country, the Palestinian negotiators told WND.

David Baker, a spokesman for Olmert, would neither confirm nor deny the prime minister offered the Temple Mount. He said before Tuesday's talks that the summit would center on "the development of Palestinian-governing institutions, bolstering Abbas' government and issues concerning Israelis and Palestinians living side-by-side."

Over the weekend, an Egyptian newspaper reported Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Egyptian government the Jewish state is willing to forfeit control of the Temple Mount to the management of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

The Al Massrioun daily reported Barak informed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the Jordanian government Israel is willing to hand them joint control over the Temple Mount.

According to the Egyptian report, Barak stated an umbrella group of several Arab countries controlling the holy site instead of only the PA would help ease Israeli domestic opposition to giving up the Temple Mount, since Egypt and Jordan are considered by Israeli policy to be moderate countries.

Ronen Moshe, a spokesman for Barak, told WND the Egyptian media report is "untrue. We do not comment on the specifics of private conversations with world leaders, but this report is not what was said during the talks," he said.

A senior Palestinian official, speaking on condition his name be withheld, told WND yesterday Israel "understands there won't be any deal with the Palestinians unless it forfeits the Temple Mount."

The official said the Mount was previously a sticking point in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, but he said Olmert's government has expressed a number of times a willingness to compromise on the Temple Mount. "We've recently received many Israeli plans that showed Israel is willing to allow another body, whether Palestinian or international, to control the [Temple Mount]. The issue is no longer a sticking point," the Palestinian official said.

During U.S.-led negotiations in 2000, Barak, then prime minister, reportedly was willing to forfeit the Temple Mount to international control. The negotiations fell through after Palestinian President Yasir Arafat rejected an offer of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern sections of Jerusalem.

Adviser Gilad Sher – who represented Barak at initial Israeli-Palestinian planning meetings in 2000 during which President Clinton discussed the Temple Mount – wrote in his book "Beyond Reach" that Clinton's plan called for the Temple Mount to become complete Palestinian sovereign territory, while the Western Wall below and its complex would fall under Israeli sovereignty.

Barak was said to have initially rejected that plan, but according to participants at the negotiations summit, he was ultimately willing to place the Mount under international sovereignty. Some reports claimed Barak offered the Temple Mount to the Palestinians, but the Israeli politician has denied those claims.

A chief Palestinian negotiator told WND that aides from Abbas' Fatah organization have been hammering out the parameters of a final status agreement for presentation in November at a U.S.-backed international summit regarding the Middle East.

On Monday, newly-installed Israeli President Shimon Peres told a Tokyo newspaper he hopes to achieve the outline of a final status deal with the Palestinians before the November conference.

Israeli and Palestinian diplomatic sources said U.S.-brokered biweekly meetings between Olmert and Abbas are being utilized to draft the outline of a permanent status deal, ultimately yielding a Palestinian state, scheduled to be aired in public at the November summit.

Issues already discussed between Israel and the Palestinians reportedly include the division of parts of Jerusalem and debates regarding permanent borders between Israel and the PA.

The November international conference and talk from the Bush administration the past few weeks has led many here to speculate the U.S. would push in the near future for intense Israeli-Palestinian negotiations leading to a Palestinian state.

With a year and a half left in office, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have been urging meetings between Abbas and Olmert to establish a framework for momentum leading to a breakthrough at November's conference.

Asked by WND whether Olmert is willing to forfeit the Temple Mount in an agreement with the Palestinians, spokesman Baker had no comment. Jews and Christians are barred from praying on Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Muslims say it is their third holiest site (Israel News Faxx: Even though there is no proof that the Prophet Muhammed was ever in the city, or ascended to heaven from anywhere in or near Jerusalem).

The First Jewish Temple was built by King Solomon in the 10th century BCE. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The Second Temple was rebuilt in 515 BCE, after Jerusalem was freed from Babylonian captivity. That Temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire in CE70. Each Temple stood for a period of about four centuries.

The Jewish Temple was the center of religious Jewish worship. It housed the Holy of Holies, which contained the Ark of the Covenant and was said to be the area upon which God's "presence" dwelt. The Al Aqsa Mosque now sits on the site.

The Temple served as the primary location for the offering of sacrifices and was the main gathering place in Israel during Jewish holidays.

The Temple Mount compound has remained a focal point for Jewish services over the millennia. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition. Jews worldwide pray facing toward the Western Wall, a portion of an outer courtyard of the Temple left intact.

The Al Aqsa Mosque was constructed around CE 709 to serve as a shrine near another shrine, the Dome of the Rock, which was built by an Islamic caliph. Al Aqsa was meant to mark where Muslims came to believe Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ascended to heaven.

Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Quran. Islamic tradition states Muhammad took a journey in a single night from "a sacred mosque" – believed to be in Mecca in southern Saudi Arabia – to "the farthest mosque" and from a rock there ascended to heaven. The farthest mosque later became associated with the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Currently under Israeli control, Jews and Christians are barred from praying on the Mount.

The Temple Mount was opened to the general public until September 2000, when the Palestinians started their intifada by throwing stones at Jewish worshipers after then-candidate for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the area.

Following the onset of violence, the new Sharon government closed the Mount to non-Muslims, using checkpoints to control all pedestrian traffic for fear of further clashes with the Palestinians.

The Temple Mount was reopened to non-Muslims in August 2003. It still is open but only Sundays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and not on any Christian, Jewish or Muslim holidays or other days considered "sensitive" by the Waqf.

During "open" days, Jews and Christian are allowed to ascend the Mount, usually through organized tours and only if they conform first to a strict set of guidelines, which includes demands that they not pray or bring any "holy objects" to the site. Visitors are banned from entering any of the mosques without direct Waqf permission. Rules are enforced by Waqf agents, who watch tours closely and alert nearby Israeli police to any breaking of their guidelines.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the goal of Tuesday's meeting was the creation of a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel. "Both leaders, Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, are committed to a vision of two states. Important ground was covered today on the political issues, the economic issues and other issues and we are moving forward," Regev said.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said it is time to make hard decisions that will lead to the end of the Israeli occupation. "The only way to revive hope in the minds of Palestinians and Israelis is through a meaningful peace process," he said.

Ties between Olmert and Abbas have improved since the violent takeover of the Gaza Strip by the Islamic terrorist group Hamas two months ago. Hamas routed the forces of the rival Fatah faction led by Abbas, who now heads a government in Judea and Samaria (Note: Muslims refer to this biblical area as the West Bank).

Both Israel and the U.S. want to strengthen the Abbas government, while isolating the Hamas regime in Gaza. But Hamas, which seeks Israel's destruction, appears determined to play the spoiler. Hamas officials said any negotiations that do not include the group are doomed to failure.

Israeli archeologists have made an urgent appeal to rescue biblical relics that have been pulverized by Arab tractors on the Temple Mount.

The Waqf Muslim authority, using heavy tractors, has so far excavated a trench 120 -meters long, 1.5 meters deep, crushing fragments of monumental building, pottery and glazed tiles in their path. The trench runs through the northern and eastern parts of the 2,000-year old Upper Platform of Temple Mount, where the outer courts of the Jewish Temple were situated, including the Women's Court, until the Roman destruction of CE 70. Today, the Muslim Dome of the Rock stands there.

Dr. Gabriel Barkai of Bar Ilan University is leading the protest against the wildcat, unauthorized Waqf project to improve the mosques' infrastructure and demanding that the contents of the trench be scientifically excavated and documented before they are lost.

"This issue transcends politics," he told DEBKAfile. "It is a tragic loss for world culture, as much as or more than the effigies of Buddha destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. It affects the foundations of Judeo-Christian civilization – as well as Muslim history in Jerusalem – by ravaging one of the most important sites for the history of mankind."

DEBKAfile's sources added: The Temple Mount Plaza, paved over by the Muslim rulers of Jerusalem in the Middle Ages, has never been scientifically explored.

All attempts to unearth and study the relics beneath the pavement have elicited a ferment of Muslim threats accusing Israel of attempting to destroy the mosques built over the ruins of the Jewish First and Second Temples. Even cautious shafts at a distance from the mosques are greeted with rage.

Yet, in 1999 and again now, in 2007, the Muslim authorities themselves excavated deep below the surface to expand their mosques and improve their facilities. Then as now, they destroyed precious Jewish, Christian and Muslim artifacts with heavy tractors and dumped them helter skelter as unwanted debris.

No Ordinary Love


An unusual love story has swept the French off their feet: a Reform rabbi from the south of France recently married a Protestant minister, who had discovered her Jewish heritage, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

Catharine Schtorkel and Jonathan Levy met a little over a year ago, when Schtorkel started looking into her Jewish heritage. Schtorkel was born in Strasbourg, in France's northeast, where a large Jewish community resided before World War Two. "About a year ago, one of my friends told me that my maternal grandfather was Jewish and suggested I speak to Rabbi Levy in Montpellier (in the south of France)."

Paris-born Levy was glad to help her in her search for her roots and the two quickly found that Schtorkel's entire family, on her mother's side, were Jews, and forced to hide their origin during the Nazi occupation.

Since that was the case, Schtorkel – according to halacha – is actually Jewish. She began to study Judaism and the two grew closer, eventually falling in love. They decided to make their unusual romance official and were married in a Jerusalem six weeks ago.

"When two people love each other they have two choices: they can either marry or continue their romance without marrying. We chose to marry," said Levy. "This is a marriage of three, Jonathan, me and God," said Schtorkel. "I'm still a Protestant minister and I still believe in Jesus. We pray together every morning."

"I see our marriage as a symbolic union between the Old Testament and the new one," added Levy.

The establishment, however, was not as happy for the two: while Schtorkel was allowed to retain her position as minister of her small town, Levy was ordered to leave his congregation.

"I'm sad about that. I wish my movement was as tolerant as it preaches others to be," said Levy. "All they could see was a rabbi marrying a minister. They couldn't see it as just Jonathan marrying Catharine." The two are planning to move to Israel within the next two years.

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