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Iran Unveils New Missile

By Israel Faxx News Services

Iran has unveiled a new strategic missile, Ashura, which has a range of 1,250 miles -- enough to hit Israel, U.S. targets in the Persian Gulf, and parts of eastern and southern Europe.

The announcement appeared timed to overshadow the Israeli-Palestinian peace conference in Annapolis, Md., which the Arab League has endorsed and Iran has condemned.

The Ashura's reach is not significantly greater than that of the Shihab-3, until now Iran's most menacing ballistic missile. But Israeli experts said that unlike the Shihab series, the Ashura uses a multi-stage, solid-fuel engine that would make it especially effective for long-range strategic use.


Annapolis Conference Launches Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

By David Gollust (VOA-Annapolis) & IsraelNationalNews.com

Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed Tuesday to seek a final-status peace accord by the end of next year - ending a seven year impasse. The parties, making the announcement at the U.S.-organized Annapolis conference, said the United States would monitor the process.

The announcement of the commitment to seek a peace accord by the end of President Bush's term in office came in a surprise addition to Bush's opening address to the conference.

Sharing the stage at the Naval Academy with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Bush read a joint statement by the principals pledging "vigorous, ongoing and continuing" negotiations for a two-state settlement of the conflict by the end of 2008.

The parties set up a steering committee to oversee the process that will begin its work December 12, to be supported by regular twice-monthly meetings by the two leaders.

They also committed to implement all their obligations under the largely unfilled 2003 peace road map of the international Middle East quartet - made up of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. They said the United States would oversee the process.

In his address to the gathering of nearly 50 countries and international organizations, Bush said the time is right for the peace-making drive because both sides have leaders determined to achieve peace and combat terrorism.

"A battle is under way for the future of the Middle East, and we must not cede victory to the extremists," said the president. "With their violent actions and contempt for human life, the extremists are seeking to impose a dark vision on the Palestinian people, a vision that feeds on hopelessness and despair to sow chaos on the Holy Land. If this vision prevails, the future of the region will be endless terror, endless war and endless suffering."

According to Israel Channel 1 reporter Ayala Hason, the PA side insisted that the statement not include the phrase "a Jewish state," and it was dropped. On the other hand, the word "Jerusalem" was also not mentioned.

The policy statements of the two principals underlined the difficulty of the task ahead for negotiators. Abbas said Palestinians would insist on having the capital of their state in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, and on a resolution of all aspects of the problem of Palestinian refugees.

Abbas promised Palestinians a peace settlement that would give them independence and self-determination, and put them, he said, on equal terms will all other peoples of the world.

"Each one of you has his own her own personal pain, personal tragedy as a result of this conflict and as a result of the years of tragedy and occupation," said Abbas. "These are very bitter years. Don't be depressed, don't lose confidence and hope, for the whole world today now is stretching its hand towards us in order to help us put and end to our tragedy, to our holocaust that has been running for too long."

In his speech, which was delivered in Hebrew, Olmert said: "Negotiations will address all the issues which thus far have been evaded. We will not avoid any subject," adding Israel is not indifferent to the tragedies Palestinians have experienced, and that the envisaged negotiations will produce a "proper framework" for dealing with the refugee question as well all the other outstanding issues of the peace process.

"The negotiations will address all the issues which we have thus far avoided dealing with," said Olmert. "We do this directly, openly and courageously. We will not avoid any subject. We will deal with all the core issues. I am convinced that the reality that emerged in our region in 1967 will change significantly. This will be an extremely difficult process for many of us, but it is nevertheless inevitable."

The conference included many Arab countries, among them Saudi Arabia and Syria, that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Olmert urged them to stop, as he put it, "watching the peace train go by" and end their boycott of Israel.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, a key participant, joined in polite applause for the Olmert remarks though an aide said he would not shake hands with Israeli delegates, saying he was attending for reasons of substance and not "theatrics."

Olmert stressed Israel's commitment to the peace process despite Palestinian terror attacks in recent years and the continuing rocketing of parts of southern Israel by extremists in Gaza, adding that settling the decades-old conflict would be painful for all those involved but is none-the-less inevitable.

"I believe there is no path other than the path of peace," he said. "I believe there is no just solution other than the solution of two national states for two people. I believe there is no path that does not involve painful compromise for you, the Palestinians, and for us the Israelis."

The Bush administration has backed another international conference on the Middle East to be held in Moscow early next year. U.S. diplomats reiterated to the French news agency AFP the previously announced support for the conference. "The arrangements proposed by the United States to Arab countries include holding a similar conference in Moscow in January that would discuss the Syrian and Lebanese tracks of the peace process, in addition to the Palestinian track," according to a diplomat quoted by AFP.

The proposed meeting in Russia for a regional agreement likely will increase demands on Israel to place the status of the Golan Heights on the negotiating table. Olmert deflected questions concerning the report of the Russian summit as one of "20 ideas." However, the Americans clearly stated earlier this month that another conference is planned in Moscow in January.

Ezra HaLevi, Israel National News correspondent, reported that several hundred pro-Israel demonstrators held signs outside the venue of the summit, protesting the intentions to hand over parts of Jerusalem to the enemy. Most of the demonstrators were young people, some of whom played Zionist and Jewish songs on their guitars. Anti-Zionist Neturei Karta Jews were on the scene too, as were demonstrators from One Voice and two or three "Jews for Jesus."


Protests in West Bank, Gaza and Iran Against Annapolis Conference

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

There were more protests Tuesday in the Palestinian territories and in Tehran against the Mideast peace conference now under way in Annapolis, Md. Protests in the West Bank were broken up by Palestinian police.

Tens of thousands turned out in the Gaza Strip for a large march organized to protest the conference. The Gaza protest was organized by Hamas terrorists who were not invited to the conference because they refuse to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Hamas has been organizing daily protests against the peace conference for several days now and Hamas leaders have stepped up their criticism of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, calling him a traitor to Palestinians.

Speaking Tuesday, Ismail Haniyeh, a leading Hamas figure called on Arab countries to work to lift what he described as the siege on Gaza. Haniyeh also said Arab countries should not be an accomplice to a summit that he says has nothing to offer Palestinians.

Recent polls have found that on average 70 percent of Palestinians support Palestinian participation at the Mideast conference in Annapolis. However the same polls say that 60 percent of Palestinians do not believe the conference would yield long term benefits for Palestinians.


Arad: Hundreds Protest Missionary Activity

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Hundreds of Jews protested missionary activity in the city of Arad on Monday. The protest took place on a street where at least one Christian missionary lives. Protestors showed a film documenting missionary activity in the city.

Missionaries in Arad have filed pleas with the government to stop protests against their activities, saying that the protests constitute religious persecution. Anti-missionary activists say the missionaries are destroying Jewish souls and are using trickery and deceit to convince Jewishly ignorant Jews to join their activities.


How Would You Defend a Country 9 Miles Wide?

By www.IsraelUnityCoalition.org (Commentary)

The Palestinian Strategy: "Divide and Conquer"

If the Arab demands prior to the Annapolis Summit prevail, the map you see on the left would be the new configuration of Israel  dividing Israel in half with a chunk of "Palestine" in the middle.

The miniscule state of Israel will then shrink dramatically making it indefensible against Arab aggression. Israel would then willfully lose sovereignty over almost all of the Christian and Jewish Holy Sites.

Moreover, becoming militarily vulnerable Israel would eventually fall prey to Islamic aggressors who are determined to wipe the Jewish state off the map.


Teacher Faces Lashes for Mohammed Teddy Bear

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A British teacher will receive 40 lashes in Sudan if convicted of insulting Islam's prophet by letting her class name a teddy bear Mohammed.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, England, was arrested on charges of blasphemy in Sudan on Sunday. She is accused of allowing her seven-year-old students at the Unity High School in Khartoum to name a teddy bear Mohammed to reinforce a lesson on animal habitats. Another school teacher who was offended by the naming of the toy allegedly reported Gibbons to the school's principal.

Sudan has been governed by Islamic Sharia law since 1983.


Film Depicts Homosexuality in Haredi Community

By YnetNews.com

Chaim Album's film, V'ahavta, depicting the turmoil endured by a gay yeshiva student who falls in love with another man, has won the award for best feature film produced at the Ma'ale religious film school this year.

The movie depicts the struggle endured by an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva student forced to sublimate his homosexual tendencies in a largely intolerant society.

Ultimately the film's protagonist comes to the realization that his struggle is futile, and comes to accept himself as a religious gay man. He makes peace with himself and with his creator, in a haunting story line that largely parallels Album's own life story.

"I am relieved and overjoyed," Album told Ynet after being declared the school's annual winner. "I often wondered whether Ma'ale would recognize such a controversial film, and am thrilled that the school had the courage to do so."

Speaking of his decision to 'come out' in an ultra-Orthodox world Album said: "Midway through my studies, I decided that I would either leave the world of film, or somehow find the courage to make this film. I believe that that it is vitally important to bring the topic of homosexuality up for discussion in ultra-Orthodox society, because it is often silenced in a violent manner.

Album encountered quite a few obstacles while making the film, especially a marked lack of assistance with production. "I tired to find locations to shoot in, but had to endure many hang-ups and slammed doors," says Album. "What I encountered was largely fear and ignorance on the part of many individuals. Even though this film deals mainly with faith and religion, and is not blatantly sexual, no one was willing to help me out. Eventually I built all the locations for the film myself."

In spite of these hostile reactions, Album stated that no one walked out of the cinema as his film was screened. "Anyone who saw the film told me that he left feeling considerably more tolerant and understanding. When someone tells me that I have touched their heart that is my true award."








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