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81% of Israeli Arabs: No Compromise on Jerusalem

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A survey of Arabs with Israeli citizenship shows they are firmly opposed to any concessions by the Arab side in the Israel-PA negotiations.

According to a survey by the Mada el-Karmel Arab Center for Applied Social Research, 81% of Israeli Arabs oppose the idea of the PA compromising with Israel on the subject of Jerusalem.

65.6% said that the PA may not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. 78.9% said the PA must not give up what is known as "the right of return" – the right to force Israel to accept a large influx of Arabs into its territory.


Bush Meets with Abbas, Olmert, Says Tough Talks Lie Ahead

By Scott Stearns (VOA-White House)

President Bush welcomed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert back to the White House Wednesday, a day after the two sides agreed to resume peace talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state.

Bush met separately with both leaders before the three men spoke together in the Oval Office. Speaking to reporters in the Rose Garden following their talks, Bush said the agreement to resume negotiations, after a seven-year hiatus, was a hopeful beginning but not nearly as important as the days to come.

"I appreciate the commitment of these leaders to working hard to achieve peace," he said. "I wouldn't be standing here if I didn't believe that peace was possible. And they wouldn't be here either if they didn't think peace was possible."

The White House session followed Tuesday's Middle East conference in Annapolis, Md. where Israeli and Palestinian leaders pledged "vigorous, ongoing and continuing" negotiations toward an independent Palestinian state.

Bush said both sides have accepted the goal of reaching an agreement by the end of 2008. And he pledged U.S. help in that effort. "One thing I have assured both gentlemen is that the United States will be actively engaged in the process, that we will use our power to help you as you come up with the necessary decisions to lay out a Palestinian state that will live side-by-side in peace with Israel." The president said it is important for the international community to support the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Russian news agencies are quoting Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying his country would host the next Middle East peace conference. He told the agencies on his way back from the Annapolis conference that the timing and agenda of that session have not yet been set.

Russia is a member of the so-called Quartet, which, along with the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations, has been working to move the peace process forward.


Hamas Preparing to Take Over the West Bank

By WorldNetDaily.com

Hours before the start of the U.S.-backed Annapolis summit aimed at handing the West Bank to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' organization, Israel cracked down on a cell of leading Palestinians suspected of setting up a Hamas military arm for the terror group to take over the strategic territory, WND has learned.

Hamas leaders in recent weeks vowed their organization would seize the West Bank if Israel hands the territory to Abbas, just as Hamas seized the Gaza Strip last June, overtaking all U.S.-backed Fatah security compounds in less than one week. The West Bank borders Jerusalem and is within rocket range of Tel Aviv and Israel's international airport.

According to Israeli and Palestinian security officials, Monday night the Israel Defense Forces arrested seven members of Abbas' Fatah organization suspected of working on behalf of Hamas to establish a Special Forces unit for the terror group in the West Bank.

One of the arrested Fatah officials is the assistant to Maged Abu Shamaleh, secretary-general of Fatah in Gaza and a member of the PA parliament, according to security sources speaking to WND. Shamaleh, along with his assistant and the other six arrested terrorists, moved to the West Bank in June following Hamas' takeover of Gaza.

The IDF would not officially confirm the arrests. An IDF spokeswoman had no comment on the report. Israeli security officials said they were concerned Abbas' Fatah organization in the West Bank is "heavily infiltrated" by Hamas. The issue of Hamas infiltration of Fatah was thought to have been the Achilles heel that led to the terror group's takeover last summer of the entire Gaza Strip.

Hamas' infiltration of Fatah in Gaza was so extensive, according to top Palestinian intelligence sources speaking to WND; it included the chiefs of several prominent Fatah security forces, including Yussef Issa, director of the Preventative Security Services, the main Fatah police force. Issa regularly coordinated security with the U.S. and Israel.

Israeli security officials said they were also concerned Abbas is not strong enough in the West Bank to impose law and order without the help of the IDF. According to the officials, Fatah's intelligence apparatus routinely hands the IDF lists of Hamas militants that threaten Fatah rule, requesting that Israel make arrests.

WND first reported earlier this month Israeli and Palestinian security officials told WND they have specific information Hamas is quietly setting the stages for an imminent West Bank takeover attempt. The officials said that among other things, Hamas has been acquiring weaponry in the West Bank and has set up a sophisticated system of communication between cells for a seizure attempt.

In what is considered the most threatening Hamas move, according to the officials, the terror group is thought to have heavily infiltrated all major Fatah forces in the West Bank and has been attempting to buy off Fatah militia members, many times successfully.

At a Gaza rally earlier this month, Hamas' leader in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar, vowed his group would overtake the West Bank. "Israel thinks Fatah in the West Bank is there to serve it, but we will take over the West Bank the way we took over Gaza."

'Olmert Holding Israel Liquidation Sale'

By WorldNetDaily.com

Knesset members across the political spectrum slammed commitments made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at Tuesday's U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit. "The things that were said at the conference are worrying and prove that the State of Israel is facing a liquidation sale," said Zevulun Orlev, chairman of the National Union party.

Orlev called on members of Olmert's governing coalition to bolt the government. Olmert's Kadima party is held together by alliances with the leftist Labor, religious Shas and Russian Yisroel Beitenu parties.

At Annapolis Olmert committed to negotiations aimed at creating a Palestinian state on the ground before President Bush leaves office in January 2009. He alluded to evacuating most of the strategic West Bank, which borders Jerusalem and is within rocket range of Tel Aviv and Israel's international airport. Israel liberated the West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War.

"The negotiations will address all of the issues which we have thus far avoided dealing with," said Olmert. "I am convinced that the reality that emerged in our region in 1967 will change significantly. I know this. Many of my people know this. We are prepared for it."

Eli Yishai, head of Shas, Olmert's coalition partner, downplayed the significance of Annapolis. He said Olmert expressed "dreams" out of touch with reality since Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is incapable of establishing law and order.

"Until now the Palestinian leadership has failed to implement the first phase of the Road Map – the dismantling of terror organizations. I support peace with a real partner, but now we are dealing with a virtual one," said Yishai.

Knesset Member Benny Elon suggested Annapolis was irrelevant, stating "peace is not made at cocktail parties." He called Annapolis a "film detached from reality, whose ending we have already seen."

Danny Dayan, spokesman for the Yesha Council, a coalition of West Bank Jewish communities, also blasted Annapolis, calling it a "transparent" attempt to bring negotiations to secure Bush a Nobel Peace Prize.

Multiple recent polls here have shown the majority of Israelis are opposed to handing the West Bank to Abbas.

A survey sponsored last week by the Israel Policy Center for Promoting Parliamentary Democracy and Jewish Values in Israeli Public Life found 61 percent of the general Israeli public opposes a withdrawal from most of the West Bank and handing the strategic territory to the Palestinians.

Seventy-seven percent of Israelis polled said they believe Abbas lacked the power to prevent attacks from the West Bank.

If Israel indeed evacuated the West Bank, some 55 percent of Israelis believe Palestinians would use the territory to fire rockets into Jewish population centers, and 65 percent believe there is a high or very high chance Hamas would take control of the area, according to the new poll.

Some 55 percent of Israelis believe the Knesset should remove Olmert from office due to multiple criminal investigations against him charging various degrees of financial and political corruption.

Also, 53 percent of Israelis said they believe the main reason Olmert was seeking an accord with the Palestinians was because of concern for his political future and not Israel's national interests.


Senior Vatican Cardinal Backs Palestinians' Right of Return

By Reuters

A senior Vatican cardinal said on Wednesday that all Palestinian refugees had a right to return to their homeland. Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican department that formulates refugee policy, made the comment as President Bush revived long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at a White House summit.

"Palestinian refugees, like all other refugees, have a right to right to return to their homeland," Martino said in response to a question about the 44-nation conference in Annapolis on Tuesday. Martino did not make clear whether he meant refugees had a right to return to homes in what is now Israel or to an eventual Palestinian state.

The issue of the return of Palestinian refugees, along with the status of Jerusalem, is one of the stickiest issues in a peace treaty. There are some 4.5 million Palestinian refugees in camps in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Israeli- administered West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Successive Israeli governments have made clear they would not accept the right of return of Palestinians who left homes in what is now Israel, saying it would threaten the existence of the Jewish state. Some ministers have said that some Palestinians might be allowed to settle in Israel on humanitarian grounds if a final peace settlement is reached.

The Vatican, which sent a delegation to Annapolis, supports a Palestinian homeland as well Israel's right to exist in security.


60 years of Holocaust Secrecy Ends

By Israel Faxx News Services

After more than 60 years the archives of the International Tracing Service have become accessible to the public. Historical researchers and other interested people can now examine archives and documents from the Second World War at the Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany.

Previously such access was granted only to the victims of Nazi persecution and their next of kin. The archives contain over 50 million documents regarding the persecution, exploitation and extermination of millions of civilians by the Nazis.

"The sheer dimensions of the collection and its unique nature both enable these documents to make plain the horrors inflicted systematically and on an enormous scale by the National Socialist regime from 1933 to 1945," said Reto Meister, director of the Tracing Service. "It will now be possible to carry out detailed research on, for example, the transport of prisoners, the camp populations, and the health of forced laborers."

The Nazis kept meticulous records of their crimes. After the war, the records in the concentration camps were brought to Bad Arolsen. For the past six decades they have been stored in archives, bearing information about the fate of individuals but also about shockingly cruel practices such as medical experiments carried out on the inmates. Now researchers will be able to study these records and hopefully gain new insight into the suffering of individual victims and the Holocaust generally.


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