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No Papal Visit to Israel in '08

By Israel Faxx News Services

The Vatican played down expectations that Pope Benedict would visit Israel soon.

Israeli officials have courted Benedict with invitations to repeat the 2000 Holy Land tour of his predecessor, John Paul II, but the Vatican said Monday there would be no such visit in 2008.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi in a briefing to reporters cited the "general situation of pacification" as the reason for the delay, as well as unresolved bilateral issues with Israel. Lombardi appeared to be referring to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian fighting, as well as the Vatican's request for more lenient Israeli entry regulations for Catholic clergy from Arab countries.

Senior Islamic Jihad Terrorist Eliminated in Airstrike


An IDF airstrike in Gaza City took out four Palestinian Authority terrorists Monday night, including a senior Islamic Jihad leader.

Majed Al-Harazin, among the terrorists killed in the Israel Air Force attack, was the commander of Islamic Jihad terrorist units throughout Gaza. Wanted by Israeli security, Harazin's group took responsibility for a rocket attack on Kibbutz Zikkim Sunday night that wounded an Israeli toddler and sent his mother into psychological shock.

PA residents said that weapons dealer Khalil Masarai and a fourth terrorist were also killed in the IDF strike. The four were reportedly hit by an Israeli missile as they drove through the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City in a car full of explosives. Seven PA residents who were in proximity to the targeted vehicle were injured; three of them seriously.

After the airstrike, Hamas officials warned civilians to stay away from the car in case of further explosions, but a large group ignored the warning and gathered around the demolished vehicle.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed Sunday night to escalate military operations against PA terrorist targets in Gaza in response to the ongoing Kassam rocket and mortar attacks on the western Negev. The decision followed Sunday's injurious rocket attack on Kibbutz Zikkim, according to security establishment sources.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak paid a visit to rocket-battered Sderot earlier in the day on Monday, where he faced harsh criticism over the current situation in the Negev city. Barak told residents that he would continue efforts to provide protective shielding for Sderot's residential buildings, as well as simultaneously ordering counter-terrorism operations in PA-controlled Gaza.

Former IDF Northern Commander Maj. Gen. (res.) Yossi Peled, a prominent member of the Likud party, told Arutz-7 Radio Monday that he believes the IDF should carry out massive retaliatory shelling of any point from which PA terrorists launch rockets at Jewish towns.

Borrowing a phrase from Jewish tradition regarding charity, "the poor of your city take precedence," Peled said: "Any place that endangers residents of Israel, even if it is a schoolyard - and they do fire from schools, as well - should be given 24 hours for residents to evacuate, after which everything should be turned to rubble for a full square kilometer."

Peled added that delaying operations such as he suggests, as well as ground operations in Gaza, would only increase the threat to the Israeli home front. Restraint, he explained, would lead to the shelling further north into Israel of Kiryat Gat and its environs.

Even as IDF forces carried out counter-terrorism operations Monday night, enemy attackers in Gaza launched a mortar shell at IDF soldiers near the Kissufim Crossing. PA gunmen opened fire on an IDF patrol in the area, as well. No soldiers were wounded in the attacks.

PA terrorists often attack the civilian crossings between Gaza and the Negev region, leading the IDF to keep many of them closed when possible.

Dershowitz Blasts U.S. Intelligence Report on Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program

By Israel Faxx News Services

In an exclusive interview on Shalom TV, Harvard Law Prof. Alan Dershowitz criticized the recent US intelligence assessment that Iran has suspended its nuclear weapons program since 2003, calling the report both "dangerous" and "false."

"This is a dumb report that would get a C-minus from anybody teaching any intelligence course anywhere in the country," said Dershowitz. "[Iran is] clearly intending to develop a nuclear bomb, and anyone who doubts that should not be in a position of responsibility in the United States, in Israel, or in any Western country."

Speaking from his Boston office, Dershowitz asserted that it takes "an absolute moron not to understand what Iran is doing. For purposes of getting the sanctions removed from Russia and from China and from others, they're overtly eliminating the military superstructure, but they are developing their capacity so that they can transfer it to a military use almost instantaneously.

"All the intelligence assessment is saying, basically, is that the Iranian government has pulled a bait and switch."

When asked by Shalom TV's Rabbi Mark S. Golub about any agenda behind the report, Dershowitz theorized that people within the CIA and other US intelligence agencies are trying to put the brakes on what they perceive as Vice President Dick Cheney's rush to get into a war with Iran. However, he cautions that the report may have the opposite effect.

"The impact of the report is going to be to diminish the case for sanctions and to increase the need for military preparedness--unfortunately," noted Dershowitz. "If the United States and Israel are true to their statements that they will not allow Iran to develop nuclear capacity and that they will use military force as a last resort if that happens, then this report is making military force more likely rather than less likely.

"I'm one who would much have preferred to see sanctions work against Iran because a military attack could be very counterproductive. But this report will essentially have blood on its hands if it actually increases the need for military force."

Israel Approves 'No Land for Jews' Patriarch


After two years of debate, the Israeli government officially confirmed the man enthroned in Jerusalem as Greek Orthodox patriarch, amid accusations the religious figure would cancel the sale to Jewish groups of land comprising much of a key entrance to Jerusalem's Old City.

Theofilos III was elected patriarch in 2005 amid charges of church irregularities. He has been quoted by church officials as opposing the sale of Jerusalem property to Jews.

Church officials said once approved by the Israeli government, Theofilos would work to cancel the sale Jerusalem property to Jews. "The deal must be canceled and Theofilos knows this. We as a church will fight any smuggling of real estate to Jewish organizations," Atallah Hanna, the church's archbishop of Sebastia, told WND.

Ownership of the land in question – two hotels that comprise a large section of the Jaffa Gate, the principal entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem – could be crucial in the future status of Jerusalem during upcoming Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Following last month's U.S.-backed Annapolis summit, Israel is widely expected to evacuate eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods for the creation of an eventual Palestinian state. Previous U.S.-backed proposals have allotted Jewish-owned sections of Jerusalem to Israel and Arab-occupied real estate to the Palestinians.

Theofilos was elected patriarch after church officials ousted the previous patriarch, Irenios, in May 2005 by holding new elections after it was exposed Irenios allegedly leased for 99 years the church's Jaffa Gate real estate to Jewish groups.

Regional bylaws require Jerusalem's Greek Orthodox patriarch – the religious leader of 100,000 Christians in the Holy Land – to be recognized by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

Jordan and the PA approved of Theofilos, but Israel had withheld its support amid reports, first exposed by WND, that prior to the patriarchal elections Theofilos, along with other candidates for patriarch, signed a secret church document stating if he were elected leader he would nullify all transactions made by Irenios, the previous patriarch, including the Jaffa Gate sale.

But on Sunday, after two years of deliberations, the Israeli government approved Theofilos by a vote of 10 to 3.

Theofilos has claimed he is still obtaining all the information on the real estate deals conducted under Irenios, and that he hasn't made any decisions yet regarding the Jaffa's Gate sale. But some Israeli officials chalk up Theofilos' reluctance to immediately cancel the deal to the fact that the Jewish state until Sunday was deliberating whether or not to recognize his leadership.

But WND revealed Theofilos already signed a document stating he would nullify the Jaffa land deal. The document, addressed to the Palestinian Authority and obtained by WND, stated, "We, the candidates of the Greek Orthodox Church, hereby agree that we are obliged to abide by the law of the Greek Orthodox patriarchate. ... In the event that we are elected, we shall act for the cancellation of all transactions made during the period of Irenios I, and shall keep the Orthodox religious trust."

High-placed sources close to the church said the document was drafted by a PA government minister with the specific goal of canceling Irenios' lease of the Jaffa Gate hotels to the Jewish groups.

"The candidates were essentially blackmailed by the Palestinians that if they didn't sign the document and cancel the lease, they would not get approval of the PA as candidates and could not run in elections," a church source told WND. "This is an outright racist policy against the Jews."

A senior church leader close to Irineos told WND: "Theofilos has made statements about not providing Jerusalem land to Jews. He agrees with the Palestinians that they have the rights to eastern Jerusalem."

In May, Jordan temporarily suspended Theofilos for three months, reportedly asking him to immediately cancel the Jaffa's Gate deal. According to informed sources, Theofilis was reinstated in August after assuring Jordan he would ultimately nullify the land sale.

Speaking to WND, Irineos said he could not comment on the secret document regarding nullification of the Jaffa Gate sale, but said, "There is a lot at play here in the election of Theofilos and attempts at deposing [me]."

"The electorate was blackmailed into supporting Theofilos," Irenios said. "They were told by fathers and brotherhood members and others that if they didn't vote for Theofilos, they would be kicked out of the church. Documents were made to be signed, including a letter that said 'I will not stand with Irenios.'"

Ultra-Orthodox Jews Get a Dispensation for Limited Internet Use


A rabbinical committee on communications published an announcement in two ultra-Orthodox newspapers, giving dispensation to "those who need the Internet to earn their livelihood" to use it under supervision.

According to the ordinance, a small number of specially censored sites will be permitted for use by the business sector only. The current ordinance applies to a pilot service provided by Bezeq International, but additional censored Internet site suppliers are likely to develop in the future.

The dispensation is for a list of 'normal' sites that have undergone an adaptation especially for the sector, which includes removal of all pictures, or filtering of certain works.

This is the first time that the rabbinical committee, which was established last year to deal with third-generation cellular technology, has publicly addressed the issue of the Internet. Monday's notice reads: "Because the transition to the use of computer communications in the world of business, institutions and others for various purposes and transmission of information is increasing, we have received more requests from those who need it, to use these systems for their livelihood.

"We have been asked by our teachers and leaders, may they enjoy a long life, to find a solution that will enable the use of this medium without exposure to the terrible stumbling blocks that exist in the media… And now, after a great deal of work and consideration, we have succeeded, in consultation with experts, in arriving at a technical blocking solution that will allow access to just email, or to certain sites necessary for a person's livelihood."

The announcement also declares that the committee has approached communications companies that supply such infrastructure and services, and requested that they provide the observant "a special plan that will be subject to our supervision. A number of companies have responded to our request, and those who wish can be connected to the special plan."

In the past, the rabbinical committee for communications issues which includes representatives of all streams of the ultra-Orthodox sector has approved the use of the 'kosher' telephones for speaking only, with no content or text messaging. The second issue that the committee has been asked to discuss is the Internet issue, for which no solution had been found to date.

A senior source in the ultra-Orthodox sector said that official data indicates that about 60 percent of the ultra-Orthodox sector has computers at home, and about 35 percent of these admit that they have access to Internet service. But true numbers are believed much higher, the source said, with about 40 percent of the ultra-Orthodox sector connected to the Internet at home.

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