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Abbas: Israeli-Palestinian Talks on Core Issues to Begin Monday

By VOA News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will meet Monday to begin talks on issues that must be resolved for a peace treaty.

Abbas said teams from the two sides would hold talks on issues including the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and the borders of the future Palestinian state.

Report: Olmert Agrees to Allow in 50,000 Arab 'Refugees'


The issue of "Arab refugees" has long been a matter of widespread consensus in Israel, with even left-wing parties declaring that allowing them into Israel would endanger its very existence as a Jewish state. Nevertheless, the subject does not appear to be going away.

Reports are that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has now agreed to allow 50,000 Arabs who left Israel in 1948 - or are descendants of those who did - to enter and live in Israel.

Channel Ten reported that in a private meeting between Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the two agreed that in the final-status agreement, Israel would withdraw from 92 percent of Judea and Samaria, including all the non-Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem. It was also agreed that 50,000 "refugees from 1948" would enter and live in the State of Israel.

Staffers in Olmert's office did not deny the report, and even hinted that it was at least partially accurate.

President George Bush summed up his three-day visit to Israel on Friday by saying that a new Palestinian state, together with financial compensation, would be the solution to the refugee problem. The implication is that the refugees need not enter Israel. "There must be an end to Israel's occupation [sic] that began in 1967," Bush said. "Palestine must serve as a national home for the Palestinians, and Israel - for the Jews."

Israel liberated Judea and Samaria during the Six Day War in 1967, capturing it, essentially, from no one. No country in the world, other than Great Britain and Pakistan, recognized Jordan's control over Judea and Samaria between 1948 and 1967.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Seniora does not accept Bush's position on the refugees. Seniora said that money alone is not enough, and that his country would continue to refuse to grant citizenship to the 400,000 refugees living within its borders. The number of Arabs who left Israel in 1948 has been estimated to be roughly 500,000, but millions now claim the 'right to return.'

Hamas, too, refuses to accept any solution other than the "return" to Israel of the millions of Arabs who claim that they themselves, or their ancestors, were forced to leave Israel in 1948. The Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said that Bush will soon leave the political arena, while the Hamas demands would remain forever: "A Palestinian state in the pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, the destruction of all the settlements, the release of all the Palestinian prisoners, the 'right of return' of all the Palestinian refugees, and continued adherence to the strategy of not giving up on even one inch of all of Palestine."

Oft-forgotten is the fact that the refugee problem was not caused by Israel, but by the Arab states. "The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies," according to the Jordanian newspaper Filastin (February 19, 1949).

Joan Peters, in her classic work "From Time Immemorial," quotes (on page 13) an Arab-sponsored Institute for Palestine Studies finding that "the majority" of the Arab refugees in 1948 were not expelled, and that 68 percent left without seeing an Israeli soldier.

On April 27, 1950, the Arab National Committee of Haifa informed the Arab States: "The removal of the Arab inhabitants... was voluntary and was carried out at our request... The Arab delegation proudly asked for the evacuation of the Arabs and their removal to the neighboring Arab countries."

Zuheir Muhsein, the late Military Department head of the PLO and member of its Executive Council, told the Dutch daily Trouw, March 1977, "The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity... Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people... to oppose Zionism."

Israel, US Agree on Security Issues during Bush Visit

By VOA News

Olmert regime officials are hailing last week's visit by President George Bush as a success with regard to key policy issues in which Israel and the United States agreed to a common front on terrorism and regional security.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Cabinet that Israel and the United States see eye to eye. He said that during his visit last week, Bush promised not to push Israel into a peace agreement until the Palestinians keep their commitments under the "Roadmap" peace plan and fight terrorism. The prime minister said Israel and the United States agree that the Palestinians must crack down on terrorist and militant groups in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

That will be especially hard for U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to achieve. Abbas controls the West Bank, but he lost control of Gaza last June, when his Fatah forces were routed by Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group that refuses to renounce violence or recognize Israel.

Olmert also responded to Bush's public demand that Israel must keep its Roadmap commitments and dismantle 100 illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank. In an unusually candid comment, the prime minister was quoted as saying that Israel's failure to act against the outposts until now is a "disgrace."

On another key issue, Olmert praised Bush's stand on Iran, a country that has threatened to wipe the Jewish state "off the map." He said Bush sees Iran as a major regional threat, despite the recent U.S. intelligence report that Teheran halted its nuclear-weapons program four years ago. The prime minister said even though Bush only has a year left in office, the president remains committed to Israel's security and will do all he can to remove the Iranian threat.

Israel Military Up in Arms over Bush-Olmert Plan

By Emanuel A. Winston (Commentary)

Isn't it time to put Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert under a mental observation environment, as was done with Yitzhak Rabin during his psychological breakdown during the 1967 Six Day War?

Clearly, Olmert is well beyond dysfunctional when he agrees to put Israel's military at the disposal of the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. President George W. Bush has "ordered" Olmert to conduct a limited operation in Gaza so Abbas' Fatah can return to Gaza after Hamas' Civil War defeated the Fatah forces.

Does combining two malfunctioning delusional people (Olmert and Abbas) construct one sane man? One sees this aberrant behavior in mental institutions where one inmate draws pictures in the air and next inmate tries to paint them and keep within the lines because "neatness counts."

Olmert has already displayed his aberrant judgment, incompetence and even stupidity. Often there is a thin line between stupidity and dysfunctional behavior.

It will not matter much to the soldiers who will die or be grievously wounded as a result of Olmert's delusions. He issues orders as he did during the Second Lebanon War with Hizbullah in the summer of 2006. Then he goes home to sleep peacefully. So many died during that fiasco and now he wants to do it all over again.

A partial attack on the Gaza stronghold is a formula for unnecessary deaths. Going into battle means attacking front lines, behind front lines and deep in the back of the battle area to cut supply lines.

Olmert, at Bush's orders (neither one a military man) wants the Israeli military to lightly brush over the front lines, exposing the Israeli soldiers to heavy fire, mines, road side explosives, ambushes from deep cover and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). This will ensure a great loss of life to fight through fortified areas and then be unable to hold them.

This latest bizarre and dangerous behavior demonstrates that it is past time to remove Olmert and his entire support block from office.

Iran Plans on Destroying Tomb of King Cyrus, Friend of the Jews


Iran is planning on submerging the tomb of King Cyrus (Coresh), the Persian King known for authorizing the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Holy Temple. According to a report by Omedia, an Iranian organization is demanding that the International Criminal Court take action against those responsible.

The Iranian ayatollahs are planning on destroying the tomb as part of a general campaign to sever the Persian people from their non-Islamic heritage; Cyrus was thought to be a Zoroastrian and was one of the first rulers to enforce a policy of religious tolerance on his huge kingdom.

Cyrus, who lived from 576-530 BCE, liberated Babylonian Jewry from their exile in the famous Declaration of Cyrus (mentioned in the book of Ezra in both Hebrew and Aramaic).

A group of Iranian academics opposed to the regime's policies founded a group called the Pasargad Heritage Foundation with hopes of getting the United Nations involved in protecting the historical site. Most recently, the foundation filed a petition with the International Criminal Court against the Iranian official in charge of maintaining the sites, charging him and his bureau with "crimes against humanity, due to the systematic state-sanctioned destruction of the culture of the ancient Iranian world and its historical heritage."

Though the city of Pasargad is a ruin, Cyrus's Tomb has remained largely intact and it has been partially restored to counter its natural deterioration over the years.

Cyrus was praised in the Tanach (Isaiah 45:1-6), though he was also criticized for believing the false report of the Cuthites, who wanted to halt the building of the Second Temple. They accused the Jews of conspiring to rebel, so Cyrus in turn stopped the construction of the temple, which would not be completed until 516 BCE, during the reign of Darius the Great, the grandson of Queen Esther.

Jewish Musician Receives "Palestinian" Citizenship

By Reuters

Daniel Barenboim, the world renowned Israeli pianist and conductor, has taken Palestinian citizenship and said he believed his rare new status could serve a model for peace between the two peoples.

"It is a great honor to be offered a passport," he said late on Saturday after a Beethoven piano recital in Ramallah, the West Bank city where he has been active for some years in promoting contact between young Arab and Israeli musicians. "I have also accepted it because I believe that the destinies of the Israeli people and the Palestinian people are inextricably linked," Barenboim said.

"We are blessed – or cursed – to live with each other. And I prefer the first. The fact that an Israeli citizen can be awarded a Palestinian passport can be a sign that it is actually possible."

Former Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti, who helped organize Saturday's concert, said the passport had been approved by the previous government of which he was a member and which was replaced in June. The passport had actually been issued about six weeks ago, he added.

Argentine-born Barenboim, 65, is a controversial figure in his adoptive homeland, both for his promotion of German music and vocal opposition to Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

Asked about President George W. Bush's remarks last week on a visit to the region that a peace could be signed this year, Barenboim warned of the danger of raising hopes too high. "It would be absolutely horrible if now, with good intentions, expectations are raised which will not be able to be fulfilled," Barenboim said. "Then we will sink into an even greater depression."

Though he dismissed any wish to play a political role, the former music director of the Chicago symphony Orchestra took a dig at Bush's strikingly forceful call in Jerusalem last week for Israel to end, in the president's own words, "the occupation. Now even not very intelligent people are saying that the occupation has to be stopped," Barenboim said.

Despite strong objections from Israeli politicians to Israeli pianist Daniel Barenboim's act of accepting a Palestinian passport, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit has no plans to annul his Israeli citizenship.

Shas faction chairman Yakov Margi was quick to denounce Barenboim and call for his status as an Israeli citizen to be annulled. "It's an embarrassment to the State that a person like this has Israeli citizenship...I am sure that in the eyes of Israeli citizens, he has lost the moral authority to be Israeli."

Interior Minister Sheetrit told Ynet that "the matter is not even up for discussion." According to the law, the interior minister is conferred the right of abrogating the citizenship of an Israeli in the case of fraud or a breach of trust. Emigration or receiving citizenship in an enemy state are considered breaches of trust and are liable to lead to the annulment of citizenship.

The Palestinian Authority, which is not officially considered an enemy state, does not fall into the category of such a state. Thousands of Israeli residents have both Israeli ID cards as well as Palestinian ones. Most are Israeli-Arabs that have close relatives who live in PA areas or Israeli-Arabs that have come to live in Israel in the framework of family reunification programs.

Most Palestinians that take on Israeli citizenship are required to renounce their Palestinian citizenship but there are many exceptions. There are virtually no Jewish Israelis that have both Israeli and Palestinian citizenship and this is why Barenboim's case is so unique.

Barenboim, who is based in Berlin, he is closely identified with German music and in 2001 conducted an opera by 19th-century composer Richard Wagner in Jerusalem despite anger in some quarters at a performance of a work by a German accused of anti-Semitic views.

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