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Israeli Woman Claims to be 120

By IsraelNationalNews.com

An Israeli-Arab woman who filed for a new identity card may be 120 years old. The woman, from the village of Jisr az-Zarka, listed her year of birth as 1888 on an application for a new identity card to replace the one she lost.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, walked into the Hadera branch of the Interior Ministry with her great-great-granddaughter, who helped translate for her, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. Guinness Book of Records lists the oldest living person as a 114-year-old American woman.


US Seeks Clarification of Israeli Housing Plans

By David Gollust (VOA-Washington)

The United States is seeking clarification of Israeli plans, announced Tuesday, to build some 1,100 new homes for Israelis in and around east Jerusalem. The State Department called the move a potential irritant to Middle East peace efforts.

Officials in Washington have stopped short of outright criticism of the Israel announcement. But they nonetheless said it has the potential to upset peace efforts being shepherded by the United States, and those U.S. concerns would be raised at senior levels of the Israeli government.

Israel's Housing Ministry said Tuesday it was beginning the contracting process for the construction of 750 new housing units in the Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev in the northern part of east Jerusalem, and as many as 370 new units in Har Homa, another Jewish housing bloc on disputed land overlooking the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

The announcement of an earlier plan to expand Har Homa in December stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks only days after the U.S.-organized regional peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland.

At a news briefing, State Department Sean McCormack said U.S. diplomats would seek clarification of the housing plans from both the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the office of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

He said actions like Tuesday's announcement are potential irritants and distractions from the drive to get a final status Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement but said the United States does not doubt the commitment of Olmert or Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to that process.

"These two sides, the Israelis and Palestinians, know that it is in their interests to reach an agreement. We're going to do everything that we possibly can to help them. We are going to do everything that we can to rally the support of the international community to help them reach an agreement. And there is no doubt in our mind, at all, that both sides are equally committed, deeply committed, to trying to reach an agreement," he said.

Though he declined to provide specifics, McCormack said U.S. diplomats agree with Israeli officials who have reported progress in talks this week between Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian negotiator and former Prime Minister Ahmed Quriea.

The sides agreed at Annapolis to try to get a final peace accord by the end of this year, though Israeli officials have lately said an agreement on principles to govern a final accord is a more reasonable expectation.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad held talks in Washington with senior administration officials Monday, including a White House meeting with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley that President Bush briefly participated in.

Fayyad, in a policy speech, accused Israel of failing to keep commitments to freeze West Bank settlement activity and ease checkpoint restrictions, and said Israel shares blame with the militant Palestinian Hamas movement for the crisis in Gaza. He also met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who aides said plans to make her next trip to the Middle East in early March.


Olmert: Iran Building Nuclear Weapons

By VOA News

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his government still believes Iran is using its nuclear program to develop "non-conventional weapons."

Olmert addressed reporters Tuesday in Berlin after a second day of talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about Iran's nuclear program and the Middle East peace process. He said he would not rule out a military response in trying to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes.

The Israeli leader also said his government would continue to negotiate peace with the Palestinian authority under Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. But he vowed Israel would keep pressure on Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Rocket attacks on Israel from the Palestinian enclave of Gaza began after the murderous Islamic group Hamas wrested control of the coastal strip from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction in July.

Israel's responses, ranging from air attacks and military incursions to cutting off supplies to the residents of Gaza, have so far failed to stop the attacks. Israeli troops also raided 14 Palestinian money changers across the West Bank Tuesday after accusing Hamas of using them to channel funds to Gaza. Security forces arrested five money changers and confiscated more than $800,000.


Palestinians Try to Torch Patriarch Joseph's Tomb

By WorldNetDaily

Palestinians have tried to burn down Joseph's Tomb – Judaism's third holiest site – according to Palestinian security officials speaking to WND. Monday's attempt marks the second time the Palestinians attempted to burn down the tomb, located near Nablus, the biblical city of Shechem.

Joseph's Tomb is the believed burial place of the biblical patriarch Joseph, the son of Jacob who was sold by his brothers into slavery and later became viceroy of Egypt.

Palestinian security officials in Nablus said they were called to the tomb to find 16 burning tires inside the sacred structure. A Palestinian police official who inspected the site told WND there was some fire damage to the tomb.

He said the Palestinian Authority, fearing embarrassment, immediately formed a joint committee from the PA's Force 17, Preventative Security Services and Palestinian intelligence, to find out who was behind the fire. He said patrols were stepped up around the site.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said the IDF was not aware of the fire or any unusual activity near the tomb but that it would immediately inquire with the PA.

The move comes after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced last week he would ask Israel's Defense Ministry to work with the PA to reconstruct and restore the tomb, parts of which were destroyed by Palestinians, including known PA security officers, in 2000.

Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, which granted nearby strategic territory to the Palestinians, Joseph's Tomb was supposed to be accessible to Jews and Christians. But following repeated attacks against Jewish worshippers at the holy site by gunmen associated with then-Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat's militias; then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak in October 2000 ordered an Israeli unilateral retreat from the area.

Within less than an hour of the Israeli retreat, Palestinian rioters overtook Joseph's Tomb and reportedly began to ransack the site. Palestinian mobs reportedly tore apart books, destroying prayer stands and grinding out stone carvings in the Tomb's interior.

Palestinians hoisted a Muslim flag over the tomb. Amin Maqbul, an official from Arafat's office, visited the tomb to deliver a speech declaring, "Today was the first step to liberate (Jerusalem)."

One BBC reporter described the scene: "The site was reduced to smoldering rubble – festooned with Palestinian and Islamic flags – cheering Arab crowd." Palestinians also constructed a mosque on the rubble of the tomb's adjacent yeshiva compound. Workers painted the dome of the compound green, the Islamic color.

The Torah describes how Jacob purchased a land plot in Shechem, which was given as an inheritance to his sons and was used to re-inter Joseph, whose bones were taken out of Egypt during the Jewish exodus. Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, are also said to be buried at the site.

As detailed in the Torah, shortly before his death, Joseph asked the Israelites to vow they would resettle his bones in the land of Canaan, biblical Israel. That oath was fulfilled when, according to the Torah, Joseph's remains were taken by the Jews from Egypt and reburied at the plot of land Jacob had earlier purchased in Shechem, believed to be the site of the tomb. Modern archeologists confirm Nablus is the biblical city of Shechem

Yehuda Leibman, who until the Israeli retreat from Joseph's Tomb in 2000 was director of a yeshiva constructed there, explained, "The sages tell us that there are three places which the world cannot claim were stolen by the Jewish people: the Temple Mount, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Joseph's Tomb."

There is evidence suggesting for more than 1,000 years Jews of various origins worshipped at Joseph's Tomb. The Samaritans, a local tribe that follow a religion based on the Torah, say they trace their lineage back to Joseph himself and that they worshipped at the tomb site for more than 1,700 years.

Israel first gained control of Nablus and the neighboring site of Joseph's Tomb in the 1967 Six-Day War. The Oslo Accords signed by Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin called for the area surrounding the tomb site to be placed under Palestinian jurisdiction but allowed for continued Jewish visits to the site and the construction of an Israeli military outpost at the tomb to ensure secure Jewish access.

Following the transfer of control of Nablus and the general area encompassing the tomb to the Palestinians in the early 1990s, there were a series of outbreaks of violence in which Arab rioters and gunmen from Arafat's Fatah militias shot at Jewish worshipers and the tomb's military outpost.

Six Israeli soldiers were killed, and many others, including yeshiva students, were wounded in September 1996 when Palestinian rioters and Fatah gunmen attempted to over take the tomb. Eventually, Israeli soldiers regained control of the site.

The Palestinians continued to attack Joseph's Tomb with regular shootings and the lobbing of firebombs and Molotov cocktails. Security for Jews at the site increasingly became more difficult to maintain. Rumors circulated in 2000 that Barak would evacuate the Israeli military outpost and give the tomb to Arafat as a "peacemaking gesture."

In early 2000, the Israeli army began denying Jewish visits to the tomb on certain days due to prospects of Arab violence. Following U.S.-mediated peace talks at Camp David in September 2000, Arafat returned to the West Bank and initiated his intifada. During one bloody week in October 2000, Fatah gunmen attacked the tomb repeatedly, killing two and injuring dozens, prompting Barak to order a complete evacuation of Judaism's third holiest site Oct. 6.

In a WND exclusive interview, Tariq Tarawi, a Fatah lawmaker who in 2000 served as chief of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group in the vicinity of the tomb, said the Palestinians would "never" allow Israel to rebuild a yeshiva or synagogue at Joseph's Tomb. The Brigades carried out most of the attacks against the tomb site.

"A yeshiva is an institution," said Tarawi. "An institution can be the beginning of claiming rights and these claims can bring once again the Israeli army to establish a base in the place, and we can not accept this. If the Jews try to build a yeshiva, we will shoot at them."


Polish Anti-Semitism Promoted at Warsaw Church

By IsraelNationalNews.com

An anti-Semitic professor ranted against "the kikes" Sunday in a rousing speech to an overflow standing room-only crowd of approximately 1,000 people at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Warsaw, reported Ha'aretz.

Prof. Bogoslav Wolniewicz exhorted Poles to defend themselves, saying "The Jews are attacking us! We need to defend ourselves." The professor was joined by 91-year-old Bishop Albin Malysiak in his call for Poles to protect their "nearest and dearest".

The event, which was heavily promoted in the Polish capital, ended with a question-and-answer period in which participants were strongly urged to "get organized."

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