Newsletter : 8fax0213.txt
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Israeli Woman Claims to be 120
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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