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Home Front Command Has Its Own TV Studio


The IDF's Home Front Command officially dedicated its new TV broadcast studio Wednesday. The studio will only be used in times of war and national emergency, in order to instruct and direct the population.

It is located in the Home Front Command headquarters in Ramleh. It will broadcast through Israel Broadcast Authority's Channel 33, and will be able to break into other channels with updates as well.

UN Chief: Ahmadinejad's Verbal Attacks on Israel Intolerable

By Ha'aretz

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon promised Wednesday to respond "firmly" to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's verbal attacks on Israel, which he called "intolerable."

Ban made the promise in a meeting with Israel's Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman, who requested the meeting with the UN chief following the Iranian president's Wednesday attack calling Israel a "filthy germ."

Ahmadinejad's remarks were broadcast on Iranian television on Wednesday, in which he called Israel a "filthy germ" and "savage beast" established by Western states in their bid to dominate Middle East nations. Advertisement

The comments came just days after a top commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard called Israel a "cancerous germ" which would be wiped out by Hizbullah, Army Radio reported.

Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted by the Fars News Agency on Monday as saying: "In the near future, we will witness the destruction of the cancerous germ of Israel by the powerful and competent hands of the Hizbullah combatants."

Jafari made the comment in a letter to Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, offering condolences after the killing of terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyah, which Iran has blamed on Israel.

The Foreign Ministry sent a letter of protest to the United Nations over Jafari's remarks, Army Radio reported earlier this week.

Also this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that even after 60 years, Israel still has neither legitimacy nor any role in the Middle East, the ISNA news agency reported. "The West has tried to impose a fabricated regime on the Middle East but even after 60 years, the Zionist regime [Israel] has neither gained any legitimacy nor played any role in this region," Mottaki was quoted as saying.

Calling United States policies in the Middle East a failure, Mottaki predicted the collapse of Israel. "The era of imposing policies on other states by military threats is over. The nations in the region will no longer surrender to any threats," he said.

Iran meanwhile urged the UN Security Council on Wednesday to condemn Israel and demand that it immediately stop threatening to use military force against the country's nuclear program. In a letter to the council, Iran's UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazee referred to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's warning on Jan. 14 that all options are on the table when it comes to keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Khazee insisted in the letter that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and called Israel's threats unacceptable and unjustifiable. He said the threats are also a flagrant violation of international law and the UN Charter, which calls on countries to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state

"Undoubtedly, the inaction of the Security Council in dealing with the criminal policies and practices of the Israeli regime, and the impunity with which this regime has been allowed to carry out its crimes thus far, have emboldened it in its irresponsible behavior," Khazee said.

"The Security Council should react to these threats by unambiguously condemning them and calling on the said regime to cease and desist immediately from the threat of using force against members of the United Nations," he said.

Gillerman called the letter, which was also sent to Ban, "disgusting and dangerous. For a country whose leader describes a member state of the United Nations as a dirty microbe and a savage animal, to complain about others' statements is the height of hypocrisy," he said. "And coming from a country which is the world's major sponsor and exporter of terror, it is a letter which the recipients, be it the Security Council or the secretary-general, should not even honor by acknowledging."

Abbas Nixes Independent PA Declaration of Independence


The Palestinian Authority is not going to issue a unilateral declaration of independence, despite the recommendation of a senior PA negotiator. PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas ruled out the idea, suggested Wednesday morning by Yasser Abed Rabbo, a co-founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Rabbo, who was expressing his frustration that "negotiations with Israel are not going anywhere," said the PA would consider declaring independence if Israel does not take steps to move the negotiations along faster. "Kosovo is not better than us," Rabbo told Reuters, referring to the former Serbian province that declared its independence earlier this week.

Fellow PA negotiator Saeb Erekat disagreed with his colleague, saying the PA needs "real independence" and not just a declaration. "We are not Kosovo," he said. "We are under Israeli occupation and for independence we need to acquire independence."

Abbas also stood firm on the issue of continuing negotiations with Israel regardless of how slow the progress might seem to others. "We will pursue negotiations in order to reach a peace agreement during 2008 that includes the settlement of all final status issues, including Jerusalem."

If the talks reach a deadlock, he added, "We will go back to our Arab nation [sic] to take the necessary decision at the highest level." Abbas did not indicate what possible alternatives might be.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, hinted that Arab countries might take back their peace offers to Israel if the Jewish State does not respond to them. Al-Faisal was quoted as saying: "We hope that Israel responds positively to the strenuous efforts we are making, so that we do not despair and think about taking back our offer."

Netanyahu: Olmert Government Taking Measures to Cede Jerusalem

By Ha'aretz

Likud leader and chairman of the opposition, Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the Olmert government is taking measures to divide Jerusalem, and urged the key Shas party to bolt the coalition and topple the government in order "to save Jerusalem."

Netanyahu was reacting to ongoing wrangling between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over Olmert's assertion that the sides had agreed to defer discussions over the status of Jerusalem to a future final phase of negotiations. "This weak government is prepared to give away Jerusalem, and is acting in order to give it away," Netanyahu said. "All its denials and attempts at whitewashing will do no good."

Officials of the ultra-Orthodox Shas have warned Olmert that they view negotiations over a future division of the city as a red line that would spur them to part ways with the ruling coalition.

Netanyahu said he believed Shas leaders' statements that they want to safeguard a Jerusalem united under Israeli rule. But he added, "Why are you still in the government? Why are you granting Olmert a carpet so that he can cede Jerusalem?"

Shas leaders "say they are waiting for a signed document. But in the current situation, we will not be able to recant. I repeat: Shas, what are you doing there? Get out of the government and save Jerusalem."

A senior official in the Prime Minister's Office said after Olmert-Abbas talks Tuesday that "The issue of Jerusalem did not come up in the discussion. I'm not aware of changes in the Israeli position."

But Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat disputed the claim, saying the leaders had discussed "all the core issues" and that Abbas and Olmert did in fact discuss the contentious topic of Jerusalem during their meeting earlier that evening.

Meanwhile, Abbas and Olmert agreed on Wednesday to expand their negotiations to topics beyond the "core issues" of borders, Jerusalem and the refugees: Within two weeks, teams will be set up to discuss at least seven other issues.

Poll: 75% of Young Israeli Arabs Support Voluntary National Service

By Ha'aretz

Seventy-five percent of Israeli Arabs between the ages of 16 and 22 support voluntary national service, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The poll, conducted by the dean of Haifa University's social sciences department, Professor Sammy Smooha, was carried out among 910 participants. The study also polled 78 public figures from the Israeli Arab community, dividing them into two groups--those who are identified with the Jewish establishment, and those who do not.

Smooha said the study shows that the government must launch a campaign challenging those Israeli Arab leaders who oppose the national service.

According to the poll, the vast majority of the Arab public is unaware of the national service, with 77.4 percent overall and 79.6 percent of youth saying they know little or nothing about the program. The lack of public awareness comes despite a vigorous campaign by Arab leaders against joining the national service as well as the service's recruitment efforts.

The poll found that, once given basic information about conditions in the national service and its goals, not only Israeli Arab youth were supportive of the idea, but so were 71.9 percent of all Arab men and 83.8 percent of all Arab women.

Support for the national service was also found to be high among supporters of Hadash (69.2 percent), Balad (77.6 percent), and other Arab political movements opposed to the project.

Twenty seven percent of Arab youth said they would volunteer even in the face of family members' opposition, while 35 percent said they would volunteer despite the opposition of town leaders. Forty two percent said they would volunteer even if the majority of Israeli Arab leaders express their opposition.

Sixty eight percent of those who support the national service said they are in favor because it contributes to the country and Israeli society, while 89.7 percent said they support the project because it would lead to greater equality between Arabs and Jews.

And 74.5 percent said they are concerned that the national service will with time turn into compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces

Shas Knesset Member: Homosexuality Causes Earthquakes

By &

Knesset member Shlomo Benizri (Shas) caused a tremor Wednesday when he linked homosexuality and earthquakes. Benizri addressed the subject in the course of a debate in the Knesset plenum on earthquake readiness. "I suggest that the Knesset inquire into how it can prevent sodomy and thus save us a lot of earthquakes."

He later explained to a reporter that the Gemara calls earthquakes "zevaot" and teaches that they are caused by a number of things, including male homosexuality. "I therefore suggested that in order to limit the damage from earthquakes, it would be better to make fewer laws that encourage sodomy and other perversions, like adoption of children by lesbians," he said.

The recent earthquake that was felt across Israel was the result of the "homosexual activity practiced in the country," Benizri said during a special Knesset session on Israel's preparedness for the possibility of another earthquake hitting the region.

An earthquake registering 5.3 on the Richter Scale was felt by residents across Israel at 12:36 p.m. Friday. The trembling lasted for 19 seconds and shook structures in many major towns and cities.

Reports of shaking were received from Nahariya in the north down to Be'er Sheva. Magen David Adom emergency services said there were no reports of injuries, but several people suffered from shock.

Last month fellow Shas member Nissim Ze'ev stirred controversy when he referred to the local gay movement as a "plague that could destroy Jewish Israel," adding that it should be treated "just as the Health Ministry dealt with the bird flu epidemic." (Editor's note: Many of the birds were killed.)

Mike Hammel, chairman of the Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association commented on Benizri's remarks saying "it is sad that a religious MK in Israel doesn't think earthquakes are God-made. On the other hand, I suppose we should be flattered he attributes us with such magical powers. One must wonder why Shas MKs are so obsessed with the gay community… we can all recall the case of the American senator who fiercely spoke out against gays until it was found he himself was gay."

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