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Olmert's Amnesty Included Killer of Florida Teen

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's extension of amnesty to Arab terrorists last week included the killer of Florida teenager Daniel Wultz two years ago, according to WorldNetDaily. The boy's father was wounded at a bus station in Tel Aviv when a terrorist set off a suicide bomb, killing 11 people.

Olmert granted amnesty to 178 terrorists last June in an agreement that allowed them to travel without restrictions as of last week. They also have been taken off Israel's list of wanted terrorists. The terrorists are members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, allied with the Fatah party, headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.


Palestinian Fatah Forces Arrest Hamas Activists in West Bank

By VOA News & IsraelNationalNews.com

Security forces loyal to Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction have arrested more than 50 rival Hamas activists in the West Bank. Among those arrested Monday in Nablus were several prominent local leaders and university professors. Authorities have not immediately given a reason for the arrests.

Tensions are running high between the rival Palestinian factions since a bombing in the Gaza Strip last Friday killed five Hamas members and a young girl. Hamas accused Fatah of carrying out the attack, and has detained at least 160 Fatah supporters in Gaza. Fatah has denied involvement, blaming the blast on Hamas infighting.

The two Palestinian factions have been at odds since Hamas routed Fatah forces in a civil war last year and seized control of Gaza.

And in a related story, Israel has abandoned several eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, leaving them without army or police patrols, according to Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) chief Yuval Diskin.

"Neighborhoods are being abandoned…and it leaves a vacuum where Hamas operates," he added. Smuggling of weapons has increased, and police find it more difficult to deploy forces in neighborhoods where the terrorist infrastructure has strengthened.


Olmert: Living with 270,000 Arabs in Jerusalem Means More Terror

By Ha'aretz

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that the situation in which Jews and Arabs live side by side in Jerusalem inevitably leads to terror attacks.

"Whoever thinks it is possible to live with 270,000 Arabs in Jerusalem must take into account that there will be more bulldozers, more tractors, and more cars carrying out [terror] attacks," Olmert said, referring to two incidents this month in which Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem deliberately plowed bulldozers into passing cars in the capital, causing casualties.

Olmert added that in light of the volatile situation in Jerusalem, it was unlikely that Israel and the Palestinians would reach an agreement on the issue by the end of the year, as is the stated goal. He said that other core issues, such as the fate of the Palestinian refugees and the borders of a future Palestinian state, could be agreed upon by the year-end deadline.

"I don't believe that understandings that will include Jerusalem can be reached this year. But on the other core issues, the gaps are not insurmountable," he told members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, according to an official present at the meeting. "There is no practical chance of reaching an overall understanding on Jerusalem."

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Olmert's comments showed "Israel's determination to destroy the negotiations and the peace process."

Olmert, who earlier this month said Israel and the Palestinians had never been so close to an agreement, has been talking up peace prospects as he clings to office in the face of a police investigation that could force him to step down.

Nabil Abu Rdainah, Abbas' spokesman, said Jerusalem was a "red line" for Palestinians, who want the city's Arab eastern half as the capital of their future state. "We will not accept any agreement that excludes Jerusalem," he added.

Israeli officials said the joint document Olmert envisages signing by the end of the year should refer to Jerusalem in the context of continuing negotiations, rather than delineating how the city's neighborhoods and holy sites would be controlled.

"Instead of letting the most difficult issues torpedo the entire process, we think it's important to find an agreed mechanism to keep discussing these issues into 2009," Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, said.

Olmert and Abbas launched U.S.-sponsored peace talks in November but these have been bogged down by disputes, mainly over Jewish settlement building in and around Jerusalem.

According to Palestinian and Western officials, Olmert has offered to return some 92.7 percent of the West Bank, plus all of the Gaza Strip. Olmert has also proposed a 5.3 percent land swap for major settlement blocs which Israel wants to keep as part of any accord.

Abbas has demanded all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but officials say he may accept a 1.5-2 percent swap under which Palestinians would be compensated with land from Israel.

Olmert wants any agreement to address the refugee issue by saying that just as Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people, Palestine would be the homeland for the Palestinian people, officials said.

That formula effectively denies Palestinian refugees what they consider their right to return to their former homes in what became the state of Israel in 1948.

The West Bank and Gaza Strip constitute 22 percent of British Mandate Palestine. They were captured by Israel from Jordan and Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Meanwhile, Palestinian sources said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is pressuring Israel and the Palestinian Authority to try to agree on a document of understandings by September, ahead of the United Nations General Assembly. The sources said Rice wants to be able to present the document during the General Assembly to show progress in the talks.

The document would include agreed-on points particularly on borders, an issue where, according to an American diplomat, the gap is not significant. According to Palestinian sources, the gap regarding a right of return for Palestinian refugees has also narrowed.

The United States is pressing for an agreement by which Palestinian refugees will have the right of return to what were the Palestinian territories before 1967, except for a yet-unclear small number of family reunifications. The PA says the U.S. will not take a dramatic step of a "Camp David" nature before the end of President George W. Bush's term in office.

A senior government official in Jerusalem confirmed that Rice wants to use the UN General Assembly to present a document summarizing the progress of the last nine months. "Rice brings up the idea in various diplomatic forums, both in the administration," he said.

The Israeli and PA teams, headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qureia, are set to arrive in Washington on Wednesday to continue negotiations. Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz were to join the Israeli delegation.

A three-way meeting with Rice is expected where she will be updated on the status of the talks. The United States and the PA have long been interested in holding such talks, but Israel said the meeting is routine.

According to the Israeli official, the main issue the Americans will bring up in the meeting is the document they hope to present at the General Assembly. But he added that "neither we nor the Palestinians want a deadline that can't be met. That will only hurt the talks and the good progress that has been achieved so far."

The official said gaps remain on most issues and confirmed that the parties are closest on borders. The debate now is over the percentage of land Israel will annex and the kind of compensation the PA will get in exchange. Olmert has told associates that the gap stands at a mere 2 to 3 percent.

The question of refugees is still open and the matter of Jerusalem has not even come up for discussion yet. Livni and Qureia meet at least once a week. Their advisers, Tal Becker and Saeb Erekat, also meet to work on draft agreements, and committees of experts are continuing their talks.

Livni and Qureia agree that talks should reach a point where they can survive changes of government on all sides, including in the United States. As opposed to Olmert and Abbas, who reiterate their desire to reach an agreement in 2008, Livni and Qureia are discussing ways to continue the talks through 2009. One idea is to use the November Moscow Conference on the Middle East to announce talks in 2009.


Israel Fears Leftist European Ship May Sail to Gaza to 'Break Siege'

By Ha'aretz

Israel is worried by reports that a group of left-wing activists from Europe plans to set sail for Gaza from Cyprus on August 5 under the slogan "breaking the siege." The activists will reportedly include three members of the European Parliament.

It is still not certain how serious the plans are. However, Israel fears that if the ship does sail, it will create a provocation that would at best cause public relations damage, and could even result in violence.

The ship is being organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the International Solidarity Movement. Many of the latter's members have been barred from entering Israel on security grounds.

The organizers have reportedly raised almost $300,000 to finance the operation and recruited 60 people to sail on the ship. These include activists from several countries as well as journalists.

According to the Free Gaza Movement's web site, the activists will include a Holocaust survivor, a survivor of the Palestinian Nakba, as Palestinians call Israel's creation in 1948, and other members of the so-called Palestinian diaspora, in addition to the European parliamentarians.

According to the site, the plan is for the boat to enter Gaza's territorial waters - and, more specifically, the "special security zone" that the Israel Navy has declared off-limits to all boats. The organizers thereby hope to provoke a clash with the navy that will end with them being forcibly arrested.

An Israeli government source said that Israel still has little information about the plan, and it is not clear whether it will ever come off. A year ago, he noted, Israel received reports of a similar plan, but due to logistical difficulties, that initiative never got off the ground.

In conversations with their Israeli counterparts, Cypriot officials have expressed concern about the boat departing from their shores, but said they can do nothing to prevent it. According to the information that has reached Israel, however, Cyprus is not the only point of departure under consideration; the ship might also sail from Turkey or from Alexandria in Egypt.

Israel is still trying to discover the ship's exact identity and more details about the organizers' intentions. It is also trying to decide how to respond. One option that has been raised in official discussions is to simply allow the ship to reach Gaza, thereby foiling the organizers' apparent desire for a clash.


Latest PA Libel Exposed: Israel Dispatches Anti-Arab Rats

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Palestinian Media Watch reports that two Arab newspapers in the Palestinian Authority are accusing Israelis of unleashing bands of rats against Jerusalem's Arab population.

"Two PA newspapers - one directly controlled by the office of PA President Mahmoud Abbas - are accusing Israel of releasing rats with supernatural qualities to chase away the Arab residents of Jerusalem," wrote PMW's Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook.

According to the PA papers, the Israeli-Jerusalem rat is: Immune to rat poison; Aggressive and larger than usual; Unafraid of cats and able to scare them away; Highly fertile, with females giving birth to 140 young rats a year, four times the normal average; and highly selective, as Jewish residents of Jerusalem apparently are not affected by these rats.

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, an official PA organ controlled by the office of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, reported on July 18: "[Israeli] settlers have been bringing chests filled with rats and releasing them in the Old City's [Arab] neighborhoods; they breed and have become a major curse... the [Arab] residents' efforts to counter this infestation have failed, especially since cats run away from these rats because of their size and ferocity...

"All of the conventional efforts to kill them have not succeeded, because they seem to be immune to poison and they breed in the sewers. It is known that this female rat gives birth seven times a year, each time giving birth to 20 babies, which compels Jerusalem's [Arabs] today to face the dangers of settlement and the infestation of rats..."


Obama, McCain Supporters Have Kippot on the Brain

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A new election campaign gimmick offers kippot (skullcaps) to supporters of U.S. presidential candidates, one with the name Obamica and the other with McCippah. Shmuel Tennehaus dreamed up the idea, which he sells through his Vanity Kippah web site http://www.vanitykippah.com/. "There has never been a better time to sport a political statement on your head," his site advertises.

The price for each kippah is $15.95 (56 shekels). Tennehaus said he was frustrated trying to find a kappa that fits current trends, noting he always came up "empty-handed and bareheaded."

He said he wanted to fashion a kappa that non-Jews also can wear, and he decided that Senators Obama and McCain were the best targets because of the attention they are giving Israel in their presidential campaigns.

He estimated that the market among Orthodox Jews who wear a kappa is 200,000, but notes that millions of others wear the skullcap in synagogues on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. This year's holidays of Rosh HaShanah (New Year), Yom Kippur and Sukkot (Tabernacles) fall three to five weeks before the November elections.


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