Newsletter : 9fax0519.txt
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U.S. Supreme Court Denies Survivor Suit vs. German Firms
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition brought by Holocaust survivors
against 17 German companies, including BMW, Volkswagen and Deutsche Bank.
The survivors had hoped to renegotiate reparation agreements signed with the companies.
The survivors claim that the companies are holding $100 million from a fund for survivors
of the German forced-labor camps that operated during the Holocaust.
Obama: U.S. Backs Palestinian Statehood, No Iran Deadline
By Ha'aretz & VOA News
President Barack Obama voiced support for creation of a Palestinian state in talks on
Monday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who held back from endorsing the main
cornerstone of Washington's Mideast policy.
With Israeli leaders mostly skeptical of Obama's efforts to engage Iran diplomatically,
Netanyahu had planned to stress Israel's growing concerns about Tehran's nuclear
ambitions, Israeli officials said before the talks.
Obama, speaking along with Netanyahu to reporters in the Oval Office, said after the
two-hour meeting that he saw no reason to set an artificial deadline for diplomacy with
Iran, but the U.S. would like to see progress with Tehran by the end of the year.
He said he was not closing off a "range of steps" against Iran, including sanctions, if
it continues its nuclear program, which Washington believes is aimed at producing an
atomic weapon but Tehran says is for peaceful purposes.
Obama also reminded Israel of its commitment, under a 2003 U.S.-backed peace road map
agreement to cease settlement activity in the West Bank.
"We talked about restarting serious negotiations on issues of Israel and the
Palestinians," Obama said, adding that it was in the interests of both sides "to achieve a
Netanyahu, in his remarks, reiterated that he supported self-government for the
Palestinians but made no mention of a state, a position underscoring a rare rift in
U.S.-Israeli relations. "We don't want to govern the Palestinians. We want them to govern
themselves," Netanyahu said, echoing statements he has made in the past.
Obama sees engagement in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking - in contrast to the Bush
administration's largely hands-off approach - as crucial to repairing the U.S. image in
the Muslim world and to convincing moderate Arab states to join a united front against
There have been signs Obama hopes to sway Netanyahu with the prospect of normalized
ties between Israel and all Muslim countries, but such a comprehensive deal would require
extraordinary diplomatic work by the United States.
After making a joint statement, Netanyahu spoke to Israeli reporters at the president's
guesthouse at Blair House, saying that "it was a good meeting, friendly. There was a deep
commitment to relations with the U.S., with whom we have a special relationship.
"Another thing was Iran," the prime minister continued, "a topic which consumed most of
hour private one-on-one meeting. It was clear that he [Obama] understands the extent of
the problem, for the world as well as for us, and he is committed to preventing Iran from
gaining nuclear weapons.
"In regard to the settlements, we decided that this is something that needs to be
implemented through commitments on both sides," Netanyahu added. "Israel has dismantled
settlements and the Palestinians were supposed to dismantle terror infrastructure. In
Gaza, we dismantled settlements and got huge terror infrastructure in return."
Before Monday's meeting, analysts were speculating on whether there might be a public
clash between Obama and Netanyahu over their different policy priorities. Obama was
focused on resuming peace talks with the Palestinians, and Netanyahu was focused on Iran's
Speaking to the press after their meeting, both leaders made a point of recognizing how
crucial both issues are to peace and security. Netanyahu said he is ready to resume peace
talks with the Palestinians.
"And I want to start peace negotiations with the Palestinians immediately," said
Netanyahu. "I would like to broaden the circle of peace to include others in the Arab
world. If we could, Mr. President, it is a distant vision but one that we shouldn't let
go, maybe peace with the entire Arab world."
The Israeli Prime Minister made clear, however, that any agreement depends on the
Palestinians accepting Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and Israel's right to
defend itself. And he stopped short of endorsing Palestinian statehood, saying only that
Israel does not want to govern the Palestinians.
Netanyahu said the common threat posed by Iran's nuclear program to the entire region
could even lead to opportunities for Israel to work with its Arab neighbors. "And in my 59
years, in the life of the Jewish state, there has never been a time when Arabs and
Israelis see a common threat the way we see it today, and also see the need to join
together in working towards peace while simultaneously defending ourselves against this
Next week, Mr. Obama will continue his push for Middle East diplomacy, hosting Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White
Israel Moves Ahead With West Bank Settlements
By Luis Ramirez (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel is pressing ahead with plans to build more settlement housing in the West Bank.
An Israeli official announced the scheme Monday The move could cause friction with
Washington, which wants Israel to stop settlement expansion.
The matter of Israeli settlements in the West Bank is one of the key sticking points in
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians want no Israeli presence in their state
if and when it is established. Israeli authorities say there are roughly 280,000 people
living in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Israeli developers and a local government official on Monday said they are moving ahead
with construction at a former military site known as Maskiot in the Jordan Valley.
Contractors toured the site on Sunday. Officials say the building plans were approved by
Israel's defense ministry last year.
The construction plans are drawing protests from the Palestinians who accuse the
Israelis of timing their release with Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington to send a
message that Israel is strengthening its hold on the West Bank.
They repeated their warning that no negotiations will take place as long as Netanyahu
does not endorse the creation of a Palestinian state. The General Secretary of the
Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Abed Rabu, accused Netanyahu of trying to derail
the peace process. He called for the United States to announce a one-year deadline.
Abed Rabu said the most important thing for the Palestinians is to see what the United
States and Israel plan to do. He says the Palestinians are waiting to see what steps the
United States will take and whether Washington will announce that a Palestinian state will
be created within a year.
Some Israelis oppose the creation of such a state out of concern that it might be
subject to takeover by Islamist terrorists, as was the case in the Gaza Strip where the
Iranian-backed Hamas movement seized the government after Israel's 2005 withdrawal from
Poll: Only 31 Percent of Israelis Consider Obama Pro-Israel
Only 31 percent of Israel's adult Jewish population considers Barack Obama'
administration to be pro-Israel, according to a Smith Institute poll released on the eve
of Obama's meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The poll had a 4.5% margin of
The survey of 500 Israelis, representing a statistical model of the Israeli population,
was conducted last week. It revealed that 14 percent of Israeli Jews consider Obama
pro-Palestinian, while 40 percent of the respondents labeled him as neutral; 15 percent
declined to offer their opinion.
The poll further showed that 88 percent of Israeli Jews believe that Obama's
predecessor, former President George W. Bush, was pro-Israel, as opposed to only two
percent who claim he was pro-Palestinian. Seven percent of the respondents said Bush was
However, the survey showed that Israelis still consider the Obama Administration to be
more favorable towards Israel than Europe, with Russia considered the most
Some 62 percent of Israeli Jews believe Moscow is pro-Palestinian, the poll revealed,
while only five percent said the Russian regime favored Israel. Most western European are
also deemed pro-Palestinian by the Israeli public, but 37 percent of Israeli Jews believe
the German government under Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a pro-Israel stance, as opposed
to 21 percent who believe the German decision-makers support the Palestinians.
Eldad: U.S. Selling Israel Down the River
Knesset member Aryeh Eldad (National Union party) said following the meeting between
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Israel has true cause
for concern, because the U.S. is shaking off its historic commitment to vouch for Israel's
"Defining a deadline-free negotiating process vis-à-vis Iran means, in practice,
that the U.S. is willing to accept a nuclear Iran and that Israel remains alone facing
Iran," Eldad said. "Israel will have no choice but to destroy the Iranian nuclear
facilities with all the means at its disposal, be the price what it may be."
However, Knesset member Ophir Akunis, head of the Likud's Media Responses Team, said
that the predictions of a tense meeting between Obama and Netanyahu have proven untrue.
"The Obama-Netanyahu meeting proved again the power of the deep bond between the U.S. and
Two Alleged Spies Flee Lebanon to Israel
A disabled Lebanese citizen and his family fled to Israel at dawn Monday along with
another suspected spy amid a crackdown on espionage networks throughout Lebanon, a
security official said.
Elie Maroun Hayek, a mathematics professor who lives in the southern town of Qolayaa,
some six miles from the Israeli border, slipped under barbed wire between the border towns
of Rmaysh and Yaron, the official told AFP. Hayek, who is paraplegic, fled with his wife
and three sons, he said.
Another man from the town of Rmaysh also fled to Israel early Monday, the official said
without giving more detail. He said the man and Hayek are suspected of being part of
Israeli spy networks uncovered by Lebanese officials in recent months.
Lebanon has arrested 13 people since January on suspicion of spying for Israel. An
undisclosed number of others have also been detained for interrogation. "We have begun to
crack the infrastructure of Israeli spy rings," internal security chief General Achraf
Rifi told a Lebanese daily on Monday. "There is a common factor which has helped us track
down the rings," he said without giving details.
Shin Bet: Terrorists Using Facebook to Entrap Israelis
The Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) said Monday that terrorists are using the
Facebook internet-based social network to try and entrap Israelis and gather sensitive
The agency has received numerous reports of Israelis on Facebook who received messages
asking them for sensitive military secrets in return for payment. Similar incidents
occurred on other internet social networks as well.
In one case, an Israeli received a message from a "Lebanese Merchant" who offered him
payment in exchange for sensitive information. The Israeli immediately contacted the Shin
Bet about the incident, but the security agency says it was not an isolated incident.
In addition, the agency warned that terrorists may try to entrap an Israeli by using
the pretext of meeting him outside of the country in order to transfer a payment for the
information. The Shin Bet fears that terrorists may kidnap Israelis through this
Security sources warned that terrorists may use the private personal information on
social networks, such as names, addresses, and phone numbers, to locate Israelis both in
Israel and abroad.
Terrorists have become more adept at using technology to further their purposes.
According to Israeli officials, terrorist groups very actively search the internet for
Israeli sites that may contain sensitive security information.
In addition, authorities have expressed concern over technologies such as Google Earth
which could enable terrorists to gain high quality images of sensitive military sites.
Google Earth has blocked some locations in Israel and around the world from view.
During Operation Cast Lead, terrorists made use of cell phone technology to send
hostile SMS text messages to Israelis, in a kind of psychological warfare intended to
scare soldiers and civilians.
95-Year Old Woman Caught Speeding at 132 Kph
Israeli traffic police caught a 95-year-old woman speeding down an Israeli highway at
132 kilometers per hour (82 mph) on Monday. The woman could not adequately explain to the
police why she was driving so fast and so they chose to temporarily revoke her
The elderly woman is expected to appear in court within a month to decide on the future
of her driving license.
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