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Jumblatt: 'Bring Hizbullah into Lebanese Army'


The Hizbullah militia gradually should be incorporated into the Lebanese Army and official defense institutions instead of continuing as an independent armed faction, Lebanese Druze Leader Walid Jumblatt told

Jumblatt is one of the leading forces in the pro-Western camp that won a decisive victory in the country's parliamentary election on Sunday. Jumblatt's camp ran against the Iranian-backed Shiite Hizbullah, which was allied with some smaller factions.

Netanyahu May Favor Andorra-Like Solution for PA


Rumors abound as to whether Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will agree to "two states" in his major speech next week. Netanyahu plans to deliver a speech Sunday, at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, as his official response to President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo last week.

Speculation is that Netanyahu might agree to a solution under which the Palestinian Authority would become a demilitarized state like Andorra, though other possibilities are also being reported.

A report in Ma'ariv, based on an unidentified "senior diplomatic source," has it that Netanyahu will actually agree to the American-backed two-state solution – namely, a 23rd Arab state, this one in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. This, despite the fact that he has consistently opposed it for years, and even lost the chance to have Kadima join his government coalition because of this position.

Another factor rendering the two-state solution a non-starter is that Fatah and Hamas are unable to agree on a united government for the areas that they respectively control: Fatah in Judea/Samaria and Hamas in Gaza. The same Ma'ariv article states that senior Likud figures say that Netanyahu does not know yet what he will say in his speech.

Another report, in the daily Yisrael HaYom, says that Netanyahu will propose a diplomatic process leading to the formation of a Palestinian state without an army. The new state would be like Andorra, the small country between France and Spain, and would have recognized borders. Andorra, only 468 square kilometers (181 square miles) in size and with a population of 90,000, is a member of the United Nations, but responsibility for its defense lies with France and Spain.

Netanyahu has long been in favor of an Andorra-like solution for the Palestinian Authority. In 1997, during his first term as Prime Minister, he told interviewer Sir David Frost that in his vision, "they run their own affairs. They have self-government. They choose their own representatives. They legislate their own laws. They levy their own taxes. They run every aspect of their lives with no interference from us.

"It's self-government. But those powers that can threaten Israel, our most basic interests, including our security – [those remain] under Israeli control. I'll give you an example… If [the Judean Mountains area] becomes a Palestinian state, then they can have control of the airspace. They can, for example… bring in 1,000 people with the shoulder-fired missiles and shoot down [any plane arriving in Israel]. They couldn't only shoot down that plane; they might even be able to threaten the whole Israeli Air Force. If there's no Israeli Air Force, there's no Israel.

"So… there has to be a certain limitation of… those powers of the Palestinian entity that could threaten Israel… It's enough for them to control their internal security. [Their armed force] should stay in a circumscribed form so as not to threaten ours."

Regarding Jewish growth and construction in the biblical areas of Judea and Samaria, which Obama said last week the United States "no longer accepts as legitimate," Netanyahu is reportedly willing to compromise. One report states that Netanyahu will agree to limit "natural growth" construction to the settlement blocs that will apparently remain Israeli in all scenarios. These include greater Jerusalem, Gush Etzion, Ariel, and one or two others – but will leave out Kiryat Arba, Beit El, Kedumim, Elon Moreh, and well over 100 other towns.

Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, former Sen. George Mitchell, has arrived in Israel for his fourth trip. He met Tuesday morning with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and then with President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Netanyahu.

Mitchell has said that his goal is to convince Israel to resume immediate negotiations with PA head Mahmoud Abbas. Netanyahu has already agreed to meet with Abbas without delay, but Abbas has refused until Israel agrees to agree to a PA state, withdraw its forces from PA-controlled cities, and/or fulfills other conditions.

Meanwhile, the White House chose as its official photograph of Obama's Monday phone call with Netanyahu one in which the President is seen making a point to Netanyahu, with his feet up on his desk. The White House announced that Obama and Netanyahu had a "constructive, 20-minute conversation" in which Obama "reiterated the principal elements of his Cairo speech." Obama also "indicated that he looked forward to hearing the Prime Minister's upcoming speech outlining his views on peace and security."

Police Block PA Infiltrators at Dead Sea Roadblock


Israel Police blocked a group of 22 Palestinian Authority Arabs from infiltrating into the Dead Sea area in pre-1967 Israel on Tuesday.

The Arabs were packed into a commercial vehicle whose driver managed to break through a roadblock in the Metsukei Deragot (Deragot Cliffs) in the northern area of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. The group was apparently trying to reach Tel Aviv, according to police officials.

A roadblock set up in the Tamar Regional Council area stopped the vehicle from reaching the Dead Sea hotel strip in Ein Bokek, where some two dozen hotels are currently booked to capacity.

Many of the Dead Sea hotels at this time of year cater to medical tourists who come to the region specifically for treatment for psoriasis as well as other skin diseases and arthritic conditions. The combination of the region's sun and mineral sea water has been proven effective as a treatment for the condition.

Ahmadinejad Runs for Re-Election as President of Iran

By Amy Katz (VOA-Washington)

Before he was elected President of Iran in 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the Mayor of Tehran but he was largely unknown in the global arena. Just four years later, he is well known all over the world. This is a profile of the incumbent in the upcoming Iranian presidential elections.

Ahmadinejad was a relative unknown when he was elected President of Iran four years ago. One of his first decisions was naming a group of unknown people to his cabinet. Some of them came from the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps. He also closed the government department responsible for the country's budget. The move was unprecedented and gave him tighter control of the nation's finances. A number of government ministers left their posts in protest or were forced out.

But it was Ahmadinejad's fiery and controversial rhetoric that gained him attention on the world stage. He has insisted Iran has a right to develop nuclear technology.

Although the United States and its allies worry that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad insists the country's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. He has not cooperated with the International Atomic Energy Agency and has turned down offers for negotiation.

In his most inflammatory remarks, he has denied the Nazi Holocaust. And he has said Israel should be wiped off the map. "The Zionist regime is a fake," he said. "They are occupiers. By raising the Holocaust question, I wanted to disclose a historical cheat. This regime [Israel] is over. Many of the world's nations and most of the governments do not want there to be a state of Israel."

Ahmadinejad's actions and words have drawn sharp criticism, which he dismisses. But he has lost much of the support that got him elected last time. In that campaign, unlike his rivals, he kept his promises to a minimum - using simple but serious slogans to gain popularity. He garnered many votes by going into Iran's rural areas.

One of his most well known promises was that he would bring profits from oil sales to the dinner tables of Iran's people. He did not win the Presidency outright. In a run-off with former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad won by seven million votes.

This time, Rafsanjani is supporting Ahmadinejad's reformist rival, former prime minister Mir Hossein Moussavi. The president has been criticized for his handling of Iran's economy, which is suffering from high inflation.

And the political conservatives who got `Ahmadinejad elected four years ago have not yet endorsed him this time.

Haredi Volunteers to Operate Cell Phones with Teeth


The issue of working on Shabbat presents a difficult dilemma for the ultra-Orthodox workers and volunteers of the Magen David Adom emergency services. A recently-issued halachic ruling now permits on-call volunteers to activate their cell phones on weekends, provided that they do so using their teeth.

MDA has lately began replacing its workers' old beepers with modern MIRS mobile phones equipped with GPS technology, which enables the dispatch center to locate the volunteers closest to the scene of an accident, thus shortening the emergency teams' response time.

But the switch to the new technology has created a problem for the haredi volunteers, who were concerned that the use of the MIRS device on weekends would amount to Shabbat desecration. Some ultra-Orthodox leaders have even called on the volunteers to keep their old beepers.

In an attempt to resolve this dilemma, MDA approached the head of the Scientific-Technological Halacha Institute, Rabbi Levy Yitzhak Halperin. Halperin permitted the use of the new mobile phones, but stipulated a series of conditions for this: The devices would remain open at all times during weekends and placed in a specially-designed case that would not enable them to shut down accidentally.

On Shabbat and holidays, on-call volunteers would respond to calls by using a small metal pin, which they will place between their teeth and use to press the buttons and confirm their arrival.

"Magen David Adom is committed to adopting the GPS technology while making sure not to disrupt the lifestyle and customs of the volunteers," said MDA Director Genera Eli Bin.

Liberian Dictator Taylor Discovers Judaism Israel Faxx News Services

A new convert to Judaism is, according to one of his wives, former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. Taylor, who is scheduled to be tried for war crimes in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, reportedly discovered Judaism in prison in The Hague.

"He's now a Jew. He's practicing Judaism," Victoria Taylor told BBC Radio after a three-week visit with her husband. "When he got to The Hague, he got to know that he really, really wanted to be a Jew, wanted to convert to Judaism."

She said her husband "does believe in Christ," and that "he hasn't rejected Christianity. He has always been a Christian. He just decided to become a Jew. He wants to follow the two religions."

'Arabs did to Israel what Borat did to Kazakhstan'

By Ha'aretz

Arab public relations efforts in Europe and the United States have cast Israelis in an inaccurate light, a top Israeli public relations official said on Tuesday.

"The Arabs, our adversaries, have succeeded in doing to us what 'Borat' did for Kazakhstan", Ido Aharoni told the Knesset Defense and Security Committee on Tuesday, referring to the 2006 Sacha Baron Cohen film in which Cohen portrayed a Kazakh filmmaker touring the United States.

Aharoni, head of the Brand Israel project, said Arab public relations measures "have created an image [for Israelis] whose connection to reality is very weak."

Aharoni's comments mirrored those made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said "we [Israel] cannot advance successful diplomacy if we don't change the way we are viewed." `Lieberman added that Israel's public image is the most serious diplomatic problem facing the country.

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