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Palestinians Launch a News Site in Hebrew


The Palestinian Authority established a Web page in Hebrew on its official news agency site, Wafa, the Palestinian news agency said Thursday. The agency said the purpose of the Hebrew language site is to reach out to the Israeli public.

The site's objective is to "directly influence Israeli public opinion, away from Israeli censorship, by reporting news with objectivity and accuracy," a statement said. It will display daily news from the West Bank, and will also touch on the economy, business, culture and sports.

Israeli Plan to Annex Lands East of Jerusalem Stokes Palestinian Anger

By Luis Ramirez (VOA-Jerusalem)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu angered many Palestinians, in his recent speech, when he proclaimed Israel's intentions to keep Jerusalem as the united capital of the Jewish state. The Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of their own future state, but Israeli plans to annex lands east of the city and expand settlements in the occupied West Bank, could preempt that possibility.

Shepherd Mohamad Mussa Mashhur lives on a dry, barren hilltop, within a few meters of power lines. However, a kerosene lamp is what his family depends on for light. He said the Israelis came to him and offered him water, electricity and telephone service if he let them put a road by his house. But he said he did not want any of that. He said he does not want a road built through his property.

Mashhur is among Palestinian residents who live on the fringes of a swathe of land to the east of Jerusalem that Israel plans to develop. The Israeli development plan - known as E-1 - seeks to link Jerusalem to Maale Adumim, Israel's largest settlement in the West Bank, by pushing Arab communities away from the connecting road.

With its dry rocky hills, much of this swathe of land resembles a moonscape. Its terrain is barren and unfit for farming, many of its steep jagged hillsides unfit for building. Yet its political and religious value is such that for years, Israel has been determined to develop it and the Palestinians have been determined not to give it up.

Israel's aim is to protect the contiguity of Jerusalem. Backers of the plan say illegal building by Palestinians threatens to cut off the link between Jerusalem and the settlements including Maale Adumim.

Author Nadav Shragai, a proponent of E-1, said the plan's aim is to guarantee Israelis access to West Bank settlements and to stop Arabs from building in areas east of Jerusalem. He said the construction will reinforce the Palestinians' demand to create a division of Jerusalem - a division he opposes.

Shragai says the Palestinians also look at Jerusalem as a metropolis that belongs to them but he disputes their claim to the eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. In addition to practical issues, Shragai says there is another more compelling cultural reason for Israelis to claim this land.

Shragai points to the issue of principles and values. He says it has been more than 60 years since the creation of the State of Israel. He says Jews are coming back after a worldwide exile of 2,000 years.

For Shragai and other proponents of the plan, the drive to expand to points east is one largely based on religious values and the belief that God gave these lands to the Hebrew people.

Shragai says these are strongly significant places, from the point of view of the history of the biblical land of Israel. He says it is true that there is another population there and he says he and other Israelis do not ignore it. Aside from the practical issue, he says the plan is implementation of what he believes is a natural right of the Jews to return to Israel.

Mashhur said this land is his grandfathers' land. He was born on this land. He lives on this land. He says this land is Islamic land and he says he will is not going to let non-believers have it. He says it is his. He said Israeli companies have for years offered him substantial sums of money to use his land but has turned all offers down.

In the distance, new homes go up in another West Bank Jewish settlement. Israel says it will not prevent settlers from building new homes to house a naturally growing population.

Although Jewish communities surround him, Mashhur says to Netanyahu that he is no going to recognize Israel in Palestine - not just in Palestine but at all. Mashhur says the problem, as he sees it, is that Jewish immigrants came with much force and much support from outside. He says Palestinians are the weaker side. He says his people have not been able to get support from anyone.

Mashhur takes no comfort in President Barack Obama's ongoing calls for Israel to freeze settlements. He waits for the wall to go up.

Iran: We Thwarted Election Day Bomb Plot Linked to Israel

By Reuters

Iran's Intelligence Ministry said on Thursday it had uncovered a terrorist plot linked to Israel and other foreign enemies to plant bombs in mosques and other crowded places in Tehran during the country's June 12 presidential election.

State television aired a statement by what it said was one of those involved in the plot saying Americans in neighboring Iraq had given them the know-how to build explosive devices.

The website of state broadcaster IRIB quoted a ministry statement as saying several terrorist groups had been discovered, adding they were linked to Iran's foreign enemies, also including Israel.

State television said members of the plot had planned to place bombs in polling stations in 20 districts of Tehran. It aired statements by four people with pixilated faces. One of them said: "We had contacts with the Americans in Iraq and they wanted to have information from inside Iran about the situation. They gave us formula to build bombs."

Iran often accuses Israel and the United States, its two arch foes, of seeking to destabilize the Islamic Republic.

New York Prison Rabbi Resigns for Bar Mitzvah Behind Bars


The jailhouse rabbi who organized a lavish bar mitzvah party for a convict's son has resigned.

Rabbi Leib Glanz, a part-time corrections rabbi, organized a bar mitzvah for the son of Tuvia Stern, who is serving time for grand larceny charges. More than 60 guests attended a catered party in the prison's gymnasium, where they danced the hora and heard religious entertainer Yaakov Shwekey sing at the Manhattan Detention Center.

Guests were allowed to bring their cell phones and use metal forks and knives, both violations of prison policy.

Rabbi Chaim David Zwiebel, the executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, said that Glanz's treatment was due to his being "gold-hearted." Zwiebel added, "He has a long track record of humanitarian work on behalf of the community."

Media reports that a Muslim chaplain, Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil, assisted Rabbi Glanz in preparing the bar mitzvah arrangements. In 2006, Abdul-Jalil was suspended for two weeks for making a speech in which he said, "The greatest terrorists in the world are in the White House" and for remarks about "Zionists in the media."

Despite Abdul-Jalil's anti-Zionist stance, he apparently had a soft spot for bar mitzvah parties, which typically include herring and potato kugel.

The party was held in December and it only became recently known through an anonymous letter to the city's Department of Investigation, a watchdog organization. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that there was probably a misjudgment and the city is investigating. "Oy vey, as they say," the Jewish mayor of 'the Big Apple' said on his weekly radio show.

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