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Teva Partners on New Prostate, Lung Cancer Treatment


Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva has signed a deal to invest $60 million in a new cancer-fighting drug to fight prostate and lung cancer. The experimental drug, custirsen sodium (OGX-011), is set to enter Phase III clinical trials in 2010 and early 2011.

The Israeli pharmaceutical giant has just entered a global licensing and collaboration agreement for the new medication with Washington and Vancouver-based OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Israel and Hamas Move Toward Prisoner Swap

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Negotiations on a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas have entered a crucial stage.

After marathon top-level meetings in Jerusalem, Israel is moving toward a lopsided prisoner swap with Hamas - 1,000 Palestinian detainees in exchange for captive soldier Gilad Shalit. The Israeli soldier was captured by Palestinian gunmen in a cross-border raid three and a half years ago and has been held in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the government is making intensive efforts to reach an agreement. Barak, a former general and army chief of staff, said it is a supreme duty to bring the captive soldier home, but he added, "not at any price."

The sticking point concerns about 20 hardcore Palestinian militants responsible for deadly attacks on Israelis. In its latest response to Hamas, Israel demanded that these prisoners be deported to Gaza or abroad instead of returning home to the West Bank. Israel believes the terrorists would be less of a terror threat in Gaza, which is blockaded, than in the West Bank which is close to Israeli cities.

But Hamas said the men must return to the West Bank and Israel's demand could hold up a deal. Hamas official Izzat Rashak warned that Gilad Shalit "will not see the light of day" until Israel meets the group's demands.

There are mixed feelings about the prisoner swap in Israel. Many Israelis sympathize with the plight of Shalit's family and its public campaign to win his release. Noam Shalit, the captive soldier's father, says Israel has carried out lopsided prisoner swaps in the past, so there is no reason for further delay. "We are waiting for decisions, and we think it is about time to decide and conclude this issue," Shalit said.

But many other Israelis say the deal is a grave mistake. They warn that it will strengthen Hamas, while weakening Palestinian moderates; and it will lead to a surge in violence and more terrorist blackmail.

The forum of seven senior Israeli cabinet ministers met until late on Monday night discussing the exchange deal. After the meeting Israel gave the German mediator of the deal its response to the mediator's proposal, including Jerusalem's demands regarding the prohibition against returning to the West Bank for certain Palestinian prisoners following their release.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday in a meeting with representatives of the relatives of victims of terrorism, "There is no deal for the release of Gilad Shalit and I don't know if there will be." The representatives voiced their opposition to the deal because of the Hamas demand for the release of terrorists responsible for the murder of Israelis.

The prime minister told the families that in considering the exchange he has been guided by "two essential principles, the desire to free prisoners and the desire to defend the citizens of Israel against future harm."

Speaking for Hamas, a Beirut-based leader in the organization said Tuesday night that the Islamist group cannot agree to a deal that includes the principle of exile." Osama Hamdan's statement came despite the fact that the organization had accepted the limitation in the past.

"Because Hamas, or any other Palestinian faction, cannot agree to the expulsion of Palestinians we insist that all the prisoners are released to their homes and families," Hamdan said, added that Israeli media reports about the future expulsions are merely an attempt to weaken Hamas' position in the negotiations.

The sources in Jerusalem emphasized that Israel is sincere about seeking to bridge the gaps between the positions, and that the expression of reservations is not an effort to avoid making a deal by blaming Hamas. "We are looking for a way to complete the deal," one senior Israeli official said.

Polish Police Probe Foreign Link in Theft of Auschwitz Sign

By Reuters

Polish police are investigating a possible international link in the theft of the iron sign that hung over the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz, they said on Tuesday.

Police recovered the German language sign, which reads "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work makes you free"), and detained five men early on Monday over the theft, which triggered widespread outrage, especially from Israel and Jewish groups.

"We have been cooperating with... all international agencies and institutions around the world... It is possible that a person could be detained (on a European warrant)," police spokesman Dariusz Nowak told a news conference. He gave no further details and declined to comment on Polish media reports that a Swedish collector might have been involved in the crime.

"The question of the mysterious Swede has appeared ... I cannot confirm or deny this ... Of course they (the five suspects) didn't steal it to have it in their collection. So it looks more and more like somebody else is behind this."

At the news conference, police displayed the iron sign, which had been broken into three pieces and was somewhat twisted out of shape. When they stole the sign last Friday, the thieves had left behind the final "i" of the word "frei", Nowak said.

Police have described the five suspects as common criminals with no known links to neo-Nazi groups. "They stole the sign in order to make money," Nowak said. The theft had stirred fears of a possible political motive as the sign is a powerful symbol of the Holocaust committed by the Nazis deliberately against the Jews.

Some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished at the death camp of Auschwitz - known as Oswiecim in Polish - during Nazi Germany's occupation of Poland in World War Two. Arriving prisoners entered via a small iron gate topped by the sign. The motto became a symbol of the Nazis' efforts to give their victims a false sense of security before murdering them.

Auschwitz prisoners died of diseases, sub-zero temperatures, starvation and in medical experiments as well as being gassed. More than 500 acres of the former death camp became a museum after the war ended.

Hundreds of thousands visit the museum every year, but ticket sales are not enough to maintain the open-air site with its 155 buildings - including the gas chambers - 300 ruined facilities and hundreds of thousands of personal items. Poland has appealed for international donations and Britain and Germany, among others, have offered money.

Museum authorities have said they hope to have the sign restored and put back in place in time for celebrations planned in January to mark the 65th anniversary of the camp's liberation by the Soviet Red Army.

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