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Hamas Threatens Retaliation Against PA

By Reuters

The armed wing of Hamas and its allies said Wednesday they would retaliate against the Western-backed Palestinian Authority if it continued to take action against their members in the occupied West Bank.

The threat, made at a news conference in the Gaza Strip, underlined the depth of hostility between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority more than three years since the Islamist group seized control of Gaza in a brief civil war.

Netanyahu to Introduce Amendment to Citizenship Act


A test of loyalty? Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided Wednesday to ask his ministers to debate – and approve – an amendment to the Citizenship Act, mandating that all aspiring citizens would be required to pledge their allegiance not only to Israel, but to a "Jewish, democratic" Israel.

Netanyahu is in fact endorsing a similar amendment proposed by Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "Israel is the Jewish people's homeland," the prime minister explained. "It is so in its essence, in its government, its symbols, holidays and language, and that should be reflected by its Citizenship Act.

"Israel is a democratic country that afford full civil equality to all its citizens. This principle has always guided government policies, both domestic and foreign, and is a cornerstone of Israeli legislation. This principle is expressed in the term 'Jewish and democratic' and will be included in the pledge of allegiance taken by those wishing to become citizens."

The Prime Minister's Office said the matter should have no bearing on the peace talks with the Palestinians, since Israel's first prerequisite in the negotiations is for recognition as the Jewish state.

Minister of Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman slammed the proposal: "This is an infuriating, irresponsible decision which will only fuel the fires of delegitimization against Israel worldwide."This decision will bear no benefits for Israel. All it does is sent a negative message to Arab citizens," he said.

Yisrael Beiteinu welcomed Netanyahu's decision, saying it will fulfill a promise made to it in its coalitional agreement. "Every citizen is obligated to preserve Israel and a Jewish and democratic state, and all the more so when one aspires to become an Israeli citizen. This is a vital, basic need, especially when there are those who wish to undermine it."

Former Jewish Agency Chairman MK Zeev Bielski (Kadima) said that Netanyahu's decision is "insulting, harmful, and is not enough to cement Israel's status as a Jewish democratic state." Bielski added that the amendment "will cause more harm than good, and stems from the need to please radical coalitional elements."

MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) commented on Netanyahu's announcement, saying that the premier's decision "to force citizens to pledge allegiance to a Jewish Israel is a political decision rather that one of leadership. It is meant to cement the Arabs' inferior class status by law. No amendment will be able to negate the Palestinian narrative, which has been recognized worldwide."

The Arab street was irked by the decision, warning of a dangerous snowball effect: "It's time that the government says what it thinks of us Arabs – are we equal citizens or bad ones?" said Nazareth resident Maison Jaraisi.

Jaraisi, a nurse, claimed Israeli law was racist in nature. "Unfortunately, we are already accustomed to discriminatory legislation. I always read about the solidarity on the Israeli street toward refugees from Darfur, and I call on the same people – we need you today in order to build a mutual future that is healthier than the one the government has in the works," she said.

'Dancing Soldier' Faces Threats, Lawsuit


A former soldier who was videotaped by friends as he danced next to a blindfolded female terrorist has been threatened by Hamas. The terrorist group threatened to kidnap him.

"Many Palestinian youth in the West Bank and in Gaza are trying to find the soldier's name and address, in order to kidnap him and join him with Gilad Shalit," a statement from Hamas said.

The terrorist pictured in the video, 25-year-old Ekhsan Dibabse, said she plans to file suit against the soldier. Dibabse has already filed a complaint with the left-wing Committee Against Torture.

The incident took place in 2007, as Dibabse waited at a detention center after her arrest on suspicion of membership in the Islamic Jihad terrorist group. She has since served 22 months in prison.

The affair came to light after someone uploaded the video of the soldier dancing around Dibabse to YouTube. After the video was made public, Dibabse told media that she felt "humiliated" and "powerless" during the incident, despite the fact that she did not know what was happening at the time. "I heard music and soldiers laughing, I felt like I was being photographed," she said. She accused a different soldier of hitting her when she attempted to remove her blindfold.

The incident was condemned by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the IDF. Netanyahu said, "These types of activities and videos bring shame to the IDF and to the state of Israel, and cause heavy damage to our international image.

"The IDF is once of the most moral armies on earth, and treats prisoners with dignity. The degradation of prisoners and detainees is not the way of the state of Israel, or of the Jewish people," he added.

IDF spokesmen reported that the army is investigating the incident. "The IDF condemns behavior of the type seen in these videos, and has acted and will continue to act to put an end to it, through the briefings given to soldiers, the instructions given to their commanders, the IDF code, and punishment when necessary," they stated. "These videos represent the exception, and not the rule," they added.

Jewish Couple Booted from Cruise Ship


"There are too many Jews on board." That was the comment that started it all.

According to the London tabloids, that was what one well-dressed passenger aboard the exclusive Queen Mary 2 cruise ship allegedly said to another couple on board – leading to a verbal fight and a subsequent eviction from the vessel.

Gloria Sher, a Jewish 82-year-old Tony award winning producer and apparently the target of that comment, reportedly lashed back at the offending speaker with a series of reports including, "F* you."

Then she and her 91-year-old British husband Frederick Evans, who spending five-weeks on the $20,000 cruise, stomped off from the black-tie dinner and headed to their cabin.

Sher said that the following morning the captain came to the room and told the couple, who live in New York, that they had insulted another passenger and would have to leave the ship.

He intended, she said, to drop them off there and then, in Quebec, Canada. After fellow passengers came to their defense, Sher said, they were allowed to remain on board for another six days until the ship passed through New York – but were told that had to stay in their cabin.

"I was treated with no respect and unbelievably rude and shockingly terrible. I've been sick ever since. It has ruined our lives," she told the New York Post. "It's changed us forever."

The cruise line has disputed the couple's version of events and issued a statement in which it said they had engaged in "multiple incidences of disrespectful and disruptive behavior towards crew members and other guests. They were refunded only $835 and the captain's decision, it said, was approved.

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