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Neo-Nazi Gang Leader Sentenced to Prison


Neo-Nazi gang leader Dimitri Bogotich was sentenced to a 69 month prison sentence for attacks in Israel between 2005-2007. Bogotich, whose Patrol 36 gang operated in Petach Tikva and Tel Aviv, was convicted last month in a plea bargain for his role as the leader in dozens of race-related attacks by the group, which also desecrated a number of synagogues in the area. He was able to flee Israel to Kyrgyzstan, from where he was extradited to Israel.

PA Threatens 'Significant Steps' Over Israeli Sanctions


Palestinian Authority Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said on Thursday that the PA is considering taking "significant steps" in response to Israel's decision to accelerate the construction of 2,000 homes in east Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Abu Rudeineh, who was interviewed on BBC Radio, said the PA will soon "change the Middle East" but would not provide additional details.

Meanwhile, the PA's representative in the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, has asked the UN Security Council to take action against Israel, saying the Israeli government in Jerusalem is "illegally stealing" the tax money it is supposed to transfer to the PA. Mansour warned that unless Israel immediately ceases its actions, the already fragile situation in the region could further deteriorate.

The Israeli decision to sanction the PA with the construction and freezing of taxes came after the PA was admitted as a 'full-member state' to UNESCO earlier this week.

The PA's foreign affairs minister, Riyad al-Maliki, told reporters in Ramallah on Thursday that the PLO will not apply to join any more international organizations but will focus on full membership of the United Nations, which is under consideration by the Security Council. He said that if the bid fails, the PLO will keep applying for membership until Palestine is accepted in the UN and would not turn to the General Assembly.

"We do not want, after all of these struggles, sacrifices, and efforts by the entire Palestinian people, to accept an observer state in the United Nations. We will not accept less than we deserve: a full member state," the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency quoted al-Maliki as having said.

Earlier on Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the PA should not pursue its plan to be recognized as a member state of the United Nations. Ban said that now that the PA has been accepted into UNESCO, it should be satisfied with that achievement.

The reason for this surprising new view, according to Ban, is the financial hit the UN took when UNESCO approved the PA's membership. The U.S. and Canada immediately cut off funds to the organization, instantly lowering its operating budget by nearly 30%.

IAF to Host Greeks, Italians for Joint Exercises


The Israeli Air Force will host Greece's Air Force for joint exercises in two weeks' time. Last year, the IAF was in Greece for joint exercises, and a security official said on Thursday that the reciprocal visit from Greece is very significant.

In addition the IAF will host the Italian Air Force next month for a training session at the Uvda Airport in the Negev. This will be the second time that the Italian air force will train in Israel. "The Israeli Air Force sees the Italian and Greek air forces' visits as a step up in strategic cooperation," a security source said on Thursday.

The announcement on the joint exercises with Italy and Greece came one day after an IAF delegation returned from Sardinia following a week-long joint training exercise with the Italian Air Force.

The delegation included pilots from the "Knights of the North" and "First Jet" squadrons operating the F-16C air superiority fighter, along with pilots from the "Valley" squadron, who operate the F-16D. The fighter pilots were accompanied by a crew from the "Dakota" control squadron, flying a Gulfstream 5 G-550 radar plane. The Italian Air Force used its advanced "Eurofighter Typhoon" fighters during the exercise, in which two Israeli pilots were granted exclusive backseat rides.

The exercises, planned months ago, concluded amid a storm of speculation from Israel's media that leaders in Jerusalem are planning a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

The stated goals of the joint exercises were to strengthen ties with the Italian Air Force, learn from NATO's combat doctrine, and practice combat abilities in unknown, vast lands and to leave a positive impression for both sides. A similar exercise took place last year.

Israel has conducted numerous joint air force exercises with NATO members. Israel, while not a NATO member itself, is expected to open a liaison office with the alliance in the near future.

Ha'aretz Poll: 80% of Israelis Believe Iran Strike will Lead to War with Hamas, Hizbullah

By Ha'aretz

A large majority of Israeli citizens believe that a military operation in Iran will lead to a regional flare-up with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and Hizbullah to the north of Israel in Lebanon, a Ha'aretz poll revealed Thursday.

According to a Ha'aretz-Dialog poll, 80% of respondents said they believed an attack on Iran will lead to war with Hamas and Hizbullah. 59% of respondents said they believe that it is highly likely that such a scenario will occur and 21% said that it is fairly likely that it will occur. Meanwhile, 20% said that the probability of a war is unlikely or entirely improbable.

The poll, which queried both Jewish and Arab respondents, also asked whether people trusted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak "on the Iranian issue." Here the answer was more clear-cut, with 52% saying they do, compared to 37% who do not. Only 11% had no opinion.

According to the poll, Israelis are almost evenly split on whether Israel should attack Iran's nuclear facilities, with 41% supporting such a strike and 39% opposed. The remaining 20% said they were undecided.

Fifty-four percent of Arab respondents believe that Israel should not attack Iran's nuclear facilities, while 21% support such an attack. Furthermore, 37% of Russian Israelis support an attack, while only 10% are undecided, or do not have an opinion.

The poll also shows that 50% of ultra-Orthodox respondents support such an attack, while 43% of Orthodox and 45% of observant Jews support a strike.

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