Friday, October 21, 2005

Vatican wants to control parts of David's Tomb

Arutz Sheva - Israel National News: 16:21 Oct 20, '05 / 17 Tishrei 5766 By Naomi Grossman . . .

An official Vatican newspaper has reported that during his upcoming visit to the Vatican, President Moshe Katsav will sign an agreement giving parts of David's Tomb over to papal control.

If such an agreement is signed, it will put an end to drawn out negotiations that began in 1998. . . . discussing issues of jurisdiction over certain sites around seven years ago. . . .Among the places under debate is an area that the church refers to as the site of the 'last supper,' which is situated at the burial site of Kings David, Solomon, Rechavam, Assa, Chezekiyahu and Amatzia

The Vatican newspaper, El Messagero, reports that President Katsav is expected to sign an agreement during his visit that will give the church control over the upper part of David’s Tomb. The church has already shown Israel a trial agreement, according to which the Vatican will receive control over this part of David’s Tomb in exchange for the ancient synagogue in Toledo, Spain, which was converted into a church after the expulsion of the Jews in 1492.

In response to the newspaper’s report, an official from the Foreign Ministry states “Israel is not prepared to relinquish its jurisdiction over this area.” At the same time, they admit that a blueprint of a possible agreement with the Vatican has been received.


From Cox and Forkum 20/10/05. . .

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Anti-Semitic poem in UK school book

From EJP News UK Anti-Semitic poem in children's school book: By Jeremy Last Updated: 16/Oct/2005 20:04 ...

A poem which praises the murder of Jews by the Nazis has been included in a book of children's poetry to be distributed amongst schools in the UK.

The publication, entitled Great Minds, features the work of school children aged 11 to 18 who won a nationwide literary competition.

But one poem has generated outrage amongst Jewish groups, politicians and Holocaust charities for its anti-Semitic content.

The entry by the 14-year-old Gideon Taylor is apparently written from the viewpoint of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

It includes the lines 'Jews are here, Jews are there, Jews are almost everywhere, filling up the darkest places, evil looks upon their faces.'

Another part reads: 'Make them take many paces for being one of the worst races, on their way to a gas chamber, where they will sleep in their manger. I'll be happy Jews have died.'

Publisher defends poem
The book was produced by Forward Press who ran the Great Minds competition through its website. ... the poem was the only entry in the entire book not to include the writer’s school or location. ...editor Steve Twelvetree...said the poem was included as it illustrated how the writer was able to empathise with the infamous Nazi Fuehrer.

...Twelvetree told the Telegraph: "... his poem shows a good use of technical writing and he has written his poem from the perspective of Adolf Hitler....The poem clearly states 'I am Adolf Hitler' and it recounts a historical fact, something Young Writers and Forward Press are not willing to censor."

Widespread outrage
However, communal leaders were less than impressed with the poem’s inclusion in a book which they said could be influential on youngster’s views of Jewish people.
It is totally insensitive and inappropriate for this kind of hatred to appearspokesman for the Holocaust Educational Trust Chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Jon Benjamin said: "It is the duty of the publisher to consider the consequences of the poem." Jewish Labour MP, Louise Ellman, who represents the constituency of Liverpool Riverside, spoke of her concern. She said said: "It's an incitement to racial hatred. The words are absolutely outrageous and appalling." And a spokesman for the Holocaust Educational Trust echoed Ellman’s views. The charity is now urging the publishers to issue a formal apology for the book and remove the offending poem. A spokesman said: "It is totally insensitive and inappropriate for this kind of hatred to appear. "It is also immensely insulting to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust and to those who survived."

IDF may build Palestinian-only roads

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Oct. 19, 2005 22:21 Updated Oct. 20, 2005 1:30 By ARIEH O'SULLIVAN ...

Senior officers in the Central Command were working on a plan to permanently separate Israeli and Palestinian traffic on main roads across Judea and Samaria, security sources said Wednesday.

The plan would be similar to the present ban on private Palestinian vehicles on highway 60, a measure implemented this week to make drive-by shootings more difficult for Arab terrorists.
For the moment, the plan is still on the drawing table. A military source in the Central Command said that the idea was to gradually separate the road systems to reduce friction between Israeli and Palestinians residents in the West Bank...

Once the plan was completely drawn up it would be brought before defense ministry officials for final approval.

...Meanwhile Wednesday, Palestinians threw a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli car traveling northwest of Ramallah near Dir Mashal. The bottle exploded on the road, and no one was injured. IDF forces swept the area in search of the perpetrators....

Abbas, Bush to meet in Washington on Thursday

From Jerusalem Post Oct. 19, 2005 22:52 Updated Oct. 20, 2005 1:26 ...

US president George Bush is likely to insist Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas bar Hamas from participating in the January Palestinian elections but would not force him to disarm the terrorist group when the two leaders meet Thursday in Washington, US sources told The Jerusalem Post.

While Abbas is focusing on demands that Israel stop all construction in the settlements and allow for freedom of travel in Gaza and the West Bank, the Americans want to talk about questions of reforms and fighting terrorism in the PA.

The main issue in dispute between the Palestinians and US is the participation of the Hamas in the political process, a stand that the US seemed reluctant to take in September when Israel first spoke out strongly against the presence of Hamas in the January elections.

'It's Hamas or us,' Prime Minister's Office spokesman Ra'anan Gissin told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, explaining that he expects Bush to tell Abbas the same thing. Israel cannot move forward on the peace process with Hamas, he added.

US sources said in recent days that the administration is not in a position to coerce Abbas into disarming Hamas before the elections, but that it will demand that the Palestinian Authority move to reform its election law, in a way that will make clear that candidates who support violence or racism, will not be able to take part in the elections. Such a provision is spelled out in the Oslo agreements and can be enacted if the Palestinian parliament adopts it.

...Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio Wednesday that Abbas' ability to disarm Hamas and prevent them from participating in the elections was critical to his survival both personally and as a leader... He warned that should Hamas succeed in the elections it would move Israel's relationship with the Palestinians back by years.

Both Shalom and Gissin insisted that acting against Hamas was not the same as interfering in the internal matters of the Palestinian Authority. "Terrorism is not an internal issue," said Gissin, adding that you cannot have a democratic party that engages in terrorism. Shalom said that Israel has long waged a campaign in the international arena, asking world leaders to add Hamas to their list of terrorist organizations.

...The Americans, according to US sources, are supportive of the Palestinian demands regarding freedom of passage in and out of the Gaza Strip and within the West Bank, and would like to see these issues resolved before the Palestinian elections.

Both Gissin and Shalom said they are supportive of the right of Palestinians for free movement but can not do so at the expense of Israel's security, particularly in light of the three Israelis killed by a Palestinian terrorist in a drive-by shooting on Sunday. Each time Israel makes a gesture, said Gissin, the response is terrorism.

Bush is expected to reject a request from Abbas that he take issue with Israeli settlement activity.

...On Wednesday, Shalom said that ...a meeting between Sharon and Abbas should only be held when it could yield results, something that is unlikely to happen at this stage.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The vote is mightier than the sword

From Cox and Forkum, October 18, 2005 ...

Fatah activists resign en masse

From Jerusalem Post : Oct. 18, 2005 19:54 Updated Oct. 18, 2005 20:00 By KHALED ABU TOAMEH ...

Citing the lack of accountability and democracy, dozens of Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip resigned on Tuesday in a move that is likely to deepen division in the ruling party that is led by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

The mass resignations of over 240 activists come as Fatah prepares to hold primary elections to choose its candidates for next January's parliamentary elections. The activists who quit represent the young guard in Fatah and their resignation is seen in the context of an ongoing power struggle with the party's veteran leaders.

'We have spent the last 10 years trying to improve conditions in Fatah,' the activists said in a letter addressed to Abbas. 'During the past five years of the intifada we also made precious sacrifices to reform the party and lead it to a better path. Today we are submitting our resignations in protest against the lack of democracy and accountability in the party.'

...The latest crisis is regarded as a severe blow to Abbas's efforts to unite Fatah ahead of the parliamentary elections in a bid to prevent Hamas from making a strong showing. "The divisions in Fatah and the deepening crisis between the young guard and the old guard play into the hands of Hamas," a top Fatah official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post.

Meanwhile, a public opinion poll showed that Fatah will win in the parliamentary elections. According to the poll by the Birzeit University Development Studies Programme, 45.6 per cent of Palestinians will support Fatah in the vote as opposed to 23.1 per cent for Hamas.
The Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine came in third, with only 2.3 per cent. The People's [Communist] Party got 1.6 per cent.

PA has no intention of disarming terror groups

Jerusalem Post: Oct. 18, 2005 18:54 Updated Oct. 18, 2005 19:59 By KHALED ABU TOAMEH ...

On the eve of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's visit to Washington, the PA announced that it has no intention of disarming Hamas or other armed groups.

Abbas is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Thursday for talks with US President George W. Bush on the latest developments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the Israeli disengagement. Sources close to Abbas said earlier this week that he would brief Bush on the PA's plan to confiscate 'illegal' weapons that are in the hands of various factions and militias, including Hamas.

However, Abbas's national security advisor, Jibril Rajoub, denied on Tuesday that the PA was planning to disarm Hamas or any other armed group. "We haven't called for disarming anyone," Rajoub said. "There is no decision to collect [illegal] weapons and we haven't taken any steps in this direction." The weapons of the "resistance" groups, Rajoub added, should remain intact and should not be used on the streets or to terrorize the PA and civilians. He admitted that the PA and its security forces had failed to deal with the state of anarchy that has swept the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal...

Main suspect: Assad's brother-in-law

from Ynetnews (10.18.05, 20:09)...

According to German Magazine Stern, five top Syrian officials questioned by U.N. investigator 'not as witnesses, but as suspects'
Ynet and news agencies

A U.N. investigator has named the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar Assad as a suspect in the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a German report said on Tuesday.

Stern Magazine, in extracts from an article due to appear on Thursday, named Syrian military intelligence chief Asef Shawkat as a suspect in the probe led by chief United Nations investigator Detlev Mehlis. Shawkat is widely seen as the second most powerful man in Syria after Assad.

Mehlis, a German prosecutor, had questioned Shawkat "not as a witness, but as a suspect”, said Stern, without giving the source of its information. Mehlis is due to present his report to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday on the February 14 killings of Hariri and 20 others in a truck bomb blast in Beirut. ... for him to point the finger at a member of Assad’s inner circle would be political dynamite...

All but two Iraqi provinces say yes

from The Australian: Martin Chulov, Middle East correspondent October 18, 2005 ...

A HIGHER than expected turnout by Sunni voters appears to have failed to stop passage of Iraq's draft constitution, with early counts suggesting a yes vote in all but two of the country's 18 provinces.

The likely victory seems certain to spark more violence and raises the prospect of Iraq being divided along ethnic and sectarian lines. The Sunni Arab minority, which violently opposed the new charter, lives largely within four provinces in the centre of Iraq and needed to muster a two-thirds no vote in three of the provinces in order to defeat it. Sunnis held a majority in all four of the provinces. But Iraqi and US officials were confident last night that the no vote in the Sunni strongholds had not reached the crucial two-thirds benchmark.

. . .Iraqi legislators and the troubled nation's pan-Arab neighbours were yesterday preparing for the implications of the new constitution which they feared may have spin-offs for their own regimes.

The constitution enshrines Iraqi Kurdish rights for the first time, and neighbouring Turkey, Iran and Syria -- which are already struggling to accommodate the aspirations of their own Kurds -- were bracing for a fresh push for an autonomous Kurdish homeland.

Jordanian politicians warned that a weakened Sunni minority in Iraq could also have implications for the Sunni majorities in the rest of the Arab world. Jordan fears the newly emboldened Iraqi Shi'ites could align with the dominant Shi'ites of Iran to form a regional power base.

But of more concern in the short term is a return to raging Sunni-led violence aimed at Shi'ite communities and the US-led coalition. Sunnis had realised their boycott of parliamentary elections in January had effectively handed over power to the other two blocs, leaving them with a tiny presence in the Iraqi legislature. They had been determined to defeat the ballot, and with that bid now likely to have failed, Middle Eastern analysts believe the insurgents will opt for continued violence as their only hope of maintaining influence. . . .There are fears the insurgency could grow into a civil war fought along sectarian lines that could drag in other nations.

. . .If final counting confirms passage of the constitution, parliamentary elections will be held in late December.

UN reform a disaster

From The Australian: Emma-Kate Symons, Paris October 19, 2005 . . .

GARETH Evans has launched a savage attack on UN inertia, condemning the troubled organisation's botched attempt at wholesale reform in its 60th year as a depressing disaster.

. . .Though a strong supporter of the UN, Mr Evans warned that the failure to embrace the panel's reform blueprint, along with disagreements on security questions, development issues, the use of force, disarmament, management and the discredited Human Rights Commission constituted 'a huge wasted opportunity'.

....Speaking at a conference in Paris on the UN and international security challenges, Mr Evans clashed over the outcome of the UN world summit in New York last month with his friend Hans Blix, formerly the UN's chief weapons inspector. After Mr Blix told reporters the UN was in reasonably good shape, suffered from overly high reform expectations and was not gripped by endemic corruption, Mr Evans accused him of "gathering rosebuds of consolation".

According to Mr Evans, the summit was a "deep disappointment". "It needed to be a big leap forward. It wasn't - it was a slow, small crawl and I don't think we've got any reason for any great optimism that we're going to get better than that for a very long time to come. That's a huge wasted opportunity."

More than 175 world leaders at the World Summit endorsed a watered down 35-page reform document that avoided most of the big questions facing the UN such as security council reform and the definition of terrorism.

. . ."If you compare it (the summit outcome) with the hopes and expectations of three months earlier in June, it is close to a disaster. And I say that not because I think expectations were over-inflated," Mr Evans said. He added that the UN system "for all its flaws" had worked positively to reduce conflicts in the past 15 years, but the overall outlook was "depressing".

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Egypt: 'Attack too small to stop calm'

From Ynetnews (10.17.05, 19:16) ...

Egypt's ambassador to Israel, Assam Ibrahim...describes terror attack as 'too small to destroy process of calm' in the region
Ali Waked

Egypt's ambassador to Israel, Assam Ibrahim, does not frequently address the Israeli public directly....Hours after the drive-by terror attack in Gush Etzion, in which three Israelis were murdered,...Ibrahim's faith in regional calm is unshaken.

In an interview with Ynet, Ibrahim expressed optimism, saying, "with all due respect, a small attack" wouldn't endanger moves towards creating calm in the region. He rejected accusations in Israel that the Egyptians abandoned the Gaza- Egypt border for a number of days, allowing unrestricted movement, saying: "It's natural that people who haven't met with their families for dozens of years will break though in the way they did. The Jews, who suffered in the past, can understand the needs of these people who were under occupation."

Mr. Ambassador, we were witness to terror attacks resulting in Israelis being killed, and a Palestinian wanted figure being killed in Jenin. Is the calm which Egypt has worked for collapsing, or can it be saved?
"There's no reason to talk about the saving the calm, because it's not crashing...It will create a (negative) impression on the international community, and the Arab, and the Israeli public opinions, it will create the illusion that the peace process is in danger, or even crashing....The Palestinians must understand that another attack won't change the Middle East, and Israel must understand that shooting one wanted Palestinian or another won't solve the conflict."

Will Egypt now try and coordinate a ceasefire among Palestinian factions, especially Hamas and Islamic Jihad?
"We are in daily contact with them – and I emphasize daily contact - with the Palestinian Authority and all the organizations, with the entire Palestinian public sectors in the world...."

Has Egypt changed its preparations on the Egypt-Gaza border, in Rafiah, after Israel's harsh criticisms about the open border in the first few days (after the disengagement?)
There is always criticism in Israel and there is always a lack of satisfaction. The nation in Israel is critical in a constant way, it criticizes itself, its government, and its press. ... What has happened in Gaza, with all its importance – and I am aware of the suffering that the Israeli society has gone though,... but it is till half a step...and if Israel wants security and hopes for a peace-seeking Palestinian state, the second half step must be taken, in order to know if the whole step was correct."

In Israel, figures such as Knesset Committee Chairman Yuval Shteinitz have criticized your border activities and said they are not enough.
"I don't want to address specific people and committees."

Mr. Ambassador, the head of the IDF's Intelligence Corps has reported on the presence of al-Qaeda in Sinai. He said that the organization has set up a real base there.
"The Head of Intelligence has the right to say what he wants as we have the right to express our view. I'm not going to put on the hat of Egyptian security officials and discuss their work against cells, which could be in Sinai, and who have caused attacks that we saw in Taba and in Sharm el-Sheikh. There is a problem, and the security forces are dealing with it, but I'm not an expert on the details, and I don't know if al-Qaeda are there or not. These details are being left to our security people, but up to now I haven't heard that al-Qaeda have a branch in Sinai."

... How would you classify Israeli – Egyptian relations today?
"Relations are good. In recent months since the intifada started to calm down, and since the Sharm el-Sheikh understanding, we reestablished full diplomatic relations. There are economic deals, gas deals, and other arrangements, and Israelis now come to Cairo and lecture in front of hundreds of people – that means there is an improvement. Relations are still not fully open the way peace seekers would want to see. But they developing securely.

When will President Mubarak come to visit Israel?
"In principle there is nothing to prevent the president from visiting Israel. It's a matter of timing, and the right conditions for both sides...There is the Palestinian problem which is central to the Egyptian public opinion, and when relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians move away from violence… the Egyptian people will see this and calm down, and relations will improve. When this happens, the president will be first to feel the momentum that will allow a visit and will contribute to the success of the process."

Abbas says "sorry" ... and praises Chirac

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Oct. 17, 2005 20:30 Updated Oct. 17, 2005 22:26 By ASSOCIATED PRESS PARIS ...

...Abbas, in Paris on his way to a highly awaited trip to Washington, said he was 'sorry' about the killings Sunday by Palestinian gunmen....

The attack near the Gush Etzion settlements was the deadliest since July, and Israel responded with dozens of new checkpoints on major West Bank roads and halting negotiations with the authority.

...The shootings followed Israeli intelligence warnings that Palestinian terrorists, who claim they drove Israel out of Gaza by force, would now shift their focus to the West Bank...

Abbas, on his first trip to Paris since taking office in January, was meeting Chirac to discuss possibilities for Middle East peacemaking since Israel's withdrawal. ...Turning to Chirac, Abbas said he knew that Palestinians could "count on you," praising the French leader as a "friend" of his late predecessor, Yasser Arafat....

Monday, October 17, 2005

Israeli response to West Bank violence

From The Australian: Four killed in West Bank violence [October 17, 2005]:

...A Defence Ministry source said troops would encircle major West Bank cities and require that Palestinians travel between them by public transportation only, rather than private cars.
'We will reconsider this measure if the Palestinian Authority cracks down on terrorists,' the source said....

Old Europe votes for its decline

From The Australian: ...

With Germany, France and Italy politically paralysed, European voters appear to have expressed their disapproval of the reform agenda, writes Anatole Kaletsky
October 17, 2005

AFTER last week's creation of a German government in which Angela Merkel will not even control the finance and foreign ministries, all three of the great European nations that have dominated the continent's history for 2000 years - Germany, France and Italy - are effectively leaderless.

They will almost certainly remain politically paralysed at least until the French presidential election of 2007. The power vacuum now covering the whole of continental Europe is almost unprecedented, at least since the disastrous period between the two world wars.

... the main theme of the German election, as of the French referendum campaign before it, was public rejection of an economic reform agenda that was demanded by the business and political elites. The market reforms that would supposedly make Europe the "most competitive economy in the world" had been unanimously endorsed by Europe's political leaders in their now-notorious Lisbon Declaration.

But while the business and political elites across Europe became more and more obsessed with Lisbon's promises of open markets, competition and globalisation, voters couldn't help noticing that all these reforms, instead of improving their living standards or working conditions, were making them poorer and more insecure.

... After 10 years of economic reforms, the Germans decided they had had enough... the French electorate is sending a similar message, ...A similar pattern seems to be developing in Italy... reforms have been tried for a decade and they have failed to produce the promised increase in living standards or economic growth.

..But all this is water under the bridge; the question now is whether the end of reforms should be seen as a disaster, an opportunity or a non-event. ...does the impending paralysis over reform in Europe really matter? ...

...For Euro-idealists who hoped to see the EU moving towards federation and establishing itself alongside the US and China as one of the three global powers of the 21st century, the failure of European economic initiative may seem a disaster, but for ordinary citizens, why should this matter? ... one has to acknowledge that the ageing electorates of Germany, France and Italy are entitled to vote for political paralysis, economic decline and global irrelevance. ...

The Times

First full-time rabbi in Krakow since Holocaust

From Jerusalem Post Oct. 16, 2005 12:48 Updated Oct. 16, 2005 13:00 By TIDHAR OFEK ...

The Shavei Israel organization reported Sunday that Krakow will have its first full-time rabbi in the six decades since the Holocaust. The Jerusalem-based organization dispatched Rabbi Avraham Flaks, 38, to Krakow after Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich requested that a rabbi be sent to the city.

Rabbi Flaks was excited about his new position. "The challenge is immense, as is the responsibility," Rabbi Flaks said, "but I look forward to working together with the community and its leadership to help keep the flame of Judaism burning brightly in Krakow, particularly among the younger generation of Polish Jews".

Shavei Israel, which reaches out to 'lost Jews' and tries to reconnect them with the Jewish community, will try to rekindle Jewish life in the city after the bulk of its Jewish residents were murdered by Nazis. The organization reported that of the 1,000 Krakow residents who are Jewish, only 200 are members of the Jewish community. Since the fall of Communism in 1989, people in the city have begun to uncover their Jewish roots.

The city is filled with “hidden children,” Jews adopted by Catholic families during WWII who have only recently began to reconnect to their Jewish roots. “In a place where the Germans sought to erase all traces of Judaism, and nearly succeeded, it is gratifying to see that Jewish life still endures,” said Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund. “Many of Poland's 'hidden Jews' are seeking to reconnect with the Jewish people, and we must do what we can to help them return. Six decades after the Holocaust, the best revenge is to rebuild Jewish life and to bring as many of these people back as possible,” he said.

U.S. churches back off divestment

From Ynetnews (10.16.05, 13:58) ...

No church in U.S. except Presbyterians has voted for divestment. Some say corporate engagement is more effective strategy to bring about change than selloff that leaves former shareholders without voice or influence

CHICAGO - Some U.S. Protestant churches are turning their back the idea of dumping investments in companies profiting from Israel's West Bank occupation, people involved in the issue said. Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, along with a debate over whether divestment is the right move in the first place, may have helped cool what looked like a growing trend just a few months ago.

'My reading, as a central Jewish player in this, is that there never was a (general) move toward divestment,' said David Elcott, director of inter-religious affairs for the American Jewish Committee . 'Here is the reality: No church in the United States except the Presbyterians has voted for divestment,' he added, and the only place where divestment looked like it was moving forward may have been in the media.

U.S. Episcopal Church leaders recently rejected divestment in favor of corporate engagement and another major denomination, the United Church of Christ, turned down the divestment idea at its convention last summer.

Five singled out

The 2.5 million-member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the largest body of that denomination in the country, approved in 2004 a "phased, selective divestment" involving its USD 8 billion portfolio beginning no earlier than July 2006. In August, it singled out five companies - Caterpillar Inc., Citigroup Inc., United Technologies Corp., Motorola Inc. and ITT Industries Inc. - for "dialogue, shareholder resolutions and public pressure."

... How much the Presbyterians have invested in the companies was not revealed, and the church said divestment was only a last resort that may be considered if "progressive engagement fails." Barry Creech, church spokesman on the issue, said the matter is still on course and "we're not in a hurry" to get to the point of divestment before the church's membership meets again next summer.

'Major mistake'

The Rev. William Harter of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, a force behind Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish and Christian Relations, which opposes divestment, said, "As people look at this with clear heads and understand what's really involved, there's a growing awareness that this was a major mistake. It won't work. There's no way what's being proposed is going to have an impact on decisions that the Israelis or Palestinians make about peace and certainly not the U.S. government," he said. It is also outdated because the Israelis have made "major concessions and a major step toward peace," Harter said. There is a "widespread and growing" movement among church members to reverse the divestment idea at next summer's membership meeting, he said.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the 2.3 million-member U.S. Episcopal Church recently chose a different path: to use the church's USD 3.6 billion portfolio and future investments as a tool "for selected companies to change behavior resulting in a more hopeful climate for peace." Its report said "corporate engagement is a more effective strategy to bring about change" than a selloff that leaves former shareholders without a voice or influence in a company. The action drew praise from the American Jewish Congress. Juda Engelmayer, a group representative,
said the trend is away from the divestment idea "when you get past the leadership and get to the (general church) membership. It is shifting."

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles said: "I think as the concerns of the Jewish world become known and as people began to see that these moves do not improve the lot of Palestinians, there is a move to go in a slightly different direction ... investment in positive things that will benefit Jews and Palestinians in general." ...

Al-Aqsa Brigades: We carried out attacks

From Ynetnews (10.16.05, 21:00) ...

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades spokesman says drive-by shooting attacks were 'response to Israeli assassinations of Palestinian activists'
Ali Waked

A spokesman for the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has claimed that the drive-by terror attacks on Israelis in Gush Etzion and Binyamin were a response to previous Israeli anti-terror operations.

'The attacks in Gush Etzion and Eli are a response by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to Israel's crimes, the last of which are assassinations of Islamic Jihad senior member in Gaza and of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members in Nablus and in Jenin,' senior al-Aqsa member Abu Odawi told Ynet. The al-Aqsa Martyrs brigade terror group is part of the Fatah organization.

According to Abu Odawi, the attacks are a response to the assassination of Muhammad Khalil, a commander of the Jerusalem Brigades of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Odawi claimed his organization respected a period of calm in recent months, "and only Israel has repeatedly killed us and assassinated the Palestinian activists." He threatened more terror attacks, saying his organization is planning to "avenge the blood of the Palestinian activists who were killed in recent days."

"We'll respond in the territories and inside Israel, the incidents today are just the start of a chain. The Palestinian resistance won't agree to a situation of one-sided calm, and every Palestinian organization has the right to respond to the Israeli violations," said Abu Odawi.

Responding the question of whether Sunday's shooting attacks weaken the stance and demands of Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Odawi said: "The one who embarrasses the Palestinian leadership and Abbas is not the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, but the Israeli enemy which continues in its aggressive policies. They are the ones who embarrass Abu Mazen and embarrass him, like (they did) when he was prime minister. We in the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are the ones gave Abbas the most amount of support, but I ask: is the embarrassment only when Israelis are killed, should the Palestinian leadership not feel embarrassment when Palestinian blood is spilled? Shouldn't (the Palestinian leadership) be understanding of our right to respond to Israeli operations?" .....

3 killed in 2 terror attacks

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Oct. 16, 2005 16:18 Updated Oct. 16, 2005 22:47 By ARIEH O'SULLIVAN AND JPOST STAFF ...

Three Israelis were killed and five were wounded in two back-to-back shooting attacks along Highway 60, a north-south route in the West Bank, on Sunday afternoon. All three of the victims were residents of the Southern Hebron Hills: Kinneret Mandel and her cousin, Matat Rosenfeld Eldar, both of the settlement of Carmel and Oz ben Meir, 15, of Maon. Eldar, 21, was married three months ago. Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, linked to the ruling Fatah Party, claimed responsibility for both attacks in anonymous phones calls. The attacks occured as Israeli security services were on high alert ahead of the week-long Succot holiday, which begins Monday night.

In the first shooting, Palestinians in a passing Subaru sprayed bullets at a group of people waiting for rides at the hitchhiking post near the Gush Etzion Junction in Judea, between Bethlehem and Hebron. The highway is jointly used by Israelis and Palestinians.
Four others were wounded in the attack; one seriously, two moderately, and one lightly. Eyewitnesses described blood-spattered backpacks strewn haphazardly at the busy intersection.

All of the victims of the Gush Etzion shooting were evacuated by ambulance to Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, except for one lightly wounded victim who was transported Shaare Zedek, ZAKA medics reported.

Less than an hour later, passengers in a Hyundai opened fire at two residents of the settlement Eli as they walked on the shoulder of the highway near the Eli Junction in the Benyamin region, north of Jerusalem. One of them was wounded in the thigh and was evacuated to the nearby settlement of Eli for first aid before Magen David Adom teams arrived on the scene. Security forces were searching for the attackers in the Israeli-controlled sections of the area, but had not yet apprehended any suspects. It was suspected that the terrorists fled to the Palestinian-controlled area nearby.

"The police and the army are searching, and the whole area has been cordoned off," said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. David Baker, an official in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, denounced the shooting. "Israel removed roadblocks and made a number of humanitarian gestures to ease up on the Palestinians," he told The Associated Press. "It's unfortunate that the Palestinians have exploited these measures to carry out these murderous attacks."

Less than four months ago, another two young residents of the Southern Hebron Hills, Aviad Mansour, 16, and Avihai Levy, 17, were killed in a similar attack at the Beit Haggai hitchhiking post.

Sunday's murders were the bloodiest assault in the West Bank since the completion of the pullout from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria last month. Security officials have warned that following the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian terrorists would shift their activities to the West Bank.

With the Associated Press

Sunday, October 16, 2005

U.S. to offer Assad a 'Gaddafi deal'

from a Report on YNet News, by Roee Nahmias 15/10/2005...

The Times says Bush Administration offers Assad deal to end his regime’s isolation if Damascus agrees to a long list of painful concessions, including full cooperation with investigation into Hariri assassination; cease support for terrorist Islamic organizations such as Hizbullah and Palestinian groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad

The Bush Administration has offered Syria’s beleaguered President a “Gaddafi deal” to end his regime’s isolation if Damascus agrees to a long list of painful concessions, a senior American official told The Times.

According to the report, the U.S. will present four demands from Syria: Syria would have to fully cooperate with the U.N. team investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. ... Full Story

Secondly, if members of the Syrian regime are named as suspects they would have to be questioned and could stand trial under foreign jurisdiction. The Syrians would also have to stop any interference in Lebanon, where they have been blamed for a series of bomb attacks against their critics, most recently May Chidiac, a television presenter who was badly injured last month when a device exploded under her car.

Washington also wants Syria to halt the recruiting, funding and training of volunteers for the Iraqi insurgency, which they claim are openly operating in Syria with the connivance of the regime. They include former members of the Iraqi regime and foreign volunteers responsible for suicide car-bomb attacks.

The Bush Administration also has a long-standing demand that Syria cease its support for terrorist Islamic organizations such as Lebanon’s Hizbullah and the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

In return America would establish full and friendly relations with Damascus, opening the way for foreign aid and investment and ensuring the regime’s survival.

The Americans are convinced that if Syria agrees to the aforementioned terms it may transform the whole climate in the Middle East - freeing Lebanon, dealing a serious blow to the insurgency in Iraq, and opening the way for progress between Israel and Palestine.

The precedent for the offer is the deal clinched two years ago with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. ...Full relations were restored after Washington and London concluded a secret deal with Gadaffi to dismantle and turn over all his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs...

Gaza Thuggery

From "Stand for Israel" Friday, October 14, 2005, by Gary Bauer, co-chair...

In the month since Israel left the Gaza Strip, the lives of average Palestinians have taken a decided turn for the worse. With no more Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers to maintain order, and with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas unwilling to confront the armed terrorist gangs, Gaza is increasingly at the mercy of thugs, criminals and murderers.

The Washington Post reports that some Palestinian security commanders have literally become “warlords.” They use the thousands of men under their command to rob, extort and “run” weapons. What about the police? Many of them are holding down two jobs—policeman by day and paid gunman in the militias by night.

One of these warlords, Jamal Abu Samhadana, has an armed militia of 2,000 gunmen and is now the most powerful force along part of the border between Gaza and Egypt.

Palestinian civilians live in fear of these thugs who control the streets and take whatever they want. During the time Israel was in Gaza, the international media did endless interviews with Palestinians who complained about being under “occupation.” But now most of the world ignores the plight of Palestinians who increasingly live in fear— not of the IDF, but of the thousands of armed thugs who roam the streets of Gaza at will.

How can Gaza possibly be the foundation of a new Palestinian state that is supposed to live side by side in peace with Israel as President Bush and others envision? How can there be economic progress, political reform or democratic institutions established if all power in Gaza comes from the barrel of a gun? And how can anyone argue that Israel should make more concessions in Judea-Samaria or in Jerusalem when the Palestinians have not demonstrated the ability to govern themselves in Gaza? ....