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Thursday's horoscope (5/22) for Ariel Sharon, born 2/27/1928. 7:49 a.m., Kfar Milal, Palestine: You can expect to have an intense workday. You are working double-time trying to achieve your goals, yet the harder you work, the more distant your goals seem to be. It's like a Chinese finger trap, where the harder you pull the more stuck you become. When you relax your work rhythm, your goals will become clear.

Bush Speaks to Abbas for First Time

By Scott Stearns (VOA-White House) &

President Bush Tuesday spoke for the first time with the new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Bush also telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to discuss a Middle East peace plan threatened by renewed violence.

In his call with Abbas, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Bush reiterated the "absolute need" of all parties to fight terrorism. "The president stressed the need for all parties to take concrete steps and called for cooperative efforts between all Arab parties and Israel to create the conditions for peace and security in the Middle East."

The president's telephone diplomacy comes as another wave of suicide bombings and attacks by Israeli security forces followed the introduction of a so-called "road map" for Middle East peace. That plan was drawn up by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations. It lays out a timeline for power sharing toward the creation of a separate Palestinian state by 2005.

Abbas, AKA Abu Mazen, generally accepts the "road map." Sharon has expressed reservations about parts of the plan, including a freeze on Israeli settlements. Sharon was to have met with Bush at the White House Tuesday but postponed his trip because of the recent violence. Fleischer said the president called the Israeli leader to offer his condolences and discuss the need to continue pursuing peace.

"The president talked about the importance of remaining committed to the peace process in the Middle East, to working forward on the 'road map.' The president informed the prime minister of his call with Abu Mazen and told the prime minister that he believes Abu Mazen is a reformer who will work for peace."

Fleischer added that the president believes Abbas understands that the future success of the Palestinian people depends on attacking those who "violently seek to derail" the peace process. He said Abbas told the president that he is committed to reforming the Palestinian Authority and ending all acts of terrorism.

According to a New York Times report, Bush may be making his first trip to the Middle East in his capacity as president, in the coming weeks.

GSS Chief Permitted Abu Mazen's Armed Guard To Enter Sharon's Office Armed


In a revealing story in Yediot Aharonot, it was learned that GSS (General Security Service - Shin/Bet) director Avi Ditcher permitted bodyguards of PA Prime Minister Abu Mazen to enter a meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon while carrying weapons. The armed PA bodyguards were permitted to operate with their weapons in areas that even Shin Bet agents protecting cabinet ministers are prohibited. Officials explain this was done as a "confidence building" measure towards the PA.

When ministers meet in the Prime Minister's Office with the prime minister, their secret service agents are not permitted to enter armed. This was not the case with the PA prime minister security team. As a result, there are calls from the political community suggesting the GSS director be dismissed from his position.

Following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, it was decided that the security personnel would not remain armed when entering into the prime minister's corridor, creating a weapons-free 'sterile' area. Agents are required to turn in their weapons over to GSS personnel at the entrance to the prime minister's wing.

Female Soldier Works as Prostitute to Help Her Parents

By Maariv

Police who raided a brothel in Rishon L'Zion were shocked to discover a female soldier, 18 years old, working as a prostitute there. The financial straits of her family forced her into this line of work. "It was simply shocking to find this girl. She is a regular girl like any other. As a father of a daughter who is also a soldier I was shaken when I heard the story and decided to interview the girl myself," said Police Inspector Israel Tal.

"She came to the interview crying and shaken. At first she said that she was there to visit the owner. But then she talked about the financial hardships her family faces and that her father was recently fired and she decided to help out supporting the family," he added. In her investigation the soldier explained that that day was the first she had come to work at the brothel and she was regretful.

The police decided to be lenient in the case of the girl and after senior officers warned her was let go without a criminal file being opened against her. "It is difficult for us to believe that because of financial hardship young girls are forced to do this type of work. We hope this was an exceptional case," said Chief Inspector Meir Mussari.

Appeal Sent on Behalf of Iraq's "Secret Jews"


Michael Freund, director of Amishav, a Jerusalem-based group that assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people, has sent an urgent letter to U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer appealing to the U.S. government to protect Iraq's "secret Jews" and enable them to make aliyah to Israel.

Freund wrote, "I realize that the United States is currently engaged in the rebuilding of Iraq and its institutions, but I would urge you and the U.S/ government to take the necessary steps to ensure and protect the 'secret Jews' of Iraq and their fundamental rights of freedom of religion and freedom of expression." Freund also requested, "that the United States government do everything within its power to facilitate the safe and speedy emigration of Iraq's 'secret Jews' to Israel."

According to a report in Yediot Aharonot Tuesday, there are a number of Jews living in northern Iraq in the cities of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniya who have been forced to hide their identities for fear of persecution from their Muslim neighbors. Several were compelled to convert to Islam, and a number of them have now expressed a desire to return to Judaism and move to Israel.

The report quoted a resident of Iraq's Kurdish region, Abu-Bakr Morad-Khan, 41, as saying that he first learned of his Jewish identity from his grandmother. "She told me that we are Jews and that our family name was Mordechai. The family had no choice, they were forced to convert to Islam to remain here, and so they changed their name to Morad-Khan." If his Arab neighbors were to discover that he was secretly a Jew, said Abu-Bakr, "they would slaughter us."

The two brothers both said that if given the opportunity, they would not hesitate to immigrate to Israel. "We would leave Iraq immediately together with our families in order to live among our brethren".

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