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Friday's horoscope (5/23) for Ariel Sharon, born 2/27/1928. 7:49 a.m., Kfar Milal, Palestine: You might be trying to unlock the mysteries of the universe. You could be in a philosophical mood. You might decide to read some books about spirituality and metaphysics. You could become interested in looking at your natal chart and beginning to understand the planets that you were born under. Natives of your sign have a strong sense of intuition, and mystical sciences fascinate you.


Abbas Fails to Convince to Hamas to Halt Attacks

By VOA News & IsraelNationalNews.com

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince the Islamic militant group Hamas to stop attack on Israel. Thursday's talks were the first between Abbas and Hamas leaders since he took office last month.

Palestinian officials said he was seeking an agreement on a one-year cease-fire on attacks against Israeli targets. Abbas believes that such a truce might provide an opportunity for progress on negotiations with Israel on a new Middle East peace plan.

But Hamas said it would consider halting attacks in Israel only if Tel Aviv stopped military strikes against militants. Israel has rejected previous proposals in the past. Hamas added that it would not stop targeting Israeli settlers and soldiers in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Hamas, which the United States has labeled a terrorist organization, opposes any peace settlement with Israel. It launched four of the five suicide bombings against Israelis in the past week.

The Israeli Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom said it was time for Abbas to prove that he can stop such attacks. If not, Shalom said he would risk being judged like the Palestinian chief, Yasir Arafat, who Israel considers an obstacle to peace.

"I think that Abu Mazen, Mahmoud Abbas, has to take immediate actions against terrorism," he said. "He has to stop the violence and stop the incitement, otherwise Arafat and Abu Mazen will be [seen as] more of the same."

Abbas has asked Palestinian militants to stop attacks in a bid to advance the U.S.-backed roadmap for Middle East peace. Meanwhile, President Bush met in Washington with Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad for Bush's second contact with a senior member of the new Palestinian government. Details of the talks were not released. But there are reports that President Bush may try to arrange a summit meeting with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Also, Israel's navy has seized a ship carrying bomb-making materials and a suspected Hizbullah activist that Israel said planned to teach militants in the Gaza Strip about bomb-making techniques. Israel said that Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat has ties to the ship - a charge one of Arafat's advisers immediately denied.

Israel navy commandos, in a special operation, captured the ship in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea - west of northern Israel - on its way from Lebanon to Gaza. Of the eight seamen aboard, apparently only two knew that the ship was carrying a load of arms and weapons: the captain and a Hizbullah terrorist named Hamad Abu-Amara. Computer disks with instructions on how to construct explosives and details on intended attacks were also found aboard.

Israeli security sources said that PA figures such as Adal Mugrabi, who is responsible for smuggling arms to the PA, and Fathi Razam, deputy commander of the Gaza naval police, were involved in the smuggling attempt.


Conversion To Judaism Not A Guarantee Towards Citizenship

By IsraelNationalNews.com & Ha'aretz

Minister of the Interior (Shinui) Avraham Poraz explained his position that a convert to Judaism would not automatically be granted citizenship. Poraz explained the ministry's position to the High Court which has called upon his office to set criteria for granting citizenship.

Poraz added in his written response to the court that service to the state would be weighed heavily in a decision to grant citizenship. This is in line with the ministry's new policy to grant citizenship to anyone serving in the IDF for over a year, Jews and non-Jews alike.

National Religious Party Chairman Effi Eitam on Tuesday evening called on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to strip Interior Minister Avraham Poraz (Shinui) of his powers related to granting citizenship and to conversion.

"From my point of view it doesn't matter if the conversion was Orthodox and approved by the chief rabbinate, or if it was Conservative or Reform," Poraz wrote, adding that whoever wanted to convert could do so, "But then we will all know that the conversion is being done due to religious conviction, and not in order to receive various benefits."


Jewish Agency Prepares for Moroccan Immigration

By Yair Sheleg

The Jewish Agency is taking steps to prepare for a mass immigration of Moroccan Jews, following last week's string of terror attacks in the country and concern that Al-Qaida is planning to attack more Jewish targets there.

Most of the agency's preparations are focusing on raising enough money to pay the benefits to those Jews who decide to come to Israel. Each immigrant is entitled to rent subsidy of around $300 per month for the first five years, a special "absorption grant," as well as the basket of benefits paid to all immigrants.

The decision to get ready for a wave of Moroccan immigrants was made even before last week's terror atrocities, at the last meeting of the Jewish Agency's board of governors in February. The agency plans to raise the money by canvassing donors overseas. Because of the economic crisis, it was decided not to ask the government to participate in the funding.

The chairman of the Jewish Agency's immigration department, Aryeh Azoulai, told Ha'aretz that the number of Moroccan immigrants would not exceed a few hundred. He added that several dozen Moroccan Jews arrive here annually and stressed that there are no plans to send emissaries to Morocco to encourage the Jewish population to leave.


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