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Friday's horoscope (5/30) for Ariel Sharon, born 2/27/1928. 7:49 a.m., Kfar Milal, Palestine: Today you might be ready to goof off and play, Arik. If you have work scheduled, you might want to cancel it. Or if you have a heavy day of visits and social obligations planned, you might want to play hooky instead! You've been taking care of everybody else lately, and now is a good time to take care of you. Head to the park for a relaxing day. Do something that you want to do for once!


Sharon, Abbas Meet in Jerusalem on Mideast Road Map

By Ha'aretz

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterparts met for the second time in as many weeks Thursday evening, to discuss the implementation of the internationally brokered road map to Middle East peace. The two met at 9 p.m. at Sharon's office in Jerusalem.

Ahead of the meeting, Israeli and Palestinian officials convened Thursday afternoon to prepare for talks between the two leaders. Sharon's office said earlier Thursday that the planned meeting with Abbas would go ahead, after Palestinian sources had said the meeting might be postponed, at the request of the Israelis.

Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen told Yediot Achronot that a truce deal with Hamas was expected soon and that he expected to reach an agreement with Hamas for a complete halt to attacks on Israelis by next week. But Sharon aide Ra'anan Gissin said in response that, "a ceasefire is not a substitute for taking real action to stop terrorist activity."

A ceasefire deal with Hamas would be a major step forward on the U.S.-backed road map that Abu Mazen and Sharon will discuss with U.S. President George W. Bush in a three-way summit in Aqaba, Jordan on June 4.

Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said Thursday that the organization has set no preconditions for discussing a ceasefire agreement with Abu Mazen next week, and is willing to consider halting violence in the territories as well as inside Israel. "Up to this moment we have no fixed condition," Zahar told Israel Radio. "These conditions will be agreed upon by all the Palestinian sides. If Abu Mazen succeeds in achieving our national goals, Hamas will discuss the issue of a ceasefire," Zahar said.

Asked if the organization intends to stop attacks only inside Israel or whether violence will end also in the territories, Zahar replied, "This will be discussed with Abu Mazen." Hamas religious leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin on Wednesday told Abu Mazen that Hamas would not surrender its weapons until a Palestinian state is declared.

The Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades on Thursday issued a statement rejecting the road map and any truce. "We reject the road map to hell and any cease-fire until the rights of the Palestinian people are restored without condition," said the statement faxed to Reuters.

During Thursday's meeting Thursday, Sharon told Abu Mazen that Israel has accepted the Palestinian demands, and the road map, and now it is the Palestinians' turn to take steps against terror. Sharon proposed that Abu Mazen take gradual security control over areas that the IDF withdraws from.

In these areas, Israel will demand that the PA make "100 percent effort" at combating terrorism including arrests; investigations and trials for terrorists and those who send them; disarming terrorist organizations; gathering illegal weapons; making efforts to prevent terror attacks and a complete halt to the incitement in the Palestinian education system and media.

Sharon also told his counterpart that Israel was ready resume the "gestures" (confidence-building measures) that were frozen some three weeks ago after a wave of terror attacks claimed the lives of 12 Israelis.

Palestinian officials said Wednesday that at the summit meeting they would demand an explicit Israeli statement recognizing their right to a state. "We will demand an Israeli statement recognizing a Palestinian state," said Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Abu Amr.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel was prepared to issue the statement, but only after the Palestinians show concrete efforts to stop attacks against Israelis.


Amnesty Accuses Israel, Palestinians of Crimes Against Humanity

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

In its annual report issued this week, the human-rights group Amnesty International condemned abuses by Israel and by Palestinian militants. Amnesty International said that some of Israel's military actions in Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip constituted what it describes as, war crimes. The group also said that attacks against Israelis by Palestinian militants, including suicide bombings, were crimes against humanity.

The statements were contained in the group's annual report, which covers the year 2002, the second full year of Israeli-Palestinian violence. Amnesty said that last year at least 1,000 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, "most of them unlawfully."

In addition to killing Palestinians, the report accused Israeli forces of destroying Palestinian property, obstructing Palestinian medical teams, and torturing Palestinians. All of these activities, the report classified as war crimes.

The organization uses the same term to describe the Israeli army's use of Palestinians as human shields, the practice of forcing ordinary Palestinians to proceed ahead of Israeli soldiers in confrontations between the soldiers and Palestinian militants. Some Palestinians have been killed or wounded by Palestinian militants during such operations.

Israel's foreign ministry has rejected the findings of the report as unbalanced. In a statement, the ministry said Israel took great care in order to balance the requirements of international humanitarian law and the need to protect human rights, and the need to take steps against Palestinian terrorism.

The Amnesty report also accused the Palestinian Authority of carrying out and encouraging terror attacks against Israelis. But the report laid most blame on Palestinian militant groups, such as Hamas, which operate outside official channels. The report said Palestinian armed groups killed more than 420 Israelis, at least 265 of them civilians during 2002. Amnesty described the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians by Palestinian groups as crimes against humanity.


PA is Teaching Holocaust Denial Again

By Itamar Marcus (Palestinian Media Watch)

In yet another case of odious Palestinian Authority Holocaust denial, PA TV this week taught the following "Truths" about World War II:

The Nazis did not specifically plan the killing of Jews; Jews, Germans, Gypsies and Poles were all killed in World War II, as happens in war; If Hitler planned any extermination, it was of disabled Germans; The term "Holocaust" in its human sense refers to experiences of the Palestinians, the Gypsies....; The "Holocaust industry" is a financial scheme of the Zionist leadership that has generated billions of dollars in profits.

It is curious that the PA has chosen this period to initiate this interview, as many of these same points appear in a Holocaust denial book by PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

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