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>Israel Faxx
>JN July 2, 2003

White House 'Encouraged' After Israel, Palestinian Leaders' Meeting

By Paula Wolfson (VOA-White House) & Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)

The White House said it was encouraged by the results of the latest meeting between the Palestinian and Israeli Prime Ministers. Spokesman Ari Fleischer made it clear that President Bush believes the peace process is on the right track.

"The president is pleased that the process is continuing where Prime Minister Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon are working as hard as they are, as diligently as they are and in the spirit that they are, to make progress and move their way forward in achieving peace," Fleischer said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the current peace efforts present the Israeli and Palestinian people with a new opportunity. "In the name of the entire Jewish people, we have no war with you," said the Israeli leader. "We do not want to conquer you. We do not want to oppress you. We would like to live with you in peace side by side as good neighbors." Sharon said he is ready to make the painful concessions necessary for peace. He said one of the issues before them is how the Palestinians fight terror.

Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said that Palestinians are also looking for an end to conflict and violence. He said the only path to a solution is through negotiation. He had this message for the Israeli and Palestinian people: "Every day without an agreement is a wasted day. Every life that is wasted is a human tragedy. Enough suffering. Enough killing. Let us go forward with bravery, without hesitation, towards peace."

This was the third meeting in Jerusalem between Abbas and Sharon. The atmosphere between them appeared cordial, with the two taking part in a joint, live television appearance just prior to their discussions.

Sharon said their aim was to project an image of hope and optimism. Abbas said the Israeli-Palestinian dispute was a political conflict that would end through political means. The White House spokesman said their words were heard in Washington and praised the sentiments expressed in Jerusalem. It's an encouraging moment when you see the two leaders speak like that.

During a session with reporters, Fleischer was asked if the U.S. was providing aid directly to the Palestinian Authority. American assistance is now provided through international aid agencies because of long-standing concerns about corruption within the Palestinian leadership. Fleischer said no decision had been made, but hinted that change was possible now that a new Palestinian cabinet was in place under Abbas.

"There has been a change in leadership in the Palestinian Authority,' he said. "They have a new finance minister who is dedicated to openness and transparency and honesty. Certainly, Prime Minister Abbas is dedicated to the same."

He said the Bush administration would talk to the Palestinians about possible changes. The issue could be on the agenda when Abbas comes to Washington for his first meeting at the White House with President Bush. Planning for the visit is under way, but no date has been announced.

Returning to the Temple Mount


After 33 months of closure, it was reported that several groups of Jews had been granted permission to enter the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site.. GSS chief Avi Dichter told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that this was done in partial coordination with the Muslim Waqf, which administrates the Mount, and that there are no security constraints on the ascent of Jews to the holy site.

Moshe Yogev told Arutz-7 that individuals are not yet permitted, the Waqf did not make any trouble, and "we entered only certain locations, wearing non-leather shoes, and only after having immersed in a ritual bath - all in accordance with Jewish Law."

Yogev said that the late Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, who was Chief Rabbi of the IDF during the Six Day War, "told us that during the war, he took all the keys of the Mount and went around to the various gates, hanging signs saying that this was a holy Jewish site, just as he did in Rachel's Tomb. His intention was that just as Rachel's Tomb became a site that only Jews frequented, the same should be with the Temple Mount as well...

"But just like King Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah) during First Temple times, about whom our Sages said that he could have been the Messiah had he recited thanksgiving prayers when required, we too apparently did not appreciate what we were given, and lost an opportunity to reclaim the site of the Temple...

"We hope that very soon, individual Jews will once again be allowed to ascend to the Temple Mount. We should realize that when we talk about fulfilling the 613 Torah commandments, 38% of them are connected with the Temple and cannot be fulfilled when it is not built. We therefore hope and pray that we will soon merit to be able to truly fulfill all 613 commandments, and that along the way, we be allowed to pray there - whether in the open areas that are currently permitted under Jewish Law, or in a regular synagogue on the site. Just as we do not disturb the Muslims from praying in the [neighboring] Al-Aksa mosque, so too we should be able to pray without disturbance opposite the site of our Holy Temple."

WJC Wants Catholics to Apologize for Holocaust Silence

By Reuters

The World Jewish Congress, concerned at what it sees as a surge in anti-Semitism in Europe, plans to lobby the region's Catholic bishops to issue statements apologizing for their silence during the Holocaust.

Israel Singer, the New York-based WJC head currently visiting several European countries, said he had spoken to Pope John Paul II recently about the idea and won his approval. The statements would be modeled on those made by the bishops' conferences in France and Germany, which both made public apologies in the 1990s for not doing enough to help Jews hauled off by the Nazis to death camps during World War II.

"We want to have every bishops' conference speak out against anti-Semitism like the French and German bishops did," Singer said this week. "We'll be going everywhere."

The WJC and U.S. Jewish groups have accused European governments of playing down what they say is a worrying surge in anti-Semitic violence in Europe over the past few years. Several U.S. congressmen loudly criticized European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana last week when he rejected suggestions of a wave of anti-Semitism in Europe.

In France, home to Europe's largest Jewish and Muslim minorities, officials attribute the rise in violence to Muslim youths of North African origin angered by Israel's policies. Singer said he would speak to the bishops' conference in Hungary, which lost three-quarters of its 800,000-strong Jewish community during the Holocaust, but declined to name other conferences he would lobby for apologies.

In 1995, Germany's Catholic bishops marked the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp with a statement saying they still carried the burden of their church's failure to help the Jews or protest against the Nazis. Two years later, France's bishops asked God and the Jewish people to pardon the church for the silence of its elders when 76,000 Jews were deported from France to Nazi death camps.

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