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Police Raid Printing Press to Confiscate Kach Publications


Police Wednesday evening raided a printing press to confiscate material being printed for the Kach organization including fliers reading, "Bring the Road Map Criminals to Justice." Kach activist Itamar Ben-Gavir responded to the police action by explaining, "We will continue to distribute materials. They will not silence us!"

Bush: Palestinian State by 2005 Still 'Realistic'

By VOA News

President Bush said that the goal of a Palestinian state by 2005 was still "realistic." Speaking to reporters Wednesday at the White House, Bush said he believed that good progress was being made in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He expressed confidence in Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas who he said has a vision of a peaceful Palestinian state and is committed to seeing it through.

The president also said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is committed to the existence of a Palestinian state, because he knows the United States will not compromise the security of Israel in order to achieve that goal. Bush met with Sharon on Tuesday at the White House and with Abbas last week.

Meanwhile, Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs met late Wednesday near Jerusalem to discuss a limited Israeli troop withdrawal from two Palestinian towns, possibly Qalqilyah and Jericho in the West Bank. Israel was expected to soon redeploy its troops to the outskirts of the towns.

Under the plan, the Palestinian security forces would be allowed to resume responsibility for law and order in the center of the towns. Israel entered these and other cities across the West Bank last year, following a series of suicide bombings, but pledged to withdraw once Palestinian groups halted their terror attacks.

The planned troop withdrawals are part of a series of goodwill moves, which analysts say are in large part designed to boost support for his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas.

In another development, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are also discussing relocating some wanted Palestinian fugitives to Jericho. Under the proposal, Israel would pledge not to hunt down and arrest the wanted Palestinians, providing they did not leave the West Bank enclave. Dozens of wanted Palestinians have already moved to Jericho in expectation that agreement will soon be reached on the issue.

The Palestinian Authority has also given its commitment not to arrest the suspects in Jericho on condition that they remain committed to the current ceasefire. The Palestinian Authority recently reached an understanding with militant groups that they would not carry out any attacks for at least three months.

In a separate development, Israel has temporarily suspended visits by non-Muslims to a site in Jerusalem holy to both Muslims and Jews. Known as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims and the Temple Mount to Jews, it was on this site nearly three years ago that the current Palestinian uprising began after a visit by now-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Sharon-Bush: Good Meeting, But No Answer On Pollard


Prime Minister Ariel Sharon arrived back to Israel, after meeting with President George Bush in Washington %Tuesday. Members of Sharon's entourage said they're satisfied with the meetings with Bush and other U.S. officials.

In the traditional post-meeting announcement to the press, Bush again mentioned his goal of "two states living side by side" - despite growing opposition to the idea of a PLO state by much of Bush's right-wing support base.

The American President thanked Sharon - whom he called Ariel; Sharon called the President "George" - for his efforts to ease restrictions in the PA areas. Sharon said that Israel would continue to build the anti-terrorist partition, but he said he would look for ways to make it easier for the Palestinians. Bush seemed to suffice with that for the meanwhile, but said, "We will continue the dialogue in order to guarantee that the partition sends the right message." He said that the best way to fight terrorism is to disarm the terror organizations. Sharon said that he did not discuss with Bush the route the partition would take.

The Israelis said that the Prime Minister raised the matter of Jonathan Pollard with Bush, and even gave him a petition requesting Pollard's released signed by 112 Knesset Members - but Bush avoided giving an answer.

The President also avoided a reporter's question on the topic. Asked, "Why do you expect any government to set free Palestinian prisoners while you don't order to set free the Israeli civilian, Jonathan Pollard?" Bush did not even mention Pollard in his response, stating instead:

"Yes, well, I said very clearly at the press conference with Prime Minister Abbas, I don't expect anybody to release somebody from prison who will go kill somebody. That doesn't make any sense. I mean, if we're trying to fight off terror, and we're interested in a peaceful settlement, it doesn't make any sense to release somebody who is going to get out of prison and start killing. I do hope that the Prime Minister continues to work with the Palestinian Authority to release those prisoners that won't create the conditions of terror. And I believe that Prime Minister Abbas wants peace. I know that the -- his cabinet is interested in developing the institutions necessary for a Palestinian state to emerge in a peaceful way..."

Before he left the U.S., Sharon told reporters that there is no chance for a "true solution as long as Arafat is in charge of the main PA forces." He said that Arafat continues to "pile up obstacles in Abu Mazen's path."

Iran Denies Funding Families of Suicide Bombers

By Reuters

Iran flatly rejected on Wednesday Israeli allegations that Tehran was stepping up support for Palestinian and Lebanese terrorists by sending tens of thousands of dollars to the families of suicide bombers.

Israeli officials said on Tuesday intelligence suggested that Iran was filling the void left by Iraq in supporting Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas and Lebanon's Hizbullah terrorists. They said there was evidence Iran was now offering $50,000 to the families of suicide bombers - double the amount paid by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein before he was toppled by a U.S.-led invasion in April.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon raised the issue during his White House meeting on Tuesday with President George W. Bush, who warned Iran and Syria last week that they would be "held accountable" for supporting militants. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi called the accusations "ridiculous".

"Whenever the Israeli prime minister visits America, he brings up new claims and accusations to gain more support and put more pressure on Palestinians," Asefi said in statement faxed to Reuters. "By such ploys Israel tries to portray Palestinian resistance as a materialistic movement which is dependent on external sources," he said.

U.S. and Israeli officials have long accused Iran's Islamic leaders of deliberately undermining Middle East peace efforts and of providing arms and financing to Palestinian militant groups. Iran says it only provides moral support to the Palestinian groups.

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