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Mossad Director: Hizbullah Deal Encourages More Kidnappings


The director of the Mossad Intelligence Agency told the cabinet today he opposes the deal with Hizbullah, explaining it will encourage the additional abduction of Israelis for future exchange deals and is detrimental to the nation.

Israel Approves 400 Terrorist Prisoner Swap with Hizbullah

By VOA News &

.By a slim majority of only one vote, and after a full-day discussion, the Cabinet approved the exchange of prisoners with Hizbullah. Terrorists who murdered civilians will not be released.

The Cabinet voted 12-11 to approve the exchange. Israeli state media reported that Israel would hand over more than 400 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli businessman, Elhanan Tannenbaum, kidnapped by Hizbullah three years ago. Israel will also receive the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped and killed by Hizbullah.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had urged the cabinet to approve the deal because he said Hizbullah would have executed Tannenbaum if the plan were rejected.

Hizbullah terrorist chieftain Sheikh Nasrallah threw a monkey wrench into the deal Saturday night, demanding the release of Samir Kuntar. Kuntar and three other terrorists infiltrated into Israel by sea from Lebanon in 1979, and murdered Danny Haran and his daughter Einat after abducting them from their Nahariya apartment, as well as policeman Eliyahu Shachar.

Haran's wife hid in a side room with their 2-year-old daughter Yael, who died when her mother attempted to stifle her cries. Two terrorists were killed in the ensuing chase by security forces, and the third was released from Israeli prison in the Jibril exchange in 1985. Kuntar is held in relatively comfortable conditions - eight prisoners in a 10-bed cell - and as a member of the prisoners' committee, he has been known to support riots and prison violence.

Nasrallah said last night that he would not approve the deal and would not release Tannenbaum and the three bodies without Kuntar. Sharon, for his part, was said to be equally resolute not to release the murderer. He is willing to include four Lebanese who were involved in battles in Lebanon in which IDF soldiers were killed or wounded, but not terrorists who killed Israelis on Israeli territory. Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced his support for the deal only after a clause was inserted ensuring that no terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians would be released in the exchange.

Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz announced that he would support the exchange, after reaching an agreement with Sharon on increased efforts on behalf of Ron Arad. The two agreed, according to a government press release, on "additional steps regarding captive Air Force navigator Ron Arad, which will be under the supervision of the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister."

According to a Channel 1 TV News report, the government is weighing "intensive" efforts towards obtaining the release of Arad, including the kidnapping of terrorists who would serve as negotiating pawns towards obtaining the release of Ron Arad.

Broadway Play Honors Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir

By Jenny Falcon (VOA-New York)

A one-person play on the life of former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir has opened on Broadway. Golda's Balcony is set against the background of the early hours of the 1973 Middle East War, which nearly ended in a nuclear catastrophe.

On Oct. 6, 1973 -- Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews -- Meir learned that Egypt and Syria had launched a surprise attack against Israel. With the help of sound and light effects, veteran stage actor Tovah Feldshuh recreates the early hours of the 1973 conflict. Israel was caught unprepared. Hundreds of soldiers were dying and Israel was losing tanks and planes.

"No, no, no, no, no. I knew it. I knew it yesterday in my bones," the actress says. "All right, all right, call a meeting, 6 a.m. Tell the others. My generals. Half of my cabinet [is] generals, and not one of them could smell yesterday that today it is war. " Golda's Balcony has moved to Broadway, after a successful run at a small New York theater.

Critics are giving the play mixed reviews. But most agree that actor Tovah Feldshuh transforms into an almost eerie likeness of Israel's only woman prime minister. Wearing a wig, a fake nose, and thick brown stockings, Feldshuh becomes Golda Meir at the age of 70. She smokes one cigarette after another. And she speaks with the thick American Mid-Western accent that Mrs. Meir picked up in her youth in Milwaukee.

Feldshuh tells the audience the story of Golda Meir's life. Russian-born and American-raised, a young Golda was exposed to the Zionist Movement and leader David Ben Gurion, who became Israel's first prime minister. "I was backwash from Russia, but Milwaukee was where I grew up. And to Milwaukee came a Jew named Ben Gurion," she recalls. "And he told us of the pioneers in Palestine. He said: 'the Jewish homeland must be the model for the redemption of the human race!' I was young. It seemed reasonable."

From her struggles and diplomatic missions to her decision to choose her cause over her husband and children, Golda's Balcony is told entirely from Meir's perspective. The play is a revision of William Gibson's 1977 show Golda that starred Anne Bancroft.

The 89-year-old playwright, best known for his Broadway hit The Miracle Worker, revamped the earlier script, which came out of eight months of conversations with Mrs. Meir, just before her death in 1978. In the new Golda's Balcony, Gibson focuses on Israel's controversial nuclear program.

Israel is losing the war. Pacing and smoking, Meir is in crisis mode. Her ambassador to the United States, Simcha Dinitz, is unable to secure 48 F-4 phantom planes from President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

"Simcha, you spoke with Kissinger?" she asks. "Well I'm so glad he approved, so where are the Phantoms? When do we get them? Check out what with the Pentagon? Nixon himself promised me. Simcha, Simcha, get the Phantoms!"

The play's climax dramatizes a dark hour, now accepted as historically accurate, when Meir orders the military to ready nuclear weapons for use. With the threat of a nuclear disaster, the United States provides Israel with the supplies it needs to push back Egyptian and Syrian forces.

Feldshuh portrays Golda Meir as a revolutionary, a grandmother and a tormented prime minister who serves chicken soup to her soldiers. The play's title, Golda's Balcony actually alludes to two balconies that serve as metaphors for Meir's life.

One is a peaceful spot in Tel Aviv with a view of the Mediterranean Sea. The other is at Dimona, Israel's underground nuclear reactor in the Negev desert that Meir calls a direct view into hell.

In a particularly poignant moment, Meir laments the struggle that continues to plague Israelis and Palestinians three decades later. "Our cousins," she said. "Our blood cousins, if you go all the way back to Abraham. But now, two peoples and one piece of land."

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