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Remedia Executive Questioned for 10 Hours


Police questioned Gidi Landsberger, the chief executive of Remedia in Israel, a firm partially owned by the Pittsburgh-headquartered H.J. Heinz, Wednesday for 10 hours. Following the rigorous police session, he declined to respond to questions from reporters. Two infants died and another 15 were hospitalized as a result of being fed the Remedia soy-based infant formula, resulting in severe cases of beriberi Vitamin B1 deficiency. Eight of the infants remain hospitalized at this time.

Israel, Palestinian PMs Extend New Efforts Toward Peace

By Ross Dunn ((VOA-Jerusalem)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qureia, are exploring new ways to reach a ceasefire and restart peace talks. The moves come as the Palestinian legislature approved Qureia's new cabinet.

Israel has offered to give Qureia a grace period to allow him a chance to stop Palestinian armed groups from launching violent attacks. During that period, Israel would agree to scale back its military operations on condition that Palestinian terrorism is brought to a halt.

The offer came as Palestinian parliament on Wednesday endorsed Qureia's new government, ending months of political instability and further raising hopes for peace. The latest efforts toward reaching a truce are also meant to set the stage for face-to-face talks between Qureia and Sharon.

Dore Gold, a Sharon advisor said that Qureia's government is facing a moment of truth. "The new Palestinian government is really at a crossroads. It can decide to continue to nurture terrorism as it has in the past or at long last it can finally fight terrorism and dismantle the vast infrastructure of terrorism. The choice belongs to the Palestinians."

Gold was reacting to the news that the Palestinian Legislative Council, meeting in Ramallah, had voted 46-13 in favor of Qureia's Cabinet. Five lawmakers abstained. One of the members of the new cabinet is Minister for Peace Negotiations Saeb Erekat, who spoke about the government's program.

"The priority of the government will be to revive the peace process and we hope that all sides will carry out their obligations," Erekat said. "The second focus will be on the reform program and then the preparations for the presidential, legislative and local elections and fourthly to maintain the rule of law."

But some Palestinian lawmakers, such as Hanan Ashrawi, expressed doubts that the new Cabinet would fare better than the previous governments. "So far the formation seems to be more of the same. The same people who failed are brought back again. It sounds like its musical chairs more than anything else. And I don't see promise of a qualitative change in the people who are forming this Cabinet."

The parliament endorsed Qureia's Cabinet after both he and Palestinian chief Yasir Arafat allegedly impassioned pleas to end to violence. Arafat said that Israel had the right to live in security with a future Palestinian state. And Qureia called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire and a return to peace talks based on President Bush's vision of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

American Jewry Criticized


Eli Joseph, one of the most veteran activists on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, had some blistering criticism of American Jewry for abandoning Pollard to his fate: 18 years, so far, in prison. He told Arutz-7, "We asked some NRP and Likud delegates in the Jewish Agency and the Zionist movement, in the framework of the General Assembly [next week's premiere event of United Jewish Communities, representing 156 Jewish federations and 400 North American communities], to raise the topic of Pollard - but they refused. There is a fear of raising anything that will upset American Jewry. Likud government ministers, too, don't want to speak about it."

Asked why he thinks this is, Joseph said, "The relations today between Israel and Diaspora/U.S. Jewry are based on the following distorted verse: 'Give me the property, and the souls take for yourself' [based on the verse at the end of Genesis 14, which states the opposite]. It's as if the Jewish Agency has become just a philanthropic agency to give Israel money, but [with no concern] for problems of the soul, such as assimilation and the like. But this cannot be. The Zionist movement began over 100 years ago precisely out of a concern for another Jew who had been unfairly punished - Alfred Dreyfus, who was unfairly accused of spying against France; but today, Jonathan Pollard is suffering the same fate... yet American Jewry is not only largely ignoring him, but are being cruel to him.

"Jews are among those who initiated a lobby against a pardon for Pollard - because they are always afraid of being accused of having dual loyalty. When Jews came to Roosevelt during the Holocaust and asked him to do something dramatic, he said to them, 'Know that you are first of all Americans.' ... Pollard said that he didn't want to allow history to repeat itself, and that's why he did what he did. He wrote later that he was 'willing to rot in prison rather than to sit Shiva [in mourning] for hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews who were liable to get killed because of my cowardice' - and then American Jews quote him and say, 'Look, he does not regret his actions!' ... The Americans put his body in jail, but American Jewry and Israel together are leaving his soul in jail."

A three-part rally for Pollard is planned for this coming Sunday: prayers at the Western Wall at 4 p.m., followed by the march, and then a rally at 7 at Binyanei HaUmah demanding Pollard's release.

Itim, Israel's News Agency, Folds

By Israel Faxx News Services

Ha'aretz reported Wednesday that Itim, Israel's domestic cooperative news agency founded in 1950, folded because of financial problems. Ha'aretz is a member of the cooperative's shareholders. Itim reportedly was $440,000 in debt.

The Ha'aretz web site said the closure decision to close was made at a shareholders' meeting Tuesday and staff arriving for work on Wednesday received their pink slips.

Itim was founded in 1950 as joint venture by the leading Israeli dailies. Its main current shareholders were the Israeli dailies Ha'aretz, Yediot Ahronot, Ma'ariv, Hatzofeh and The Jerusalem Post. The name is a Hebrew acronym for "Israeli Press Cooperative."

Yad Vashem Responds to Italian Poll Revealing Widespread Holocaust Denial


In light of Monday's poll conducted in Italy, Yad Vashem called upon the Italian government to step up educational efforts among its teachers and students, and to tighten its partnership with Yad Vashem in the field of education - including the sending of teachers from Italy to seminars held at Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies.

Among the poll's findings: 11% claim that the Jews are lying when they say millions were murdered in gas chambers, 8% believe Italian Jews ought to leave the country, and 22% say Jewish citizens of Italy "are not true Italians."

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