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Rabbis: Support for Geneva Agreement "Treasonous"

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A group of rabbis have released a halachic ruling stating one who supports the Geneva Agreement is equated with engaging in a "treasonous act." Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, a prominent Torah scholar and son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, leads the group. Other signatories include Rabbi Yosef Gerlitzky (of the Pikuach Nefesh organization and Rabbi David Druckman, Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Motzkin. In addition, the organization in the past has signed hundreds of rabbis who oppose the giving away portions of the Land of Israel.


Israel Raids West Bank as Unofficial Peace Accord Discussed

By VOA News, IsraelNationalNews.com, UPI & Jerusalem Newswire

Israeli security forces launched a major overnight raid into the West Bank city of Ramallah, killing three Palestinian militants and a nine-year-old boy and arresting at least 30 others. The raid came as Israeli and Palestinian officials and negotiators gathered in Geneva to sign an unofficial peace plan hammered out in more than two years of secret negotiations. Dozens of Israeli tanks, jeeps and armored personnel carriers swept into Ramallah as troops searched house to house for Palestinian militants.

The officials said rifles and an explosives belt were found near the bodies of two of the men. Palestinians said the boy was killed when Israeli soldiers opened fire on a group of people throwing stones in the town of El Bireh, near Ramallah. Israeli troops also destroyed two buildings in the overnight raids and arrested several people.

The apparent target was Hamas, the group that has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Israelis over the past three years. The military said the raid was part of ongoing anti-terrorist operations. The security sweep came as Palestinian and Israeli politicians, officials and peace activists headed to Geneva to sign an unofficial peace initiative, known as the Geneva Accords.

Dozens of past and present world leaders have given their support to the unofficial peace plan that was unveiled Monday at the Swiss ceremony, where former President Jimmy Carter called it the best chance to end violence between the two sides. Former Polish President Lech Walesa also attended the official launch of the so-called Geneva Accord, and South Africa's Nelson Mandela made a video appearance.

At the United Nations, Secretary General Kofi Annan said the plan showed that Israelis and Palestinians could act with reason and restraint, and agree to live side-by-side in peace. Former Israeli and Palestinian ministers wrote the accord, which calls for Israel to withdraw from much of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the creation of a Palestinian state, and shared control of Jerusalem.

The plan has stirred international interest and nods of approval, including from members of the Bush administration. Negotiators are describing it as a model for any permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. It deals with some of the thorniest issues for both sides and has Israelis giving up land and Jewish settlements and Palestinians effectively giving up the right of return of refugees to what is now the state of Israel.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has rejected the plan. Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat has not endorsed it publicly, but allowed some of his officials to travel to Geneva for the signing.

One of the chief Palestinian architects of the rebel "Geneva Accord" admitted his side had helped draw up the radical plan specifically to create division among Israelis, thereby further weakening the Jews from within to benefit the Palestinian cause. And according to a report in The Jerusalem Post Monday, Palestinian officials are hoping that international support for "Geneva" would push Israel into proceeding with the implementation of its obligations under the U.S.-sponsored Road Map peace plan, which has seen no movement for weeks.

Fatah official Hatem Abdel Khader, who was deeply involved in the secret talks that spawned "Geneva," told The Jerusalem Post Sunday the Palestinian side had helped author the agreement primarily in order to cause a rift in Israeli society and to undermine the Sharon government. "Our aim was to create divisions inside Israel and block the growth of the right-wing," the Post quoted Khader as saying.

The "Geneva Accord" offers the Palestinians the best state package deal to date, including a de facto UN-recognized sovereign national homeland on the biblical and historical land of Israel, with finalized borders along the pre-1967 boundary, and with half of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, as its capital.

Despite this arrangement, which even former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak called "crazy" (and he offered nearly the same deal to Arafat during his tenure), many Palestinians have angrily rejected the agreement. Its publication has intensified schisms between the Palestinian Arabs, mainly because in it the Palestinian side purportedly relinquishes the "right of return" for those claiming refugee status in pre-1967 Israel.

A poll in the far-left daily Ha'aretz, headlined "Narrow gap between Geneva deal's supporters, detractors," purported to show that 31 percent of Israelis questioned were in favor, 38 percent were against, and 20 percents remained undecided. However, the poll designer, Prof. Camille Fuchs, told IMRA Monday his question had been formulated to yield a high number of "don't know" replies from those polled.

Fuchs also admitted his question had not contained any description of the Geneva Accord, but had simply asked the respondents "Are you for or against the Geneva Agreement."

In reporting the poll results, Ha'aretz quoted the main Israeli party to the agreement, Yossi Beilin, as saying that "if the poll correctly reflects public opinion then we are going in the right directions." In that instance, Beilin added, "I think that the government, in the end, will have to listen" to the public demand that it sign up to the Geneva Accord.

Former President Jimmy Carter spoke during the Geneva Accord ceremony Monday, criticizing both the Israeli and American governments. The Jerusalem Post said Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, blamed President Bush for anti-American sentiment and worldwide terror.

Carter said: "Bush's inordinate support for Israel allows the Palestinians to suffer. This is a source of anti-American sentiment in the world and encourages terror." He said the main obstacles to peace are Israel's West Bank and Gaza Strip settlements, as well as the Israeli security fence. The Post said Carter called repeatedly for the return of Palestinian refugees to the territories, beyond what is called for in the Geneva Accord.

He accused the Palestinians of extinguishing the peace process by suicide bombings and the Israelis by house demolitions. Added Carter, "The people support a peace settlement, but political leaders are the obstacle to peace."


Israeli AIDS Patients Still Suffer Humiliation

By Ran Reznick (Ha'aretz)

Patients afflicted with AIDS and those who are HIV positive continue to suffer inappropriate treatment in Israel, including humiliation, neglect and violation of medical confidentiality, according to complaints received by the War on AIDS Council.

In most cases, this subpar treatment is due to a lack of understanding by medical personnel about how AIDS is transmitted. But the Health Ministry, hospitals and HMOs are not making sufficient efforts to deal with this problem, including educational programs for staff.

One of the many examples of this uninformed attitude toward AIDS is the refusal of two Meuhedet HMO dental clinics to treat HIV positive patients. (One of the two clinics is the HMO's central clinic in Tel Aviv.) The HMO has failed to take disciplinary action against the staff at these two clinics, and has not referred the matter to the Health Ministry or Israel Medical Association's ethics board. The HMO's spokesman insisted that "a medical team cannot be forced to treat a patient."

Dr. Itzik Levy, the director of AIDS services at Sheba Medical Center, said that there has been a significant improvement in the attitude toward AIDS patients during the past decade and that the main problem now is among dentists.

Dr. Shlomo Zusman, the head of the dental health department at the Health Ministry, says that this issue was raised several years ago, but that the ministry has not received any complaints about the treatment of AIDS patients. Zusman has not issued any directives to dentists on this matter.


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