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AG: "Traitor" Label is not a Criminal Offense


Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein announced that the rabbis who labeled Geneva Agreement supporters "traitors" most likely did not commit a crime. The AG explained that the facts at hand would be investigated but on the surface, it does not appear that a crime was committed. Rubinstein added that it was however painful to see leaders, especially rabbis, using such terminology to label persons engaging in legitimate public activities.

FM Shalom: We are Waiting for Syrian Actions

By & Ha'aretz

Responding to calls to return to the negotiating table by Syrian President Bashar el-Assad, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom stated talk is not sufficient - we must see actions.

Shalom stated that the Syrian leader must back up his statements with actions, calling on the Syrian leader to intercept weapons shipments heading to Hizbullah and to take steps to stop Hizbullah attacks into northern Israel. Only then, he said, would Israel "seriously consider" renewing peace negotiations with Syria.

The foreign minister was responding to a New York Times interview with Assad published on Monday. In the interview, Assad intimated that Israeli-Syrian negotiations should be renewed from where they broke off, in March 2000. "To move towards peace, Syria must end the terrorism and violence that is coming from its territory," Shalom said.

The talks, which Assad said had been 80 percent completed, centered around Israel's return to Syria of the Golan Heights in return for security guarantees. According reports from the previous rounds of negotiations, Israel agreed to withdraw from the Heights, but the current government in Jerusalem refuses to do so.

'Geneva Accord' Draws Mixed Reactions from Israelis, Palestinians

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Reactions to Monday's signing in Geneva of an unofficial Israeli-Palestinian peace plan are mixed. The initiative, known as the Geneva Accord, has been hailed as a ray of hope by many present and former world leaders and Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to meet with the plan's architects later this week.

But Israel's government and many conservatives condemn the initiative and play down its importance, while Palestinian militant groups reject the plan and Yasir Arafat seems to be taking a wait and see attitude. The signing of the Geneva Accord was on the front pages and in the headlines of the Israeli media. Palestinian media paid less attention to the initiative, and published no commentary.

Reactions varied. Israel's English daily, Jerusalem Post, described the peace initiative as a farce, while a front page article in Ha'aretz said it offered a hope for peace. Palestinian media focused more on daily events, Israeli military raids in the West Bank and opposition to the Geneva initiative.

The Geneva Accord, drawn up after almost three years of secret negotiations between former Israeli and Palestinian officials, moderate politicians and intellectuals is an unofficial plan endorsed neither by the Israeli government nor the Palestinian Authority. But, its architects say it's a model for any future official agreement because it outlines the compromises needed on the most divisive issues.

At Monday's signing ceremony in Geneva, former Palestinian cabinet minister and co-author of the accord, Yasser Abed Rabbo spoke of a people initiative. "Today, we are extending our hands in peace," he said. "The Palestinian people want peace, the Israeli people want peace. The world wants peace. Will we allow a few enemies of peace to destroy our dreams?"

Hundreds of Palestinian, Israeli and high profile international supporters of the initiative attended the ceremony or sent messages of support. Among them was former President Jimmy Carter, who brokered the Camp David peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1979. He hailed the Geneva Accord as a guide for the future. "It's unlikely that we shall ever see a more promising foundation for peace," said Carter.

That's not how Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sees it. During a meeting last week with top Israeli media editors, Sharon described the Geneva Accord as dangerous and subversive. He said it is damaging to Israel, and he said only the government can conduct negotiations.

Israeli officials also say the only negotiating plan on the table is the "road map" peace plan, backed by the United States and the international community.

Architects of the Geneva Accord said their plan is not meant to replace the road map, rather to complement it. The road map calls for a two-state solution, an independent Palestinian state by 2005 alongside a secure Israel, all as part of a broader peace deal between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The road map leaves the final details of a peace agreement to be negotiated by the protagonists.

The Geneva Accord goes further by outlining details of a final agreement on the most contentious issues. Under the plan, Israel would give up all of the Gaza Strip and almost all of the West Bank and relinquish most of its settlements in Palestinian areas. Some large settlement blocs would remain, however. In exchange for some West Bank land it retains, Israel would give up land in the Negev desert.

The Accord skirts the controversial issue of the right of return of Palestinian refugees to what is now Israel, but provides Israel with a say over how many refugees, if any, it would take in. The agreement also gives the Palestinians control over the Temple Mount, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews, but retains Israeli control over the sacred Western Wall.

"Don't worry, the Geneva document does not cede the Arabs' 'right of return.'" This was the gist of an article written by Jamal Zakot, a high-ranking PA official who took part in the negotiations for the agreement. Zakot wrote this on Sunday in the PA daily Al Hayat al Jadida.

"Those who state that the document cedes our right of return [for the Arab 'refugees' of 1948 and their descendants] do not base themselves on knowledge and precise reading of the text," Zakot wrote. "It could even be that they have fallen into the trap of declarations of certain Israeli figures who tried to make it more palatable to the Israeli public by saying several times [that the document makes this concession]."

Technology That Assembles Itself


An electronic device that builds itself. Sound fanciful? Not anymore. Scientists at the Technion - The Israel Institute of Technology - in Haifa have developed a nanoscale transistor that assembles itself using the building block proteins of DNA.

Erez Braun, lead scientist on the project and associate professor in the Physics faculty at the Technion, conducted the research with colleagues Kinneret Keren, Rotem S. Berman, Evgeny Buchstab, and Uri Sivan. Their work was published in the Nov. 21 issue of Science and has been greeted as leading news - and a crucial step - in the field of microelectronics.

"Erez Braun and his colleague Uri Sivan are some of the few pioneers in this field," said Horst Stormer, professor in Columbia University's Departments of Physics and Applied Physics and scientific director of the Nano Science and Engineering Centers. "This is outstanding research in the area that matters most in nano technology: self-assembly."

Braun said science has been intrigued with the idea of using biology to build electronic transistors that assemble without human manipulation. However, until now, demonstrating it in the lab has remained elusive. "This paper shows you can start with DNA proteins and molecular biology and construct an electronic device."

The advance may allow industry to produce the transistors for carbon-based computer chips that will be yet smaller - and hence faster and with more memory - than anything currently commercially feasible. Braun emphasized, however, that computers are only one application; these transistors may, for example, enable the creation of any number of devices in future applications, such as tiny sensors to perform diagnostic tests in healthcare.

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