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"As I begin my 19th year in prison on behalf of the State of Israel, I have earned the right to demand that the Prime Minister live up to his obligation to secure my immediate release - in full accord with previous commitments by the United States, which Mr. Sharon himself witnessed - to bring me home at once, in time to light the Chanukah candles of freedom, this month, at home in Jerusalem!" Jonathan Pollard

Palestinians Discuss Ceasefire

By VOA News

Palestinian factions are meeting in Egypt to discuss a possible ceasefire with Israel, as a first step toward reviving peace talks. Officials say Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia plans to join the talks Friday.

Hamas and other groups say Israel must end operations against militants for a ceasefire to be considered. But a senior Israeli official, Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim, says the military might scale back operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip if the groups agree to stop attacking Israelis.

Egypt's intelligence chief, General Omar Solemn, who is mediating the talks, called on the Palestinians to agree to a total ceasefire on the condition that Israel does the same.

Israeli troops have stepped up raids in Palestinian areas in recent days. Military officials say they were concerned that militant groups would carry out attacks in advance of a possible ceasefire.

And in Washington Thursday, President Bush and Jordan's King Abdullah met at the White House. The Jordanian king said, "We believe there will be, I hope, some small steps to move the process forward," He said there are a lot of difficulties blocking progress.

Separately, Secretary of State Colin Powell plans to meet Friday with the Israeli and Palestinian authors of an alternate peace proposal, known as the Geneva Accord. Israeli officials have criticized the planned meeting. U.S. officials say they are willing to consider any new ideas that might advance the peace process - they add, however, they still believe the internationally backed "road map" plan is still the best way forward. "We appreciate people discussing peace," said President Bush. "We just want to make sure people understand that the principals to peace are clear."

Labor MK: "U.S. Position on Pollard is Vindictive, Stubborn and Inflexible"


"The United States has taken a reckoning with Jonathan Pollard, and through him, with all of us," said Labor MK Ophir Pines, addressing the Knesset.

Last week, Knesset members from both sides of the political spectrum joined together to speak out against the Israeli governments failure to act sufficiently to bring about Jonathan Pollard's release from a U.S. prison where he is serving a life sentence.

MKs Ophir Pines (Labor), Michael Eitan (Likud), and Sha'ul Yahalom (NRP) submitted a request for a Knesset discussion regarding a recent U.S. court's decision to deny Pollard a re-sentencing trial. Pines addressed the Knesset on behalf of the group:

"I am sorry that we have to be here this evening to speak about the decision of the American court which means that Jonathan's appeal has been dismissed in every respect. He cannot see the secret documents; he cannot have his day in court; he cannot go for re-sentencing; nothing at all!

"We are not overly surprised. The U.S. attitude towards Jonathan Pollard is vindictive in the extreme, very stubborn, very harsh and very inflexible, and the way I see it, very cruel. In the end, Jonathan Pollard has been languishing in an American prison for 18 years. The man is condemned to serve a life sentence on a single charge of espionage [with no intent to harm the U.S.] while at the same time, the spies who really spied against the United States and handed over damaging and extremely sensitive classified information to enemy states have long, long since ceased to serve time in American prisons.

"The United States has taken a reckoning with Jonathan Pollard, and through him with all of us, because Jonathan provided the State of Israel with vital security information - information, which as far as we know, did not do any damage to American security, and that is the important point. But America the Great was insulted, and I can understand that, but what is the price of the insult, a life sentence?

"When Jonathan was held in Washington recently, when they took him for his court appearance, he was held in harsh and inhumane conditions. I received letters documenting the harsh treatment he endured. He was cut off from all contact with his wife and friends on the outside; he was held in what I regard as inhumane conditions, and treated very harshly. Why? For what reason? The man is serving his time, at least let him appeal his American sentence; where it is possible to appeal, at least let him have his day in court!

"The State of Israel has to step forward and engage [on behalf of Pollard], I say, especially the Government of Israel - past governments have failed to engage on this matter. I believe that Ariel Sharon now has the opportunity to something, something truly great. Out of all of the Prime Ministers of Israel, the only Prime Minister until now - I must admit - who ever really put Jonathan's release properly on the agenda for negotiation was Binyamin Netanyahu. As for all the rest, to the best of my knowledge, if they did anything at all for Jonathan, it was too little, too late, in an unconvincing way and without conviction.

"I want to express hope. First of all, I want this Knesset to boost Jonathan' s morale - to strengthen his morale - the man, of course, cannot be in a good way now - and by the way, his health is very poor as well - I want this Knesset to appeal to the Government of United States and to ask it to spare the life of Jonathan Pollard, to pardon him on a humanitarian basis, and to send him here, so that he can come home and make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel. Jonathan may have committed a sin, perhaps a terrible sin, but he has paid a terrible price and he is still paying.

"I sincerely hope that the gates of mercy and human decency in the United States may open for Jonathan Pollard and that the appeal and outcry of this Knesset will be heard in the right places."

Antibiotics to Treat Genetic Disorders


Research carried out at Jerusalem's Shaarei Tzedek hospital among 19 children suffering from cystic fibrosis has shown that a common antibiotic drug can be effective in countering certain genetic diseases.

The Israeli researchers, headed by Dr. Michael Wilschanski and Prof. Eitan Kerem, managed to repair a form of the mutant gene that causes the inherited lung disease cystic fibrosis using Gentamicin, antibiotic nasal drops commonly used for eye infections. The antibiotic has the unusual ability to override a major genetic defect in cystic fibrosis and tweak DNA transcription in cells.

The new findings, Israel21c reported, were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and have been hailed by the medical community as a "major breakthrough." Wilschanski and Kerem said that their discovery could serve as a basis for treatments of other genetic disorders, including muscular dystrophy, Hurler's syndrome, and various types of hemophilia and cancer.

Wilschanski, of the Gush Etzion town of Elazar, emigrated from London in 1985 and was recently named the head of the pediatric gastroenterology department at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. "We're at the beginning, and we have a long way to go. But it's a novel way of looking at genetic disease, and it's also applicable to other diseases as well," said Wilschanski to Israel21c. "It holds hope for this group of patients in a few years time."

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