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NY Times: Wealthy Arab-Americans Raising Money to Back Bush

By Ha'aretz

Wealthy Arab-Americans and foreign-born Muslims who strongly back President George Bush's decision to invade Iraq are joining the ranks of Pioneers and Rangers, Bush supporters who have raised $100,000 or more for his re-election, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. Rangers are individuals who have raised $200,000 or more, while Pioneers are individuals who have raised $100,000.

Palestinian PM Hoping for Summit With Israeli Leader Sharon

By Ruth Elkins (VOA-Berlin)

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said his top aide will meet Thursday with his opposite number in the Israeli government to try to arrange an Israeli-Palestinian summit. Queria spoke after meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin.

Speaking after the brief talks with Schroeder, Qureia said he hoped direct talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would take place "soon," though he did not specify when. He said senior Palestinian and Israeli officials would meet Thursday to clear the way for the meeting, and that if those talks made "tangible progress," then a summit could take place.

The German chancellor praised the effort to bring both countries back to the negotiating table, and said only direct talks could restart the peace process under the international "road map" for peace. He said to get the peace process moving ahead required that the Palestinians do more to curb terrorism and prevent suicide attacks and the Israelis to make what he called "commensurate effort."

Germany's effort to restart the peace process in the Middle East includes a visit Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer paid to the region earlier his week. While there, he said his government and the European Union understood Israel's effort to defend itself from Palestinian terrorists by building a security barrier, but objected to its path.

Palestinians, who claim the barrier is an Israeli attempt to grab land, have taken their grievance to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. A hearing there is scheduled for next week. But Schroeder said Germany is opposed to The Hague proceedings on the grounds the security barrier poses a political, not a legal, problem and should be settled through negotiation.

Mideast Palestinian Protesters Block Gaza Crossing

By VOA News

Hundreds of Palestinians blocked the main border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, protesting new security measures that have caused lengthy delays for workers headed to jobs in Israel.

Protesters began gathering at the Erez crossing before dawn Tuesday, blocking the road to enforce a daylong strike. Some carried banners proclaiming the "right to work in dignity and without being humiliated." The protest was prompted by the death of a Palestinian worker, who collapsed Monday while waiting in line at the checkpoint. Israel says the 41-year-old man died of a heart attack. Security at the checkpoint has been greatly tightened since mid-January, when a female Palestinian suicide bomber blew herself up there, killing four Israelis.

Contrary to popular perception, Gaza has long been a Jewish area, and is in fact included in the biblical Land of Israel; a dispute among traditional Jewish commentators exists only regarding the area west of El Arish in northern Sinai.

It is mentioned as land that should have been conquered by Joshua; was home to Jews during the times of the Hasmoneans and the redaction of the Mishna; and its Jewish population was strong enough to withstand an attempt by Constantine in the 4th century to build a Christian church there. More recently, Jews lived there from 1885 until World War I, and a renewed Jewish community remained there until the Muslim pogroms of 1929.

Kfar Darom was established there in 1946, lasting only until the War of Independence two years later, and in 1973, Netzer Hazani - the first of 17 Jewish communities that now exist in Gaza - was established.

PA leader: Israel has No Right to Exist


Although Yasir Arafat has acceded in peace talks to Israel's right to exist, Palestinian officials indicate otherwise. In an interview broadcast on Palestinian Authority television, Ahmad Nasser, secretary of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said the Jewish state has no right to exist because it is "Satan's offspring."

Nasser asserted Israel cannot exist "among human beings" because it was "founded on the basis of robbery, terror, killing, torture, assassination, death, stealing land and killing people," reported Palestinian Media Watch.

President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have agreed to the concept of "two states living side by side." But Nasser's comments "reflect the PA's continuing campaign to challenge and deny Israel's right to exist," said PMW director Itamar Marcus.

Marcus noted that Nasser, in his interview, even criticized Israel for its willingness to release 400 Arab terrorists and prisoners, arguing it was its way of putting a value on Palestinians. "We see that Israel is trying to delude the world and delude the Arabs and the Palestinians psychologically [by showing] that one Israeli will be exchanged for a thousand Palestinians," he told PA TV.

The Danger of Vanunu's Release


Israel's nuclear-scientist-turned-spy Mordechai Vanunu is "happy whenever there's a terrorist attack against Israel" and plans to "publicize sensitive information to harm Israel." So says Yossi Harush, a former cellmate of Vanunu. Vanunu is scheduled to be released from prison two months from now, just five months short of the end of the 18-year prison sentence he received for having divulged Israeli nuclear secrets.

An international campaign is underway to free Vanunu and ensure that Israel not place further restrictions on him once he is free. "If Libya Can Do It [end its nuclear program], Why Not Israel?" asked an article in the Guardian two months ago. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld provided the obvious answer last week, when he told reporters in Munich,

"The whole world knows the answer. Israel is a small country with a small population. It is a democracy, but exists among neighbors who want to see her in the sea. Israel has made it clear that she does not want to be in the sea, and as a result, over several decades, has organized in such a manner so as not to be thrown into the sea."

Vanunu's cellmate Yossi Harush made contact with journalists, saying that he felt uncomfortable revealing his criminal past, "but the sense of responsibility that I feel leads me to warn the country about Vanunu's upcoming release." He said Vanunu told him that he has material that can harm the State of Israel, and that he "plans to release it as soon as he gets out of prison." Harush also said that Vanunu knows of intelligence information against Israel, presently secured in a foreign country, and that he plans to make efforts to have it publicized so as to harm Israel. "Vanunu is filled with deep hatred for Israel," Harush said. "The defense establishment better wake up and do something against this threat."

One of 11 children of Moroccan Jewish parents who immigrated to Israel in 1963, when he was 9 years old, Vanunu served in the Israeli army and then went to work in the Dimona nuclear center in the Negev. In 1985, before leaving Dimona, he took extensive photographs inside the factory in order to disseminate them throughout the world.

Vanunu later made his way to Sydney, Australia, where he converted to Christianity. The London Sunday Times published his story and photos on Oct. 5, 1986, "informing the world" that Israel had become a major nuclear weapons power. Before the story was published, Israeli agents abducted Vanunu while he was in Italy and brought him to Israel for trial; he was convicted on charges of espionage and treason.

"This man is happy and celebrates every time he hears of a bus blast [against Israel]," Harush said about Vanunu. "He would be happy if an atom bomb fell on Israel." Israeli officials are formulating a plan to ensure that Vanunu is not able to disseminate propaganda against Israel upon his release.

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