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Newsletter : 4fax0312.txt

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Man Thwarts Be'er Sheva Terror Attack


Investigators are reporting the stabbing attack of a Be'er Sheva taxi driver Thursday by two Arab attackers, residents of the Hebron Hills area, appears to have been a terrorist incident. The incident began around noon when two Arabs flagged down a Be'er Sheva taxi, stabbed the driver, and left him bleeding in the street as they attempted to drive the cab away. A man looking down from his apartment porch heard what was going on, grabbed his gun, and ran down to help. "I saw the driver lying on the ground, with one terrorist sitting in the driver's seat and the other one about to get in next to him. I pointed my gun at them and told them to drop their knives. One of them did right away, and then the other one followed. I kept my gun pointed in their direction until the police came. Other people who were around took care of the taxi driver." After questioning the two terrorists, police say that their plan was to snatch a gun from a soldier or policeman and perpetrate a shooting attack.

U.S. Officials to Discuss Gaza Settlement Plan with Sharon

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Three senior U.S. officials held talks Thursday with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The focus of discussions being the Israeli leader's plan to dismantle most of the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and withdraw the military units deployed there. Stephen Hadley, the deputy U.S. national security adviser, Elliot Abrams, the National Security Council's Middle East chief and Assistant Secretary of State William Burns were the U.S. officials.

Western diplomatic officials said the main purpose of their mission was to discuss Sharon's proposal to withdraw troops and remove Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip. The United States has so far refrained from giving unqualified public support to the plan. Instead, U.S. officials are asking for more information, including the exact number of Jewish settlements Sharon intends to dismantle.

The three envoys met with Sharon in Jerusalem three weeks ago, and were assured that Israel has not abandoned its support for the international road map to peace plan, which calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state by 2005. However, Sharon said then that Israel was preparing unilateral moves in case negotiations under the road map fail.

In the event of peace talks collapsing, Sharon has proposed that Israel would withdraw from most, if not all, of the Gaza Strip, and also parts of the West Bank. The Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, told the Palestinian parliament on Thursday, that he would welcome Israeli withdrawal from occupied land, but only if it leads to a complete Israeli withdrawal from the territories. Arafat said such steps should be coordinated with the Palestinians and take place within the framework of the road map to peace plan.

Egypt Pledges to Help Secure Gaza Border if Israel Pulls Out

By Greg LaMotte (VOA-Cairo)

Egypt said Thursday it was willing to increase security along its side of the border with Gaza, if Israel decides to pull its troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip.

While pledging to help secure the border with Gaza, Egyptian President Mubarak and Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said Egypt would not make its troops available to patrol the streets of the Gaza Strip, saying that should be the job of the Palestinian Authority. Both spoke after meeting with Israel's foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, in Cairo.

Shalom was sent to Egypt Thursday to discuss what role Egypt would be willing to play in an Israeli withdrawal, under consideration by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. While Egyptian officials expressed support for the idea, they are also concerned it could lead to anarchy that might spread across the border into Egypt. Mubarak said Egypt would take all necessary measures to secure its border with Gaza.

Shalom told reporters Thursday that Israel would continue to build the security barrier in the West Bank. The barrier has caused a storm of protest from Palestinians and throughout the Arab world. But, Shalom said the architect of the barrier is terror.

"This security fence was built after 19,000 terrorist attacks that we suffered from the Palestinians," he said. "I don't think that any other country would act differently after 19 attacks, not 19,000 terrorist attacks. We didn't want to build the fence. Since 1967 and 2002, we didn't build this fence, but I would like you to know something else. While the fence is reversible, human lives are irreversible."

Shalom praised Egypt for playing what he called a key role in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, and said he had asked Egyptian leaders to help build an infrastructure for peace. Shalom's visit to Egypt was the first by an Israeli foreign minister in more than two years. Relations between the two countries have been described as cold since the Palestinian intifada began in September 2000. Weeks into the uprising, Mubarak withdrew Egypt's ambassador to Israel in protest of what he called the mistreatment of Palestinians by Israeli troops.

A Call to Permit "Mein Kampf" in Germany


In the shadow of reports of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, Rafael Seligmann, a well-known German Jewish writer is calling for the removal of the ban on Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.

Speaking at a book dedication ceremony, Seligmann stated the German people are mature enough to deal with the issues today, almost 60 years following the end of the WWII.

Judge Defends Swiss Holocaust Settlement Distribution

By New York Law Journal

The judge presiding over the $1.3 billion Swiss Holocaust settlement has rejected criticisms that the distribution formula he used favored survivors in the former Soviet Union over those in the United States. At issue is the formula for distributing $184.5 million to Jewish survivors around the world whose assets were looted by the Nazis.

Objections lodged by the Holocaust Survivors Foundation-USA took issue with Eastern District of New York Chief Judge Edward R. Korman's decision this week to allocate to survivors in the former Soviet Union 75 percent of the $184.5 million distributed so far. Under the approved settlement formula, survivors living in the United States receive 4 percent of those funds, with the remainder going to survivors living in Israel, Europe and elsewhere.

The apparent disparity was more than fully justified, Korman wrote, because of the extreme poverty of Soviet Union survivors compared to those in the United States, a discrepancy that has become even greater since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

In addition, he concluded in In Re: Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation, 96-4849, U.S. survivors had access to resources and benefits unavailable to those in the former Soviet Union. Korman has set a hearing for April 29, at which he will consider proposals from about 75 groups for the distribution of the unspent funds. By the hearing date, Korman noted, Special Master Judah Gribetz of Bingham McCutchen should have a more precise figure for the undistributed bank funds.

Arabic, Russian Off McDonald's Menu

By The Age (Australia)

McDonald's Israel has been criticized in Israel for forcing employees to speak only Hebrew to customers. It has banned the use of Arabic, which is an official language of Israel spoken by 20 percent of the population. Russian, which is not an official language but is spoken by 20 percent of the population, is also banned.

The rules emerged after a worker said she was dismissed from a McDonald's branch in Ramle, near Tel Aviv. Mossawa, a civil rights group representing Arab Israelis, which has brought the case to the attention of the Israeli Parliament and Employment Ministry, has supported her.

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