Newsletter : 4fax0319.txt
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Rabin Assassin Yigal Amir Asks to Wed on April 1
Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence for the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, has
turned to the Tel Aviv District Court seeking permission to wed on April 1. In the
petition filed by attorney Shmuel Casper, Amir seeks permission to wed and have his
brother Haggai attend the wedding. Haggai is also serving a jail term for his part in the
assassination. Prison authority officials previously turned down Amir's request seeking
permission to get married.
Purim Terror Attacks Prevented in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
By IsraelNationalNews.com & Ha'aretz
Government authorities Thursday reported that two terrorists, 16 and 17-years-old, were
planning to perpetrate suicide-bombing attacks during last week's Purim holiday, in both
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The suicide bombing attacks were to take place in a Tel Aviv club
and a Jerusalem restaurant of coffee house.
Also, several Arabs from PLO-controlled areas who planned to carry out a mass-casualty
attack were arrested in the center of Tel Aviv on March 2, following an alert that
terrorists had infiltrated the city. The alert brought extra police and major traffic jams
to Tel Aviv, especially near the central bus station in the south of the city on that day.
In yet another attempt at murdering Israeli civilians, security forces found a bomb on
the approach road to Itamar, located 25 miles east of Herziliya. The explosive device was
detonated in a controlled blast, without injuries. Arab terrorists were planning to
commandeer a public bus and direct it to a PLO-controlled area where they hoped to conduct
negotiations for the release of hostages, according to a report in the daily Ma'ariv
The five-person cells planned to send one Palestinian wearing an explosive belt onto
each bus and bring the buses to the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of
Bethlehem. The Tanzim activists - two of whose cell members work for the Palestinian
Authority - said they decided to use two buses because they feared that an Israeli sniper
would kill one of the hijackers.
Information on the Tanzim plans was gleaned from cell members, who were arrested and
questioned by security forces after they discovered that the group was responsible for the
recent bombings of buses 14 and 19 in Jerusalem, in which 19 people were killed. The cell
received instructions from Ahmed Mugrabi, who was one of the Tanzim military wing leaders
in Bethlehem and has been imprisoned since 2002.
Sharon Uninvited to White House: Foreign Minister Heads to U.S.
By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem) & IsraelNationalNews.com
Israel's foreign minister left Thursday for the United States, where he will hold talks
with senior U.S. and U.N. officials on Israel's unilateral disengagement plans. His trip
is also meant to set the stage for a future meeting between President Bush and Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Until three days ago, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was still unsuccessful in his bid for
a White House reception at which he could propose his Gaza withdrawal plan. Dov Weisglas,
head of the Prime Minister's Bureau, was dispatched to Washington to try and secure this
meeting. On Tuesday unofficial announcements hailing a tentative meeting between Sharon
and President George W. Bush were leaked to the press.
That meeting was cancelled, with no make-up date offered. Foreign Minister Silvan
Shalom quickly boarded a flight to the U.S. to see if he could salvage the meeting, which
seems to be Sharon's sole strategic goal at this juncture. Various reasons were offered
explaining Washington's unwillingness to take part in the meeting and endorsement of a
Bush has reportedly noted the growing opposition in Israel to Sharon's Gaza plan - from
IDF chiefs, to the Knesset, and even amongst the left wing. He has therefore taken a step
back - deciding not to allow Sharon to use an American endorsement of his plan as a way of
bypassing Israeli public opinion, as well as that of his own Likud party.
In addition to those considerations, Israel News Agency sources indicated that in
coming days a major announcement regarding charges against the Prime Minister and his sons
is scheduled to be made. The uncertainty of the ramifications of such an announcement, as
well as its content, has made a meeting with Sharon into more of a liability than an asset
- especially amidst the U.S. election frenzy. Many of Bush's supporters are conservative
Christians and Jews opposed to withdrawals from any part of the Land of Israel and the
president fears losing their important votes in places like Florida.
"The prime minister wants President Bush to stand next to him on the White House lawn
and endorse the withdrawal plan without reservation," a Sharon aide told Middle East
Newsline. "It's a matter of a few sentences, but this could determine the success of the
Foreign Minister Shalom's first stop will be New York where he will brief U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Israel's plan to leave the Gaza Strip and parts of the
West Bank. He will then travel to California for talks with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
before flying to Washington, the main focus of his visit.
Shalom is to meet with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. His main aim will be to give the Bush
administration more details about Israel's proposed unilateral moves, in the event that
peace talks with the Palestinians under the road map to peace plan remain stalled. Those
proposals include Israeli withdrawal from most, if not all, of the Gaza Strip, the scene
of violence in recent days.
His visit is meant to lay the groundwork for a future Bush-Sharon meeting at the White
Knesset Bill to Aid Former South Lebanon Army Allies
A bill intended to improve the conditions of former South Lebanon Army members and
their families currently living in Israel passed its first reading in the Knesset
Wednesday. The SLA soldiers are Christians who lived across the Lebanese border who were
armed and trained by the IDF to take part in the fight against terrorist forces. The bill,
proposed by Labor MK Yitzhak Herzog, was unanimously approved by the 46 MKs present.
The legislation calls for improved compensation for disabilities incurred by former SLA
members. It upgrades the benefits they receive to those received by retired IDF soldiers
and even offers them the option of full Israeli citizenship.
After the IDF's hasty withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 by then-Prime
Minister Ehud Barak, more than 7,000 Lebanese members of the SLA, along with their
families, sought refuge in Israel. Since then, most have opted to return to Lebanon to
stand trial and imprisonment for helping the Jewish State. About 2,500 remain in Israel.
The new proposal will grant SLA members injured while in service with the IDF in
southern Lebanon the same benefits as disabled IDF soldiers. Until last year, each SLA
family received 3,200 shekels a month in benefits, as well as full coverage of
accommodation expenses and assistance with local taxes. Last year, the monthly benefits
were reduced to 1,500 shekels a month, with housing still fully covered.
Colonel (res.) Tal Raz, who trained and fought alongside members of the SLA during
Israel's war in Lebanon, told Arutz-7, "They are in a dire situation. They truly are not
able to return to their homes - members of Hizbullah are waiting for them with a promise
of implementing the death penalty. We owe it to them to improve their condition - from the
beginning we have not treated them in the manner which they deserve."
Raz stressed that it was a matter of returning a favor that was done for the State of
Israel. "We are dealing with a population which we approached - living amongst them - who
gave us great assistance in the struggle in southern Lebanon. Whoever was there and saw
the relations between IDF soldiers and SLA soldiers knows that they deserve to be
considered as retired IDF soldiers - they shared in our victories as well as our losses
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