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Israeli Forces Kill Palestinian, Arrest 3 in West Bank

By VOA News

Israeli forces have shot and killed a regional commander of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad near the West Bank town of Jenin. Israeli and Palestinian sources said the militant Numan Tahayna was driving a vehicle when soldiers opened fire. Another passenger was reported wounded and then arrested along with two other occupants of the vehicle. Jenin has been the site of frequent Israeli-Palestinian violence in the nearly four-year Palestinian uprising.


U.S. Pressures Israel To Uproot Jewish Neighborhoods

By IsraelNationalNews.com

The possible demolition of small Jewish neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria has not been forgotten and is still on the U.S. agenda as American emissaries met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Tuesday.

The Americans demanded that all the outposts be evacuated and destroyed forthwith. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the first Likud member to speak openly in favor of Israeli relinquishment of large tracts of land, said that Israel would quickly uproot the outposts.

Most endangered are Givat HaRoeh, opposite Eli, and Givat Assaf, on the way to Beit El. Each has between 14-18 families, and Yesha leaders are promising a strong fight against the intentions to evacuate either one. Reports have been heard that Givat Assaf may be threatened as soon as the coming days. Residents of the neighboring towns of Beit El, Ofrah and others are on the alert to dispatch many hundreds of people to thwart the plans.


Mideast Israeli Labor Party Approves Talks on Joining Government

By VOA News

Israel's opposition Labor Party has accepted an offer by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to open formal talks on joining a broad-based unity government. Labor Party members, meeting in Jerusalem Tuesday, agreed to begin discussions on the composition of the government.

Sharon met with Labor Party leader Shimon Peres Monday to discuss setting up a new government that could secure parliamentary approval of the prime minister's plan to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank next year. Sharon has warned critics within his Likud Party that he could call early elections if they try to block the formation of a unity government and halt his disengagement plan.


Israel Redraws Part of West Bank Barrier Route

By VOA News

Israeli news reports Tuesday said Israel was redrawing part of the route of its controversial West Bank security barrier to ensure that Palestinians are not cut off from their land.

The news came after the Israeli Supreme Court ruled last month that the current route violates the rights of thousands of Palestinians. However, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has vowed to ignore a non-binding International Court of Justice ruling that the barrier is illegal and should be dismantled.

For their part, Arab states are calling for the United Nations General Assembly to consider a draft resolution demanding that Israel comply with the U.N. court ruling.


Health Care in Israel Costs Less Than Most of Western World

By IsraelNationalNews.com

The cost of health care in Israel is one of the lowest in the western world, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Israel's per capita spending on healthcare in terms of purchasing power parity (ppp) is just $1,814 -- 66% below the United States, 47% below Switzerland, and 41% below Norway. The Jewish State also bested Japan, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Finland and Austria.

The United States, on the other hand, spends the most on healthcare: a whopping $5,267 per capita. Canada, which boasts a socialized health care system like Israel's, still had a ppp of $2,931.

According to a report in Globes, total spending on healthcare in Israel last year amounted to 8.8% of the GDP, or 46 billion shekels. This calculation includes total spending on services by clinics, hospitals, private healthcare services, the costs of medication, and the purchase of medical devices

Moreover, the figures include research and development, which Israel spends the most on proportionately of any country in the world. According to the 2004 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, Israel's ratio between R&D spending and its GDP is unmatched.


Jewish Heritage Museum Promotes Dialogue with Muslim Students

By Maura Fogarty (VOA-New York)

More than 30 students from a private Islamic school in New York toured the Museum of Jewish Heritage recently. Museum and school officials said the tour was part of efforts to establish more dialogue between both faiths. The children, ranging from six to 14 years old, were from the Islamic Leadership School, a private religious academy in New York City.

As gallery tour guides led the students through the various exhibits, the children learned about Jewish life in the 20th century, Jewish culture and the Holocaust. The schoolchildren saw examples of Jewish religious texts and learned about the migration of Jews around the world. Museum guides explained the significance of Jewish religious holidays such as Chanukah as well as wedding ceremonies and other celebrations.

Elizabeth Edelstein, assistant director of education at the museum, said reaching out to Muslim students has specific advantages. "When the students leave the museum today, we hope that they have lots of questions, that they're curious to find out more about Jewish history and the Holocaust. And that this will lead to them seeking out more information, which we hope will lead to understanding more and through this understanding of another culture and its history and the ability to think in a more sophisticated way about the complicated situations they face today."

One of the main themes of the tour was the basic similarities between Jewish and Islamic traditions and the Hebrew and Arabic languages. Sondos, 11, said this was the highlight of her visit. "The interesting thing that I learned was about the Bible, the Torah," she said. "It was very interesting because it was like ours. It was kind of similar like ours. About how they go to their church and us too. And they have this special day that they go and get together."

As the sound of chatter and questions from these students filled the halls of the museum, tour guides were also learning about Islam. Sheik Moussa Drammeh, principal of the Islamic Leadership School, says this two-way exchange goes a long way in promoting understanding between peoples of both faiths.

"We decided that as long as we have the ability to create peace, justice and friendship, we will do it. If we can do anything to bring about dialogue, we will do it. It is a long-term process we know, but it is worth taking the first step. And that's why we came here and we'll continue to do that."

The Islamic Leadership School started its first class on Sept. 11, 2001. That, says Drammeh, is one reason why he felt compelled to foster mutual respect and understanding between his students and the environment in which they live.

It is a worthy goal even if not all the students realized it. Ibraheem, 9, describes his museum experience in 4th grade terms. "I had learned about things that the Jews had done and how they migrated," he says. "I learned about Chanukah and I also got to talk about my religion also. It was just fun and I liked it."

Museum officials said they hoped this field trip would be the first of many trips by schoolchildren from Islamic schools. The museum already has programs catering to students in public schools and other religious educational institutions.


French Woman Admits Lying About Hate Crime

By VOA News

French authorities say a woman who last week had claimed to have been the victim of a hate crime, has acknowledged making up the entire incident.

Officials Tuesday detained the woman who had claimed to be the victim of an anti-Semitic attack as questions arose over her credibility. No witnesses had come forward and news media reports noted many contradictions in her story. Police later said she admitted making up the story but gave no reason for her action.

French officials, however, stressed that hate crimes remain a serious problem in the country. A government spokesman, Jean-Francois Cope, said the increasing number of racial and anti-Semitic acts will not be tolerated. In the first half of 2004, France experienced nearly as many incidents of hate crimes as it did in all of last year.

The woman initially told police she was robbed by a gang of six young men, who cut open her shirt with knives, drew swastikas on her body after mistaking her for a Jew and overturned her stroller causing her infant to tumble out. Neither she nor the child was seriously hurt. The woman also said that none of some 20 witnesses came to her rescue.


Iran: Israel, U.S. Behind Kidnappings of Foreigners in Iraq

By Ha'aretz and Reuters

Iran's spiritual leader Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that he believed the United States and Israel were behind the kidnapping and killings of foreigners in Iraq.

"We seriously suspect the agents Americans and Israelis in conducting such horrendous terrorist moves," the official IRNA news agency quoted Khamenei as saying in a meeting with visiting Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. "[We] cannot believe that the people who kidnap Philippine nationals, for instance, or beheaded U.S. nationals are Muslims."

Radical Islamic groups opposed to the presence of U.S.-led forces in Iraq have claimed responsibility for the kidnappings of foreign nationals there. Iran frequently trades barbed rhetoric with its arch foes the United States and Israel, which accuse Tehran of sponsoring terrorist groups and developing nuclear arms.


Amnesty International Calls on Israel to Repeal Arab Marriage Law

By VOA News

The human rights organization Amnesty International has called on Israel to repeal a year-old law preventing Palestinians who marry Israeli Arabs from living in Israel. The law was enacted in 2003 for a one-year period and is set to be reviewed by parliament later this month.

Amnesty said the law forces thousands of Israeli Arabs to choose between having a spouse live with them illegally, in daily fear of expulsion, or leaving the country to preserve family unity. The Israeli government has justified the law on security grounds, saying it is aimed at reducing the potential threat of Palestinian militant attacks inside Israel.


The PA's Idea of Summer Fun for the Children

By IsraelNationalNews.com

In the background of verbal statements from PA leaders, overtures of yearning to reach a peace agreement with Israel, PA summer terrorist training camps are operating as in past years.

One such camp, in the Nuseirat area of Gaza, is working to train about 150 children under the age of 15. The future terrorists learn many skills, including long marches in the hot sun, for hours without water, learning endurance and commitment to the objective, to kill the Zionist enemy. The children in the camp also have hands on training with automatic weapons, bomb construction, landmines and other required skills.


PLO to Participate in the 2004 Olympic Games

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Although there is no state called 'Palestine,' the flag of the PLO will be flown at this summer's Olympic games in Athens, Greece. In addition to a four-member team from 'Palestine,' a former Greek Olympian, 47-year-old female javelin thrower Sofia Sakorafa, will also compete under the PLO flag.

Head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee Ahmad Al-Qidwa told Islam Online that, "Palestine is present in all international events despite all obstacles and challenges."

One of the members told the Arab news site, "I want to be an ambassador to my country and tell the entire world that Palestine does exist..."

The PLO was responsible for the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes, including American citizen David Berger, at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. The International Olympic Committee recognized the Palestinian team in 1993, after the late Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, signed the Oslo Accords with PLO-chairman, Yasir Arafat.

The Olympic Committee honored Arafat, now isolated in his Ramallah compound, earlier this month with carrying the Olympic torch to the Kalandia checkpoint leading to Jerusalem, from Ramallah.




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