Newsletter : 4fax0715.txt
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Israeli Plan Focuses on Arafat's Eventual Death
By VOA News
An Israeli plan focusing on the eventual death of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat
predicts chaos in the occupied territories and says Israel must prevent Palestinians from
burying their leader in Jerusalem. The document, which has been leaked to news agencies,
lays out Israeli predictions about Palestinian reaction to Arafat's death. It says he will
die from natural causes, a prolonged illness or an Israeli military strike. The plan also
says the Palestinian Authority is likely to collapse when Arafat dies, and says Islamic
militant groups led by Hamas could try to take control of a post-Arafat government.
UN Chief Backs Envoy's Criticism of Arafat
By Kerry Sheridan (VOA-Cairo)
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has expressed his support for the U.N.'s leading
Middle East envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, who has been banned from entering Palestinian
territory after he criticized Yasir Arafat in his monthly report to the Security
The secretary-general released a statement affirming that Larsen spoke on behalf of the
United Nations, just hours after the top aide to Arafat accused the envoy of making what
he called "inaccurate and biased statements" and said Larsen is no longer welcome in
On Tuesday, Larsen told the Security Council that Arafat has taken no steps to end
violence on the ground, and has ignored international calls to make needed changes to the
Palestinian Authority, which he said is on the verge of collapse. Arafat's aide, Nabil Abu
Rudeina, responded by saying Annan should "look into Mr. Larsen's behavior" and dispatch
Larsen was reporting to the Security Council about the status of the road map for peace
in the Middle East backed by the so-called Middle East Quartet, made up of Russia, the
European Union, the United States and the United Nations. U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe
read Annan's statement, which said Larsen criticized both Israel and the Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister to Begin Coalition Talks Sunday
By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said formal negotiations aimed at creating a
broad-based unity government are set to start on Sunday. Sharon has asked the main
opposition Labor party, the small but influential ultra-orthodox United Torah Judaism
party and another religious party, Shas, to meet with him.
The formation of a new government could help secure parliamentary approval of the prime
minister's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip 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 creation of a unity government and prevent implementation of his
disengagement plan. The prime minister received Cabinet approval of his plan earlier this
year but some ministers from right-wing factions resigned in protest. As a result, Sharon
lost his parliamentary majority. There are even members of his own Likud Party who oppose
the disengagement plan and are vowing to do everything in their power to keep it from
Labor Party leader Shimon Peres told Israel Radio Wednesday that his party would insist
on two things, disengagement from the Gaza Strip and what he termed social justice.
Tuesday night Labor Party leaders gave its formal approval to Peres' plan to begin
negotiations on joining the Sharon government. Peres said he was uncertain whether the
talks would be successful.
Kerry's Brother Reassures Israel of Strong Support
The brother of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry met Israeli leaders on
Wednesday in an apparent attempt to ease any concerns about the U.S. senator's commitment
to the Jewish state. Some Israeli officials have fretted privately that a Kerry victory in
November's election could lead to a shift away from Middle East policies of President
George W. Bush, whom they see as more staunchly pro-Israel than any U.S. leader in
A Jewish convert and adviser to his brother, Cameron Kerry was sent as a "surrogate" to
reassure Israelis that the Democratic candidate was as strong a supporter as Bush, a
source that helped arrange the trip said.
Kerry, who described his four-day trip as a "personal visit," met Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon and opposition leader Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Wednesday. "My brother has been
here many times and told me of his trips and has a very deep, personal connection to
Israel," Kerry told reporters in Jerusalem. "I finally had the opportunity to make a visit
and I jumped at the chance."
While campaigning for his party's nomination, Kerry angered Israel supporters last
October when he told an Arab-American group the vast array of walls and fences being built
through occupied land were a "barrier to peace." Kerry's campaign has since taken pains to
stress his pro-Israel voting record in the Senate, and Israeli government analysts have
concluded there is nothing to fear if he is elected to the White House.
But some Sharon aides worry that a change of U.S. administrations could jeopardize
unprecedented commitments that Bush gave the prime minister in April to allow Israel to
keep some West Bank land captured in the 1967 Middle East war. "There are concerns in the
government that Kerry won't be as pro-Israel as Bush has been," a Sharon confidant said.
The American Israel Education Fund, affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee, sponsored the visit.
Nearly 450 Jews Arrive Home
"There is definitely an Aliyah momentum in the air." So said a project manager for
Nefesh B'Nefesh Wednesday, as close to 450 Jews from North America arrived on the first of
this summer's three Nefesh B'Nefesh flights at Ben Gurion Airport.
Hundreds of well-wishers, media representatives, and public officials such as the Prime
Minister, Finance Minister, Absorption Minister, and the Chairman of the Jewish Agency
greeted the new Israelis in a festive and often emotional welcoming ceremony.
Enhanced Absorption Ministry staff was on hand both on the plane and in the airport to
expedite the new immigrants' paperwork. About half of the immigrants are singles, and the
others are members of some 55 families. Most of them will live in Beit Shemesh, Modiin and
Jerusalem. Some, such as Nachum and Peninah Eilberg and their four children, from
Baltimore, will be moving into the Yesha town of Kokhav Yaakov - and brought along a Torah
scroll that Nachum inherited from his grandparents.
Among the hundreds of people greeting the Jews on their first day in their old-new
homes were several who arrived only last year on a similar Nefesh B'Nefesh flight. Edith
Linden of Rehovot, originally from Oak Park, Mich., came to greet several good friends who
followed in her family's footsteps - and expressed great admiration for those who had made
the move. Asked to explain, with the benefit of a year's worth of hindsight, what brought
her to Israel, Linden said, "It's where we belong - isn't that enough? But to be even more
specific, it's the best place to bring up Jewish children."
Nefesh B'Nefesh provides the new immigrants with grants of up to $20,000 - depending on
the size of the family and its economic status. It is funded by the Jewish Federations in
North America, the Jewish Agency, and private donations. Olim who remain in Israel for at
least three years need not return the grants.
The new immigrants were led from the plane, accompanied by soldiers who offered to
carry their bags, as well as singing, cheering, and even shofar-blowing well-wishers, into
a large hangar, equipped with several large fans working hard to offset the intense summer
heat. One of the new immigrants, Nathan Gessner, speaking before he boarded the plane at
JFK Airport in New York, said that his first act as an Israeli would be to assume a new
Hebrew name: Natan Gesher. "I'm making Aliyah!" he declared with pride. "It feels like the
weight of the world is being lifted off of me. I'm becoming a real person!"
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