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Clinton Invited to Play at Klezmer Festival in Safed

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Safed Deputy Mayor Reuven Sadeh has invited former President Bill Clinton, to appear at the mid-August Klezmer music festival as the special guest star, Ma'ariv reported. Sadeh feels that Clinton and his saxophone could make the annual event an unprecedented success.


Violence, Political Turmoil Rock Gaza

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Political unrest and violence against the authority of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat continues to sweep through the Gaza Strip. A group of armed Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip destroyed a police station, following mass demonstrations in the territory against the nomination of Arafat's relative, Mousa Arafat, as the new head of the Palestinian security forces.

Palestinian gunmen stormed the Khan Younis office of Arafat's Palestinian intelligence service, opening fire on security guards, smashing furniture and burning down the one-story building in protest at the appointment. The incident followed mass demonstrations Saturday in Gaza City and a series of kidnappings Friday challenging Arafat's rule. In an attempt to calm the situation, Arafat met with Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, who offered his resignation over the violence in Gaza.

Palestinian Minister for Negotiations Saeb Erekat said Arafat rejected the resignation, and urged Qureia to stay on in his current post. "We have a crisis...We have witnessed a grave deterioration in Gaza Strip, lawlessness. And we hope that the rule of law will be maintained through a series of comprehensive steps taken by the Palestinian Authority."

The events in the Gaza Strip are also being observed in Israel with great interest. Israel's justice minister, Yosef Lapid, blamed Arafat for the turmoil. "The resignation of Abu Ala [Qureia] is only a symptom of the disastrous situation in the Palestinian territories, caused by Arafat," he said. "It is solely his fault. If he was not around, we could talk to Abu Ala and reach some arrangement that would be acceptable both to the Palestinians and the Israelis. As long as Arafat is there to disturb peace, and to prevent any sort of solution in this area, this will happen time and again."


Terrorist Arrived at Cafe - and Turned Back

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Diners in the Caffit Cafe in Jerusalem last Sunday night were saved from a suicide attack only because the terrorist turned back at literally the last minute.

Details of the almost-attack, as reported by Arutz-7's Kobi Finkler based on information provided by the intelligence services, are as follows: Two clans in Hebron and Abu Dis (just outside Jerusalem) began preparing the attack a month ago, with the former seeking a suicide terrorist, and the latter looking for holes and openings in the anti-terror wall through which to smuggle him.

Finally, last Sunday, it all came together: Hebron Hamas terrorist Malik Nasser A-Din was transported to Abu Dis, while the explosives intended for his use were smuggled there in a carton of cookies. He was armed with a handgun and fitted with the '"traditional" suicide bomb vest. It was widely noted that the presence of the gun marks a new strategy in the suicide bombings. A-Din was to use it to shoot the security guard at very close range, thus neutralizing that "threat," and then run inside the busy cafe and detonate himself.

From Abu Dis, the terrorist was taken to the Wadi Joz neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, where he was then provided with a Jerusalem Arab driver - whose Israeli identity card facilitate his mobility in the city. The driver brought the human bomb to Emek Refaim St. in the western Jerusalem neighborhood known as the Germany Colony, and pointed out the exact cafe in which his passenger was to detonate himself. The driver then dropped him off somewhat further down the street.

In the ensuing seconds, however, the terrorist saw that security was very high and that many policemen were out in force. The security services were in possession of only a general warning, without knowledge of an attack scheduled for that specific area. In any event, the terrorist was deterred, and left the area without being detected.

On Tuesday night, security forces apprehended A-Din's three accomplices in Abu Dis, and learned the details of what had almost occurred. They placed a high alert on the Emek Refaim area again on Wednesday, and on Thursday found A-Din hiding out in a house in Hebron. They surrounded the building, and in the gun battle that ensued, the soldiers shot him dead. Only then was the alert removed from the Emek Refaim area. In all, eight terrorists and accomplices were arrested.


Sharon, Peres in Israeli Coalition Talks

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has stepped up efforts to expand his coalition, in order to secure support for his disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. He met with opposition Labor Party leader Shimon Peres before formal coalition talks on forging a national unity government. Sharon met Peres for the second time in a week to discuss Labor joining the government in a bid to win parliamentary approval for Sharon's disengagement plan.

While Sharon's Cabinet voted in favor of the plan earlier this year, dissenters resigned in protest, and he lost his majority in the Knesset. Under the Sharon plan, Israel will dismantle all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank by the end of next year.

Peres, who supports the plan, has expressed interest in Labor joining the coalition, and asked the prime minister to speed up the timetable for disengagement. Following their talks, Sharon told his Cabinet he had no choice but to talk about a new coalition with the Labor Party, while a dissident faction of his own Likud Party is actively trying to scuttle the disengagement plan.

Sharon said that if the negotiations succeed, he would likely have to reorganize the current Cabinet, and some ministers would have to give up their portfolios to members of the Labor Party. Observers believe that Sharon would almost certainly appoint Peres the new foreign minister.


Cabinet OKs Extension to Controversial Citizenship Law

By Ha'aretz

The cabinet voted Sunday to extend by six months a controversial law barring Palestinians married to Israelis from obtaining their spouse's citizenship. The law, condemned by Amnesty International as racist, was originally intended to be extended by a year, but the extension period was cut by half in line with a proposal Thursday by Attorney Menachem Mazuz.

The cabinet also agreed to establish a ministerial committee headed by Interior Minister Avraham Poraz, which will produce a revised version of the law. The new law will facilitate the reunification of Israeli-Palestinian families deemed to be a low security risk.

Mazuz, who attended a consultation with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Poraz and Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter, suggested three reservations for the law, which evoked international denunciations and was branded discriminatory. Those changes include: *A married Palestinian couple over 35 would be permitted to be naturalized; Palestinian women married to Israelis would be naturalized if the security authorities confirm the candidate's relatives are not involved in terror; and Palestinian families with children who have been living in Israel for several years but have not settled their citizenship status, would be treated less rigidly."


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