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Israel Freezes Plan to Allow Armed Palestinian Police

By VOA News

Israeli security sources say Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has frozen a plan to allow Palestinian police to carry weapons, after the proposal drew harsh criticism from hard-line Israeli cabinet ministers. Mofaz agreed last week to allow some Palestinian police to carry weapons in an attempt to help end a surge of violence in the Gaza Strip. Israel banned armed police after the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising four years ago.

Palestinian Inquiry Blames Arafat for Anarchy

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem) & Ha'aretz

A Palestinian Legislative Council investigation said Tuesday that the Palestinian Authority, and its president Yasir Arafat, were to blame for failure of the Palestinian security forces to restore law and order in the Gaza Strip. The committee also called for the resignation of the Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia's government and that new general elections be held.

The panel's report follows a month-long inquiry in which dozens of people were interviewed, ranging from Prime Minister Qureia to leading commanders of security forces, and activists from the mainstream Fatah faction from all over Gaza. Their blunt testimony charged that the Palestinian leadership failed to build state institutions and as a result used clan loyalties instead of law to deal with out-of-control armed factions.

The five-member committee was made up of both Arafat loyalists and those advocating reform with the Palestinian Authority. The report put the blame for the failure of the security forces to restore law and order to what it calls "the total lack of a clear political decision" and to no definition of roles for security forces "either for the long term or the short."

The report called on Arafat and Qureia to define in law the role of the security forces, and to issue presidential orders to operate them until those laws are passed. It also lashes out at the National Security Council that Arafat heads, for failing to set security strategy. It called on the Palestinian leader "to use his authority to issue immediate orders to end all the dangerous activity taking place in the Gaza Strip by some of the commanders and men of the armed security forces intimidating the citizenry, creating chaos and harming the supreme interests of the Palestinian people."

The report also called for an end to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel or the firing of weapons from Palestinian houses. It says such actions do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people.

In the wake of the inquiry blaming the Palestinian Authority and Arafat for the anarchy in the territories in the past month, Arafat announced on Tuesday that he would offer cabinet posts to two of his most outspoken critics. Both former Gaza Strip security chief Mohammed Dahlan and Fatah leader Samir Mashrawi played major roles in mass demonstrations held in Gaza protesting Arafat's appointment of cousin Musa Arafat to a top security position and calling for reforms within the PA.

Israeli Woman Suspected of Aiding Terrorists

By Ha'aretz

Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court extended the remand Monday of an Israeli woman suspected of aiding Palestinian terrorists in carrying out security offenses by 10 days. Police and the Shin Bet arrested the suspect, Tali Fahima, 28, earlier Monday.

Fahima is suspected of involvement in planning terror attacks against Israelis, as well as maintaining contacts with Palestinian terrorists. Fahima was known as the former girlfriend of Jenin's most wanted Palestinian, Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades commander Zakariya Zubeidi, with whom she is supposedly still in touch.

Security officials on Tuesday requested the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court to extended Fahima's remand. Most of the details of the investigations are forbidden for publication by a court order. Fahima was arrested in May on suspicion of aiding terror operatives, but was released a few days later. During the period when she was with Zubeidi, she had announced that she would be willing to serve as a "human shield" for him.

"There is no chance that she was involved in planning terror attacks," Fahima's lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, told Army Radio on Tuesday. "Taking into account my experience from the last time Tali was arrested, as well as her personality, I think there is no chance that she was involved in planning terror attacks. She's an Israeli like you and me, and has no interest or motive to plan or aid in carrying out attacks on Israelis," she said.

Chief Rabbi Metzger Appears on Arab TV


Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger made history last week when he became the first Israeli Chief Rabbi to be interviewed on an Arab television station. The interview was conducted on Thursday in Metzger's Jerusalem office, and seems to have made a hit in the Arab world. He later said that he was informed that it was broadcast 10 times on Al-Jazeera, and was sold to six other Arab stations.

The rabbi's message was one of conciliation and peace, emphasizing that Jews are forbidden to harm "Muslim holy places." "Let no one dare to harm [them]," he said. "The ways of Torah are ways of pleasantness, and our purpose will not be achieved by violence."

He also called on Muslim and other religious leaders "to transmit the same message to their believers, in order to prevent anti-Semitic or terrorist acts in our holy places, including synagogues and cemeteries around the world - something that has occurred often recently." A Foreign Ministry source said that the interview was a welcome addition on the Arab media scene, which is so often filled with anti-Israel content and portrayals.

Olympics: IOC Blocks Greek Javelin Champion's Olympic Comeback for Palestine


The International Olympic Committee has barred Greece's Sofia Sakorafa, a 47-year-old former javelin world record holder, from staging a symbolic Olympic comeback for the Palestinian team. "I am very angry, I don't know why they took this decision," Sakorafa, who was javelin world record holder in 1982-1983 and bronze medalist in the 1982 European Athletics Championships, told reporters in the Palestinian diplomatic representation in Athens.

In a written press statement, Sakorafa, a long-standing peace activist, accused the IOC of invoking "formal impediments" to deliberately proceed to an "unprecedented political exclusion. The IOC... deprived one of its member states, Palestine, from the self-evident and inalienable right to pick the athletes representing it in the Olympic Games." The former Greek champion had said she would participate in the Games, despite having missed the Olympic qualifying mark of 56 meters in the run-up to the Games.

"We are sorry that Sakorafa will not participate... we will demand explanations from the IOC," the Palestinian representative to Athens, Abdelhamid Marwan, told AFP.

Sakorafa, who obtained Palestinian citizenship on May 18, presented her credentials to the IOC after the National Palestinian Olympic Committee on July 17 approved her as a participant, Marwan said. "From then, we had no answer from the IOC, positive or negative. Her participation meant to the Palestinians that there is a people supporting the struggle of Palestinians."

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