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Sharon Again Threatens to Expel Arafat

By VOA News

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has again threatened to expel Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat from the West Bank. Sharon renewed the threat in an interview with a leading Israeli newspaper, Yediot Achronot, on the eve of the Jewish New Year holiday that begins Wednesday evening. In response to a question about last year's cabinet decision to "remove" Arafat, the Israeli leader said it will be done "at a time when it is convenient" for Israel.


Israeli Police Probe Sharon Death Threats

By VOA News & Ha'aretz

Israeli police have launched an investigation into anonymous telephone death threats against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Police officials said the threats have been received in recent days, and that one came Tuesday when Israel's Security Cabinet approved a controversial buyout plan for Gaza settlers. Many Jewish hardliners oppose that plan.

Israeli news reports quoted Jerusalem police chief Ilan Franco as saying he has given the investigation high priority. An ultra-nationalist Jew opposed to interim peace accords with the Palestinians assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

Rabbi Yosef Dayan, from the West Bank settlement of Psagot, told Channel Two news on Tuesday that if asked to hold a Pulsa Denura, a mystical Kabala ceremony aimed at putting a death curse on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, he would do so. Dayan conducted such a ceremony targeting former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin prior to his assassination in 1995.

A Pulsa Denura ceremony is supposed to lead to the death of the ceremony's target. Dayan also stated that he hoped that Sharon would die. After the Channel Two report was aired, the head of the police criminal investigations unit, Moshe Mizrahi, ordered that Judea and Samaria district police officers gather all information pertaining to the matter, and transfer it immediately to the State Prosecution, to clarify whether the rabbi is suspected of threats or incitement.


Sharon Rejects U.S. Proposal for Peace Talks With Syria

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he rebuffed a U.S. effort last year to restart peace talks with Syria. He made the surprise revelation during an interview published Tuesday in a leading Israeli newspaper.

Sharon said White House envoy Elliot Abrams made the proposal during a meeting in Rome last November. He said Abrams told him the Syrians were ready to enter into negotiations. But Sharon told Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper that he rebuffed the American proposal for talks, adding, the issue was never raised again. Talks between the two hostile neighbors have been held under previous prime ministers, but they never reached an agreement.

In exchange for peace, Syria wants a complete return of the Golan Heights, land Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War and has since annexed. Sharon described previous talks with Damascus as "dangerous to Israel" and ruled out agreeing to Syrian demands. Sharon said if Syria really wants to talk it must first expel, what he calls, the "terrorist headquarters" of Palestinian terrorist groups and rein in Hizbullah terrorist along the Israeli-Lebanese border.

A few weeks after the Rome meeting, Syrian President Bashar Assad said he was ready to talk with the Israelis. He repeated the overture just last week. Sharon rejected both offers, saying the Syrian leader was only trying to lessen American pressure on Damascus.


Israeli Security Cabinet Approves Gaza Buyout Plan

By VOA News & IsraelNationalNews.com

Israel's Security Cabinet has approved the payment of cash advances of up to $500,000 per family for Jewish settlers ordered to leave the Gaza Strip under a controversial settler evacuation plan. The 9-1 vote is the first legal step in a plan by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to pull all Israeli settlers from the territory and from several West Bank enclaves by the end of 2005. Officials said further legislation and full compensation packages must still be approved by parliament.

Tuesday's vote came hours after Sharon rejected a call from a rival in his own political party for a national referendum on the withdrawal plan. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a vocal opponent of the plan, made the surprise referendum call Monday. Sharon said that such a national vote would delay his timetable for the withdrawal.

Former Justice Minister Amnon Rubenstein (Meretz) said Tuesday that as far as he's concerned, Israel can withdraw its military forces from Gaza - and let the residents decide on their own if they want to remain there or not.

Asked on Voice of Israel Radio if he was in favor of a referendum on the disengagement issue, Rubenstein said that this would be a case of overkill: "To withdraw the IDF from Gaza, not only is a referendum not necessary, but it doesn't even require a Knesset vote. A Cabinet decision is sufficient."


Confirmed: Arafat Paid Father of Dolphinarium Terrorist

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Recently released documents captured during Operation Defensive Shield have confirmed that the family of the suicide bomber who attacked the beach front Dolphinarium dance club in Tel Aviv was awarded $2,000 by Yasir Arafat. Arafat also sent the terrorist's father a letter in which he praised his son's murderous act.

The attack on the Dolphinarium was one of the most brutal massacres of the entire Oslo War, killing 21 people, mostly teens, on a Friday night in August 2001. Over 120 persons were injured in the powerful bomb blast. Hassan Khutari, a Hamas terrorist, carried out the attack.

During Operation Defensive Shield, two documents from the "Institute for Caring for Victims' Families" - a division of the "Palestinian Welfare Ministry" - were discovered in Arafat's 'Mukata' headquarters in Ramallah. The captured data documented the transfer of the $2,000 award to the terrorist's father, who was living in Jordan at the time. The transfer took place despite the fact that the terrorist was a member of Hamas, and that the both Arafat and the suicide bomber's father publicly denounced the attack.

Arutz-7 also reported that the transfer of funds to Jordan was done through a branch of the Arab Bank, in El-Bireh, near Ramallah. The bank is known to be the preferred channel of the PA and other terror groups for funneling money to the families of imprisoned terrorists, terrorist operatives themselves and the families of dead terrorists.

Days after the money was transferred to Jordan, a German television station reported that Arafat, via the PA "ambassador" to Jordan, sent the terrorist's father a letter "praising" the "act" of his son, describing him as "an extraordinary model of strength, manliness and willingness for self-sacrifice."

Arafat's office had denied the report, saying the letter was a forgery, but the release of the documents discovered during Defensive Shield now confirm the German report.


Shin Bet Uncovers Terror Cell in Bedouin Suburb of Be'er Sheva

By Ha'aretz

The Shin Bet security services and police have recently uncovered a terror cell they said was operating in the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva, a Be'er Sheva suburb, in the Negev. Tel Sheva is also located less than one kilometer from the suburb of Omer, where many American immigrants and Ben Gurion University faculty reside.

The cell reportedly planned to kidnap and murder a soldier and to demand the release of female Palestinian prisoners. Three alleged members of the cell have been indicted in a Be'er Sheva court, and three additional people will be charged on Wednesday. The terror cell included six residents of Tel Sheva. One of them, a native of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, had applied for Israeli residency after marrying an Israeli citizen.


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