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Vandals Spray Swastikas on Jewish Gravestones in UK

By Reuters

Vandals have sprayed swastikas and other Nazi insignia on 15 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in southern England, police said Wednesday. They said the anti-Semitic graffiti had appeared on the gravestones in Aldershot, Hampshire, over the past month. "This is about the lowest thing anybody can do," Police Constable Andy Gardiner of Hampshire police said. "Any sort of vandalism would be bad enough but to put symbols like these on Jewish graves is a despicable act." As well as swastikas, the vandals had sprayed SS on some of the graves - a reference to the Schutzstaffel, a paramilitary unit of the Nazi party. Attacks on Jewish graves have been relatively rare in Britain, home to around 265,000 Jews. However, members of the Jewish population have warned that anti-Semitism is on the rise.

Sharon May Negotiate Gaza With P.A. Leaders


For the first time, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has implied that the unilateral disengagement from Gaza and northern Shomron might not be totally unilateral after all. Speaking at a special gathering in his Jerusalem residence for some 100 mayors from around the country, Sharon said that he does not rule out some form of coordination with the new Palestinian Authority leadership, "if it fights terrorism and carries out reforms."

Sharon has long said that because Israel has no "partner" in the PA with whom to negotiate, it was in Israel's best interest to simply pick up and leave areas that "in any event, under any future agreement, will not be in Israeli hands." He left unexplained the factual basis for this claim.

Following Arafat's death, many on both the right and left of the political spectrum have said that Sharon should suspend the plan, and should check whether a "partner" might actually arise within the PA. He rejected these calls, refusing last week to consider even a temporary freeze that would have kept the National Religious Party in the coalition.

On Tuesday night, however, Sharon gave the first indication that he would be willing to coordinate the withdrawal with the Palestinian Authority - i.e., negotiate with the new PA leaders - in return for "security assurances." Israel has suffered greatly over the past decade after having received similar assurances, and Sharon therefore emphasized that he would not make any concessions that might harm the security of Israeli citizens.

NATO Invites Israel to Joint Exercises

By Ha'aretz

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has suggested that the Israel Defense Forces, for the first time, take part in multinational military exercises and participate in anti-terror activities such as patrols in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. NATO is also considering sending forces to the Gaza Strip after Israel implements the disengagement plan, if Israel and the Palestinian Authority reach an agreement on the withdrawal and ask for NATO help.

The IDF's first-ever role in NATO military exercises is part of the organization's decision to invite the armies of the "Mediterranean dialogue" countries to take part in the exercises. Seven exercises were proposed to the IDF, including training that will take place in Ukraine in June. NATO sources said experience has taught that it is worthwhile to start with sending officers from countries new to alliance activities to view multinational operations as a way of learning the methods.

Arafat´s Photo in the Knesset


Photographs of the deceased arch-terrorist Yasir Arafat will continue to be displayed in the Knesset - specifically, in the office of Arab MK Ahmed Tibi. His office features two photos of Arafat, with captions reading, "Father of the Nation," and, "The Kefiya Won't Fall." A black flag of mourning is placed adjacent to a third photo of Arafat. Tibi was a close advisor of Arafat, and his voice often choked with emotion when speaking of the murderer on the media last week.

MK Yechiel Chazan (Likud) complained to Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin that displaying the photos was a form of incitement and encouragement of terrorism, and that therefore Rivlin should order Tibi to take them down. Rivlin, however, did not take up the challenge. He explained, in his response to Chazan, that he could not determine the Knesset Members' preferences. Rivlin further said that hanging the pictures is not a violation of the Knesset regulations.

Aliyah Reunites Father and Daughter After 23 Years


With help from the Jewish Agency, an emotional reunion took place last week between a new immigrant and her father she had not seen in over two decades. Esther Korotz, 25, arrived at the Jewish Agency's Absorption Center in Carmiel from Hungary last week with her husband, Miklosh. Her first request upon arrival in Israel was to meet with her father, who she had not seen since she was two years old.

Esther's father, Shandor Korotz, made aliyah 23 years ago and subsequently lost contact with his family. The Jewish Agency, after much effort, located her father, living in Ashkelon. The reunion between the father and daughter took place at the Carmiel Absorption center. Shandor welcomed his daughter home and invited Esther and Miklosh to come live near him in Ashkelon.

Court Awards Non-Jewish Mother Israeli citizenship

By Ha'aretz

The Tel Aviv District Court, citing humanitarian reasons, has issued an unprecedented ruling allowing the non-Jewish mother of two Israeli citizens to live in Israel as a permanent resident. The verdict, issued last week, overruled the Interior Ministry's decision to deport the mother, a citizen of Uzbekistan, because her daughters were not minors. The court ruled that in this case the "humanitarian consideration" was more important. Judge Michal Rubinstein also criticized the Interior Ministry's position, accusing it of "extreme lack of reasonableness."

The petition was filed by attorney David Mena in the name of M.V., 52, the mother of L.A., 32, and A.D., 25. Both daughters moved to Israel in 1994 with their father, who was eligible to become a citizen under the Law of Return, while their mother remained in Uzbekistan.

"After a short time, the daughters were exposed to violence on the part of their father, including humiliation and attempted rape," the petition states. In 1995, according to the petition, the mother came to visit her daughters in Israel with a tourist visa, but due to their psychological state, she stayed in the country and rented a small apartment for the three of them. When the youngest daughter turned 18, the Interior Ministry instructed the mother to leave the country, and she obeyed the order "even though her youngest daughter was then in the first months of pregnancy," according to the petition.

In 1997 the mother returned to Israel, and "the mother and her daughters turned to various authorities to arrange the mother's residency in Israel, but fell prey to acts of deceit and fraud," the petition states. While the mother was in Israel, according to the petition, the marriages of her daughters were on the rocks; the husband of M.V.'s youngest daughter and the father of her granddaughter was verbally and physically abusing them.

Since the mother does not fall under the Law of Return, in July she asked the committee to make her an exception and allow her to live in Israel for humanitarian reasons. A representative of the mother said in the petition that the daughters needed their mother with them. "The mother's entire world is her daughters and her only granddaughter, and her daughters cannot live their lives in Israel and survive the difficult situation they are in without their mother," he wrote.

However, the state prosecution said the situation did not meet the Interior Ministry's standard practice of refusing citizenship "other than in exceptional cases involving exceptional humanitarian considerations," saying "such considerations were not presented in this case."

The prosecution quoted a High Court of Justice decision from 16 years ago that said a parent not eligible for citizenship cannot derive citizenship from his minor child. The Interior Ministry policy comes from this ruling. According to attorney Maor, the Tel Aviv District Court's "unprecedented ruling could have positive consequences" on the inter-ministerial committee's policy. The Population Administration said the Interior Ministry will carry out the court's ruling.

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