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Israeli Briefs

By Guysen Israel News

According to a study conducted by the cellular company Pelephone, 54% of the 5 to 11 years old Israeli children possess a cell phone. The soldiers are the nest-equipped part of the populations, with an equipment rate of 119%. The Iranian TV channel Saahar broadcast a film in which can be seen actors disguised as Israeli army officers giving a booby-trapped doll to Palestinian children. It can be seen at: http://switch3.castup.net/cunet/gm.asp?ClipMediaID=44576&ak=null.


Jailed Palestinian Militant to Seek Presidency

By VOA News & IsraelNationalNews.com

Palestinian militant Marwan Barghouti, imprisoned in Israel, has reversed himself and decided to seek the presidency of the Palestinian Authority. Late last week, Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for planning suicide attacks on Israeli civilians, said he would not run. But Wednesday his wife filed registration papers for the January 9 poll on behalf of her husband, a Fatah movement leader.

Analysts have warned that Barghouti's candidacy could split the Fatah organization and undermine its chosen candidate, interim leader Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas began his campaign for the presidency just hours before the Barghouti announcement.

The radical Palestinian group Hamas said it would boycott next month's election for a successor to Yasir Arafat. Speaking Wednesday in Gaza City, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said his movement is appealing to its members not to vote in the election. Hamas has not formally recognized Israel's right to exist, and said it would not nominate a presidential candidate because it rejected the 1993 treaty with Israel that created the Palestinian Authority.

However, earlier this week, another senior Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef said his organization was ready to halt attacks on Israel while Palestinians prepared for the polls. Hamas has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings against Israeli civilian targets in the past four years.


Israel Urged to Resume Talks with Syria

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Egypt and the United Nations are among those urging Israel to accept Syrian offers to resume peace talks. The Israeli government has shown no inclination to do so, but some said it was missing a rare opportunity.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit was in Jerusalem for talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. The main purpose of the meetings was to discuss cooperation for Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip next year. But Egypt has also been urging Israel and Syria to resume peace negotiations. Aboul Gheit said while he had not brought messages from Damascus, he would urge the two sides to restart talks. "I would encourage very much Israel engaging with Syria on discussions according to whatever would be agreed upon between both."

Talks between Israel and Syria have been held under previous Israeli governments, but they never reached an agreement. The most recent negotiations broke down in 2000. In return for peace, Syria wants a complete return of the Golan Heights, land Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War and has since annexed.

The Sharon government has not spoken of returning land and the prime minister has said that if Syria wants to talk it must first rein in Hizbullah terrorists along the Israeli-Lebanese border and expel what he has called the terrorist headquarters of Palestinian militant groups. That position has not changed as Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said on Israel Radio. Mofaz accused Syria of allowing Hizbullah to obtain long-range missiles and of continuing to allow it to use Lebanese territory to launch attacks against Israel. But Mofaz also said he hoped that at some point in the future conditions for a dialogue might be right.

The U.N. Middle East envoy, Terje-Roed Larsen thinks that time has come. Tuesday, he told members of the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee he believes Damascus is serious about resuming talks and urged Israel not to miss this opportunity. The U.N. envoy met with Syrian leaders last week in Damascus. There have been numerous suggestions for reviving talks during the past year and overtures to that effect from Syrian President Bashar Assad. Several months ago, Sharon told an Israeli newspaper he rejected a November 2003 American offer to resume talks with Syria.

Israel's Ma'ariv newspaper reported President Assad signaled he was ready to come to Jerusalem to revive peace talks, but Israeli officials dismissed the offer. Sharon's office said it knows nothing of such an offer and a Syrian Foreign Ministry official is quoted as saying the story is baseless.


Al-Qaeda Statements Increasingly Focused On Israel

By IstaelNationalNews.com

Recent communications from Al-Qaeda show an intensified focus upon Israel, with attempts to scare the American public into abandoning its support of the Jewish State having become a recurring theme.

Osama Bin Laden released a statement last month addressing the American public prior to the U.S. elections. Though excerpts of the statement appeared in the Western press, the full text was not widely publicized for fear that it included coded messages to operatives. The following are excerpts of Bin Laden's October 29th statement, translated by MEMRI:

"O American people, I address these words to you regarding the best way of avoiding another Manhattan, and regarding the war, its causes and its consequences,Bin Laden said. "I say to you, as Allah is my witness: We had not considered attacking the towers, but things reached the breaking point when we witnessed the iniquity and tyranny of the American-Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, then I got this idea.

The Al-Qaeda chief went on to explain how American support for Israel directly led to his murder of Americans: "The events that had a direct influence on me occurred in 1982, and the subsequent events, when the US permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon with the aid of the American 6th Fleet. They started shelling, and many were killed and wounded, while others were terrorized into fleeing. In those critical moments, I was overwhelmed by ideas that are hard to describe, but they awakened a powerful impulse to reject injustice and gave birth to a firm resolve to punish the oppressors.

"As I was looking at those destroyed towers in Lebanon, I was struck by the idea of punishing the oppressor in the same manner and destroying towers in the US, to give it a taste of what we have tasted and to deter it from killing our children and women." On Feb. 11, 2003, Bin Laden released a vehemently anti-Israel statement to Al-Jazeera.

"We are following up with great interest and extreme concern the crusaders' preparations for war to occupy a former capital of Islam, loot Muslims' wealth, and install an agent government, which would be a satellite for its masters in Washington and Tel Aviv, just like all the other treasonous and agent Arab governments. This would be in preparation for establishing the Greater Israel. We stress the importance of the martyrdom operations against the enemy operations that inflicted harm on the United States and Israel that have been unprecedented in their history, thanks to [Allah]. Allah says: 'O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other.' And he amongst you that turns to them [for friendship] is of them."

As noted, recent communiqués from the terror group have increasingly featured Israel as the main target. A videotape recorded before the American election but broadcast Monday on the Al-Jazeera Arab satellite station is a prime example. The tape features Al-Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman Al-Dhawahiri telling Americans that it did not matter whether they voted for a Republican or Democratic candidate, because both were guilty of supporting Israel's existence. "The two US presidential candidates are challenging each other to satisfy Israel," Al-Dhawahiri said, "to continue a crime against the Islamic nation in Palestine that began 87 years ago."

Al-Qaeda has been implicated in several attacks or attempted attacks against Jewish targets. In September 2003, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon mentioned plans by Al Qaeda to hijack a Saudi Arabian fighter jet and crash it into a major office tower in Israel. Earlier that year, police in Thailand nipped in the bud an Al-Qaeda shooting attack against El Al passengers in the Bangkok airport. In April 2003, it was reported that Al-Qaeda terrorists planned to fire a Strella-2 anti-aircraft missile at an El Al airliner landing in London's Heathrow International Airport. In October 2003, two Iranians with ties to Al-Qaeda were deported from Great Britain after they were caught photographing synagogues and other Jewish community buildings.


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