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Abu Mazen Vows to Protect Terrorists


Speaking at an election rally in Shechem, PA interim leader Abu Mazen stated he would not permit the IDF to harm "armed residents", vowing this would be a major issue addressed following Sunday's election. Seeking to drive the point home, the likely successor to Yasir Arafat hugged two senior al-Aqsa Brigade terrorists during the rally, vowing to work to ensure their future security.

Palestinian Presidential Campaign Winds Down Toward Sunday's Vote

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Campaigning for the Palestinian presidential race is winding down, with Friday the last day for candidates to take their message to the voters, and Mahmoud Abbas, candidate for the ruling, mainstream Fatah party, seemed intent on making the most of it. He was met with cheering crowds in the West Bank city of Hebron this week.

Abbas has been rallying support with increasingly tough rhetoric, praising Palestinian terrorists and promising voters he would not give up Palestinian rights in any future peace talks with Israel. On Thursday, however, he reiterated that peace talks would resume after the elections. Abbas told the Israeli daily Ma'ariv Thursday he would make the resumption of talks with Israel a top priority. He also criticized Israeli attacks on Palestinians and referred to militant attacks against Israeli targets as "counterproductive." Opinion polls give Abbas a commanding lead ahead of Sunday's vote.

His closest rival is independent candidate, Mustafa Barghouti, a physician and long-time human rights activist. Barghouti took his campaign to Gaza this week and wound up his appeal to voters in Hebron. Barghouti campaign aides said the turnout at rallies has been very good and they are optimistic about results on voting day.

But Barghouti has faced difficulties in getting around to meet voters. Israeli police detained him for several hours while campaigning in East Jerusalem in late December. The Israelis said the candidate did not have proper permission to be in the city. Barghouti told his supporters he would not let Israeli interference stop him. "But regardless of whatever [they do], they beat me, they arrested me, they stopped me at checkpoints but nothing will stop us."

But an Israeli political analyst said the candidates have been mainly hampered by an unfair advantage enjoyed by Mahmoud Abbas, who has the political machinery of the Fatah party behind him. Michael Widlanski of Hebrew University said Abbas has tried to minimize any opposition - first and foremost by getting his most serious rival, Marwan Barghouti, who is in an Israeli jail, to withdraw his candidacy.

"He's running scared now and he's been running scared for a few weeks," said Widlanski. "First of all he worked very hard to make sure Marwan Barghouti would not run in the elections. He was very scared of that. And he's doing his best to make sure that the next most popular candidate Mustafa Barghouti, to make sure he does not get very much press coverage."

Widlanski said none of the six rival candidates to Abbas has gotten any significant coverage in Palestinian media. And, he said that even though all the candidates have gotten a chance to appear on Palestinian television, he is not sure that would really make a difference for them.

U.S. States State Department spokesman Adam Ereli expressed his concerns over recent remarks made by Abbas (Abu Mazen) who this week referred to Israel and the "Zionist enemy." Israeli Ambassador to Washington Danny Ayalon added that officials on Capitol Hill have expressed their concerns in conversations with him as well, having depicted Abu Mazen as a moderate, but are now beginning to see another side of the likely successor to Yasir Arafat.

Terror Widow: Abu Mazen Financed Munich Murders


The widow of one of the 11 Israeli athletes whom Arab terrorists murdered at the Olympics in Germany in 1972 said Thursday PA leader Abu Mazen was the "finance minister" of the attack.

Elana Romano, whose husband Yosef was killed in the attack, said she possesses a "tape in which (Abu Mazen) admits his involvement in the murder of the athletes." Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is the acting Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman and is the leading candidate in the election campaign for the post. Elana Romano, three days before Arabs are to cast their votes, said Abu Mazen brought the money from Saudi Arabia to finance the attack." Abu Mazen "was taped without his knowing" she added.

An organization that works for missing Israelis captured or killed by terrorists also demanded that Abu Mazen act to return personal property of those killed. "According to information we have gathered from different source, we know that some of those missing still are living," said the organization's spokesman Daniel Grisero. "We demand that Abu Mazen turn over to Israel any information in (his) hands concerning the fate of the missing soldiers (from the Lebanese war battle of) Sultan Yaakov and part of the identity tag of Zacharia Baumel as Yasir Arafat once promised to the late Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin," Grisero added.

He also said that Abu Mazen must apologize to the families of the Munich murder victims and express regret for his actions. "He must say clearly that there will be no more terror. We sent this request to the PA this morning and still have not received an answer."

Arab Weekly: US-Israeli Nuclear Test Caused Earthquake


A joint American, Israeli and Indian nuclear experiment caused the earthquake catastrophe in Southeast Asia, according to an Egyptian weekly newspaper. "The three most recent tests appeared to be genuine American and Israeli preparations to act together with India to test a way to liquidate humanity," reported the nationalist weekly Al-Usbu.

"In the most recent test, they began destroying entire cities over extensive areas. Although the nuclear explosions were carried out in desert lands, tens of thousand of kilometers away from populated areas, they had a direct effect on these Asian areas," according to the weekly. The article also claims that last year "Arab and Islamic countries intervened more than three times in the U.S. to stop this joint nuclear activity."

In Saudi Arabia, a cleric told television viewers that the deaths in the disaster were punishment by Allah against depravity. "The problem is that the (Christian) holidays are accompanied by forbidden things, by immorality, abomination, adulterers, alcohol, drunken dancing and...revelry. A belly dance costs 2,500 (English) pounds per minute and a singer costs 50,000 pounds per hour, and they hop from one hotel to another from night to dawn. Then he spends the entire night defying Allah.

"Haven't they learned their lesson from what Allah wreaked upon the coast of Asia, during the celebration of these forbidden? At the height of immorality, Allah took vengeance on these criminals (and) Allah struck them with an earthquake. He finished off the Richter scale. All nine levels are gone," the cleric sermonized.

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