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Kishon Dead at 80


Israel is mourning satirical writer Ephraim Kishon, 80, who died of heart failure Saturday. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon began Sunday's Cabinet meeting with a salute to Kishon, saying, "Ephraim Kishon died yesterday, but his cultural enterprise will remain with us and with the coming generations. Wittily and sharply, Kishon presented us with a precise mirror that showed Israeli society's positive and negative aspects, its fears, beliefs and opinions." Kishon, widely considered Israel's greatest satirist, wrote more than 50 books and plays, some of which were translated into 37 languages, and won the Israel Prize in 2002. Born in 1924, he arrived in Israel in the late 1940s after surviving the Nazi death camps and the Death March to Sobibor. Possibly his most well-known movie script was Salah, about the adventures of a North African immigrant to Israel.

Israel Says Troops Could Pull Back From West Bank Soon

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Israel would hand over control of several West Bank cities to Palestinian security forces within the next few days. The news came after a meeting between Mofaz and a senior Palestinian security chief

In an interview with Israel Radio Sunday, Mofaz said he believes there is now "an opportunity to put an end to terror." He said the opportunity must be seized and used to create a new relationship with the Palestinians that could lead to a peace agreement. The defense minister did not say which Palestinian cities are to be turned over, or exactly when the transfer of security responsibility would take place. Mofaz said he would hold further talks with Palestinian security official Mohammed Dahlan to work out details.

Palestinian sources, however, said their forces would assume responsibility for first Ramallah, then Tulkarem, Qalqilya and Jericho. Mofaz said the Palestinians have shown a willingness to assume security responsibility and move forward with security cooperation with Israel. The Israeli official also said that a wide range of issues was discussed during his first round of talks with Dahlan on Saturday night.

Mofaz told the regular Sunday meeting of the Israeli Cabinet that Israel would continue to pursue militants who pose an immediate threat, what the government calls ticking bombs. But he said Israeli forces would otherwise exercise restraint, and make every effort not to harm Palestinian security services or civilians. There has been a decrease in Israeli military raids in Palestinian areas in recent days.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been working on getting militants to agree to a temporary cease-fire, and Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said Sunday that a formal agreement is close. But, he said it would depend on Israel also formally declaring a cease-fire, withdrawing troops from West Bank cities and releasing Palestinian prisoners.

Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported Sunday that February 8 has been set as the tentative date for a meeting between Abbas and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected in the region a few days before the planned summit.

Jewish Presence To Grow in East Jerusalem


The Israeli cabinet has decided that more than half of the property in East Jerusalem is government property and may be sold or leased to Jews. The new policy was agreed on last summer but was not revealed until last week.

The cabinet decision is based on the Absentee Property Law that defines an absentee as someone who at the time of the 1948 War of Independence "was in any part of the land of Israel that is outside the area of Israel." The Absentee Property Law declares that buildings and property owned by "absentees" automatically become government property. Most of the property owners in East Jerusalem live in Judea and Samaria, which were part of Jordan until the country abandoned the land and its citizens during the Six-Day War in 1967.A lawyer representing Arabs has appealed to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to overturn the policy.

The revelation of the cabinet decision came on the heels of secret purchases by Jews of Arab buildings and the renewal of Jewish neighborhoods in several areas. The Elad organization has bought dozens of buildings the past few years in the original City of David, opposite the entrance to the Western Wall (Kotel) plaza, and dozens of Jewish families live there.

Jews Secretly Buying Gaza Land


The "Land Redemption Fund" has secretly bought more than seven acres (30 dunams) of land in Gaza, and is negotiating to buy much more. The Fund, with the help of several millionaires, is also buying large amounts of land throughout Judea and Samaria in an effort to connect neighboring Jewish communities or join them with towns within the pre-1967 border. Since its purchases began two decades ago, the Fund has bought more than 5,000 acres throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha), according to Yediot Aharonot's Ynet website.

Jordanian law stipulates the death punishment for anyone selling land to Jews, and Palestinian Authority hit squads have murdered several Arabs who acted as middle-men in such deals in recent years. The sellers are usually farmers who need the money and do not necessarily know that the prospective buyers are Jewish.

G., an Arab land agent, revealed that his commission is 20% of every transaction's value. He explained, "From the standpoint [of the Arab seller], the sale is to Arabs. That is our way of protecting him. It has happened more than once that [the seller believes] that I represent Jordanian land developers. Most of the land is next to existing Jewish communities, and they need more."

Former General Security Service (Shabak) agents often are employed by the Fund, according to the report. They provide information on names of those who work and own the land. "Many of the Arab landowners use the money to move to the United States," said one of the millionaires who contributes to the Fund. "That way we not only strengthen Jewish [presence], but also help Arabs move out."

'Kill a Jew - Go to Heaven'


Palestinian Media Watch presented a report to the Knesset detailing ongoing officially taught hatred of Jews and Israel in the Palestinian Authority. The report, entitled "Kill a Jew - Go To Heaven," documents the PA's ideology of hatred of Jews and Israel that is currently being taught in its schools and on its media. The report shows how its leadership mandates the killing of Jews - up to and including genocide - as a religious obligation.

The report noted, "The murder of Jews is presented not only as beneficial to Muslims and Arabs, but as necessary for all humankind... These findings are based on a thorough study and analysis of eight years of official PA TV and PA-controlled daily newspapers. This report documents how this hate ideology has been taught consistently for years, well before the war started in September 2000, and continues even after the death of Yasir Arafat."

Minister of Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky sharply attacked the PA, stating, "Even as the Palestinian Authority works to prevent a few hundred terrorists from attacking Jews and Israelis, it prepares hundreds of thousands more. As in Nazi Germany, there is an entire 'culture of hatred' in Palestinian society today, from textbooks to crossword puzzles, from day camps to TV music videos, and the end result is the calling for the murder of Jews as Jews."

The full report "Kill a Jew - Go to Heaven" builds a detailed case - 18 pages of quotes and cartoons from PA television and print media - showing that the PA campaign against the Jews has three stages: Stage 1 defines what characterizes the Jew - "defective, corrupt, descendants of monkeys and pigs, enemy of God, etc." Stage 2 demonstrates how these characteristics endanger the world, as the Jews "plan and execute heinous crimes, cause wars and disasters, endangering all of humanity." Stage 3 instructs how to fight back against the Jews, by subjugating and killing them.

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