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Police Identify 3,000-Year-Old Skeletal Remains


Police forensics units were called in several weeks ago to identify a skull and skeletal remains found adjacent to Dor Beach, on Israel's northern Mediterranean coast. As it turns out, if the remains belonged to a victim of a crime, it occurred about 3,000 years ago. "The findings indicate that the skeletal remains are from the Bronze Age (3,000 years ago), from the Phoenician period. The material and the findings will be turned over to the Antiquities Authority," the police statement said.

Sharon, Abbas to Meet in Egypt Next Week

By VOA News &

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said Tuesday that the Israeli leader has accepted an Egyptian invitation to meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas next week in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Sharon's office said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will host the summit Tuesday, which would be the highest-level Israeli-Palestinian meeting in nearly four years. There was no immediate comment from the Palestinians.

A summit has been expected since Abbas, who was elected to succeed late Yasir Arafat last month, took steps to stop Palestinian terrorists from attacking Israelis. Israel responded by cutting back on military operations. Israel is also discussing plans for a pullback from several West Bank cities.

Abbas (Abu Mazen) has more scheduled for next week than his meeting with Sharon. The PA chairman plans to visit Iran as well. Just hours after the announcement of a diplomatic summit between Sharon and Abbas, Ma'ariv reported Abu Mazen's plan to visit Iran in coming days - even before Tuesday's summit. Iran has extended an invitation to Abu Mazen, inviting the PA leader to visit Tehran. The invitation was extended as Abu Mazen visited Turkey. A PA official told Reuters "Abu Mazen did receive an invitation to visit Iran. He accepted the invitation and will decide on a date the moment he returns."

A source in the Iranian Foreign Ministry told Ma'ariv that the visit would indeed take place in the very near future. The source said that the invitation was issued because Iran is interested in "friendly relations with the Palestinian government just as it has with the various Palestinian factions." The source stressed that Iran's invitation should not be construed as an endorsement of any sort of "peace process," though "Iran has always supported a Palestinian state." Iran has also long supported various terror groups, including Hamas and Hizbullah.

Israel's Attorney General Nixes Government Plans to Expropriate Palestinian Land

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

It was all done very secretly last June, when cabinet ministers decided to let the state confiscate East Jerusalem property belonging to Palestinians living in the West Bank. The decision revived a long-dormant law from 1950, which allowed Israel to seize property from Palestinians who fled or were driven out of their homes during the 1948 war that led to Israel's independence.

Lawyer Dan Yakir, from the Israel Civil Rights Association, said the law was what he calls "legally problematic," even then. "The consequence of this law is confiscation of property, without any compensation." The cabinet decision to revive this law came to light last month, after Palestinian property owners took their complaints to the court. Palestinian claimants and their lawyers said Israel was trying to seize thousands more hectares of land to solidify its control over East Jerusalem, ahead of any future peace talks.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Mideast War, later annexed it and now claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, a claim not internationally recognized. Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital for their future independent state.

Dan Yakir said the special circumstances surrounding East Jerusalem makes the application of the old "property law" even more untenable. But, he said it also constituted a basic violation of human rights. "Applying this law would be a grave infringement upon not only the right to property, but other rights that incur from the property in East Jerusalem."

This week, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz struck down the cabinet decision as legally "indefensible" and that it violated both Israeli and international law. Mazuz also said reviving the law would invite international condemnation of Israel, which has already come under harsh criticism from the International Court of Justice in the Hague for building its so-called security barrier in and around the West Bank.

Pines-Paz Blasts 'Racist' Citizenship Legislation

By Ha'aretz

Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz is drafting a bill meant to make it easier to bestow Israeli citizenship on Palestinian residents of the territories, including through family reunification. "The current law is draconian and racist," Pines-Paz told Ha'aretz, adding that his bill would be drafted in coordination with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.

The minister's comments followed a Knesset vote on Monday to extend a temporary law governing citizenship and entry to Israel, which was originally meant to restrict the right of Palestinian residents of the territories to obtain Israeli citizenship through marriage to Israelis. The law also proposes imposing restrictions on granting permits to enter and spend time in Israel. The temporary law was slated to expire in May.

The government decided in 2003 to initiate the legislation after it became convinced that thousands of Arab residents of the territories had received Israeli citizenship in recent years and settled in the country. During a debate at the time in the Knesset, then-deputy attorney general Menachem Mazuz argued that the proposed bill was in the national interest because the number of requests for family reunification had greatly increased over the past decade.

Arab parties were vehemently opposed to the legislation this week. Balad MK Azmi Bishara said the Knesset's vote in favor of the bill underscored the government's "racist policy." The law has racist demographic motives and nothing more, Bishara said, and Labor's conduct - opposing the original law while it was in opposition and seeking a redrafting of the law now that it is in the government - was shameful. This is not supposed to be a tactical matter on which you compromise, but a matter of principle, he said.

MK Mohammad Barakeh (Hadash-Ta'al) said this order was "conceived in sin and deserved to be thrown in the trash. All the cosmetic materials in the world won't be able to make proper such a racist regulation."

ADL Calls on CIA to Hand Over Files on Suspected Nazis

By Ha'aretz

Responding to reports that the CIA has balked at congressional requests to hand over secret files on Nazi war criminals, the Anti-Defamation League has called on the CIA to publicize all records relating to the agency's post-war recruitment of suspected Nazis.

"Sixty years after the end of the war, the time has come to make this information available," ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement released on Tuesday. "With the number of survivors and witnesses diminishing by the day, and the reality that the Holocaust is fading into the pages of history and memory, we should not have to wait any longer."

The ADL issued the statement in reaction to a report in The New York Times this week detailing the difficulty congressional investigators are experiencing in forcing the CIA to declassify documents relating to their recruitment of former Nazis, as they are required to do by the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act, which was passed by Congress in 1998.

The agency has already released more than 1.2 million pages of documents, however intelligence officials are quoted by the Times as saying that the law does not require them to disclose all information relating to the agency's relationships with former Nazis. "What's so puzzling about this is the agency has already released a significant number of documents," Foxman said. "Why the change of heart now not to finish the process? What is there still left that some feel needs to be hidden? The expediency and the errors of the past are not a reflection of the intelligence community today. One finds it difficult to understand why the leadership today is protecting the truth."

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