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Israel Approves West Bank Settlement Expansion

By VOA News

Israel has approved plans to build 3,500 new homes in the occupied West Bank; in a move Palestinians say sabotages efforts to rekindle the Mideast peace process. The Israeli plan, approved by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, appears to clash with the U.S.-backed "Roadmap" peace plan. That plan calls for a halt to settlement expansion on all Palestinian land captured by Israel in the 1967 war. There has been no U.S. comment on the move, which analysts say is aimed at linking the settlement of Maale Adumim to greater Jerusalem. Israel claims Jerusalem as its eternal capital, while Palestinians want Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Israelis and Palestinians Agree on Tulkarem Security Hand-Over

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel Radio said Israeli and Palestinian officials have reached a compromise that would permit the hand-over of security control of Tulkarem and two nearby West Bank villages to Palestinian control. The transfer is to be completed Tuesday. The transfer had been held up when the two sides could not agree on the future of several villages north of Tulkarem. The Palestinians wanted to assume control of those villages, but Israel rejected the request, saying the return of Palestinian control to those areas should be more gradual.

A particular concern for the Israelis was that the villages are the bases for the Islamic Jihad militants who carried out a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed five Israelis in late February. The agreement reached Monday calls for the two villages to remain under Israeli control for the time being. The Palestinians assumed security control of Jericho last week, after several days delay. After Tulkarem is handed over, Qalqilyah is to be next. The transfer of security control is one of the steps agreed upon at a summit in Egypt, last month. Another is the pledge to release Palestinian prisoners. Five hundred have already been freed, but the Palestinians want all 8,000 now in Israeli jails to be let go.

Is Gov't Preparing for Civil Strife in Exercise Tuesday?


In what might be categorized as preparation for severe civil strife just short of civil war, the government will be conducting an exercise Tuesday at Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital in preparation for executing the government's plan to expel 10,000 Jews from their homes in Gaza and Northern Samaria. The broad based exercise will involve branches of the armed services including army, air force, and the police, as well as civilian agencies, such as the Health Ministry, Fire Department, and emergency first aid services (Magen David Adom).

The declared purpose of the exercise is to test the readiness of hospital and support services in the event of large-scale civilian casualties arising out of the implementation of the expulsion plan. The government will be limiting access to emergency medical services at the Barzilai hospital Tuesday in order to carry out the exercise.

Mass Bar Mitzvah Held At Western Wall For Ethiopian Jews


A mass Bar Mitzvah ceremony was celebrated recently for 50 Ethiopian immigrants at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The 50 new immigrants, ages 20 to 30, had never celebrated their Bar Mitzvahs - the ceremony marking a Jew's acceptance of responsibility for the observance of religious laws at the age of 13 (12, for girls' Bat Mitzvot)). The immigrants are registered in a Jewish Agency program called Kedma, which prepares new immigrants for academic pursuits and to serve in the IDF.

During the nine-month program, which takes place at the Jewish Agency's absorption center in Hadera, the students study Hebrew, English and mathematics, together with Jewish studies and courses on Israeli culture and society. One of the key elements of the program is the process of conversion. Although Ethiopian Falash Mura are brought to Israel due to their Jewish roots, they must undergo a conversion process in order to rejoin the Jewish people according to Jewish Law. With the assistance of a resident rabbi, the olim [immigrants] study Judaism, and by the end of the Kedma program they are able to convert.

The Bar Mitzvah service was arranged by the Jewish Agency's staff and the Rabbi of the Kotel (Western Wall of the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem). The Jewish Federation of Jacksonville, Fla. donated the 50 sets of tefillin for the service.

Israeli Discovery Chips Away at Gum Disease

By (Copyright 2005)

One of the most common medical conditions in the US is gum disease. According to the American Dental Association, three out of four adult Americans have some form of gum disease and about 25 million adults suffer from serious periodontal disease. But the fear of long, painful hours in the dentist's chair - and the prospect of dental surgery - keeps many people from getting it treated.

However, since its approval by the Food and Drug Administration five years ago, an innovative Israeli product called the PerioChip is becoming increasingly common component of dental care in the United States - and around the world - as a way to prevent surgery.

Gum disease - known as periodontitis is caused when inflammation or infection of the gums is untreated or treatment is delayed. Infection and inflammation spreads from the gums to the ligaments and bones that support the teeth causing pockets to form. Loss of support causes the teeth to become loose and eventually fall out, and therefore gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults.

The PerioChip, the first biodegradable delivery system for reducing pocket depth in adult periodontitis, is designed as an adjunctive therapy to the deep cleaning of the teeth that is commonly used to fight periodontitis. The Periochip is perhaps one of the most thoroughly Israeli items in the world, explained one of its inventors. "It is one of the few products that was invented in Israel, underwent clinical trials in Israel, is being manufactured and produced in Israel, and is sold and marketed worldwide by an Israeli company," Dr. Doron Steinberg told ISRAEL21c.

The PerioChip - the size of a baby's fingernail - is inserted directly into infected periodontal pockets in the gums that are 5 millimeters or greater in depth, following scaling and root planing to remove plaque and calculus deposits. It takes less than one minute to insert the PerioChip into the periodontal pocket, and it stays in place, releasing chlorhexidine, an antimicrobial agent. "The other big advantage is that it degrades by itself and you don't have to go back to the periodontist to remove it, which saves time, money and bother," said Steinberg. The chip does not visibly stain teeth or alter taste perception, and its insertion is painless and requires no anesthesia. It can be used as often as every three months, he added.

Jerusalem Connected to National Railway


Starting in two weeks, Jerusalem will be connected to the national railway system through Beit Shemesh and Tel Aviv. The new Jerusalem train station will be located in the Malha neighborhood in the capital's southern region, near Jerusalem's largest mall, the Malha Technological Center and the Biblical Zoo. The train will share its Jerusalem station with the Jerusalem's light rail, currently being constructed, which will eventually transport travelers between the Malha station and all areas of the capital.

The railway line follows the route of the original Jerusalem-Tel Aviv line built by the Ottoman administration in 1892. Though not the most direct route to Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh is Jerusalem's closest link to the national rail system and much of the infrastructure for laying the rails was already in place to begin with. 50,000 passengers a month are expected to use the new rail line. The station will open to public on April 9 with 15 trains a day traveling to Tel Aviv via Beit Shemesh. The journey to Beit Shemesh will take 35 minutes and the total travel time from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv will be 70 minutes.

Israel Railways is also moving toward constructing a high-speed train from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv via Modi'in that would take 28 minutes. That line is expected to be finished in 2009.

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