Newsletter : 5fax0503.txt
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Palestinians Bulldoze Officers' Illegally Built Homes in Gaza
By VOA News
Palestinian security forces in the Gaza Strip have destroyed three illegally built
homes of senior Palestinian officers - as part of what the Palestinian Authority said was
a new anti-corruption campaign. A spokesman for the PA Interior Ministry said bulldozers
destroyed the homes built on illegally seized public land. He said the violators were
informed ahead of Monday's action, and that the buildings were not occupied. PA leader
Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Yasir Arafat in January, has been under pressure to end
growing chaos in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and to root out corruption among senior
Palestinian officials and commanders of security forces.
Sharon Critic Quits Cabinet over Gaza Disengagement
By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem) & IsraelNationalNews.com
Israeli Cabinet Minister Natan Sharansky has resigned, saying Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four small West Bank settlements is
tragic mistake that will encourage more Palestinian violence and serve to divide Israeli
Sharansky delivered his letter of resignation to Sharon Monday morning. In it, he laid
out the reasons for his action. He said the Gaza withdrawal plan would only weaken the
chances for a true peace with the Palestinians and said it would create a serious threat
to Israeli society. In his words, "We are standing before a terrible rift in the nation
and, to my regret, I sense no effort by the government to prevent it."
Sharon said he regrets Sharansky's decision to resign and added that he wanted to
express his appreciation for his service. Sharansky has been a frequent critic of Sharon
policy, which, he has said, has been one of giving too many concessions, while getting
little in return.
Natan Sharansky is the author of the influential book "The Case for Democracy," which
President Bush has said articulates his belief in the need to spread democracy around the
world. Before immigrating to Israel in the mid-1980s Natan, then known as Anatoly,
Sharansky was one of the best-known dissidents and political prisoners in the Soviet
Union. He was jailed in 1977, charged with spying for the United States, and spent 10
years in Soviet prisons, until international pressure led the Soviets to release him,
strip him of his Soviet citizenship and deport him to Israel.
Sharansky spoke with Israel National Radio's Eli Stutz and Yishai Fleisher, explaining
his reasons for resigning his post a government minister in protest of the disengagement
plan. "I believe it is a tragic plan that makes us pay an extremely high price for
nothing, and also encourages terror. The only aim of the current government is the
implementation of the disengagement plan, and therefore it is wrong, even immoral, for me
to remain a part of this government."
The former prisoner of Zion said his main objection to the plan to withdrawal from Gaza
and northern Samaria is the fact is the fact that the withdrawal is not contingent on the
creation of democracy within the Palestinian Authority. "I have promoted the spread of
democracy as the only answer for 30 years. And now, at the time when an American president
declares these principles and promotes them, an Israeli PM comes along and does the exact
Turkish Prime Minister Visits the West Bank
By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)
The Turkish prime minister met with Palestinian leaders Monday in the West Bank. Turkey
hopes to play a greater role in the Middle East peace process. Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan began his visit to the West Bank town of Ramallah by laying a wreath at the
tomb of the late Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat. Then he met the new Palestinian leader,
Mahmoud Abbas, to discuss the Middle East peace process.
Erdogan is the latest in a growing list of world leaders who have visited the region
since Arafat's death, each hoping to play a role in ending four-and-a-half years of
conflict. "We are ready to do whatever is required to achieve peace," Erdogan told a joint
news conference with Abbas.
The Turkish prime minister believes his country could be an effective mediator. Though
Turkey is a predominantly Muslim nation, it enjoys warm relations with both Israel and the
Palestinians. Economic and military ties with Israel got a boost on Sunday, when Erdogan
met with Israeli leaders, and signed a cooperation agreement.
Abbas said a Turkish role is acceptable to the Palestinians and Israel. "I can imagine
that if negotiations are sponsored by Turkey, they would be successful," he said. In a
gesture to the Palestinians, Turkey gave the Palestinian Authority the title deeds to
property in the West Bank and Gaza acquired during the nearly 400-year rule of the Ottoman
Empire. A Turkish newspaper said the deeds would help the Palestinians defend their rights
in local and international courts. Turkey also plans to provide 25,000 uniforms to the
Palestinian police force.
Expert: Israeli Position Renders Balfour Declaration Obsolete
Lawyers representing Israel in its bid to defend the Evacuation/Compensation Law (the
Disengagement Plan), negate the Balfour Declaration as a basis for Jews to settle in
Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The lawyers made their controversial legal point in a brief
submitted to the High Court of Justice, which is hearing some 10 petitions submitted
against the disengagement plan.
The Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917 by the British Government, which controlled
the Holy Land - including Jordan - at the time. The document, which was later confirmed by
the League of Nations, stated, "His Majesty's Government views with favor the
establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people..."
This declaration gave the Zionist movement a legal jump-start, and inspired the Jews to
build their national homeland throughout the Land of Israel west of the Jordan River. Even
after the UN Partition Plan gave away parts of the Land and assigned them to a new Arab
state that never arose, Israel did not give up its claim on these areas. In fact, in the
War of Independence, it conquered some of them and incorporated them in the emerging
State. Areas included in this category include Be'er Sheva, the Beit Shemesh area and much
of the Galilee.
The State's legal team's brief states, "The petitioners' claim that the [Balfour
Declaration] is valid for all of the Mandatory Land of Israel - even those areas that were
not given to Israel or to Jordan or did not become an independent state - is not
.By taking this position, the Government of Israel is essentially saying that Israel
has no claim on anything other than the Partition Plan borders. So stated Shimon HaLevi, a
legal expert who is taking part in the legal battle against the disengagement plan. HaLevi
said that the Government basically renders the Balfour Declaration obsolete and
irrelevant, and has "thus adopted not only a leftist position, but the position of our
"In essence," HaLevi told Arutz-7, "this returns us to the 1947 Partition borders,
which are three small areas in the north, west and south connected by a safe passage." He
said that legal experts around the world have determined that in light of the Balfour
Declaration, the Jewish communities of Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) cannot be
considered illegal. In a press conference on Feb. 2, 1981, HaLevi said, then-U.S.
President Ronald Reagan stated, "I disagreed when the previous administration referred to
them [settlements] as illegal - they're not illegal."
U.S. Jewish Bikers 'Ride to Remember' the Holocaust
This week, about 200 Jewish motorcycle enthusiasts from Toronto and from 14 states will
simultaneously ride towards Washington DC in a demonstration of solidarity, respect and
honor marking the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust. Along the way, these various groups
of bikers will be picking up other riders in select cities to join the ride, until they
reach their destination on May 6.
The first-ever motorcycle event of its kind, dubbed "Ride to Remember," will bring out
members of the Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance (JMA), a loosely knit association of the most
well-known and best-organized Jewish motorcycle clubs in the United States and Canada,
representing more than 500 motorcycle enthusiasts, along with independent riders from
around the nation.
In Miami and Toronto, the bikers will be seen off by the Israeli consuls. And the King
David Bikers of Florida will be met at the border of Charlotte, NC by a motorcycle
entourage led by Ken Lipack, president and owner of Charlotte Harley Davidson, who will
escort the entire motorcycle group back to his dealership for a formal ceremony attended
by this eclectic group of bikers, as well as local religious officials.
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