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Peres: Let The Arabs Dance on the Rooftops


Vice Premier and Labor party leader Shimon Peres told interviewers Wednesday that he doesn't care if Arabs "dance on the rooftops" so long as the homes of Jewish evacuees are not destroyed. "If we destroy the houses, we will have to remove 1,250,000 tons of debris and that will take three months."

He added that if the government tears down the residents' agricultural greenhouses, Arab workers would be left without work.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia warned Israel that statements conditioning the planned evacuation on the outcome of PA elections constitute an interference with its internal affairs.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said this week that he thinks a Hamas victory in the PA legislative elections in July would force Israel to cancel the plan to dismantle Jewish communities in Gaza and northern Samaria. Qureia said the elections are none of Israel's business.

Happy 57th Birthday to Israel!


Independence Day celebrations have begun across the country, beginning with an official ceremony at Mt. Herzl. The theme this year: "Covenant of Life: Bridging Hearts"

England's Queen Elizabeth and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have sent congratulatory greetings to Israel on its 57th anniversary as a modern state. "It is my pleasure to greet you on the celebrations of your independence, and I add heartfelt wishes for prosperity and happiness to all the citizens of Israel," the Queen said in her message."

Mubarak wrote President Moshe Katzav that he hopes the Sharm el-Sheikh summit accord would be implemented.

Rivlin: I Fear Civil War in Israel's 58th Year

By Ha'aretz

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin warned Wednesday night of a rift in the nation as a result of the disengagement plan, and called on all Israelis - "from Tel Aviv to Neveh Dekalim" - to empathize with fears over the impending evacuation from the Gaza Strip in an attempt to prevent a civil war in Israel's 58th year.

"More than anything, I am very fearful that this year will be one of civil conflict," Rivlin said at the state torch-lighting ceremony at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. The event signalled the end of Memorial Day and the beginning of Israel's 57th Independence Day.

Independence Day celebrations began across the country Wednesday night,and will continue Thursday with a ceremony at the President's Residence in Jerusalem honoring Israel's outstanding soldiers, the annual world Bible quiz and a reception at the President's Residence for foreign diplomats.

Speaking at the transition ceremony on Independence Day eve, Rivlin said he feared both the joy some left-wingers have expressed at the evacuation and the calls of some on the right to refuse military orders to participate in the pullout. If blood is spilled over the disengagement plan, said Rivlin, "How will we be able to fly the blue and white flag here next year?"

Rivlin spoke of his fears of a civil war and a rupture in the nation."I'm greatly worried about a rupture," he said, " that might bring calamity upon all of us, one that's much greater than the planned evacuation of the communities of Gush Katif and northern Samaria... I stand before you this year with very great fear of the raucous sounds of a total turning of [our] backs on our covenant with the Land, of the true intentions of those who have 'shown disdain to the coveted Land,' and of the scorn heaped upon those who love it and are loyal to it. I am fearful of the malicious joy of some at the misfortune of those who have given and are giving their lives for the settlement and redemption of this land. How will we be able to celebrate our 58th Independence Day if, Heaven forbid, this year becomes one of fraternal bloodshed?"

But he said he believed it was possible to prevent the situation from deteriorating. "If all of us agree to share in the concern, to participate in the pain, the frustration [of the evacuation], then we will be able to share in the hope as well," said Rivlin.

Comedian Jackie Mason Blasts Israeli Concessions


World-renowned comedian Jackie Mason knows funny when he sees it, and he says there is nothing funny about giving in to Arab terrorism. He told IsraelNationalNews Radio:

"My opinion is that we should do to terrorists what America did to Afghanistan," Mason said. "You go in and if they persist in bombing your buildings and destroying your lives and sending in suicide bombers, then there should be an unconditional determination to just tell them – either you get out of our land or we will destroy all of you."

Mason, whose father was a renowned rabbi who was very close with the late leading Torah sage of the last generation, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, says that as someone who lived through the period of the Holocaust he sees only one solution: "We must tell the terrorists, `We will give you two weeks to get out of our land and then we will destroy you.' I believe that with all my heart. You can't compromise with people who are sending suicide bombers in to kill you."

The well-known comedian cannot understand how Israel can yet again fall into the trap of appeasing terrorists – which is how he sees the current "disengagement plan." "At a certain point you have to put a limit to it. You can't endlessly keep trying and trying and giving them the benefit of the doubt at the expense of your own lives," he said. "If you lived across the street from me and kept bombing my building over and over again – am I gonna keep letting you live there? I would go in there and blow up the building, plus you, and get you out of there. I see no choice. Why did America see no choice in Afghanistan? Does America have more of a right to exist than Israel does? Why could America go to Afghanistan and kill every terrorist it could find there?"

Mason is close with many Israeli politicians but says he had a falling out with some of them over his politics. "I had a big argument with Shimon Peres about this," he said. "I said `The man is a murderer, why do we have to keep negotiating with him? You got a Nobel Peace Prize with him and that makes you a simple-minded naive character.'"

Government Mulls Severe new Immigration, Citizenship Policy

By Ha'aretz

A committee headed by Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz is formulating a new immigration policy for Israel that is expected to be as severe as any in Europe. The most far-reaching proposal would prevent automatic citizenship for children of Israelis if the children were not born in Israel, or if only one parent is Israeli.

Among the proposed formulas under consideration is denying citizenship procedures to illegal aliens, and imposing criteria such as income, age and affiliation to Israel for citizenship applications, including foreign spouses of Israelis.

A discussion took place last month in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office on recommendations made by the National Security Council to stiffen immigration laws. Sharon decided to accept the recommendations, and a committee headed by Pines-Paz was formed to formulate the changes in the law. There is broad agreement in the government and academia that the policy must be strict and make it difficult for non-Jews to obtain citizenship in Israel.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz also supports a toughening of the immigration laws. A document drafted by a team headed by Mazuz recommends a lengthy "cooling off" period overseas for illegal aliens before they can become citizens.

Mazuz's document apparently served as the basis for the proposal by Likud MK Moshe Kahalon, which passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset with government support last summer, and sparked a controversy."There are all sorts of countries in Europe," Pines-Paz said, adding that he will find a solution to deal with humanitarian hardship cases.

Among other things, Pines-Paz's committee will examine the possibility of changing the Law of Return, considered by many a taboo subject in Israeli politics. The interior minister said the "mandate of the committee is to examine the Law of Return legislation, the Citizenship Law and all the laws regarding entry to Israel, including the Law of Return. Everything should be on the table."

In the past, some members of the committee have proposed amendments to the Law of Return. Justice Minister Tzipi Livne has expressed support for canceling the grandchild clause in the law. Pines-Paz said in 1999 that the grandchild clause should be reconsidered for cancelation. Both support turning the Law of Return into a Basic Law, something that the Haredim have traditionally opposed with vehemence.

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