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Protestors Disrupt Sharon's NYC Speech


Protestors shouting "Jews don't expel Jews from their homes" burst into the middle of a speech by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in New York Sunday afternoon. The demonstrators bared orange shirts, symbolic of opposition to the government evacuation plan, and were ushered outside the building, where hundreds of other opponents staged a noisy rally. Sharon was addressing 1,000 members of Jewish groups as he began a round of talks and meetings to shore up support for his plan to withdraw from Gaza and northern Samaria. The Prime Minister said he was confidant that the Jewish people will becomes stronger and united after the planned evacuation this summer.

First Lady Besieged by Protests in Jerusalem

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Laura Bush got a hot welcome from Palestinian Muslims when she visited the golden Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old City, the third-holiest place in Islam. "How dare you come in here!" shouted Palestinian hecklers. "Why are you hassling Muslims? You do not belong here!" they said. Israeli police formed a human chain to keep the protesters away.

Ironically, the first lady went to the mosque to show that America is a tolerant country. But anti-American sentiment has been running high in the Middle East since Newsweek magazine reported that U.S. soldiers had desecrated the Koran at a detention facility. Newsweek later retracted the report.

But it was not only Muslims who vented their anger. About 40 Jewish protesters greeted Bush at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site. "Free Pollard Now!" they shouted. "Free Pollard Now!" They were referring to Jonathan Pollard, an American Navy analyst serving a life term for spying for Israel 20 years ago. The United States has turned down repeated Israeli requests for his release.

A CNN broadcast showed an Israeli police officer holding back a man with a thick beard who was shouting at Bush's entourage. Another guard needed to draw his gun on a boy who got dangerously close to Bush.

For Mrs. Bush, it was a first hand experience of the turbulent Middle East." You can tell from our day here this is a place of emotion everywhere we went," she said. The first lady got a more peaceful welcome in Palestinian-ruled Jericho in the West Bank. "I met with a group of Israeli women earlier, I just had tea with Palestinian women. All of them, many of them mothers, say that what we all want is peace," said Bush.

She concluded her day with a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, in a show of solidarity with Jewish suffering.

First Lady Gila Katzav gave Laura Bush a letter signed by 13 members of Knesset demanding the release of Pollard. Later. Bush spent a few moments with Katzav at the Western Wall. Bush placed a note in the wall, an undisclosed message that she reportedly wrote on the plane on her way to Israel.

The letter demanding Pollard's release was initiated by MK Gila Finkelstein (National Religious Party) "We're happy that Katzav did not act in the manner of [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, and did not forget to hand over the letter," said Finkelstein.

Following her visit to the Temple Mount Bush went sightseeing at the ruins of Hisham's palace in Jericho, where she reiterated her husband's call for an independent Palestinian state.

"We're reminded again of what every one of us would want. ... What we all want is peace and the chance that we have right now to have peace, to have a Palestinian state living by a secure state of Israel, both living in democracy, is as close as we've been in a really long time," she said.

The Hamas terror organization, which is attempting to wrest power from the Fatah faction of the PLO in democratic elections for the Palestinian Authority scheduled for July 17, issued a statement condemning the Bush visit. "We see in the visit of Mrs. Bush an attempt to whitewash the face of the United States, after the crimes that the American interrogators had committed when they desecrated the Koran".

Sharon in U.S. to Address Jewish Groups

By VOA News

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is in the United States to rally support from Jewish groups for the planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

After a series of meetings in New York, Sharon will address a prominent lobbying group, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, Tuesday in Washington. No meetings with U.S. officials are planned.

On the flight to New York, Sharon said he would not postpone the start of the pullout from mid-August, despite Israeli reports that his military chiefs want to delay because of recent Palestinian attacks on settlers in Gaza.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrives in Washington later this week, at the invitation of President Bush. Abbas said he would push for political and economic support when he visits the White House Thursday.

Former Shin Bet Chief Warns Temple Mount Attack Would Trigger 'Total War'

By Ha'aretz

An attack by extreme-right Jews on the Temple Mount would trigger a large-scale war between Israel and the Muslim world, former Shin Bet chief Carmi Gillon told recently.

The former head of the domestic security service said far-right militants now pose serious threats to mosques in Jerusalem's Temple Mount compound. "The consequences of such an act can be a disaster for the existence of the State of Israel and can bring a total war between the Muslim world, Israel and maybe against Jewish targets abroad," Gillon said.

Gillon headed the domestic security service in the mid-'90s, when rising Israeli political tensions over the Oslo Accords culminated in the November 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

A few months before the assassination, Gillon warned that fiery rhetoric by right-wing figures was encouraging radicals and fostering an atmosphere of violence. He left the service following the assassination. Gillon warned that another assassination of a prime minister would pose a strategic threat to Israeli society.

The former domestic security chief said that, despite the recent upsurge in Palestinian violence, he still has hopes Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is motivated to seek peace. "For the time being, he [Abbas] is not demonstrating the ability to act against the militants but we should give him time to gather his forces and to show his ability to rule the PA," Gillon said.

He also said the PA security forces possess both the knowledge and the means to enforce order in the Palestinian-controlled territories. "What they still need is motivation to act against violence," Gillon said.

Calling for an end to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Gillon said, "the pullout is an Israeli need and not necessarily a Palestinian need and it comes to serve the needs of Israeli society." Touching on the potential nuclear threat Iran might pose to Israel, Gillon said the issue "should be treated very carefully first with diplomatic means."

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