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Arabs Torch Valuable Desert Forest


Arabs have resumed using arson as a weapon against Israel and have destroyed more than 10,000 pine trees in Israel's largest planted forest. The Yatir forest is on the edge of the Negev and Judean deserts, about seven miles northwest of Arad and 15 miles northeast of Be'er Sheva. Police chased in vain after several suspects who fled to nearby Arab villages southwest of Hebron. Forest workers for the Jewish National Fund speculated that the reasons for the arson could be anger by Arabs at the building of the nearby security fence, the refusal of soldiers to allow unauthorized Arabs from entering the Be'er Sheva area or part of terrorists' fight against Israel.

Rice: World Must Not Tolerate Iranian Nuclear Weapons Bid

By David Gollust (VOA-Washington)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday said the world must not tolerate any Iranian attempt to develop a nuclear weapon. She spoke as European foreign ministers prepared for new talks with Iranian officials on the nuclear issue. Rice took a hard line towards Iran, telling the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC that a nuclear-armed Iran would be intolerable.

"The United States has focused the world's attention on Iran's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and along with our allies we are working to gain full disclosure of Iran's efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. The world must not tolerate any Iranian attempt to develop a nuclear weapon, nor can it tolerate Iran's effort to subvert democratic governments through terrorism."

In her address to AIPAC Monday, Rice said the pursuit of democracy is now a central element of Bush administration policy in the Middle East, and said even what she termed the unelected leaders in Tehran must recognize the region is changing. She said they must know that the energy of reform that is building around them will one day inspire Iranians to demand their liberty and rights, and said the United States stands with the people of Iran.

The AIPAC meeting is to be addressed Tuesday by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is due to at the White House for talks Thursday. Rice called the Sharon plan for Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank due to begin in August an unprecedented and incredibly delicate opportunity to advance Middle East peace. She said all parties must work together to "capitalize on this precious moment."

"Israel must take no actions that prejudice a final settlement or jeopardize the true viability of the Palestinian state, and Israel must help to create the conditions for the emergence of that democratic state," added Rice. "The Palestinian Authority must advance democratic reform and it must dismantle all terrorist networks in its society." She said Arab countries must end anti-Israel incitement in their media, cut off all support for terrorism and extremist education, and establish normal relations with the Jewish state.

Knesset Member Eldad Explains His Civil Disobedience Website


MK Aryeh Eldad has launched an Internet site calling for civil disobedience against the expulsion/retreat plan, with examples, justifications, and legal tips for those who are arrested. The National Union Knesset Member's new website explains that the steps he proposes - such as not paying taxes, turning in one's ID and reserve-duty cards, blocking roads, large groups taking extended vacation from work, mass sit-ins at ports and the like - are "illegal, but accepted in the framework of civil disobedience around the world."

The site - in Hebrew, at "" - also proposes that soldiers and reserve soldiers refuse to participate in the implementation of any orders related to the expulsion.

Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, who, like Eldad, opposes the disengagement plan, is not pleased with the site. Eldad's call for civil disobedience is "absolutely forbidden," Rivlin said yesterday. "The blanket nature of the site is liable to be interpreted wrongly by those who don't understand the nuances as a call to violate the law passively and non-Sunday."

Rivlin stopped short of calling for Eldad's removal as Chairman of the Knesset Ethics Committee, saying this is not an ethical matter but rather one of "boundaries and restrictions of [an MK's] job, and the essence of MKs' parliamentary immunity." Eldad told Arutz-7 that he has no "copyright on civil disobedience, which has already been well established in the world... Some of the activities are very illegal, and some are less so. One must be willing to pay a personal price of going to jail, in the thousands and ten thousands, but without raising a hand against a policeman or soldier. We will wage the struggle the same way other racist and immoral laws have been fought in other democratic regimes.

The website banner states: "Civil Disobedience: non-violent resistance, with the willingness to pay a personal price, to fight against laws that undermine the very existence of the State or its character as the State of the Jewish Nation. "The site also includes legal aid information, such as, "If you are arrested, remain silent, but explain that it is because it is a political interrogation... Object to being released with restrictions... As long as you have not yet been officially arrested, you may use your phone - use these minutes to call the legal aid center."

Attorney-General Nixes Compensation Options for Gush Katif Farm


Attorney General. Menachem Mazuz has thrown another monkey wrench into the Gaza disengagement plans, disqualifying two out of three options for compensating the Jewish farmers for their confiscated lands.

The Cabinet, in its session of 15 days ago, decided to offer the farmers of Jewish Gaza one of three alternatives: land of equivalent size in the Negev or Galilee; up to 40 dunams (approx. 10 acres) of land elsewhere in Israel; or financial subsidy in purchasing land elsewhere in Israel. Mazuz nullified the latter two alternatives, saying that as presently worded, they stand in opposition to the Evacuation/Compensation Law. The Cabinet will have to reformulate the proposals and submit them again to Mazuz for his approval.

The only alternative that Mazuz left intact was the first one, namely, "plot for plot" in the Negev or Galilee. A list of available plots of land was to have been prepared by the Israel Lands Administration for the Disengagement Authority by May 13, and then to have been given to the farmers. No such list has yet been submitted.

Mazuz's decision leaves the Gush Katif residents in total bewilderment as to their future. Avner Shimoni, head of the Gaza Coast Regional Council, said, "This merely proves that the government has no idea what to do with us, and the entire disengagement will not come to pass."

Israel Apologizes to India Over Orange Ban


Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was forced to issue an official apology to the Indian Embassy, after parliament security personnel prevented Indian legislators clad in orange from entering the Knesset.

The incident occurred Sunday when members of India's largest opposition faction, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), visited the Knesset while wearing orange scarves. Orange is their party's official color - but the Knesset guards were not impressed. Apparently told to prevent the color orange from being brought into the Knesset because of its association with the anti-expulsion protest campaign, the guards immediately informed the visitors that they could enter - but without their scarves. The scarves were returned to the lawmakers at the conclusion of their visit.

"I found it to be ridiculous not to allow a piece of cloth," one of the Indian delegation members told Army Radio. "Those are messages of intolerance. Today it's cloth, and soon it could be ideas that are barred."

Israeli guards are apparently unduly sensitive to the color orange. Arutz-7 reported last week on several cases of worshipers not being allowed to visit the Western Wall on Remembrance Day because they had orange shirts or ribbons in their bags.

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