Newsletter : 5fax0722.txt
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Public Security Minister Sets Parameters for Mass Arrests
Public Security Minister (Likud) Gideon Ezra has announced guidelines that will be
employed during the expected mass arrests of Gush Katif residents and other disengagement
opponents. Ezra stated that regulations do not permit imprisoning children under 2 with
their mothers, but exceptions will be made in cased the mother is nursing her child. He
added that in cases when both parents are arrested, arrangements would be made for the
release of one of them to ensure there is a parent taking care of children, adding there
are alternatives including house arrest.
Palestinians Take Israeli Barrier Issue to UN Security Council
By Peter Heinlein (VOA-United Nations)
The top Palestinian diplomat at the United Nations has accused Israel of using its
planned pullout from Gaza as a cover for expanding West Bank settlements and extending a
wall around Jerusalem. Israel's envoy dismissed the charge, and urged Palestinian leaders
to focus on eradicating terrorism. A regular Security Council briefing on the Middle East
Thursday became a forum for charges and counter-charges about Israeli and Palestinian
actions and intentions.
Senior U.N. envoy to the region Alvaro de Soto opened the session with a note of
cautious optimism. In his first presentation to the Council, he hailed the forthcoming
Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, saying it overshadows all other
issues. But Arab nations asked to bring up another matter: the Israeli cabinet's approval
of final details of a separation barrier that will cut off more than 50,000 Palestinians
Palestinian U.N. representative Somaia Barghouti charged Israel with using the Gaza
withdrawal to divert attention from the barrier extension, and for expanding settlements
in the West Bank. "While the international community is focusing its efforts on the
success of Israel's exit from Gaza and some areas in the north of the West Bank, Israel,
the occupying power, is taking accelerating steps to expand its expansionist colonialist
plan through expanding colonial settlement, accelerating the building of the wall and
isolating the occupied part of Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank."
Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman immediately issued a sharp reply. He called it "almost
cynical" that the Palestinian delegate would criticize the barrier at a time of
deteriorating security. He defended the planned extension, calling it a necessary
defensive measure. "The reality is that the fence works," he said. "It saves hundreds of
lives. There has been a reduction of over 90 percent in successful terrorist attacks, a 70
percent reduction in citizens killed, and an 85 percent reduction in the number of wounded
- all of which can be attributed directly to the effectiveness of the security fence."
Israel Ponders Early Gaza Withdrawal
By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israeli officials say the government is considering an early withdrawal from the Gaza
Strip, following three days of mass anti-disengagement protests that tied up thousands of
security forces. The prospect of an early withdrawal could well be discussed with
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who arrived in the area Thursday, for talks with
Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he would support a decision to move up the
timetable for the Gaza disengagement. Olmert told Israel Radio such a move might be wise,
in light of recent protest rallies, which have tied up security forces, sapped their
energy and created obstacles in the daily lives of all citizens.
Opponents of the withdrawal have staged a variety of protests, from blocking roads and
thoroughfares and handing out orange colored ribbons to motorists to this week's mass
rally when an estimated 20,000 protesters walked toward Gaza - hoping to reach the
settlement block of Gush Katif and prevent its dismantling. An equal number of security
forces were mobilized to stop the march. Demonstrators and police faced off for three days
at Kfar Maimon, in southern Israel, before the protest fizzled and most of the
demonstrators returned home.
By Thursday morning, a few hundred die-hard protesters remained at the site. Police
also arrested 250 disengagement opponents, Wednesday night, for trying to enter the Gaza
Strip to get to Gush Katif. The dismantling of the 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza and four
small ones in the northern West Bank was initially to begin in mid July, but was then
postponed so it would not coincide with a traditional Jewish mourning period. The new date
was set for mid August.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said Thursday the Palestinians have made their
preparations and are ready to take over - whenever Israel pulls out. Speaking in Ramallah,
Qureia said the problem is that the Palestinians have to guess at Israeli plans because of
the lack of coordination.
The disengagement issue tops the agenda for talks with Rice. She holds talks with both
Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the main aim of her visit is to ensure that the
disengagement stays on track. She cut short her trip to Africa to come here - a decision
made last week amid rising Israeli-Palestinian violence, as well as fighting between
Palestinian security forces and Hamas militants in Gaza.
Maccabiah Ends with Lavish Ceremony
The 17th Maccabiah Games came to a close Thursday evening with an extravagant ceremony
at Jerusalem's "Sultan's Pool." Earlier, the participants gathered at the Western Wall and
then marched en masse to the event's venue.
Education Minister Limor Livnat thanked the participants and called on them to make
aliyah and strengthen the Jewish nation. Prime Minster Ariel Sharon made a similar plea in
the opening ceremony. Olympic judo medallist Arik Zeevi walked on stage with a young
female judoka; the two expressed their hope for achievement in sports and peace in our
Divas Ronni Duani and Ninet Tayeb belted out two of the country's hottest hit songs,
while the Air Force band reminded the audience that no official ceremony in Israel is
complete without representation from those who secure our borders. The ceremony was hosted
by top model-actress and former MTV Europe VJ Becky Griffin, who spoke of her parent's
immigration to Israel, and by TV star Rodrigo Goldberg, who gave a personal account of the
hardships involved in making aliyah.
The most poignant part of the evening was the special tribute to Oren Almog, the child
who lost his sight in the terror attack at Haifa's Maxim restaurant two years ago.
Almog, who lost his brother in the attack, said, "You can see me, but I cannot see you;
yet still, I can feel the special Maccabiah atmosphere. After all that I have been
through, I know that even if they hurt you, they can't beat you," he said. "On this
evening I say that if we remain united and maintain the Beyachad (togetherness), no one
will be able to defeat us."
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