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Egyptian Official: Dead Sea-Red Sea Canal Will Cause Quakes

By Reuters

The chairman of Egypt's Suez Canal Authority objected on Tuesday to a project to link the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, saying it would increase the risk of earthquakes in the Middle East. "The two seas canal would lead to strong seismic activity in the region because of the rush of water," Ahmed Ali Fadel told a news conference at the canal headquarters. The canal, designed to generate electricity for a desalination plant and to prevent the Dead Sea from drying up, would carry 850 million tons of water annually.

Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians signed an agreement in May for a study into the building of the canal. Fadel said the earthquake danger would be especially serious because the earth's crust is thinner in the Gulf of Aqaba then anywhere else on earth. The water would come from the Gulf of Aqaba, which is part of the Red Sea, be pumped uphill and then run down into the Dead Sea, which lies below sea level.

The Egyptian official said the project would also provide Israel with water for cooling its nuclear reactor at Dimona."Adding a desalination plant means turning the Negev Desert area into an area of settlement after water and electricity are provided."

The salt water pumped into the Dead Sea would increase the salinity of wells in neighboring countries. The Dead Sea is already more saline than the Red Sea. The Dead Sea-Red Sea canal would not pose a commercial challenge to the Suez Canal because it would not carry shipping.


Prosecution Policy: Don´t Topple the Government

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A senior police officer speaking with Arutz-7 on condition of anonymity said there is enough evidence to indict and convict Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, but "it's unreasonable to topple a government over criminal cases."

The source said that incontrovertible evidence exists against the Prime Minister in more than one case, but that the decision was made, together with the State Prosecution, not to pursue the cases. The investigations in question concern the $1.5 million loan by South African millionaire Cyril Kern to Sharon's sons, Kfar Malal and others. The source said that police investigators were made to understand that the policy is not to delve into cases that might incriminate the Prime Minister, in order not to destabilize the regime in Israel.

Former State Comptroller Eliezer Goldberg, in a recent interview with Yediot Ahronoth, upon ending his seven-year term in the post, said he did not understand why the investigation of Sharon's Kfar Malal activities were taking so long.

The Kfar Malal affair was first uncovered by the business daily Globes in the summer of 2003 when it alleged that Prime Minister Sharon intervened with the Transportation Ministry on behalf of two brothers from Kfar Malal, south of Kfar Saba, whose land was being seized for use as a highway. The brothers, friends and former neighbors of Sharon, told the Prime Minister that their claims that the proposed compensation was too low were being ignored.

Sharon intervened, and the brothers received some $100,000 more than had originally been set. Then Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein ordered an investigation and froze the payment of compensation. Former State Comptroller Goldberg himself investigated this issue in the past, and found that Sharon had "acted directly to promote a decision regarding farmland that led to a personal benefit for him and his relative."

Arutz-7's Shimon Cohen, who spoke with the police source, said that the policy outlined by the source explains the enthusiasm with which the Prosecution is pursuing a plea bargain deal with Knesset member Omri Sharon, the Prime Minister's son. Much evidence, including documents, affidavits, recorded testimony and admissions, has been amassed showing that Omri activated fictitious associations to help his father beat Ehud Olmert in the Likud primaries of 1999. Despite this, and contrary to accepted practice, the Prosecution made great efforts to reach a plea bargain deal - which may even be finalized as soon as today.

The fact that the Prosecution pursued a plea bargain deal, despite the relative ease with which it could have achieved a conviction, raised eyebrows in many legal circles. The deal stipulates that Omri Sharon will confess to a series of minor infractions, in exchange for the erasure of the heavier accusations against him.


Shin Bet May Place Yesha Leaders in Administrative Detention

By Ha'aretz

The Shin Bet domestic security service is considering placing leaders of extreme right-wing movements in administrative detention prior to Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank, agency chief Yuval Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday. "This is a very violent group of Kahanists and 'hilltop youth' that espouses violent activities and that does not belong to the mainstream of disengagement opposition," Diskin said.

Diskin is of the opinion that administrative detention should only be used in extreme cases in which it would not otherwise be possible to prevent the violent activities of these individuals. Up until now, the Shin Bet has only placed one extreme right figure, Neria Ofan, in administrative detention. Diskin told the Knesset committee that the "Shin Bet has boosted its surveillance of extreme right-wing cells working to harm public order and life."

He noted that most pullout opponents are involved in responsible and legitimate protest. Diskin also told the committee on Tuesday that there is a 50 percent chance that security forces carrying out the disengagement would come under fire by Palestinian terrorist organizations.

Earlier on Tuesday Diskin told the Knesset committee he believed that Hamas would have interest in calming tensions in the Gaza Strip following the disengagement, but would escalate its terror activities in the West Bank in order to "heat up" the area. Diskin said that arms smuggling via the Philadelphi Route, which runs along the Gaza-Egypt border, has been considerably reduced, but not completely stopped. The cooperation on the matter between the Palestinian Authority and Egyptian forces, Diskin said, would be better than that between the PA and Israel after Egyptian forces deploy along the Gaza-Egypt border.


Death Prayer Against Sharon Called 'A Barbaric Pagan Ceremony'

By YnetNews.com

Condemnations of the Pulsa Dinura death prayer against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, conducted by radical rabbis and right-wing activists, have come flooding in from across the political spectrum The incitement against Sharon reached alarming new levels on Tuesday, following claims by radical right-wing activists that a Pulsa Dinura (death curse) was placed on Sharon, and that rabbis have prayed for his demise.

(Courtesy of Indopedia--The origin of this phrase seems to come from the Babylonian Talmud, in tractate Hagigah 15a. This section mentions 60 "pulsey d'nura" (plural) in order to discipline the angel Metatron. A pulsa d'nura is mentioned once in the Zohar, one of the classic works of Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, section 3:263c, Raya Mehemna. There it is described as a heavenly punishment against a person who does not fulfill their religious obligations. The phrase appears in a small number of other locations in the Talmud and Zohar, but not in the context of a mystical curse. )

The events were widely condemned by politicians across the political spectrum. "This phenomenon not only crosses all the red lines, but also violates what is permissible in a democratic country," said Knesset Member Ehud Yatom, a Likud rebel who is opposed to the disengagement. "I expect the police to investigate these rabbis and whoever else was responsible for this, to try them, and to imprison them. The fact that the prime minister's life was threatened like this is unacceptable, irrespective of where one stands on the pullout," he added.

However, Yatom's condemnations did not satisfy the chairman of Peace Now, Yariv Openheimer, who called on the whole of the right-wing camp to "do some urgent soul-searching before the next political murder takes place, and not to wait for the day after it happens. We're not talking about a few bad apples, but an entire field of extremists who are willing to kill to stop the disengagement problem."

The settlers' Yesha Council also condemned those behind the Pulsa Dinura against Sharon "The struggle against the expulsion must be waged for the hearts and minds of the nation, which is certainly not helped by little 'ceremonies' like this," said the Council in a press statement.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Meztger said, "any threats, including verbal threats, are forbidden. It's wrong to use religious means to express extremist opinions. Such acts constitute a defilement of God's name, and they drag the name of Jewish values through the mud. There is no reason the world that can justify threatening the life of Israel's leader."

Knesset Member Yosef Paritzky, an ex-Shinui party minister, said the incident was "a barbaric ceremony conducted by pagans. The hallucinatory right is busy with ceremonies and the sane center is busy with disengagement. From my perspective, that can go on. I hope that the Shin Bet, whose job it is to protect the prime minister, learned from its mistakes from the murder of Rabin."


Cell Phones Invade the Arab World

By Ha'aretz

Religious scholars are being asked such questions as whether it is permissible to use verses from the Koran as ring tones? Is it permissible to summon the faithful to prayer via a cellular phone and is it permissible to get divorced by sending an SMS? Numerous Muslims have asked such questions, seeking religious rulings to guide them in this use of the new device. Religious scholars deliberated, and the upshot has been at least four different rulings.

Regarding the ring tones, there was no debate. Verses from the Koran may be used as may devices that announce prayer times for anywhere in the world. The only hesitation was that if the muezzin's voice is heard, people on the street may get confused and think that then is the time for prayer, when the owner of the phone was just receiving another call from the bourse.

The problem is more complicated when it comes to anything related to divorce. Although divorcing a wife does not require witnesses and the husband may do so by stating the words "I divorce you" three times, in order to protect the woman's rights, a certificate confirming the divorce is needed. Therefore, the former mufti of Egypt, Nasr Wasel Farid, maintains that an SMS may be used as a means of notifying a wife of a divorce, but not as proof thereof, and therefore the SMS message should be accompanied by a written document that cannot be lost. However, Ahmed Omar Hashem, the president of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, believes that electronic writing can be used to divorce, but cautions against fraudulent actions.

These new religious rulings were prompted by the widespread arrival of cell phones in the Arab world, and their use for religious purposes is not uncommon. Many faithful are also asking if it is permissible to turn off a cell phone that rings during prayers and whether recharging a cell phone using an outlet in a mosque is not a desecration of its sanctity.

"The cellular mosque," the successor of the "Internet mosque" is seen as a positive development in the use of the new device. The other, negative, side of the phenomenon is evident in reports of harmful use, especially devices that come with built-in cameras. For example, there was a report that three Saudi Arabian youths were sentenced to two to 12 years in jail and 1,200 lashes (combined) because they filmed the rape of a Saudi woman and relayed the images from the cell phone to the Internet. As a result of this incident, Saudi Arabia at the beginning of this year blocked the import of cell phones with cameras, but this directive is apparently being bypassed by rampant smuggling.

Young people send each other SMS messages and pornographic photos and even more common is the harassment (by phone) of young girls using cell phones and photographing women without their head-coverings at restaurants or women-only parties and then publicizing the photos on the Internet or using them for blackmail.

But here, too, there are some positive stories, such as, for example, Umm Ismail of Gaza, who told a correspondent on the popular Internet site Ilaf that she used a cell phone camera at a neighborhood wedding to photograph potential mates for her son, who has already rejected several suggestions from matchmakers.

The cell-phone industry is one of the fastest-growing electronics industries in the Middle East. According to data from the Center for Commercial Research at the University of Cairo, in 1999 there were only 654,000 devices in Egypt; today there are some 5.7 million and the forecast is that by the end of the year, this number will reach toward seven million. Last year, Egyptians spent some six billion Egyptian pounds (around $1 million) on purchasing and using cell phones, and consequently per capita spending increased by about 15 percent. Those who can't afford to buy a cell phone can rent the use of a cell phone for a per-minute fee from phone owners abounding at every street corner. The cost is half a pound, or around 10 cents, per minute in public squares all over Cairo.

And there are of course the "usual" calls between men and women, and between boys and girls, in places where a direct conversation would be deemed a serious violation of morality codes. In addition to the ease with which these messages are relayed, there is the knowledge that the authorities in most Arab countries are still unable to continuously monitor the calls and stop the offenders.

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