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Israeli Arab Charged With 2002 El Al Hijack Attempt


Security and police officials Wednesday arrested a 27-year-old Arab from the Galilee on charges that he tried to hijack an El Al flight to Turkey three years ago. The suspect, Taufik Fukrah, arrived by plane to Israel Wednesday after a Turkish court released him from prison because of lack of evidence. He allegedly approached the cockpit shortly after the Istanbul-bound flight took off from Ben Gurion Airport. On board security guards stopped him and took him into custody after he jumped a flight attendant and began to pull out a concealed pocketknife.

Bush Sees Opportunity for Peace in Gaza Withdrawal

By Paula Wolfson (VOA-White House)

President Bush said now that Israel has withdrawn from Gaza, Palestinian leaders should seize the opportunity to show they are determined to end violence and bring peace to the region.

Bush called the withdrawal a bold step, and said the next move remained up to the Palestinians. "And so now is an opportunity. And the opportunity rests with the Palestinian people to show they can govern themselves in a peaceful way." The president said there should be only one Palestinian security force, a reference to demands Palestinian leaders disarm militant groups such as Hamas. He said the Palestinian Authority must demonstrate its commitment to peace and to building the Palestinian economy.

In a speech to a group of Jewish members of his Republican Party, Bush also called once again on Arab countries to help the Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas. "They need to step in and help the peaceful democratic forces within Gaza to thwart those whose stated objective is the destruction of Israel," added Bush.

President Bush said these are historic, challenging times, adding he is hopeful the Palestinians can succeed and the peace process can move forward. He said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a bold decision, and stressed the United States remains firmly committed to defending the security and the well being of Israel. Bush met with the prime minister last week on the sidelines of a U.N. summit in New York. On Thursday, the president will continue his discussions on the situation in the Middle East when he meets at the White House with Jordan's King Abdullah.

Israeli Troops Leave Evacuated West Bank Settlements

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Jubilant Palestinians rushed into Ganim and Kadim, hours after the last Israeli soldiers left the two settlements in the northern section of the West Bank. These were the last of four enclaves evacuated by the Israelis in the northern West Bank, completing a disengagement that began last month in Gaza. But the big question now is what happens next?

But, unlike in Gaza, where full control of the area was handed to the Palestinians after the withdrawal, the situation in the northern West Bank is different. Palestinians will have control over the abandoned settlements, but Israeli troops still patrol the area, since the West Bank remains under overall Israeli control.

Israel's disengagement sparked widespread hope for a return to full negotiations via the internationally backed Roadmap Peace Plan. Both Israel and the Palestinians have welcomed a return to the plan, but each is blaming the other for not making the right moves to do so. Israel says the Palestinian Authority must dismantle the terrorist groups, meaning militant factions such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Speaking on Israel radio from New York, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was very blunt about how Hamas must be curbed. He said Israel would not allow Hamas to participate in the Palestinian legislative elections scheduled for January.

Palestinian officials reject such Israeli interference in internal Palestinian affairs. They say Israel should instead end its occupation of the West Bank and dismantle its remaining settlements there. The Palestinian leadership would like to see that happen through negotiations. But, Palestinian terrorists have claimed credit for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. A Hamas leader in the West Bank, Hassan Youssef said the group would fight on.

Speaking on Palestinian radio, Youssef said the militants would not allow anyone to disarm them. He insisted they will fight to drive Israel out of the West Bank and he is adamant, Hamas will participate in the January elections.

New Kids´ Game: Cops and Settlers


Children of Judea and Samaria towns have come up with a new game, in which they play out the evacuations they have seen in Gush Katif and northern Samaria - which they fear may occur in their own towns.

The rules of the game are straightforward, reported Arutz-7's Yedidyah Cohen. One group of children plays the policemen, while the others are civilians who must be expelled. The first group tries to remove the others; while the latter do everything they can to interfere

Arabs Establish Outpost on Hebron's Ancient Jewish Cemetery


Hebron's Jewish community awoke Wednesday morning to discover that two caravan trailer homes had been placed on an ancient Jewish Ashkenazi cemetery frequented by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement due to the fact that Menucha Rochel, the granddaughter of the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, is buried there.

The cemetery had been destroyed during the years following the violent riots in 1929 during which Jews were thrown out of the city. It is now an empty area where Arab residents frequently throw garbage and refuse, with the grave of Menucha Rochel refurbished and cared for by a Chabad kollel [full-time Torah study group] that studies at the site daily. The Jewish community re-purchased the entire area of the cemetery years ago, but has not built anything on the site, which is now the border between the city's H1 area, controlled by the Palestinian Authority - and the H2 area, under IDF control.

The caravans placed on the cemetery are on the PA-controlled H1 side, however, and the Civil Administration, which usually acts to prevent unauthorized Jewish building, refused to do anything to remove the structures. Hebron's Jewish community is outraged at the development. "Number one, it is 100 percent Jewish-owned land," said spokesman David Wilder. "Number two, we have been told the Arabs intend to build a school at the site, which is a very serious security problem. There is a Chabad kollel there every afternoon and to have something so close is a mortal threat."

Asked whether recent visits by left-wing MKs and declarations by left-wing radical groups that they would establish a headquarters to "defend" the Arabs of the Tel Romeida neighborhood in Hebron from Jews and the IDF may have played a role in the development, Wilder was not certain. "I don't know either way," said Wilder, "but whenever the leftists come here in a provocative manner, it has always opened the door for things such as terror attacks to happen, because the terrorists see that they have support from these people for their goals and it whets their appetite."

The Jews of Hebron say they will not allow the desecration of the cemetery to stand. "As the government uproots Jews and abandons holy sites, threatening to expel Jews even from their inheritance in Hebron, the Arabs continue their stealing of land and desecration of Hebron's ancient cemetery," said Hebron Mayor Noam Arnon. "Until now, the area was guarded, but today it was suddenly abandoned. We demand the removal of the trespassers immediately."

Giuliani Compares Sharon to Babe Ruth

By Ha'aretz

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is in Israel as the keynote speaker for Thursday's Ness Technologies seminar, said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's efforts to implement the disengagement were a sign of his patriotism. Giuliani said Sharon reminds him of baseball superstar Babe Ruth.

Just like Ruth - but unlike younger leaders like Sharon's party rival Binyamin Netanyahu, whom Giuliani also praised - Sharon has been proving his ability for many years, during which he always placed the state before himself, the former mayor said.

Giuliani, a Republican who served as mayor from 1994 to 2001 and the author of a book called "Leadership," will speak on that subject at the seminar in the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv. The seminar's theme is leadership through information technology. Leadership, he said, is a way of reaching goals, not a goal in itself. It is a quality measured by the degree to which leaders stick to their goals over time and through difficulties. Leaders, he said, are made, not born.

Giuliani, who was mayor during the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, praised President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for their fight against terror. He also praised London Mayor Ken Livingstone for the way in which he has coped with the terror attacks in his city. However, Giuliani would not say whether he covets Bush's seat in the White House. When reporters showed him a button reading, "Giuliani for President 2008," he said he had not yet decided whether to run as the Republican candidate for president.

Indian Court Fines Israeli Couple $23 for Wedding Ceremony Kiss

By Reuters

An Israeli couple was fined 1,000 rupees ($23) after an Indian court found them guilty of obscenity for kissing during their marriage ceremony in a Hindu pilgrim town, newspapers reported on Wednesday. The couple had decided to have a traditional Hindu marriage while visiting Pushkar town earlier this month in the temple-studded desert state of Rajasthan, The Times of India reported. But they infuriated the priest as they started to kiss and embrace while he was chanting vedic hymns.

The priest, along with other Hindu holy men, complained to police, who filed charges against the couple. The court in Pushkar gave its verdict on Tuesday. The Asian Age newspaper said Hindu priests were outraged. "We will not tolerate any cultural pollution of this sort," Ladoo Ram Sharma, president of an organization of Hindu priests in Pushkar, was quoted as saying. Pushkar has a famous temple dedicated to Brahma - the Hindu god of creation - and is popular with foreign tourists who come for its desert ambience, camel safaris and annual camel fair.

India has tough obscenity laws and kissing in public is frowned upon in the largely conservative country. Last October, local residents in the western state complained to authorities that a group of Israeli women had danced naked near Pushkar.

Bible Used to Search for Oil

By World Net Daily

Is Israel sitting on an enormous oil reserve mapped out in the Old Testament that when found will immediately change the geopolitical structure of the Middle East and confirm the validity of the Bible to people around the world?

So believes John Brown, an evangelical Christian and founder and chairman of Zion Oil and Gas, a company he and others poured several million dollars into to drill a hole 15,000 feet deep that will as soon as next week tap a rock interval that may contain oil. "The Bible spells out where the oil is," Brown told WND Tuesday outside his drilling rig off a highway between Haifa and Tel Aviv. "It's very specific. Now we're here to find it, and I know that when we do, the Scriptures will come alive for everyone who hears about it. And Israel will have enough oil not to worry about all the implications of the Arab states using their oil to threaten and gain power."

Brown, pointing to the Bible he says he always carries with him, referred to several biblical passages he is certain indicate where to find petroleum. He stressed that two passages, detailing God's blessings to each of biblical patriarch Jacob's 12 sons, are very specific: "Let Asher be blessed ... and let him dip his foot in oil." - Deuteronomy 33:24"; "Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well ... blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that couches beneath shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head." - Genesis 49: 22-26

Brown said he used a strategy explained to him by James Spillman, an evangelical minister and Bible scholar who lectured at his local church, to determine exactly where on the biblical map the oil might be. He then set out on a quest to find it, forming Zion Oil and Gas, which in 2000 was awarded by the Israeli government a small onshore petroleum license. In 2003, the company was granted an extended license that includes 95,800 acres of the area not far from Tel Aviv that Brown believes contains oil - Kibbutz Ma'anit.

The company immediately attracted some of the industry's top talent, including its current CEO Gene Soltero, a successful drilling veteran, and Glen Perry, its executive vice-president, who previously engineered for oil giants Exxon and Energy Reserve Group. "Our project, while it may be based on faith and the Bible, is entirely grounded in geology and scientific evidence," said Perry. Soltero called his company's project "a class A drillable prospect with reasonable chances of success ... drillable by any international standards."

Engineers the next few days will shoot large pressurized rock perforating bullets into one of the intervals Brown hopes will contain oil or at least more oil-bearing hydrocarbons indicating petroleum is nearby. "I think we may see petroleum come out," said Brown. "It doesn't happen right away, it takes a few days, but something might be happening really, really soon." Perry said if the company doesn't strike oil with this week's perforation, "we'll keep searching. There are several other rock intervals. This is just one of many possibilities."

The company also said studies indicate a large structural feature perhaps 5,000-10,000 feet deeper then the current drilling zone may contain a formation that has enough oil to make Israel a world class producer. "These kinds of similar zones around the world have contained billions of barrels," said Soltero.

For Brown, it's all about Israel. "You have these Arab states that threaten boycotts and throw their oil weight around to get countries to pressure Israel," said Brown. "Imagine if Israel becomes a huge oil producer. There will be no more placating anyone since they have the oil, "adding: "Of course there are the giant biblical implications. This will get people thinking about God and realizing His word it the truth."

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