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German Report: Schlaff Tried to Bribe Ariel Sharon


The German weekly "Focus" reports that Austrian businessman and Jericho casino-owner Martin Schlaff tried to bribe PM Ariel Sharon into opening the casino earlier than planned. The magazine embellished on similar reports in Austria by stating that the sums involved totaled $4.5 million. Schlaff allegedly funneled the money into Sharon family bank accounts in exchange for a decision to re-open the Jericho casino. The Oasis Casino in Jericho is partly owned by Casino Austria, a partially Austrian government-owned company that is controlled by Schlaff and Arafat-crony Mohammed Rashid. The casino shut down in late 2000, a month after the PA started the Oslo War, and it has remained closed ever since. It was heavily damaged by Israeli military strength in retaliation for terrorist fire shot at Israeli forces from its roof shortly after it was closed. Schlaff funneled the money to the Sharons, the reports state, in February 2002, 16 months after the casino was closed.

Jerusalem Man Kidnapped and Murdered by Hamas


It was released for publication Monday evening that an Israeli Jew from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev was kidnapped Wednesday and murdered by Arab terrorists. The body of Sasson Nuriel was discovered Monday morning in the Arab village of Bituniya, west of Ramallah. A gag order on the case was partially lifted Monday evening.

Nuriel, 55, owned a candy factory in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone, near Jerusalem. His murderers, it appears, were members of the Hamas terrorist organization. He disappeared last Wednesday and his wife reported him missing to the police late that night. Police and Shabak (General Security Services) agents then carried out a search and investigation that led to the discovery of Nuriel's body Monday morning and the arrest of at least one Hamas terrorist in connection with the murder. His body showed signs of extreme violence. The Palestinian Authority did nothing to assist Israel in its search for the kidnap-murder victim.

Israel Launches Third Day of Air Strikes in Gaza

By VOA News & Ha'aretz

Israel launched air strikes Monday on the Gaza Strip for the third straight day. The attacks come as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon faced a showdown in his own party. Israeli aircraft pounded Palestinian terrorist targets across Gaza. The army said it targeted weapons factories and storage facilities, after Palestinians fired more than 40 rockets at Israeli towns.

Israeli spokesman Ra'anan Gissin said the rules have changed, now that Israel has pulled out of Gaza. "We are now deployed behind our international border and any attack against Israel is an attack against the sovereignty of the state of Israel, for which he have all the right to exercise our right of self-defense," said Gissin.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat appealed to all parties to uphold the seven-month old cease-fire. "I am afraid at the end of the day, violence will breed more violence, bullets will breed more bullets," he said.

The upsurge in violence comes as Sharon faced a revolt in his ruling Likud party. The hawkish Likud Central Committee is voting on whether to hold early elections in November to choose a party leader. Sharon infuriated the Likud by dismantling 21 Gaza settlements, and the party could take revenge by replacing him with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sharon won Monday's Likud Central Committee vote on whether to hold an early Likud Party primary by a slim 104-vote margin. Hiss victory by a majority of 1,433 to 1,329 over Netanyahu, who pushed for the proposal to hold the primary in 60 days, puts a freeze on the struggle within the Likud until April, when the primaries are scheduled under the party constitution. Turnout was high as 91 percent, or 2,762 central committee members out of the listed 3,050 heeded Sharon's call by coming to cast their ballot.

The victory places Sharon in an even greater dilemma, according to some commentators, than if he had lost. In fact, Sharon is getting era time to decide on his political future competing in the Likud or setting up a new political body to fight in the next elections. "The prime minister thanks you all," MK Ruchama Avraham, a Sharon ally, told a cheering crowd after getting off the phone with the Israeli leader. "The fact is you told him by a majority vote: 'We want you to remain as prime minister and head of the Likud'."

Sharon's men said Monday that he would demand of Netanyahu, as the leader of the rebellion against him, to end the "uprising" and undertake to work as part of the coalition. Sources close to the prime minister said he sees the vote results as a show of confidence in his way as he presented it, and that he intends to continue to implement the Middle East road map peace plan as he has promised.

Israel Said Set to Deport U.S. Jew for Planning to Assassinate Sharon

By Ha'aretz

Israel is set to deport a young ultra-Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn suspected of having intended to assassinate Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel Radio reported Monday. The case is believed to be the first time that Israel has sought deportation of a Jew for alleged intentions to commit security violations. The Shin Bet ordered him arrested because of intelligence information indicating that he planned to kill the prime minister, the radio said.

Border Police detained the suspect, who was not identified, on Friday night near the tomb of Shimon Hazaddik in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. According to the radio, he was carrying a Koran at the time of his arrest, and photographs found in his possession showed him touring Muslim and Arab countries wearing a kaffiyeh.

Land: Evangelical Majority Supports Israel's Gaza Withdrawal

By Baptist Press

A majority of American evangelical Christians support the Israeli government's decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land estimated to members of a prominent foreign policy organization.

In a meeting with members of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Land said of evangelicals' response to the August-September removal of Israeli settlers from that land, "You don't bless the Jews by asking more for the Jews than they're asking for themselves. And if the Israeli government elected by the Israeli people believes that this is in the best interest of ... the Jews who are in the land, then far be it from us to try to force upon them something which they think is counter-productive for themselves."

Forum moderator Luis Lugo, director of the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, had expressed surprise to Land there was not more protest from American evangelicals about Israel's withdrawal from land it controlled.

There are "maybe 20 to 25 percent" of evangelicals who strongly support Israel who are "very disturbed by the withdrawal from Gaza," estimated Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Land said he was "perfectly comfortable" with a two-state solution in that region, "particularly if the Palestinian state agrees to live at peace with her neighbors."

Shimon Peres, former prime minister of Israel, told Land there were three facts others needed to understand about the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the ERLC president told the CFR members: (1) Jews and Arabs are nearly evenly split in population; (2) Israel is not going to stop being democratic, and (3) Israel will remain a Jewish state. "If you are going to fulfill all three of those things, then you have to have a two-state solution," Land said.

Land said he believes "it's safe to say that a significant majority of the people who identify themselves as evangelicals believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jews and that God is a keeper of His promises, and God has said that 'God blesses those who bless the Jews, and God curses those who curse the Jews,' and that if we want America to be blessed by God, then we need to not be cursing the Jews." That does not mean evangelicals "give blind acceptance of everything that the state of Israel does or has done," he said, "but we do support the right of the Jews to exist in the land that God gave to them without any kind of limitation."

How to be Israeli


A survey commissioned by the Jewish Agency to examine the attitude of veteran Israelis to new immigrants revealed some curious findings when it came to offering advice to newcomers who wish to become "more Israeli."

While 92 percent of poll respondents said learning Hebrew was a must and 86 percent stressed the importance of serving in the IDF, 18 percent said eating humus was the way to go. On another front, although 15 years have passed since the beginning of the large immigration wave from the former Soviet Union, many Israelis still encounter immigrants from Russia and the Soviet republics mostly in the supermarket. Overall, 54 percent of respondents said most Russians they meet are supermarket cashiers.

Meanwhile, the survey revealed veteran Israelis appreciate newcomers when it comes to certain fields. Overall, 32 percent of respondents said new immigrants excel in science and technology, 17 percent said they excel in sports, and 15 percent were impressed by the newcomers' contribution when it comes to culture. The survey also found that getting rid of the "new immigrant" label could take a long time. About 20 percent of respondents said the label should be removed only after a new arrival has lived in Israel for 10 years, but 28 percent said one year was enough. Meanwhile, 50 percent of respondents said three years must pass before the label no longer applies.

On a more encouraging note, 96 percent of respondents said veteran Israelis should help new immigrants, with 75 percent saying they are willing to volunteer their time and offer a helping hand.

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