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1000s of Singles Pray for a Match


Thousands of singles attended a special Western Wall prayer event on Monday night, all seeking Heavenly intervention to find a match this year. Family members of the singles were also present, taking part in the prayer event.

Terrorists Running in Palestinian Authority Elections


The PA has demanded the release from Israeli prison of Marwan Barghouti, accused of murdering 35 Israelis. So says PA official Saeb Erekat. Barghouti wants to run in the upcoming PA parliament elections.

Erekat told Army Radio today that the PA also demands the release of Hizbullah murderer Samir Kuntar. Kuntar and three other terrorists infiltrated into northern Israel by sea in 1979, abducted and murdered Danny Haran and his young daughter Einat, and killed policeman Eliyahu Shachar. Danny's 2-year-old daughter Yael was also killed in the attack.

Erekat's demand is not likely to be fulfilled - at least not in the coming weeks. A meeting scheduled for Tuesday between PA leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was canceled precisely because Abbas knew that Sharon would not respond positively to demands of this nature.

On the other hand, it is not unlikely that Barghouti will be released in the future. In June of this year, Israel daily Yediot Acharonot reported that top Israeli officials have recommended that the government consider releasing Barghouti. The recommendation reportedly appeared in a secret document given to senior security cabinet ministers.

Last November, then-interior Minister Avraham Poraz of the Shinui Party said it would be possible, "under certain circumstances," to consider releasing Barghouti from prison. The ultra-left Gush Shalom organization has also called for Barghouti's release. The Justice for Jonathan Pollard organization has also reported in the name of Acting Finance Minister Ehud Olmert that Israel is grooming Barghouti and preparing him to be the next Palestinian Authority leader.

Barghouti and other Al-Aksa Brigades terrorists are pressuring the PLO's Fatah, its mother organization, to be included on its list of candidates for the upcoming PA parliamentary election. The election is scheduled for late January 2006.

Fatah has not yet agreed to incorporate Al-Aksa on its list, however, and the disagreement has already led to violence. Al-Aksa terrorists fired at a car of a senior PA parliament leader last week - in protest of Fatah's refusal to include them in a Bethlehem gathering convened to formulate an election list.

Topping the list of aspiring Al-Aksa candidates is Barghouti, who has been in Israeli prison for three and a half years and is serving several life terms. The arch-terrorist is considered the founder of the Al-Aksa Brigades. Others on the list of potential PA lawmakers are Nasser Awis, a subordinate of Barghouti who dispatched suicide terrorists; Yasser Abu Baher, currently serving three life terms plus 40 years for various murders; and Jamal Hawil, responsible for many attacks against Israelis in the Jenin area.

An Al-Aksa leader known as Abu Udai demands that the Fatah leadership includes what he calls Fatah's "military arm" in the list of candidates. He says that the Al-Aksa Brigades are a "fundamental part of Fatah."

This attempt by Al-Aksa, writes analyst and former IDF Intelligence officer Yonatan D. HaLevy, is an expression of its desire to effect a "white revolution" within Fatah against the old leadership. Al-Aksa's influence within the organization has grown over the past five years of warfare, and it is now ready to translate this to political power. Weeks ago, terrorists fired at the home of Hani Al-Hasan, a veteran Fatah leader who has fallen out of favor with the more militant and younger Fatah members.

The calls against Hamas' participation in the elections, because of its declared intentions to destroy Israel, apply just as well to Fatah. The latter's official website presents its charter just as it was written in 1989, in which it declares its ambition to bring about the "total liberation of Palestine and the liquidation of the Zionist entity economically, politically, militarily and culturally." This will be done, the charter states, via armed popular revolution - and Al-Aksa and other groups have taken it upon themselves to carry this out.

Turkey Transfers Ottoman Land Records to Palestinian Authority

By Ha'aretz

The Turkish government has given the Palestinian Authority a copy of the Ottoman archive containing all documents pertaining to land ownership in pre-state Israel through 1916.

The PA requested the records to support Palestinian land claims. The Palestinians say that these documents reflect the "true" ownership of the land. One year later, in 1917, Britain drove the Ottomans out of the country and issued the Balfour Declaration, expressing support for the establishment of a Jewish state in what was then called Palestine. The Palestinians say these evens represented the start of "a Zionist takeover of their land, under the auspices of British imperialism."

Even before 1917, Jewish and Zionist institutions had purchased large tracts of land in Palestine from absentee landlords, who lived mainly in Syria and Lebanon. These landlords had previously leased their property to local farmers, but were happy to sell it for the right price, without giving a thought to their tenant farmers. Nevertheless, Palestinians view these sales as more legitimate than those that took place during the British occupation that began in 1917.

Under Ottoman rule, a substantial portion of the land in Palestine was registered as state land. Some of this land was later sold or transferred to pre-state Jewish institutions. Other portions belonged to the Muslim waqf (religious trust), and these, according to Islamic law, cannot be sold. However, there was no orderly registration process; ownership was determined primarily using records such as tax payments.

Ever since 1948, Palestinian institutions dealing with the refugee issue have been trying to obtain accurate records on the land and property that were lost when Israel was established. This effort has gained steam in recent years, but no Palestinian institution has come close to collecting all the relevant data. One reason for the lackadaisical effort may be the Palestinians' understanding that the data has little practical value other than for public relations. At most, it will be used in the bargaining over compensation for refugees, if and when such negotiations take place.

Israel to Lease Kinneret Shore Land to Evangelicals

By Ha'aretz

Along the northeastern edge of Lake Kinneret, the landscape is quiet, the wind blows gently and the Korazim River meanders tranquilly, much as it did in the time of Jesus, but this undisturbed vista may not last much longer. Plans are underway to develop an evangelical Christian center in the area - a mini-Israel of sorts and perhaps a biblical theme park.

As part of the project, Israel will initially lease 125 acres (500 dunams) in the area between Capernaum, Tabgha and the Mount of Beatitudes. The idea: to build a center that will provide Christian believers with a sense that "Jesus lived here." Some see the project as having great potential to attract pilgrims.

Indeed, most tourism to Israel is Christian. In 2000, for example, 2.7 million tourists visited Israel, of which 1.5 million were Christians. Tourism Minister Abraham Hirchson says evangelicals will invest $50 million to $70 million in the project, and that they will design the area with Israeli consent. Hirchson says, "I hope that in November we'll be able to sign the first agreement."

Hirchson believes that the new center will draw a million to 1.5 million additional tourists a year. "Certainly, from there they will also continue on to Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem," he says. The center is also likely to add a day to pilgrims' visits to the Galilee and it is estimated that every day with 100,000 visitors means income of $130 million.

Several months ago Hirchson appointed a steering committee chaired by Uri Dagul, head of the Israel Youth Hostels Association. According to Dagul, evangelicals are interested in life in Israel, unlike the Catholics. Until the Six-Day War, Jordan was the Holy Land for Christians. Few pilgrims visited Israel then. After 1967, when most of the pilgrimage sites came under Israeli control, the trend shifted. Among evangelicals also, Israel's victory was perceived as divine intervention, and subsequently there was a steady flow of evangelical pilgrims to Israel. "There are 90 million evangelicals in America and 300 million around the world. If just one percent of all of them comes to Israel, that would be enough," said Dagul.

However, there are some who argue that the Lake Kinneret area should not be designated for evangelicals alone, but should be made into a general Christian heritage site or even a biblical theme park, which would also not deter Jews. "The bottom line is that there is an agreement in principle that this will be a center for Christians of all kinds, but evangelicals will be running the project," stressed the tourism minister.

The northeastern area of Lake Kinneret was chosen for the project because most chapters of the New Testament refer to Jesus' activity there. From this area, he sent out his disciples to spread the gospel; he lived there in Peter's home in Capernaum; many of his deeds took place there; and he often visited Korazim, Beit Zaida and Migdal. "Here Christian tourists shed tears, here they are moved by religious emotions. This is the No. 1 resource that can be offered to the Christian world," said Dagul.

Dagul, who took the job as an unpaid volunteer, said that the Christian tourist arriving in Israel sees the lack of development of Christian sites and the overall low level of services. "There is no reenactment of what went on in Jesus' day, the state didn't take this upon itself as a mission.".

And who is the group with whom the negotiations are underway? "We are talking about a broad group, and at its heart one of the key figures will be Pat Robertson," said Hirchson. Robertson, an evangelist from the U.S., is widely known from the "The 700 Club," the Christian news and talk show that is the flagship of the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Agreement has been reached on a joint planning committee, with the proviso that the architect would be a local one. According to Dagul, there is inter-ministerial consensus on the project. When Binyamin Netanyahu was finance minister, he received a delegation of evangelicals and promised to advance the project. The state is providing the land and the Finance Ministry would help fund infrastructure and access roads.

Finance Minister Ehud Olmert has supported the project based on the agreed outline "by helping to remove statutory obstacles relating to land and infrastructure, with the actual funding for the project coming from the Christian organizations."

Opponents to the project, among them the chairman of the Yad L'achim organization, Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifschitz, who met with Tourism Minister Hirchson, argued that bitter experience with evangelicals leaves no doubt regarding their missionary activity. The Ministry of Tourism said the project calls only for a visitors' center, with staffers saying, "Israeli children will not sit down there to learn about Jesus." Hirchson is determined to bring the project to fruition. "I will get the whole project approved in a government decision," he said.

Egypt Denies Israeli al Qaeda Sinai Claims

By Al Bawaba (

An Egyptian security source denied in comments published Tuesday Israel's claim that Al-Qaeda network established a base in the Sinai Peninsula. Al-Gumhuriyah daily quoted the source as saying "that there is absolutely no Al-Qaeda base in Sinai," adding that the security forces are still operating in Sinai to control "all elements still at large within Al-Halal mountain after taking part in the recent Sinai attacks."

On Sunday, Israel's Intelligence Chief Gen. Ze'evi-Farkash said Al-Qaeda had built at least one base in Sinai, from where activists are sent to Gaza Strip and from there to Israel.

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