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Israeli Arab Islamic Movement Leader Calls For 'Liberation of Jerusalem'


The militant leader of the Israeli Arab Islamic Movement, Raed Salah, visited the Temple Mount Monday and called upon Muslims to act to "liberate Jerusalem from the occupiers." The sheikh insisted that Muslim conquering of Jerusalem is the only option for Jerusalem's future. He also called upon Jerusalem's Muslims to act to stop Jewish construction in the Old City and archaeological digs in the area. Salah was recently released from an Israeli prison, where he was jailed due to his providing support for Hamas terrorists and their families.

Sharon to Draw Final Borders With Palestinians

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem) & Ha'aretz

Opinion polls taken following Ariel Sharon's departure from the Likud Party indicate that his move to form a new centrist party in Israel is popular with a majority of Israeli voters. The polls say Sharon has a good chance of gaining more than 30 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. If that happens on Election Day, Sharon will be guaranteed a third term and given the mandate he says he seeks of drawing Israel's final border with Palestinians.

Joshua Teitelbaum, a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University said there is no question, that Sharon is determined to achieve his goal. "I think Sharon is determined to be the person that sets the final borders of the state of Israel, and if he has to do that unilaterally, well I think he will try and do it through negotiations, but if he has to do it unilaterally I think he will make an effort at that."

In his breakaway speech from the Likud Party, Sharon ruled out unilateral pullbacks from Israeli-occupied positions in the West Bank, saying instead he will try and achieve Israel's final border with Palestinians through negotiations that follow the U.S. - backed "road map peace plan" which envisions two states living side-by-side in peace.

Since Sharon's announcement his political allies such as Finance Minister Ehud Olmert who met with senior Palestinian Authority officials just hours after Sharon's speech, have echoed the prime minister's remarks, saying Sharon is committed to territorial concessions towards Palestinians combined with tough action against Palestinian terrorists.

Senior Palestinian officials like Mahmoud Labadi, the director general of the Palestinian Legislative Council say they welcome Sharon's bold political gamble but they still have concerns about just what Sharon means when he talks about Israel's border with Palestinians.

"Our concern is that he wants to enlarge the space of the state of Israel at the expense of the Palestinians," said Labadi. "He wants to continue building settlements and he wants to continue building the wall [security barrier]. He wants to build settlements and continue his policies of aggression and occupation against the Palestinian people. That is the final border. He will not stick to the 1967 border and that means he will annex more Palestinian territory."

While Sharon is currently riding high in the polls, things could change by Election Day as they have for other Israeli politicians such as Moshe Dayan, who broke away from their parties to form third parties. However, Teitelbaum of Tel Aviv University said Sharon's case is different.

"This change is not really staked on personal issues as the previous third parties were. This is really based on a sea change in the Israeli political map, from basically an increasingly pragmatist view to an increasing move to the center. This is both from the left and the right, this move to the center," said Teitelbaum.

"This goes back a couple of years, but the crowning glory is Sharon supporting disengagement from Gaza. This created an entirely new situation and he was way ahead of his Likud Party. Also from the Labor Party there is more support for this kind of thing and he may take people from the Labor Party into this new centrist party."

Teitelbaum said if that happens, Israel's once powerful Likud Party and its strident voices against further territorial concessions could be marginalized, giving Sharon the opportunity he says he seeks to try and achieve peace through negotiations.

Sharon will receive a NIS 9.6 million (approximately $2 million) advance on his election funding, after having enlisted 14 Likud Knesset members to his new party.

The law entitles Knesset members to split from their party and form a new faction if they number at least one-third of the faction they split from. Sharon needed at least 14 MKs to form a separate faction and receive election funding and time slots for television and radio election broadcasts.

The new faction will receive the funding after the party registrar confirms its registration and after the Knesset Committee approves it. The Knesset administration is now trying to figure out how much to charge Sharon's party as a guarantee, if the party winds up winning fewer than 14 Knesset seats and must return money to the state.

Sharon's 14-strong party is eligible for 52 minutes of election broadcasts on television and 109 hours on the radio. Each Knesset faction receives 10 minutes of television broadcasts plus three minutes per MK, and 25 minutes of radio broadcasts plus six minutes for each MK. The broadcasts will be aired daily 21 days before the elections.

IDF 'Restraint' as Some Galilee Residents Still in Shelters


The military reaction to Monday's Hizbullah offensive will remain restrained, barring any further escalation by the Lebanese terrorists.

As of Tuesday afternoon, most upper Galilee residents had been allowed to leave their bomb shelters, with the exception of those in towns east of Ma'ayan Baruch, in the Galilee panhandle. The Israeli civilians were sent into their bomb shelters Monday in the wake of a large-scale, multi-pronged Hizbullah attack across Israel's northern border, which included the shelling of civilian centers, infiltration and an attempted kidnapping. Eleven soldiers were injured in the clashes, two of them seriously, and four terrorists were killed.

The IDF subsequently launched an air strike against a Hizbullah command post and surrounding roads used by the terrorists in southern Lebanon. Security officials have decided against further retaliatory measures, preferring to "act with restraint", provided the Hizbullah carries out no further offensives.

Following the cross-border attacks, U.S. State Department officials called upon Lebanon to take control of the situation and bring a halt to the terror attacks launched against Israel from southern Lebanon. America used the opportunity, however, to call upon Israel to exercise restraint in her response to the attacks.

In a press conference, Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz called the Hizbullah attacks "acts of war by Lebanon."

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora attempted to restore calm, the Albawaba news web site reported. On Monday night, Siniora met with representatives of the Hizbullah, with UN observers in southern Lebanon, and with U.S. and French ambassadors.

The UN Security Council attempted and failed to draft a condemnation of the Hizbullah offensive Monday. A statement drafted by France condemned "military exchanges initiated by Hizbullah" and "Israeli violations of Lebanese air space." However, the United States sought to have the reference to Israel deleted, while Algeria objected to charging the Hizbullah with initiating the clashes, according to the Reuters news agency.

Fearing More Jews in Negev, El-Sana Calls for United Arab List


Knesset member Talab El-Sana says that by unifying Arab parties into one list, the Arabs could thwart plans to build more Jewish communities in the Galilee and Negev regions.

El-Sana (whose party is called the United Arab List) is calling upon Israel's Arab parties to unite under one electoral list. He says that by unifying into one list, the Arabs could thwart plans to build more Jewish communities in the Galilee and Negev regions.

Those plans are being promoted by Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres (Labor), as an alternative for settling Jews in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

In a letter to Arab politicians and community leaders, El-Sana, a Bedouin from the Negev, is calling for a meeting to discuss the issue of Arab unity in the face of the upcoming elections. Much like some of his Jewish counterparts (particularly on the right), El-Sana claims that competition among various smaller parties reduces the number of Arab MK's who get elected to the Knesset.

El-Sana says that a unified list would raise Arab participation in Israeli elections to 90%. Roughly 60% of Arabs eligible to vote participate in elections, a rate much lower that that for Jews.

If Arabs voted according to their percentage of the general population (20%), they could elect up to 24 Knesset representatives. In the last elections, Arab parties succeeded in electing eight candidates. Arabs, however, are often represented in other, Zionist parties.

El-Sana also claims that a unified Arab list "could become the third biggest Knesset faction and give Arab MK's an opportunity to impact on the political situation and change the social and economic reality to the benefit of Arab citizens who suffer from unemployment and poverty."

El-Sana warned fellow Arabs against voting for Zionist parties, especially since Amir Peretz was elected to head the Labor party. A large portion of Labor party members is from the Arab sector.

Flying Blue and White


A recent survey conducted by the New Wave Research Institute shows that 35 percent of Israeli adults prefer flying Israeli airlines. Reasons given by respondents for preferring Israeli to foreign airlines include better security, being able to speak Hebrew, quality service and patriotism.

The poll points that Israeli airlines have a reputation for maintaining high security standards, with 61 percent of respondents saying that Israeli airlines have better security procedures than foreign competitors. Only 27 percent said they equally trust security procedures on Israeli and foreign airlines.

The survey, conducted for IsraAir Airlines, also polled public opinion regarding competition for passengers on the Tel Aviv - New York route. Some 97.3 percent of respondents said they would welcome the introduction of a third Israeli airline to operate on the line, a concern that Tourism Minister Avraham Hirschson is expected to take up in the near future.

IsraAir officials told Ynet the poll shows the public's interest in more competition because it reduces the cost of flying. Some 52 percent said they would definitely fly IsraAir to New York if the ticket costs less than flying El Al or Continental.

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