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Sharon Says Israel Cannot Accept Iran as Nuclear Power


Israel cannot accept Iran as a nuclear power but will not attack alone as it did in Iraq, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told reports at an annual meeting of media editors. Sharon emphasized that Iran's becoming a nuclear power would threaten the entire Middle East and not just Israel. He added that Israel is prepared to coordinate efforts with other countries to stop Iran from developing a nuclear reactor. Asked if Israel was considering a military strike against Iran, Sharon said before anyone took such a step, every effort would be made to pressure Iran to end its nuclear program, saying he believed such efforts could be "fruitful." But Sharon added that Israel remains prepared for any eventuality vis-à-vis Iran.

Sharon Says Main West Bank Settlements to Stay

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Thursday said major West Bank settlements would remain under Israeli control and would have territorial contiguity with the State of Israel.

In a wide ranging question and answer session with Israeli editors, Sharon said there was no possibility any Israeli government would give up big settlement blocs housing thousands of Israelis that have territorial contiguity with Israel proper. He said the settlements are areas where it is vital for Israel to have people live.

Sharon also said that Israel intended to keep control of the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, calling a group of small settlements in the Jordan Valley part of Israel's "security zone." The comments on Thursday were somewhat similar to remarks Sharon has made in the past, however Sharon has gone on record before as saying Israel would have to withdraw from some small settlements in any peace deal with Palestinians. Palestinians say continued Israeli settlement building is a violation of the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan, and is designed to prevent the formation of any viable Palestinian state.

Mr. Sharon also said Israel would move to arrest any members of the Islamic terrorist group Hamas that attempt to pass through Israeli roadblocks in the West Bank. Over the past few days several senior Hamas leaders have said they intend to contest Palestinian parliamentary elections in January. Over the past few weeks Israel has arrested hundreds of suspected Hamas militants, and on Thursday Sharon said negotiations with Palestinians would be adversely affected if Hamas makes a strong showing in the January elections.

Poll Shows Voters Rejecting Future Withdrawals


A poll conducted this past week supports the assertion by politicians across the political spectrum that once the novelty of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Kadima Party wears off, voters would oppose its platform.

The poll, conducted by Smith Research and Consulting, found that of the 500 Israeli Jews polled, 67% are opposed to major withdrawals from Judea and Samaria in response to the Palestinian Authority's failure to combat terror groups. Among self-proclaimed Kadima supporters, 54% percent opposed further unilateral withdrawals.

Just 28% of the Jewish public and 37% of Kadima constituents said they support carrying out significant withdrawals if the Road Map is not advanced upon due to PA inaction.

A follow up question found that of those who oppose unilateral withdrawal under those circumstances, 75% responded that they would not vote for a party that would support such a move and 18% would. Among those intending to vote for Kadima who oppose unilateral withdrawal under those circumstances, 68% responded that they would not vote for a party that would support such a move while 20% would.

The poll was sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America and is significant in that is seems to bolster claims by political pundits that once the novelty of the big-name celebrities migrating to Sharon's party wears off, the public will not place the Kadima slips in the ballot boxes.

El Al: Jets to be Fitted with Anti-Missile Protection


The defense system for civilian planes passed its final test Thursday, and the first El Al planes are expected to be installed with the system aimed at protecting planes from shoulder-held missile attacks, as early as next week, Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit said.

Ministry spokesman Avner Ovadia told Ynet, "The final test for the defense system, which was held under real conditions, proved successful. The tests have been conducted for the past year-and-half. The system is similar to that which is installed in combat planes, but it was made suitable for civilian aircrafts. The system diverts the missiles after their launch."

The cost of developing the system is estimated at some NIS 21 million ($4.5 million); the Transportation Ministry funded the project, but the Defense Ministry and Shin Bet were also involved in the system's development.

At the same time, an electro-optical defense system has been developed, which is based on laser rays. "It should complete the current system, and it is much more advanced," said Ovadia, who added that the system would only be functional in two years.

Work on the defense system began after two shoulder-launched missiles were fired at an Arkia jet, which was taking off from Mombassa, Kenya and flying to Israel. The attack happened almost at the same time as the attack on the Paradise Hotel in Mombassa three years ago. No passengers on the plane were injured.

When the plane was reached an altitude of 1,000 meters shortly after takeoff, the pilots noticed flashes. The pilot initially considered landing in Nairobi, but then decided to continue on to Israel.

Holy See: Holocaust is `Indelible Shame' of History

By Israel News Faxx Agencies

German-born Pope Benedict XVI, who grew up during Hitler's rise to power, condemned the Nazi attempt to murder Jews as a "project of death" that will remain forever an indelible stain on human history.

In his strongest comments on the Holocaust since his election in April, the 78-year-old pontiff spoke Wednesday about a Psalm recalling the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. and the Babylonian exile of Jews.

Addressing thousands of pilgrims at his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square, the pope said God, as the ultimate arbiter of history, knows how to listen to "the cries of the victims," even if they are sometimes bitter toward Him. "It was almost a symbolic foretelling of the death camps in which the Jewish people were subjected to, as part of an infamous project of death which remains an indelible shame on the history of humanity," he said.

Benedict has in the past condemned the evil associated with the Nazis in his homeland. During his trip to Germany in August, he said Germans would always have to acknowledge it with shame and suffering.

The pope served briefly in the Hitler Youth during the war when membership of the Nazi paramilitary organization was compulsory, although he was never a member of the party and his family opposed Hitler's regime.

The pope has made relations between Catholics and Jews one of the priorities of his pontificate, meeting European and American Jewish leaders and visiting the main synagogue of Cologne during his August trip to his homeland.

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