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Hamas, Islamic Jihad Say They Won't Renew Truce With Israel

By VOA News

Hamas says the Islamic group will not renew a truce with Israel expiring at the end of this year. Khaled Mashaal made the announcement at a rally in a Palestinian refugee camp near the Syrian capital, Damascus.

He said Hamas would not enter a new truce while the Palestinian people are preparing for a new round of conflict. Islamic Jihad terrorist leaders also released a statement that there would be no renewal of the proclamation to halt of attacks against Israel, which will expire at the same time. Speaking to Hizbullah's al-Manar TV, Ramadan Salah spoke of the "Zionist enemy, which does not abide by agreements to release Palestinian prisoners, but only knows surgical strikes and arrests."

Israel Denies British Report It Plans Iran Attack

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Israel reacted swiftly to a report in London's Sunday Times that it plans a combined air and ground attack on secret Iranian uranium enrichment sites in March, if Teheran does not halt its nuclear program. "This is ridiculous. I do not know of any decision. I think it is entirely baseless," said Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Quoting unidentified military sources, the report stated that Israeli intelligence warned its government that Iran was operating small enrichment facilities concealed in civilian locations. The Times said that Sharon has ordered the military to prepare for a possible strike by the end of March.

But Olmert told reporters that there is cause for concern. "It is true that Israel is entirely, entirely unhappy about the developments with Iran," adding that first step is diplomacy, and the U.S. and Europe should take the lead.

"We believe that this is the ultimate responsibility of the international community. There are contacts, negotiations and initiatives to move it forward to the United Nations Security Council, and I hope that it will come there soon."

There is a precedent for a preemptive strike. The Israeli air force destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Israel couldn't allow Iran to obtain atomic weapons. "It would be a nightmare for all of us if this kind of regime will hold a nuclear bomb," he said. "It will destabilize not only our region it will destabilize the whole world. And that's why all of us should be united in these days."

Israel has grown increasingly alarmed about Iran's nuclear program since late October, when the Iranian president publicly called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map." According to Israeli military intelligence, Iran will reach the "point of no return" in developing a nuclear weapon next year.

It is known that Iran will be able to build a nuclear warhead 2-4 year after it receives the technical expertise to enrich sufficient quantities of uranium - known as the "point of no return." No country will be able to bomb the reactor once this point is reached, for fear that the radioactive fallout will harm an unknown number of thousands of civilians.

The question is when will this point be reached? The Times says that Israeli defense sources believe it will be the end of March.

It has been noted that this is "coincidentally" the time when Israeli elections will be held. MK Yuval Shteinitz (Likud), chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, was asked about the timing on Army Radio today. He said, "I believe that in issues like this that truly are life-and-death questions for Israel, no Prime Minister, including Sharon [of the rival party Kadima - ed.] would take action out of electoral considerations. Neither him nor any other Prime Minister."

Shteinitz said, "I refuse to relate to what Israel can or should do [regarding Iran] on the military plane. Regarding other countries, like the United States, certainly there is a military option against Iran... The Iranians feel vulnerable to an air strike; they have deployed air defenses around all their nuclear sites."

"The Iranian threat is a global one," Shteinitz said, "and not only upon Israel, but against the West and entire world. It is therefore desirable that the enlightened worlds, led by the US, take care of this threat. The world is doing too little, too late. Iran has passed the halfway mark and is coming close to nuclear weapons. The world has sufficed up to now with diplomacy and rhetoric."

Israeli officials said that if diplomacy fails, there is a military option, but have not specified what action they would take. Just last week, Prime Minister Sharon said, "I think it's clear that we cannot allow a situation in which Iran becomes a nuclear power... This is an international problem, and not just ours."

Palestinian Authority Claims Western Wall is Muslim Property


The Palestinian Authority's Office for Religious Affairs claims that the Western Wall, revered by Jews for generations as the last structural remnant of the Second Temple, is Muslim property.

The PA office claims Muslim ownership of the Western Wall by referring to the wall on its website as the Al-Boraq Wall. According to Muslim legend, the wall is the place where Mohammed parked his horse, Boraq, before ascending to heaven. Muslim tradition holds that Mohammed rose to heaven from the Temple Mount, though that idea is not mentioned anywhere in the Koran, the central text of the Muslim faith.

The Palestinian Authority's official website, echoing the claims of its religious affairs office, also attempts to negate Jewish ownership of the Western Wall.

Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the International Department of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, said that the PA's claims of Muslim ownership of the Western Wall has "far reaching implications" for Israel.

He said that the PA's denial of the Jewish Temple's existence "is part of a campaign to totally eradicate, erase, and destroy all Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, Jerusalem, and the land of Israel. If we have no connection to the Temple Mount, then we have no connection to Jerusalem, and no right to anywhere in the land of Israel."

The PA contends that Israeli archeological digs near the site of the Western Wall, also commonly known as the Wailing Wall, "totally failed to find any proof that support their false claims" to the Wall.

Richman said "Islam has for many years been waging a campaign to destroy any evidence of a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount." He cited efforts by the PA and the Muslim Wakf (religious trust) to carry out excavations on the Temple Mount for the purpose of destroying artifacts relating to the First and Second Temples. He said that thousands of tons of archeological material have already been deliberately destroyed by the Wakf.

By destroying the remnants of the Jewish Temples, Richman said that the PA believes that it is strengthening its hand in the final status negotiations with Israel over the status of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

In an attempt to revise recent history, the PA claims that during the time of the British mandate over the land of Israel (1917-1948), the Jews began exceeding earlier arrangements "and claimed ownership" of the Wall.

Moreover, the website states that after the Arab conquest of Jerusalem, "the Muslims had mercy on the Jews and let them cry at a place near that wall. The number of Jews at that time was very small, and the plaza they stood on was only four meters wide."

The PA attributes the infamous Arab riots of 1929 to Jewish efforts to claim ownership of the Western Wall. Hundreds of Jewish civilians were killed in those riots, which were initiated by the Mufti of Jerusalem, and are in many ways similar to the Arab intifadas of 1987 and 2000. The current intifada is known as the Al-Aksa Intifada. Al-Aksa is the name of the large mosque on the southern section of the Temple Mount.

Many in the PA claim that the intifada was sparked by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount. However, it is widely known that plans for the current intifada, or Oslo War, were well in place prior to Sharon's Temple Mount visit, and some PA officials concede that the PA used Sharon's visit as a pretext for launching the war.

Prior to Sharon's visit in August 2000, negotiations at Camp David between then Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PA leader Yasir Arafat broke down when PA negotiators refused to recognize that the Jewish people have any connection to the Temple Mount. Senior PA negotiator Saeb Erekat asserted at the talks that the Jews never had a Temple at the site, calling it a fabrication of history.

Today, Jews are allowed to visit the Temple Mount only at very specific hours and in small numbers, and must be accompanied by Israeli Police as well as a representative of the Wakf, the Muslim body currently responsible for activity on the Temple Mount. In addition, Jewish visitors are not allowed to bow or pray anywhere on the Mount itself, and may not even bring books with Hebrew writing.

Richman explained, that despite the efforts of the PA and the Wakf, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount could never have the same significance for Muslims as for Jews. He pointed out that Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in the Bible, "and not once in the whole Koran," the Muslim holy book.

Abbas Approves Monthly Grant To Families of Suicide Bombers


The head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has approved a new law, providing monetary grants to the families of suicide bombers. Abbas gave his approval just six days ago, a day before a suicide bomber struck the HaSharon Mall in Netanya, killing five Israelis and wounding scores of others.

The legislation refers to the suicide terrorists as shahids (martyrs), a term generally applied to a person who dies in an operation fighting against Israel.

Under the new law, the terrorist's family will be paid a base sum of $250 per month. The law takes into account extended family arrangements commonplace in Arab societies. The families of married terrorists are entitled to an additional $50 per month, and $15 are added for each child, $25 for each parent, and $15 for each brother who lived with the terrorist prior to his death.

The monies, to be paid out of the general budget of the Palestinian Authority, are significant sums for average Arab families living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Both Israel and the United States have taken legal action in recent years to shut down organizations that distribute money to the families of terrorists, especially suicide bombers. The budget of the Palestinian Authority is largely subsidized by grants from European nations and the United States.

Israel also regularly transfers money to the PA. Much of that money is collected as customs duties on goods entering Israel bound for the PA, or for Arabs living under its jurisdiction.

Israeli officials said that if diplomacy fails, there is a military option, but have not specified what action they would take.

Red Star of David
Wall Street Journal 12/9/2005 (Editorial)

After almost six decades of rejection, Israel saw the road cleared yesterday for its emergency and disaster relief organization to join the International Red Cross. The price of admission was relinquishing its symbol, the Red Star of David.

Instead, the Red Cross approved a new "neutral" symbol -- a Red Crystal, which Israel must adopt to become a member, possibly next spring. The Star of David may still be used at home, and on foreign missions it can be put inside the Crystal, provided the host country agrees.

Israeli diplomats are celebrating the Crystal as a great victory. If that's a victory, we'd hate to see a defeat. Even this compromise, which was opposed by most Muslim countries, came only after the American Red Cross withheld its contributions to protest Israel's exclusion from the international body.

Some Crystal backers argue that the Red Cross carries no religious symbolism. Under this rewriting of history, Swiss Red Cross founder Henry Dunant adopted the inverse design of his homeland's flag without any religious motivation. But the Swiss flag dates back to the Holy Roman Empire and of course has strong Christian connotations. This cannot have escaped the deeply religious Dunant who, by the way, was also a fervent Zionist.

Irrespective of Dunant's intentions, the Red Cross came to be seen as a Christian symbol. That's why Muslim countries refused to adopt it, and instead chose the Red Crescent, the only other recognized symbol. It's a disgrace that the Star of David, which symbolizes the faith that spawned both Christianity and Islam, is excluded.

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