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Halutz: Iran is Not Only Israel's Problem


IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, stated that Iran's continued nuclear program is not only Israel's problem, adding at present, the ball is in Iran's court. According to Halutz, "There is no doubt the Iranians are taking this to the brink," adding that in such a situation, at times, "something small can cause you to fall," explaining Teheran must give an accounting to the international community and therefore, "it is not only Israel's problem." The military commander made his comments in a briefing with military reporters.

Sharon Shows Independent Movement and Breathing

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Doctors treating Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he has begun breathing on his own and shows some independent movement. The news came Monday as Sharon's doctors began reviving him from his medically induced coma. Sharon began breathing on his own, nearly a week after he suffered a massive stroke and cerebral hemorrhage.

Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, the director of Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital, said Sharon also displayed independent movement. The developments came after Sharon's doctors began reducing the amount of anesthetic being applied, in a procedure designed to revive him from his medically induced coma. The Hadassah Hospital director said Sharon was clearly displaying brain activity.

"The first was a spontaneous breathing of the prime minister, even though he is still connected to a ventilator," said Mor-Yosef. "During the day until now, his response to pain that we evoked showed that he started to move minimally. His right hand and right leg moved. These signs, together with slight elevation of his blood pressure as a reaction to pain, are signs of some brain activity," noting that Sharon's medical diagnosis is that he remains in critical condition, with some signs of brain activity.

Sharon's neurosurgeon, Dr. Felix Umansky, said Sharon's reaction to pain on Monday was not a reflex. The Argentina-born doctor, one of the world's top neurosurgeons, said Sharon's recovery process would be long and difficult. "We are just at the beginning of a long way he needs to undergo. We need to be very cautious when talking about the prognosis, but we are going to do everything we can to help him to pull through this situation."

Umansky's eventual assessment of Sharon's cognitive state will be sent to Israel's attorney general, who will decide whether or not to declare Sharon permanently incapacitated.

Sharon's deputy, Ehud Olmert, has been declared acting prime minister for 100 days, so no quick decision is expected from the attorney general about a declaration regarding Sharon's state.

If Israel's attorney general declares Ariel Sharon permanently incapacitated, then Israel's Cabinet would have to elect a new prime minister from among the five Cabinet members who belong to the Kadima Party, which Ariel Sharon founded last November to contest elections due at the end of March.

Abbas: U.S. Gave Assurances on Palestinian Vote in Jerusalem

By Ha'aretz &

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday said the United States has assured him that, despite Israeli misgivings, East Jerusalem Palestinians would be allowed to vote in the city and the Palestinian Authority elections would therefore go ahead as scheduled on January 25.

He added, however, that the elections would not take place if Israel decides to prevent voting in Jerusalem. "We are on the way to elections and there's no doubt about it, but if something happens along the way, we'll decide how to act. We have not heard from the Israeli side anything to make us certain voting will take place in Jerusalem. We've only heard vague things from them."

Contrary to the statements of various Palestinian factions, Abbas said the security truce is not for a limited period and should continue in 2006. His announcement confirmed a previous statement made by Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Shaath earlier Monday.

Israel has said it might block voting in East Jerusalem because Hamas is running in the election. The terrorist group is dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state.

The Hamas terror organization, responsible for the murder of hundreds of Jews since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, is expected to garner at least 30% of the vote in the elections scheduled for January 25.

However, government sources in Jerusalem said on Monday that Israel would not give Abbas an excuse to postpone the elections. If it appears that if Israeli objections to voting in East Jerusalem are the only reason for postponement, then Israel will reconsider its position, they said.

Israeli sources added that they had never mentioned preventing voting in East Jerusalem during talks with the Americans, and downplayed the importance of the American-Palestinian agreement.

Israel assumes that Abbas will put off the elections, and therefore the issue will not be put to the test. Israel said East Jerusalem residents can vote freely in nearby Palestinian cities such as Abu Dis.

Ha'aretz has learned that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's adviser, Dov Weissglas, met last week with the American envoys supervising the elections to clarify Israel's position. People who participated in the meeting told Ha'aretz that Weissglas told them Israel would enable election candidates to campaign in municipal Jerusalem if they coordinated this in advance with the East Jerusalem police. However, Israel would not allow East Jerusalem residents to cast their ballots at the city's post office branches, he said, as they did in 1996 and 2005.

Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra said on Monday said Israel is allowing candidates for Palestinian legislative elections to campaign in East Jerusalem as long as they do not belong to terrorist groups.

"All those who want to campaign will submit requests in advance to the Jerusalem police, and only those who don't represent extremist groups will receive permission," Ezra told Israel Radio. There was no immediate word, however, on whether Israel would allow voting to take place in the city.

The ease on campaign restrictions does not include Hamas, which vowed to defy the Israeli ban on its group's campaign. "We will carry out our electioneering campaign whether the occupation agrees or not. We have the means and the ways to do so despite of the Israeli decision," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

Earlier this month, police blocked Palestinians from electioneering in East Jerusalem when campaigning for the poll began. Israel said Palestinian political activity in the city is banned under interim accords. Palestinians dispute this. The last Palestinian legislative election was in 1996, when voting was allowed in East Jerusalem.

Western countries are keen for the vote to take place on time as a way of strengthening Palestinian democracy but are wary of a strong showing by Hamas, which has carried out nearly 60 suicide bombings during the recent Palestinian uprising, begun in 2000.

Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have Israeli identity cards but see themselves as citizens of a future Palestinian state of which Jerusalem is capital.

Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu criticized Public Security Minister Gidon Ezra's decision to permit candidates in the upcoming Palestinian Authority election to campaign in the eastern part of the capital.

Netanyahu stated the decision would assist Hamas to continue to grow in addition to assisting the PA in achieving its goal of dividing Jerusalem.

Likud Knesset member Ayoub Kara, in an event for Israel's Druse community, on Monday also expressed his disapproval of the decision, concurring with the Likud leader that the move would significantly aid the PA in its effort to divide the Israeli capital.

Hajj Pilgrims: Death to Israel and America


As two million Muslim pilgrims flooded Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, a speech said to have been written by Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah 'Ali Khamanai was delivered by his representative for Hajj affairs, Muhammad Muhammadi Reyshahri.

The speech - one of the Hajj's first events - spoke of "the mercenary government of Israel" and the "satanic policies of international Zionism," as well as targeting the United States.

Typical was an attack on the "colonial methods" used by the "Great Satan." During the speech, many members of the audience held up yellow placards reading "Death to America" and pink placards reading "Death to Israel."

Comments of this nature made by the Iranian regime are far from new. But as The Media Line's analysts explain, the fact that an Iranian official expressed them on Saudi Arabian soil in the language of the Saudis (and not in Farsi, the Iranian language), should be a source of concern to Washington. Saudi Arabia is considered one of America's most important allies in the Middle East.

When The Media Line presented the excerpts to the U.S. State Department for comment, a spokesman replied that, "Remarks such as these are outrageous and unacceptable. These remarks reflect an openly anti-Semitic and anti-U.S. platform from Iranian leadership that we find both troubling and destabilizing. We have been very clear about the troubling nature of Iranian behavior including its support for international terrorism, its pursuit for weapons of mass destruction, its deplorable human rights record, and its opposition to regional peace-making efforts."

Sanhedrin Establishes Council to Teach Humanity ´Laws of Noah´


A group of non-Jewish delegates have come to Jerusalem to pledge their loyalty to the Laws of Noah before the nascent Sanhedrin, establishing High Council for B'nai Noach.

The 10 delegates appeared before a special session of the Jewish High Court of 71 Rabbis led by its Nassi (President) Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz. B'nai Noach, literally "Children of Noah," also known as Noahides, are non-Jews who take upon themselves the Torah's obligations for all members of the human race - consisting of seven laws passed on via Noah following the flood, as documented in Genesis (see below).

The gathering took place under a banner quoting the Biblical passage: "For then I will change the nations to speak a pure language so that they all will proclaim the name of the Lord, to serve him with united resolve (Tzefania 3:9)"

The Seven Laws of Noah are: Shefichat damim - Do not murder or commit suicide; Gezel - Do not steal or kidnap; Avodah zarah - Pray and offer sacrifices only to God. Do not worship false gods/idols; Gilui arayot - Do not be sexually immoral (engage in incest, sodomy, bestiality, castration and adultery), crossbreed animals or perform castration; Birkat Hashem - Do not utter God's name in vain, curse God or pursue the occult. Honor your parents; Dinim - Set up righteous and honest courts and apply fair justice in judging offenders and uphold the principles of the last five; Ever Min HaChai - Do not eat a part of a live animal or consume blood.

The Noahide delegates stood before the nascent Sanhedrin, which was reestablished more than a year ago in Tiberias and has met regularly since then. "Each one comes with a name he has made in the world, as a teacher and example in his community of observance of the seven laws of Noah," said Rabbi Michael Bar-Ron, introducing the delegates. "At great physical and financial expense they have come to Jerusalem, the holy city, from far and wide, to pledge their allegiance, for the first time in history, before the Sanhedrin, to the laws of the Creator."

Each of the Noahide representatives stood before the Sanhedrin and pledged: "I pledge my allegiance to HaShem, the God of Israel, Creator and King of the Universe, to His Torah and representatives. I pledge to uphold the Seven Laws of Noah in all their details, according to Oral Law of Moses under the guidance of the developing Sanhedrin. May HaShem bless and aid my fellow council members, all B'nai Noach and me in all our endeavors for the sake of His name. Blessed are you, God of the universe who has caused me to live, sustained me, and brought me to this day."

Rabbi Steinsaltz spoke about the role of the Jewish people in bringing the Laws of Noah to the world. "I am part of this Jewish family and I have nothing bad to say about that family, but you don't go up to a man on the street and ask him to join your family. Instead you talk to him about joining the true belief in the Creator and about implementing divine justice toward his fellow man. We are setting up a global mission here - not to recruit people, but to bring them to the realization that there is one God." The Nassi explained that this aspect of Judaism lay dormant for years as the Jewish people dealt with staying alive and keeping the Torah in the exile.

He addressed the ten B'nai Noah representatives, who had endured hours of Hebrew speeches throughout the day, in English: "There are those people, so far only a small number, who say 'We are bound by the covenant of Adam and the covenant of Noah and we know we have to perform and fulfill our obligations.' We, as Jews, have the same religion as you.

"Within the nation of Israel there is one tribe that deals with the Temple - the priests. We Jews are a specific tribe in the world that was chosen to be a tribe of priests - hereditary priests. Because of this we have special duties. Being a priest does not mean we are cut off from the other people. While the people of the world are all different units in the armies of the Lord, we are a special commando unit that maybe doesn't get paid more, but has special assignments that may be more dangerous."

Rabbi Even-Israel spoke about the difficulties that would confront the B'nai Noah movement as it grows. "When we are speaking in general, almost every human being can more or less accept the laws of Noah, but when we get to particulars we will come to serious points, at which we disagree with Christianity and Islam," he said.

"It is one thing when a religion is small, but as it gets bigger there will be huge pressures. We will be there beside you. We are members of the same religion that was given by the Almighty to humanity. Part of it was given to the Jews and part of it was given to humanity as a whole."

Famed archaeologist and Noahide leader Vendyl Jones addressed a festive banquet held for the Council members, speaking about the Seven Laws of Noah. He explained, in detail, the verses in the first 11 chapters of Genesis from which the seven laws are elucidated, saying that he always understood the first six, but never understood the law proscribing the eating of a limb of a living animal, until he remembered his cattle-branding days in Texas. "We would brand and castrate the cattle when I was young, and that night we would all sit around the campfire and eat what they called 'mountain oysters' " - the testicles of the still-living animals.

Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, a leader of the Italian Muslim Assembly, addressed those gathered, speaking about B'nai Noah in Islam. "Islamic law holds within it the seven laws of Noah and can be taught correctly to the Muslims of the world." He also said, "I remember reading that a new Sanhedrin was created in Jerusalem," "my impression was very positive - I thought maybe something new had been created to allow the Jewish people to project moral and legal clarity to counterbalance the lack of it in our world." Palazzi added that the project of creating a council of Noahide teachers would hopefully counter the negative educational effect of the Gaza withdrawal, "which taught the opposite to my people - it convinced many that only terrorism works."

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