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Sharon Undergoes Surgery for Feeding Tube

By VOA News

Doctors at Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital have inserted a feeding tube into the stomach of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. A hospital statement said Sharon remained in critical but stable condition after the procedure, called a gastrostomy. It did not say why the operation was necessary. One stroke expert says the procedure is recommended when patients are not expected to make a swift recovery.

Bush Vows to Come to Israel's Defense If Iran attacks

By Reuters

President George W. Bush vowed on Wednesday that the United States would rise to Israel's defense if needed against Iran and denounced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for "menacing talk" against Israel.

In a Reuters interview aboard Air Force One en route to Nashville, Bush also said he saw a "very good chance" that the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency would refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

"I am concerned about a person that, one, tries to rewrite the history of the Holocaust, and two, has made it clear that his intentions are to destroy Israel," Bush said.

"Israel is a solid ally of the United States, we will rise to Israel's defense if need be. So this kind of menacing talk is disturbing. It's not only disturbing to the United States, it's disturbing for other countries in the world as well," he added.

Asked if he meant the United States would rise to Israel's defense militarily, Bush said: "You bet, we'll defend Israel."

Ahmadinejad has prompted international condemnation for anti-Israel rhetoric in recent weeks, including saying it should be wiped off the map, and also calling into question the Holocaust.

Bush also commented on Hamas' recent electoral victory in the Palestinian election. He said Hamas must change its platform, its attitude toward Israel and get rid of its armed group for the United States to support a Palestinian government run by Hamas.

"In order for the United States to support a Palestinian government run by Hamas, Hamas must change its party platform and change its way of thinking and get rid of this armed group, as well as change its attitude toward Israel," Bush said.

Hamas remained defiant despite mounting world pressure a week after its win in Palestinian elections.

Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas' parliamentary slate, rejected Bush's latest call for the group to disarm and condemned Israel's suspension of monthly tax payments to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.

Hamas Leader: Why Recognize Israel? Arab State Must Replace It


In an interview that aired on Al-Manar TV on January 25, Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar put the organization's principles forward very clearly, including plans to continue with terror.

His remarks included a determination to continue to murder Israeli civilians, a defiant refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist, and plans to replace Israel with an Arab state. "We will not give up the resistance in the sense of Jihad," stated Al-Zahar. He added that "the war of tunnels and of security against the Israeli enemy, which ultimately led to its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank" would only continue.

Al-Zahar also described Hamas' territorial aspirations: "Our education system will not represent Palestine [merely] as a coastal strip stretching from Rafah to Beit Hanoun [the Gaza Strip]," he stated. "Palestine means Palestine in its entirety - from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, from Ras Al-Naqura to Rafah. We cannot give up a single inch of it."

Senior Egyptian Official Says Hamas Must Renounce Violence

By Challiss McDonough (VOA-Cairo)

There are conflicting reports from the Middle East about whether the Palestinian president will require the terrorist group Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel before forming a new Palestinian government.

Egyptian officials said it is a coincidence that senior delegations from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas were in Egypt on the same day for talks with President Hosni Mubarak and other senior Egyptian leaders.

But it is clear that all sides are looking for help in the frenzied leadership negotiations that have been going on since Hamas won a resounding victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections last week.

After the meeting between Mubarak and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman told reporters that Abbas would not invite Hamas to form a government if it does not renounce violence and recognize Israel.

"They have to be committed in three issues," he said. "First, they have to stop the violence, no violence. Everything should be by negotiation. Secondly, they have to be committed also with all the agreements, which the Palestinian authority has signed. Everything. Thirdly, they have to recognize the existence of Israel. This is the three conditions on the table now."

Suleiman said if Hamas does not do those things "no one will deal with them." But a senior Palestinian official close to Abbas quickly denied that the Palestinian president had set those conditions.

The Egyptian intelligence chief also said that he believes Iran will finance the Palestinian Authority if other international donors, like the European Union, withdraw their funding, as they have threatened to do if Hamas does not acknowledge Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also met with Mubarak on her first foreign trip since taking office. She said she hopes Egypt, as a leader in the Arab world, can help bring stability to the situation, which she said is in everyone's interest.

"There is a need for the international community now to speak in a very clear and loud voice saying and putting, what we call, the conditions for any kind of future Palestinian government," she said.

But her Egyptian counterpart, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, declined to categorize the talks with Hamas as setting conditions. He indicated that he thought the militant group could be convinced to change its longstanding demand for the elimination of Israel.

"The word conditions is out of our vocabulary," he said. "Why is it so? Because we do not put conditions. We persuade people to move from one position to another and we are sure that eventually when you come to power, and when you deal with a situation, and when you have to deal with the Israelis, and when you have to engage on daily basis on issues related to the interests of the people and the prosperity of the people, then things will change."

As he spoke, a senior delegation from Hamas was making its way toward Cairo for more talks with senior Egyptian officials.

Mubarak's spokesman told reporters that the results of the Palestinian election represent what he called "a new reality" that everyone - Israelis, Palestinians and the international community - would have to deal with.

Israeli Troops Clash With Settlers at West Bank Outpost

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

More than 170 people were injured when Israeli troops clashed with Jewish settlers in the West Bank, after serving an eviction order. It is a sign that the settlers and the government are on a collision course.

Hundreds of Jewish settlers barricaded themselves around nine homes in Amona, a so-called illegal West Bank outpost, as thousands of Israeli troops in riot gear stormed in to remove them by force.

"We are not afraid of you!" the settlers chanted as they pelted the soldiers with a hail of stones. Troops wielding batons beat the settlers and dragged them away. Other soldiers scaled ladders to remove the protesters from rooftops. Then bulldozers moved in and demolished the nine homes.

Security forces launched the operation after Israel's Supreme Court cleared the way for the settlement's evacuation.

It was the most violent confrontation between the army and settlers since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pulled Israel out of the Gaza Strip in August. Sharon is in a coma after suffering a massive stroke a month ago, and this was the first confrontation between acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the settlers.

Olmert, who is expected to win national elections on March 28, is committed to the internationally backed "road map" peace plan that calls for all of the 100 illegal outposts in the West Bank to be dismantled. He has warned the settlers that illegal actions will not be tolerated.

He also appears to be setting the stage for future Israeli withdrawals from some areas of the West Bank, as part of Sharon's plan to draw defensible borders. Polls show a majority of the Israeli public supports the plan, but settlers are bitterly opposed to relinquishing any territory in the biblical heartland of the West Bank.

A Revolutionary Way to "Visit" the Western Wall Israel News Faxx Report

A new desktop application will allow thousands of users to view live video streaming and full control of the camera from the Western Wall in Jerusalem, at the click of a button located on their desktop. announced the release of its live Kotel camera desktop application.

The new application will allow thousands of users to view live video streaming from the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel at the click of a button located on their desktop. The application opens a small window on the user's desktop from which the streaming can be viewed. The window can be moved by the user and placed anywhere on the desktop to allow room to run other applications while keeping an eye on the live action.

In addition, end-users can obtain control of the camera at the click of a button and move the camera in all directions. The camera allows for 33X magnification-zoom as well as full vertical and horizontal panning. Users may move the camera to see all areas of the Western Wall as well as the temple mount and surrounding areas.

"This camera will allow millions of Jewish and non-Jewish people to feel connected to Israel," says Jess Dolgin, CEO of Virtual Jerusalem and E-shop Enterprises. "For over 2,000 years, the Western Wall has served as the last remnant of the Temple and his considered the most holly place for the Jewish people. For many, visiting the Western Wall remains a far off dream. Now, thousands of Jews can feel connected any time of day with the click of a button."

The Kotel Camera application has already been licensed to several large Jewish websites including the Jerusalem Post, the Forward, and others who are using co-branded versions of the system.

Israeli Stamp to Honor Chabad Lubavitch


The Israeli Postal Authority is set to issue a stamp in honor of the Chabad Lubavitch Chassidic movement and its late leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The stamp, now in the last stages of production, will be released on February 28.

The stamp carries a picture of Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, New York City, with pictures of religious ritual items whose use was promoted and spread by the movement among Jews worldwide. To symbolize Chabad's global reach, a world map serves as the background to the images.

Chabad Chassidim explained that despite the Postal Authority's desire to honor the Rebbe with his picture on the stamp, they explained that the Rebbe himself ruled out printing a stamp carrying the image of a previous Chabad Rebbe. Thus, the Authority and Chabad activists decided that the stamp should feature the famous Crown Heights home of Rabbi Schneerson.

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