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Arab Web Site: Hamas May Let People Recognize Israel


The Arab web site Al Jazeera reported Sunday that Hamas might allow recognition of Israel by referendum without compromising the Hamas doctrine not to do so. The Hamas terrorist organization published its program on Sunday. One clause states, "The question of recognizing Israel is not the jurisdiction of one faction, nor the government, but a decision for the Palestinian people." The web site pointed out that that Hamas could retain its hard-line image while placing the responsibility on the Arab population if it were to vote in a referendum for recognition of the Jewish state.

UK Foreign Minister: Israel, Iran Both Potential Threats


Great Britain's Foreign Minister Jack Straw said the world should worry about disabling Israel's nuclear capabilities as much as it is concerned with preventing Iran from going nuclear.

Straw said that Britain is seeking a "nuclear-free Middle East." He said that Iran and Israel were the only two countries left that posed "potential threats" now that Iraq and Libya's nuclear aspirations have been neutralized.

The foreign minister, who has made headlines in the past criticizing the Jewish state, conceded that removing the Iranian threat was indeed more urgent than the Israeli one. "If you want to see a nuclear-free Middle East, you've got to remove that threat from Iran, including the rhetorical threat to wipe Israel off the face of the map," Straw told British Channel 4 television. "Once you've done that, then we can get on to work in respect of Israel."

Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon faced criticism from defense officials in Israel over the weekend after he spoke at the Washington D.C. Hudson Institute, saying the military option against Iran's nuclear project was viable. He responded to the criticism on Israeli television Friday. "I spoke about the West's military option," he said. "Whether it is U.S. forces, NATO or the Israeli army that deal with the Iranian capability - there is a military capability that would set back the program for many years."

Meanwhile, Iran threatened to use its oil as a weapon if the UN Security Council imposes sanctions over its nuclear program. "If they politicize our nuclear case," Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said, "We will use any means. We are rich in energy resources. We have control over the biggest and the most sensitive energy route of the world."

Iran is the second largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It has partial control over the narrow Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, through which crude oil is transported from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq to the world market.

Israel Briefs US on Unilateral Border Plan

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel is seeking U.S. approval for a controversial plan that could reshape the Mideast conflict. It could be a hard sell, because the plan bypasses the Palestinian Authority.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Cabinet that he has briefed the U.S. on his plan to draw Israel's final borders unilaterally by 2010. Olmert has said that, with the recent election of the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, Israel does not have a Palestinian peace partner.

The plan calls for Israeli withdrawals from parts of the West Bank, while annexing big settlement blocs. Jewish settlers in the evacuated territory would be moved inside the West Bank security barrier, which would become the de-facto border.

Israel said it cannot negotiate with Hamas, because the group has rejected international demands to renounce violence and recognize the Jewish state. For its part, the U.S. regards Hamas as a terrorist organization.

While President Bush has said that Israel should be allowed to hold on to some settlement blocs, it's not clear how much West Bank territory the U.S. would allow Israel to annex. The U.S. is walking a tightrope, because any annexation would be rejected by its Arab allies. Hamas has rejected the plan as a land grab, and vowed that resistance to the occupation will continue.

Polls show that Olmert will easily win national elections in two weeks, so the plan is likely to shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It won't resolve the conflict, but Israel believes it can manage the conflict behind defensible borders. But for implementation of the plan, U.S. backing is crucial.

Hamas Platform: Terrorism is Legitimate


The Hamas movement, about to assume control over much of Judea/Samaria, presented its platform over the weekend - defining Israel as "the Zionist enemy" and approving continued terrorism.

Ismail Haniye, designated to be the prime minister in the new Hamas Authority, presented the document to Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, in the framework of the efforts to form a new government. Known as Abu Mazen, Abbas is seeking to lead his Fatah organization into a coalition with Hamas, but the two terrorist groups have not yet succeeded in finding sufficient common ground.

The Hamas platform, as outlined in the document, states that the dispute with the "Zionist enemy" continues, Israel is a conquering state, and that the path of resistance - a codeword for terrorism - is a "legitimate means of attaining the Palestinian nation's goals." The platform further states that hudna - a ceasefire that can be suspended the moment one side feels confident of victory - is also a legitimate tool.

"The conditions for a continued ceasefire," Hamas stated, "are an end to all the attacks against the Palestinian nation, and the release of the all the Palestinian prisoners [terrorists].

"The Zionist government did not allow the negotiations to succeed," according to Hamas. "Hamas will be happy to learn of a more efficient way of achieving the Palestinian goals... We will relate to previously-signed agreements according to the interests of the Palestinian nation... Negotiations are merely a means, and not a goal; past talks have not provided us with our minimum demands. However, negotiations in the future will be considered, if they serve our interests."

More excerpts: "The Palestinians have the right to return to every centimeter of their lands, and this right cannot be ceded. Every Palestinian has the right to return to his home and land from which he was banished, and not to give up any morsel of his land."

It was first reported that Abbas had rejected the Hamas document as being too vague and bellicose, but this was later denied. Saed Seyam, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), said, "Abbas has not rejected a Hamas letter he received on Friday [nor] the program of the new cabinet."

Hamas spokesman Assad Farhat said late last week that Hamas absolutely does not accept the Road Map plan, which he called an "American Zionist program."

Yigal Amir Denied Prison Visits for Semen Smuggle Attempt

By Ha'aretz

The assassin of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Amir, on Sunday faced a disciplinary tribunal after being caught on Thursday in an attempt to smuggle his semen out of prison. He was denied visits for 30 days, making phone calls for 14 days and was fined NIS 100 (about $22).

Amir has been fighting for his right to marry and have children for the last two years. He married Larisa Trimbobler by proxy after the Israel Prison Service, backed by the Attorney General, forbade holding the ceremony in prison.

The couple attempted to smuggle the sperm only a day after the IPS announced it would allow Amir to pass semen to conduct an artificial insemination procedure, while conjugal visits would be denied for security reasons.

The IPS said "currently the procedure for allowing artificially insemination [of Trimbobler] is being formulated." Therefore, Amir was not yet allowed to provide the semen for the procedure.

On Thursday Amir tried to smuggle over to Trimbobler a plastic bag with his semen during her visit. Jailers ended the visit as soon as they noticed the transferal of the bag.

Buying a Home in Israel


Uriel Lynn, chairman of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, said during the 2006 Israel Real Estate Conference that "a person earning a gross income of NIS 7,000 (about $1,490) is required to work 56 years in order to purchase an apartment worth $150,000, excluding the cost of interest payments."

According to Lynn, young couples with a household income of approximately NIS 7,000 are left with a disposable income of only NIS 1,050 (about $223), after basic living expenses. "We must improve the ability of young people of the middle class to purchase apartments," he said. According to Lynn, the real estate market for new apartments is at a halt, mainly as a result of the high apartment prices. About 29,300 new apartments were sold in 2005, a drop of 31 percent compared to 1998, when about 42,900 new apartments were sold.

"The State must give young people the opportunity to buy or rent an apartment without becoming enslaved to payments for the rest of their lives," Lynn said, adding that a tax allowance on mortgage interest payments should be given by the State to people purchasing their first apartment worth up to $150,000 in all parts of the country.

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