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Saudi Arabia Seeks Release of Saudi Man Held in Israel

By VOA News

Saudi Arabia says it is seeking the release of a Saudi man being held in Israel. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters Tuesday Riyadh has contacted international groups including the Red Cross about the man. In Israel, a spokeswoman for the country's prison service said the man, Abdul Rahman al-Atawi has been held by authorities for 11 months after illegally entering Israel. She said efforts have been made to hand him over to several other countries, including Finland, Turkey and Jordan. Saudi Arabia and Israel have no diplomatic relations

Kadima Seeks Coalition with Labor in Israel

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he would seek to build a coalition with the Labor Party and Labor's leader, Amir Peretz, said he was optimistic that a government could be formed soon.

Kadima Party head Olmert and Labor Party leader Peretz, said they have agreed to work together to form the next government. Olmert whose party won 29 seats in the election - more than any other - said Kadima and Labor are natural allies. Olmert said after two days of talks the two men agreed that the Labor Party would be a senior partner with Kadima in any new government.

The announcement followed reports of a rift between Olmert and Peretz following comments by the Labor Party leader over the past few days that he would attempt to form a government on his own, with the help of smaller parties. Now, Peretz said that he wants a coalition with Olmert. Peretz said he has no doubt the new government would be able to set Israel's goals for the future.

Neither of the two men would discuss the distribution of cabinet portfolios. With Kadima's 29 seats and Labor's 19 seats both parties would still have to work hard to get other parties to join their coalition, to get a working majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

The announcement is a boost to Olmert's plan to withdraw from most of the West Bank in the next four years. Under the plan, which was originally proposed by now comatose Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel would consolidate nearly all West Bank settlements in three large settlement blocs and use the controversial Israeli-built security barrier as the basis for a border with Palestinians.

Palestinians have condemned the plan, calling it a land-grab that violates international law.

No VIP Status for Hamas Authority Leaders


With the establishment of the Hamas government, Israel no longer issues VIP free-travel cards to PA leaders who wish to travel between Gaza and Judea/Samaria.

Arutz-7 reported that ever since 1993, the Palestinian Authority has applied for the travel permits for its legislature members and other senior figures. The VIP cards must be renewed every three months. This month, the first time the requests were made on behalf of a Hamas government, Israel did not approve, or even consider, any of the applications. The only Palestinian Authority leader to retain VIP status is PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).

Israel's concern over PA leaders' travel goes back to July 1994, when Yasir Arafat himself smuggled four heavily wanted terrorists with him into Gaza. It was the first time Arafat was permitted into Gaza. As Barry Rubin, Director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, later wrote, Arafat had received permission from then-Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin to bring dozens of "old friends" - wanted terrorists - into Gaza with him, but four terrorists who had committed the most heinous acts were kept out. In Rubin's words,

"Arafat's motorcade crossed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers at the border were under strict instructions not to touch Arafat's Mercedes or the accompanying cars, which then drove past the Mediterranean coast's sand dunes to Gaza City. Early that evening, Arafat delivered a speech in Gaza City amid tens of thousands of people. Millions more around the world watched on television, including Rabin in his office.

"But his viewing was interrupted by an urgent phone call from [General Security Services head Yaakov] Peri who had just one thing to tell his boss: 'The bastard brought them in the trunk of his Mercedes.' Even after Israel accepted the return of thousands of Palestinian terrorists, soldiers and officials who had fought it, Arafat had just smuggled in the four forbidden men. When Rabin demanded that Arafat expel them, the Palestinian leader at first denied they were in Gaza, then sent them to Egypt but soon had them smuggled back."

In April 1997, IDF Maj. Gen. Shlomo Yannai, chief of the Southern Command, said that "senior Palestinian Authority officials are taking advantage of their VIP status to smuggle weaponry into PA-controlled areas in Gaza."

In May 2001, Arutz-7 reported, "Smuggling of weapons to the PA has been taking place for years, chiefly via underground tunnels from Egypt to Rafiach and in Arafat's plane. Other Palestinian VIPs, whose cars went unchecked through Israeli checkpoints, also smuggled in various weapons. A security source told Arutz-7," 'Almost every time a VIP car returned from Jordan, we saw that it was heavily weighted down - but we were not allowed to check it.'"

In more recent defense/security news, Arab terrorists fired at least five Kassam rockets towards Ashkelon Tuesday, causing damage to a building in the southern Ashkelon industrial zone. Vital infrastructures, such as an electric power station supplying a quarter of Israel's electricity, are located in the vicinity.

The IDF responded with heavy artillery fire towards open areas in Gaza City as well as Kassam rocket launching sites elsewhere in Gaza.

Hamas Authority gunmen opened fire at an IDF force outside Gaza Thursday afternoon; after a terrorist was caught crossing the border into Israel near Kibbutz Nir-Am. Arabs in Hebron threw rocks at Jewish workers in the local ancient cemetery, and at Mexican tourists, injuring one of the latter. Gunfire was directed at an IDF force in Psagot; no one was hurt.

IDF forces arrested 22 wanted Palestinian terrorists in Judea and Samaria over the course of Monday night. Among them were 10 Islamic Jihad terrorists in the Jenin area in northern Shomron, two women in Shechem, a Hamas terrorist east of Tul Karem and others.

Senior Hamas Figure to Visit China

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar said he would visit China and other Asian countries next month. The Hamas leader's trip announcement came as Israeli air strikes on Tuesday targeted a facility near the office of the Palestinian president.

In a bid to break out of the diplomatic isolation now imposed on the new Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government, Zahar, who is also a senior Hamas leader, made the announcement at a joint news conference with China's diplomatic representative to the Palestinian Territories Yang Wei Guo. The Hamas leader said he welcomes China's decision to receive the Palestinian delegation.

While not referring to Zahar's trip specifically, the Chinese envoy said China supports Palestinian rights to regain what he describes as national rights and occupied land. For his part, Zahar did not say what other Asian countries he plans to visit.

A spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry said Israel has concerns about giving recognition and legitimacy to an "unreformed Hamas."

Hamas, which formed a new Palestinian government last week, after winning Palestinian parliamentary elections in January, is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the European Union and the United States. Last week the United States instructed its diplomats and all contractors to sever ties with the Palestinian Authority. The European Union also said it would not work with Hamas. However, several countries, most notably Russia and Saudi Arabia have said international moves to isolate the Hamas government by cutting assistance will be counterproductive and hurt ordinary Palestinians.

Pre-Post-Holiday Preparations


As the leaven-free holiday of Passover approaches, forward-looking Jews are already thinking of ways to save chametz from being wasted by "saving" it for needy families instead.

Throwing away your chametz [non-Kosher for Passover food] before Pesach? Why not give it to Hasdei Yeshurun instead; which will distribute it to needy families after the holiday has ended?

Two yeshiva men, originally from Washington, D.C. and South Africa, founded Hasdei Yeshurun 16 years ago in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem. Their idea was to take leftover food that schools, wedding halls and the like were planning to throw out, and distribute it to needy and/or large families, new immigrants, the elderly, and the like. But before Pesach (Passover), their program takes on a special twist.

As people all over the city are cleaning for the holiday and making sure to get rid of all non-Kosher-for-Passover products, they often take the easy way out and simply throw the stuff out. Even unopened boxes of cereal, whole loaves of bread, spaghetti, packages of flour and crackers, and more find their way into the trash. Hasdei Yeshurun's mission statement says: "Wait! Don't throw out your chametz! Bring it to us - at close to 30 drop-off points throughout the capital - and we'll sell it, store it and give it to the needy after the holiday."

During the holiday itself, the food is not allowed to be owned by a Jew - which explains why it was about to be thrown out. Before the onset of Passover, Hasdei Yeshurun sells the food, with a proper contract and bill of sale, to a non-Jew. After the holiday, according to accepted custom, the organization either buys it back for a nominal fee, or the sale is canceled retroactively for lack of fulfillment of one of the conditions.

In past years, Hasdei Yeshurun was able to help some 200 families after Passover, and it appears that this number will be surpassed this year. The food is kept in a large cellar and in family freezers throughout the organizers' neighborhood - making for a very complex logistical operation both before and after the holiday.

Jewish World Radio Plans to Podcast

By Services

Jewish World Radio announced its new podcasting programs and weblog services.

JWR as a podcaster will offer subscription feed of automatically delivered new content in a radio show format with new episodes every week or sporadically as needed or required.

Podcasts, usually heard on an Ipod, will include Yeshiva lessons in Spanish for the Benei Anusim. The Benei Anusim are descendants of Jews forced to convert to Christianity during the Inquisition. Apart from its selected music from Jewish performers JWR will also offer educational material from Jews for Judaism and other topics such as Judaism and Vegetarianism.

Each weekly program edition will consist of an hour of music, news, short talks and short messages from its sponsors.

Podcasting is the distribution of audio or video files, such as radio programs or music videos, over the Internet using either RSS or Atom syndication for listening on mobile devices and personal computers. A podcast is a web feed of audio or video files placed on the Internet for anyone to download or subscribe to.

For information, visit Jewish World Radio at and listen to its programming at

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