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Israel Prevented Abbas' Assassination


Israel prevented a plot by Izzadin el-Kassam terrorists of Hamas from assassinating Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, the British Sunday Times reported. According to the report, the terrorists planned to target him in his Gaza office.

Israeli Police, Settlers Clash in Hebron

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli police and settlers have clashed in the volatile West Bank town of Hebron. It is the first salvo between the settlers and the new Israeli government, which was sworn in last week.

Jewish settlers threw firebombs, stones and bottles at police in riot gear, which moved in to evacuate squatters from a Palestinian home. Armed with batons, the police pushed through the crowd. Using an electric saw, they broke down the door of the three-story building where dozens of settlers were holed up.

Some settlers left the building peacefully; others, like Tzippe Schlussel, were dragged out. "If I had a kaffiyeh, I would not be dragged out like this," she said, referring to the traditional Arab headdress. She was effectively saying that the Palestinians have more rights in Hebron than the Jews.

About 500 ultra-nationalist settlers live among about 160,000 Palestinians in Hebron. The city is home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs and is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

The officer commanding the evacuation, Amir Cohen, said the settlers tried everything they could to stop the police. They shouted, cursed, spit and pushed," Cohen told reporters. He said the police responded with restraint.

Three settler families moved into the disputed building a month ago, claiming they purchased it from its Palestinian owner. He denied it. Israel's Supreme Court ruled that the Jewish ownership documents were forged, and it ordered the evacuation.

It could be the shape of things to come. Israel's new Prime Minister Ehud Olmert plans to withdraw from large parts of the West Bank over the next four years and remove some 60,000 settlers from their homes. The settlers said they would resist the plan and fight for the right of Jews to live everywhere in the biblical Land of Israel.

Israeli Arabs Plan Mass-Mourning of Israel's Founding in Lod


There is opposition to a plan by Israeli Arabs to march in the center of the Israeli city of Lod to mourn the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation.

Residents of Lod filed a request with Lod Police Commander Amichai Eshed to prevent a public observance in the city on May 15th (the anniversary of the end of the British Mandate) of Al-Nakba – which is Arabic for "The Catastrophe," a reference to the founding of the State of Israel.

They wrote in their letter that, "Nakba Day testifies more than anything to the disloyalty of Palestinians in Israel to the right of Israel to exist in peace and security, as well as the right of the Jewish nation to an independent state in the Land of Israel. The observance of Nakba Day in Lod represents a dangerous development which began on Land Day."

The Land Day march in Lod featured Hamas flags and fiery speeches calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Mendy Safdie, a Yisrael Beiteinu representative from the city, said of the planned observance, "The precedent-setting rally on Land Day in Lod was a mistake that I expected to have consequences and today my forecast has been realized. Even more dangerous escalations will take place in the future. This will lead to Lod turning into the first mixed Jewish-Arab city to fall into Arab hands. This is part of the plan of the Islamic Movement to slowly take over mixed cities in particular and Israeli cities in general."

Safdie requested an audience with the local police commander to inform him that it is in his hands "to stand up for the rights of residents of Lod to continue to exist as a Jewish city with an Arab minority living in accordance with Israeli law and with deference to the status quo."

He added that, "It is in his hands to preserve the red lines so that Arab and Jew can live together by preserving the feelings of one another. It is inconceivable that Lod residents should live with the knowledge that their neighbors are working toward their extermination and acting with the intention to hurt their national and religious sensitivities. I would hope for coexistence, but when this is already so distant, at least we will struggle for existence."

At a Nakba commemoration on Israel's Independence Day – which took place last week, on the Hebrew anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence – MK Muhammed Barakeh called on the Israeli government to allow 300,000 Israeli Arabs whose families fled their villages during the War of Independence to return to their homes, many of which are now left-wing kibbutzim?

According to Barakeh, Israel's objection to accepting millions of Arab who left in 1948 is due to the drastic shift in demographic balance such a move would cause. "But in Israel itself," Barakeh said, "there live 300,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel that were expelled from their homes. Their return to their homes and land will not change the demographic balance at all. The Israeli opposition to restoring their rights is due to the battle over land."

Barakeh stressed the importance of preserving the memory and history of the Palestinian Nakba. "We do not prevent anybody from celebrating on this day (Independence Day) and therefore we don't want anybody to force us to celebrate it. The Nakba is historical truth that cannot be hidden from. You celebrate the disaster of another nation…but we will continue to cleave to this land with the hope of return on of these days. It is humiliating for us to celebrate and to wave the Israeli flag on this day – especially when all that remains is our citizenship and our memory. Without the memory, our citizenship will be a prison of nothingness."

Buffett Buys Israeli Company for $4 Billion


The Israeli economy welcomed the acquisition of an Israel metal-cutting tools company, owned by the Wertheimer family, by billionaire Warren Buffett of Omaha, Nebraska.

Buffett, owner of the investment company Berkshire Hathaway, is said to be the world's second-richest person. Over the weekend, his company purchased 80% of the Iscar Metalworking Companies (IMC) for $4 billion, valuing IMC at $5 billion. The deal makes the Wertheimer family the wealthiest in Israel.

Iscar began some 50 years ago as a small aluminum framing company in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya. Stef Wertheimer, who founded the company, and his son Eitan, the current chairman, will continue to own 20% of the company.

IMC will continue to be managed by its current management team, including Eitan Wertheimer and President and Chief Executive Officer Yaakov Harpaz. It will remain headquartered in Tefen, in the western Galilee.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert welcomed the purchase, saying it indicated worldwide confidence in the Israeli economy: "This is not just another billion-dollar deal. The fact is that [Buffett] is neither a Jew nor a Zionist; the biggest investor in the world believes in Israel's economy, and this will give us a great push and will encourage innumerable other investors."

Olmert also congratulated the Wertheimer family: "They are builders of the land, and wonderful Israelis. The father lit the wick of Zionism, and the son continued with long-range economic vision."

Berkshire owns a diverse mix of more than 60 companies, including insurance, reinsurance, carpet, jewelry, furniture, restaurants and utility firms. It also has major investments in such companies as H&R Block, Anheuser-Busch, and Coca-Cola.

Israel Seeks to Set Inheritance Rights for Gay Couples

By Ha'aretz

Homosexual couples are to be able to inherit each other's property after death without making a special court application.

This unprecedented provision is one of several proposed reforms to the country's inheritance laws that the Justice Ministry plans on publishing within the next few weeks and submitting to Justice Minister Haim Ramon for approval.

The memorandum of reforms was drafted by a public commission headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel. The commission was appointed seven years ago.

This change consists of deleting the words "husband and wife" from the definition of a couple for the purposes of inheritance laws, so that they apply to gay as well as straight pairs.

The memorandum includes other changes to estate law. One reform stipulates that if a married couple is separated for more than three years, the surviving spouse would not automatically inherit the deceased's estate. Currently, a couple is still considered as such for the purposes of inheritance unless the divorce has been finalized, even if the deceased has been living with a common-law partner for years.

A will is necessary in order to bequeath property to a common-law spouse, but only 30 percent of Israelis bother to write a will.

One revolutionary provision in the bill allows people to make wills by video. Assuming the draft passes, this would make Israel the first country in the world with a law stipulating the validity of a will expressed in a "recording that combines image and sound."

Courts in Australia are permitted to recognize video wills if they are convinced that they express the last will of the deceased. The Turkel committee specifies conditions for recording a video will to ensure that it was not edited post-mortem. The recording must be made in a single take from beginning to end in order to ensure that no cuts were made, the person making the will must face the camera and he or she must state that the recording is his or her will.

Another amendment would put adopted and biological siblings on equal footing in terms of inheritance.

In addition, the proposed reform gives the force of law to the biblical principle of "Have you murdered and also inherited?" and stipulates that a child who intentionally killed or murdered his or her parent cannot inherit the victim's assets. Instead, the estate would be passed on to a grandchild.

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