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Sharon to Go to Long-Term Care


Ariel Sharon reportedly will be moved to a long-term care facility next week. Ma'ariv reported Wednesday that doctors believe there is no chance that the former Israeli prime minister, who was felled by a stroke in January, will regain consciousness. He is to be moved next week from the intensive care unit at Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem to a coma ward at Shiba Hospital in Tel Hashomer, the newspaper reported. The Knesset Finance Committee on Tuesday approved state funding for the next five years of Sharon's hospital treatment.

Israel Says There is a Deadline for Peace Talks

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Senior Israeli officials said they would wait six months before deciding whether to move unilaterally to set Israel's final border with the Palestinians.

Until now, Israeli officials have avoided putting a strict timetable on their plan to draw Israel's final border with the Palestinians, saying only they would do so by 2010. But Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon told Israeli Radio that Israel could move faster and demarcate its West Bank border by the end of 2008.

In a warning to Palestinians, Ramon also said Israel would only wait until the end of this year to see if Palestinians are willing to negotiate a border. He said that if Israel did not see any progress by then it would move unilaterally.

Ramon's remarks were echoed later by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has insisted that no talks take place until the Hamas-dominated government agrees to recognize Israel. He said he prefers to negotiate with the Palestinians, but would not wait much longer for Palestinians to agree to his conditions.

"If they will accept these principles then fine for us, we are ready to talk," he said. "If we wait a month, two months, three months or half a year and we do not see any change, then most likely we are going to move forward even without an agreement, or without negotiations."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has asked for direct Israeli-Palestinian talks to begin immediately, but Israeli officials said there would be no talks with the Palestinians, unless Hamas agrees to its precondition of recognition - something Hamas has refused to do.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters that Palestinians are ready and willing to negotiate. "Well I believe the Israeli government knows they have a partner. President Abbas stands fully ready to resume the permanent status negotiations. I believe borders and other issues of permanent status such as Jerusalem and the status of refugees must be determined and decided through negotiations, and not through dictation. So if the Israeli government really wishes to get to the end game, and the end of conflict and a peace treaty, we stand fully ready."

Under a disengagement plan first publicly proposed by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and adopted by his successor Ehud Olmert, Israel would pull back from most settlements in the West Bank. The plan would concentrate settlers in three large settlement blocs in the West Bank, while demarcating Israel's border along the route of the controversial separation barrier. Palestinians have condemned the plan saying it amounts to a massive land grab that violates international law.

Eiland: Iran Unlikely to Share Nukes with Militants

By Reuters

If Iran eventually acquires nuclear weapons, it would be unlikely to share them with the Islamic terrorists it backs in the Middle East, National Security Advisor Giora Eiland said on Wednesday.

Israel has supported U.S.-led diplomatic efforts to deny Iran the means for making a bomb. It argues that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a direct threat and could embolden allied Lebanese and Palestinian terrorist groups to step up attacks on Israelis.

But Eiland played down speculation among analysts and Iran's foes that Tehran might also supply proxies with portable nuclear weapons such as a radiation-spreading "dirty bomb."

"I don't think they would be ready to share this knowledge," he told foreign reporters. "Iran is the state that supports terror more than any other state. They are extreme and anti-Israeli ... but I didn't say they are not responsible."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country's reactors are for energy only, but his calls for the elimination of Israel -- believed to hold the region's only atomic arsenal -- have stoked global fears of a nuclear confrontation.

Israel has urged United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran so it suspends a program that includes uranium enrichment, which would be a key step in production of any nuclear weapons. Iran says it seeks only power only for energy generation.

Eiland said that sanctions, or the threat of them, would be effective only if applied within a "matter of months," and urged that Security Council powers - which have been divided on how aggressively to confront Iran - speak in "one voice."

"The Iranians have tried to present a different picture, as if they have crossed all points of no return, as if they have managed to overcome all the technological problems, so the world has to accept the fact of [their] nuclear capability," he said. "That is not reality, not from the technological point of view nor, at this point, from the diplomatic point of view."

Western intelligence agencies have said Iran is years away from attaining the know-how to build a bomb independently. Like the U.S., Israel has not ruled out a military strike as a last resort against Iran. But though it set a precedent by bombing the main Iraqi reactor in 1981, Israel is not widely believed to be capable of tackling Iran's more formidable facilities alone.

According to Eiland, a nuclear-armed Iran would prompt a regional arms race, making future conflicts potential catastrophes. "If Iran, at the end of the day, manages to achieve nuclear weapons against the will of the rest of the world ... the conclusion that might be made by 1 billion Muslims over the world is that Ahmadinejad is right," he said. "From that moment, every conflict, every crisis in the Middle East is going to take place under an Iranian nuclear umbrella."

Germany Updates Official List of Jews Murdered by Nazis in WWII


Germany has published a new register of names of all known German Jews killed in the Holocaust, issuing a second edition of a register that was first published 20 years ago and listed only victims from former West Germany.

The four-volume book, containing 150,000 names in alphabetical order, along with vital data and dates of detention, now includes Jews who had lived in eastern Germany and parts of modern-day Poland that were in German hands before World War II. Historians say up to 600,000 Jews lived in Germany before the rise of the Nazis. The greater part managed to flee.

The new memorial register was compiled by Germany's Federal Archives and corrects the inevitable errors in the first, 1986 edition that was deposited in the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

Alongside the alphabetical list for Germany, the register contains a complete list of the mass deportations from pre-war Germany, Austria and three parts of the modern Czech Republic, the Sudetenland, Bohemia and Moravia.

Bernd Neumann, state minister for the arts, said at a launching ceremony in Berlin's New Synagogue that it was important to complete the book because the time was approaching when there would be no living memory of the persecution. "We have a moral duty to keep alive the memory of all the Jewish victims of the Nazi dictatorship and pass it on to future generations," he said.

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