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Haniyah Refers to Israel as the Axis of Evil

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah stated, "The axis of evil is working to compel us to recognize the occupation of the Palestinian people." The prime minister of the Hamas-led PA administration made his remarks to a Nakba event in the Rafiah area of Gaza, marking the date of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 on the Gregorian calendar.


Majority of Israelis Say Arabs Should Leave

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

A recently-released poll in Israel indicates a majority of Israeli Jews want Israeli Arabs to leave the country. Some Israeli Arabs say the poll results are a cause for concern.

The annual poll carried out by the Israel Democracy Institute looks at Israeli's attitudes towards their democracy. This year the poll found that 62 percent of Israeli Jews agreed with the statement, "The government should encourage Arabs to emigrate."

A senior Institute fellow and a City University of New York political science professor, Asher Arian, says the results indicate Israeli Arabs are not full participants in Israel's democracy.

"That is the important point that Israeli democracy is in a fragile state and is still dominated by the split between Jews and Arabs," he said. "My guess is that we will not be able to address that question until the larger question of relations with the Palestinians is resolved."

Arian says this year's poll numbers are similar to those in the past that indicate a majority of Israeli Jews mistrust their Israeli-Arab fellow citizens who make up about 20 percent of Israel's population of seven million people.

Israeli-Arab leaders say the poll results point to a failure of Israel's educational system and confirm that Israel's Arabs are second-class citizens in their own country.

Faisal Azaiza who heads the Jewish-Arab Center at Haifa University says he believes the poll clearly shows that many Israeli Jews fear the Jewish majority could be threatened by Arabs.

"The majority in the Jewish community, they continue to be afraid of the status of the country as a Jewish state. And you see it now by this figure that shows 62 percent of the Jewish population of the country, they agree that the government be encouraged to push Arabs outside of the country," said Azaiza.

Azaiza says a decision Sunday by Israel's Supreme Court to uphold a controversial law that barred some Palestinians who marry Israeli-Arabs citizens from living in Israel is a good example of the discrimination Arabs face in their daily lives. (Editor's Note: Many of those marriages are sham marriages similar to illegal aliens that marry Americans so that they can get a Green Card to work). In its decision to uphold the ban the court agreed with Israel's government that said allowing young Palestinians to move into Israel by marrying Israeli Arabs amounted to an unacceptable security threat for Israelis.

Arian says the democracy poll shows that both Israeli Arabs and Jews agree that Israel's government has not done enough to promote equal rights for Israel's Arab citizens. He also points out the poll indicates Israel's public is losing confidence in its politicians, with less than a quarter believing their elected leaders care about the concerns of voters.


Haifa's Mayor 'Doesn't Object' to Return of Arabs

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Calls have been raised for Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav (Kadima) to resign and apologize for comparing the Arabs of 1948 to the Jews of Germany and for agreeing to their return.

Yahav told an Arabic newspaper over the weekend that he does not object to the return of Arab refugees from 1948 to his city as part of a peace arrangement with the Palestinian Authority.

Aviad Visuly, head of the Haifa Likud Chapter and the Land of Israel Forum, said that Yahav must apologize to those who fought in Israel's War of Independence.

"We are shocked by the mayor of Haifa's post-Zionist opinions," Visuly said in the name of the Land of Israel Forum. "By comparing the Arabs who ran away from Haifa in 1948 to the Jews who ran away from the Nazis in Germany, he is actually comparing Israel in its early days to Nazi Germany... If Yahav supports the Arabs' 'right of return,' let him provide an example and give the keys to his home in the Denya neighborhood to the Arabs who claim ownership of the land on which it is built."

Yahav was elected mayor of Haifa in 2003 on a joint Shinui-Labor ticket, and joined Kadima early this year.

Until 1948, Haifa had a large Jewish population, close to half the total of 150,000. By the time Israel's independence was declared, however, in May 1948, about half the Arabs had left. Today, about 35,000 out of the city's total population of 270,000 - some 13% - are Arab.

Visuly called on Yahav to both resign and apologize immediately for his remarks. "He must apologize to all the members of the Palmach and Haganah who risked their lives defending Haifa against the Arab armies and mobs during the War of Independence."

What Yahav actually told the Kol Al-Arab newspaper was: "In principle, I do not object to having some of the Palestinian residents return to Haifa in the framework of an accepted and signed agreement that will end the dispute with the Palestinian nation [sic]... I tell you in all honesty that I feel the pain of the refugees and hope that their problem will be solved, because my father tasted the bitterness of loss and of being a refugee after he escaped from Germany..."

Yahav further added, "I do not fear the growth of the Arab population in the city... I prefer that many Arab intellectuals would come." The fax number of Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav is 04-8356020. From abroad, replace the first zero with 972.

Abbas Urges Hamas to Renounce Violence

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for the Islamic terrorist group Hamas to renounce violence. Abbas is also warning Israel that unilateral moves to demarcate its borders will lead to a deepening crisis.

In a speech to mark Nakba, what the Palestinians call their day of mourning to commemorate the loss of their homeland with the establishment of Israel, Abbas called for Hamas to avoid fiery speeches and slogans that bring about isolation.

The Palestinian president also called for Israel not to move unilaterally to set its own border. Abbas said if Israel sets its borders on its own the region will experience a deeper spiral of violence.

Senior Israeli officials said last week they could demarcate their final border by 2008 and will only wait until the end of this year to see if Palestinians are willing to negotiate a border.

Israeli officials also say that no negotiations will take place unless the Hamas-dominated Palestinian government agrees to recognize Israel - something Hamas refuses to do.

Abbas is visiting Russia this week for talks with President Vladimir Putin aimed at reviving a dialogue with Israel. They are also to discuss resolving how to provide funds to ease a growing humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories, while bypassing the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority.

Russia is a key member of the so-called Middle East Peace Quartet; along with the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations. Last week the Quartet said it would establish a temporary financial mechanism to funnel aid to the Palestinians.

But differences have surfaced since then over whether the salaries of Palestinian Authority employees would be paid under the plan - something the U.S. opposes, saying that would amount to direct aid flowing to Hamas.


Orthodox Rabbi Calls for Civil Marriage

By YnetNews.com

Rabbi Naftali Rothenberg, the spiritual leader of Har Adar, a mixed religious-secular community in the Jerusalem hills, has called for a break in the Orthodox monopoly over marriage and divorce in Israel.

Speaking to Israel Radio, Rothenberg said such a plan would even be supported by many Halachic (Jewish law) authorities, including current Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. "It's an open secret that many rabbinic authorities would sanction such a move, including Rabbi Amar," he said.

Rothenberg proposes two tracks for marriage in Israel, keeping the current rabbinic establishment, but creating a parallel civil option for those who choose. He said the civil option would be available not only for couples ineligible to get married under Jewish law (such as Kohanim, or descendants of the biblical Aaron, who cannot marry divorcees according to Halacha), but also for secular couples who choose to bypass the rabbinate.


The rabbi pointed out that Jewish law would require divorcing couples to remain in the same framework they married under, and said that Jewish law would have no problem recognizing such a plan.

"Many important authorities over the past 200 years have ruled that civil marriage has no religious significance whatsoever. Therefore, there would be no problem allowing couples who got married civilly to divorce in the same manner (because according to Jewish law, they would never have been married in the first place)," he said. Couples married via the rabbinate would still be required to obtain a religious divorce.

Rothenberg said his plan would not dissuade Israelis from choosing religious ceremonies for their weddings. "A vast majority of Israelis want traditional ceremonies for the important occasions of life. This will not change by adding a civil option for marriage. People will still opt to have a rabbi conduct their weddings," he said.

Asked what has prevented the implementation of such a plan if it would be supported by leading rabbis and Halachic authorities, Rothenberg said the issue was simple: "People don't want to lose their power."


Brazil Wants Israelis to Secure Pan American Games

By YnetNews.com

Brazil is seeking the aid of Israeli companies in providing security services for the Pan-American Games, to be held in July 2007 in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil's National Secretary of Public Safety Luis Fernando Correa arrived in Israel on Sunday, and is set to meet with the representatives of 25 local companies engaged in homeland security in the coming days. The meetings were set up by The Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute and the Defense Minister.

Export Institute officials assessed Sunday that Israel companies would be able to attain at least a third of the event's security budget, which stands at$150 million.

The Pan American Games, the American continents' version of the Olympic Games, will take place in Rio July 13-29. Some 5,500 athletes from 42 countries are set to participate in the competitions.


Prehistoric Jerusalem

By YnetNews.com

Excavations by the Antiquities Authority have shown that prehistoric man lived in the area of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel in Jerusalem. Skeletons discovered during routine Authority oversight of a kibbutz building project are believed to date to the mid-Paleolithic period, 50,000-200,000 years ago.

Antiquities Authority inspector archeologist Nuha Said-Aga discovered a large concentration of stone vessels that served prehistoric man hundreds of thousands of years ago. Following the discovery the area was excavated, and hundreds of vessels dated to the mid-Paleolithic period were discovered.

Antiquities Authority officials Omri Barzilai and Michal Birkenfeld, who directed the excavation, believe that the reason for prehistoric settlement there was probably the area's proximity to flint, from which prehistoric man prepared tools and utensils.

"It's a reasonable assumption that man lived in that period by hunting animals and gathering wild plants, and that he didn't settle permanently in one site, but wandered from place to place looking for important resources like water and food," they note.

Those involved in the excavations were excited by the discovery of such an early site in Jerusalem since the city, despite its abundance of antiquities from various periods, has only two other known sites from this period, one on Emek Refaim Street and the other in the area of Mt. Scopus.

According to the Antiquities Authority, the discovery of the site shows that the area was an attractive place for human beings not only from the biblical period onward, but in the pre-historic period as well.

















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