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Lukewarm Palestinian Response to International Aid Plan

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem), & Ha'aretz

Palestinians have given a lukewarm response to an international emergency aid program that would bypass the new government, led by the Islamic terror group Hamas. Israel has welcomed the plan.

Palestinian officials said the international aid plan is a good first step, but inadequate. The plan was approved by the "Quartet" of Mideast mediators - the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia. It will cover Palestinian health and utilities costs and provide cash allowances to the poorest sector of the population.

However, the Quartet said international sanctions that have made it impossible for Hamas to pay the salaries of 165,000 Palestinian Authority employees will remain in place. The salaries are three months overdue. The Quartet said the sanctions would not be lifted, until Hamas renounces violence and recognizes Israel.

Hamas, which seeks Israel's destruction, said those conditions are unacceptable. Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad said conditions should apply to both sides. "If they want the Palestinians to renounce violence, they should ask Israel also to stop all kinds of attacks against our people in the West Bank and Gaza," Hamad said.

Israel said it welcomes any aid plan that does not fund terrorism. Government spokesman Mark Regev: "Israel will do nothing to impede humanitarian support for the Palestinian people. We have no interest in hardship in the Palestinian territories," he said.

Israel has been worried that economic collapse in the West Bank and Gaza could spark chaos and violence, so it believes the Quartet has taken a measured response. The new plan aims to ward off a looming humanitarian crisis, while continuing to squeeze the Hamas-led government.

In related stories, Syria and Iran have widened military cooperation, and Iran has agreed to sell Syria missiles and establish weapons production plants in Syria. Defense ministers of the two countries said their agreement is intended as a move against Israel and the United States.

"They [Iran and Syria] stressed the strengthening of mutual ties and the necessity to preserve peace and stability as well as the elimination of weapons of mass destruction from the region," an Iranian Defense Ministry statement.

And an IDF lieutenant colonel has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for spying for the Hizbullah. Omar El-Hayeb, a Bedouin from the Galilee, was convicted on charges of espionage, contact with a foreign agent and drug dealing. He was acquitted on charges of treason.

Arrested in October 2002, El-Hayeb, 43, is from the village of Beit Zarzir. He was responsible for recruiting Bedouin soldiers into the IDF. The former tracker for the Northern Command continued to claim his innocence after the verdict was handed down, charging that he had been framed and was a victim of persecution because he is an Arab. "I didn't confess, I won't confess," El-Hayeb told reporters. "I didn't do anything. The only reason they are coming after me is because I am an Arab."

One of his attorneys, Barry Rosenthal, said his client would appeal the conviction and sentence.

El-Hayeb was arrested as a result of a wide-ranging investigation into drug-smuggling. The six-month investigation also led to the arrests of 18 other IDF soldiers, some of them career soldiers. El-Hayeb had been in contact with Lebanese drug-dealing figures with the intention of smuggling drugs into Israel.

At a certain stage El-Hayeb agreed to a request made by a Lebanese friend to meet with Hizbullah representatives. The meeting, which would have taken place in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, never took place. Hizbullah said at the time of the indictment that it was "not obliged to confirm or deny" the spying reports.

Security officials involved in the investigation say their suspicions were backed up by El-Hayeb's eventual confession. The tracker was on his way to a meeting on the Lebanese border when he was arrested.

El-Hayeb was carrying classified military maps, a list of IDF communications frequencies and night-vision goggles when he was detained. It is suspected Al-Hayeb planned to hand these items over to Hizbullah in exchange for money or drugs that he could then sell.

As the highest-ranking Bedouin officer in the IDF, Al-Hayeb was frequently cited as an example of advancement possibilities for Israeli Arabs who serve in the military.

He was himself gravely wounded by a Hizbullah roadside bombing while serving in Lebanon in 1996. Surgeons had to remove one of his eyes. The injuries left him partially paralyzed and with shards of metal still lodged in his head.

Manhigut Yehudit: Olmert is an Accessory to Murder


The Manhigut Yehudit faction of the Likud released a statement calling anyone involved in last week's transfer of weapons to the Palestinian Authority an "accessory to murder."

Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) "sees the prime minister, the defense minister, the justices of the High Court of Justice, and any officer and soldier involved in the transfer of weapons to the murderer Abu Mazen (PA President Mahmoud Abbas) and his gang as accessories to the murder of Jews," the movement's statement said. Furthermore, Manhigut Yehudit, headed by Moshe Feiglin, declared that it would work towards trying the aforementioned before a court of law when the movement takes over the reigns of power.

The Israeli government, through the IDF, transferred 1,050 automatic rifles and one million bullets to the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday and Wednesday. The weapons reached the Allenby Crossing, on the Jordan-Israel border, as a gift to Abbas from the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. Other reports state that the guns are a gift of the United States. IDF forces then transported the weapons from the Jordanians across Israel and handed them over to PA forces at the Erez and Karni crossings into the Gaza Strip.

During his visit to Jordanian King Abdullah II earlier this month, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved the Jordanian request to transfer the weapons to the PA. The weapons transfer is apparently meant to prop up the militia controlled by Abbas; however, IDF sources report that the low-level war waged between Fatah and Hamas in the PA indicates that the weapons may not stay in the hands of Abbas-controlled gunmen.

A senior member of the terrorist Force 17 aligned with the Fatah movement told WorldNetDaily that the weapons earmarked for Abbas' personal guard would be used against Israel. Terrorist Abu Yousef told WND that the weapons - some of which, he claims, were delivered to the PA earlier than last week - have already have been used in two shooting attacks, one of which resulted in the death of an Arab whose car was mistaken for that of a Jew.

"These weapons will not be used in an internal war, but against Israelis," he said. "Force 17... will also be the first to lead the Palestinians in the current struggle against Israeli occupation."

On Saturday, Abbas denied that he had received weapons from Israel to shore up his personal militia, but he admitted that general PA forces have been in need of weapons. It is widely assumed that the public reports of Israel's transfer of weapons to Abbas in order to help him fight Hamas have not strengthened his image within the Palestinian Authority public.

Israel Eases Way for Illegal Workers' Children to Citizenship


The Cabinet voted Sunday that children of workers who are now in Israel illegally, and who fulfill certain conditions, will be able to become permanent residents - and so will their parents.

The four ministers of the Shas Party, as well as Foreign Minister Tzippy Livny - a former Immigration Minister - voted against the proposal, while 18 ministers supported it.

Minister Eli Yishai, leader of the Shas Party and a Deputy Prime Minister, was sharply critical of the decision. "This is the end of the Jewish State," he said. "It's not a humanistic matter [as it has been portrayed], but rather an 'explosives vest' in terms of our image, economy, society and Jewishness. We are on a slippery slope leading to the loss of our identity." Yishai said, however, that Shas had stood "like a fortified wall" against the intention to make it even easier for foreign citizens to become Israelis.

Knesset member Zevulun Hammer (National Religious Party) said, "This was a populist decision that will be 'weeping for generations.' The compromise proposal reached in the previous government [between the NRP and the anti-religious Shinui Party] balanced between ethical and humanistic values, on the one hand, and the need to deal with the problems of Israeli children and making sure not to turn the State of Israel into a state of all the world's citizens. The decision today exposes the State to the danger of citizenship for illegal Palestinian aliens."

Children whose parents entered the country legally, who are over 14 years old, and who lived here at least six consecutive years will be eligible for permanent residency. In addition, their parents, even if they are now in the country illegally, will also be allowed to remain. So said Interior Minister Roni Bar-On to Voice of Israel Radio. "It would not be humanitarian to separate between the children and their parents," Bar-On explained.

Dolphin Married to British Jew Dies


Cindy the dolphin, the head of a pack of dolphins at the Eilat Reef, and father of all the dolphins born in the area, died Sunday and was buried at sea.

The dolphin's body was discovered Sunday morning by reef workers floating in its favorite place – the entrance of the diving and swimming instructors. Reef workers put Cindy's body in a boat and sailed into the sea, where they departed from it.

"We felt this was the end for three weeks," said Maya Zilber, who is a manager at the reef's training center. "Cindy swam slowly and he had problems eating. Sometimes he didn't eat at all. He vomited and did not look good," said Maya.

Cindy gained fame after marrying Sharon Tendler, a 41-year-old Jewish millionaire from London in December 2005. Tendler wore a white dress and placed flowers on her head.

Cindy, escorted by his fellow best-men dolphins, swam over to Tendler and she hugged him, whispered sweet nothings in his ear, and kissed him in front of the cheering crowd.

After the ceremony was sealed with some mackerels, Tendler was tossed into the water by her friends so that she could swim with her new husband. "I'm the happiest girl on earth," the bride said as she chocked back tears of emotion. "I made a dream come true, and I am not a pervert," she stressed.

Cindy was the largest dolphin on the reef. He was over 8.2 feet and weighed over 551 pounds. Despite his massive size, Zilber said that Cindy "still had battles with other males. But these are natural wars. If there would not have been wars between the males, we would be worried," she added.

Reef employees estimate that Cindy, short for Cinderella, was 40-years-old at the time of his death.

Court: Elderly Member's Son Tried to Cheat Kibbutz

By Ha'aretz

Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court has ruled that a declaration by an elderly kibbutz member that she was leaving the kibbutz is invalid, because it was made dishonestly, and solely for financial reasons.

This precedent means the heirs of kibbutz members who leave for inappropriate reasons will not be able to receive the sum paid to members who leave a kibbutz. The sum a kibbutz has to pay to a member who has been living there for 60-70 years can reach NIS 500,000 or more. The court's decision was reported in the kibbutz magazine, Hakibbutz.

In recent years there have been several cases in which elderly or terminally ill members left the kibbutz to allow their heirs to receive the money. This happens in "traditional" kibbutzim, which are still fully cooperative, and therefore the members have no property rights on their homes, which revert to the ownership of the kibbutz when they leave or die. Members of these kibbutzim are entitled to a sum that is a function of the number of years they have been living there.

The ruling was given in the case of an elderly member of Kibbutz Na'an, one of the kibbutz's most veteran members, who moved into the kibbutz's nursing home. Her son, who lives abroad, returned to Israel and obtained a temporary order from the family court appointing him as the custodian of his mother's property.

The son told the kibbutz that his mother had left the kibbutz, and demanded to receive the money due to her immediately.

The kibbutz presented an urgent petition to the court to cancel the appointment of the son as custodian, claiming the son had cynically taken over his mother's belongings, and dishonestly obtained the custodianship to get the money due to his mother.

The judge accepted the kibbutz's claim concerning the son's dishonesty and that the main purpose of his custodianship was to get the money. The court ruled that the urgency with which the son sent the declaration that his mother had left the kibbutz, which was sent without her knowledge, stemmed from his knowledge that she had little time left. The judge ruled that the mother's declaration, via her son, that she was leaving the kibbutz a few days before she died is invalid, and that the woman remained a member of the kibbutz until the day she died.

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