Thursday, October 20, 2005

A7news: Landau: Likud to Debate Plight of Gush Katif Evictees

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Landau: Likud to Debate Plight of Gush Katif Evictees
“No democratic country should ever abandon its citizens like this,” stated MK Dr. Uzi Landau on Wednesday after viewing the conditions of Jews expelled from Gush Katif and northern Samaria.

 1. Landau: Likud to Debate Plight of Gush Katif Evictees
 2. Vatican: Parts of David’s Tomb to Be Under Papal Control
 3. U.S. Chastises Israel, But Calls for Hamas to Disarm
 4. Abbas Tells World He Wants to Stop Terror
 5. Thousands Join Jerusalem March
 6. Russian Officers Train PA Police
 7. Sabbath-Observant Driver Receives $20,000 Compensation

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Thursday, October 20, 2005
17 Tishrei 5766

Arutz Sheva wishes its readers a happy Sukkot holiday.

1. Landau: Likud to Debate Plight of Gush Katif Evictees
By Naomi Grossman

“No democratic country should ever abandon its citizens like this,” stated MK Dr. Uzi Landau on Wednesday after viewing the conditions of Jews expelled from Gush Katif and northern Samaria.

Landau, who is running for the leadership of the Likud party, has called for the Likud Party to debate the issue in two weeks’ time at the opening of the Knesset’s winter session.

Click here to listen to an interview with Landau on IsraelNationalRadio's Eli Stutz and Yishai Fleisher Show, Thursday.

Two months after the expulsion, the former residents of Elei Sinai still have not found a communal housing solution for their community. At the moment, they are living in a tent camp at the Yad Mordechai junction, and Wednesday’s heavy rain caught them totally unprepared.

Sarita Maoz, spokesperson for the homeless evictees, told Israeli government radio that the community wrote Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to request an urgent meeting eight days before the rain began. Currently, the housing situation is being handled by “clerks,” according to Maoz. Since no forward progress is being made on a more permanent housing solution, Maoz believes Sharon must become personally involved. “Until now, we have not received any reply,” stated Maoz.

Meanwhile, expellees from the communities of Bedollach, Morag and Kfar Yam, who had been living at the Shirat Hayam Hotel in Ashkelon, were evicted from the hotel the day before the festival of Sukkot. Since then, they have been living in makeshift accommodations and are receiving meals from the soup kitchens in Sderot.

The Disengagement Authority asserts that the evictees have refused all suggested solutions, making negotiations impossible.

Landau stated that it is important to note that the evictees who were thrown out of the hotel in Ashkelon are from Morag and Bedollach. Residents from those communities had signed agreements with the authority to move to caravillas and had even been prepared to leave their homes before the disengagement.

Rather than preparing caravillas for community members in advance of the August 19th expulsion, the Disengagement Authority “sent them to a hotel in the Dead Sea area and the Shirat Hayam Hotel in Ashkelon, which didn’t solve any of their problems,” said Landau. “They even threw some of them into a hotel in Tiberias for a few days.”

Landau added that he personally visited the Shirat Hayam Hotel two weeks ago. “There was a social welfare officer there, working for the Disengagement Authority, who couldn’t supply any answers. You could see that if she had wanted to reply, she would have given a searing condemnation of the authority. But she obviously couldn’t do that, being a member of the authority herself.”

Apart from the camp at Yad Mordechai, Landau toured the evictee community of Nitzan and the “city of faith” adjacent to Netivot. During the tour Landau, called for an appropriate solution for the housing plight of the evictees from Gush Katif and northern Samaria, as well as an urgent party debate on the issue in time for the opening of the Knesset winter session.

Landau believes this is not a political problem but rather a social one. “There was a disengagement, and there are now ten thousand people here who need to be taken care of.” He added that it was time to demand a more humane response from the Prime Minister’s Office, and that he hoped the issue would also stir the members of the Knesset and the general public. “Let’s put the politics to one side and just help the evictees,” Landau stated.

Thursday, Landau spoke at the dedication ceremony of a new computer science center at the Jean Gluck Girls High School in Beit El. The computer center was dedicated in the memory of the late Rabbi Morris Friedman.

In his speech Landau stated, "Since the twelve years of Oslo, we have been on a slippery slope. Israel has made concessions in the Oslo, Hebron, and Wye Plantation agreements, and now the Road Map. Concessions have been the main answer to the pressures against us. It is a sign of fatigued weakness in our leadership, as well as among the citizens of the State of Israel.

"But there are others. There is a tremendous revival of Judaism. Just go to Judea and Samaria and see the people with their refined character traits and the way they honor their parents. They come from Israel, the former Soviet Union, America and Ethiopia. They are a different type of breed. Despite the disengagement, the people here continue to build. The population of Judea and Samaria is higher now than last year."

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2. Vatican: Parts of David’s Tomb to Be Under Papal Control
By Naomi Grossman

An official Vatican newspaper has reported that during his upcoming visit to the Vatican, President Moshe Katsav will sign an agreement giving parts of David’s Tomb over to papal control.

If such an agreement is signed, it will put an end to drawn out negotiations that began in 1998.

Israeli and Vatican representatives began discussing issues of jurisdiction over certain sites around seven years ago. These sites include various buildings and parcels of land that the Catholic church claims it used to control.

The church is now seeking to reclaim its ownership of these sites. Among the places under debate is an area that the church refers to as the site of the “last supper,” which is situated at the burial site of Kings David, Solomon, Rechavam, Assa, Chezekiyahu and Amatzia.

The Vatican newspaper, El Messagero, reports that President Katsav is expected to sign an agreement during his visit that will give the church control over the upper part of David’s Tomb. The church has already shown Israel a trial agreement, according to which the Vatican will receive control over this part of David’s Tomb in exchange for the ancient synagogue in Toledo, Spain, which was converted into a church after the expulsion of the Jews in 1492.

In response to the newspaper’s report, an official from the Foreign Ministry states “Israel is not prepared to relinquish its jurisdiction over this area.” At the same time, they admit that a blueprint of a possible agreement with the Vatican has been received.

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3. U.S. Chastises Israel, But Calls for Hamas to Disarm
By Naomi Grossman

The Bush administration had harsh words for Israel on Wednesday ahead of a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

At the same time, the United States has called upon the terror organization Hamas to disarm before the upcoming PA elections due in January.

Speaking at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rice said that Israeli construction between East Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim is against the Bush Administration policy in the Middle East.

Abbas met with Rice on Wednesday evening, prior to his meeting today with President George Bush, Senate and House Leaders, and Vice President Dick Cheney. At the meeting, Abbas is set to raise the issues of Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria and the security fence that is being built around Jerusalem. He will request American intervention on this issue and the dismantling of various outposts in the area. The United States hopes that the meeting will strengthen Abbas’s standing among the Arab population in Israel.

Speaking before the Senate’s Foreign Affairs committee in Washington, Rice stated that the United States is concerned about construction around Jerusalem and will be cutting financial aid to Israel due to what she termed “settlement activity.” At the same time, she added that it was important to see the general picture and that as Israel has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, what she believes is a sign of progress.

At the same time, the Bush administration has asked Abbas to bar members of terrorist organizations from participating in next January’s election unless they renounce violence.

Administration officials hope the move will reduce tensions with Israel in the wake of the brutal terror attacks over the weekend that killed three young Israelis and wounded four others. Abbas however, maintains that the best way to reduce the violence is by bringing Hamas into the government, thereby forcing the terrorist group to comply with laws that strengthen law and order.

In Israel meanwhile, the head of the left-wing Meretz opposition party, Yossi Beilin, predicted America will support Mahmoud Abbas in upcoming elections.

Speaking to Galei Tzahal (Army) Radio on Thursday morning, Beilin explained that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a mistake demanding Hamas lay down its arms ahead of the election. Such a move will not occur due to the simple logistics involved, explained Beilin, who indicated with a modicum of certainty that Hamas will disarm following the election.

Beilin added that if Sharon does not permit the Arab sector in eastern Jerusalem to vote in post offices as he indicates will be the case, the election would not enjoy the legitimacy required to result in the formation of a stable PA leadership.

Beilin stressed the international community supports Israel’s demands that terrorists disarm, explaining the question is basically regarding a timetable. Beilin wants a commitment from the Palestinian Authority following the election -- a timetable for disarming Hamas must be announced, permitting Israel to monitor the process to satisfaction.

Beilin stated that at present, he does not believe the PA election will take place in January as scheduled.

It should also be noted that the Hamas organization itself is uncertain as to its future. Reports from PA security officials are in sync with Israeli intelligence information that the terror organization is in the midst of a leadership crisis as its various factions vie for control.

According to reports, Ismail Haniyah, a former aide and close confidant to Ahmed Yassin, leads the so-called moderate faction that feels the time has come to abandon attacks and move to a more political operational base. Haniyah holds a doctorate in economics and has taught in a number of PA universities. He was imprisoned by Israel for four years, deported to Lebanon in 1992, and escaped a number of Israeli targeted strikes.

Seeking to continue with the terror organization’s present line of ongoing anti-Israel terror is Mahmoud al-Zahar, a 60-year-old father of seven. He was imprisoned by Israel for a number of months and was among the 400 terrorists expelled to Lebanon in 1992. PA officials report they too have imprisoned him on a number of occasions.

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4. Abbas Tells World He Wants to Stop Terror
By Naomi Grossman

In a meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Wednesday, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas insisted he is working against terrorism.

Abbas told the Spanish leader that his government is pushing Hamas to disarm, hoping to help the terrorist group to become a legitimate political party before January elections in Gaza.

The PA leader also told Spanish officials he is working to prevent a repeat of the terrorist attacks that resulted in the murders of three young Israelis one day before the start of the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Four other young people were injured in the attacks, leading Israel to suspend contacts with the Palestinian Authority.

On Thursday, Abbas is scheduled to meet in Washington with U.S. President George W. Bush to discuss an array of issues surrounding the Palestinian Authority’s effort to create an autonomous government rule.

Hamas’ participation in the PA general election will be on the agenda, as well as the ongoing anarchy throughout Gaza, including kidnappings and random shootings.

Prior to meeting with Bush, the PA leader will meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Coinciding with Abbas’ meetings with Rice and Bush, Israel sent a message to Washington, expressing dissatisfaction with Abbas’s performance in regard to his commitment to halt terror.

Vice Premier Shimon Peres, on the other hand, has responded to Abbas’s statements by saying, “We truly believe Abu Mazen when he says he wants peace, but he must translate his statements into actions.”

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5. Thousands Join Jerusalem March
By Naomi Grossman

Thousands are taking part in the traditional Jerusalem Sukkot march, Thursday. Many major roads around the Old City, including Route 1 and Derech Hebron have been closed since 5:00 am.

Participants in the annual event will follow two main routes to the capital’s Sacher Park, where there will be an afternoon gathering, including children’s and family programs, musical performances and dancing.

Despite the cool weather, the municipality has reported that the event is going ahead as usual.

Last year approximately 15,000 took part in the festivities, including participants with varying disabilities, as well as kidney transplant patients.

The police have stepped up security around all of the festive events going on this week in Jerusalem. The public has been asked to use public transport in the area of the march, rather than congest the area private vehicles. Buses to the Old City and the Kotel Plaza are departing from Derech Hebron.

Various major roads in the city center will be closed between 14:30 and 17:30. These include the Ben Zvi Boulevard, Betzalel, Ben Yehuda, Beeri and King George Street, as well as the section of Jaffa Road between Davidka and Tzahal Squares, and other streets in the nearby area.

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6. Russian Officers Train PA Police
By Naomi Grossman

Russian officers are in Israel training the police force of the Palestinian Authority. The Russians have refused to give details of the number of instructors or the length of the training period.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has reported that the officers are “restructuring” the PA forces.

This is the first time that Russia has sent officers into Israel to train PA policemen, even though defense links have existed between Russia the PA since the latter was first established.

In an official statement, Ivanov confirmed that representatives of the Russian foreign and defense ministries are “helping to train Palestinian police forces, due to a deterioration in these forces’ powers since the intifada.”

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7. Sabbath-Observant Driver Receives $20,000 Compensation
By Naomi Grossman

A Jewish driver in Los Angeles has received $20,000 in compensation after being dismissed for refusing to work on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays.

The outcome of this case means that from now on, the employers of observant Jewish drivers in the LA area will have to take their religious needs into account.

The driver, referred to as Henry, was taken on as an apprentice driver for the Los Angeles Metropolitan District Transportation Authority on June 2nd, 2005. Before long, he was asked to drive on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. When he asked if he could either change his shifts or take unpaid leave on those dates, the authority refused. Henry ended up having to stay away from work without permission on two days that month, which resulted in his dismissal.

However, Henry did not let the matter rest, and he sued the authority for unfair dismissal on the grounds of religious discrimination.

The case ended with Henry being awarded a compensation settlement of $20,000. At the same time, the authority and the Justice Ministry agreed that any drivers whose work schedules clashed with their religious holidays would be able to either change their shifts or take unpaid leave on those dates. Up to thirty days per year would be allowed for religious holidays, so that drivers could work shifts compatible with their religious requirements.

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