Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Thousands demand release of Israelis
Some headlines and summaries from JTA
Thousands demonstrated outside the European Commission in Brussels to demand the release of three Israeli soldiers kidnapped by terrorist groups.
Cpl. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by a group of Palestinian gunmen that included members of the ruling Hamas faction in a June 25 cross-border raid from Gaza.
Reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were taken by Hezbollah fighters in a July 12 cross-border attack that sparked a monthlong war.
Wednesday’s protest, organized by a coalition of Jewish organizations, was attended by members of the European Parliament.
“It was good to see that everyone is standing together behind one cause,” said Philippe Markiewicz, president of the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium.
Markiewicz added his hope that “this kind of a show of unity would only be necessary for positive things in the future.”
The Belgium Jewish community’s security organization estimated the turnout at 3,500 to 4,000 people.
Avigdor Lieberman to Washington
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s minister for strategic planning, is visiting Washington.
Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beitenu Party joined Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government last month, will participate in a conference at the end of next week at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center.
The conference, which is closed to the public, will include other top Israeli and U.S. officials.
Lieberman may meet separately with Bush administration officials.
He also is scheduled to meet with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations early next week.
Lieberman is controversial because he has proposed subjecting Arab Israelis to loyalty tests and redrawing Israel’s borders to exclude many Israeli Arabs in the context of population swaps for Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
Judge strikes ban on terrorist funding
A California judge declared unconstitutional a 2001 presidential order blocking funds for terrorist groups, a decision that could affect funding for Hamas and Hezbollah.
Monday’s decision by Los Angeles District Court Judge Audrey Collins applies only to the Tamil Tigers and the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.
Those parties were named in the case brought against the government by the Humanitarian Law Project, which wants to allow Americans to raise money for “lawful, nonviolent activities” by the groups, The Washington Post reported.
Alykhan Velshi, a lawyer with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told JTA that the decision could have a “persuasive” influence on other cases.
Hundreds of terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah and their affiliates, have been banned from fund raising under the same law used by President Bush in his presidential order naming the PKK and the Tamil Tigers.
Velshi said his group would likely file an amicus brief if federal authorities appeal.
The foundation has lobbied for inclusion of Hezbollah affiliates on the terrorist list, arguing that allowing money to be raised for terrorists’ supposedly “nonviolent” activities is ludicrous.
Abdullah asked to probe Bush on overflights
Jordan’s king may raise Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace during talks with President Bush.
King Abdullah II is to host Bush on Wednesday at a Jordanian economic conference.
The office of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said he asked Abdullah to discuss with Bush the Israeli Air Force flights over his country that have continued despite the Aug. 14 cease-fire that ended Israel’s war with Hezbollah.
There was no immediate comment from Jordan.
Israel has said it needs the overflights to monitor arms smuggling to Hezbollah, itself a violation of the Lebanon truce.
Jordanian, Israeli towns sign river agreement
Israeli and Jordanian mayors signed an agreement to revive Jordan River tributaries.
The signatories last week were Jackie Levy of Beit Shean and Maoun Alloneh of Pella.
Efforts to revive the tributaries were written into the 1994 peace treaty between the nations, but there has been little progress.
“We came to the conclusion that the best way to solve the problems of this area was to let communities deal with each other directly while also involving key decision makers such as local municipal officials and mayors,” Munqeth Mehyar, the Jordanian chairman of Friends of the Earth Middle East, the group that set up the ceremony, told The Jordan Times.
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