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Newsdesk January 10, 2003

Poll: Likud Losing Ground

Following yet another week of scandal, this time involving the prime ministerial family, the Likud Party is continuing to lose support among Israelis, according to the latest Dialogue poll, which puts the Likud at just 27 seats.

The poll also shows the Labor Party breaking through the 22-seat barrier for the first time, with 24 seats, and gives the next two largest parties, Shinui and Shas, 17 and 13 seats respectively.

The poll predicts the right-wing bloc led by Likud losing three seats in total, garnering just 61. The left-wing bloc, comprised of Labor, Meretz and the Arab parties, stands to have 40 seats. The center bloc, including Shinui and One Nation, will hold 19 seats, according to the poll.

The poll was conducted Tuesday night, the day on which the Israeli daily Ha’aretz revealed the allegations of financial impropriety by Prime Minister Sharon and his two sons, Gilad and Omri.

Support for Foreign Victims

New immigrants who were hurt in Sunday’s double suicide bombing at the old central bus station in Tel Aviv will receive a grant of $2,000 from the Jewish Agency, in addition to the assistance provided by the Israeli government. The money comes from a special fund for victims of terrorism collected by United Jewish Communities.

Meanwhile, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions Monday expressed its revulsion at and condemnation of the attacks, which killed 25 people and injured some 100 others. Many foreign workers live near the old central bus station.

Jordanian Sentenced

A Jordanian of Palestinian origin, who holds an American passport, was sentenced to death this week for plotting terrorist attacks against the United States and Israeli targets during the Millennium festivities.

Raed Hijazi, 35, was convicted of “possessing and manufacturing explosives and storing automatic weapons for illegal purposes.” The Jordanian State Security Court imposed the maximum sentence of death by hanging on Hijazi, who was convicted and sentenced to death in absentia in 2000. He got a retrial early this year after being taken into police custody. The verdict is subject to appeal.

Egypt Picks Female Judge

Egypt will appoint its first female judge to the bench, with a 52-year-old appeals court lawyer being nominated to the Supreme Constitutional Court, a court official told the Associated Press. President Hosni Mubarak was expected to formally announce Tahany el-Gebaly’s appointment to Egypt’s top court this week, the official said.

The move, which marks the first break by a female into what has been until now a male-only domain, was a major step for women’s rights in Egypt, according to top lawyer Nasser Amin. El-Gebaly became the first woman to be appointed to Egypt’s Lawyer’s Syndicate in 1989 and the regional Arab Union in 1992. She remains the sole female representative to the pan-Arab body.

Hijacker ‘Honors’ Resnick

A German psychology student stole a small plane from an airport near Frankfurt and took it on a wild ride through the skies of the city, threatening to crash into the European Central Bank tower before finally landed without incident.

Franz Stephan Strambach, 31, said he wanted to call attention to his hero, the late Jewish astronaut Judith Resnick.

“I want to make my big idol Judith Resnick famous,” Strambach told German TV journalist Leo Busch, who spoke to the amateur pilot while he was still airborne.

Resnick, who died in the explosion of the Challenger shuttle 17 years ago, “deserves more attention,” Strambach said. “She was the first Jewish astronaut. Perhaps that’s why she never got proper attention.”

Shoah Archive Proposed

The World Jewish Congress has put forward a new initiative to collect millions of pages of Holocaust-era documents into a central repository at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.

The initiative was proposed at a four-day conference held in Jerusalem last week.

Efforts already are under way to set up the depository, though various legal issues regarding document transfers still have to be sorted out, according to David Bankier, director of Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research.

Yad Vashem now must approach each government with formal requests. If all the governments agree, more than 1 million documents could find their way to Yad Vashem, said Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress and president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

British Reports Declassified

Britain’s highest-ranking diplomat in Jerusalem showed sympathy for the Palestinian terrorists who kidnapped and killed Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, newly declassified documents show.

“Before we reproach the Arabs too much, perhaps we might try to put ourselves in their shoes,” then-consul general Gayford Woodrow wrote less than a week after the terrorist operation that led to the death of 11 Israeli athletes.

His official dispatch to the Foreign Office was made public January 1 under rules that declassify most British government documents after 30 years.

Woodrow wrote his report to London on September 12, 1972, six days after a group of eight Palestinian terrorists attacked Israeli athletes at the Olympic village in what was then West Germany.

“Whatever one’s moral criticism, it must be agreed that the Munich operation was well planned and that the Arabs there carried it out to the bitter end,” Woodrow wrote. “It is said that lives were really lost because of Israel and West German bungling incompetence,” he wrote.

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