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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Israel has “incriminating” information that Iran has continued its nuclear weapons program, a senior Israeli security official told WorldNetDaily, directly contradicting last week’s U.S. intelligence report stating that Tehran suspended its nuclear ambitions in 2003.

“The Iranians continue their push for nuclear weapons in specific ways, including the acquisition and development of missiles,” said the official, who has access to classified Israeli defense material and intelligence reports on Iran.

“Iran hides its nuclear weapons program but it continues nonetheless,” he said, hinting that the U.S. estimate may have been “politically motivated.”

The security official said the government here has not yet decided what to do regarding the information and material Israel purportedly possesses.

The official said the U.S. estimate has “many holes in it.” He said Israel is “gravely concerned” the report may remove the U.S. military option against Iran from the table, and that it is likely to be the foundation for Russian and Chinese vetoes against further sanctions against Iran.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, which represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, released its report last week, stating with “high confidence” that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

The report judged with “moderate confidence” that as of mid-2007 the Iranians had not restarted the program.

“But we do not know whether [Iran] currently intends to develop nuclear weapons,” stated the NIE report.

The Enemy of My Enemy…

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization would join ranks with the Hamas terror group if Hamas agreed to share power in the Gaza Strip, or if Israel launched a major attack in Gaza, a member of Abbas’s government said during an exclusive interview with this column.

“If Hamas agrees to stop their coup in Gaza then why shouldn’t we [Fatah] be together with them? We are open for dialogue and reconciliation,” said Qadura Fares, a member of the PA parliament and a top minister in Abbas’s government.

Fares said he supported Fatah aid to Hamas in the event that Israel launches an an attack on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

This, he said, would be the case even if the group doesn’t agree to a power share in Gaza.

“We must stand together to fight the occupation,” said Fares.

Fares’s remarks come after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert committed at last month’s U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit to aim at concluding an agreement with Abbas by next year in which the Jewish state would evacuate swaths of the strategic West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem, handing the territories to Abbas.

Fares’s statements also come as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday asked Congress to approve a $400 million aid package, stating that the massive new proposed funding was meant to boost Abbas against Hamas.

Church Blocks Jewish Land Purchase

The Greek Orthodox patriarch in Jerusalem has been asked by church leaders to cancel the sale to Jewish groups of land comprising much of a key entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City, a church official told WND.

“The deal must be canceled and [the patriarch] Theofilos knows this. We as a church will fight any smuggling of real estate to Jewish organizations,” Atallah Hanna, the church’s archbishop of Sebastia, said in an interview.

Ownership of the land in question – two hotels that comprise a large section of the Jaffa Gate, the principal entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem – could be crucial in the future status of Jerusalem during upcoming Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Following the Annapolis summit, Israel is widely expected to evacuate eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods for the creation of an eventual Palestinian state. Previous U.S.-backed proposals have allotted Jewish-owned sections of Jerusalem to Israel and Arab-occupied real estate to the Palestinians.

The question of the ownership of the Jaffa Gate properties is at the center of a debate in Israel on whether to recognize Theofilos III, elected patriarch in 2005 amid charges of church irregularities. Theofilos has been quoted by church officials as opposing the sale of Jerusalem property to Jews.

Church of Nativity Terrorist to Return?

Prime Minister Olmert has agreed to a Palestinian request for terrorist leaders who were expelled to Europe after they seized Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity in 2002 to return to Bethlehem, according to a top Palestinian negotiator.

The terrorists, members of the Fatah militias, have long been accused of engaging in campaigns against Bethlehem’s Christian community. The terrorists are accused of carrying out and planning multiple attacks, including suicide bombings and deadly shootings.

Mark Regev, Olmert’s spokesman, said he could not confirm the report, but he did not deny the information.

In 2002, members of several terror organizations were holed up inside the Church of the Nativity to escape a massive Israeli anti-terror operation. Israel surrounded the church area but refused to storm the structure. Gunmen inside included wanted senior Hamas, Tanzim and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorists who were reportedly involved in suicide bombings and shooting attacks. More than 200 nuns and priests were trapped in the church after Israeli hostage negotiators failed to secure their release.

The siege ended after 39 days when mediators agreed that the 13 most senior terrorists would be deported to European countries, 26 more junior terrorists would be transported to the Gaza Strip, and the remaining gunmen would be freed.

Jihad Jaara, leader of the Nativity siege and exiled chief of the Brigades in Bethlehem, told this column that he’s been informed by PA officials that he would soon return to the Palestinian areas.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief  for WorldNetDaily.comHe appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the recently published book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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