December 12, 2002
Israeli Sentenced For Hezbollah Contacts
A Lebanese-born Israeli was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday for having contact with Hezbollah. Holon resident Nissim Nasser was convicted of having contact with a Hezbollah agent and passing information to the organization. Nasser's contacts with Hezbollah were established via his brother, who lives in Lebanon, Israel Radio reported.
Israel Transfers P.A. Funds
Israel recently transferred some $28 million in frozen tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayed said Tuesday that in addition to the Israeli transfer, Saudi Arabia donated $15 million to the Palestinian Authority, allowing it to pay November wages to P.A. employees, Israel Radio reported.
Scholar Denies Scandal Role
A leading American Jewish supporter of the Middle East peace process denied reports that he made millions of dollars from a slush fund involving Yasser Arafat and an Israeli envoy. Stephen P. Cohen, a national scholar with the Israel Policy Forum and president of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development think tank, told JTA he never had business dealings with the Palestinians. Cohen long has been involved in both behind-the-scenes and public efforts to forge Israeli-Palestinian ties. But he denied a report in the Israeli daily Ma'ariv last week that he helped Israeli envoy Yossi Ginossar illegally transfer $300 million in Palestinian Authority funds to a secret Swiss bank account controlled by Arafat, the Palestinian Authority president. Cohen also denied reports that he took a cut from cement and gasoline deals between Israeli and Palestinian companies. An aide to Ginossar told Ma'ariv that commissions from such deals netted millions of dollars for Cohen.
Mormons Baptizing Dead Jews?
Jewish and Mormon officials met to discuss new allegations that church members are still posthumously baptizing many deceased Jews, including thousands of Holocaust victims. Seven years after the church signed a legal agreement to do all it could to stop the practice, new evidence emerged that the church's vast International Genealogical Index lists as many as 20,000 Jewish Holocaust victims and perhaps many more all evidently baptized by proxy after their deaths. Ernest Michel, a Holocaust survivor who is chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, arranged Tuesday's meeting in New York with Church elders Monte Brough and Todd Christofferson, who traveled from Salt Lake City to attend.
Hillel Ban Conditionally Lifted
The student union of Montreal's Concordia University conditionally lifted its ban on the school's Hillel. The ban was imposed Dec. 2 after the union accused Hillel of distributing fliers recruiting volunteers for the Israeli army. The Concordia Student Union lifted the ban this past weekend when it learned of Hillel's intention to sue. The student union is demanding that Hillel must sign a document saying it will adhere to the union's policy guidelines, which ban the distribution of literature the union deems offensive. Hillel officials say they haven't received any document to sign -- but made their own demands. Ariela Cotler, president of Hillel Montreal, said Hillel expects the ban to be lifted in writing, and also is demanding an apology for the ban. An emergency meeting of Hillel was scheduled for Tuesday night after the student union did not meet a Monday deadline for Hillel's demands. The union's council of representatives is scheduled to discuss the issue Thursday.
Will Arafat Visit Bethlehem?
Palestinian officials warned Israel against preventing Yasser Arafat from celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem for a second straight year.
Monday's warnings came after an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Ra'anan Gissin, said Arafat should stay in Ramallah "because he has caused much tragedy to the Christian population." But Gissin stopped short of saying Israel would bar Arafat from Bethlehem. Last year, Israel's Security Cabinet decided to ban him from going to Bethlehem from his office in Ramallah. The Security Cabinet has not yet made a decision this year.