High Flier Takes Over
Dan Halutz, a former air force commander, replaced Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon as chief of the Israel Defense Forces' General Staff at a blue-ribbon ceremony Wednesday. Considered a confidant of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Halutz's immediate challenge is implementing the Israeli withdrawals from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank.
"The decision of the government and the Knesset on the matter of 'disengagement' will be carried out with the proper sensitivity and the required determination," Halutz said in his inaugural speech. Halutz, 56, is Israel's 18th chief of staff but the first to come from the air force. Another strategic concern facing him is the Iranian nuclear program, which analysts describe as the greatest threat to Israel's existence.
Dollars for Withdrawal
Israel will pay evacuated settlers an average of $450,000 per family in compensation. The government figure was presented Wednesday at an interministerial meeting in Jerusalem. Some 8,500 settlers are to be relocated when Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank beginning in mid-August. Their compensation packages will be set according to criteria including family size and how long they lived in their former homes. Some settlers have petitioned against the withdrawal plan at Israel's High Court of Justice, calling the relocation terms inadequate.
Ya'alon: Another Intifada Seen
Israel can expect Palestinian terrorism to flare up after it withdraws from the Gaza Strip, the retiring chief of staff said. In an interview with Ha'aretz published in part on Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon said that unless Israel continued ceding land to the Palestinians after the withdrawal planned for this summer, they would inevitably return to terrorism.
"If there is an Israeli commitment to another move, we will gain another period of quiet," he said. "If not, there will be an eruption," adding, "There is a high probability of a second war of terror."
Terrorist groups in the West Bank and Gaza largely have honored the cease-fire declared by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last February, but Ya'alon said this was no indication of lasting peace prospects. Citing Abbas' calls for a "right of return" for millions of Arab refugees to land now inside the Jewish state, and Abbas' refusal to crack down on terrorist groups, Ya'alon said that a future Palestinian state would try to undermine Israel and ultimately would lead to war.
Holocaust Heroes Honored
Yad Vashem posthumously honored a Dutch couple and a Pole for rescuing Jews during World War II. On Wednesday, Albertus and Margaretha Haverkort of Holland and Zofia Wroblewska-WieWiorowska of Poland, who hid nine Jews from the Nazis, were named Righteous Gentiles.
Irish Group Protests Israel
An anti-Israel group in Ireland will stage a protest before an Israel-Ireland soccer game. The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign has organized a demonstration against Israeli "occupation" to coincide with the arrival of the Israeli soccer team and its hundreds of traveling supporters in Dublin on Saturday for a World Cup qualifying match. The protesters will be marching from the center of Dublin to the Israeli Embassy two blocks from the soccer stadium. The group is encouraging people attending the match to wave Palestinian flags. An attempt to get Irish fans to boycott the last match between the teams in Tel Aviv in March was met with complete indifference. Neither the Israeli Embassy in Dublin nor the Israel Football Association would comment on the planned protest.
Denying the Deniers
Internet providers should block French users from accessing a Holocaust denial site, Paris' district attorney said. The comments, made Monday, came during a trial on the issue of whether Web users should be allowed to access Aaargh, which in French stands for the Association of Amateur War and Holocaust Historians. The case, which went to trial March 8, was brought by eight anti-racist associations fighting to put into effect Internet filters to forbid access to Aaargh in France. A law passed in June 2004 would allow a French judge to order the site's host to shut down the site or prohibit access to it. Two of the site's hosts -- OLM and Globat -- have agreed to prohibit access, but a third -- the American company ThePlanet.com -- has refused to cooperate.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.