Weekend Wrap, March 25

Abbas tells Hamas he is willing to wield his authority; Gaza crossings to remain open.

weekend wrap 88 (photo credit: )
weekend wrap 88
(photo credit: )
World Bank to pay PA bid farmers $2m. The World Bank will grant the Palestinians $2 million in compensation for poultry destroyed following the outbreak of bird flu, Israel Radio reported. Israeli officials suspect that some Palestinians, fearing the financial loss, have failed to destroy infected birds. On Friday, Israel transferred to the Palestinians poison to be used for culling poultry suspected to be infected with bird flew in the PA-controlled regions. AIPAC charges may be unconstitutional A federal judge on Friday questioned the constitutionality of a law under which two former lobbyists with a pro-Israel group have been charged with receiving and disclosing national defense information. US District Judge T.S. Ellis III said the law, enacted by Congress during World War I, may be unconstitutionally broad and vague, especially given its potential impact on First Amendment rights. Report: Iran poised to start enrichment Diplomats familiar with Iran's nuclear program have said that Iran's technological capability is picking up speed. Iran is reportedly poised to begin feeding uranium gas into centrifuges, and the country will be able to begin enriching uranium within days, the Los Angeles Times reported. An official said that he expected engineers at the Natanz plant to begin testing the vacuum seals on its existing centrifuges this week. In addition, Iran is expected to construct additional centrifuges in April, a project that could take months to complete. Russia denies leaking US intel to Iraq Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service on Saturday denied that Moscow provided information on US troop movements and plans to Baghdad during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Interfax news agency reported. According to a Pentagon report released Friday, the Russian government collected intelligence from sources inside the American military command as the US mounted the invasion of Iraq, and the Russians fed information to deposed President Saddam Hussein on troop movements and plans. Livni promises Rice: Gaza crossings will remain open Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni promised US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel would remain open for humanitarian aid, as long as Israel's security could be assured, Israel Radio reported Saturday. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said he was not at liberty to discuss the content of the call, which Rice placed to Livni on Friday, but that Israel's stated policy is to alleviate shortages in the Gaza Strip, where possible. Abbas willing to fire gov't rather than let it hurt citizens Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday issued a thinly veiled threat to bring down Hamas' new government if it doesn't change its violent ways. The tough talk comes just days before Hamas' Cabinet is to be sworn in. Western powers, while reluctant to create a humanitarian crisis, have threatened to cut hundreds of millions of dollars of aid if Hamas doesn't recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept past peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. Hamas left out of Arab summit in Sudan Hamas said Saturday that it was disappointed that it would not attend this week's Arab summit here in the Sudanese capital, where it had hoped to explain its position to the Arab people. Hamas spokesman Moushir al-Masri, who was elected to the Palestinian parliament in the group's landslide victory in January, blamed the group's absence on "Palestinian parties," alluding to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Labor activist electrocuted to death A 27-year-old Labor Party activist was killed Saturday while trying to remove a Likud sign from a electric pole on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway near the town of Azor. Liad Golan, a 27-year-old resident of Kibbutz Beit Hashita, was electrocuted as he attempted to replace the Likud sign with a Labor poster. The Labor activists had come to hang signs on the Azor bridge when they noticed the Likud sign hanging on a nearby electrical pole. One young activist climbed up the pole in order to remove the sign, and was electrocuted as he tried to reach the top.