Shorts: Mideast

No pillow talk for Rabin assassin

jerusalem (jta) | In a bid to win permission to marry in prison, Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin proposed that authorities eavesdrop on the consummation.

At a High Court of Justice hearing Wednesday on the wedding request, a lawyer for Yigal Amir raised the idea of bugging his bed.

The Prisons Service opposes letting Amir, who shot the Israeli prime minister after a 1995 peace rally, be alone with his bride, arguing that he could use the time away from 24-hour surveillance to pass her far-right propaganda.

Wedding bells for Vanunu?

jerusalem (jta) | Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu denied reports he plans to marry an American woman.

“The two of them told me they were planning a wedding,” Riah Abu Al-Asal, bishop of the Anglican church in Jerusalem, where Vanunu has been staying since his release from prison in April, told Army Radio on Wednesday.

The Yediot Achronot daily newspaper carried photographs of Vanunu with a middle-aged blonde described as a Wisconsin native who struck up a romantic relationship with the whistle-blower over e-mail after he ended his 18-year jail term for treason.

But Vanunu issued a denial. “We are just friends. I have no plans to marry,” he said in a statement.

Sharon rebuffs Syrian overture

jerusalem (jta) | Ariel Sharon said Israel would not resume peace talks with Syria until it stops sponsoring terrorism.

In a newspaper interview Wednesday, Sept. 8, Sharon said Syrian President Bashar Assad’s offers to resume negotiations that stalled in 2000 were merely a bid to win over American public opinion.

“The call for negotiations cannot be just a declaration,” it has to be accompanied by action, Sharon told the Jerusalem Post. “Syria is a factor which influences the terror against Israel,” he said, demanding that Damascus stop hosting Palestinian terrorist groups and backing the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

Israel declares war on debtors

jerusalem (jta) | Israel plans to eliminate bank overdrafts. Yoav Lehman, Israel’s supervisor of banks, ordered all overdrawn accounts in the country frozen as of 2005.

Polls suggest that a third of Israelis are regularly in the red, a collective debt that worries economic planners.

Lehman’s three-month advance notice is meant to give Israelis time to put their accounts in order, but analysts expect the deadline to be extended into mid-2005.

U.N.: Dismantle Hezbollah

jerusalem (jta) | The United Nations Security Council ordered Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon and called for Hezbollah to be disbanded.

The council on Sept. 2 voted 9-0, with six abstentions, for a U.S-drafted resolution calling for the removal of all foreign troops from Lebanon, after the United States and co-sponsor France agreed not to mention Syria by name, though Syria is the only country with foreign forces in Lebanon.

The resolution is the first clearly directed against an Arab state and also marks the first time the council has addressed Hezbollah.

While Hezbollah also is not mentioned by name, the resolution calls for the disbanding and disarming of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, which analysts said was a clear reference to the Shi’ite terrorist group.