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Arabs angry as Israel freezes inmate releases

By wire services
Published May 9, 2005


JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel on Sunday ordered a freeze on the release of 400 Palestinian prisoners, infuriating the Palestinians and embarrassing Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader.

Sharon said that the prisoners would remain behind bars until the Palestinian Authority moved harder against terrorism and militancy, said an official who briefed reporters. Sharon was under pressure from his own Likud Party to toughen his position after Palestinians fired Qassam rockets from Gaza that hit the Israeli town of Sederot on Thursday and an opinion poll on Friday put support for his plan to pull out of Gaza at 54 percent, down from 61 percent three weeks ago.

"This decision is part of the Israeli obstacles to the implementation of the Sharm el-Sheik agreements and will have a negative impact" on the cease-fire between Israel and Palestinians, said Sufian Abu Zaydeh, the Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs, speaking in Gaza.

American spy for Israel accuses U.S. of torture

JERUSALEM - Jonathan Pollard, an American imprisoned in the United States for spying for Israel, is seeking to be declared a Prisoner of Zion, a status that would require Israel to do all it can to get him released, his lawyer said Sunday.

Israel, which has pressed the issue of releasing Pollard with the U.S. government, has so far refused to assign him that status, which was originally created for Jewish activists imprisoned in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and '80s.

Pollard's petition alleges he was kept naked for more than a year in solitary confinement in subzero temperatures. It claims his U.S. jailers also soaked him with ice water, forced him to sleep on a bare concrete slab, and lied to him that the Israeli government had arranged his release.

Britain's Prince Harry enters military academy

LONDON - The rebellious Prince Harry is not bucking one family tradition: He began a military career Sunday at an elite British academy.

Prince Charles' youngest son enrolled at the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Surrey, southern England, for a 44-week officer training course.

"I am really excited. I want to get on with it and do the best job I can do," the 20-year-old prince said in a statement.

Prince Charles accompanied Harry to Sandhurst, chatting with army officials before giving him a playful punch in the arm as a farewell gesture. Harry is third in line to the British throne behind his father and elder brother William.

Australians recover bodies, flight recorder

CANBERRA, Australia - Police recovered the flight recorder and began removing bodies today from a plane that went down in a rain forest, killing all 15 aboard in Australia's worst civil aviation accident in almost four decades.

The twin-propeller plane, with two pilots and 13 passengers, was heading to Lockhart River, a remote Aboriginal community and artist colony in Queensland, when it crashed Saturday in the rain and burst into flames about 7 miles from its destination, police said.

The plane's flight recorder, recovered Sunday, was sent to a Canberra laboratory for analysis. Authorities began recovering bodies from the remote crash site today.

Elsewhere...

SPANISH PRINCESS PREGNANT: Princess Letizia of Spain, a former TV anchorwoman, is pregnant and expecting to give birth in November to a baby that could become the second in line to the Spanish throne, the palace said Sunday. Letizia, now 33, married Crown Prince Felipe on May 22, 2004.

[Last modified May 9, 2005, 01:54:14]


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