Thu, 08 Jan 2004 HA’ARETZ 1. 2004 budget passes third Knesset reading. PENSIONS FOR WOMEN FROM 64; FINANCE MINISTRY RAISES TAXES TO COVER FACTIONS’ DEMANDS. Finance Ministry decides to increase tax burden by NIS 750 million. Knesset approves Arrangements Law and raising of retirement age. MKs: We did not intend to raise retirement age for women to 64. Plenum rejects reservations presented by opposition. Netanyahu: We didn’t break framework and we didn’t change deficit. 2. IDF PRESSING SHARON AND MOFAZ NOT TO IGNORE ASSAD’S OFFER OF NEGOTIATIONS. 3. IDF in territories: Dismantling roadblocks, planning to ease restrictions.

ORANGE TAXIS RETURN TO WEST BANK ROADS. HATZOFEH 1. (…). AFTER CRISES: BUDGET PASSES. Following day of political struggles and prolonged delays, budget passed 58-46. Economic Arrangements Law passed 55-40. (…). 2. SENIOR FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIALS: STILL A LONG WAY TOWARDS ESTABLISHMENT OF RELATIONS BETWEEN LIBYA AND ISRAEL. 3. MOFAZ: THERE IS INFORMATION ON MORE THAN 50 PLOTS TO PERPETRATE ATTACKS. MA’ARIV 1. NIS 250 million – sum of earmarked funds received by parties. BUDGET PASSES. (…). Sharon complains: Passing budget every year wears out system. Multi-year budget preferable.” Histadrut announces: We will strike local authorities next week. 2. SHARON: I WILL NOT SUBMIT PLAN TO CENTRAL COMMITTEE FOR APPROVAL. Explains: Disengagement plan will be approved by Cabinet. 3. IDF CAMELS DIE OF NEGLECT. 4. US: THOUSANDS OF ISRAELIS TO BE RECOGNIZED AS LEGAL WORKERS. Bush: Illegal immigrants to receive “temporary worker” status. 5. RUSSIAN JEWS: MORE LEAVING ISRAEL THAN IMMIGRATING TO IT. Approximately 50,000 have returned to Russia in recent years. Reason: President Putin’s decision to “bring Jews home” and improvement in economic situation. YEDIOT AHRONOT 1. Expose: Finance Minister agrees to withdrawal from Golan Heights. NETANYAHU TO SHARON: TALK WITH ASSAD. Netanyahu implored PM yesterday: There is rare opportunity to reach peace on comfortable terms. Netanyahu prepared to withdraw to “escarpment” on southern Golan Heights. 2. NUCLEAR SPY EN ROUTE TO FREEDOM. After 18 years’ imprisonment, Mordechai Vanunu will soon be released. Security establishment breaking its head over how to prevent him from spilling more of Israel’s nuclear secrets. Apparent solution: Vanunu will be banned from traveling abroad. ______________________________ SUMMARY OF EDITORIALS FROM THE HEBREW PRESS Yediot Ahronot says that, “Image is power. An organization whose image is compromised is an organization with less power. The IDF understands this well, and is worried about the continual damage to its image.” The editors offer various reasons for this phenomenon and note that, “Israeli support of the military strengthens specifically at a time when terror hits us badly, since at such a time the feeling that there is no choice increases.” Hatzofeh reproaches various left wing MKs for demonstrating tolerance, openness and sensitivity to other religious celebrations and ceremonies, while at the same time denouncing those who encourage and publicly display commitment to Jewish religious traditions as “religious coercion.” The editors call on their readers to “join together against the trend which threatens to remove the Jewish flag from the State.” BPI.