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Time For Recognition?

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(Reuters) - Israel marks the anniversary of its founding on Thursday, 60 years by the Jewish calendar since the declaration of statehood on May 14, 1948. Following is a list of key elements of planned public celebrations:

* At 8 p.m. (1700 GMT) on May 6, sirens and state ceremonies mark start of Remembrance Day for Israelis killed in conflicts. Sirens sound for further two minutes at 11 a.m. on May 7

* On the evening of May 7, displays combining light, music, lasers and special effects held simultaneously across Israel

* On May 8, a public holiday, Israelis will attend picnics and barbecues, the traditional way of marking Independence Day

* Air force aerobatic display over 10 cities on May 8, along with naval review off the Mediterranean coast, mass parachute drops and an international gathering of military bands at Haifa

* On May 11, Israelis turning 60 on Independence Day will attend a birthday party with President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem

* U.S. President George W. Bush visits May 14-16. He will meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to review progress on peace talks with the Palestinians, address Israeli parliament on May 15 and also attend conference on "The Future of the Jewish People" hosted by President Peres that runs May 13-15

* Twelve other heads of state are officially listed to attend. They are from Albania, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Georgia, Latvia, Mongolia, Poland, Rwanda, Slovenia, Togo, Ukraine and the Pacific island of Palau. Other notable guests include media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Google Inc co-founder Sergey Brin and former Cold War statesmen Mikhail Gorbachev and Henry Kissinger.

* Last week's launch of Israel's Amos-3 satellite was made part of the celebrations -- it bears a 60th anniversary logo.

* Israeli children are collecting 1.5 million marbles -- for the number of Jewish children who died in the Holocaust.

* On May 8, voting ends to choose a national bird. President Peres will announce the winning emblem on May 29.

* Other anniversary events will be held later in the year. These include mass dancing on streets of Jerusalem, a mass wedding for new immigrants, restoring 60 war memorials, building a 60-km path round the Sea of Galilee, building 60 playgrounds, launching a children's theatre in Jerusalem and a march by some 45,000 youngsters that will pass through key battle sites.

* On May 15, Palestinians will mark the 60th anniversary of what they call the "nakba", or catastrophe when 700,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes at the creation of Israel. Public employees and students will stop work at 11 a.m. to join rallies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Sirens at noon start two minutes' silence.

(Reporting by Avida Landau, Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Samia Nakhoul)




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