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  Israel Faxx                                      \/ /  \/ /
  Sept 19, 1994 Volume 2, #169                     / /\__/_/\
  Electronic World Communications, Inc.           /__\ \_____\
  8916 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45215             \  /
  Internet: ewcnews@tso.uc.edu Phone: (513) 563-7424   \/
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Jean Staten, a member of the 700 member First Church of the Nazarene in Northville, Mich., said the smells of perfume, shampoo and hairspray used to make her nose so stuffy that she couldn't sing or enjoy a worship service. Things became more problematic whenever a strong-smelling church member sat beside her. Now, thanks to her efforts, she and 15 other churchgoers breathe freely in the church's new "fragrance free section."

U.S. Officials to Visit Israel to Advance Talks with Syria

Senior government officials said that "it is possible to conclude an agreement between Israel and Syria in a matter a days if both sides would be flexible on the three matters which remain unresolved - a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal on the Golan Heights, the depth of a withdrawal and security arrangements."

The sources added that these three issues can serve as obstacles to peace, or can be solved in a matter of hours if both sides take courageous steps. U.S. Special Middle East coordinator Dennis Ross will travel to the Middle East this week, accompanied by a group of senior State Department officials, for meetings with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Government officials in Jerusalem said the visit is aimed at advancing the Israeli-Syrian negotiations.

Islamic Jihad Gives Tacit Support to Hamas Proposal for Single Islamic Party

Islamic Jihad said that it is not rejecting a recent Hamas initiative to create a single Islamic party in the territories, but that they would not participate in a single party campaign in the general elections. A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip said that the two groups must coordinate their activities, adding that issues which separated them in the past no longer exist. In recent days, Hamas sources have said that the group will soon declare the formation of an Islamic political party in the territories which will be open to all factions.

The Chinese Connection

By Hatikvah News Service

Israel is not only thousands and thousands of miles from China geographically, but light years from that country culturally and politically. Two items which appeared simultaneously in the local press recently, seem to indicate that the gap between the giant of the Far East and the tiny Jewish state in the Middle East is being narrowed.

First came the news of an official visit to China by Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Ehud Barak. After a review of the crack Chinese Army division guarding the Chinese capital of Beijing and watching a demonstration of its fire power, Barak met with the Chinese chief of staff and his top brass at a festive dinner. Before inviting his Chinese counterpart to pay a return visit to Israel, the chief of staff presented his host with a finely detailed miniature of the Israeli Merkava 3 tank.

The other half of the new Chinese connection was commercial rather than military. For the first time in the history of the state, a Chinese ship entered Haifa port. This was the maiden voyage of a new freighter line connecting China with Middle Eastern and American ports. The new line offers commercial freighters a significantly shorter route between Chinese, American and Israeli ports. Haifa is slated to serve in the future as a distribution point to Middle Eastern countries of Chinese cargoes.

Israelis Want to Question Palestinian Secret Police Chief

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Two ministers of the new Palestinian Autonomy Authority were in the news on Friday -- one in a reported dispute with the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, and the other wanted for questioning by Israel.

Arafat's advisers admit the first few months of Palestinian autonomy have been a time of learning -- learning how to manage the day-to-day affairs of a government, with its problems ranging from organization to finance to public image. There were two good examples of that on Friday.

There is no official confirmation from the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, but reports from Israel Radio and the Reuter news agency say Arafat's chief economic adviser has resigned in a dispute over management of the Authority's finances. The economics chief, Ahmad Korei -- also known as Abu Alaa -- is reported to be dissatisfied with the way Arafat is handling Palestinian financial institutions. The dispute is related to the demand by foreign aid donors for more accountability before they will deliver more aid.

The official Palestinian news agency denies the reports, and Korei has refused to comment. But the stories themselves are just the kind of thing governments elsewhere must deal with frequently.

The other controversy confronting Arafat on Friday was a demand by Israel to question the chief of the Palestinian secret police. Israel's police minister wants to question Jibril al-Rajoub about an alleged kidnapping in East Jerusalem, in which the victim was taken to Jericho and detained.

Rajoub's agents are suspected in the kidnapping, and in other violent incidents in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem. The Palestinian police official says he will not submit to Israeli questioning and accuses the Israeli police of torturing several of his men when they were arrested in connection with the alleged kidnapping. Meanwhile, the alleged victim says there was no kidnapping at all, and he is in Jericho of his own free will. This kind of dispute might have erupted into street violence not long ago, but these days it is just part of the sometimes-stormy but generally peaceful relationship which is developing between Israel and the Palestinians. And controversies involving department heads is yet another aspect of government Arafat and his advisers are beginning to experience first hand.

Murderers Want to Return Home

By Patricia Golan (Jericho)

Since Israel and the PLO signed an agreement for self-rule for Gaza and Jericho one year ago, Israel has released about 4500 Palestinian prisoners as part of the agreement. An estimated 6,000 Palestinians remain in Israeli jails. Many of those released have been confined to the West Bank town of Jericho -- unable to return to their home villages and unwelcome guests of the local population.

Israel released the prisoners on condition that they sign a pledge renouncing violence and backing the Israel/PLO autonomy accord. The Israeli authorities insisted that about 550 of the released prisoners continue serving out their sentences in the self-rule areas, mainly in Jericho, the 36 square mile-governing enclave. These are men convicted of killing fellow Palestinians accused of collaborating with the Israeli authorities.

The released prisoners have been put up in makeshift camps and army barracks abandoned by the Israelis when they pulled out of Jericho last May.

"Issam," like most of the other men in the El-Bir camp on the outskirts of Jericho, was convicted of killing a suspected collaborator. According to Israeli figures, more than 900 Palestinians were shot, hacked or strangled to death by their fellow Arabs during the six and a half years of the intifada, the Palestinian uprising.

The Israel army says the main reason the collaborator-killers are not allowed back to their homes in villages still controlled by Israel, is the fear of vendettas. "Issam" is evasive when asked how he killed the collaborator. But he admits the man's family could try to kill him in revenge now that he's out of prison. But he points out they can kill him in Jericho as easily as they could in his home village, where he wants to return.

The men's main complaint is the boredom and the searing heat. Summer temperatures in Jericho are well over 104 degrees. "Issam" says it's too hot here to do anything. If he is caught trying to sneak out of Jericho to his village he'll be sent straight back to prison. Inside the barracks there are about 20 men to a room. Some have mattresses. Some sleep on wooden planks.

Thirty-year-old "Samir" from the village of Jelazoun has served two years of a 15-year sentence as an accomplice in a collaborator killing. He says conditions in prison were better than they are here. He says in prison he had more room and better food.

Like almost all the ex-prisoners now languishing in Jericho, Samir belongs to Yasir Arafat's Fatah group within the PLO. Like the others here he is angry at the Palestinian authorities because he feels they tricked them. They knew we wouldn't be allowed to leave Jericho, he says, but they pretended it would only be for 48 hours. Samir says they feel that they've simply gone from one prison to another.

About 120 prisoners dumped in Jericho by the Israelis after their release already have been allowed to return to their homes in the West Bank. These were men who had served at least two-thirds of their sentences, and who were not directly involved in killings.

The 14,000 residents of Jericho seem indifferent to having hundreds of ex-prisoners -- many of them murderers -- dropped in their midst. But they say they worry about feeding them, and they say there's already high unemployment in the town.

Jebril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian security services in Jericho, says the continued stay of the released prisoners is a major cause of tension in the area. "I think this problem has been created by the Israelis. We have to deal with it according to our possibilities, which is too limited.... They are living in inhuman conditions, and I think releasing them in Jericho is a kind of punishment sending them to exile, transferring them from jail to jail."

Last week to protest their conditions, the prisoners burned tires on the main highway through jericho -- prompting the Israelis to bar entrance to the town for 24 hours.

If the peace process goes as planned, the problem of the released prisoners will solve itself as the Israeli occupation recedes from the rest of the West Bank. The men will return to their villages and towns -- and any vendettas that result will then be the problem of Palestinian, not Israeli, authorities.

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