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  Israel Faxx                                      \/ /  \/ /
  Sept 22, 1994 Volume 2, #172                     / /\__/_/\
  Electronic World Communications, Inc.           /__\ \_____\
  8916 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45215             \  /
  Internet: Phone: (513) 563-7424   \/

Germany Legislates Against Nazis

By Evans Hays (Berlin)

Germany's Lower House of parliament has approved legislation giving the government extended powers to fight organized crime and right-wing extremism. The legislation was approved after months of negotiations with the main opposition Social Democrats to ensure that new laws would not infringe on citizens' rights.

The center-right government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl has been working hard to win passage of the legislation. Kohl and others in government argued that police and the courts need expanded authority to combat on-going neo-Nazi violence and the rise of organized crime.

While neo-Nazi and other right-wing extremism has declined slightly from earlier years, it remains a serious problem. There have been about 1,000 attacks against foreigners in Germany this year, down from about 1,500 in the same period last year. About 30 people have died in neo-Nazi attacks in Germany since unification.

The new laws will impose tougher penalties on those engaged in violent attacks. Anyone found guilty of causing bodily harm faces a maximum jail term of five years, up from three years.

In a move aimed specifically at neo-Nazis, the maximum penalty for denying that the Holocaust took place was increased from three to five years. And the new laws will extend a ban on Nazi slogans and symbols to include anything that resembles them.

Many neo-Nazis avoided prosecution under the old law by slightly altering the Nazi salute or the slogans they chant. The new legislation also aims to step up the fight against organized crime.

One key element will allow local police access to information gathered by the federal intelligence agency through its wiretaps and other sources. Previously, the intelligence service -- known as the BND -- was barred from making such information available to local authorities.

This ban on cooperation was a legacy from the Nazi era, when the feared Gestapo secret police worked closely with local authorities.

The new legislation is expected to be approved quickly by the Upper House of Germany's parliament.

Syrian-Israeli Progress Made

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

US and Israeli officials say some progress is being made toward peace between Israel and Syria, but they say there is considerably more work to do, and a senior US official says it may not yet be time for a direct, high-level Israel-Syria meeting.

Officials declined to give details, but said there has been some progress although significant gaps remain between the Syrian and Israeli positions. The leader of the US delegation, Dennis Ross, said he believes more progress is needed through US intermediaries before he would suggest a direct, high-level Israel-Syria meeting.

Ross says he wants to be sure any such meeting is productive, and more work is needed to ensure that. For now, he said, the current US mediation is the best approach, even though all the problems have not yet been solved.

"I don't want to get into the details of the issues where one finds gaps. The fact is, there are gaps in a number of different areas. What we are seeing is seriousness. What we are seeing is a very detailed approach to this process. What we are seeing is an interest on both sides in trying to understand the positions of the other.But there are gaps, and there still is, clearly, a lot of work to be done."

Israel and the United States agree direct Israel-Syria talks are needed at some point to forge a peace agreement, and there has been speculation in Israel that Foreign Minister Shimon Peres might meet with his Syrian counterpart in New York next month.

Although Ross indicated it might not yet be time for that, in brief remarks Wednesday Peres emphasized the new, public interest in peace shown by Syrian leaders. He said that has created a better atmosphere and eased the task of Israeli and US negotiators. "We are really trying to work together to find solutions for the problems ahead of us, and I do believe that on some points we made some progress."

But there is no word of progress on at least one key dispute -- the future of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967. Syria wants all the land back; Israel is offering a small withdrawal now and further talks after three years of peace. In addition, Israeli leaders face vocal opposition from Israelis who oppose giving back any of the strategically-important heights -- including some from within their own party's parliamentary block.

Peres reported that his meeting with the US delegation Wednesday also covered Israel's peace agreements with the Palestinians and Jordan. He also welcomed Saudi Arabia's endorsement of the peace process, calling it a "highly positive move."

The visit by Ross's delegation was designed, in part, to prepare for a visit to the region next month by US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, to continue the mediation effort.

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