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>PD Sept. 30, 1994 V2, #178

Israeli Supreme Court Says No to Haiti

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israel's Supreme Court has prevented, at least temporarily, the dispatch of Israeli police officers to join the international force in Haiti. In response to a suit filed Sunday, the court has asked the government to prove it has the authority to send Israeli forces overseas.

The court gave the government five days to explain the legal justification of its decision to send 30 police officers to help train Haiti's new police force.

Some legal experts say Israeli law prevents sending forces overseas, except in the direct defense of Israel. But police spokesman Eric Bar Chen says the government can act in this case because it is operating under a United Nations resolution.

Some officials have said that because the 30 officers involved are volunteers, the government is free to send them to Haiti. They say this is a different legal situation than sending troops into a conflict overseas.

The suit before the Supreme Court was filed by private individuals who oppose the government. They claim the plan to send the Israeli police to Haiti is illegal, and would unnecessarily endanger Israeli lives.

Israel has sent police investigators to many countries in connection with terrorist attacks, and it sent army medical teams to Rwanda last month. But officials say this would be the first time Israel joined an international force. The police spokesman says the Israeli officers would be involved in training, and not performing police functions themselves. But he acknowledged they could still conceivably find themselves in confrontational situations.

The 30 Israeli police officers would be among the smallest contingents of approximately 20 being sent to Haiti from various countries, totaling more than 5,000 soldiers and police officers, in addition to the US forces.

Israel and Jordan Meet

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Jordan's King Hussein have held a previously unannounced meeting in the Jordanian resort town of Aqaba to try to forge final agreement on a peace treaty. It is their second meeting since the White House ceremony earlier this year when they formally ended the state of war between their countries.

The surprise meeting comes at what appears to be a crucial stage of the Israel-Jordan negotiations. The chief Israeli government spokesman says the unsettled issues of borders and water rights were to be the focus of the Rabin-Hussein meeting. And the spokesman, Uri Dromi, says the two were also to discuss what he calls "the balance of power with the Palestinians."

Dromi says this summit was planned some time ago, but was not publicized in an effort to create a business-like atmosphere. He says publicity surrounding other steps in the Israel-Jordan peace process worried the Palestinians and hurt Israel's negotiations with them.

The Palestinians and Jordan disagree about responsibility for the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, and other issues. They are scheduled to hold talks on those disputes soon. In addition, the Israeli foreign minister and Jordan's crown prince are to meet on Sunday and Monday in the United States. Israeli and Jordanian negotiators have made significant progress toward a full peace treaty, and officials say it could be ready for signature soon if the top leaders can solve the remaining difficult issues.

Peres Speaks to the United Nations

By Elaine Johanson (U.N.)

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has called on Syria to move boldly toward negotiations on a peace treaty. In remarks to the United Nations General Assembly Thursday, the Israeli official said an agreement between the two countries would have significance far beyond bilateral relations.

The Israeli foreign minister said a treaty between Israel and Syria could well trigger a comprehensive peace in the region. He accused Syria of slowing the pace of negotiations and urged President Hafez Assad to consider direct, high-level talks: "We address the Syrians by saying: let us talk face to face. Let's negotiate, as it was proclaimed in Damascus, with courage, to attain a peace of honor."

Negotiations have stalled over a Syrian demand for the immediate and complete return of the Golan Heights -- which Israel seized during the 1967 war. Israel wants a phased withdrawal from the disputed area.

The Israeli official also made an impassioned plea for economic assistance for the territory Israel turned over to the Palestinians. He said -- with the world turning away from military solutions -- the UN should make Gaza a showplace of economic development.

Background Report on the Palestinian Economy

By Patricia Golan

Millions of dollars of funds pledged for the newly established Palestinian authority running the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho still have not been released by the World Bank. But a group of hundreds of wealthy Palestinians living abroad has launched privately funded projects and is lobbying for increased private investments.

Many Palestinian businessmen have been reluctant to invest their money in the Palestinian self-rule areas, where there is no clear political system in place, and everything is under PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat's control.

The founders of the Palestine Development and Investment Company -- or Pedico -- made their fortunes in North America, Jordan and the Gulf States. They say their idea for pooled private investments in their own homeland was born in the optimistic atmosphere following the Middle East peace process launched in Madrid in 1991.

The firm, with start-up capital of $200 million, has just launched three subsidiaries in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. The companies will invest in housing, tourism and industrial development; in keeping with the firm's strategy of cultivating the private sector, two-thirds of the capital for the projects is expected to come from local investors.

The most difficult part of their endeavor has been dealing with the different sets of investment laws: Israeli law in Jerusalem, Jordanian laws in the West Bank, and Egyptian and British laws in the newly autonomous Gaza Strip.

Yousef Ghanem, an executive in the new firm, says if the company decided to wait until there was a uniform set of laws they'd have to wait a long time. "So, the differences are there, but for industrialists who are serious they have to study these laws very well and they have to live with them and to find some way in order to go around these difficulties that are created by these laws, but ultimately we did it."

Ghanem says he hopes the launch of the three offices will encourage other Palestinian investments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Businessman Munib al-Masri, vice-chairman of Pedico, says the company's main aim is to help create new jobs and a new Palestinian economy. But he complains the company has received little cooperation from the Israeli authorities. "We're going to be patient and we're going to work together until we get what is the minimum to encourage foreign investors to come here. But so far this thing has been very slow from the Israeli side. Because if they do care about the peace process, to succeed they must tango with us."

The just-launched companies, set up after receiving approval from Arafat, are the first of 20 subsidiaries which Pedico intends to establish within three years. Pedico's directors call the venture a leap in the dark, but say they are taking the risk to help in building a Palestinian homeland.

Pope Speaks of Jerusalem Access

By Peggy Polk

Pope John Paul II has urged Israel to accept international guarantees providing that Jews, Christians and Muslims alike have access to Jerusalem. The pontiff spoke as he received the credentials of the first Israeli ambassador to the Vatican. Shmuel Hadas presented his credentials to the pope during a ceremony in the papal country residence at Castelgandolfo, south of Rome. And the pope took the opportunity to bring up a key issue that remained unsolved when the Holy See established full diplomatic relations with the Jewish State in June -- the status of Jerusalem.

Israel has declared Jerusalem its capital and opposed any international control of the city -- sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike -- on the grounds that its holy sites are open to all.

But John Paul said he hopes that "the unique and sacred character of this holy city will be the object of international guarantees that will assure access to all believers."

While reiterating the church's commitment to the fight against anti-Semitism, the pope said he also hopes diplomatic relations will help to develop "relations of trust" between Israeli authorities and Catholic institutions in the holy land.


The director general of the Israel Ports Authority has announced a plan to build a passenger terminal at the Red Sea port of Eilat for arriving and departing cruise and pleasure craft. It will cost about $2.5-million and, patterned on the Seattle port facility, will be commercial, serving pleasure cruisers from all over the world, as well as vacationers taking Red Sea trips to Egyptian and Jordanian ports.


A new Israeli company, Elirow of Kfar Sava, has developed an innovative computer program capable of encoding and 'scrambling' facsimile texts to prevent their exposure through wiretapping. This is applicable also to diagrams as well as handwritten manuscripts. The program costs about $60 and users may copy it and supply it to those receiving their faxes.

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