Newsletter : 4fax1116.txt
| Previous file
| Next file
>PD NOVEMBER 16, 1994, V2 #205
Israel Turns Over Welfare/Tourism Control to Palestinians
By Al Pessin (Ramallah)
Israel has given the Palestinian Autonomy Authority control over
tourism and welfare services in the West Bank -- a step toward the
full autonomy expected to be put in place in coming months. In
Ramallah, officials from the two sides signed documents handing
over authority for welfare services.
There have been quite a few signing ceremonies in Israel in recent
weeks, mostly involving kings and presidents and prime ministers in
grand surroundings using fountain pens to sign fancy documents in
leather binders. On Tuesday in Ramallah, things were simpler. In
a room with peeling paint and decorations made by children,
officials used their own ball point pens to sign plain-paper
documents passed from hand to hand in white plastic folders.
At this simple ceremony at the local welfare office, and another
one in Bethlehem covering tourism, Israel continued the process
of handing over control of life in the West Bank to the new
Palestinian Authority. Israel gave up control of education in
September, and is to do the same for health care and taxation by
the end of the month.
With anti-peace terrorism continuing -- including a bomb-throwing
attack which slightly wounded two Israelis Tuesday morning -- the
chief of Israel's administration in the territories, General Gadi
Zohar, says there is a message in the continuing implementation of
the peace accord.
"For these people who are in doubt, this means that we are
continuing and the Palestinians are continuing in the same way on
the road to peace. And hopefully it will succeed in what they are
doing here and what they are going to do here and it will give the
people the hope that down the road there are changes and a new way
Zohar acknowledged that giving control of welfare to the
Palestinian Authority will not change the fact that many such
services are provided by the political wing of the radical group
Hamas. But he warned that Israel is ready to move against Hamas
if it uses its greater freedom to be involved in social services
to launch terrorist attacks.
The Palestinian Deputy Minister of Welfare, Diab Ayoush, said
Tuesday's ceremonies were important steps in the effort to build
Palestinian society. He said the Palestinians can handle their
new responsibilities, but need help to finance them. "We have our
own power, I mean manpower, and we need in addition to that help
and funds from the world who are interested in the peace process."
Ramallah is still under Israeli control, but Palestinians raised
their flag over the city's welfare office on Tuesday, as the
documents were signed inside. Talks start next week on details
of the plan to grant the Palestinians full autonomy in the West
Bank, like they already have in Gaza and Jericho.
Rabin Visits Suicide Bombing Site
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has visited the site of last
Friday's suicide bombing in the Gaza Strip, and called on the
Palestinian Authority there to do more to fight terrorism.
Rabin visited the checkpoint where three Israeli reserve officers
were killed last Friday by a suicide bomber. He acknowledged that
such attacks are difficult to prevent. But he called on the
Palestinian Authority to make a more serious effort to fight the
radical groups that organize and pay for them.
The authority has pledged to do so, and has arrested almost 200
alleged radicals since Friday's bombing. In an interview with
the Associated Press on Tuesday, the Palestinian leader, Yasir
Arafat, said Israel is partly responsible for the terrorism
because it allowed the radical groups to grow when it controlled
Gaza in the 1970s and '80s.
On Tuesday, Rabin also visited several other Israeli army
checkpoints in autonomous Gaza, which protect Jewish settlements in
the Strip. He did not visit any of the settlements, but he said
they will remain in place as the peace accord is implemented -- in
spite of the difficulty of defending them.
Israel and the Palestinians are to discuss the future of the
settlements starting in 1996.
Israelis Concerned About Possible Cuts in U.S. Foreign Aid
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israeli officials are trying to ease concerns in Israel that the
new US Congress, controlled by Republicans, will reduce the $3
billion in aid Israel receives every year. Prime Minister Rabin
told reporters that maintaining the level of aid will be one of his
goals in the United States. But he also said he is not
particularly concerned about it.
The prime minister said the current level of US aid to Israel began
under President Reagan -- a Republican -- and he believes members
of both parties understand the reasons for it. He said only a
strong Israel can work to prevent wars, contribute to stability in
the region, and take risks for peace.
An Israeli newspaper reported Tuesday that Republican leaders are
considering eliminating the $1.2 billion of US civilian aid given
annually to Israel. But Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Tuesday
he is confident that will not happen.
The two men spoke as Rabin prepared to leave for the United States.
He will start his trip in California, and will travel to Washington
for meetings about the peace process later in the week, with Syria
at the top of the agenda.
(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)