Newsletter : 4fax1209.txt
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>PD Dec. 9, 1994, V2, #221
Human Rights Group Criticizes Israel
By Jim Stevenson (Washington)
A US-based human rights group has released its annual
report, reviewing human rights conditions in 65 countries.
The survey says continuing
political conflicts between Middle East governments and
opposition groups have had a far greater impact on human rights
than the Arab-Israeli peace process.
The report, released Thursday by the New York-headquartered
Human Rights Watch, says rapid developments involving the Middle
East peace process have diverted attention from the internal
problems of the countries involved.
The report was critical of Israel, citing arbitrary arrests and
torture by protection forces in the occupied territories.
In Egypt, Human Rights Watch says conditions are continuing to
deteriorate as Islamic groups increasingly target foreign and
Egyptian citizens in a bid to radically transform the society.
Peres Meets Arafat at Gaza-Israel Border
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres traveled to the
Gaza border Thursday to reassure the Palestinian leader, Yasir
Arafat, that Israel is not planning to force changes in their
Arafat responded with conciliatory words aimed at the Israeli
For several weeks Israeli officials have been saying it is
too dangerous to withdraw Israeli troops from Palestinian
population centers in the West Bank, as promised in the peace
agreement. And Palestinian officials have been insisting that
Israel withdraw the troops, as required, before Palestinian
The dispute threatened to delay further implementation of the
peace accord, and possibly to scuttle the entire process. But on
Thursday, Peres promised Arafat the
mechanics of how to proceed will be negotiated, not dictated.
"I do not see a real need to change the DOP
(Declaration of Principles). Within the existing
framework we can decide on priorities. We can decide to
take this issue first, another issue second, or the
other way around, but all this should be done in an air
of understanding and mutual agreement."
In return, Arafat made a public statement of concern for the
safety of Israelis, and indicated that this (safety issue), as
well as the elections he wants to hold, is an important concern.
"We have to understand, also, when we are speaking about
the election, the necessity of the Israelis for
security. And we are putting it in our consideration.
And we have to put it in our consideration."
The two sides still face the difficult task of working out the
details of how to preserve that security while withdrawing
Israeli troops from much of the West Bank, so elections can be
held. Peres said they have faced such difficult
problems before and overcome them, and he predicted they will do
so again. But he would not say exactly how.
Czech Jews Wait for Property Return
By Alena Kenclova (Prague)
The Czech Jewish community says it is disappointed by the
slow progress in regaining its former property seized by the
Nazis and then held by the communist state.
Czech Jewish leaders told journalists that the
community has drawn up the minimum list of 202 items that it
wants restituted. But they say only a small number have been
According to the Federation of Jewish Communities President Jiri
Danicek, the government plan for
restoring Jewish ownership to these synagogues, cemeteries, and
various buildings and pieces of land does not work. With few
exceptions, local authorities are reluctant to return property
which yields profit even though they are more forthcoming in the
case of religious premises. But the Jewish community says it will
not have the money to maintain and repair dilapidated buildings
if it can not regain commercially viable property as well.
The Federation President, the chairman of the Prague Jewish
community, Zeno Dostal, Prague Rabbi Karol Sidon and other
Jewish representatives met the press on Thursday. They say they
now regard publicizing the problems as the only way of achieving
progress. They say the property they want returned is the
minimum to which they are morally entitled.
After lengthy negotiations with the Jewish Community, the Czech
government ruled in April that property still in the state hands
would be returned by its ministries. It urged local governments
to follow suit with property under their control and complete the
work within six months. The parliament had earlier rejected a
bill that would make it mandatory for both the state and the
local authorities to meet the Jewish community's requests.
But Dostal says that, for instance, the Prague community has
since recovered only five items of the 77 it has claimed. The
Ministry of Culture acted promptly in turning over the famous
Jewish Museum in Prague. But in many other cases, both state and
local authorities are less obliging.
Before World War II, there were 120,000 practicing
Jews in the Czech and Moravian regions of Czechoslovakia which
now form the Czech Republic. Due to the Holocaust and
emigration, only about 3,000 Jews remain.
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