Newsletter : 5fax0104.txt
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>Jan. 4, 1995, V2, #2
El Al Cancels Flight to Moscow
El Al, Israel's national air carrier, canceled a regularly
scheduled flight to Moscow on Monday after Russian authorities
refused to allow the airline's security personnel to carry weapons.
Russian authorities reportedly asked El Al security personnel
arriving on a flight last week to give up their weapons at the
airport. El Al says they will not resume service to Russia until
there is a return to prior arrangements which allowed Israelis to
Cabinet Offers Efrat Compromise
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
A special committee of Israel's Cabinet has approved construction
of 280 housing units adjacent to a Jewish settlement in the West
Bank. The area, near Bethlehem, has been the focus of a series of
demonstrations during the past week.
The special committee, chaired by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, has
approved construction of the new housing on a site adjacent to the
settlement of Efrat. The government is offering that site instead
of another one further away from the settlement and adjacent to a
The original construction plan sparked several demonstrations by
Palestinians and Israelis opposed to the project, some involving
clashes with Israeli troops. Opponents of the construction said
it would hurt peace efforts and violate Palestinian property
rights. The settlers claim they purchased the land legally more
than 10 years ago.
The government decision is not likely to fully satisfy either
side, but officials hope allowing some construction on a less
controversial site will defuse the dispute and remove one of the
many flashpoints which threaten to disrupt implementation of the
Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.
Israelis/Palestinians Meet Amid Accusations
By Kim Reid (Cairo)
Egypt's Foreign Minister Amr Moussa has hosted talks between
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Chief PLO negotiator
Nabil Shaath in Cairo. The two sides met amid accusations that
neither is honoring the Israeli / Palestinian peace accord.
Negotiator Shaath says two things now stand in the way of the peace
process: what he calls the suspicious shooting of three
Palestinian policemen Monday night in Gaza, and the expansion of
Israeli settlements in Israeli-occupied territory.
"I think what needs to be done is to abandon the whole idea of
creating new settlements or thickening old ones. I think what needs
to be done is to have a total and complete halt to settlement
activities, if we are to wait until the permanent settlement to
negotiate the permanent status of these settlements."
Peres says he has some complaints of his own about Palestinian
activity under the new self-rule. Israeli officials say
Palestinians are trying to act as an independent state instead of
a self-rule area.
Palestinians Mourn Policemen Who Died
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Several thousand people -- including Palestinian leader Yasir
Arafat -- have attended an emotion-charged funeral in the
autonomous Gaza Strip for three Palestinian policemen killed
Monday night by Israeli troops. The crowd chanted anti-Israel
and anti-US slogans during the funeral procession.
Palestinian officials called the shootings "unjustified" and
"unprovoked," and said Israel bears full responsibility for the
deaths of the three policemen, all in their early 20s. Earlier,
officials had said four were killed, but that was corrected Tuesday
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres called the shootings the
result of a misunderstanding and said the Palestinian side bears
most of the responsibility for the confusion.
But a senior Palestinian official, Nabil abu Irdeineh, took that
statement as something of an admission. "The foreign minister,
Shimon Peres, said that there was a misunderstanding. I think this
was an indirect recognition of their big mistake."
Abu Irdeineh called Monday night's incident an unjustified attack by
Israeli forces inside the autonomous Palestinian area. Israel
says one of its patrols along the Israel-Gaza border was fired on
from inside Gaza and the soldiers gave chase, eventually reaching
a building in the Strip.
At that location, there was a shootout in which the Palestinian
policemen were killed. But Palestinian officials say their
officers did not start the shooting. Both sides have launched
Israeli newspapers speculate that someone else may have fired on
the Israeli patrol and then fled, leaving the Israeli soldiers
and Palestinian police to blame each other.
But at least one member of the Israeli Cabinet is skeptical of that
explanation. Economics Minister Shimon Shitreet says Palestinian
radicals are joining the new Palestinian police force, and then
using their status to carry out attacks against Israelis. He says
Monday night's shooting and the Christmas day bombing in Jerusalem
"We should see it as a very grave (incident) and a source of great
concern for us because this suggests a pattern of activity -- that
Hamas people join the police, have access to armaments and have
access to perhaps better transportation, and they use their status
to commit crimes."
The Palestinian spokesman, abu Irdeineh, would not respond
directly to that charge, saying such things should be discussed in
Both abu Irdeineh and Peres said incidents such as Monday's
shootout hurt the peace process, but both also indicated the
negotiations will continue.
Israel's Population -- 5.46 Million
As Israel begins 1995, the country's population is estimated at
5.46 million residents, including 4.43 million Jews (81.1%), about
777,000 Muslims (14.2%), about 161,000 Christians (3.0%), and
92,000 Druze (1.7%). In 1994, Israel's population grew by about
134,000, an increase of approximately 2.5%, similar to that
registered in the previous year.
Of 1994's total growth, nearly 60% resulted from natural increase
(the number of births minus the number of deaths), and the rest
from immigration. During the year, almost 80,000 immigrants arrived
in Israel, 4% more than in 1993, when about 77,000 immigrants came.
In 1994, 85% of all immigrants who arrived in Israel came from the
former Soviet Union.
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