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>PD Feb. 8, 1995, V3, #27

Ethiopian Jews Allowed to Marry Without Conversion

Israeli Ethiopian Jewish couples wishing to marry will now be able to do so without undergoing a new conversion process. This decision ends a long negotiation between Ethiopian Jewry and Israel's Chief Rabbinate on this issue. In recent weeks, the rabbinate has opened 10 centers for marriage registration for Ethiopian Jews.

Palestinians to Receive Special U.S. Trade Status

By Al Pessin (Gaza City)

US Commerce Secretary Ron Brown says the US government will soon grant the Palestinian Autonomy Authority a special low-tariff trade status to ease the flow of its exports into the United States. Brown spent an hour meeting with the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, at his seaside headquarters. Brown later told reporters the US government is in the final administrative stages of granting the special status to the Palestinian authority.

The program is called the generalized system of preferences, and it allows goods produced in designated developing areas to enter the US with minimal tariffs. Brown said the move will help create jobs in Gaza and will help it develop export industries.

The commerce secretary came to Gaza with a delegation of US business executives, who had a meeting with Palestinian counterparts on Tuesday.

Brown says Americans are "ready, willing and able" to invest in Gaza, if they can be sure their investments will be safe and profitable. All of the leaders involved in the peace process say they must deliver economic development in order to convince people to accept the compromises necessary for peace.

Arafat Arrests Terrorists

By Al Pessin (Gaza City)

Palestinian police in autonomous Gaza have arrested about 50 (reports say 40 to 60) members of a radical group which claimed responsibility for the shooting of an Israeli in Gaza on Monday. The arrests were accompanied by a strong condemnation of terrorism by the palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat.

The Palestinian police moved at dawn against members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, whose leaders claimed responsibility for shooting of an Israeli security guard on Monday. Palestinian police also raided the group's office in Gaza City.

At a news conference, Arafat said his autonomy authority has taken major steps against what he called the fanatic and extremist forces

which continue to attack Israelis in spite of the peace accord.
"We will  not  permit these groups to harm  not  only the Israelis,
but also the Palestinians and the peace process.  And we will
continue in our way to deal and to face all these fanatic and extremist forces, and we will not allow for them to continue in these activities. I haven't a magic stick, but I will do all my best."

Negotiations Restart in Cairo

By Laurie Kassman (Cairo)

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators are meeting in Cairo to prepare plans for Palestinian elections. The talks had been suspended since the Jan.22 suicide bombing that killed 21 Israelis.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters that this round of talks will help prepare for the Thursday summit between PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The Israeli team says it is ready to begin drafting an agreement on Palestinian elections, but it will take more than one round of talks to complete the framework.

Palestinian elections were due to be held six months after the self-rule deal was implemented. But snags and delays in implementation have pushed back that deadline.

The two sides have argued over the size and make-up of the Palestinian council to be elected, and about the timing and extent of the redeployment of Israeli Troops in the West Bank before and during the vote.

Peace talks have faltered in recent months and it took a first-ever summit of Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the PLO to put them back on track. Egyptian officials say it now is up to Israel and the Palestinians to keep the talks going.

Peres Meets with U.N. Security Council Members

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met Monday with representatives of United Nations Security Council member states "Israel is committed to the peace process, however Israel can not make concessions beyond the point of the public's support of government policy," Peres told the meeting. The Foreign Minister added that Israel "will continue to build in Jerusalem."

Peres also told the meeting, which included the U.N. representatives of Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and the PLO's observer, that Israel will not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Directing his remarks at the Egyptian ambassador, the Foreign Minister said "we have lived in peace without the treaty and we should continue to do so."
The Foreign Minister told the Security Council members that before they demand that Israel sign the NPT, they must demonstrate an ability to curb Iran's efforts to produce nuclear weapons.

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