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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                        Feb. 15, 1995, V3, #32
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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>JN Feb. 15, 1995, V3, #32

Poll: 46 Percent of Palestinians Favor Armed Attacks on Israel

By David Gollust (Washington)

A new independent poll of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza indicates continued majority support -- albeit narrow -- for PLO leader Yasir Arafat and his conduct of the peace process with Israel. However, Palestinian anger and impatience are also evident in the polling data.

The polling by the Center for Palestinian Research and Studies -- based in the West Bank city of Nablus -- is considered the most reliable available measure of Palestinian public opinion. And the latest survey -- taken earlier this month and released in Washington -- suggests that Arafat and his mainline Fatah movement are holding their own against more militant Islamic and secular rivals.

About 1,100 Palestinian adults over the age of 18 were interviewed by the Center in the West Bank and Gaza between Feb. 2th and 4th. Despite the stalemate in negotiations with Israel on expanding Palestinian self-rule, Arafat had the support of over 53 percent of the respondents -- a three percent increase over the previous survey in December.

Arafat's nearest rivals -- the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements drew a combined 25 percent in the poll, framed as a theoretical election in the territories. The secular Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine of George Habash had less than 4 percent support, while the rest of those polled backed smaller factions or had no preference.

Despite the majority support for Arafat, 81 percent of those polled said they favored a cut-off of talks with Israel if expansion of Jewish settlements in the territories does not cease. Forty-six percent of the respondents said they supported armed attacks against Israeli targets while 34 percent opposed them.

The new poll -- coming in the wake of the closure of the territories following terrorist attacks in Israel -- indicated that the unemployment rate in the West Bank and Gaza exceeded 50 percent.

Arab League Discusses Nuclear Option

By Laurie Kassman (Cairo)

Experts meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo are discussing ways to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. The group is also talking about the Arab world's position on renewing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty -- as long as Israel does not sign it. The Arab League experts are discussing an Egyptian draft treaty that would eliminate chemical, biological and nuclear weapons from the Middle East. Arab League foreign ministers will continue the discussions when they meet next month.

Egypt first proposed turning the region into a zone free of weapons of mass destruction back in 1990 during the Gulf War. More recently, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has toughened his position against renewing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He says Egypt will not vote for renewal until Israel signs on. Israel has never signed the 25-year-old treaty and says it is not ready to do so now. The Egyptian stand has strained relations with Israel and with the United States, which is promoting indefinite renewal.

Other Arab states have not said how they will vote when the treaty is reviewed in April. Most are likely to renew it while denouncing Israel for not signing. All but five of the Arab League's 22 members are signatories.

At a summit with Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority two weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin did agree to a final communique that endorsed Egypt's peacetime goal of a weapons-free Middle East.

El Al Emerges From Receivership; Stock Offerings Scheduled

Israel's national airline El Al emerged from temporary receivership Tuesday with the appointment of a board of directors. The move represents the first step toward privatizing El AL, which has been under temporary receivership for the past 12 years.

In May, 15 to 25 percent of the company's stock will be offered on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. A second offering of 26 to 36 percent of El Al's stock is scheduled for December in New York and London.

The government will continue to hold 49 percent of El Al's stock, as well as a "Golden Share" that will ensure that the company continues to operate in times of national emergency.

Chief Rabbinate Approves Surrogate Motherhood

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau said the Chief Rabbinate will approve the practice of surrogate motherhood, but only under rigorous restrictions.

Some of the conditions spelled out by Lau are that the mother carrying the child not be married, careful records of the biological and surrogate mother be kept, and each case be approved by a special committee that includes a religious representative.

The report noted that many rabbis believe the surrogate mother is the child's real mother and are demanding that the biological parents go through adoption procedures.

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