Newsletter : 5fax0223.txt
| Previous file
| Next file
Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Feb. 23, 1995, V3, #37
All the News the Big Guys Missed
For subscriptions or back issues, please contact POL management
Is Syria Serious About Peace?
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
A senior Israeli official has questioned whether Syria is serious
about wanting peace with Israel, and says it is time to find out.
Israel's deputy foreign minister, Yossi Beilin, says he had
assumed Syria had made a strategic decision to seek peace with
Israel. But he says lately he is not so sure.
Beilin told Israel Radio Syria could be using participation in
occasional and low-level peace talks as a way to gain favor in
Western countries, while not really trying to make peace. Still,
he says, peace with Syria is possible this year.
Beilin endorsed the idea of another US diplomatic mission to Syria
and Israel by the coordinator of Middle East policy Dennis Ross.
Beilin says such a visit could clarify whether the Syrian
leadership is serious about making peace.
The Israel-Syria talks have been bogged down by Syria's insistence
that Israel promise in advance to withdraw from all of the Golan
Heights, and Israel's demand that Syria define the extent of the
peaceful relationship it wants with Israel. In recent weeks, Syria
has repeatedly postponed planned talks between the Israeli and
Syrian ambassadors to the United States.
Beilin says a recent statement by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin that the extent of withdrawal will match the extent of peace
was very significant and should have been enough to bring the
Syrians back to the negotiating table.
In the past, Beilin has been optimistic about the prospects of
concluding an Israel-Syria peace accord this year. And he has
warned that because of next year's Israeli elections, if agreement
is not reached in the next several months, it might not be
reached for a long time to come. Now, he says, he is concerned
that is what might happen, because the current negotiations are
moving very, very slowly.
Could Beirut's Pollution Flow to Tel Aviv?
By Edward Yeranian (Beirut)
Reports of environmental calamity frequently surface in Lebanon,
only to be forgotten amid the social and economic problems which
take precedence. In a country where the public has grown
accustomed to living with vast piles of garbage during 15 years of
civil war, a January report by the environmental group Greenpeace
has provoked unusual fury against the government. Greenpeace
says 10,000 barrels of toxic waste may lie buried somewhere
Few know what lies buried in the azure depths of the Mediterranean
Sea, off Lebanon's once pristine shores. Local residents say
during 15 years of civil war, the country's only incinerator broke
down, and tons of garbage were hauled to a makeshift dump
overlooking the sea.
Environmentalists say much of the refuse eventually fell in from
erosion, and still more was given a push. To add to the problem,
newspaper reports say disreputable businesses imported refuse
from abroad, and some of it was toxic. The absence of law and
order, complain the same reports, made many rich. Reports say
attempts to hide the waste may now be making people sick.
Most worrisome to public officials is 16,000 barrels of toxic waste
brought to Lebanon from Italy in 1987. The exact whereabouts of
the barrels is a mystery, although 6,000 were reportedly shipped
back to Italy in 1990. The environmental organization, Greenpeace,
alleges that the remaining 10,000 barrels lie buried somewhere in
Lebanon. A secret 1988 army report says that some of the barrels
were dumped in the sea.
While Prime Minister Rafiqal Hal Hariri ordered an official inquiry
to find both the culprits and the barrels of waste within 10 days,
two goats where found dead in the Bekaa valley, apparently from
water poisoning. With rumors of water pollution rampant, the
crisis soon developed into an outright scare, and bottles of
mineral water quickly disappeared from store shelves.
Minister of the Environment, Samir Moqbel, under fire from fellow
lawmakers and from the public, took pains to reassure citizens
that the government was doing everything possible to locate and
remove the hidden barrels of toxic waste. "Even if the government
reaches a dead end in its investigation of where the barrels are
buried, our ministry is ready to dispatch a team of European
experts using equipment designed to locate these barrels under
land or under sea."
If the Lebanese public is suspicious that government officials
are lying to them, Dr. May Jurbi, professor of public health at
the American University of Beirut, dismisses fears that there is
any immediate danger to Lebanon's water supply from toxic waste.
The real danger to the water supply for the time being, she says,
is from raw sewage. "Our natural water sources are exposed mainly
to fecal contamination. In terms of chemical contamination,
physical and chemical contamination, still it's building up, but it
has not reached a critical level."
The entire waste problem, says one expert, is a by-product of the
long civil war. When people spend months in a bomb shelter, he
says, their only thought is to survive. Their last concern is
about what to do with the garbage.
(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)