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Employment Rose 8.1 Percent in '94

The average monthly salary in Israel rose in December to 4,298 New Israeli Shekels (approximately $1,400), During 1994, wages in the public services sector rose 10 percent while salaries in the industrial sector fell by one percent.

Rabin: Syrian Negotiations Continuing

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israel's prime minister has indicated that Israel's position in stalled peace talks with Syria has not changed, as US Secretary of State Warren Christopher prepares for another shuttle mission to try to get those talks moving again.

Prime Minister Rabin says Israel is willing to make a small withdrawal along the cease-fire line on the Golan Heights in return for full peace with Syria, and would consider further withdrawals only after two or three years of peaceful coexistence.

Syrian leaders rejected that approach months ago. They want a guaranteed full withdrawal over a short period of time, in return for diplomatic relations. The disagreement has resulted in several months of stalemate.

There was a report last week that the two sides had made substantial progress in secret contacts through US mediators. But Israel strongly denied the report.

Christopher is expected to arrive in Israel on Thursday, and then to travel to Syria -- a shuttle Israeli officials say could be critical in determining whether there is an Israel-Syria peace agreement signed this year. Israeli officials say they will not be able to make the difficult compromises necessary for peace once they begin next year's election campaign.

Meanwhile, Israeli intelligence officials told the Cabinet on Sunday they believe Syria wants to make peace, but is in no hurry to do so.

Yacobi to UN. Settlements are Not Your Business

By Daud Majlis (Washington)

Israel's UN ambassador says settlements in the occupied territories are not a matter for the United Nations Security Council to resolve. Gad Yacobi, said Israel's settlements policy is not a main obstacle to progress in the peace process in the Middle East. And that policy, he said, has been an evolving one.

"I think that unfortunately the main obstacle is the terror which (has) created a lot of resentment in Israeli public opinion following the murders of 110 Israelis by terrorists -- mainly by Hamas and Islamic Jihad people -- since the Declaration of Principles was signed."
The ambassador was speaking of a declaration signed in Cairo two and one half years ago between representatives of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Yacobi also said terrorism cannot be excused because of the slow pace of the peace process. He said that since the Cairo declaration, Israeli Defense Forces have left the Gaza Strip and Jericho area, the PLO authority has been formed and nearly 15,000 policemen are now serving under that authority.

Yacobi said the settlement policy had changed "dramatically" under the present Israeli government and no new settlement has been established in the West Bank in the last two and a half years. He also said no Israeli government resources have been allocated to existing settlements.

"No confiscation of land was carried out since then for building new settlements. The only area that we are still building and will continue to do it are the houses, wooded parks and developments including infrastructure in the metropolitan area of Jerusalem as the Palestinians are doing, as the Arabs are doing. They are building houses and we are building houses. It is their right and it is our right as well."

Naser al-Qodwa, PLO representative at the United Nations, said the Israeli ambassador's remarks were nothing new and a Security Council debate on settlements is justified.

"What is important is that there are new units being built and there is an increase in settlement activities. Whole units are added to the existing settlements which means there are more settlers or occupiers on the Palestinian land. This is creating more complications and further aggravating the situation."

Barak Retires from IDF; Speculation He May Join Government

Former IDF Chief of Staff Ehud Barak formally retired from the Israel Defense Forces last week. Barak completed his term as Chief of Staff two months ago, and chose to cut short the traditional year of paid leave accorded to high ranking officers preparing to leave the IDF.

Senior Labor party officials said Barak's decision to opt for early retirement shows he has decided to enter the political arena. The officials believe Barak will be appointed to a ministerial post in the current Labor-led Government. By law, officers retiring from the IDF must wait 100 days before they can be appointed to a political post.

Officials said Barak may be appointed to the Cabinet as Minister without portfolio, charged with responsibility for internal security. According to the report, he may also have certain responsibilities in the Ministry of Defense, and may be given additional "political missions."

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