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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       May 15, 1995, V3, #89
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Human Rights Group Accuses Israel

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

A leading Israeli human rights group has accused Israel of systematically blocking Palestinian development in east Jerusalem, since it captured the area from Jordan in 1967. The charge comes in the wake of a controversy about the latest Israeli plans to confiscate property in east Jerusalem for new housing, almost exclusively for Jews. But, Jerusalem correspondent Al Pessin reports Palestinians still hope to regain at least part of the city as their capital through negotiations scheduled to begin next year.

The human rights group B'Tselem says only 12-percent of the housing built in Jerusalem since 1967 has been for Palestinians, although they are 28-percent of the population.

The group says the result has been an explosion in the Jewish population in east Jerusalem to nearly equal the Arab population of 160,000, causing severe overcrowding and generally poor conditions in Palestinian neighborhoods. The human rights report also says Israeli authorities are planning to surround and isolate Palestinian areas by building Jewish neighborhoods and designating adjacent land as urban green zones and prohibiting construction in them.

Those are among the findings in a report resulting from several months of investigation, including field work and reviews of official Israeli documents. The study's author is Eitan Felner. "Since the annexation of east Jerusalem in 1967, all Israeli governments have adopted a policy of systematic and deliberate discrimination against the city's Palestinian population in all matters relating to expropriation of land, planning, development, and housing."

Felner says the situation is a result of a basic Israeli policy followed by both labor and conservative governments for the past 28-years. "The planning authorities in Jerusalem have set their sights on one central goal, and that is creating a demographic and geographic reality that will preempt any future attempt to question Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem."

Israeli officials paint a different picture. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres acknowledges Israel set out in 1967 to make all of Jerusalem an Israeli city. But, he says that was done with the intention of also treating the city's Palestinian residents equitably.
"We have to take care of the needs of the Arab people as we do of the needs of the Jewish people. If we are in charge of the city, as we are, we must be in charge in an equal and fair way with all citizens. Neither are we willing to introduce discrimination, nor will anybody else support it."

Peres says recent Israeli land confiscations in east Jerusalem have been misunderstood.

But, Felner says if what Peres says were true, the statistics cited in his report would not exist.

"In establishing the Jewish neighborhoods in the annexed areas, the Israeli governments promoted and continue to promote extensive building and enormous investments there. But at the same time their acts and omissions to choke development and building for the Palestinian, which is perceived as a demographic threat to Israeli control of the city, is also part of this policy."

Felner's report calls for the Israeli government to reverse its policy by stopping the construction of Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and by allowing Palestinians to build more. But Israeli officials say they are not going to do that, and although they have agreed to discuss Jerusalem's status with the Palestinians, they do not plan for that status to change.

Arabs May Call for Summit on Acreage

By Laurie Kassman (Cairo)

Arab League Secretary General Esmet Abdel Meguid is rounding up support for an Arab summit to deal with Israel's controversial confiscation of land in east Jerusalem. The 22-nation Arab League has warned that the Israeli action endangers the entire peace process. The future status of Jerusalem is to be negotiated next year.

Israel's government will not reverse the decision to confiscate less than 150 acres of land in east Jerusalem, but Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin says he will not do it again.

For Arab states in the region, that is not good enough. The head of the Arab League wants to hold a summit to discuss the Israeli action.

Abdel Meguid told reporters he will consult with Morocco's King Hassan, who heads the committee on Jerusalem. King Hassan wrote an angry letter of protest to Rabin over the land seizure, calling it a bombshell for the peace process.

The Arab League demanded an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council. But few Arab diplomats expect much to come out of the UN debate this week after the US ambassador said she would oppose any resolution. Washington considers it a bilateral matter to be resolved between Israel and the Palestinians.

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