Newsletter : 5fax0517.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
May 17, 1995, V3, #91
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Arabs Want UN Condemnation of Israel
By Laurie Kassman (Cairo)
Arab League Secretary-General Esmet Abdel Meguid is in Morocco to
talk with King Hassan about organizing an Arab summit to unify Arab
response against Israel's latest land confiscation in east
Jerusalem. Arab states have condemned the decision and are
lobbying for a tough resolution in the UN Security Council.
Abdel-Meguid says he is gathering support for a mini-summit of the
Arab League to reconfirm Arab and Islamic rights to Jerusalem.
Arab states are furious over Israel's confiscation of what they say
is Arab land in east Jerusalem and want to unify their response.
Arab leaders have condemned the action as a violation of
international law and the 1993 Palestinian Autonomy deal.
The opposition press in Egypt calls on Arab states to stop any
efforts to normalize relations with Israel. Earlier in the week,
Jordanian politicians warned that the Israeli action could damage
bilateral relations in spite of the peace treaty signed last
The explosive issue of Jerusalem's final status is not supposed
to be put on the negotiating table before next year. But the
Palestinians complain that Israel has been slowly changing the
city's demographics by increasing the Jewish population in
traditional Arab areas.
Israel sees the Holy City as its undivided capital. The
Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of a future
Israeli-Syrian Talks in Deep Freeze
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin says talks with Syria are, in
effect, frozen, and Israel's chief negotiator with Syria has denied
reports that the United States is trying to break the deadlock with
a proposal of its own.
Rabin told a committee of the Israeli parliament Tuesday he will
not accept Syria's demand for equal security arrangements on each
side of their border. Rabin said if Syria does not change its
position there will be no progress toward peace.
Israeli officials say they cannot remove or reduce forces in as
large an area as Syria can because Israel is so much smaller than
Syria. But Syria's foreign minister said in Washington Monday
Israel must do so because its armed forces are so much stronger
than Syria's. On Tuesday, the Syrian government newspaper
criticized earlier comments by Rabin, in which he said Israel wants
peace with Syria but not at what he called "any price." The
newspaper called that remark a continuation of "Israeli obstinacy."
Meanwhile, Israel's chief negotiator with Syria has denied reports
that US officials have given Syria a proposal of their own for
bridging the gap on security arrangements. Ambassador Itamar
Rabinovich told Israeli army radio there is no such proposal.
Sinai Border Divides Palestinian Families
By Laurie Kassman (Rafah, Sinai)
Next Monday, the first four of 70 Palestinian refugee families will
cross the border into Gaza near the north Sinai desert town of
Rafah to return home after spending some 13 years stranded on the
wrong side of the border. Ever since Israel and Egypt signed a
peace treaty in 1979, more than 4,000 Palestinians from Gaza have
been living in the (so-called) Canada Refugee Camp on the Egyptian
side of the border, waiting to be repatriated. Their story is one
of bureaucratic and political snags and a lack of money.
A barbed-wire fence and 40 meters of no-man's land have separated
Egypt and Israel since the 1979 peace treaty. The border split the
Sinai town of Rafah in two. Nearly 5,000 Palestinian refugees were
stranded in Egypt.
The Palestinians were moved to Canada Camp in 1971 when the Israeli
military destroyed their homes to widen the streets of Rafah.
Israel then controlled the Sinai (and all of Rafah), and simply
moved the Palestinians to the other side of town. After the new
border fence went up in 1982, they were told they would return to
Gaza in six months.
Israel promised to provide land and Egypt pledged to pay each
family $12,000 to help build new homes in Gaza.
Ron Wilkinson, spokesman for UNRWA -- the UN relief agency that
deals with Palestinian refugees -- says a lack of money and
political will stalled the mission from the start.
The agreement stipulates that families cannot move until their
new homes are built. Some say $12,000 compensation is not enough.
Many families borrow or try to do most of the work themselves.
Each week the head of the family is allowed to cross the border
with two family members to work on the houses. The 70 families
now scheduled to move this month started the process more than a
The next batch of 35 families will not be allowed to start their
processing until the 700 people in this group all have been
Twenty-seven-year-old Ibrahim teaches English in the camp school
while he waits for his family's turn to go home. He knows it will
be hard to find work in Gaza but he is tired of living in what he
calls a waiting room. Ibrahim and his extended family of 20 are not
on the list yet and he does not know when his time will come.
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