Newsletter : 5fax0518.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
May 18, 1995, V3, #92
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Israel and Jordan Planning Railroad Ties
Israel and Jordan are cooperating on a survey on the state of the
railroad networks between their Dead Sea factories and the port
cities of Haifa, Ashdod, Eilat and Aqaba. The survey will also
examine the possibility of constructing a rail line between
Jordan's second largest city, Irbid, and Haifa.
Arafat Won't Fight Jerusalem Land Confiscations
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
With the deadline for reaching agreement on the expansion of
Palestinian autonomy just six weeks away, and negotiations
progressing slowly, PLO leader Yasir Arafat is taking steps
apparently to improve the chances an agreement will be reached.
Israeli officials have been complaining for months that Arafat
needed to do more to crack down on violent groups which oppose the
peace accord. The Israelis said if autonomous areas were going to
be bases of easy operation for the violent groups, they were not
going to expand those areas. They essentially told Arafat to prove
he could control the violent groups in Gaza and Jericho, or he
would not get any more territory.
Arafat frequently says that security for Israelis is one of his top
priorities, but Israeli officials said his actions did not match
his words -- at least until recently.
In the last month or so, Israeli officials have praised what they
say is the increasing effectiveness of the Palestinian police,
and the actions of the security court which began operating in
Gaza last month. Several members of the violent groups have been
sentenced in trials which human rights groups criticize, but
which security experts praise.
In just the last few days, the court sentenced one senior leader
of the militant group, Hamas, to three years in prison and closed
the Hamas newspaper. In addition, the Palestinian police briefly
detained the newspaper's publisher, and interrogated one of the
top Hamas leaders, Mahmoud az-Zahhar. Then Tuesday night, the
Palestinian police reportedly raided five Hamas mosques and
confiscated anti-peace posters and leaflets.
In the past, analysts have said Arafat was reluctant to take such
steps against Hamas for fear that a negative public reaction could
bring down his Autonomy Authority. Now, that appears to have
Perhaps the most striking action that points to Arafat's desire to
forge ahead with the peace process is his effort to block a motion
in the Israeli parliament which is critical of the government's
recent land confiscation in east Jerusalem. Arafat made the move
even though he, the Arab world and many other countries have
criticized the confiscation. The no-confidence motion could have
brought down the government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had it
been supported by all the opposition members of parliament.
Nonetheless, the parliament member who introduced it, Israeli-Arab
Abdel Wahab Darawshe, says a senior Arafat aide called him and said
Arafat does not want that to happen.
Darawshe says Arafat was concerned that Israeli elections now,
rather than a year and a half from now as scheduled, would be more
likely to bring a conservative government to power which would not
be willing to expand autonomy. Darawshe says his Arab Democratic
Party will review its motion on Friday and will decide whether to
withdraw it before a vote, which would be expected next week.
A senior Western analyst in Israel, who is familiar with the
thinking among officials both in Gaza and in Jerusalem, confirms
that although Arafat is angry about the Jerusalem issue and wants
some action taken, he has decided not to make it a major issue in
this critical period of negotiations with Israel.
The issue overshadowed a round of talks in Cairo this week, but
the analyst, who requested anonymity, says in general Arafat
wants to stay focused on meeting the July 1 deadline for agreement
on how to expand autonomy. The analyst says Israeli leaders want
to do the same. He says the Palestinian leader still has more work
to do, but the analyst believes Arafat's attitude toward the
Jerusalem issue and his crackdown on the violent groups are
evidence of what the analyst calls "a very important change for the
better." And the analyst believes Israeli leaders, and US
officials, are taking note.
Sperm-preserving material invented
In the fertility lab of Bar Ilan University, a new material has
been prepared for preserving human sperm, permitting infertile men
to have periodic examinations whose results can even be sent abroad
The lab is already providing the material and process to 300
doctors and clinics in Israel and carrying out 1,200 tests a year.
It will be offering the service to doctors abroad.
The system allows the isolation of single sperm cells which are
capable of fertilizing an ovum "in vitro" and are withdrawn from
men who had hitherto been thought to be infertile. Prof. Binyamin
Bartov reports that 34 men diagnosed as infertile nevertheless had
fertile sperm extracted from them through electronic microscopic
scans and a cell centrifuge. The fertilization was by micro
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