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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       May 24, 1995, V3, #96
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Heat Wave Descends on Israel

A heat wave has descended upon Israel with temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit across the country. Temperatures in Jerusalem are forecast to reach 101 F, with 104 F expected near the Sea of Galilee. The mercury is anticipated to rise to a scorching 114 F in Eilat.

Israeli Peace Politics

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israel's decision to suspend a controversial land confiscation in east Jerusalem is the subject of much analysis, regarding both the reasons for the policy reversal and its impact on the peace process. It seemed like a humiliating moment Monday afternoon when Foreign Minister Shimon Peres climbed up onto the stage in the Israeli Knesset chamber and announced the government's capitulation, with dozens of opposition members heckling him.

Peres blamed the main Jewish opposition party, the Likud, for forcing a retreat on the Jerusalem issue, even though it supports, in principle, the land confiscation the Labor party government was trying to put forth.

But it was the Labor party which actually had to make the policy reversal, and it is the Labor party which is facing the Palestinians in talks on expanding autonomy, with a July 1 deadline appearing very close, indeed.

The government's decision appeared to be the result of domestic politics, after a period of several weeks during which Israel refused to give in to international pressure. Some observers say the government could have survived the no-confidence motion, but instead Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin used the opportunity to reverse a policy which had caused more problems for the peace process than it was worth.

Among those with that view is a leftist member of the ruling coalition, Dedi Zucker of the Meretz party. "He was looking for a ladder to go down from the very high tree that he climbed on when he confiscated the land, and I guess there was the appropriate opportunity to settle this very sad issue of confiscating land in Jerusalem."

But at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, political science Professor Gadi Wolfsfeld says Monday's no-confidence motion did not provide Israeli leaders with an acceptable motivation for a policy reversal they wanted to make. "The cynical view that it was all planned in advance and all very, very convenient is a little too easy and seems just typical of the kind of cynical analysis that we like to do."

Wolfsfeld says retreating on the Jerusalem land issue was the last thing the government wanted to do, and it only made the move when faced with its own collapse.


The deadline for agreeing on the terms for expanding Palestinian autonomy is less than six weeks away. Some in the opposition say giving in on the Jerusalem issue will make it more difficult for the government to hold firm on other issues in the talks -- most importantly security arrangements and the amount of territory which will go to Palestinian control in the next phase. But other analysts say that having made a major concession on Jerusalem, Israeli negotiators will have an easier time convincing Palestinian leaders they cannot make many more such concessions.

Wolfsfeld of Hebrew University says this issue, like so many others in the long and often difficult peace talks, will not have overriding importance. "I think both sides are far too experienced and far too tough to let those kinds of things affect (them). The question of when they're going to blink and how they're going to blink is basically going to be determined by long-range interests."

Israel Offers to Finance Repairs Following Shooting at Jaffa Church

IDF soldier Chaniel Koren entered the Church of Saint Anthony in Jaffa Monday evening and opened fire indiscriminately. Though no injuries were reported, the church suffered extensive damage. Koren was taken away by a policeman and a church staff member before an angry crowd nearly attacked him.

Tel Aviv District Police Commander, Maj. General Gabi Last, said Koren does not belong to any extreme right-wing groups. He also said a preliminary police investigation has shed little light on why the soldier began shooting.

Minister of Religious Affairs, Professor Shimon Shetreet expressed profound shock over the attack. Shetreet condemned the incident, saying "particularly the Jewish people, who have been the victims of pogroms and attacks in the past, must be especially committed to the protection of all houses of prayer and holy sites belonging to other religions."

During a visit today to the site of the shooting, Shetreet said the Government is willing to finance repairs to the church. Shetreet was accompanied on his visit by leaders of the Christian community in Israel and the Vatican Ambassador. Sephardi Chief Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi Doron strongly condemned Monday's incident, calling any attempt to cause injury, especially in a house of prayer, abhorrent.


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