Newsletter : 5fax0524.txt
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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
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
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
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
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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