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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      July 13, 1995, V3, #128
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Peres: Jerusalem Never an Arab Capital

Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans has questioned Israel's refusal to recognize Palestinian claims in Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said: "Jerusalem has never been an Arab capital, and the Jews have never had another capital. We have a demographic majority in the city. We will never agree to a solution of two capitals in the city, and there is no historical or demographic justification for that."

Rabbis Tell IDF Soldiers to Disobey Orders

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

A group of Israeli rabbis has issued a ruling in effect urging Israeli soldiers to disobey orders to withdraw from the West Bank. The ruling issued Wednesday says it is a violation of Jewish law to participate in the dismantling of Israeli army bases or settlements from the West Bank, which religious Jews consider part of the Jewish homeland. The ruling says Israeli military facilities cannot be handed over to non-Jews because such a move would endanger lives and the Jewish state.

According to the decree, there is no difference between the evacuation of a base and the evacuation of a settlement. The rabbis' announcement caused a political storm evoking condemnations from politicians of all ideological persuasions.

Calling on all Israelis to reject the decree which was issued by a group which does not represent the majority of rabbis in Israel, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said, "It would be inconceivable that we would turn Israel into a banana republic."

Knesset members from Likud, Tsomet, and Moledet all spoke out against the decision. Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel must protect the principle of military orders in the IDF and there is no place for disobedience.

It is not clear just how big an impact the ruling will have. There are no reliable statistics on how many soldiers are religious, and there would be no way to know how many people would follow the ruling.

But the ruling has thrown another potential obstacle in the way of the Israeli government's plans to withdraw from large areas of the West Bank during the next two years.

Israeli settlers in the West Bank have staged an increasing series of protests aimed at blocking the withdrawal. Senior army officers say any insubordination will be dealt with harshly, and they say they can maintain discipline and carry out the government's orders.

Vanunu Appears in Court

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

One of Israel's most famous prisoners -- former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu -- had another dramatic court appearance Tuesday evening, but came away with only some of what he was asking for.

Police took extraordinary measures to try to prevent reporters from even catching a glimpse of Vanunu, bringing him to court in a van with painted windows and parking it just a few inches from the building's entrance. But in spite of efforts by a policeman who raised his arms and tried to block Vanunu's face with a mobile telephone, photographers managed to snap his picture and he shouted to reporters, "i will fight," before being ushered into the courthouse.

Vanunu was asking for an easing of the conditions of his confinement. On Tuesday, the court agreed to improve arrangements for family visits and to allow him to have a computer and to make two phone calls a month monitored by prison officials. But it deferred judgement on his request for more contact with other prisoners.

Israel's intelligence service kidnapped Vanunu in Rome in 1986 and brought him to Israel for a secret trial. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison for giving information about Israel's nuclear program to the London Times newspaper. Israel says he must remain in prison, and his contacts must be strictly controlled, because he still knows things which could harm the country's security.

Transfer of Power Agreement Reached

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have reached agreement on the transfer of power in eight spheres of civilian administration throughout the West Bank. Israel and the Palestinians are continuing to transfer such powers although they have not yet reached agreement on the withdrawal of Israeli forces or the expansion of full autonomy.

The agreement was reported by Israeli and Palestinian newspapers, and confirmed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The reports say the accord covers local government, commerce and industry, labor affairs, agriculture, postal service, statistics and fuel and natural gas. Israel gave the Palestinians control of six other areas nearly a year ago, including education, taxation and tourism.

One aspect of those talks is how the Palestinians will enforce their civilian authority in areas where the Palestinian police do not operate. Such issues are to be settled by July 25 in what is called an interim agreement, which is to remain in effect until 1999, by which time a permanent agreement is supposed to be ready.

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