Newsletter : 5fax0913.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Sept. 13, 1995, V3, #168
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Jerusalemites Shuttle to Pray at Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs
What started as periodically hiring buses to shuttle people from
the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem to the Tomb of the Patriarchs
in Hebron has grown to be a daily shuttle for any Jerusalemite who
would like to pray there. On Fridays they have between 15 and 20
buses making the trip with passenger pick up points throughout
Peace Process is Two Years Old Today
By Art Chimes (VOA-Washington) & Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Two years ago today, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat signed the historic Declaration of
Principles at the White House. Since then, Palestinians have slowly
been assuming responsibility for some aspects of life in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip. A key Israeli lawmaker visiting Washington
says economic development in the Palestinian territories can help
advance the peace process.
Ori Orr is a retired general who, as a member of Rabin's Labor
Party, now chairs the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in
Israel's Knesset. He told reporters in Washington the economic
situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is improving -- and that,
he says, is key to reducing attacks on Israeli targets by
extremists who oppose the Israel - PLO peace deal.
"You can not fight the terror. You can not take 900,000
Palestinians and put them behind electrical fence and say you are
going to solve the terror problem. No. We should give them a better
standard of living. It's not only our job. I think mainly it is a
Palestinian job or the world community, European community and the
World Bank and all of them. Now they are doing much better than
one year ago."
Palestinian elections are expected to take place around the end
of the year. Orr says less than one-third of the voters will cast
ballots for candidates -- mainly from Islamic groups -- that are
opposed to the peace process. "According to our intelligence
information, and even the Palestinian polls, we believe the people
that support the peace process are going to win the election."
Orr admits the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip remain long-term roadblocks on the way to
peace. One particular problem is the small band of radical
settlers who live in the middle of the Arab city of Hebron.
"Now, we'll find any solution to give them maximum protection. But
in the long run it will be an obstacle. I know it. But as I said
in the beginning, we have time. Let's use our time. We can not
do it now. We can not do it now."
As for Jerusalem, Orr says 99-percent of Israelis across the
political spectrum say Jerusalem should remain Israel's undivided
and eternal capital. Palestinians, however, want to establish
their capital in Jerusalem too. Without saying how he thought the
dispute should or could be resolved, General Orr said that as the
peace process takes hold and the two sides become more confident in
their partnership, the Jerusalem question may be a little easier to
Israeli officials tend to highlight the successes while Palestinian
officials emphasize the problems and delays. And while Israeli
officials blame Palestinian terrorism for delays in expanding
Palestinian autonomy, Palestinian officials say Israel has
over-reacted to the violence and is using it as an excuse to slow
Israel's newly appointed Minister of Economics, Yossi Beilin, was
one of the architects of the original agreements in many long
secret meetings in Norway.
"We made a revolution, and the success of the agreement in many
aspects is almost unbelievable. The main obstacle is terrorism,
otherwise, of course, it could have been much better."
Nabil abu Irdeineh is Arafat's personal secretary, and has been
intimately involved in efforts to implement the existing agreements
and to negotiate the next one.
"We respect our signature, and we are still supporting the peace
process 100 percent, and we ask the Israeli government to honor the
agreement they signed with the PLO. And as far as you know, a lot
of things have not been implemented, like delaying the elections.
A lot of things should have been done in the last year and the
Israelis delayed them under the cover of security."
Although the two men offer distinctly different views of the peace
process to date, they are both committed to seeing it through. And
both believe the difficult issues blocking further agreement can be
solved so Palestinian autonomy can be extended beyond Gaza and
Jericho into most of the West Bank.
Those issues include the future status of the tense West Bank town
of Hebron and the sharing of scarce water and electricity between
Palestinians and Israelis. Abu Irdeineh warns that if negotiators
fail to solve the remaining difficult issues, and soon, the peace
made in the past two years will be in danger.
(Editor's note: as noted previously in Israel Faxx, the Rabin
administration has sent top military and government leaders to the
US to influence American Jewish public opinion)
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