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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

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 Jerusalem.

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 deal with. 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 the process. 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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