Newsletter : 5fax0920.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Sept. 20, 1995, V3, #173
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Pilgrimages to Israel Increase
Tourism Minister Uzi Baram has concluded arrangements with
Christian groups, especially in the "Bible Belt" in the southern
U.S., for increased religious pilgrimages to Israel. It was
announced that there has been a sharp increase in tourism to Israel
from Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia and
Iran: Act of War if Hijacked Plane and People are Not Returned
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
The 177 passengers and crew members of an Iranian airliner have
spent the night in Israel after being hijacked Tuesday morning and
spending the rest of the day at the center of a diplomatic dispute
and a criminal investigation.
An Israeli government spokesman says the decision was made to keep
the passengers overnight because the interrogation of two hijackers
and the airplane's crew was continuing. The spokesman also said it
might have been dangerous for the pilot to try to fly late at night
after a long, tiring day. Portable beds were moved into the
building at an Israeli air force base, where the passengers had sat
and waited all afternoon.
Their aircraft -- a Boeing 707 -- was hijacked by a flight
attendant wielding a pistol while on a domestic flight Tuesday
morning. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin says he allowed the
plane to land because it was running low on fuel and had already
been denied permission to land in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Israel
Radio broadcast a tape of part of the pilot's conversation with an
Israeli air traffic controller.
(Controller) Make a left turn to heading 1-8-0 (degrees), maintain
at 2-4-0 (altitude). (Pilot) make a left turn to heading 1-8-0,
and he advised, sir, we are hijacked and we are in a distress
The pilot said he barely had enough fuel to make it to Tel Aviv's
airport, and he would have to make a crash landing if he were not
allowed into Israeli airspace. Rabin gave permission for the plane
to land at the Ovda Air Force base in the Negev desert near Eilat
in Southern Israel, closer to the plane's location and far from any
"I did not want to be responsible for a plane crash," Rabin told
The pilot requested and received specific directions to the base,
saying he did not have any maps of Israel or its airports on board
to guide him.
On the aircraft, the passengers knew they had been hijacked but did
not have any additional information for several hours. They
reported they did not even know where they were until shortly
before they left the airplane, two hours after landing. The
passengers -- including several children and more than 20 women
in black chadors -- were taken to a terminal building at the air
base where they were checked by Israeli military doctors and given
food and drinks.
Israeli officials say the hijacker first requested political asylum
in the United States, and then said he wanted to stay in Israel.
Five other passengers have also reportedly asked not to be returned
to Iran. A senior government spokesman says Rabin will decide when
the plane will return to Iran and what will happen to the hijacker
and the others who want to stay.
Iran has accused Israel of planning the hijacking, and demanded
that the plane and all the people on it be returned. If not, Iran
has said, it would view Israel's actions as an act of war.
Some in Israel have said the government should try to trade the
plane and its passengers for an Israeli airman who has been missing
for nine years and is believed to be held by Iran. But officials
have said they do not plan to play politics with the hijacked
Hebron Negotiations Enter Fourth Day
By David Gollust (VOA-Cairo)
A marathon set of negotiations on the extension of Palestinian
self-rule in the West Bank is moving into a fourth day at the
Egyptian Red Sea resort of Taba. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon
Peres and PLO leader Yasir Arafat have been meeting virtually
around the clock to try to get an agreement, but the talks are
Arafat was reported ready to leave the negotiations late Tuesday
night -- angry over Israeli troop withdrawal proposals for the West
Bank that he viewed as insufficient. But after reportedly
consulting by phone with US Secretary of State Warren Christopher
and Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, Arafat decided to remain
in Taba for what will be a fourth day of grueling talks.
The two sides have been meeting virtually around-the-clock since
early Sunday with the hope of completing the long-delayed autonomy
accord in time for a White House signing ceremony tomorrow.
It appears increasingly unlikely now that goal can be met, with
neither side able to predict when the extraordinary set of meetings
Considerable progress was reported Tuesday on what has been the
main stumbling block in the negotiations -- security arrangements
for the West Bank town of Hebron where several hundred Jewish
settlers live among more than 100,000 Palestinians.
Israel is said to have offered a phased withdrawal of its army
troops from the town, which has religious significance for both
Jews and Muslims, while Israeli and Palestinian police would
continue to provide security around the settlements.
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