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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Nov. 13, 1995, V3, #207
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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New Israeli Population Figures

Israel's population is nearing 6 million, with figures for this year estimated at 5.75 million. More than 1.6 million of the population is younger than 14 years old, and more than 500,000 are over 65.

IDF Withdraws from Jenin

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jenin)

Israeli troops withdrew Monday from the West Bank town of Jenin, and Palestinian police took over. It was the first major step in implementing the latest Israeli/Palestinian peace accord.

The first job Palestinian police had in Jenin before dawn Monday was clearing several-hundred young men off a road so the last of the Israeli troops could leave. It was about five o'clock in the morning when the Israelis finally left in about 15 jeeps and trucks, escorted by Palestinian police.

As more bus-loads of Palestinian police arrived, some of them tried out their English, shouting at reporters through an open window. "We are very, very happy. Very, very happy. We are very happy. Very, very happy."

The Palestinian police commander, Gen. Nasser Youssef, toured the city's military headquarters shortly after the Israelis had left. Youssef said there could be no greater happiness than to see the beginning of the expansion of Palestinian self rule. He also gave credit to the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who negotiated the autonomy deal and was assassinated 10 days ago by an Israeli who opposes it. The general said he is confident acting Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres will continue to implement the agreement.

A senior Israeli officer now operating from the outskirts of Jenin, Col. Moshe El'Ad, says after 28-years of being in charge and being hated, the emphasis now is on cooperation. "It is not so easy to coordinate in a very complicated situation. Me and my colleagues from the Palestinian side, we are in the heart of this problem. So, we are aware that we have to succeed and keep on with our aim."

Jenin is the first West Bank town to gain autonomy under the latest Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Four others are to follow, plus part of the city of Hebron. Some 450 villages are to gain partial autonomy, under a complex scheme of joint Israeli and Palestinian responsibility. The process is to be completed by the end of the year, and Palestinian elections are scheduled for January.

250,000 Attend Memorial Rally for Yitzhak Rabin

Approximately a quarter of a million people gathered outside of Tel Aviv's City Hall in a memorial rally Sunday night for the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin marking the end of shiva, the week-long period of mourning.

During the rally, Tel Aviv Mayor Roni Milo announced that the plaza had been renamed Yitzhak Rabin Square from Kings of Israel Square. Security at the event was high, with 2,000 security personnel on hand from the police, border police, civil guard, and the General Security Service's division for the protection of dignitaries.

Serving as the keynote speaker during the rally, Leah Rabin addressed her departed husband. "Yitzhak, you know that I always have looked at the glass half full. So today I want to believe that the terrible tragedy which has befallen us is not in vain.

"Now our wonderful youth and the entire country knows that it is forbidden to remain silent. Now the silent majority will be transformed into a majority that is no longer silent and will reinforce your path toward peace," she said.

High Court Removes Barrier for Reform Jewish Converts

The High Court of Justice handed down a decision Sunday that persons need not obtain the approval of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel when requesting the Interior Ministry to register them as Jews.

The decision -- which was made by a seven-justice panel -- removes the only legal basis on which the Interior Ministry may refuse to recognize conversions performed by Reform rabbis.

However, the High Court of Justice refrained from explicitly instructing the Interior Ministry to recognize Reform conversions for recording purposes, explaining that the Knesset should propose legislation concerning this issue.

The Reform Movement in Israel called the decision "a historic breakthrough on the path toward full recognition of Reform conversions performed in Israel."

"Gulf War Disease Syndrome" Deciphered in Israel

Israeli researchers think they have the explanation for the mysterious Gulf War Disease Syndrome which affected thousands of soldiers in the Allied coalition armies during the Gulf War less than five years ago.

They complained of sleeplessness and loss of concentration, loss of weight and depression. The US Army approached Professor Hermona Shorak, head of the Life Sciences Faculty, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Professor Haim Zechut, of the Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, to carry out special research to discover the cause of the disease.

The professors have published a report in the scientific publication "Nature Medicine" indicating that some of the symptoms of the soldiers could have been caused by the medication Pyridostigmine. It is a drug against chemical weapons given to the US troops in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

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