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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                     Nov. 15, 1995, V3, #208
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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A former Nazi officer accused of a massacre in Italy during World War 2 has lost a last-ditch attempt to block his extradition from Argentina. Argentina's Supreme Court rejected an appeal to overturn its ruling last week that Erich Priebke be sent to Italy for trial. The former Nazi army captain is charged in the slaying of 335 Italians in caves near Rome in 1944. The Germans shot the victims in reprisal for the slaying of 33 German soldiers by Italian partisans.

Peres Doesn't Mind Hamas Entering Politics

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Acting Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres visited the West Bank Tuesday. The trip included a stop at the new joint Israeli-Palestinian liaison office on the edge of the city of Jenin, which gained autonomy Monday. After the tour, Peres again committed himself to expanding Palestinian autonomy, as promised, and on schedule.

As part of the new, tight, security regime for Israeli leaders, reporters were barred from most of Peres' visit to the West Bank. But officials said he flew over the Jenin area and visited the joint headquarters.

Later, at a news conference on a hillside near an Israeli settlement, Peres said he wanted to see how the first stage of the new agreement was going, and he pledged to complete the redeployment on schedule before Christmas. "It is a very delicate issue because it is a highly sensitive mixture of political considerations and security needs. We wanted to do it so as not to disturb the normal life of the people in the West Bank, whether Jewish people or Arab people, and then to remain true to the need to guarantee security for all the inhabitants who live here, while not missing the main purpose, which is to enable the Palestinians to go and have free elections, democratic elections on Jan. 20."

Peres also said Israel would accept participation in those elections by the militant group Hamas, if it ends its attacks on Israelis. "We are going to distinguish between politics and terror. If the Hamas will abandon terror and will go into politics, then it's no longer our business which way they will go."

Peres also said he wants multi-level, multi-issue talks with Syria in order to move toward a peace agreement. Earlier, in an interview on CNN, Peres said he wants to move as quickly as possible with the Syrians but he expressed some disappointment that Syria's president had not sent a message of condolence on the death of Yitzhak Rabin.

Still, there are reports the chief US mediator will visit the region next week, and Peres said he saw the possibility of renewing the stalled talks with Syria even before the Rabin assassination.

Political Process Starts Again in Israel

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

The political process has begun in Israel for forming a new government, following the week of mourning for assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. President Ezer Weizman spent the day meeting with members of political parties, and will continue today. By evening he is expected to invite Acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres to form a new government.

Although the Labor Party coalition holds only a slim parliamentary majority, the main opposition party has said it will not oppose Peres' government when it is presented. The opposition leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, says Israel's government should not be changed by an assassin's bullet.

New Statistics Published for 1995

According to an annual statistical report published by the Central Bureau for Statistics, Israel's population at the beginning of November stands at 5.6 million people.

The demographic data is included in the 1995 Statistical Abstract of Israel, which was published Monday and includes hundreds of thousands of figures on life in Israel.

Many of the figures are clearly connected to the large wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union, which caused a large growth in all areas of the economy and raised the average level of education.

The life expectancy for Israeli men increased in the last decade from 72.8 years to 74.7 years, and also rose from 76.2 years to 78.4 years for women.

The statistical abstract identifies the more than 500,000 Israelis of Moroccan descent as the largest ethnicity. Approximately a quarter of a million Israelis are of Polish, Romanian, and Iraqi descent.

In 1994, 114,500 babies were born in Israel, a rate lower than most of the 1980s. The average woman in Israel is expected to give birth to 2.9 children, whereas the same figure was more than three children during 1989-90.

In 1994, the number of Israeli residents in the territories numbered 128,000 -- approximately 2 percent of Israel's total population.

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