Newsletter : 6fax0123.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Jan. 23, 1996 V4, #12
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Terrorists Threaten Americans Worldwide
A Egyptian terrorist organization vows attacks against Americans in
revenge for the life prison sentence given to Egyptian cleric Sheik
Omar Abdel Rahman last week by a judge in New York. The Egyptian
Muslim group says Americans have chosen war with Islam and for that
the group will "blow for blow" respond by attacking American
interests and people. Terrorism expert Robert Cupperman says law
enforcement agencies should take the militant group's threats
The Future of Autonomous Palestine
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
With the Palestinian elections now over, and the results endorsed by
international observers, attention is focusing on the new
Palestinian Council and how its members might interact with the new
president in running the Palestinian autonomous areas.
There is no Constitution to define its powers and duties. The
Israeli-Palestinian agreement which created the council says it
will have power over all spheres of authority which are part of
Palestinian autonomy. That means such things as education, taxes,
health care, and many other ordinary government functions,
including control of the (Palestinian) police.
But those are powers which the newly elected president, Yasir
Arafat, has held by himself since Palestinian self-rule began a
year and a half ago. And analysts say it will be a matter of
time and personalities that will determine just how the new
president and council divide their powers.
Most experts believe Arafat will be as powerful as he was before,
and perhaps more so because his Fatah party will control the new
council. But others speak of a new Palestinian political dynamic,
created by having an elected council.
Tel Aviv University Prof. Mark Heller points out that, although
Arafat will have a majority in the council, there will also be
several outspoken and often critical independents and Islamists,
who will have a new, prominent platform for their views.
"I don't think it's going to be a rubber stamp because there are
some people in there who already in the past have shown their
willingness to talk, if not to act, independently of Arafat."
But Palestinian researcher Khalil Shkaki argues that while
well-known independents such as the former peace negotiators
Haider Abdel-Shafi and Hanan Ashrawi might make fiery speeches in
the new council chamber, they will not be politically strong enough
to have much real impact.
"Hanan Ashrawi is one of the most prominent Palestinian
politicians. She is very critical of Arafat and she will be a very
critical voice in the council. But she isn't a political force
opposed to Arafat, or Fatah or the peace process."
Some in Arafat's own party say even they will be more independent
now that they have been elected by local constituencies. The Fatah
leader on the West Bank, Marwan Barghuti, who won a council seat
from Ramallah Saturday, says members of the party will be tough on
the leadership, wanting to demonstrate that their loyalty to their
constituents comes first. And he says those constituents want the
new council members to do a lot.
So the answer about the role of the new Palestinian Council is, at
this stage, still a little uncertain. The council has much to do,
a solid political majority, several outspoken independent members,
and much authority -- at least on paper. But no one is quite sure
how much power the council will actually have, how effective it
will be, or even how it will work. Those aspects will only begin
to become clear when the just-elected members formally take their
seats about a month from now.
Tunisia and Israel Move Toward Diplomatic Relations
By Ron Pemstein (VOA-Washington)
Israel and Tunisia have agreed to open interest sections in Tunis
and Tel Aviv by April 15. The agreement was announced after more
than one year's delay.
This weekend's Palestinian elections and the withdrawal of Israeli
troops from major towns in the West Bank has made Tunisia confident
enough to open an interest section in Tel Aviv and to let Israel
open its office in Tunis.
This is considered the first step toward full diplomatic relations
and the two sides first agreed to exchange interest sections in
1994 when then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met here with Tunisian
Foreign Minister Habib ben Yahia and Secretary of State Warren
Israeli Foreign Minister Ehud Barak has replaced Israel's current
prime minister and he and ben Yahia had separate meetings with
Christopher and then all three ministers met together. Afterward,
the Tunisian foreign minister explained his government's gradual
"Tunisia believes in harmonization between normalization process
and the peace process itself. Two days ago we had the elections and
you have seen the results. This is a historical event and we hope
that peace between Israel and Syria is around the corner. So this
gradual approach of Tunisia will be constant and we hope that the
comprehensive peace will be soon so you will see full relations
between Israel and Tunisia."
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