Newsletter : 6fax0212.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Feb. 12, 1996 V4, #26
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Elections Expected for Late May
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres has decided to call early
general elections. The present Labor Party led government has a
mandate until October, but at a news conference Sunday night, Peres
said elections will be held at the earliest possible date. The
decision to bring ahead general elections comes as no surprise.
Since the Palestinian elections Jan. 20, Israel's domestic
political activity has gone into high gear.
Peres took over as prime minister after the assassination last
November of Yitzhak Rabin. At his news conference Sunday, he spent
several minutes describing his last moments with Rabin before he
was shot. Peres called on the opposition to conduct a non-violent,
restrained campaign that, he said, will prove to the world that
Israel has returned to itself after the assassination.
Peres leads opposition Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the
polls. The most recent polls show over 50 percent for Peres to
between 30 and 36 percent for Netanyahu in what will be the first
direct election for prime minister in Israel. In parliamentary
elections, the polls give a Likud-led coalition only 36 seats to 45
for the labor party. Together with the left wing parties, Labor
would control a clear blocking majority in parliament.
A good part of this political advantage is thought to be the result
of a sympathy vote following Rabin's assassination. Sympathy that
may not last through October, the originally scheduled date for
Peres has enough support in parliament to move up the elections,
which are expected to take place in late May. The Likud opposition
says it will not oppose the move. Likud last week announced a
coalition with Tsomet, a right-wing secular party.
The main issue in the election campaign is sure to be the extremely
divisive peace process -- between Israel and the Palestinians and
Israel and Syria. Announcing his decision to call early elections,
Peres clearly indicated his party would continue the path begun
under Rabin, but Israeli government officials have already hinted
that tough issues are unlikely to be resolved during the election
Israel, U.S. Successfully Test Anti-Missile Laser System
The Pentagon announced that the first trial of a jointly developed
Israeli-American anti-missile laser beam system was successful. In
the test, the laser beam system succeeded in intercepting an
unarmed Katuysha rocket at short-range. The trial took place last
week at White Sands military base in New Mexico and was carried
out by the Strategic Space Command of the American Ground Corps.
Project Director Gerald Wilson said at the conclusion of the test,
"At this stage, we believe that we now possess all of the necessary
information to move on to the next stage in Project Nautilus."
Israel reportedly played a central role in the development of the
system, and the successful trial will result in an increased budget
for the project.
Israel Radio reported that the successful trial was an important
technological achievement, but quoted Defense Ministry sources as
saying the project still has a long way to go. Yediot Aharonot
reported that Israel is also cooperating with the U.S. in
developing an anti-ballistic missile system based on unmanned
planes equipped with sensors capable of identifying missile
launches. For this project, Israel is developing both unmanned
planes capable of remaining airborne for extended time periods as
well as interception missiles.
Israel Aircraft Industries has demonstrated that such planes can
stay airborne for approximately 50 hours.
Israel Considers Railway Connecting West Bank and Gaza
Israel is weighing a proposal to lay railway lines to connect the
Palestinian areas of self-rule in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The idea is being examined as an alternative to a previous
proposal, which is reportedly more expensive and complex, to
establish an elevated highway over the Negev. The highway had been
favored by Foreign Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority
Member Nabil Shaath.
Israeli Editorial Opinion
Ha'aretz notes that "the Likud's agreement is not necessary if
Peres secures the required majority" to dissolve the Knesset and
hold early elections, but reminds its readers that "the country's
political tradition has usually inclined towards the achieving of
early agreement on this matter between the coalition and
The paper supports draft legislation to allow all those who will be
18 by election day to vote, and calls for "patience on the part of
the public on the one hand, and restraint by the politicians on the
other," during the campaign.
The editors point out that "the results of the elections and the
government that will be established in their wake, will march
Israel towards the year 2000."
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