Newsletter : 6fax0220.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Feb. 20, 1996 V4, #32
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Parties Get Tougher as Electioneering Starts
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel's public security minister has said he will no longer allow
foreign officials to visit the Palestinian Authority office in east
Jerusalem. The move addresses an emotional issue for both sides,
just as the Israeli election campaign is getting started.
Public Security Minister Moshe Shahal sent a letter to the Foreign
Ministry, asking it to ensure foreign officials do not visit the
Palestinian offices in a building known as Orient House.
Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 war and annexed it. But
the Palestinians want it to be their future capital. In recent
years, the PLO, and later the Palestinian Autonomy Authority, have
operated offices in Orient House, carrying out a variety of
functions including demographic research and press contacts.
The office has always been controversial in Israel, and the public
security minister's announcement came just after the largest
opposition party announced the future of Jerusalem will be its main
issue in the campaign for elections expected in early June.The
party said if elected it would close Orient House.
The Public Security Ministry spokesman, Eric Bar Chen, would not
comment on the political implications of the minister's
announcement. But he said Shahal has long opposed the flow of
foreign ministers to Orient House. Bar Chen says the meetings hurt
Israel's position on the Jerusalem issue, tend to make Orient House
into a kind of Palestinian Foreign Ministry, and violate one of the
Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements.
"Any official activity carried out by the Palestinian
Authority must be carried out from within the territory
under the Palestinian Authority, and not from anywhere else. This
includes, of course, Gaza, Jericho, and the towns that have now
been turned over in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. It
does not include Jerusalem."
But Faisal Husseini, the Palestinian official in charge of
Jerusalem affairs, who is based at Orient House, counters
Shahal's move itself violates Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
"It is a violation for the agreements which are saying that
everything in Jerusalem will (be) going on as it was until we will
finish the permanent status negotiations. And it is forbidden for
any side to make any unilateral steps which can affect the peace
talks. And this step can affect badly not only the peace talks,
but the whole peace process."
Husseini also called on foreign countries to defy the Israeli ban
on visits to his headquarters. Many countries, including all in
the European Union, send their foreign ministers to Orient House to
emphasize their opposition to Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem.
Israeli Editorial Opinion: Jerusalem
Yediot Ahronot notes Prime Minister Peres has accused the
opposition of incitement for charging that he is prepared to divide
the city, and says that "this is a regrettable response, because
the Likud's claims are definitely legitimate elections material,
whose veracity must be examined and dealt with before they are
defined under the comprehensive heading of 'incitement.'"
The paper reminds its readers that two well-known Israeli academics
have held talks with Palestinian colleagues on various issues,
including the future of Jerusalem, and that these same academics
were involved in the preliminary discussions which led to the Oslo
The editors point out that whereas the government denies that these
are officially-sanctioned talks, the opposition claims that "this
is exactly how the two began the talks which led to the Oslo
Agreement." The paper believes that the government has the
obligation of proving that its version is correct, "because how
many times in the recent past has it proven to us that its denials
must be taken with a grain of salt."
Davar Rishon believes that "the problem of Jerusalem is difficult
to solve because both sides -- Israel and the Palestinians -- say
that the eastern part of the city 'is all mine' and are not
prepared for any compromise," and that "the problem of Jerusalem is
almost insoluble, because it has been the most important city for
the Jewish people for thousands of years, and because it has been
the third most important city in the Arab and Islamic worlds for
hundreds of years."
The paper adds that "the problem of Jerusalem is so difficult and
complex because so many feelings -- which no logic can compete with
-- are bound up with it." The editors state that "the problem of
Jerusalem is certainly one of the most important issues that will
be on agenda" during the elections, and add that "it is possible
that all of the Zionist parties will speak with one voice on the
Jerusalem issue; it is possible that they will not. There will
certainly be nuances. It is the public that will decide among
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