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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       May 21, 1996 V4, #93
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Dan Shomron Endorses Likud

Former IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Shomron, is supporting Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud in next week's elections. Shomron said it is preferable that the Likud, and not Labor, conduct the negotiations on the final arrangements with the Palestinians, as "Labor is stuck on the peace process as an end in itself," and that it would therefore tend to concede any points on which the PLO is stubborn.

Peres, Arafat Reach Agreement on Division of Jerusalem

The east Jerusalem daily newspaper An-Nahar reports Yasir Arafat and Shimon Peres reached a secret agreement one month ago concerning the division of Jerusalem.

The reported agreement is based on understandings reached prior to that between Minister Yosi Beilin and senior PLO figure Abu Mazzen, in which four Jerusalem neighborhoods will come under Palestinian control: Shuafat and Beit Hanina (in northern Jerusalem, near Pisgat Ze'ev), Sheikh Jarrah (opposite Maalot Daphna), and Azzariyah (east of Mt. of Olives).

Peres and Arafat also agreed most of the Temple Mount will be under Palestinian control. The report stated that an official announcement was being postponed until after the Israeli elections.

The Religious Want Likud, But May Vote Labor

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

One of the main groups in a position to influence the outcome of next week's Israeli election is Orthodox religious Jews, whose parties are expected to retain the 16 seats they now have in the 120-member parliament. The three main Orthodox parties are expected to be key power brokers in the coalition building which will follow the May 29 vote.

Their impact on the day-to-day lives of the vast majority of Israelis who are relatively not observant is minimal. But when it comes to politics, the religious are organized and wield a power many Israelis say is beyond their numbers. Some of the religious people vote for mainstream parties of the right, center or even the left. But in a country sharply, and roughly evenly, divided between right and left on issues of economics, social policy and peace, the religious parties are in a position to hold the balance of power.

Rabbi Avraham Ravitz is a member of parliament from an ultra-Orthodox coalition party called United Torah Judaism. "We do have a position on the peace process, but we feel as a small party that we have to bring up our specialty. Our specialty is not our position on the peace process."

The "specialty" of the parties representing the black-robed ultra-Orthodox is to obtain government funds for their schools and other institutions, and to try to keep the generally secular Israeli society as Jewish in outlook and practice as possible.

Ravitz says the religious parties prefer the right wing policies of Prime Minister candidate Benjamin Netanyahu. But he says they might be willing to accept the territorial compromises advocated by Prime Minister Shimon Peres as long as he gives them what they want.

"The most important step that Mr. Peres did was that he said that after he reaches an agreement, he will bring it to the referendum. By saying so, I think he made it able for other parties, even if they believe in the right wing ideas, in the national right wing ideas, this makes them much easier to join a government like this."

That fact has not been missed by Labor Party strategists, such as Interior Minister Haim Ramon. He is looking at the likely balance of power in the parliament and the possibilities of Labor joining with the more conservative religious parties to form a government.

This has been a problem in recent years because of the Labor Party's peace policy. But this time, Ramon says, it will be easier because for the first time Israelis will cast two ballots, one for Prime Minister and another for the party they want to represent them in parliament.

But there is one religious party which, although it shares the ultra-Orthodox interest in promoting Judaism in Israel, also has firmer views on the peace process. The National Religious Party, representing more-modern Orthodox Jews, has in recent years taken the position that territorial compromise with the Palestinians would go against the will of God.

But one of the party's senior leaders, Yitzhak Mayer, says that view is changing among many party members. "The party is very much, I think, more moderate, even though it does have the hardline wings. But things that happened in our midst here in Israel have caused a lot of soul searching. And there is an attenuation of the hardline stance that had been taken."

Mayer says the NRP's platform has been softened. He says that like the ultra-Orthodox, it would prefer the right wing's version of peace, with limited Palestinian autonomy. But he says it could accept the left wing's plan, possibly including Palestinian statehood, under the right conditions. That would include money for religious causes, no changes in the power of the religious hierarchy on social issues, and a peace policy which the religious party leaders could justify as not placing Jews in danger.

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