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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Aug. 26, 1996 V4, #157
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Bomb Explodes at Moscow Synagogue

Moscow (LNS)--A bomb exploded last week outside the Marina Roscha synagogue in Moscow, blasting out the windows of the southern face of the building, caving in part of the roof and leaving deep gouges in the wall. No one was inside the synagogue at the time of the blast. The bomb was apparently placed against the outside of the southern wall of the building where the ark housing the Torah scrolls stands. The Torahs were knocked down by the force of the explosion, but were not damaged.

Arafat to Meet with President Weizman

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

There were signs Sunday of some easing of the tension in relations between Israel's new government and the Palestinian Autonomy Authority. Israel's president agreed to meet with the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, and Arafat's Autonomy Authority agreed to close two offices in Jerusalem, as demanded by Israel.

Sunday's developments contrasted sharply with the often harsh rhetoric from both sides, and could pave the way for the Palestinian Authority and Israel's new government to move beyond verbal sparring to the hard, detailed work of building peace.

Israeli President Ezer Weizman, who has a largely ceremonial role, agreed to invite Arafat to his private home on Israel's northern coast, after receiving a letter which the president described as a "distress" call. The two men have met before, but it would be Arafat's first official meeting in Israel. There is no date for the visit, but Israel Radio says it will be within the next two weeks.

Weizman's decision to meet with Arafat initially angered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has so far refused to do so, but he relented after meeting with Weizman Sunday morning. Netanyahu also made his most positive statement ever on the prospects he might meet with Arafat, saying when such a meeting would be useful it will happen, rather than his usual statement that he might meet with Arafat if it becomes necessary.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians have taken a step apparently intended to make it possible for the talks to be fruitful. The Palestinian Authority has closed two offices in east Jerusalem -- a move Netanyahu demanded as a pre-condition for withdrawing Israeli troops from the West Bank town of Hebron.

The fate of a third Palestinian office Israel wants closed remains unclear. That issue will be for the negotiators to work out. But now at least, with Arafat assured of a meeting with Weizman, the negotiating teams apparently ready to resume talks and one of the obstacles to progress removed, Palestinians and Israelis might finally begin to see what Israel's change of government will mean for their peace process.

Nazis Hid $186 Million Worth of Jewish Gold

By Larry Freund (VOA-New York)

Investigators searching for assets stolen from victims of the Nazis during World War 2 say they have located a document indicating that Hitler's foreign minister sent 15 tons of gold out of Germany before the end of the war, most of which is still missing.

A letter written in 1948 by an American prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials indicates concern that the 15 tons of gold smuggled out of Germany would fall into Nazi hands in the post-war era. The letter, written by Prosecutor Robert Kempner, was recently located in the US National Archives after it was declassified. Kempner warns that a large amount of uncontrolled gold constitutes a force of evil and mischief in the hands of unscrupulous opportunists.

The letter was discovered in the last few weeks by researchers working for the World Jewish Congress. The organization has been trying to locate assets that were taken from victims of the Nazis during World War 2.

The gold at today's prices would be worth more than $186 million. (Editor: Approximately $30 for each of the 6 million murdered Jews).

Elan Steinberg, executive director of the WJC, says the recently discovered letter confirms that Nazi officials were able to hoard massive amounts of looted assets and send them out of Germany at the end of the war, and that the Allies were aware of the movement of those assets. Now, Steinberg says, his organization is considering steps to ensure that the assets are returned to their proper owners.

According to the prosecutor's letter, Germany's Foreign Minister from 1938 to 1945 Joachim Von Ribbentrop sent the looted gold to various places, including his castle in Austria, to Spain, Turkey, Switzerland, Sweden and Portugal. Von Ribbentrop was hanged as a war criminal in 1946. Steinberg says he expects additional information to emerge from the documents in the Archives.

In May, Swiss banking officials signed an agreement allowing independent auditors access to Swiss bank accounts that may have belonged to Jewish and other victims of the Nazis. The Swiss bankers say they have found $34 million in unclaimed accounts, possibly belonging to Nazi victims. Jewish groups say the unclaimed funds could amount to as much as $7 billion.


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