Newsletter : 6fax0828.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Aug. 28, 1996 V4, #159
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Levy: Israel Should Not Panic Over Syrian Army Movement
Syrian army vehicles, including tanks, have been moved from
permanent posts in the Matan mountains northeast of Beirut to the
Beirut-Damascus road, Israel Radio reports.
Sources in Beirut said the Syrian army is stationing forces along
the road in defensive positions. The move is said to be a reaction
to fears of an Israeli air attack.
In response, Foreign Minister David Levy said Israel should not
panic and emphasized that the government is monitoring developments
in Lebanon. Levy also said Israel is still awaiting a Syrian
response to communiques recently forwarded to Damascus.
The Privatization of Israel
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
Immediately after his election last May, Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu declared his commitment to massive and rapid
privatization of state-owned companies. He pledged open capital
markets, lower taxes and deregulation but, privatization, like
budget cuts, is easier said than done.
As Netanyahu gave his election victory speech to cheering
supporters in June, he pledged to introduce an open economy to
Israel, and sweep away the last vestiges of what he calls a
socialist-style centrally controlled economy.
The American-educated Netanyahu did not introduce the notion of
privatization to Israel. Previous governments, understanding that
the country had outgrown its need for centralization had already
begun selling off government-owned companies.
But sales were slow, and controversial, either because the
companies were sold cheaply, or because they were closely
identified with the country's few natural resources -- for example,
the Dead Sea Works potash plant.
Economic consultant Esther Alexander finds sales of such companies
to speculators a disturbing trend. "Israeli people worked hard to
build these companies. It takes years and fears to build and build
before it became profitable, no private investor would do it, but
government did. We did and we worked and we succeeded, now when it
is big and fine they just throw it away, without any compensation."
More than 100 of Israel's state-owned companies are said to be for
sale. A few are highly sensitive, such as high tech military
enterprises. Opposition Labor Party member of parliament Shlomo
ben-Ami says the prospect of such companies being privatized is
"Can a society, can a country like Israel, privatize its major
asset, which is knowledge, technological know-how, this is the most
fundamental edge that we have on the Arab world, can we privatize
Ben-Ami points out that privatization means moving from the benefit
of the state to the benefit of a small group of shareholders.
Government-ownership, he says, protects the public interest.
Netanyahu's critics charge he is killing off Israel's welfare
state. His government has already made cuts in social services.
But government spokesman Moshe Fogel insists that privatization
does not mean abandoning the underprivileged.
Fearing the inevitable downsizing that follows privatization,
Israel's trade union federation, the Histadrut, has already staged
a series of nation-wide work stoppages. Trade union department head
Ephraim Jiloni says Netanyahu had better head the warning.
"We can force them to sit with us and to talk about the problem. I
don't want to sound like a gangster, but we can close the airport,
the...port, we can close the electricity, the post, so he will have
to deal with us."
Despite his fiery rhetoric on privatization, critics say Netanyahu
has so far done nothing. Some analysts interpret this as a sign
that in a nation with a long tradition of public ownership, any
rush to privatize has political as well as economic risks.
Israel's Illegal Indian Immigrants
Director-General of the Ministry of the Interior Amram Kalaji has
called on former Minister of Agriculture Yaakov Tsur to fulfill a
personal obligation he took upon himself while serving in the
Last May, 800 citizens of India arrived in Israel for the
international Agritech exhibition. Interior Ministry officials
suspected that not all of them were in fact Agritech-bound, and
that they were not planning to leave Israel at the end of their
authorized stay. The officials refused to allow them entry, until
Tsur arrived on the scene, and promised Kalaji - in writing - that
they would all depart Israel at the proper time.
The Interior Ministry has disclosed that more than 300 of the
Indians have not yet left, and that their whereabouts are unknown.
Kalaji has called upon Tsur to fulfill his promise. Arutz-7 notes
the government is attempting to deal with the 100,000 illegal
workers presently in the country, and Labor Minister Eli Yeshai
plans to implement a plan to deport 1,000 illegal workers
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