Newsletter : 6fax0829.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Aug. 29, 1996 V4, #160
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Arafat: Israel's Actions Constitute Declaration of War
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
The Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, says recent actions by
Israel's new government amount to a declaration of war against the
Palestinians. He has declared Thursday the first Palestinian
general strike day since the beginning of Palestinian autonomy in
1994. Israel says it views Arafat's strike call "seriously."
Arafat told the Palestinian legislative council that Israel's
policies on settlements, Jerusalem and other issues are,
"continuous crimes and violations." He accused the government of
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of implementing a "hellish plan"
and creating a "very critical" situation.
He called on Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza to
strike Thursday to show solidarity -- particularly on the Jerusalem
Arafat also urged the entire Palestinian population to flock to
Jerusalem's "Al Aqsa" mosque to pray Friday, despite the closure
and the roadblock-checkpoint, and for Jews and Christians who
support them to go along. For most Palestinians, that would involve
crossing Israeli checkpoints, which few of them are allowed to do.
In a meeting of the Palestinian Autonomy Council in Ramallah,
Arafat called on Jews and Christians to "stand by the Arabs" in
their just struggle. "The Israelis are idiots for beginning a war
regarding Jerusalem," said Arafat.
Arafat and other Palestinian officials were particularly angered by
the demolition Tuesday of a Palestinian community center in
Jerusalem's Old City, which Israel re-captured in the 1967 war and
the Palestinians claim as their own. Arafat said Netanyahu has
started a "war on Jerusalem," which he described as a "stupid"
thing to have done. In addition, the Netanyahu government has
announced its first solid plan to expand a settlement in the West
Bank, authorizing construction of 900 new housing units.
Netanyahu's office issued a statement Wednesday saying Israel takes
a "serious" view of any attempt to escalate tensions or provoke
violence. The Israeli statement characterizes Arafat's speech as
"radical" and says such statements or actions should be avoided
because they will not help move the peace process forward. "The
government will view with severity any attempt to escalate
[tensions] or any call for violence that could hurt the peace
This latest flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian tension came just as
it appeared negotiations might finally begin soon between the
Palestinians and the two-month-old Netanyahu government.
Turkey and Israel Sign Second Defense Pact
By Amberin Zaman (VOA-Ankara)
Turkey's Islamist-led government and Israel signed a second defense
agreement Wednesday, increasing military cooperation despite strong
objections by some Arab nations.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Omer Akbel says the latest
agreement covers the exchange of technical expertise in the
Akbel said the agreement was signed by the director general of
Israel's Defense Ministry, David Ivry, and various Turkish military
officials. He did not elaborate on the deal but sought to play
down its significance. He said Turkey had similar agreements with
20 other countries, which he described as standard framework
Analysts say some of Turkey's Arab neighbors and Syria in
particular are likely to take a differing view of the agreement
which they say underscores the deepening military relationship
between Turkey and Israel.
Syria had led the chorus of Arab protest against an earlier
military cooperation and training accord revealed last February
which allows Israeli air force pilots to train over Turkey and to
use Turkish bases. Syria said its national security was directly
threatened by the deal and called on Turkey to scrap it
Observers said Syria hoped that under Turkey's first Islamist prime
minister, the country would shift towards a more pro-Arab stand.
Certainly throughout his political career, Prime Minister Erbakan
has been a vociferous critic of Israel and a strong proponent of
Since coming to power two months ago in a power sharing deal with
Tansu Ciller's Conservative True Path Party, Erbakan has sought to
forge closer ties with Muslim states. His first official trip
abroad was to Iran, where he signed a $23 billion deal to buy
Iranian natural gas starting in 1999.
At the same time, Erbakan has also sought to preserve Turkey's long
standing ties with its most important ally, the United States, and
has toned down much of his anti-Western rhetoric.
Analysts say Erbakan is well aware of the risks of upsetting his
country's Western allies. And they note Turkey's powerful military
establishment is rigidly pro-secular and pro-Western.
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