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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Sept. 17, 1996 V4, #172
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Netanyahu Requests Minyan

Ten students of the Hesder Yeshiva in Kiryat Shmonah spent the Rosh HaShanah holiday in the secular kibbutz Beit HaGoshrim. Such was the request of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was vacationing there with his family. Netanyahu wished to pray with a minyan (religious quorum required for prayers), and to hear the sounding of the shofar.

Israel Wary of Syrian Moves in Lebanon

Prominent figures in diplomatic circles in Jerusalem are of the opinion that Syria's President Assad is attempting to wage a psychological war against Israel. They said that the redeployment of 10,000 soldiers eastwards towards the Syrian-Lebanese-Israeli border - the largest mobilization of Syrian troops on the Syrian side of the Golan since the Yom Kippur War - is an attempt to present before the Israeli public only two options: either a full withdrawal from the Golan, or war.

The experts also note, however, that Syria fears that Israel will not settle for military actions against Hizbullah, but will also strike out at its Syrian sponsors. Middle East expert Yossi Olmert Arutz-7, "Assad apparently feels that if he begins some sort of military aggression, this would help him improve his negotiating position. I don't think that we need to panic, but we must be cautious."

Prime Ministerial Holiday Quotes

In a pre-holiday interview with Kol Yisrael Radio, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked how he expects to make peace with Syria, in light of Rabin's failure to do so even after offering them the entire Golan.

Netanyahu's answer: "The previous government made concession after concession, and therefore the Syrians thought that they could get even more if they would just hold out a bit longer. Our government handles negotiations differently."

On another issue, in an interview with Maariv newspaper, Netanyahu said that he would never agree to give up vital assets for the sake of our good relations with America. "Our friendship with the United States is important, but Jerusalem and our security are more important."

UK Foreign Secretary Goes to Switzerland for Nazi Gold Meeting

By Gordon Martin (VOA-Geneva)

The past weeks have seen a growing international outcry over Swiss failure to disclose the extent of holdings deposited in Swiss banks by Jewish Holocaust victims or by the Nazi government and its officials during World War 2. But on Monday, the Swiss government promised more energetic action. In the half century since the end of World War 2, investigators have carried out the hunt for gold looted by Germany's Nazi government.

And there have been repeated accusations that Swiss bankers, protected by secrecy laws, have stalled much of that gold, as well as funds deposited by Jews who later became victims of the Holocaust.

After continued pressure from Jewish organizations, the Swiss Bankers Association agreed to form with them a joint commission to try to track down Jewish assets.

Former US Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Paul Volker has already started work on this probe.

But last week, new impetus was given to the calls for an inquiry into deposits made by Hitler's regime itself, with the publication of a report by the British Foreign Office suggesting that most of the Nazi gold, thought to have been held in Swiss banks at the end of World War 2, might still be there.

That hoard would today be worth $7 billion.

Though the British report contained few new facts, its publication triggered an outcry in the British press and elsewhere, and demands the Swiss should disgorge far more than the $60 million worth they agreed to hand over to the Allies, who waived all further claims in 1946.

Stung by the accusations, and by the bad publicity, Switzerland's seven-member Federal Council, which runs the country, announced monday that it was backing a plan to set up a commission of inquiry, and to make any further foot tracking difficult.

If the draft bill is approved by Switzerland's two houses of parliament, the commission will have the right to compel banks to open their files.

The investigators will be required to keep the government regularly informed of their progress, and their reports will be made public. The commission will also be given a five-year deadline in which to complete its work.

The Swiss Foreign Minister, Flavio Cotti, told a news conference Monday that the government takes the latest allegations very seriously.

Switzerland had been accused of being a receiver of stolen property for the Nazi regime. Cotti said "We must, therefore, either prove our innocence, or admit our moral guilt."

On Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind is due to make a visit to Switzerland for talks with Cotti. Though the visit was planned a long time ago, the Nazi gold affair will certainly dominate their meeting.

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