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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Oct. 21, 1996 V4, #191
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Jewish Gravestone Found in Golan

The Antiquities Authority in the Golan Heights has discovered a Jewish gravestone in the area of Katzrin. Hebrew words are engraved on the stone, and a picture of a menorah (Jewish candelabra). The stone is further testimony of a strong Jewish presence in the Golan during Mishnaic and Talmudic times. This is the third such stone discovered in the area since 1967.

Chirac Arrives in Israel Monday

By Al Pessin, VOA-Jerusalem & Laurie Kassman, VOA-Cairo

French President Jacques Chirac arrives in Israel Monday morning for a visit which has caused considerable controversy. Arab countries on Chirac's itinerary would like France to play a greater role in the Middle East peace process, as it tried to do during the Lebanon fighting in April. But Israel takes the opposite view -- a situation which made the planning for Chirac's stop in Israel difficult.

Israeli sensitivities forced him to leave his foreign minister off the Israel stop because the minister would have visited the PLO's unofficial Jerusalem headquarters, creating a diplomatic crisis with Israel. A junior French minister will make the visit instead.

Then, the speaker of Israel's parliament threatened to boycott the president's official welcoming ceremony, unless he changed his plans not to visit the parliament. The parliament was added to the president's itinerary. The issue was particularly sensitive because during this trip, Chirac will become the first foreign head of state to address the Palestinian Council.

Israel will provide a warm official welcome for Chirac this morning, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday "It would not be wise to introduce another interlocutor" into the peace process.

Chirac is currently touring the Middle East -- including Syria, Israel and the Palestinian self-rule area. Chirac received a hero's welcome when he arrived in Syria on this, his second trip to the Middle East in less than a year. Last time he visited Lebanon and Egypt. This time, he has added Syria, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian self-rule areas.

In Damascus Saturday, Chirac warned that the peace process is in danger. And, he called for a larger European role in the negotiations -- contributing proposals, he said, not just money. Israel has always viewed Europe as pro-Arab in its collective attitude. On Sunday, Israeli officials rejected Chirac's suggestions that Europe get more involved in the peace talks. Officials were also miffed that Chirac had arranged to address the Palestinian Council but not the Israeli parliament.

Arab officials say a European role could balance what they see as Washington's pro-Israeli bias in the peace process.

A newspaper, "The Middle East," says France and Europe could play the role of an honest witness and reinforce the need to negotiate peace on the basis of land for peace. So far Netanyahu has rejected negotiations on the basis of land for peace. Arab leaders say the principle was agreed to when the process was launched five years ago and cannot be changed.

The renewed European effort to play a more active role in the peace process comes at a critical time in the negotiations. Israel and the Palestinians are wrangling over the implementation of interim agreements amid Arab complaints that Israel is not honoring what has already been signed. The Syrian and Lebanese tracks have been stalled for nearly nine months.

Hungary to Restore Holocaust Victims' Properties

By Stefan Bos (VOA-Budapest)

The Hungarian parliament has ratified a landmark agreement with the Jewish community for restitution of properties confiscated during the Holocaust. The government received the green light to set up a special foundation which will deal with the compensation issue.

Hungary's parliament voted in favor of the government's plan to set up a special foundation which would manage $27 million in assets. These assets are mainly formerly Jewish-owned properties, including real estate and art treasures, and millions of dollars contributed by the state.

The money would be primarily compensated for an estimated 20,000 Hungarian Jewish Holocaust survivors. Government officials say the foundation may also deal with the money lost by Holocaust victims which was recently discovered on the Swiss bank accounts.

The creation of this special foundation is part of an accord which was signed by the Hungarian government and Jewish groups earlier this year.

Israel Singer, the secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, said recently this agreement may close one of the darkest chapters in Hungary's history.

Before World War 2, Hungary had a population of about 800,000 Jews from which an estimated 600,000 perished in death of labor camps under the Nazis. Singer said the agreement is a model for many other east European countries where the issue of compensation for Holocaust victims is still unresolved.

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