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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Oct. 31, 1996 V4, #199
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Swiss Pledge Answer on Holocaust Funds by Dec. 4

Switzerland has pledged to answer by Dec. 4 accusations it used the wealth of Holocaust victims to compensate Swiss citizens for property seized in Eastern Europe. The Foreign Ministry named two Swiss historians to examine compensation deals reached after World War 2 with the then-Communist regimes of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania and Hungary.

British Paper Claims IDF Prepares for City Takeovers

The British newspaper, The Guardian, reports the IDF carried out a large-scale exercise last week, in preparation for a possible need to capture the city of Shechem or other cities in Judea and Samaria.

The paper said Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered the drill, and it was held under the command of Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan. The IDF spokesman denied that the capture of cities was rehearsed, but said that the IDF is preparing for various eventualities.

U.S. Diplomat Visits Slain Boy's Family

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

A senior US diplomat has visited the family of a young Palestinian boy killed in a clash with an Israeli settler. The diplomat says he wanted to make both a personal and political statement.

The US Consul General in Jerusalem, Edward Abington, traveled Wednesday morning to Husan Village, between Bethlehem and Hebron, to spend some time with the boy's family. Abington has a six-year-old daughter, and he says he was moved by the boy's story and wanted to meet his family.

"I decided to visit the family because I was very struck by the news accounts of the death of a 10-year-old child, a 10-year old boy. And I just thought that it was an important gesture to go and pay a condolence call on the parents, and to let them know of my personal sympathy for their loss, as well as that of the US government."

Abington, who is one of the US mediators in the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, says the death of young Hilmi Shawash should serve as a reminder to negotiators that their job is to build a better future for the region's young people.

He says he expects the Israeli government to thoroughly investigate the case, and to punish the person responsible. The boy was allegedly beaten to death by an Israeli settler who suspected him of being among several boys who threw stones at his car.

"If the news accounts are true and the boy was struck and died as a result of the blows, I see no justification for that under any circumstances. Children should not be so treated by adults. There is no justification for that."

Swiss Call Holocaust Money "Pure Fantasy"

By Maxim Kniazkov (VOA-Washington)

The Swiss Ambassador to the United States is pledging his government's full cooperation in establishing the fate of pre-World War 2 bank deposits by European Jews who later perished in Nazi death camps.

The ambassador called a $20 billion claim recently presented to Swiss banks by a group of Holocaust survivors and their descendants "pure fantasy."

The $20 billion claim appeared in a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn, N.Y., Earlier this month by a group of Holocaust survivors and their families. They accuse Swiss banks of withholding information about money and other valuables deposited by their relatives before World War 2 or in its early stages.

On Wednesday, in a clear bid to stem negative publicity, Ambassador Carlo Jagmetti said his government is looking into the allegations -- but called the figure mentioned in the lawsuit speculative.

"Figures were advanced in other contexts in this whole question. But they were just pure fantasy, in my view. There is one real problem in all this. That is once we have the truth established, it might not be sensational."

Jagmetti says legislation aimed at easing Swiss bank secrecy laws for up to five years, while the problem is being investigated, is quickly working its way through the Swiss parliament. He expressed the hope this time span will be enough to establish the truth about what happened to valuables deposited in Switzerland by victims of the Holocaust.

Israeli Firm Handles E-mail for God

An Israeli internet company will place e-mail messages to God in Jerusalem's Western Wall, where Jewish tradition says God picks up His mail.

"We are getting between 15 and 20 messages a day from all over the world," said Avi Moskowitz, president of Virtual Jerusalem. Moskowitz said his company does not read the e-mail. The messages are printed out and stuffed into the Wall's crevices along with the hand-written messages left there. The service is free on Virtual Jerusalem's homepage at http://www.virtual.co.il


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