Newsletter : 6fax1114.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Nov. 14, 1996 V4, #207
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Hebron Withdrawal Imminent?
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled a trip to
the United States -- which was to have begun Wednesday night -- to
facilitate talks on the future of Hebron, which appear to be
nearing a conclusion. Netanyahu's decision came after he met with
one of the top aides to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.
Netanyahu's office says he decided to stay in Israel "to assist in
advancing the negotiations" which an official statement describes
as in "sensitive stages." The statement was issued after Netanyahu
met with a senior Arafat aide for what the Palestinian official
describes as a discussion about the issues and the dangers of
The talks have dragged on for six weeks, since President Clinton
summoned Arafat and Netanyahu to Washington early last month. The
president wanted them to reach a quick agreement on Hebron to
forestall more violence, such as the deadly riots in the West Bank
One of Netanyahu's spokesman said early Wednesday that he would
only cancel his US travel plans if there was significant progress
in the talks. There has been no indication of exactly what
progress was made.
It appeared there had been a breakthrough in the talks Tuesday
night. Netanyahu's spokesman says he agreed to sign a letter
formally committing his government to implement remaining aspects
of the latest Israeli-Palestinian agreement. But Wednesday, Israel
Radio reported that -- in exchange -- Netanyahu wanted a letter
from Arafat promising to prosecute Palestinian police officers who
fired on Israeli troops in September.
According to the radio report, Netanyahu also wanted Arafat to
extradite Palestinians wanted by Israel. And, he is asking a
timetable for amending the Palestinian Charter and for dismantling
the terrorism cells of militant groups. It is expected to be
difficult for Arafat to agree to any of these demands.
Israeli newspapers report that -- if agreement is reached by today
-- the Israeli withdrawal from 80 percent of Hebron, promised a
year ago and now eight months behind schedule, could be carried out
Israel and Arab Businessmen Cuddling
By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)
Israeli business executives at the Middle East Economic Conference
in Cairo say they are being well-treated, in spite of the tensions
surrounding the stalled Middle East peace process. Palestinians are
urging the business community to make any business deals
conditional on peace.
Egyptian businessman Robert Ghattas manufactures medical
accessories like intravenous tubes and disposable needle sets.
Business is good, but he is looking for other markets in the
region. He says it was natural for him to look at the Israeli
market. Ghattas says his marketing trips to Israel proved lucrative
and mostly free of political overtones.
"It was very friendly, very easy-going. I think both of us had an
open mind to the whole situation. We pretty much put political
things behind us. It was very much business. And they are very much
Ghattas says he has not met much resistance in his efforts to
break into the Israeli market -- either in Israel or Egypt. But he
keeps that pretty much to himself -- not to hide it, he says, but
just to keep his competition off-guard.
Still, after 17 years of peace between the neighbors, cross-border
trade is relatively low. Ghattas and others say it is still hard to
openly market Israeli labels in Egypt or Egyptian labels in Israel.
The deputy managing director of Israel's "Poalim Capital Markets &
Investment" company, Amnon Mandelbaum, says business cooperation
should help break down psychological barriers to peace.
Rafi Bienvenisti is a special adviser to Israel's minister of
finance. He says he is looking into the possibility of Egyptian and
Israeli banks developing business relations. He says the economic
conference is another tool for fostering regional integration.
"The Israelis are looking for cooperation that will use the
opportunity of having low-cost labor in neighboring countries,
instead of going overseas or going to the Far East for low-cost
labor. They can find it here in Egypt and in Jordan and in the
But Palestinians complain they are starting with a disadvantage
because Israeli closures of the West Bank and Gaza are crippling
their economy and their efforts to lure outside investors.
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