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>Israel Faxx
>PD Dec. 2, 1996, Vol. 4, Number 217

Palestinian Pollution Threatens Israel

"An ecological intifada" is the term given by Director-General

of the Ministry of the Environment, Nechama Ronen, to the pollution of the rivers of the Sharon and the Judean Desert by untreated sewage originating in the autonomous areas. Environment Minister Rafael Eitan said Palestinians take no measures to protect Israel's vital water supply sources from pollution.

Rabbinical Students Return to Joseph's Tomb

By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)

Jewish seminary students have returned to their studies at Joseph's Tomb in Palestinian-ruled Nablus in the West Bank. The students had left in September after bloody clashes left six Israeli soldiers and one Palestinian dead. Joseph's Tomb is the only part of Nablus still under Israeli military control. Believed to be the site of the biblical figure Joseph, the shrine is holy to Jews and Muslims.

Last September, violence erupted throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to open an archeological tunnel near an Islamic site in Jerusalem. Sixty Palestinians and 15 Israeli soldiers died in the bloodshed.

At Joseph's Tomb, several Israeli soldiers were trapped while trying to protect the Jewish seminary students there; six soldiers died in gun battles when rioters and Palestinian police besieged the tomb.

Sunday, in a move coordinated by Israeli soldiers and Palestinian police, 25 students returned to the site in an Israeli army truck, escorted by a Palestinian police jeep.

Saudis Warn of War Against Israel

The Saudi Arabian Prince El Feisal has warned of another war in

the Middle East. The Netanyahu government has been the subject of sharp criticism in the Arab world. Syria demanded that the Arab League states, meeting Sunday for an emergency summit in Cairo, freeze the process of normalization of relations with Israel and make it contingent upon further Israeli concessions.

Progress on Ron Arad?

Reports are circulating of intensified indirect cooperation

between Iran and Israel regarding intelligence concerning the location of the missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad. The Teheran Times quotes the head of Middle East Desk of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Dr. Chan Shari, who reveals that there will soon be new developments of great significance in the Ron Arad case.

In a related story, reports received from the CIA say China has sold 400 tons of ingredients necessary for Iran to manufacture nerve gas. The report appeared in the Washington Times. According to the report, Iran and Syria are working together to advance their chemical arsenals including deadly warheads being attached to Syrian Scud missiles.

Netanyahu, Arafat May Meet on Hebron in Lisbon

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Lisbon this

week to participate in the European Conference on Cooperation and Security. Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat will also participate in the conference despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority is not included among the five Middle Eastern countries invited.

The Israeli army's radio station reports the parties have reached an agreement in principle on two remaining issues, the IDF's right to the hot pursuit of terrorists and the arming of Palestinian Police.

The Syrian Ambassador to Egypt, Isser Darwish, has now backed down on his warning that Syria would use biological weapons against Israel in the face of a nuclear threat from the Israelis. On Wednesday, Darwish was quoted in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram as acknowledging a stockpile of missiles armed with chemical and biological warheads that would be used against Israel should a threat be felt.

Radio Israel reported Friday that Darwish now denies that Syria -- or any other Arab country -- possesses non-conventional weapons.

Ha'aretz reported that Farouk Kaddumi, the head of the PLO's political department, justified suicide bombing attacks against Israelis in an interview with an Arabic-language newspaper published in Britain.

Rabbi Rules to Dispose of Missionary Booklets

Bet-El Bet Rabbi Zalman Melamed has halakhically ruled that the

missionary pamphlets sweeping Israel should be destroyed, even though they contain biblical verses. In the last few days, tens of thousands of Israeli residents have received missionary propaganda in the mail, bearing the heading "Shalom."

Conversion Law to be Amended

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered Justice Minister

Tzachi Hanegbi to enact the amendment to the conversion law as soon as possible, in accordance with pre-election promises to the religious parties. According to the proposed amendment, conversions carried out in Israel will be registered only if certified by the Chief Rabbinate. On the other hand, any conversions performed outside of Israel, including reform or conservative conversions, will be officially recognized in Israel.

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