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>Israel Faxx
>PD Dec. 18, 1996, Vol. 4, No. 229

Jewish Leader Disputes Swiss Claim on Nazi Profits

The Swiss National Bank made a profit of more than $3 billion in looted Nazi gold, rather than $4.8 million as a top Swiss bank official claimed last week, World Jewish Congress Vice President Kalman Sultanik said. "The Swiss neglected to include capital gains in their estimate. The gold they are talking about was looted by the Nazis from throughout Europe and they were able to keep about $240 million which is worth about $3 billion today."

U.S. Words Express Impatience with Israel

By David Gollust (VOA Washington)

The United States is expressing increasing impatience about the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on Hebron. US officials say all the ingredients for a deal were in place months ago.

The redeployment of Israeli troops from most of Hebron in the West Bank was to have taken place last March under the 1995 Oslo Accords. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the United States and other countries supporting the regional peace process have a right to expect action on the Hebron issue.

"It is not unreasonable for the United States and other countries to be disappointed that this agreement -- which is fairly straight forward -- should not have been put together by now. We are asking the Israelis and Palestinians to put their shoulders to the wheel to get the deal done. This is a time of great tension in the Middle East."

The remarks came one day after some direct criticism of Israel's settlement policy by Clinton that could foreshadow a tougher US approach in the second term.

The president said the decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reinstate subsidies for expansion of settlements was an effort to preempt an issue that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to settle later in so-called final status negotiations. He also said new settlements would -- absolutely -- be an obstacle to peace.

Burns branded as impolite an Israeli official's depiction of the US criticism as "semantic posturing." He said Clinton has displayed support for Israel and its security "in a thousand different ways" and that when he speaks, friendly governments should listen with respect.

Israel Rejects Clinton's Criticism

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has rejected criticism from President Clinton that its settlement policy is an obstacle to peace. Israel says it can pursue peace with the Palestinians while at the same time allowing existing settlements in the West Bank and Gaza to grow in what officials call "a natural way."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will not start

any new West Bank settlements, at least for now.  But his
spokesman, Moshe Fogel, says there is  no  reason  not  to build in
existing settlements.

"The same status that we allot Israelis living in Judea and Samaria is the same status that was allotted to the previous government to Israelis living in the Gaza Strip or the Golan Heights. So logically speaking, why was it possible to conduct negotiations with Syria about the Golan Heights in the previous administration while the Israeli residents living there had a priority status, and then say the same logic doesn't apply to residents of Judea and Samaria? It doesn't make sense to us."

Palestinian officials say they want some guarantee Netanyahu will make further withdrawals required by the peace agreement signed by his predecessors. But Israeli officials privately say the prime minister is reluctant to make such promises until he has a better idea what the final Israeli-Palestinian accord will look like.

Tuesday, Israel eased the closure it imposed on the West Bank town of Ramallah a week ago, following the killing of an Israeli woman and her son in a drive-by shooting. The assailants apparently fled into Ramallah, but Palestinian police have reportedly made good progress toward finding them.

Iranian Navy Strengthened by Acquisition of Russian Subs

Iran recently acquired from Russia a third conventional submarine, completing a $600 million deal which, according to senior Israeli officials, will make Iran the leading naval power in the Persian Gulf.

Israeli security authorities and American intelligence officials are worried about what they call Iran's accelerated acquisition of arms. Iran obtained the first two Russian submarines in 1992, but the purchase of the third was delayed due to financial difficulties.

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