Newsletter : 6fax1231.txt
| Previous file
| Next file
>PD Dec. 31, 1996, Vol. 4, No. 237
Ramadan Takes Its Toll
Israeli livestock breeders are complaining of an increase in
thefts of their animals, in anticipation of the upcoming Arab month
of Ramadan. During the month, Moslems fast during the day, and hold
feasts each night. The damage this year has so far reached 1.2
Weizman Visits India for New Ties
By Michael Drudge (VOA-New Delhi)
Israeli President Ezer Weizman is visiting New Delhi as India and
Israel build up commercial ties. Weizman is the first Israeli head
of state to come to India.
Weizman is touring India on a trip combining an effort to
strengthen bilateral relations with a bit of personal nostalgia.
The Israeli president was last in India 50 years ago when he served
with Britain's RAF in Bangalore, during World War 2. India and
Israel were then ruled by the British.
The countries established diplomatic relations in 1992. During the
Cold War, India tilted toward the Arab states and supported
Palestinian Independence. The Israeli ambassador in New Delhi,
Yehoyada Haim, says the normalization of relations has led to a
boom in trade.
"Taking into consideration five years of relations, I think that
this is unbelievable. We reached over the $600 million trade
between the two countries."
The ambassador said Israel is considering a free-trade arrangement
with India. Weizman is accompanied by a contingent of Israeli
businessmen who are looking to make deals in such fields as
telecommunications, aviation and drip irrigation technology.
The countries signed agreements Monday on agricultural, industrial
and technological cooperation, and cultural exchanges.
Hebron Summit Expected
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
In Jerusalem, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators have held
intensive talks to conclude an agreement on Israeli troop
redeployment in Hebron. The talks precede an anticipated summit
today between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. Both Palestinian and Israeli
officials say they are very close to reaching a deal on the
Hebron is the last of seven occupied West Bank cities to which
Israel agreed to give self-rule under a 1995 agreement with the
PLO. The handover in Hebron has been delayed by Israeli security
concerns, chiefly with regard to protecting 400 Jewish settlers in
the heart of the town of 100,000 Palestinians.
An official in Netanyahu's office says a summit meeting today with
Arafat is possible, if the Palestinians drop some last-minute
demands. Palestinians want joint Israeli-Palestinian patrols at
the "Cave of the Patriarchs," a site revered by both Jews and
Muslims. Netanyahu rejects any shared control, insisting Israel
alone will maintain security at the shrine.
Palestinians are also demanding the release of Palestinians jailed
in Israel, and they want a timetable for Israel's troop withdrawal
from West Bank rural areas, as specified in the original autonomy
Most of Israel on Strike
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
In Israel, hundreds of thousands of workers have walked off their
jobs at the order of a national labor union, effectively shutting
down the country. The labor strike is the largest popular protest
yet against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
The strike has shut down the country's seaports, post office,
banks, the telecommunications company, the stock market, utility
companies, radio stations and government offices. Hospitals and
firefighters are dealing with emergencies only. Ben Gurion
International Airport, which was paralyzed by a wildcat strike
Sunday, was not affected by Monday's strike.
The nationwide strike was called by the "Histadrut" trade union
federation to protest tax increases, a $1 billion budget cut and
plans to privatize state-run companies. The union fears this will
lead to pay cuts and large-scale layoffs. The budget cuts call for
reduced spending on social services, new taxes on gas and
cigarettes, and the loss of tax deductions for married working
The labor action began last week with limited protests. Histadrut
Chairman Amir Peretz called the general walkout after Israeli
police arrested a labor leader on charges he had ordered workers to
violate a court order limiting the extent of the strikes.
The government is issuing warrants to force workers in essential
services to return to work. The labor union chairman is also a
member of parliament for the opposition Labor Party. Netanyahu has
branded the strike politically motivated. Netanyahu, who is pushing
deregulation and a free-market economy, says the action is
irresponsible and groundless.
Finance Minister Dan Meridor says he is willing to negotiate with
the Histadrut chief after the strikers return to their jobs.
Meridor says he must cut government spending to fight inflation
and reduce the national debt. The finance minister faces a 5 p.m
Tuesday deadline to get his 1997 budget plan approved by parliament.
(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)