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>Israel Faxx
>PD Jan. 10, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 6

Bombs in Tel Aviv Market Injure 11

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Two bomb explosions shook an outdoor market in Tel Aviv Thursday evening, injuring about 11 people, most of them slightly.

Police say the explosions were caused by two relatively weak pipe bombs that were packed with nails. They were hidden in garbage cans in the market area, next to the city's old bus station -- an area frequented by foreign workers. Officials say two police officers who rushed to the scene of the first explosion were among those injured when the second bomb went off.

The national police chief says the bombs were not as powerful as the ones used in several bus bombings in Israel in recent years, each of which resulted in dozens of deaths. But the type of device used led police to the preliminary conclusion that the incident was a terrorist attack.

The blasts came as the chief US mediator, Dennis Ross, was meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an effort to conclude an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on the future of Hebron and other occupied parts of the West Bank.

Several incidents have had a negative impact on the sensitive talks, including a drive-by shooting in which two Israelis on the West Bank were killed and a shooting spree by an Israeli soldier in Hebron in which seven Palestinians were wounded.

Ashrawi Reacts to Israeli Housing Plans

By Imani Crosby (VOA-Washington)

Palestinian Authority official Hanan Ashrawi has given an update on the Palestinian position in the Middle East peace process at a briefing Thursday in Washington. Ashrawi reacted to the latest Israeli plans to build more housing in Hebron.

Ashrawi said the Palestinians have protested the development to the Israeli government and US negotiators. She called the new construction a clear violation of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement on Hebron.

"This is entirely illegal, it is unacceptable, and the expansion of settlements is certainly in direct contradiction of the agreements and is an act of provocation and incitement which would lead to further violence."

Ashrawi also accused the Israelis of attempting to build more floors on existing houses in the old city of Hebron. She said this changes the demographic nature and cultural and architectural character of the older area -- a point she says is extremely sensitive and non-negotiable with the Palestinians.

American Jewish Committee Examines Latin American Jewry

By Bill Rodgers (VOA-San Jose, Costa Rica)

A delegation from an American Jewish group is travelling this week through Central America and Mexico to examine conditions for Jews living in the region.

The 18-member delegation from the New York-based American Jewish committee has made stops in Panama, Costa Rica and is now on its way to Mexico. The delegation members have met with top government officials -- including the presidents of Costa Rica and Panama -- and with Jewish community leaders in both countries.

These communities are relatively small. About 2,000 Jews, most of whose families originated in Poland, live in Costa Rica while Panama has about 7,000 Jews. There are an estimated 35,000 Jews living in Mexico.

The head of the delegation, Robert Rifkind, says his group is pleased with what it has found in the region so far. Rifkind, who also is president of the American Jewish Committee, said his group has not heard from community leaders of any serious problems involving anti-Semitism or human rights violations in either Costa Rica or Panama. He attributes this healthy human rights climate to the growth of democracy in general in Latin America.

"We believe it is in the interest of America and in the interest of minorities, including Jewish minorities, that we see democracy prosper in the world -- and Latin America is one of the great success stories of democracy in the last decade. A continent that was typified by a sort of tyranny has with remarkable speed turned itself into a series of reasonably successful democracies -- and that ought to interest us -- we oughtn't just look at the problems, we ought to look at the bright side."

The AJC, which was founded in 1906, has some 50,000 members and is considered one of the most influential Jewish lobbying organizations in the United States.

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