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>Israel Faxx
>JN Jan. 13, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 7

TI King Hussein Offers West Bank Compromise Will Arafat Now Demand Jerusalem?
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Jordan's King Hussein is making a dramatic bid to end the deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks with an unscheduled, late-night visit Sunday to Tel Aviv to meet Israel's prime minister. The comes after the king spent several hours in Gaza with the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat.

Officials say King Hussein flew into Tel Aviv carrying a new compromise proposal already discussed with Arafat, as well as Egyptian and US leaders. After weeks of deadlock culminating Sunday in the announcement that the chief US mediator would leave the region, King Hussein said in Gaza Sunday evening the talks are "moving very, very well" and that he hopes for "a happy conclusion."

The king met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, and they were expected to be joined later by the chief Palestinian negotiator and the US mediator, Dennis Ross, who postponed his departure.

Officials say Israel and the Palestinians have reached agreement on the details of the long-delayed withdrawal of Israeli troops from most of Hebron. But the talks stalled over when Israel will make promised further withdrawals from other parts of the West Bank. US efforts to forge a compromise have so far been unsuccessful. But a Palestinian official says the king is offering a "new formula."

Palestinian Airways Up, Up and Away

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

"Palestinian Airways" flew its maiden flight Friday, taking Muslim pilgrims from Port Said in Egypt to Saudi Arabia. The airline now consists of two Fokker-50 (twin turboprop) aircraft. Flights to Gaza and the West Bank are still on hold until an agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians on managing an airport in Gaza.

The pilot of the first airliner to take off described the historic flight as a "dream come true." The passengers on board felt the same way.

The two 50-seater airplanes of the new fleet have "Palestinian Airways" painted on the side, along with the red, green and black stripes of the Palestinian flag.
The two planes will make five more flights between Port Said and Jeddah during the next few days to carry Muslim pilgrims on their way to the holy city of Mecca.

Fayez Zaidan, who is in charge of the airline, had hoped the inaugural flight would be from Cairo to Gaza's international airport. The airport is still under construction and should be finished by April.

But the agreement between Israel and the Palestinians on the management and security of the airport is still under negotiation.

Zaidan has been involved with the negotiations since the start and says a key stumbling block has been Israeli insistence on running the airport and its security. Zaidan says the Palestinians must run the airport, but they are willing to set up a liaison committee to let Israel monitor security.

Businessmen in Gaza say the airport would let them get around Israel's frequent closures of the Palestinian self-rule areas and the bureaucratic delays of shipping products through Israel's airport.

Pope to Apologize for Anti-Semitism

Vatican officials say the pope has instructed a new historical theological commission to examine the persecution and torture of Jews by the Inquisition in 15th-century Spain and to tackle the issue of the sometimes ambivalent attitude of Catholics toward the Nazi elimination of Jewish populations in occupied Europe during the Second World War.

Mgr. Rino Fisichella, vice chairman of the new commission, said it would hold two international symposiums on anti-Semitism in the fall. The meetings, to be held in the Vatican, would involve clergy, lay people and academic experts, and would confront the often painful issues of Jewish- Catholic relations "without preconceptions". The aim was for the church to seek pardon for past mistakes.

But many Jewish leaders remain dissatisfied with Vatican statements on the Holocaust. They also want a clear Vatican condemnation of the failure of Pope Pius XII to denounce Nazi atrocities or to speak out against the deportation of Jews from Rome itself during the German wartime occupation.

Bomb Explosions Remain Unsolved

The police have no clue as to who planted two bombs at the old Tel Aviv Central Bus Station last week. The explosions injured 12 people. A police-artist sketch of a suspect has been circulated, but it has not turned up any results.
The police are concentrating on two principle question marks of the case: Why the bombs were detonated in an area that was practically empty; and, if they were planted by Arab terrorists, why they did not use much more powerful bombs, which they have proven in the past that they can easily assemble. Each one of the two bombs was relatively small -- about one-pound of explosives.

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