Newsletter : 7fax0117.txt
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>JN Jan. 17, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 11
Swiss Apologize to Jews
The Swiss economics minister has apologized for labeling as
"blackmail" compensation demands for Holocaust victims, averting
confrontation with Jewish groups. The Federal Council also pledged
to examine whether it could soon pay Jews to make amends for
anti-Jewish refugee policies in World War 2 and purchases of looted
Knesset Votes to Confirm Hebron Accord
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israeli soldiers are dismantling and hauling away parts of their
installations in Hebron, ending a nearly 30-year occupation in most
of the city. Soldiers used cranes to load concrete blocks and guard
towers onto trucks, and dismantled fixtures inside their
headquarters, beginning the long-awaited withdrawal.
The Israeli withdrawals took place during the night to avoid
confrontations with crowds of celebrating Palestinians.
But Israel will remain in control of about 20 percent of the city
-- the area around compounds inhabited by about 400 Israeli
settlers. The neighborhood also has 15,000 Palestinian residents.
The parliamentary debate started at 4 a.m. (EST) Thursday and
lasted for about 12 hours, with each of the 120 legislators
allowed to speak. However, the deal passed easily with the support
of leftist opposition parties.
"What's the difference between us and Labor?" demanded legislator
Uzi Landau, referring to the opposition party. "What will we tell
"We have no say in anything," said another legislator, Reuven
Rivlin. "What will we do if the Palestinians declare a state? How
can we even stop them?"
In a sign of how inflammatory the issue was, Israeli Cabinet
members who voted in favor of the deal were assigned bodyguards
Thursday. And science Minister Benny Begin, son of Israel's late
Prime Minister Menachem Begin, resigned in protest after the
The peace agreement calls for the redeployment of Israeli troops in
the West Bank in three phases, ending no later than late 1998. That
includes Israeli troop withdrawals from 80 percent of Hebron, a
move originally scheduled for last March.
Israeli paratroopers fanned out through the city to protect
soldiers removing equipment and to prevent protests by Jewish
settlers against the agreement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened the debate with
a pledge to protect Israeli settlers, despite the troop
withdrawals, and an appeal to his fellow conservatives to accept
what he called the "reality" of the peace process.
Speaking for Labor, former Foreign Minister Ehud Barak called this
an important moment because Israel's right wing is formally signing
on to the peace process and agreeing to give up parts of the
biblical Land of Israel. He said Netanyahu owes an apology to the
peace process founder, the late Labor Party Prime Minister Yitzhak
Netanyahu says the Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank
town of Hebron will be completed by this morning (EST). At a news
conference during Thursday's long parliament debate, the prime
minister said his redeployment plan is better and more secure than
the original one and that he and the Palestinian leader, Yasir
Arafat, should work together for a lasting peace.
Netanyahu portrayed the Israeli troop movements as a re-deployment
within Hebron, rather than a withdrawal. He said the last four
months of difficult negotiations proved his government can improve
on what the previous government left it.
"We modified it, or rather, modified it through implementation,
through the details, to be a safer and better agreement. And I
think the post-Hebron agreement in particular, where we, I think,
received degrees of freedom of negotiation that weren't present
before, I think this proves that we can achieve a better result
towards the end."
Netanyahu said some seemingly vague clauses in the new agreement
give Israel the authority to do what it needs to do on security
issues, and the flexibility to proceed as it sees fit in further
stages of the peace process.
Regarding his relations with Arafat, Netanyahu said while personal
relationships are important in politics, in this case, it is the
politics of the relationship that are most important.
"This is first of all a relationship between two peoples. And what
guides us, I think, each in his own way, is to advance the
interests of his people. What should guide us is also an
understanding that in the interests of both peoples is the
achievement of a durable and secure and lasting peace."
The prime minister acknowledged that no one knows what will come
out of the next and final stage of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations
and that neither side will achieve everything it wants.
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