Newsletter : 7fax0128.txt
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>JN Jan. 28. 1997, Vol. 5, Number 18
Arafat Promises No Independence; Yet
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat says he has no plans to declare
Palestinian statehood until the next phase of talks with Israel is
completed, which is supposed to be in mid-1999. According to the
Israeli Newspaper Yediot Aharonot, Arafat made the promise Sunday
in a meeting with retired Israeli army officers in Gaza.
Arafat is quoted as saying he does not intend to declare
Palestinian statehood until the next phase of peace talks is
completed, and that he believes for now implementing the interim
agreement should be the main focus, not potentially divisive
Previous comments by Arafat and other Palestinian officials
indicating a statehood declaration could come soon have angered
Israeli officials. Such comments have generally come in times of
trouble in the peace talks.
Israeli officials have said a unilateral Palestinian declaration
could end the peace process. But now Arafat has said such a move
is not in his plans.
Sharansky Visits Russia
By Elizabeth Arrott (VOA-Moscow)
One of the most prominent Soviet dissidents of the Cold War era has
returned to Russia, 11 years after he was forced to leave. Natan
Sharansky travelled through Moscow Monday in a convoy of embassy
cars -- a dramatically different means of transport than the prison
van that last took him out of the capital.
The Israeli trade and industry minister returned to Moscow to
help build economic links. But the visit is overshadowed by
Sharansky spent nine years in Soviet prisons and labor camps for
campaigning for the right of Jews to emigrate to Israel. He was
formally accused of spying for the United States and his case was
taken up by human rights advocates worldwide.
After his release on a Berlin bridge in 1986, Sharansky settled in
Israel where he founded a political party representing Soviet
Leading a delegation of Israeli businessmen to Moscow, the former
dissident said he was returning to a new country which enjoys
freedom, a country with which he could work.
Swiss Ambassador to U.S. Resigns
By Ron Pemstein (VOA-State Department)
Switzerland's ambassador to the United States has resigned after
publication of a confidential document in which he called for a
public relations campaign against Jewish groups and other critics
of Swiss policy.
Ambassador Carlo Jagmetti resigned six months early after his call
for a war against Jewish and other critics of Switzerland's
treatment of bank accounts held by victims of the Nazi Holocaust
State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns has joined criticism of
Jagmetti's comments. "If it's true that the Swiss ambassador made
these remarks, it betrays a fundamental lack of understanding about
the commitment the United States government has to its own citizens
and to the search for justice for people who had their human rights
fundamentally violated during the Second World War. It's very
The spokesman says the State Department welcomes Switzerland's
promise to establish a compensation fund for Holocaust victims as
an important first step in dealing with the past.
French Museums Hold Jewish Works of Art
By Julian Nundy (VOA-Paris)
A French newspaper says a secret government report shows French
museums are holding nearly 2,000 works of art confiscated from Jews
during the Nazi occupation in World War 2.
The French daily "Le Monde" says a special French court which looks
into misuse of public funds conducted an investigation into the
whereabouts of art stolen from Jews during the Nazi occupation of
The newspaper said it obtained a copy of a secret report showing
French state museums, including the Louvre in Paris, have more than
1,900 confiscated works of art by such artists as Renoir, Monet
There was no official confirmation of Le Monde's report, but it
came just as French Prime Minister Alain Juppe said he will soon
create a commission to list property stolen from Jews during the
war and seek ways of compensating them or their families. Only a
tiny fraction of the 76,000 Jews deported from France to Nazi death
camps ever returned.
The new commission looking into Jewish property will have to study
more than 5,000 boxes of documents kept secret since the war.
Simone Veil, another former government minister and herself one of
the few French survivors of the death camps, told a French radio
station her only question was to ask why it had taken more than 50
years to deal with the problem?
Last week, a Paris court ordered former government minister,
Maurice Papon, to stand trial on a charge of crimes against
humanity for his alleged role in the deportation of Jews from the
Bordeaux region. He will be the last French citizen to face trial
for crimes committed during the war.
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