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>PD Israel Faxx Feb. 10, 1997, Vol 5. Number 22
Palestinians Concerned About Israeli Commitments
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
The Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, and Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have agreed to convene committees
within the next week to manage implementation of existing peace
agreements. The decision came at a summit Sunday evening.
After a two-hour session at the Israel-Gaza border, the two men
emerged to report they had covered all the issues between them in
what Netanyahu called a productive and constructive atmosphere.
The Palestinians are concerned about remaining Israeli commitments,
including opening a Palestinian airport and seaport, and Israel is
concerned by what it calls illegal operations by Palestinian
security forces in Jerusalem, and other issues.
Netanyahu will, at a special Cabinet meeting today, present a plan
calling for Israel to transfer 70% of the area of Judea and Samaria
to the control of the Palestinians under the permanent status
arrangements. Israel will continue to govern a united Jerusalem and
all of the Jewish West Bank communities, while maintaining an IDF
presence in the Jordan Valley.
Future of Jerusalem Generates Debate
By Maxim Kniazkov (VOA-Washington)
With the Middle East peace process back on track, diplomats prepare
to take on one of the thorniest issues on the Middle Eastern agenda
-- the fate of Jerusalem. Its future is to be discussed during
talks on the final status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip that
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are yet to begin in earnest.
But the issue is already generating a lively debate.
Israel captured the eastern, Arab, part of Jerusalem during the
1967 war and proclaimed the city Israel's undivided capital.
Despite international criticism, the Israeli government has never
backed down from that decision.
But the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian peace accord thrust Jerusalem
back on the diplomatic agenda. And now that the dispute over
Israel's withdrawal from Hebron has been resolved, the Jerusalem
question is again the focus of attention.
Palestinian officials say they want east Jerusalem back to make
it the capital of a future Palestinian state. The Israelis have
not given their assent to Palestinian statehood, let alone a
change in the present status of Jerusalem.
Historically, Jerusalem has been a center of three religions --
Judaism, Islam and Christianity. But Palestinians accuse Israel
of using its control over the city to drastically alter its
demographic makeup. They say that east Jerusalem's Jewish
population grew from a virtual zero in 1967 to 160,000 now,
surpassing that sector's Arab population.
Israeli officials argue Jerusalem is central to the Jewish faith
and will remain Israel's capital.
With the gap separating both sides wide and deep, diplomats and
scholars are now groping for a compromise that would overcome the
New York Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg has offered one such
recommendation. Hertzberg suggests separating religious and
political considerations while tackling the Jerusalem dispute.
"The religious problem is not settleable within the political
context. What is settleable within the political context is some
modus vivendi on shrines, holy places, in which a reasonable amount
of peace will be kept."
Hertzberg advocates a certain degree of separation between Arab and
Jewish communities in a future Jerusalem. He believes a Palestinian
state will eventually be formed in the West Bank and Gaza. But
even Hertzberg, a self-professed liberal, stopped short of
endorsing the Palestinian demand that east Jerusalem be turned into
the capital of the proposed state.
Jane's: Middle East Conflict "Closer Than Before"
The prestigious military journal Jane's Intelligence Review has
released a report concluding that a war in the Middle East is
"closer than before," but that in any event Israel will emerge
victorious. Claiming that Israel has become the third-strongest
world power, the British periodical writes that the Israel Air
Force is seven to eight times stronger than the combined might of
those of the Arab nations, and that the IDF is presently a
generation ahead of its Arab counterparts.
The 25-page report presents four possible scenarios:
- A limited war between Israel and Syria, initiated by Syria, with
aid from Hizbullah.
- An Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Israel facing 35-50,000
armed Palestinians, which will lead to Israel's re-conquest
of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.
- A preemptive air strike by Israel against Iran's ability to
manufacture nuclear ballistic missiles.
- A general Israeli-Arab war. This is the least likely scenario,
although one of the other scenarios could deteriorate to this.
Israel will be able to destroy the Arab armies within 10-15 days.
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