Newsletter : 7fax0214.txt
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>PD Feb. 14, 1997, Vol. 7, Number 26
Netanyahu Meets with Clinton
By David Borgida (VOA-White House)
President Clinton has welcomed visiting Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House to discuss the Israeli-Syrian
peace track and the recent agreement on Hebron. The two leaders
were restrained in their public comment on their agenda but not in
their public praise for each other.
"Today the prime minister and I discussed what Israelis and
Palestinians need to do next to strengthen this relationship that
is so central to all our hopes for the Middle East. We have an
opportunity to build on the new momentum coming out of last month's
agreement. It must not be wasted."
Then Netanyahu took his turn: "We have seen him, personally and his
staff, make a tremendous contribution for peace. I think their
contribution for the Hebron agreement was decisive and it reflects
and reaffirms the leadership for peace that President Clinton has
shown throughout his term of office. I think we've taken bold steps
for peace, it's time that we see such steps from our partners as
well. And if we had this mutuality, we will have I think a great
Netanyahu is the first of four Middle Eastern leaders to meet with
Clinton. In the weeks ahead -- Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat,
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Hussein are to
Breakthrough Between Swiss and WJC
By Max Ruston (VOA-New York)
Representatives of Switzerland and the World Jewish Congress appear
to have achieved a breakthrough in their dispute over the
identification and return of money belonging to victims of the
Holocaust. The two sides say their relationship has changed from
one of confrontation to cooperation.
The first signs of reconciliation began to appear at a hearing
Thursday held by the New York State legislature. The principal
speakers at the hearing were the secretary-general of the WJC --
Israel Singer -- and Switzerland's consul general in New York,
While officials from the two sides have exchanged bitter remarks
during the last few months, Singer and Defago both pointed to
recent progress in settling their disputes.
The disputes center on charges that Switzerland helped Nazi German
authorities transfer stolen money and gold during World War 2.
After the war, Switzerland allegedly kept money belonging to
Holocaust victims by failing to investigate claim by survivors and
heirs. During the last few weeks, Switzerland has admitted many of
the charges are true and started setting up a humanitarian fund to
aid elderly Holocaust survivors.
Defago said the two sides are now prepared to cooperate in helping
Switzerland deal with its past and meet its moral and financial
obligations to Holocaust victims.
"To this end, the Swiss Federal Council has asked me to extend an
invitation to Israel Singer, secretary-general of the World Jewish
Congress, to meet with our foreign minister, Flavio Coltti, in Bern
to discuss questions surrounding the administration and
distribution of the humanitarian fund. The Swiss Jewish community
will also be intensely involved in this process. I am fully
convinced these talks will be the beginning of a genuine
partnership between Switzerland and the Jewish community."
Defago predicted the investigation into Switzerland's past would be
extremely painful for the country. But he said it is an essential
and healthy step to take.
Singer also responded with a degree of optimism. He outlined the
horrors of the Holocaust, saying that 113 members of his family
alone were executed in a single day. He indicated that
Switzerland's decision to reassess its past is a positive step.
"We think we have turned the corner. We think that this is a new
beginning. But, make no mistake, this is not about Switzerland
alone. This is about 15 countries and restitution there. This is
about Germany being the primary culprit and the Nazis having been
the people who created the conditions which gave Swiss banks and
other neutral countries the opportunity to steal money after and
during the war."
The signs of reconciliation came one day before authorities
representing the Swiss government, the WJC and the US government
are scheduled to hold a meeting in New York. The meeting will
discuss progress made in establishing a humanitarian fund, how that
fund will be administered and how to move more quickly in tracking
down and returning money left in Switzerland as a result of the
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