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>Israel Faxx
>JN Feb. 19, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 29

Temple Feast

Nearly 1,000 people participated in a unique dinner Tuesday in honor of the Jerusalem Temple and Jewish presence on the Temple Mount. Samples of music and instruments that may have been sounded by the Levites in the Temple were played, and speakers described how Jews would ascend to the Temple with their sacrifices.

Egypt: "Spies" Used Women's Underwear

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

An Israeli Arab is being charged with economic espionage in Egypt. Local newspapers claim the Israeli secret service is fueling devil worshipping among Egyptian youths. Newspapers constantly lash-out against Israel for trying to take control of the region -- militarily and economically. While these events are not linked, they appear as part of a pattern of tense relations between the neighbors.

An Israeli Arab and an Egyptian co-worker are being charged with spying for Israel. The two men are accused of passing business secrets, written on female underwear in invisible ink. For the past several weeks, Egyptians have also been mesmerized by stories about youngsters involved in devil worship and sex parties -- many newspaper accounts accuse Israel of plotting to destroy Egyptian youth. Several months ago, there were stories about young girls being led astray after chewing gum that was laced with an aphrodisiac -- another Israeli plot, according to some newspapers.

Israel's new Ambassador to Egypt, Zvi Mazel, says he is discouraged by all the misleading and negative press. He says it undermines efforts to forge closer ties between the peace partners. "I was astonished when I came here and started reading the press every day. I could not understand why (there was) this kind of monopoly of negativism. In the old times, you were attacking some issues about Palestine things or other, but there was also nice news from Israel."

Egyptian columnist Samir Rifaat says Israel and America often become scapegoats for social problems at home. "Anything that goes wrong, somehow Israel and America will appear. They are the natural scapegoats for anything that goes wrong, not only in Egypt but in the region. Anything that is a bit of a crisis, you bring in Israel and America. In the end of the day, this has no credibility."

In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel. It was ostracized by its Arab neighbors for doing so. The move put the government of Anwar Sadat far ahead of public opinion at home where military defeats against the Israeli army still burned in the memories of most Egyptians.

Yeltsin Greets Arafat as Friend

By Elizabeth Arrott (VOA-Moscow)

Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin Tuesday. Yeltsin greeted Arafat as "a friend of the Russian people," then the two sat down for talks on peace in the Middle East.

Moscow has a long relationship with the Palestinian leader, and hopes to use this connection to increase its role in the peace process. Russia and the United States were the initial sponsors of ongoing talks, but the Kremlin's role has long been overshadowed.

While Washington has given greater support to Israel, Yeltsin highlighted Arafat's role in peacemaking efforts, calling him the legitimately elected leader of the Palestinian people.

Palestinian Stock Exchange Opens

By Al Pessin (VOA-Nablus)

In the West Bank town of Nablus Tuesday, the Palestinian Stock exchange opened its doors, offering high-finance backed by high-technology, designed to boost the Palestinian economy.

In the carpeted corridors and computer-lined offices of the Palestine Securities Exchange there is no opening bell, no shouting traders, no scraps of colored paper on the floor. The windowless trading room, with cubicles for each accredited brokerage firm, hums with the sound of fingers tapping keyboards, high-speed printers putting out trade confirmations and whispered conversations between traders and the computer experts helping them get started.

Suleiman Shihadah, the exchange's manager of technical operations, says the software used to operate the market will soon make this brand-new trading room almost obsolete. Brokerage firms will be able to execute their trades by linking their computers, based anywhere, to the exchange's main computer.

As many as 60 Palestinian companies could be listed by the end of the year, with a capitalization of $750 million -- a figure officials say could grow to $2 billion by the year 2000. The companies range from the new Palestinian telephone company, to a large cigarette factory, to pharmaceutical firms, insurance companies and financial service businesses.

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