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>Israel Faxx
>JN Feb. 20, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 30

Netanyahu Gave 50-50 Map to Clinton

Prime Minister Netanyahu presented a map to President Clinton last week, according to which Israel is willing to concede 50% of the territories to the Palestinians, the New York Times reported Wednesday. According to the map, Israel will continue to rule over the Jordan Valley, east-west arteries, and a security zone along the length of the Green Line.

Nazis Shipped Gold to Spain and Portugal

By Larry Freund (VOA-New York)

U-S Sen. Alfonse d'Amato said Wednesday new documents have been located showing details of the shipment of 188 tons of gold held by Nazi Germany from Switzerland to Spain and Portugal during World War 2.

According to d'Amato, documents located in the US National Archives show that 124 truckloads of gold held by Nazi Germany were sent from Switzerland to both Spain and Portugal. The shipments took place between January 1942 and May 1944. The senator says some of the gold came from countries then occupied by Nazi Germany and their peoples and some from victims of the Holocaust.

The value of the gold at the time was $157 million. Its current value, according to d'Amato, would be more than $1.5 billion.

According to the documents 45 truckloads of gold were sent to Spain and 79 to Portugal. The documents list the names of the Portuguese and Spanish banks that are said to have received the gold and, according to the senator, even list the license plate numbers of the trucks.

D'Amato has been pressing Switzerland to investigate its policies during World War 2 and its holdings of assets that belonged to victims of the Holocaust. Swiss banks have agreed to establish a $70 million humanitarian fund for surviving victims of the Holocaust and families of the victims. Last week, Jewish leaders reached agreement in New York with Swiss officials to establish a restitution fund for Holocaust survivors.

However, in a statement, d'Amato says even if a small fraction of the gold reportedly shipped from Switzerland to Portugal and Spain belonged to Holocaust victims, that is still much more than the $70 million now being offered by Swiss banks in restitution.

The senator says he has sent letters to the Spanish and Portuguese ambassadors to the United States asking their countries to assist the US Senate Banking Committee -- which the senator heads -- in determining what happened to the gold.

Joint Tourism Effort Underway

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Autonomy Authority have launched a joint program to promote tourism. Tourism officials want to use Israel's withdrawal from most of Hebron to create a new image for the city, the rest of the West Bank, Israel and Jordan. They say this is the start of a new era of peace, and they are inviting people in North America, Europe and Asia to come and have a look.

The director general of the Palestinian Tourism Ministry, Bajis Ismail, said "My hope really is to have this tourism movement even push the political leaders, you know, to go ahead with the peace process and to see, I mean, the fruits of such an effort."

It is a tough but important challenge for the Palestinian and Israeli tourism officials. Even with Israeli troops out of 80 percent of Hebron, tension continues in that city and elsewhere. Officials note tourists have never been targeted in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but they also acknowledge any violence scares people away, as it did last year to a devastating extent.

Tourism is tremendously important to Israel, bringing in more than $3 billion last year, despite the troubled environment. It is much smaller in the Palestinian areas, but Ismail says the Palestinian economy desperately needs the kind of boost growth in tourism could provide.

"We do hope that this sector, this tourism sector, will play the major role to our national economy, since we don't have that much natural resources or any other natural wealth, we have to develop the region and we have the potential, we have the people who are used to welcoming of tourists hundreds of years, so we can really compete in this field."

Ismail says the Palestinian areas have many tourist attractions, most notably in Bethlehem and Jericho. But he acknowledges the Palestinian Authority needs to improve the sites and nearby accommodations, and to get the word out through efforts like the joint campaign with Israel and Jordan. If it does, he believes there is great potential. "Tourism is part of our history. We have been welcoming tourism, or tourists, since two-thousand years."

Blind Bugs are Safer

A unique flower and gardening exhibition was staged in Kibbutz Ga'ash Wednesday. One of the new developments is a greenhouse whose wall-panels can reflect light in such a way that insects that have managed to enter the greenhouse will be blinded and unable to cause damage. This eliminates the necessity of spraying the flowers in the greenhouse with insecticides, and the flowers will be able to be grown organically.

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