Newsletter : 7fax0306.txt
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>JN March 6, 1997, Vol. 6, Number 39
Arafat Addresses United Nations
Yasir Arafat -- president of the Palestinian Authority -- has
urged the United Nations Security council to take a stand against
Israel's plans for building a housing complex for Jews in east
Jerusalem. After a visit to Washington, Arafat held a private
meeting with Council members wednesday -- hours before the
15-member body was due to begin debate on the issue.
Arafat pledged again in New York to continue negotiations with the
Israeli government. But he said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
is straining the peace process. Earlier, Arafat met with American
Jewish leaders, who described their discussions as "very positive."
Netanyahu Explains Housing to Mubarak
By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Cairo Wednesday to
try to defuse tensions over the latest Israeli decision to build
more Jewish housing in east Jerusalem. Egyptian president Hosni
Mubarak is still expressing concern about the negative impact of
the Israeli decision on the peace process.
Netanyahu insists the new construction in east Jerusalem is an
issue of housing for a growing population. He says more units also
are being built for Arabs living there.
But Mubarak says the explanations do not ease his fears for the
future of the peace process, especially negotiations on the final
status of Jerusalem, which begin later this month. "Really, I say
that the housing and this problem is a very complicated problem. I
fear is it may lead to complications in the future when they start
the final status of Jerusalem."
Netanyahu argues that the Oslo agreement on Palestinian self-rule
does not specifically deal with Jerusalem. But Mubarak publicly
corrected the Israeli leader during a news conference after their
talks. He quoted from an article of the agreement that warns
against pre-empting the final status negotiations on Jerusalem.
Arab states have long complained that Israel is changing the
demography of Jerusalem before the final status negotiations begin
in order to prejudice the outcome.
Netanyahu acknowledges the flood of international criticism. But he
says it may be overblown. He insists Israel's commitment to the
peace process is ironclad.
Jerusalem Palestinian Offices May be Closed
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israeli police are preparing to deliver closure orders to four
Palestinian offices in east Jerusalem, saying their presence in an
area controlled by Israel violates the peace agreements. The move
ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has angered
Palestinians, who are planning protest marches Friday against
Israeli construction plans for east Jerusalem.
The senior Palestinian official for Jerusalem affairs, Faisal
Husseini, says all the Palestinian offices in Jerusalem are not
part of the Palestinian Authority, but rather are either local
groups or part of the PLO. He says their existence does not violate
the peace agreements.
The PLO, which is based in Tunis and technically separate from
the Gaza-based Palestinian Autonomy Authority, continues to handle
a variety of issues, including some aspects of the negotiations
Husseini acknowledges the offices might provide some information or
services to the Authority, which is barred under the peace accords
from having offices outside areas it controls. But Husseini says
ordering the offices to close hurts the credibility of the
Palestinian leadership and opens an opportunity for militant groups
to make political gains among the Palestinian people.
Husseini says the combination of the closure orders and last week's
Israeli decision to build a new Jewish neighborhood in east
Jerusalem amounts to madness and could cause an explosion of
Netanyahu says Israel is within its rights in the Jerusalem
building plan and in the orders to close the Palestinian offices
within four days. But during a visit to Cairo Wednesday he said
the final decision could be in the hands of the Israeli courts.
The Palestinian Authority called for mass prayers and
demonstrations Friday in support of Palestinian claims to east
Jerusalem, which both recent Israeli decisions threaten. Groups
are to gather at the east Jerusalem building site, at the Al-Aqsa
mosque in east Jerusalem's Old City and elsewhere in the West Bank
and Gaza. But Husseini says the protests will be peaceful.
"I can promise everyone that if the Israeli army will not use
violence there will be only peaceful activities there. But if the
Israeli government will try to use other ways, non-violence is (in)
need of two sides and not only one side."
Friday is also the day Israel is supposed to make the first of
three stages of further withdrawals from West Bank villages and
rural areas. But the Israeli Cabinet is not discussing the issue
until today and officials say there could be some delay in the
withdrawal, particularly if there is violence in Friday's
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