Newsletter : 7fax0317.txt
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>JN March 17, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 46
Shots on Egyptian Border
On the Israeli-Egyptian border, in the area of Rafiah (less
than 10 kilometers north of the former Israeli city of Yamit),
shots were fired at an IDF patrol early this morning. There were
no injuries. IDF soldiers in the patrol returned fire and carried
out a search for the attackers.
King Hussein Pays Shiva Calls
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Jordan's King Hussein visited Israel Sunday to pay condolences on
the families of the seven 13-year-old schoolgirls killed by a
Jordanian soldier last week, and to see some of the wounded in
When the king and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu entered
the living room of the Malkah family, Aliyah Malkah, mother of the
late Adi, burst into tears. She sat with her husband and surviving
children on the floor, in a traditional Jewish sign of mourning.
As he did in other homes Sunday, the king knelt on the floor to
offer words of condolence.
"No words can ever express how I personally feel, how my family
feels, how my people feel. We consider this a loss that all of us
suffered. I feel that I have lost a child."
After greeting other family members, the king -- wearing a red
traditional arab headscarf -- knelt again and kissed the grieving
couple farewell. Netanyahu did the same, as did the king's son
Faisal and his daughter Aisha.
The scene was repeated seven times, in seven modest homes, with
seven grieving families, as the king's motorcade of black cars
moved slowly through the gray, stormy afternoon. The king spoke
English with some of the families, Arabic with some who are of
Moroccan origin, and Netanyahu acted as his interpreter with
families who only speak Hebrew. In one home, the parents of one of
the murdered girls are deaf and the king waited patiently as his
words were interpreted into sign language and their responses were
translated into English.
Zacharia Fatihi, the father of slain Sivan Fatihi, told the king
the killings only make it more important to fight extremists and
to pursue peace. "I am sure that your majesty will fight those
fanatic extremists. Otherwise, they will negatively affect the
peace. Both sides should work hard to get peace."
Late in the afternoon, the king visited a wounded girl and teacher
in a Jerusalem hospital. He said the challenge the region's people
face is to build a peace which will protect children like the seven
girls killed Thursday. "In visiting the families today -- they were
kind enough to receive me -- I felt, and I tried to express to
them, that the loss was shared between us all."
The king's visit was a deeply personal gesture, but it also could
give a boost to the troubled Middle East peace process. This
tragedy will not erase the sharp disagreements between Israel and
its Arab neighbors over Jerusalem and other aspects of the peace
Israeli President Ezer Weizman said Sunday although he believes it
is terrible to think so, the deaths of the seven girls at least
re-opened personal contacts among the leaders and could help create
some new opportunities.
Nations Meet in Gaza
By Al Pessin (VOA-Gaza)
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat has called on foreign co-signers of
the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements to create a new
international mechanism to make sure the peace process stays on
track. The diplomats attending a specially called meeting in Gaza
expressed sympathy, but stopped short of agreeing to any new role.
Opening the unprecedented meeting Saturday, Arafat told the
diplomats recent Israeli policies toward Jerusalem and the West
Bank mean he no longer has a partner who is committed to the basic
principles of the peace process or to the specific agreements which
have been signed.
Arafat said the countries which co-signed the Israeli-Palestinian
agreements, including the United States and Russia, have a shared
responsibility to help save the peace process and put it back on
"the normal track."
The diplomats promised to take Arafat's concerns to their
governments, and to Israel. But the US representative, Edward
Abington, said direct Israel-Palestinian talks are still the
priority. "We do not see this as a new mechanism. We see bilateral
negotiations as the best way to solve problems."
Israel has already rejected any effort to create a new
international mechanism in the peace process.
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