Newsletter : 7fax0318.txt
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>JN March 18, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 47
Agreement Reached on Palestinian Airport
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have reached agreement on the
first regular use of the new airport in Gaza -- by the Palestinian
leader, Yasir Arafat, himself. But other issues remain in dispute
as Israeli bulldozers and Palestinian protesters are poised for
battle over a Jerusalem hilltop.
The agreement on Arafat's use of the airport came at a one-hour
meeting between senior officials from both sides in Tel Aviv. The
issue had apparently been settled Sunday night in a telephone
conversation involving Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu and Jordan's King Hussein, who was in Netanyahu's office
at the time. Officials say agreement is near on broader use of the
airport with joint Israeli/Palestinian security arrangements.
But that one positive development was overshadowed Monday by
Israeli bulldozers parked and ready at locations near a disputed
hill in east Jerusalem, waiting for orders to begin construction
of a new Jewish neighborhood. Palestinian protesters were waiting
in a tent nearby. The protesters say they will try to block the
bulldozers with their bodies. Israeli soldiers took up positions
watching the protesters watch the hill.
Israel's defense minister has reinforced troops throughout Gaza
and the West Bank, and Palestinian hospitals are preparing for
large numbers of wounded, in case there are widespread and
potentially violent demonstrations when the building starts.
Netanyahu says that will be this week, but he will not say exactly
when. A change in Israel's policy might be the only way to avoid
violence -- but Israel says there will be no change. The
Palestinians want east Jerusalem, including the disputed
hill, to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. Israel
and the Palestinians missed the deadline Monday for starting
talks on statehood and the rest of the remaining issues to be
decided within two years.
But Palestinian and Israeli officials were at least talking
Monday after a week-long freeze caused by Palestinian anger of
Israel's construction plan, and its offer to hand over what the
Palestinians consider too little territory in the next planned
phase of West Bank withdrawal. The partial thaw in relations was
helped by Sunday's visit to Israel by King Hussein, who met with
the families of the seven schoolgirls killed by a Jordanian soldier
last week, and held talks with Netanyahu.
Flatow Sues Iran for Daughter's Murder
By Maxim Kniazkov (VOA-Washington)
An unusual lawsuit pending before a federal court in Washington is
blaming Iran for the death of an American religion student, Alisa
Flatow. The family of the slain 20-year-old girl is seeking to
deter Tehran from sponsoring terrorism.
Tragedy struck the home of lawyer Steven Flatow of West Orange,
N.J. On a chilly April night in 1995. He says the sudden
realization that he will never see his daughter alive again has
probably changed his life forever.
"Alisa took some time off from her studies in the states to study
in Israel. She was on her sixth trip to Israel when she was on her
way to a resort in the Gaza Strip, and her bus was rammed by a van
which was loaded with dynamite. The Islamic Jihad subsequently
took credit for the attack, which killed her and seven other
It was one of a series of bombings that swept Israel, the West
Bank and Gaza in the wake of the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian peace
accord. The agreement paved the way for Palestinian self-rule in
the occupied territories. But it also contained the recognition
of Israel's right to exist by the Palestine Liberation
organization, a commitment that infuriated Muslim militants,
including Islamic Jihad.
Thus, Alisa Flatow became an innocent victim of a political fight
that her father believes was not hers. The Flatow family blames
Iran, in part, for allegedly supporting terrorist groups in the
Middle East, including the Islamic Jihad organization -- which
claimed responsibility for the bombing that killed Alisa Flatow.
And the Flatows have launched what could be called an international
crusade aimed at stopping such aid.
Steven Perles, the Washington lawyer who filed the lawsuit on the
family's behalf, explains. "The Flatow family is holding Iran
financially accountable, under a new federal statute which permits
suits against the state-sponsors of terrorism overseas whose
activities result in the death of a United States national."
Perles says Alisa's father wants, first and foremost, to help bring
these activities to an end. "The real objective here is not the
collection of revenue for revenue's sake. No amount of money is
going to bring back his daughter. However, if he is successful
in obtaining a large award, that award will have a deterrent effect
on the conduct of terrorist states."
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