Newsletter : 7fax0320.txt
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>JN March 20, 1997, Vol. 5, number 49
Supreme Court Considers Har Homa
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel's Supreme Court has declined to stop construction of a
controversial new Israeli neighborhood in east Jerusalem, which
began Tuesday. The work continued Wednesday, amid more small
demonstrations, warnings from Palestinian officials, and defiant
statements from Israel.
The court declined requests to issue temporary orders stopping work
on the site while it considers three lawsuits. For two of them, it
gave the government 60 days to justify some of its decisions
regarding the site, including why the housing is intended for Jews
only. The court postponed arguments on another case until next
week, brought by a Jewish landowner whose property was confiscated
for the project. The court's decision left bulldozers moving earth
on the disputed hill for a second day, protected by Israeli troops.
Palestinian leaders say it could be the end of the peace process,
and militant groups based in Jordan and Syria have called for a
violent response. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said
Wednesday there can be no peace in which Israel is not free
to build in east Jerusalem, and he said he will hold the
Palestinian Authority responsible for any violence.
There were small demonstrations in several Palestinian areas
Wednesday, including a village near the construction site. But
there has been no violence so far.
Despite Hussein's Visit, Relations Not Cozy
By Andre de Nesnera (VOA-London)
Many British experts on the Middle East say the peace process is in
serious jeopardy, due in large part to what they describe as
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intransigent policies
towards the Palestinians.
Many British experts on the Middle East say Netanyahu's policies
have brought the Middle East peace process to a virtual standstill
-- and has brought the region to the brink of violence.
Ibrahim Karawan is a Middle East expert with London's International
Institute for Strategic Studies. He says last week's murder of
seven Israeli schoolgirls by a Jordanian soldier has heightened
tensions even more. "Regardless of the specific motivation of this
individual, I think it remains true there is a growing sense of an
impasse in the region and that the euphoria that surrounded (the)
Oslo (agreements) and after that is no longer there. Even in
Jordan, which is a moderate country that played a moderating role
in the Arab-Israeli settlement process, this resentment and
bitterness is mounting."
In an effort to ease strained relations, the Jordanian monarch
visited the Israeli families mourning their daughters killed by
the Jordanian soldier. Experts say while the visit was emotional,
it did little to get Israeli-Jordanian relations back on track.
Middle East expert and writer, Hazhir Teimourian, says in dealing
with Israel, King Hussein must take into account that 60 percent
of his subjects are Palestinians.
"King Hussein fears riots in his country again. He knows that if he
is seen to be too close to the new right-wing government of Israel,
there will be large-scale, widespread riots again, and therefore he
has to pay attention to the sentiments of his people."
Many experts here say the Middle East peace process can only move
forward if Netanyahu softens his hardline policies.
Netanyahu Promises Conversion Law Will Pass
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Knesset members from
the United Torah Judaism Party that the proposed Law of Conversion
will be voted upon following its first reading. The reading is
scheduled to take place before the end of the current Knesset
session at the beginning of April. The Prime Minister will bring
two forms of the new legislation before the government. The first
version calls for every conversion performed within Israel to
require the approval of the president of the Rabbinical High Court.
The second version includes a provision calling for any conversion
of an Israeli resident, either in Israel or abroad to require such
The birth of a red heifer (cow) in a farm in the religious
youth village of Kfar Hasidim (near Haifa) has excited sectors in
the religious community. A delegation of some 25 experts,
including Rabbis Yisrael Ariel and Yoseph Elboim, visited the farm
last week to examine the six-month old cow, and concluded that it
is in fact an acceptable red heifer, according to Torah
However, the cow must be at least two years old before it can
be used. Until then, the cow will be carefully watched to ensure
that nothing occurs to invalidate its status. According to
biblical law, the cow's ashes are used for purification from
certain forms of impurity, and is therefore a prerequisite for the
renewal of Holy Temple service.
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