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>Israel Faxx
>JN April 25, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 74

Leaking package at B'nai B'rith makes people sick

By Frank Sesno (CNN)

At least 17 people were taken to hospitals after a package leaking an unknown liquid was discovered at the Washington international headquarters of B'nai B'rith.

The package and its contents were placed in sealed containers and taken to the Bethesda Naval Research Facility for examination. Police say labeling on the package indicated it contained anthrax, a dangerous biological warfare chemical, but they added that testing has shown that is not the case.

The package was labeled as possibly containing a chemical or biological agent. It was accompanied by a letter of several pages, signed by an organization no one recognized, FBI sources told CNN. That name was not released.

The package was leaking liquid when it was discovered late Thursday morning by mail clerks. Two people who came in contact with the liquid reported feeling ill, and complained of headaches. They were taken to a hospital for treatment and were reported in stable condition.

A spokeswoman at George Washington University Hospital said at least 15 to 18 other people exposed to the package were going to be examined and were decontaminated as a precaution.

Invisible Ink Underwear Trial Gets Underway

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

An Israeli Arab and an Egyptian went on trial Thursday in Egypt on charges of spying for Israel. If found guilty, they face the death penalty or up to 15 years in prison with hard labor. The three-judge panel heard the opening arguments and adjourned the case until mid-May.

A crowded courtroom in Cairo heard the two men plead not guilty. The defendants, dressed in white prison uniforms, stood inside an iron cage while riot police guarded the courtroom inside and out.

The Israeli Arab, Azam Azam, and the Egyptian, Emad Abdel Hamid Ismail, were picked up in September and charged with passing secrets to Israel by writing with invisible ink on women's underwear. They both worked at a clothing factory on the outskirts of Cairo.

Two Israeli women are also being tried in absentia. They are accused of being Israeli secret agents who duped the men into cooperating with them.

Representatives of the Israeli government and members of Azam's family were in the courtroom for the hearing.

U.N. General Assembly Opens Emergency Session

By Elaine Johanson (VOA-United Nations)

The Palestine Liberation Organization is seeking concrete measures from the United Nations against Israel to stop Israeli settlement plans in east Jerusalem. The General Assembly Thursday opened a two-day emergency session -- the fourth time the controversial building project has been debated in New York.

The Palestinians want the General Assembly to approve a resolution that would condemn Israel and encourage governments to inflict sanctions against the Jewish state. They also want the UN to send an observer team to monitor the occupied territories.

This debate is largely symbolic. The General Assembly's resolutions -- unlike those of the Security Council -- are not binding. And only the Council can impose mandatory sanctions.

The United States twice vetoed a resolution in the Security Council critical of Israel. It said negotiations are the appropriate forum for dealing with the Jerusalem issue. The Palestinian representative called the US position an arrogance of power that has ruled out the Security Council as an instrument of peace and security.

Besides the two Security Council debates on the Jerusalem building plan, the General Assembly also met last month and overwhelmingly urged Israel to abandon the project. This new assembly meeting was called under a special "uniting for peace" formula devised in 1950. It allows an issue considered a threat to peace to be referred to the General Assembly if action in the security council has been blocked.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem its eternal capital, while the Palestinians are hoping east Jerusalem will be the capital of a future Palestinian state. Israel captured the eastern part during the 1967 Middle East war. Both sides say they want to preserve the peace process. But talks have ground to a halt under the strain of Israel's decision to build new Jewish homes in the disputed area.

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