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>PD
>Israel Faxx
>JN May 20, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 91

Second Palestinian Murdered for Selling Land

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian police are investigating the second murder in recent weeks of Palestinians who allegedly sold land to Israelis. The killings have drawn the wrath of human rights groups, particularly because they followed a proposal by the Palestinian justice minister that such sales be made illegal and punishable by death.

The latest killing occurred during the weekend. The victim was a building contractor found dead in the autonomous Palestinian city of Ramallah, with four gunshot wounds in his head.

The man, 48-year-old Harbi abu Sara, had been arrested last year by the Palestinian police for having allegedly brokered land sales to Israelis and also for allegedly spying for Israel during the seven-year Palestinian uprising, the Intifada. He was released two months later.

The killing of such people, known to Palestinians as "collaborators," is not unusual. But abu Sara's death came just a week after another Palestinian land broker was murdered -- apparently for selling land to Israelis. And that killing came just days after a Palestinian building in east Jerusalem passed into the hands of Israelis -- and the Palestinian justice minister announced he would make such sales illegal and punishable by death.

Israeli news reports allege that the killings were carried out by the Palestinian security forces. And on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the same charge. His spokesman says the prime minister was speaking based on confidential sources of information.

Palestinian Justice Minister Freih abu Medein says he doubts the security services were involved in the killings. And in an interview, he defended his proposal for the death penalty in land sale cases. Abu Medein says such a tough law is a necessary tool to fight Israeli efforts to take control of more West Bank land.

"We couldn't accept the brokers to smuggle this land illegally to the Israeli side. It means that they will spread in the West Bank like cancer by those brokers who are ready to sell the future of the country, future of their people, by a cheap price.

"Officially we are against that, officially 100 percent. But on another hand, it is very difficult for normal people to accept traitors or collaborators who sell their future, their land, to their enemy."

The Palestinian justice minister says the evidence of the public attitude comes in the refusal of several Muslim cemeteries to bury the first of the two men killed for allegedly selling land to Israelis.


Conference Suggested for Disposition of Holocaust Victims' Gold

By Ron Pemstein (VOA-State Department)

The United States and Great Britain have decided to hold a conference on how to distribute Nazi assets remaining from World War 2. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has agreed with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to hold an international conference in London before the end of year. This conference would resolve issues concerning remaining Nazi assets.

The Tripartite Gold Commission of the United States, Britain and France is charged with distributing the remaining gold, some 5.6 metric tons, worth about $68 million. The State Department says recent reports about the gold suggest the remaining assets should benefit Holocaust victims or their descendants.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns says the London conference should bring together interested governments. "This would allow interested parties and governments to establish a common understanding of the facts surrounding Nazi misappropriation of assets during the Second World War."

The reports suggest the gold was stolen from individuals and governments before and during World War 2.


Missionary Activity to be Banned

Recently proposed legislation takes the form of a far-reaching extension of statutes against missionary activity. The proposal has recently passed its first Knesset reading and is now before the Law Committee of the 120-seat parliament.

An English translation of the proposed law states: "Whoever possesses contrary to the law, or prints or copies or distributes or shares or imports tracts, or advertises things in which there is an inducement for religious conversion is liable for one-year imprisonment." An amendment adds: "Any tract or advertisement in which there is inducement to religious conversion will be confiscated."

In response to Christian objections, Labor Party sponsor Nissim Zvili pledged that "No one will be barred from possessing the New Testament. If the law violates the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom, I will not support it."

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