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>Israel Faxx
>JN May 22, 1997, Vol. 5. No. 93

Yediot Interviews Arafat

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat says he thinks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be trying to incite violence by Palestinian extremists in order to sabotage the peace accords. Arafat also says the peace process will die if the United States reduces its role. Arafat made the comments in an interview with an Israeli newspaper.

Arafat says Netanyahu's policies are pushing extremist groups toward violence, and he says maybe that is what Netanyahu wants in order to bury the peace process permanently.

That is one of the strongest Palestinian condemnations yet of Netanyahu's policies, which Arafat says are systematically destroying the entire Middle East peace process and have put the region on the verge of what Arafat calls "severe riots." Israeli officials deny such charges and say they are working within the peace agreements while the Palestinians are not.

In the interview in Yediot Aharonot, Arafat says only pressure from the United States can change Netanyahu's policies. But he also indicates the prime minister has ignored US pressure on several issues, including the start of construction of a new east Jerusalem neighborhood which sparked the current crisis.

In the interview Wednesday, Arafat says if that signals any coming reduction in US involvement, it could lead to "chaos" and the loss of the chance to make peace for a very long time. Arafat indicates the US role is particularly important now because there is no longer any trust between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, a point US mediators have also made.

Jewish Assets in Jordan

The Jewish National Fund owns 10,000 dunams (6 square miles) of land in Jordan, some 18 miles northwest of Amman. The land was bought in the 1920s by Jewish philanthropists, via a JNF representative in London.

Until now, the JNF has chosen to keep a low profile on this matter, in order to avoid a worsening of relations with Jordan. However, Chaim Cohen, chairman of Himanuta, a daughter company of the JNF, now says, "If the Palestinians want to begin a war of land-ownership, as evidenced by the recent murder of two land dealers, then we will start activating our deeds of ownership on lands under their control." He said that the JNF owns hundreds of dunams of land that is presently in Area A (under total Palestinian control) and thousands of dunams in Area B (Israeli security control). "We have solid evidence of the Jewish ownership of these thousands of dunams."

Palestinians Arrest TV Journalist

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

An award-winning Palestinian journalist is being held by the Palestinian police, apparently because of a television service he operates that broadcasts sessions of the Palestinian Council, which are often critical of the Palestinian Authority led by Yasir Arafat.

According to his family, journalist Daoud Kuttab was summoned late Tuesday from his home in Jerusalem to the Palestinian police headquarters in Ramallah. When he arrived, he was detained and questioned.

In a phone call to his brother Jonathan several hours later, Kuttab said he was being well treated but was not allowed to leave, and police had questioned him about the educational television service he operates.

Jonathan Kuttab says his brother's service is licensed by the Palestinian Authority to broadcast the legislative council sessions live. Council members frequently criticize the Authority in those sessions and Jonathan Kuttab says the Authority's television station sometimes jams the broadcasts.

Kuttab, who is a lawyer and human rights activist, says his brother's arrest says a lot about the state of Palestinian society. "It says that we are a new society and that the struggle for freedom and democracy is an ongoing struggle, we can never rest assured, we do not have sufficient guarantees. We have to do what needs to be done, and we have to sacrifice, if need be, in order to obtain freedom and democracy within our society. The price of democracy is a constant vigil to safeguard these freedoms against those who still try to abuse it or still try to limit it."

There have been several cases of apparent human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority and its security services, including at least 10 people who were arrested and apparently tortured to death.

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