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>Israel Faxx
>JN May 28, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 96

Husseini Warns of War

Feisal Husseini, in an interview with a London-based Arabic-language newspaper, warns that if Israel continues its current policies, the Palestinians will resort to war. He threatened that the war could break out during the term of Prime Minister Netanyahu, because "the Palestinians' patience is waning."

Egyptian-Israeli Summit at Sharm

By Al Pessin (VOA-Sharm al Sheikh)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed Tuesday that Egypt will play a new more active role in trying to end the crisis in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But they did not indicate how that might be accomplished.

After their meeting at the former Israeli (and now Egyptian) resort of Sharm al Sheikh, the two leaders refused to go into details about issues on which they are known to disagree -- most importantly Israel's refusal to freeze construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Both described the meeting as a good beginning to a new Egyptian mediation effort. Mubarak said he will consult with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and hopes to meet with Netanyahu again soon, perhaps in a three-way meeting with Arafat.

"We exchanged views concerning the problem of Palestinians concerning...the settlements activity. We still have need of discussion. We are still are going exchange much more views. We need much more consultation and this will take time, and I hope we will meet in the very near future, in a couple of days, so as to find a solution or to put the key in the door to open it for the process to move forward."

Mubarak's desire to move quickly is in keeping with statements by Arafat that unless there is real progress soon there will be a serious escalation of tensions. Israeli officials continue to reject any kind of settlement freeze, but Netanyahu was more circumspect after meeting with Mubarak.

"We can all make important and very forceful declarations. At this stage I would prefer to make fewer declarations and more conversation and I think this is what we are trying to do here. It is evident to you that we had early detailed discussions and we are seeking a way to resume the twin processes of peace and security. I believe that we should continue to make those efforts God willing."

Mubarak said he wants to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together without using pressure, because he said pressure would not work anyway. Egyptian officials who requested anonymity said behind-the-scenes talks are very delicate and Mubarak is trying to improve the atmosphere and narrow the policy gap so direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks can resume.

There have been several efforts to solve or go around the Israeli-Palestinian dispute over settlements since it interrupted the peace process two-months ago, most notably by the US mediation team and by Israel's president. Now the Egyptian president is trying his hand.

Without offering any concrete concessions Netanyahu expressed the hope Mubarak may be able to succeed where the others have failed.

Smokers Choke at Rabbi's Rage

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, formerly the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, has come out with a scathing attack on those who manufacture and sell cigarettes, and on smokers themselves. In a lecture Saturday night, the rabbi, the spiritual leader of the Shas party, said that the manufacturers "make a living at the expense of others' dying."

Those who sell cigarettes should "stop being agents of the angel of death," according to the rabbi. Concerning the smokers themselves, he said that if there were biblical courts today, they would be liable for lashes for violating the commandment to "guard yourselves very much from danger."

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