Newsletter : 7fax0530.txt
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>May 30, 1997. Vol. 5, No. 98
Egyptians Continue Peace Efforts
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Egypt's effort to mediate an end to the crisis in the
Israeli-Palestinian peace process continued Thursday. But, reports
in two Israeli newspapers added to Palestinian anger and suspicion
about the intentions of the Israeli government.
Special Egyptian envoy Osama el-Baz came to Israel, carrying the
latest from Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat who el-Baz met with
The meetings are following up on Tuesday's summit between Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak. Mubarak is trying to do what several other mediators have
failed to do in recent weeks: get the Israeli-Palestinian peace
process going again by solving the current dispute over Israeli
construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
But Egypt's already difficult diplomatic effort faced new
challenges Thursday when two Israeli newspapers published articles
claiming to reveal two Israeli plans for a final division of the
A plan attributed to Israeli security services would give the
Palestinians 60 percent of the West Bank. A map purporting to show
Netanyahu's own plan would give the Palestinians just 40 percent of
the land. Netanyahu denied having any such plan, but some
right-wing ministers in his government said even the published map
gives the Palestinians too much.
Palestinian officials were angry. They want virtually all of the
land Israel took from Jordan in the 1967 war. The chief of the
Palestinian Security Services, Jibril Rajoub, said there could be
violence if Israel does not, "Respect the peace agreements." The
chief Palestinian negotiator, Sa'eb Erakat, accused the Israelis of
negotiating with themselves and coming up with "unacceptable"
This latest Israeli-Palestinian disagreement is important because
the issue of dividing the West Bank is at the heart of the next
and final stage of the peace process. Some Palestinian and Israeli
officials believe there is no point in making concessions to
solve the current dispute over settlements, in order to move to the
next stage of talks, if the two sides are so far apart in their
visions of the future that reaching any agreement is highly
unlikely. It is that kind of conclusion, and the violence which
could accompany it, which Mubarak and other mediators are trying to
Trial for Jordanian Soldier Begins
The trial for the Jordanian soldier accused of murdering seven
Israeli schoolgirls in Naharayim began yesterday at a military base
in Amman. The soldier is accused of killing the middle-school girls
on March 13, 1997 while they were on a class field trip.
The accused, Ahmed el-Dakamsa, entered a plea of not guilty to all
charges. A panel of five military judges presided over the trial,
which began under a veil of heavy security. If convicted, Dakamsa
faces a maximum penalty of death by firing squad.
The military prosecutor said that Dakamsa had planned to carry out
terrorist attacks in Israel four years ago, and that he originally
planned to open fire on a different, younger group of children in
March, but changed his mind and attacked the older schoolgirls
instead. He was also reported to have planned to steal a car at the
scene in order to run over the driver of the school bus that
ferried the girls to Naharayim. The trial was continued until
Monday, so that a defense could be prepared.
New Israeli Submarine Launched in Germany
A new submarine has been launched by the Israeli Navy from a
German shipyard. Livyatan, the new submarine, was launched in a
traditional ceremony attended by Israel Defense Forces Chief of
Staff Lt. Gen. Amnon Shahak and his wife, Tali. German Inspector of
the Navy, Hartmut Bagger, also attended the ceremony. The submarine
was one of three made in Germany specially for the Israeli Navy.
The project was financed by the German government.
Jerusalem Population Statistics Released
The overall growth rate of Jerusalem's Jewish population is
decreasing every year. At the end of 1996, the overall population
of Jerusalem was 603,000, of which 422,300, or 70 percent, were
Jews. The total population grew 139 percent since the Six Day War,
with Jewish population growing by 114 percent and Arab population by
163 percent. The average Jewish household has 3.6 people, while
the average Arab household has 5.4 people. These figures were
released by the Jerusalem Institute for Israeli Studies, in its
annual Statistical Yearbook.
Projections for the year 2010 predict a population of 817,500, with
251,000 Arabs and 214,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews. The ultra-Orthodox
will comprise 38 percent of the Jewish population and 26 percent of
the overall population.
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