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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 19, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 110

Meridor Resignation

Finance Minister Dan Meridor has resigned following a government decision to adopt economic policies in direct opposition to those that he backed. Commentators agree that the political rivalry between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Meridor has been decided, for the time being, with a victory for the Prime Minister.

Minister of Infrastructures Ariel Sharon is reported to be the leading candidate to replace Meridor in the Finance Ministry, although he has said that he is not interested in the post. Sharon, according to the supposed scenario, would be replaced either by Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi or Tourism Minister Moshe Katzav.

Shai Bazak, Netanyahu's press advisor told Arutz-7 that the government decision which led to the resignation of Meridor was not a personal issue between Netanyahu and Meridor, but was rather of a purely professional nature.

Swiss Charged with Making Coins from Victims' Gold Teeth

A British Broadcasting Corp. documentary was shown Wednesday evening that asserts Switzerland and the Nazi regime maintained more links, before and after World War 2, than had previously been revealed.

The BBC documentary alleges the Swiss government and national bank may have knowingly produced gold coins after World War II using gold teeth and other possessions of concentration camp victims.

Forensic evidence suggested the banks stamped coins with pre-war dates to disguise their origins, the BBC said.

Allegations were made during the program that Italian Jews were transported through Switzerland to concentration camps in Germany. The assertion came during an interview with a Swiss woman who asked to remain anonymous, She said she provided humanitarian aid at Zurich's train station to people aboard trains headed to Germany.

"We knew they were going to Germany," the woman, who was 14 years old at the time, said. "We knew they were Jews."

The interviewers also spoke with an Italian woman who said she and others tried to stop trains carrying Italians to Germany from entering Switzerland.

An historian for an independent commission examining Switzerland's role in World War 2 told Blick newspaper that it is not the first time such claims have been made and that the claim cannot be substantiated without further evidence.

German historian Manfred Messerschmidt said he never heard of Italians or Jews being shipped through Switzerland by the Nazis.

Switzerland has been criticized for its extensive relations with Germany during the war, including that it served as banker to the Nazis, helping to launder the assets of Holocaust victims.

An American commission is auditing Swiss banks to search for assets that Jewish organizations allege total $7 billion in deposits and interest, but the banks say it only has a tiny fraction of that.

Middle East Peace Proposal

By Deborah Cooper (VOA-Washington)

An influential US foreign policy group is calling for a more aggressive US approach to the Middle East peace process. The Council on Foreign Relations in New York City says the current peace process, based on the 1993 Oslo Accords, is on the verge of collapse.

The group recommends abandoning the incremental approach of the Oslo agreement, and developing a new set of principles that accepts Palestinian statehood as the logical outcome of the peace process.

The report suggests any new approach to the peace process should include recognition of Palestinian statehood in most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in exchange for increased security guarantees for Israel. Henry Seigman, the project coordinator, says that if trust is to be restored to the peace process both parties need to know where the process is leading.

"And so we propose a new declaration of principles that would commit both parties to the establishment of a Palestinian state so that Palestinians know that when they make compromises and concessions, which they will have to make in order to achieve peace, this is in the service of this overriding of goal, and that Israelis as well when they make the necessary compromises know that they would be achieving the security that they need which entails a whole series of measures including the incorporation of most of the settlers into Israeli territory."

Seigman adds that while there are no assurances the Israelis would accept such a proposal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has on occasion publicly conceded to the possibility of Palestinian statehood. But Seigman says what's most important is that the United States show its clear support for Palestinian statehood, which it has not done in the past.
"That can influence the thinking of the Israeli public and consequently of its government. But even if this government were not to accept the framework for a negotiation which we recommend, which includes Palestinian statehood, at least the debate, the parameters of the debate will have been changed by the American recommendation."

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