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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 27, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 116

U.S Relaxes Computer Export Curbs to Israel

The United States has relaxed curbs on the export of advanced computers to Israel, the State Department said. Under the new rules, export licenses are no longer required for computers performing up to 2,000 million theoretical operations per second. Under a policy updated in 1995, the sale of advanced U.S.-built computers with possible military applications was restricted for countries that have not signed the treaty aimed at curbing the spread of nuclear weapons, including Israel.

Barak Calls for Restarting Peace Process

By Barbara Schoetzau (VOA-New York)

In New York Thursday, the new leader of Israel's opposition Labor Party, Ehud Barak, said Israel should immediately take steps to restart the Middle East peace process. Barak said the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- as a first step -- should order Israeli intelligence and security services to re-open coordination talks at once to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

"We have to approach the Palestinians very seriously. It will not be easy after all the disappointment that has already happened. But to approach them and resume the negotiations. The same has to be done with the Syrians. There is a need to resume serious and direct negotiations with all partners to the conflict."

Barak, a former Israeli army chief of staff, said the Netanyahu government's policies are undermining Israel's economic security. The stalled peace process, Barak said, is partly responsible for growing unemployment in Israel and drops in its tourism and foreign investment. "In a way, this is very simple. If there will be no serious peace process, there will be no security and a heavier defense burden."

Barak is visiting the United States for the first time since becoming Israel's opposition leader earlier this month. At a news conference following a meeting with American Jewish leaders, Barak predicted Netanyahu will not serve a full four-year term as prime minister. Earlier this week, Netanyahu survived a no-confidence vote by a slim margin.

Netanyahu Doesn't Listen to Constituency

By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is continuing his political maneuvering in an attempt to reshuffle his cabinet, two days after several key coalition members refused to support him in a no-confidence motion in parliament.

On Thursday, after 10 days of bitter fighting among members of Netanyahu's Cabinet, and ugly public accusations between members of the opposition and the coalition, Israel's President Ezer Weizman stepped in. The president admitted to reporters that he is worried about the functioning of the government.

A political columnist for the newspaper Ha'aretz, Akiva Eldar, says the prime minister is unwilling to listen to the voices from his own constituency, despite the clear split in the Likud Party, and the coalition in-fighting.

"He is detached from voices in the Likud and public opinion. And his rationale is that those people have something personal against him. And he is surrounding himself with yes-sayers and keeps convincing himself that those people have nothing to do with reality and he knows what's best for him and for Israel."

Commentators say both Foreign Minister David Levy and Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai oppose Netanyahu's candidate for finance minister, Ariel Sharon, the hawkish national infrastructure minister.

Sharon was the architect of Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the Israeli settlement boom in the 1990s. He is demanding to be made part of an inner Cabinet with Ministers Levy and Mordechai -- both relative moderates -- that guides Israel's peace strategy.

Pope Calls for Resumption of Peace Talks

By Peggy Polk (VOA-Rome)

Pope John Paul II has appealed to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to resume peace talks. The pope said he fears new outbreaks of violence in the Middle East.

The Vatican has disclosed that the pope wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat June 16 to express his concern about the breakdown in the Middle East peace process.

According to Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro Valls, the pontiff "wanted to stimulate the leaders to make a serious effort to get the process going again."

To the Palestinian leader, the pope said he fears that "if this situation continues, it will become increasingly difficult to revive the quest for the trust that is essential to every negotiation."

To the Israeli prime minister, he warned that history shows -- above all in the Holy Land -- that if great hopes are left unfulfilled over a long period of time, they can cause what he described as "unforeseen provocations and uncontrollable situations of violence."

Achieving peace in the Holy Land -- Pope John Paul said -- would be a worthy way of welcoming the many pilgrims expected to visit the region for the start of the third millennium of Christianity in the year 2000.

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