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>PD
>Israel Faxx
>July 22, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 132

Palestinian Police Uncover West Bank Bomb Lab

By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sending his senior adviser, Cabinet Secretary Danny Naveh, to Washington with new proposals for ending the four-month-old peace-making crisis with Palestinians.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been frozen since March when Netanyahu's government started building a Jewish settlement in disputed east Jerusalem, triggering Palestinian protests.

The United States, the principle backer of the 1993 interim accord between the Israelis and Palestinians, has recently significantly lowered its mediation profile. But Saturday, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said he understood the United States is preparing a new package of measures to end the deadlock.

As part of a European effort to get the process back on track, Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy met top PLO negotiator Nabil Shaath Sunday at the invitation of the EU Middle East representative. Shaath says there is a serious effort to break the impasse.

Egypt and Jordan -- the two Arab countries which have signed peace treaties with Israel -- are also involved in efforts to break the peacemaking deadlock. On Monday, Israeli opposition leader Ehud Barak flew to Amman on a surprise visit at the invitation of Jordan's King Hussein.

Palestinian police say they have uncovered a bomb lab in a West Bank apartment they suspect belongs to Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement opposed to peace deals with Israel. They say they discovered ready-to-use explosives and disguises in a village near Bethlehem.

The Bethlehem police chief said the discovery was apparently linked to Hamas activist Issa Khalil Shouka, 41, who was killed last week while making a bomb that blew up in his hands.


Wiesenthal Center: Mandela, Protect South African Jews

By Permission of the Middle East Digest

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has launched an urgent protest to South African President Nelson Mandela in wake of a violent anti-Jewish demonstration by Muslims in Cape Town and the firebombing of a Jewish businessman's home.

The letter reads: "This past Saturday [July 12] a rally in downtown Cape Town led by 'Muslims Against Global Oppression' was accompanied by posters which said 'Hitler King of The Jews,' 'Free our Country -- Kill the Jews,' 'Arabia for the Arabs; Germany for the Germans; Palestine for the Palestinians; Gas Chambers for the Jews.'

"The rhetoric of this rally was reminiscent of Nazi Germany. No one should be surprised that this event was accompanied by the firebombing of the home of a member of the Jewish community.

"Mr. President, no democracy can tolerate the targeting of a minority which allows this kind of virulent hate and violence. This past weekend's events were particularly painful because extremist elements in the Muslim community have been using such rhetoric for months. Such rhetoric and violence not only damages democratic South Africa's good name, endangers the safety of law-abiding citizens, but also calls into question whether your country can be an appropriate home for future Olympic Games."

Meanwhile, an article in South Africa's Financial Mail (July 18) ponders the possibility of a link between the firebombing, the march on the Israeli Embassy, and a vigilante organization called People Against Gangsterism & Drugs (Pagad) -- an ostensibly community organization but one believed to contain fundamentalist elements.

"When Pagad first came into the open, one of its then leaders claimed the group could, if it wished, call on the fundamentalist militias Hamas and Hizbullah for assistance. Subsequent splits within Pagad leave open the question of whether its fundamentalist orientation does, indeed, provide the leeway for extremists to operate within its ranks.

"The fact remains that Pagad militants are on hand to display weapons and discipline. And anti-gangster and anti-Israel feelings do have one thing in common: hatred of the existing order. Community and religious tensions may be converging in the minds of at least some armed Islamic activists."


U.S. Urges Palestinians to Clean House

By Victor Beattie (VOA-Washington)

The United States is urging the Palestinian self-rule authority to take "very seriously" allegations that Palestinian police planned to attack Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told his Cabinet the plan is the most flagrant violation yet of the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns says Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat has assured Washington he takes the allegation seriously and is investigating. Sunday, Palestinian security forces arrested several policemen in connection with the Israeli claims. Burns says the allegations must be taken with what he calls the highest degree of seriousness:

"There can be no place by the Palestinians, there can be no place for anyone, anyone with any association with the Palestinian Authority trying to take part in an act of terrorism."





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