Newsletter : 7fax0801.txt
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>JN Aug. 1, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 140
Shuk Reopens After Wednesday's Carnage
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
On Thursday morning, in a show of defiance perhaps, the Mahane
Yehuda market in central Jerusalem reopened. People lit candles
at the sites where the bombs went off. Israeli security forces have
arrested 28 Palestinians they say are Hamas activists following a
deadly suicide attack that killed 15 people. Israel also has
suspended peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
Wednesday's double suicide bombing in the heart of Jewish west
Jerusalem was the most serious incident involving Islamic
extremists since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing
government was elected in May 1996.
A top advisor to the prime minister, David bar Illan, says Israeli
forces will go into Palestinian self-rule areas to do the job, if
Yasir Arafat fails to live up to his promises.
"If the Palestinian Authority is not going to do what it is
supposed to do against the terrorists, Israel will have to do it.
Israel will have to go into the areas controlled by the Palestinian
Authority if that is necessary and get the terrorists there."
Palestinian officials warn that if Israeli troops moved into areas
under Palestinian control, they risk yet more bloodshed. Overnight,
Israeli security forces raided several West Bank villages under its
own control and arrested activists of the militant Muslim group
Hamas and their families. Hamas rejects peace with Israel.
Included in the arrests were the parents of two men who have been
missing and who are suspected as the suicide bombers. Police took
blood samples to identify the remains of the two men.
Israel responded harshly to the bombings in other ways. It not
only halted negotiations, it asked foreign donors to suspend aid
to the Palestinian Authority, stopped the flow of tax revenues it
owes to the Palestinians, and began jamming broadcasts of
Palestinian radio and television.
Israel has also sealed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip, preventing
Palestinians from entering Israel, and set up military checkpoints
between Palestinian cities.
Palestinian officials condemned Israel's hard line, calling it a
declaration of war. Head negotiator Nabil Shaath says it is
collective punishment. "I see it falling once again into the trap
of diverting a battle against those who want to destroy the peace
process, turning it into a battle against the Palestinian people."
Not everyone in Israel supports breaking off negotiations.
President Ezer Weizman says Israel and the Palestinians need an
enduring peace agreement, without which violence will only
continue. "We all tend to lose if the talks break up and lose
badly, because if hostilities open it can be disastrous for all
parties, including the Palestinians, therefore, it's a very severe
blow. Arafat has to think very very fast and very very deeply what
to do. So have we, but the process in the long run must proceed."
Holocaust Survivors Sue Swiss Banks
By Barbara Schoetzau (VOA-New York)
In a federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., Thursday, lawyers for
Switzerland's three largest commercial banks asked a judge to
dismiss lawsuits charging the banks with holding billions of
dollars belonging to Holocaust victims, survivors and their heirs.
Some 18,000 plaintiffs -- represented in three lawsuits -- are
seeking as much as $20 billion in damages from the Credit Suisse
Group, the Swiss Bank Corporation and Union Bank of Switzerland.
The plaintiffs say they are trying to recover assets placed in
Swiss banks for safekeeping before and during the Second World War by
their families. They believe much of the money is hidden in
dormant accounts that they have been unable to trace.
Lawyers for the banks told federal court Judge Edward Korman the
court case would "wastefully duplicate" the efforts of an
independent committee investigating dormant accounts.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say parallel investigations are common
in the US legal system and not a sufficient reason to dismiss
the lawsuits. They also say the scope and methods of the
investigative committee are too limited and that the committee has
no enforcement mechanism.
Lawyers for the Swiss banks say the banks and the Swiss government
are doing an enormous amount to address the issue. Last year in an
effort to quell international outrage, the banks opened their
secret records to auditors searching for the missing funds. And
last week the banks published in newspapers around the world a list
of more than 1,800 accounts that have been dormant since the end of
the Second World War.
But the banks' lawyers say action on the part of a US court would
appear to question the competence of the Swiss government and
interfere with the bilateral relationship between Switzerland and
the United States.
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