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>Israel Faxx
>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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