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>Israel Faxx
>JN Aug. 28, 1997, Vol. 5, No 158

Hamas Says Attacks will Continue

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

The militant Palestinian group Hamas says it will continue attacks on Israelis, despite a request to stop issued last week by the Palestinian Autonomy Authority. The Hamas communique, sent to news organizations, says armed resistance has proven to be the most effective way to fight Israel and that the group will continue to use it.

The authenticity of the document could not be confirmed, but it reflects recent statements made by Hamas leaders. It also echoes a re-commitment to violence issued earlier this week by the other major Palestinian militant group, Islamic Jihad.

The Hamas statement calls on the Authority, led by Yasir Arafat, to abandon the peace process and join in armed struggle against Israel. Last week, Arafat held a series of meetings with militant leaders with the opposite goal in mind -- to unify all Palestinian groups in support of the peace process.

The meetings drew severe criticism from Israel, and now the Hamas and Islamic Jihad communiques appear to indicate Arafat's effort failed.

Israel has ended the closure of Bethlehem imposed nearly one month ago amid suspicions a leader of the militant group Hamas, who was the alleged mastermind of the Jerusalem market bombing, was hiding there.

The army announced that residents of Bethlehem and surrounding villages will be able to move freely into and out of the area, to other parts of the West Bank. But like all Palestinians, they will continue to be barred from entering Israel without special permits. The northern side of autonomous Bethlehem borders Jerusalem.

The army did not give any reason for the policy change. But it came amid growing international pressure based on the suffering of the area's 60,000 residents and difficulties encountered by Christian pilgrims in reaching the biblical town's religious sites.

There also have been daily demonstrations against the Bethlehem closure, including one Wednesday in which Palestinian officials and religious leaders got into a shoving match with Israeli troops at a checkpoint.

Americans Against Israeli Dam

By Ron Pemstein (VOA-State Department)

The United States has agreed with Jordan that an Israeli dam project on the Yarmuk river should not be built on land claimed by Syria. Israel wants to dam the Yarmuk River where it passes through an enclave between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that are claimed by Syria. Jordan has agreed to the dam project on the condition that it does not involve disputed territory.

The State Department takes no position on whether the dam will eventually be built on disputed land. At the same time, spokesman James Rubin agrees with Jordan that Middle East peace talks could be complicated if it is.

Century of Zionism Marked in Switzerland

By IINS News Service

Celebrations marking the centenary of Zionism's founding in Basel have opened with a call, by a harsh Israeli critic of Switzerland's past Nazi links, for extra efforts on behalf of Holocaust victims. But Avraham Burg, chairman of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, also acknowledged that progress had been achieved.

"In the last two years, myself and the institutions that we represent negotiating with the Swiss banks' association, with the government and other financial institutions, achieved a lot in the field of looted assets, Nazi gold," he said before the official opening of ceremonies marking the founding of Zionism 100 years ago, by Austrian Jewish journalist Theodor Herzl.

Some 1,200 police and 730 soldiers are watching over various celebrations that culminate Sunday, in ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress.

No incidents marred the start of a three-day symposium on Zionism, its history and its future, despite fears of attacks by Arab extremists or far-right violence. Burg said in a reference to co-existence with the Palestinians, he believed that just as the Zionism of the last 50 years "enabled us not to become again the persecuted element of human history," Zionism and Jewish morality would in the next century "help us ... from becoming persecutors."

The Zionist leader acknowledged that wrongs had been committed against Palestinians chased off their land. "It takes more than a hundred months of peace to overcome a hundred years of wars," he said.

The ceremony was held in the colonnaded hall where the pioneers of Zionism met with Herzl from August 29-31, 1897.

Prime Minister Arrives in South Korea

By IINS News Service

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a dignitary's welcome Wednesday in South Korea including a full honor guard. Experts believe that Netanyahu will -- among other items on his agenda --speak of North Korea's continued manufacturing and sale of missiles to Syria. The Scud "C" missile, capable of carrying a non-conventional warhead, has a range of about 300 miles, which places all of Israel in range of a non-conventional missile attack by the Syrians.

Recent statements by Syrian military officials have made it clear that Syria has not ruled out its military option, despite warnings from Israel.

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