Newsletter : 7fax0902.txt
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>JN Sept. 2, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 160
Some Palestinians May Enter Israel
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Political gestures and rejections in the Middle East Monday
illustrated the ongoing tension in the area, and the difficulty
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will have trying to bring the
various parties together when she visits the area next week. The
day's most hopeful development -- Israel's easing of its closure
of the Palestinian territories -- was rejected as inadequate.
Israel announced Monday it will allow 4,000 Palestinian workers
into the country for the first time since the Jerusalem market
suicide bombing a month ago. That is a small percentage of the more
than 50,000 work permits Palestinians held before last month's
bombing. And only married men over 35 years old will be given
permits because they are believed to be less likely to carry out
This is the first easing of the closure for workers. Last week,
2,000 merchants were allowed into Israel, and that number was
doubled in Monday's announcement. In addition, 250 teachers from
the West Bank will be allowed into east Jerusalem for the opening
of the school year. And some Palestinian Authority workers will be
able to move between the West Bank and Gaza.
Israeli government spokesman David Bar Illan denied press reports
the move is a gesture in advance of next week's visit by Albright.
The Palestinian Authority calls such closures illegal collective
punishment, and described this partial easing as "cosmetic." And
senior Palestinian negotiator Sa'eb Erakat also rejected Israeli
claims the authority is not doing enough to fight terrorism.
Israel Considers Repaying Iranian Debt
By IINS News Service
Israel is holding high-level discussions about ways to repay
hundreds of millions of dollars owed to Iran in a goodwill gesture
to the moderate new regime in Tehran, Yediot Achronot reported.
The classified discussions centered on a proposal by Infrastructure
Minister Ariel Sharon to ask Russia to mediate in repayment of the
debt contracted with Iran before the country's 1979 Islamic
revolution. Sharon discussed the issue with Russian Prime Minister
Victor Chernomyrdin during a visit to Moscow in June, proposing
that Moscow purchase the debt from Iran and Israel in turn
reimburse Russia, the paper said.
The debt concerns an Israeli company, Katsa, which secretly
operated in conjunction with Iran under the imperial Iranian regime
before 1979 to furnish oil to the Jewish state and operate an oil
pipeline from the Red Sea Port of Eilat to Ashkelon on the
According to Yediot, the Islamic regime which took power in Tehran
claimed in 1979 that Israel owed it $650 million for oil purchases
and to pay for Iran's share of Katsa's assets. The debt is
currently worth more than $1 billion, the newspaper said.
Sharon is reportedly seeking a way to repay the debt indirectly as
a step towards improving relations with the government of Iranian
President Mohammad Khatami, a relatively moderate cleric who came
to power earlier this month. The minister declined to confirm or
deny the story.
Sharon has long favored renewing contacts with Iran, seen as a
counterweight to Arab power in the Middle East, and as Israel's
defense minister he played a key role in secret US arms sales to
Tehran during the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s.
Israel Working on Arms Deal with Croatia
By IINS News Service
Israel and Croatia are reported to be working on an arms deal
that may be worth more than $100 million. According to an exclusive
report in the Haaretz newspaper, the sale had been facilitated by
Israel's recent decision to establish diplomatic ties with the
Balkan nation, despite anti-Semitic statements by Croatian
President Franjo Tudjeman and an alliance with Nazi Germany during
World War 2. Defense sources stated the arms and weaponry involved
are classified as "non-lethal."
Fire in Mevaseret Reform Kindergarten
By IINS News Service
School did not begin Monday for students registered in the
Mevaseret Tzion kindergarten, affiliated with the Reform Movement.
The kindergarten sustained considerable damage in a fire which
police suspect was the result of arson. At this time, police
believe Orthodox Jews may have been responsible for the blaze. An
investigation is underway.
Shani Winter Goes to Gan Yeladim
One-year-old Shani Winter was taken to a pre-school Monday by
her father Mickey. Her mother, Anat, was killed in an Arab suicide
bombing attack on March 21, 1997, in the Apropos Restaurant in
Tel-Aviv. Shani was seen on international television as she was
carried by a policewoman, and she was dressed in a clown costume.
Her dad was injured in the blast and her mother died of her wounds,
having been in close proximately to the explosive device. September
1 was her mother's birthday. Shani does not remember, she was
only six months old when her mother was killed.
A study conducted by the Hebrew University School of Medicine
says 15% of Israeli students, 4-13, are infected with head lice, a
figure double the figures in most Western countries. 15,000
children in the Jerusalem area were checked representing a
cross-section of Israeli society.
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