Newsletter : 7fax0926.txt
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>JN Sept. 26, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 177
Albright Upset About Bibi's Call for 300 Houses
By VOA's Max Ruston (United Nations) & Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Thursday, called for a
freeze on the expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank. The
call follows an announcement that Israel is planning to construct
300 more houses in the disputed region.
Albright told reporters she feels it is important there be what she
called a "time out" in the construction of new settlement housing
in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
announced plans Wednesday for the houses in the West Bank town of
Efrat. That move is expected to set back efforts to ease tension
between Israel and Palestinians.
Israel says the settlement construction is not a new plan and
should not hurt the prospects for resuming peace talks. But
Palestinian and US officials are not looking for consistency in
Israeli settlement policy, but rather for changes.
Netanyahu sent out his spokesmen Thursday to explain that he was
not talking about a new construction project, or even about
anything more than what is called the "thickening" of existing
settlements. And this has been his policy all along.
Spokesman Moshe Fogel says Israel will allow building only inside
existing settlement boundaries, and only alongside current
construction -- something the government calls "natural growth."
"The issue of natural growth is interpreted by some people as
saying, well, OK, he's saying 'natural growth,' but what he really
means is 'let's grab as much land as we can,' and that's not what
we're talking about. We are following a very careful policy that
is not intended and is not designed in any way, shape or form to
inhibit the parties' abilities to conduct negotiations in the
Fogel says the government is not intensifying its settlement
building, but is not slowing it down either, as suggested by
Albright's call for a "time-out" in actions that undermine
confidence in the peace process.
Palestinian officials have criticized Netanyahu's reaffirmation of
his settlement policy. Palestinian Cabinet member Hanan Ashrawi
called it "dangerously irresponsible" and "bordering on insanity."
And a senior leader of the militant group Hamas, Abdul Aziz
Rantisi, says such policies will lead only to more violence. "The
policy of Benjamin Netanyahu by closure of areas, building of
settlements, and murdering Palestinians in cold blood will push
tens of thousands to be suiciders."
American Orthodox Unity
In a show of unity, four American Orthodox organizations have
issued a joint statement in favor of a single standard of Jewish
Law in Israel, and against any change in the religious status quo
in the country.
The statement by Agudath Israel of America, the Rabbinical Council
of America, the Orthodox Union, and the National Council of Young
Israel, blames those who have attacked the religious establishment
for having "created a climate of ill-will and anger."
"All Jews, regardless of level of religious observance or
affiliation, should recognize that there must be uniformly
acceptable Jewish standards for religious marriage, divorce and
conversion if the integrity of our peoplehood is to be preserved."
Leading Reform Rabbi Eric Yoffe attacked the announcement. He said
that Israel is a "spiritual wasteland," and that the issue is "not
about preserving the integrity of Jewish peoplehood, but about
preserving control of the Orthodox monopoly over religious life in
High Court Rules Against Parents
By IINS News Service
A High Court of Justice three-judge panel has overturned a
lower court ruling, which accepted the wishes of the parents of an
8-year-old boy not to have surgery which doctors believe would
prolong his life.
The High Court accepted the State's appeal on behalf of the young
boy. The State maintained, if the child were capable of speaking he
would undoubtedly ask for the surgery, which will prolong his life.
The young child suffers from cerebral palsy and is in need of a
kidney transplant. A leading physician, Prof. Yitzchak Vinograd,
Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Assaf Harofeh Hospital, stated the
chances of finding an appropriate donor for the child is unlikely.
The attorney for the parents pointed out they are loving and caring
parents but no longer want to see the suffering of their child
Veteran Tour Guide Dies at Masada
By IINS News Service
Veteran tour guide Ronny Sheshkin, in his 60s, died Wednesday
at Masada after he lost his footing and fell tens of meters.
Sheshkin was considered among the most senior guides in the area,
having worked there for several decades. He lost his footing and
fell down the mountain, which he spent his life sharing with
others. Despite rescue efforts and a helicopter sent to transport
him to a trauma center, he died of his wounds.
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