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>Israel Faxx
>JN Oct. 8, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 183

Nazis Stole $8.5 Billion in Gold, Report Says

Switzerland received 85 percent of the looted gold sent abroad by Nazi Germany and may have failed to return about $3 billion worth of the stolen bullion after the World War II, according to a study from the World Jewish Congress.

Nazi Germany stole at least $8.5 billion in gold at today's prices -- about $1.5 billion more than previously believed -- from its own citizens, Europe's Jews and treasuries of the countries it occupied.

A report published Tuesday gave the first ever figure for non-monetary gold stolen from individual victims and businesses, placing it at $2.6 billion or about 30 percent of the total of Nazi looted gold. Previous estimates had placed the figure at about 10 percent.

A U.S. government report in May estimated Nazi Germany had looted $7 billion of gold at today's prices, but the new report placed the total at $8.5 billion.

Clinton: Send Netanyahu and Arafat to North Pole

By David Gollust (VOA-White House)

President Clinton held talks Tuesday with Israeli President Ezer Weizman and delivered some veiled criticism of Israel's botched assassination attempt against a senior Hamas official in Jordan two weeks ago.

Administration spokesmen had been cautious in their comments on the Sept. 25 attempt on the life of Hamas political chief Khaled Mashal. But in a photo session as he began his White House meeting with the Israeli president, Clinton left no doubt about his irritation over the incident, which has spawned a crisis between Israel and Jordan -- its closest partner in the Arab world.

"i think that Israel's struggle against terrorism is important. But it's also important to consider the consequences on people who are your allies, whatever actions you've taken. I think the important thing now for me is to try to get this peace process back on track. That's really the only way to ultimately get rid of the terrorist problems in the Middle East."

The president told Weizman he was willing to go anywhere or do anything to advance regional peace efforts. And he confirmed an Israeli account that he had jokingly suggested -- at dinner with Weizman Monday night -- that he was ready to take Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat to the North Pole, and keep them there until they had settled their differences. "At least," Clinton said, "it would cool things down."

The Israeli president is understood to have reiterated his government's concern over what Israel says is active Russian assistance to Iran in developing long-range ballistic missiles.

White House spokesman Mike McCurry said the administration shares that concern and has raised the issue "forthrightly and directly" in high-level talks with Moscow.

Hamas Founder: Islam Does Not Allow for a Cease Fire

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

The freed founder and spiritual leader of the Islamic "Hamas" movement, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, spent his first full day at home in Gaza Tuesday and, through media interviews, he offered Israel a partial truce in the short term, but no compromise in the long term.

When the sheikh received reporters at his Gaza home, he first repeated the long-standing Hamas position -- that it would offer a cease-fire in return for Israel granting all its demands. That includes the surrender of all of Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the removal of all settlements, the return of all Palestinian refugees and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Even then, the sheikh said, the cease-fire would be only temporary because, he said, Islam does not allow a permanent cease-fire with an enemy. Israel has repeatedly rejected that approach, which it says amounts to complete capitulation in return for virtually nothing.

But then, the sheikh offered an idea which is more in the realm of possibility. The sheikh said if Israel will stop what he called its attacks on Palestinian civilians, Hamas will do the same for Israeli civilians. He referred specifically to Israel's policies of destroying allegedly illegal houses, confiscating land for roads and other projects, and the frequent closures of the Palestinian territories.

The first two issues are among those to be discussed next week in Washington, where the United States is seeking a "timeout" to build confidence for future talks.

And speaking in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs Stuart Eizenstat offered an idea on closures. He suggested certain Palestinian workers should be permanently exempted from closures, based on their personal histories.

Israeli officials confirmed Tuesday they had received a Hamas cease-fire offer last month, but no details were provided. The offer was reportedly conveyed to Jordan's King Hussein before Israel tried to assassinate a Hamas leader in Amman, but Israel did not receive the offer until after the attempt.

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