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>Israel Faxx
>JN Oct. 16, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 189

Consumer Price Index Drops for the First Time in 30-Years

September's consumer price index fell 0.1 percent. The cost of produce, clothing and housing all fell, resulting in the lowest September index in thirty years. Inflation in the first nine months was 6.4 percent, well within the government's target of seven percent to ten percent for the year.


Interview with the Sheikh

By Al Pessin (VOA-Gaza)

The spiritual leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, says more than eight years in an Israeli prison did not change his views, and his conditions for even a temporary ceasefire with Israel remain very tough. But in an interview at his home in Gaza, the sheikh said there could be a way to end attacks on civilians.

Yassin maintains the traditional Hamas demands -- that Israeli must make a full withdrawal from all of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem -- including the removal of settlements -- and allow the establishment of a Palestinian state, in order to achieve a temporary cease fire. But in the interview, the sheikh also repeated a new offer he has made lately -- a halt to attacks on Israeli civilians, including suicide bombings, if Israel will stop certain policies he sees as attacks on Palestinian civilians.

"If they give us our rights in Palestine, there are many opportunities for peace, but if they do not give us (our rights), there is no opportunity for peace."

The sheikh says that includes Israel's confiscation of the Jerusalem residency permits of many Palestinians, the demolition of allegedly illegally-built homes, and the border closures which devastate the Palestinian economy.

Israel says that idea could be the basis of a dialogue, but serious talks can come only if Hamas accepts Israel's existence, and firmly and publicly rejects violence. Yassin is not willing to do that, and he vows Palestinians will recover all of what he says is rightfully theirs, including east Jerusalem. "We are going to get our rights. We have our rights in Palestine. We want our land, our homes, not more."

Yassin says he and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat share the same goal. He says the difference is Arafat is willing to settle for $100 of a million dollar debt, but the sheikh demands full payment. Yassin says he does not want that disagreement to create a rift in Palestinian society.

Asked whether his years of contact with Israeli officials while in prison changed his views at all, he says -- "I am a Muslim. Islam has permanent principles. I went into prison Ahmed Yassin, and I came out Ahmed Yassin, the only thing that changed was my clothing."


Palestinians Building Under Temple Mount

By Arutz 7

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a special meeting of advisors in response to reports of Palestinian construction under the Temple Mount.

Attorney General Elyakim Rubenstein reported the Palestinians are building in "Solomon's Stables", an historic site located in the hollow interior of the Temple Mount. Government officials defined the situation as "very dangerous and very delicate" and said Israel would be legally justified in acting against the work, since the Temple Mount falls within Israeli jurisdiction. Since the issue is highly sensitive, however, officials said they would explore alternative solutions to the problem.

Last September, the opening by Israel of an exit to an ancient archaeological tunnel adjacent to the Temple Mount was used as justification for PLO-instigated riots which cost the lives of 60 Arabs and 15 Israeli soldiers.

The Temple Mount, site of the first and second Jewish temples, is the holiest site in Judaism. The remaining portion of supporting wall of the platform of the Second Temple is the Western Wall -- the closest praying Jews can get to their holy site. The Mount itself, though under Israeli sovereignty, is controlled by an Arafat-installed Islamic authority. Two major mosques are located there.


Succot

The seven-day Succot festival begins at sunset today, and runs until sunset on Wednesday, October 22. Its observance is mandated by Leviticus 23:34-35 and 23:39-43. The first and last days are full public holidays. All seven days are marked by special prayers and scripture readings, including the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Succot is described as a happy, family oriented holiday which follows -- and provides a contrast to -- the somber, introspective and private character of Yom Kippur.

Jews are enjoined to build, take all of their meals in, and (if possible) sleep in, temporary huts topped with thatch or palm fronds during the festival. These huts (tabernacles, or "succot" in Hebrew) commemorate the temporary, portable dwellings in which the Jewish people lived during their 40 years in the wilderness following their liberation from slavery in Egypt.


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