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>JN Nov. 10. 1997, Vol. 5, No. 206

Iraqi Threat

According to Jane's Defense Weekly, Defense Minister Yitzchak Mordechai has said Israel is prepared to launch pre-emptive strikes against Iran if it is threatened with missiles or non-conventional weapons. Jane's added that his comments have also been seen as a warning to Syria over its surface-to-surface missile capability.

Vatican Agreement Expected Today

By IINS News Service

According to the Israeli Embassy to the Vatican, an agreement is scheduled to be signed today, which will detail the status of the Roman Catholic Church in Israel.

The agreement will be signed by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs David Levy, and the Apostolic Nuncio in Israel, Monsignor Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo.

The agreement constitutes an important milestone in the long, ongoing process of the normalization of relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See, and between the State of Israel and the Catholic Church.

An historic turning point in these relations was the signing of the Fundamental Agreement in December 1993, followed by the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and the Holy See.

Ethiopian Children Out of School

By IINS News Service

According to a newly-released government report pertaining to the Ethiopian community in Israel, the situation vis-a-vis schooling was found to be most alarming. An increasing number of members of the Ethiopian community are having difficulties finding their places in the nation's schools, contributing to a steady increase in the number of dropouts.

There are an estimated 1,500 Ethiopians who have stopped going to school. In 1996, only 25% of the Ethiopian students eligible for matriculation exams actually completed the tests.

Officials are concerned and pointed out the increased truancies are definitely related to the rise in crime involving Ethiopian students, up from 53 reported cases in 1994 to 150 in 1996.

Four Percent of All Israelis Memorialize Rabin at Rally

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

More than 200,000 Israelis attended a Tel Aviv rally Saturday night to mark the second anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. (The anniversary was Nov. 4, and will be marked on the Hebrew calendar Wednesday.) It was an opportunity for Israel's left wing to recommit itself to Rabin's peace policy, which the current right wing government opposes.

Once again the square where Rabin was assassinated was filled with his supporters, as it was the night he was killed, as it was a week later at a memorial rally, as it was last year on the first anniversary of his death. This year, the slogans were different -- "Save the peace," "We will not forget," and "Friend, I remember."

But the overflow crowd of Israelis from across the spectrum of age, origin, profession and level of religious observance was much the same. And the familiar peace songs Rabin joined in singing on that fateful night two years ago were the same, although they were mixed with the many memorial songs written about him since then.

On the podium where Rabin delivered his final speech, his successor, Shimon Peres, and other Labor Party figures called for a return to his policies, saying there is no other way to achieve peace or to create a secure future for Israel. Peres said if Rabin had lived, Israel would by now have peace with the Palestinians and also with Syria.

Rabin's widow, Leah, told the crowd to continue working for peace, and that Israel longs for the peace her husband was working for, and which she said is slipping away.

The anniversary of the assassination has been an occasion for mourning and soul searching in Israel, but also for renewed recriminations. Rabin's supporters continue to accuse rightists, including those in the current government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of inciting extremists against Rabin and creating a violent atmosphere. The rightists disavow the actions of the extremists, like the Jewish student who killed Rabin, and say it was lax management by some in his government which did not do enough to stop the extremists.

At the rally Saturday night, Minister Natan Sharansky almost could not speak for the booing from the audience. But when he did speak he called for an end to division, and said Israelis should look beyond their political differences and renew their unity.

It Pays to Retire from Bezek Telecommunications Ltd.

By IINS News Service

Bezek employees over the age of 50, who retire from the company by March 1998, will receive a payout package of about NIS 500,000 (approximately $140,845). These employees will receive monthly pension payments amounting to approximately 70% of their income.

The directorate of the Israel's telephone service provider approved the new retirement package in its meeting this weekend. The new agreement calls for 1,800 employees to retire within two years, in three waves.

According to the head of the Bezek employees labor union, Shlomo Kfir, there are currently over 2,000 employees over 50-years-old. Those agreeing to retire at this time will receive a payout as if they had worked until age 65.

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