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>Israel Faxx
>JN Dec. 1. 1997, Vol. 5, No. 219

200,000 Israelis in the Big Apple

According to an official estimate by the Israeli Consulate in New York City, there are approximately 85,000 Israeli families living in the city, an estimated 200,000 Israelis. The statistics were released to coincide with the consulate-sponsored "House of Israel," a project designed to renew the ties with Israelis in the major city and hopefully persuade some of them to return to Israel.

Israel Plans to Return More Territory

By Mark Lavie (VOA-Tel Aviv)

Israel's Cabinet has approved transfer of more territory in the West Bank to the Palestinians. But the Israelis added a list of conditions -- and the Palestinians have already rejected the decision.

The Cabinet decision says Israel will implement one more redeployment in the West Bank before a permanent peace settlement. But first, the Palestinians have to implement their part of the same agreement that calls for the Israeli pullback -- and Sunday's Cabinet decision adds a new element: the Israelis have to set out their guidelines for a permanent peace settlement.

Interim agreements signed by the two sides call for three stages of Israeli pullbacks in the West Bank, eventually turning over most of the territory to Palestinian civilian control. At the same time, negotiations on a permanent peace settlement are to go ahead.

Israel missed the target dates for the first two withdrawals, and peace treaty negotiations never got started. Now Israel is offering a single limited pullback instead of three. The palestinians reject that. So Israel and the Palestinians are once again trading charges and assigning blame.

This is not what the American administration had in mind when it called for significant moves toward peace by the end of the year. The administration has made its view clear that Israel is mostly to blame for the stalemate in Middle East peacemaking.

Earlier this month, President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were in Los Angeles at the same time, but did not meet. That was widely interpreted as an almost unheard-of snub of an Israeli leader by an American president. The White House said later that the two will meet soon.

But for Netanyahu, political survival is higher on his list of priorities than meeting the president. He leads a right-wing Israeli coalition government. Many of his supporters oppose turning over any more territory to the Palestinians. Netanyahu himself is not eager to pull Israeli soldiers out of additional West Bank land, despite agreements to that effect signed by the previous, more dovish Israeli government.

The Israeli leader is handling this political challenge in two ways. First, he insists that the Palestinians implement all their commitments to Israel's satisfaction. Netanyahu charges that the Palestinians still have not cracked down on extremists planning terror attacks in Israel, and they have not canceled their Charter that calls for destruction of the Jewish state.

At the same time, in meetings with some of his supporters, Netanyahu says he realizes the Palestinians will reject his offer, so he tells them there is nothing to worry about, that there will not be another Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank. That means a continuation of the stalemate in the peace process. That might be politically beneficial to Netanyahu, but would be unsatisfactory to the Palestinians -- and the United States.

"Sensational" New Nazi Gold Documents Found

By IINS News Service

BADEN-BADEN, Germany -- More than 800 documents containing "sensational" new details on the source of stolen Nazi gold have been uncovered in Vienna, German television station Suedwestfunk said.

The station stated it had obtained copies of the documents, which it said originated in the Third Reich Foreign Ministry and the former Reichsbank, and are contained on 22 microfilms dated 1957.

In one of the documents, then-Reichsbank Director Albert Thoms traces the sources and destination of gold placed in the bank's vaults, the station said.

In Vienna, the newspaper Standard confirmed the discovery of the 22 microfilms. Experts quoted by Suedwestfunk said the documents could contain revelations on gold confiscated by the Nazis in concentration camps and ghettos, before being deposited with the Reichsbank.

German political scientist Hersch Fischler found the documents after years of research, in the possession of the widow of Herbert Herzog, an Austrian salesman who died in 1977, the station reported.

Herzog, who spent 10 months as a prisoner in the Buchenwald concentration camp, learned from an officer there (who served under former Third Reich Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop) the location of some five tons of hidden gold, according to the television station.

The gold, turned over to the Americans after the war, was subsequently transported to Austria's former national bank, OeNB, said Suedwestfunk.

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