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>Israel Faxx
>JN Dec. 2, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 220

Iraq Could Destroy the World

By IINS News Service

Saddam Hussein may have produced enough of the deadly chemical VX to kill everyone on earth, US Defense Secretary William Cohen said last week. "Originally they indicated they had just a small quantity of VX. One drop on your finger would produce death in a few moments. Now the UN believes that Saddam may have produced as much as 200 tons of VX. This would theoretically be enough to kill every man, woman and child on the face of the earth." said Cohen.


Nazi Gold Conference opens in London

By Andre de Nesnera (VOA-London)

A three-day conference on Nazi gold opens in London Tuesday with about 40 countries attending. The British government is hosting this conference which builds on a pledge made by the new Labor administration after it came to office in May.

British officials make clear it is not a decision-making conference. They say it will give historians and researchers attending the meeting a chance to pool their information and resources concerning the gold looted by the Nazis from countries as well as individuals.

Greville Janner is a former member of parliament, now chairman of Britain's Holocaust Educational Trust -- a lobbying group. He told reporters the three-day session will give participants a chance to "open their minds as well as their archives."

"This conference is a moral miracle. It is the first time that there has ever been a gathering of this sort of many nations with the sole purpose of seeking the truth as a step on the path to restitution -- restitution to survivors of Nazi persecution and their families."

Janner would like the gathering to focus its attention on the issue of the 5.5 tons of Nazi gold worth about $60 million still held in British and American banks. In 1946, Britain, the United States and France set up the so-called Tripartite Commission to deal with and distribute gold recovered by the Allies to Nazi-occupied countries. All but two percent of the original total -- in other words the 5.5 tons -- has been given back. Janner wants the gold to be given to the 350,000 survivors of the Nazi concentration camps.

One of the conference participants -- Switzerland -- is expected to come under heavy criticism for its role during World War 2. Historians say during that time, Nazi germany deposited about $7 billion worth of gold in Swiss banks. Most of the gold came from central banks overrun and occupied by the Nazis. But the gold also came from dispossessed private businesses and individuals -- mostly Jewish.

The head of the Swiss delegation to the talks -- Thomas Borer -- told British radio it is time for the Swiss to stop apologizing for their role during World War 2. "The Swiss government is in a very good position because we have taken unprecedented steps. We have established a 270-million Swiss franc (about $190 million) special fund for needy Holocaust victims. No other government has set up such a fund. I do not think that other countries are going to attack us, because all countries know they have committed many, many mistakes during the Second World War -- and there is no country that is really in a position to throw stones at Switzerland because they may sit in a glass house themselves."

But Borer warns if Switzerland will be attacked at the conference, he will not hesitate to respond.


Who Will Succeed Arafat?

By IINS News Service

Concerns about Yasir Arafat's state of health have raised speculation about likely successors to the man who holds the reins of the PLO and the self-rule Palestinian Authority.

Although he continues to insist that reports of his ailing condition are nothing but Israeli "propaganda," the 69-year-old Arafat hasn't looked well for months. One expert has suggested he has entered early stages of Parkinson's Disease.

This has led to discussion among Palestinians, Israelis and diplomats about his replacement and the future of the Palestinian "struggle".

Arafat's likeliest successor is Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), 62, usually referred to as Arafat's deputy, although reportedly not popular among ordinary Palestinians. Abbas was a key player on the PLO side in negotiations leading to the Oslo Accords. Another possibility is Ahmed Korei, 60, another Oslo architects and now the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

A gloomier prospect -- but one more in keeping with Mideast transfers of power -- is that one or both of Arafat's preventive security chiefs will seize control. They are Jibril Rajoub, 42, who runs the division in the "West Bank," and his Gaza counterpart, Mohammad Dahlan, 37. This could in turn lead to a deteriorating security situation, as various security agencies and other armed groups compete for power.

Optimists are hoping that whoever succeeds Arafat will usher in a more open, democratic system in the self-rule area, and a more pragmatic approach to negotiations.


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