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>PD
>Israel Faxx
>JN Dec. 11, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 226

10th Anniversary of the Intifada

By Al Pessin (VOA-Gaza)

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza -- the intifada -- which ended four years ago when the peace process began.

In Gaza, nearly two years ago, Yasir Arafat was sworn in as president of the Palestinian Autonomy Authority. A few words spoken by the man who had already led the Palestinians for decades, transformed the Palestinian movement from a liberation struggle nearly into a government, and transformed Gaza from a battleground into a place where life is still troubled but also in many ways normal.

There is much speculation about whether a new intifada could break out. Business leaders say the economy is too weak. Palestinian political leaders say it would bring a new period of suffering to people who were primed for a period of calm and prosperity. Still, other Palestinians are ready to do it again, if necessary.


Upgrade of Palestinian U.N. Observer Status Postponed

By Elaine Johanson (VOA-United Nations)

The United Nations General Assembly has postponed indefinitely a decision on upgrading the UN observer status of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Arab and Islamic states -- facing strong opposition from the United States and reservations in the European Union -- decided not to put their resolution to a vote.

The PLO would have been upgraded almost to a state. It would have had most of the rights of UN members -- except voting and running its candidates for UN positions.

The European Union offered an amendment to the resolution that would have postponed a decision until further study of the issue. Unable to kill off the European proposal -- Arab and Islamic states held brief behind-the-scenes consultations. After what many believe was a quick tally of potential votes on the PLO upgrade, they decided now is not the time to pursue it.


Palestinian Census Gets Under Way

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

The Palestinian Authority has launched a census in the West Bank and Gaza, and Israel is taking steps to ensure it is not extended to Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Israeli police in the city are on the lookout for Palestinian census takers, and the parliament is working on an emergency law to specifically ban such activity.

Census takers fanned out across the West Bank and Gaza Wednesday, armed with questionnaires seeking to determine the numbers, places of origin and economic levels of more than two million Palestinians. Some local residents were reluctant to provide personal details to the Autonomy Authority, but most cooperated. Banners displayed in some cities proclaimed the census the "first step" in building a Palestinian state.

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimates that nearly half of the population is under the age of 15, that the population is growing at a rate of more than 6 percent a year and that more than half of Palestinian families have at least five children.

But the Palestinian census takers will apparently not be able to count Palestinians in Jerusalem. Israel's government has been saying for weeks it will bar the workers from doing their jobs in the eastern part of the city, which Israel has annexed and says it will never give up. The Palestinians want to make east Jerusalem their capital.

East Jerusalem Palestinians were allowed to vote in last year's Palestinian elections, but Israel says that is not a precedent for other activities in the city by the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, Israel points out that the peace agreements empower the authority to act only in areas under its control, which do not include Jerusalem. The city's status is to be negotiated in the next phase of the peace process.


UBS Apologizes Over Shredded Documents

By IINS News Service

The Union Bank of Switzerland made a formal apology to a security guard, who was dismissed from his position after he saved documents pertaining to the Holocaust from the paper shredder. The documents proved to be related to tracking down Holocaust victims.

Christoph Meili was fired from his job and subsequently fled to the US, fearing for his life. He also came to Israel and was honored for his actions on behalf of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Meili spoke on the phone to UBS Chief Executive Mathis Cabiallavetta, who apologized to the security guard for the bank's actions.


Maryland Youth Ordered Held Without Bail

By IINS News Service

The Jerusalem District Court has ruled that a Maryland youth, Samuel Sheinbein, wanted by US officials as a suspect in the murder/dismemberment of another teen, will be held without bail until a final decision is made regarding honoring the US extradition request. The youth is wanted as the chief suspect in the murder.

The court must decide if he is indeed, an Israeli citizen as stipulated by his lawyer, former Justice Minister Professor David Libai, and therefore protected from extradition by Israeli law.

The attorney general has already submitted his opinion- that the youth is not a citizen of Israel, clearing the way for honoring the US extradition request.


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