Newsletter : 7fax1226.txt
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>JN Dec. 26, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 236
Iran: U.S. Controlled by Zionists
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated on Iranian state-run radio, that
the United States is "under the spell of the Zionists. The Zionist
regime (Israel) is only part of the Zionist network that is
controlled by capitalists in some countries around the world,
including the United States."
All Ye Faithful Deserts Bethlehem
By Mark Lavie (VOA-Tel Aviv)
Christmas Day in Bethlehem finds the Palestinian city on the West
Bank hoping for peace -- not just for Christmas but for business as
well. Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity in
Bethlehem, is back to normal. On Christmas Eve, it was packed with
thousands of people. Now it's a parking lot again. Tour buses are
arriving, bringing pilgrims and tourists to the city where Jesus
was born. But Bethlehem merchant George Baboul says even though
the city is crowded, he isn't selling much.
"It was very bad. Because most of the Manger Square here, the
people were not Christians, you never find two percent who are
Christians, the rest are Muslims, they came from Hebron, and they
did some problems."
The church on Manger Square filled with worshippers Christmas
morning. Most were local Palestinian Christians. The people here
agree. Until there is peace and stability in the Middle East, many
tourists will prefer to go somewhere else -- even on Christmas.
No Change in Israel's Nuke Policy
By Arutz-7 News Service
There has been no substantive change in Israel's nuclear policy or
in its operational approach, as claimed by US officials who were
quoted extensively in a recent newspaper report.
"That policy remains stable despite threats by Israeli leaders to
take action against Iran if it acquires long-range
surface-to-surface missiles and weapons of mass destruction."
An article published in the International Herald Tribune (Dec 19)
noted that Israeli leaders had recently hinted that Israel might
deploy its nuclear weapons in a "launch-on-warning" mode if and
when Iran targeted it with missiles.
The paper quoted the head of Israel's atomic energy commission,
Gideon Frank, as saying that Israel could only "give up its nuclear
capability when it reaches a 'utopia' with its neighbors of the
order of Argentina and Brazil." But Frank told Ha'aretz there had
been "no change" in Israel's nuclear policy.
Year-Ender: West Bank '97
By Al Pessin (VOA-Hebron)
It has largely been a year of stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian
peace process, except in the West Bank town of Hebron, which in
January became the last of the Palestinian cities to gain autonomy.
The autonomy was delayed because several hundred Israeli settlers
live inside the city, and Israel held onto that area as a result.
Israeli soldiers block the road which passes in front of Hebron's
Cave of the Patriarchs -- a site holy to Muslims and Jews. The
soldiers first say only Jews can go through, not foreigners and
certainly not our Palestinian interpreter. Later, they say we
can go through, but without our car or interpreter. We turn
The incident is indicative of the tension in this part of Hebron,
near the cave and the compounds where Israeli settlers live.
While life in much of the city appears normal, turn the wrong
corner and you face an Israeli checkpoint and must prove you have
the right to pass. For Palestinians, the result is often
negative, and they describe their experiences as humiliating.
Hebron's Palestinian mayor, Mustafa Natche, says autonomy has
improved life in his part of the city, but across the checkpoints
things are as bad as ever.
The mayor says there cannot be real peace in Hebron until the
settlers and the Israeli troops leave the city. The settlers'
spokesman, David Wilder, says that will never happen.
"We've been told many times that there won't be peace in Hebron
until there are no more Jews in Hebron. And we have no
intentions of leaving. And we have no doubts that they will do
whatever they have to do in order to try to see us out."
The fate of Israeli settlers, including those in Hebron is to be
negotiated in the next and final phase of the peace process. But
Israel's right wing government says it does not intend to
remove any settlers even in a final settlement. Meanwhile, each
side accuses the other of continuing unprovoked attacks.
In a way, Hebron is a microcosm of the West Bank -- Israeli- and
Palestinian-controlled zones side-by-side, continuing friction
and violence, and economic problems caused by Israeli security
closures and peace process delays which stifle investment. But
it is also a microcosm of the possibilities of the peace process
-- self-rule for the Palestinians, a change of atmosphere and
improved business, at least for some.
And in spite of the current nearly year-long deadlock in the
peace process, Dandis says, he still hopes it can bring more
positive changes to Hebron and the whole West Bank, and perhaps
even Palestinian statehood -- but he says about half of his
friends have given up that hope.
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