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>Israel Faxx
>JN Jan. 6, 1998, Vol. 8. No. 3

A Veteran Illegal Driver

By IINS News Service

A Nazareth man, who has been driving for 23-years without a license, was arrested by police over the weekend. A Nazareth Court sentenced the man to 6-months in jail and fined him NIS 5,000. He is also barred from obtaining a driver's license for 10-years.

Knesset Approves Netanyahu's Budget

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's parliament has approved the government budget, following an acrimonious process that resulted in the resignation of the foreign minister and could hurt efforts to restart the peace process.

It was a big buildup to just a few seconds of electronic voting. Parliament Speaker Dan Tichon announced the result. Fifty-eight votes in favor, 52 opposed and one abstention.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's moment of victory could be short-lived. Several right-wing members who supported him on the budget say they will oppose him on any further moves in the peace process, particularly territorial concessions which are long overdue.

And Sunday's resignation by the relatively liberal Foreign Minister David Levy, which takes effect Tuesday -- unless it is rescinded -- will further limit Netanyahu's maneuvering room.

The peace process retakes center stage here Tuesday with the arrival of the senior U.S. mediator, Dennis Ross.

Israel's Government Approves Plan for National Railway

By IINS News Service

The government approved Sunday a proposal to set up a national railway under full state ownership, the Prime Minister's office said. National Infrastructures Minister Ariel Sharon submitted the plan for the operation and development of both passenger and freight railways throughout the country as well as for accompanying stations.

Government ministers also agreed on funding for an express railway line between Tel-Aviv and Beersheva, at an investment of $100 million for 1998 alone, the National Infrastructures Ministry said. An investment of $245 million is earmarked for the entire project in 1998. The plan will separate Israel Railways from the Ports Authority and fall under the complete control of the Infrastructures Ministry.

Sharon stressed the project will help spur economic growth in the country's southern desert region, as well as help distribute population more evenly throughout the country, the ministry release said.

Sabbath-Friendly Phones for Government Figures

By Arutz-7 News Service

Attorney-General Elyakim Rubenstein and Interior Minister Eli Suissa have ordered new telephones for their office: the special Technology and Halakhah Institute Sabbath-friendly model.

This is a phone that can be used in emergency situations with a minimal desecration of the Sabbath. The late President Chaim Herzog and Prime Minister Menachem Begin, among many others, owned a phone of this sort. A time-mechanism and a beam of light emitted by a peg combine to cause the phone to dial any one of several pre-programmed numbers.

Rabbi Levy Yitzchak Halperin, head of the Institute, explains that in this way, the user does not directly dial the number. Incoming calls are also received in a non-interventive manner. The need for such a phone was felt by Rubenstein during the failed assassination attempt of a Hamas political leader in Jordan last September, when he was telephoned by Prime Minister Netanyahu on the Sabbath and asked to leave immediately for the Jordanian capital of Amman. Education Minister Zevulun Hammer, of the National Religious Party, is also considering having such a phone installed.

Turkey-Israel-US War Games

By IINS News Service

On Sunday, the Arab League denounced the Jan. 7 military exercise, planned to take place in the Mediterranean between Israel, Turkey and the US, saying it will hurt the peace process.

Among those Arab League members who were particularly critical of the joint maneuvers were Egypt and Syria. They maintain the maneuvers are another attempt by Israel to increase its military superiority over its Arab neighbors. Despite the objection of the Arab League, Jordan will participate as an observer.

Arab League members attacked Israel's policies, which they maintain are stalling the peace process in the area. They say the recent treaties signed with Turkey are an attempt to weaken the Syrian regime and thereby force President Hafez al-Assad into reaching an agreement with Israel.

Israel and Turkey, whose thriving military alliance has raised hackles in the Arab-Muslim world, are now considering a joint project for developing an anti-missile system. The idea was discussed during a strategic dialogue between the two countries' security officials two weeks ago.

During the discussions, the Turkish officials expressed concern over Iran's long-range missile program which would put all Turkish cities within striking range.

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