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>Israel Faxx
>JN Jan. 15, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 8

Female Police Department Officer Raped on PD Base

A suspect is under arrest for raping a 23-year-old officer of the Police Department, several days ago. The rapist entered the base in southern Israel at about 11:00 p.m., dragged the officer outside and raped her. An investigation is underway to determine why the female officer was alone on the base.

Cabinet Outlines Withdrawal Position

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

In advance of next week's Israeli and Palestinian summits at the White House, Israel's Cabinet is continuing to outline its position, with a declaration that Israel will insist on keeping large areas of the West Bank in any final peace settlement with the Palestinians.

The Cabinet resolution calls for the future Palestinian entity to be surrounded by Israeli-controlled security zones, and for Israel to also hold onto the area around Jerusalem, along with key military, religious and civil infrastructure sites. But the Cabinet did not draw specific border lines.

On Tuesday, the Cabinet said it will not give up any more territory until the Palestinian Authority fulfills all its obligations -- a condition many analysts say can never be met. The Cabinet resolutions are bad news for the Palestinians, who want most of the West Bank for a future state, and as quickly as possible.

AIPAC Case Before the Supreme Court

By Jim Malone (VOA-Washington)

Supporters and critics of strong US ties with Israel clashed in oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The case involves one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington--AIPAC--the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Specifically, the issue before the high court is whether AIPAC should be subject to the same kind of public disclosure requirements which apply to political action committees.

A recent survey ranked AIPAC as one of the top two most effective lobbying groups in Washington. For years, AIPAC has been Israel's most important ally on Capitol Hill and is well known for its ability to help lawmakers sympathetic to Israel and to be critical of those who do not share its views.

The case before the Supreme Court seeks to clarify whether AIPAC is merely a public advocacy group or whether it should be treated as a political action committee which contributes to individual congressional candidates and incumbents.

Initially, the Federal Election Commission ruled that AIPAC was not subject to the same kind of disclosure requirements as are political action committees. The commission found that AIPAC was primarily a lobbying group and that only a small portion of its resources were devoted to campaign activities.

But a group of retired diplomats who favor a more balanced policy in the Middle East challenged the election commission ruling in court. An appeals court in Washington agreed with their contention that AIPAC should be considered a political action committee and should have to divulge the amounts of its political contributions and to whom those contributions are given.

Among those taking on AIPAC in this case are two former ambassadors who now publish a monthly magazine (Washington Report on Mideast Affairs) which seeks a more balanced US policy in the Middle East. Andrew Killgore at one time served as ambassador to Qatar. He says American voters have a right to know about the extent of the influence which AIPAC has in Washington, especially on matters related to the Middle East.

"As a matter of fact, you have to ask yourself, really, and the public, I think, has to ask itself, if AIPAC has nothing to hide, what the devil have they been fighting us nine years for? Why not come out and say, 'Let the public know.' Not just us, let the public know."

AIPAC officials say that they make no direct cash contributions to specific candidates and say their primary goal is communication between voters and politicians concerned with US-Israeli ties. Attorney Thomas Hungar spoke to reporters on the steps of the Supreme Court shortly after the nine justices heard oral arguments in the case.

"Regardless of the outcome of this case, we do not believe that AIPAC's organizational activities will be affected in any way. AIPAC is not a political action committee. It is a public affairs committee. It engages in grass roots lobbying on behalf of its members to advocate in favor of the strong US-Israel relationship and for that reason we do not believe that this case is going to have any impact on AIPAC's activities."

A decision in the case is expected sometime before July but it may not be clear-cut. The high court could decide that AIPAC's critics in this case have no legal standing to bring the case forward and could throw out the case on that basis alone. Or the court could wait for an expected ruling from the Federal Election Commission on who is deemed to be a member of a political organization like AIPAC. Some of the comments from the justices during the oral arguments seemed to indicate that both of those issues had to be resolved before they could rule on the core issue in the case.

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