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>Israel Faxx
>JN Feb. 16, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 29

IDF Reserve Pilots Uninsured

By IINS News Service

Pilots flying for the IDF, during their reserve duty, have been told they no longer are being insured by the military and are now required to obtain their own insurance policies. The response among pilots was one of shock and anger. One pilot explained that in the past he was required to pay part of the insurance but it was a nominal sum. Now, he added, the pilots are required to finance their own life insurance, a move which he deemed unacceptable.

PA Requests US Supply Gas Masks

By IINS News Service

The PLO Authority called on the US to supply them with gas masks. Minister of Health Riyad Za'anoon called upon US officials in Israel to supply the PA and its residents with gas masks and pharmaceuticals to protect them against possible Iraqi biological or chemical warfare attacks.

In related mews, the Israel Prison Authority said all prisoners in Israel have already been issued gas masks and the appropriate "kits," including "security prisoners." Foreigners working in Israel have not yet received masks, but it appears that the government will require employers to finance the purchase of masks for their foreign workers.

New Deadlier Anthrax

By IINS News Service

Russian researchers have created a new form of anthrax that may be able to elude the vaccine US troops soon will get to protect them against the deadly biological warfare agent, American scientists have learned.

The new altered form of anthrax was developed at the State Research Centre for Applied Microbiology in Obolensk, Russia. The lead Russian researcher shared preliminary information about the work last fall when he was in the United States collaborating with American scientists on a different project. The research was formally published in December 1997 in the British scientific journal Vaccine.

Israeli Jubilee Officially Under Way

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has officially begun celebrating its 50th Jubilee anniversary -- which takes place at the end of April. Israel's plans to mark the anniversary have been hurt by a series of disputes among officials responsible for organizing worldwide celebrations, and by problems in the peace process.

But the government is determined to proceed with a series of festivities culminating April 30, which will be the Hebrew calendar anniversary of Israel's independence in (mid-May) 1948.

The United Nations voted in 1947 to create Jewish and Palestinian states. But Arab armies went to war to prevent the establishment of Israel. Israel won the war, and divided what had been British Palestine with Jordan. After Israel captured the rest of the land in the 1967 war, Jordan gave up its claims in favor of the Palestinians. Decades of conflict followed until the peace process was launched and the Palestinians agreed to live side-by-side with the Jewish state.

Yasir Arafat said if the peace process remains stalled, he is ready to lead a new Palestinian uprising. That was the strongest of several threats he has made in recent months. He also repeated a threat to declare Palestinian statehood next year, whether there is a final peace agreement or not. Israel says such a move would be the end of the peace process.

Pope Plans Pilgrimage

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Ma'ariv reports Pope John Paul II will visit Jerusalem in 2000. But the Vatican did not comment on the report, saying it never discusses papal travel until it is officially announced. But the pope has said repeatedly he hopes to visit the Holy Land as part of the celebrations marking the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus.

The prospect of a papal visit is a source of some joy, some opposition and much controversy. But like so much in this region, it is not simple at all. The prospect of a visit by the pope is tied up in politics, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the history of the last 50 years.

Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert says he is eager for a papal visit -- in the year 2000, or any time. But it is precisely the desire by Israeli officials like Olmert to "host" the pope that makes Palestinian officials oppose such a visit -- until the status and borders of Jerusalem, Israel and perhaps a future Palestinian state are determined.

The Christian holy sites in Jerusalem are in east Jerusalem's walled Old City, part of the territory Israel captured in the 1967 war, and later annexed. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be their future capital.

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