Newsletter : 8fax0414.txt
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>JN April 14, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 69
Assad Calls Israel's Withdrawal "Ploy"
By Edward Yeranian (VOA-Beirut)
Syrian President Hafez al Assad met Monday with Lebanon's three top
officials to form a joint response to Israel's recent offer to
withdraw its troops from southern Lebanon. The leaders of both
Lebanon and Syria once again poured cold water on the Israeli
proposal to withdraw from southern Lebanon.
A Syrian government spokesman declared that UN Resolution 425
called for an "unconditional Israeli withdrawal" and that Israel's
offer to negotiate was "just a ploy to drive a wedge between
Lebanon and Syria."
Monday's declaration came in response to last weeks' letter by
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright encouraging Lebanon to begin
talks with Israel about the terms of withdrawal.
Israel's Cabinet voted April 1 to accept UN Resolution 425 asking
it to withdraw from southern Lebanon -- if Lebanon agreed to
negotiate security along the border.
Syria's official government daily "Techrine" said Monday that
Lebanon stood firm in refusing Israeli pressure to break ranks with
Syria. Lebanon and Syria have coordinated their negotiating
strategy with Israel since the 1991 Madrid peace conference on the
Middle East. Syria also keeps 30,000 troops based on Lebanese
An editorial in Monday's official Ba'ath newspaper in Syria said
there could be "no stability in the Middle East if Israel refused
to withdraw from all Arab territories."
Talks between Israel and Syria about an Israeli withdrawal from
the Golan Heights broke down in February 1996. Syria insists on a
complete Israeli withdrawal from the heights before making peace
Shekel Continues to Decline in Value
By Mark Lavie (VOA-Tel Aviv)
Israel's currency continues to fall in value against the dollar,
after the country's central bank announced foreign currency
reforms. Observers say the moves might help Israel's struggling
The dollar was worth more than NIS 3.7 shekels in currency
exchanges Monday. The shekel has lost about six percent of its
value in the past two weeks. That is good news for Israeli
industry. Manufacturers complained that the shekel was overvalued,
pricing them out of export markets.
Israel's central bank announced that starting next month, the
Israeli currency will be convertible to dollars in Israel and
abroad. That means Israelis will be allowed to pay bills here in
dollars -- illegal up to now. Also, banks abroad will be able to
buy shekels and trade them in for dollars from the Israeli central
This is the latest in a series of moves by Israel's government to
liberalize the country's economy, moving it away from the
centralized, socialized concepts that guided it through most of
its first 50 years.
But basic problems remain. Interest rates remain among the highest
in the industrialized world, as the central bank implements its
first priority of controlling inflation. Unemployment is nearing
double figures, and foreign investment and joint ventures with
Israeli firms are limping along. Economists say all this amounts to
Critics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing
government say Israel's economic problems are the result of his
political policies. They say the optimistic economic climate of
two years ago, when peace talks were in progress, has been replaced by
a return to political and economic isolation for Israel, because
of the two-year stalemate in Israeli-Arab peace negotiations under
300 Detainees to Visit Cyprus to Mark British Arrest
By IINS News Service
Some 300 Israelis are expected to return to Cyprus in June, for the
first time in 50 years, to mark the anniversary of being held in
detention camps by the British colonial administration.
Israel's ambassador to Cyprus, Shemi Tzur, told the German Press
Agency DPA that the Israelis, some of whom were children among the
52,000 held in Cyprus from 1946 to 1949, would be returning in "a
sort of pilgrimage and to express their warm thanks to the people
The visit, which will be part of the 50th anniversary celebrations
of the establishment of the State of Israel, aims to express
appreciation for the warmth and hospitality shown by the people of
"Both nations have many similarities during these decades and we
intend to highlight our unique relations," Tzur said during a
lecture at the Cyprus College in Nicosia.
He added that Israel was among the first to recognize the Republic
of Cyprus when it gained independence from Britain in 1960,
maintaining an embassy in Nicosia ever since. Cyprus opened its
embassy in Tel Aviv in 1996.
Passover Heat Wave Continues
By IINS News Service
The heat wave that hit the entire region continues, with no end in
sight. According to meteorologists, the heat wave will continue at
least through Wednesday, but they cannot say when it will break.
On Sunday at the Tel Aviv beach, temperatures soared at 106
degrees Fahrenheit. The dry hot air is expected to remain for the
indefinite future and travelers are advised to dress and act
accordingly, to avoid adverse affects from the heat.
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