Newsletter : 8fax0526.txt
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>JN May 26, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 96
Netanyahu Leaves for China; Arafat for Saudi Arabia
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem), Mark Lavie (VOA-Tel Aviv)
A member of Israel's Cabinet says it unanimously supports Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his rejection of a US peace plan. As
a result, the Palestinians are seeking an Arab summit to take
diplomatic action against Israel. Netanyahu left on a
previously-scheduled trip to China Monday.
There are several aspects to Israel-China relations. Officials,
however, like to talk about economic ties and trade while admitting
to political differences. They prefer not to talk about military
cooperation and sales.
Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Katsav said the Cabinet supports
Netanyahu on the West Bank pullback, and unanimously rejects the US
proposal for a 13 percent Israeli withdrawal. Israeli officials say
such a withdrawal would endanger Israeli security. Netanyahu's
rejection of the US plan has led to a crisis in the peace process,
and continuing efforts to find a compromise.
Israeli news reports say there is a new idea on the negotiating
table -- an 11 percent withdrawal now and a promise of 4 percent
more later. But that would also go beyond what the Cabinet has
formally approved. The reports say US mediators want Israel's
answer by the end of the week, but there is no official
confirmation of a deadline.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat made a surprise visit
to Saudi Arabia Monday, apparently to seek Saudi agreement for an
Arab summit on the peace process. Palestinian officials say Arab
countries have agreed to re-examine their relations with Israel
if the peace process remains deadlocked.
Israel's closest friends in the Arab world, Egypt and Jordan, are
reported to have already agreed to attend such a summit, with
possible diplomatic moves against Israel on the agenda.
The idea is to impose a cost on Netanyahu for his refusal to
accept the peace plan. Israel says such a move would be
counter-productive and that the way to peace is through direct
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, rather than through mediator
proposals or international conferences.
Relative to the size of the market, Israel's trade with China is
minuscule. Last year, trade totaled $277 million, according to the
Israeli Ministry of Commerce. Israel exported a total of $71
million worth of chemicals, fertilizer, electric and electronic
products and medical supplies, while importing $206-million worth
of machinery, electric supplies, metals, chemicals, rubber,
plastic, textiles and footwear.
Government spokesman Moshe Fogel says one goal of the prime
minister's trip is to increase Israel-China commerce. "There are
different areas in which Israel is looking for cooperation in the
economic field with China."
Israel and China have had formal diplomatic relations for only
six years, and their foreign policies are often at odds. China
tends to support Arab arguments in the Israel-Arab conflict, and
Israel is critical of China's record on human rights. Fogel sees
this as only part of the picture.
"We don't agree with some of the policies of the People's Republic
of China; they don't agree with some of our policies, but at the
same time, I think it bodes well for the future that we can find
areas, specifically in the economic area, where we can cooperate,
and I think these type of ties should be encouraged."
When the Israeli Ministry of Commerce says Israel-China trade
totals less than $300 million a year, that is only part of the
picture -- the part officials talk about. There have been reports
over the past two decades about military cooperation between Israel
and China -- unconfirmed reports about billion-dollar deals, with
Israel selling China everything from aircraft technology to tank
After years of denying everything, the Israelis are singing a
slightly different tune now. Fogel does not deny that Israel and
China have military dealings, but he will not go into specifics.
"I think that Israel, just as any other country that has an
indigenous capability of manufacturing weapons, cannot only supply
weaponry to its domestic market. It has to look outside. We believe
there are certain areas where we can cooperate, specifically in the
economic areas, but sometimes also in other areas."
The Israelis insist that, in their dealings with China, they follow
the lead of the United States. From time to time, the US has
suspected otherwise. There have been charges that Israel illegally
transferred US weapons technology to China. But the Israelis say
that investigations have never disclosed wrongdoing on their part.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Israel was created as a socialist state and was
transformed into a quasi-capitalist nation. Is it possible that
Israel is instructing the PRC into how the transformation took
place in Israel?)
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
By IINS News Service
The kosher-eating baseball fans in New York City may now join the
crowd, while attending a New York Mets or Yankees ballgame.
Beginning this season, the Star K catering concern of New York is
selling strictly-kosher glatt hot dogs, for those fans who no
longer want to just be a spectator at the ball game.
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