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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 1, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 99

Israel: Pakistan's Nukes Might Encourage Iran/Iraq

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel says its main concern about Pakistan's nuclear tests is that it might encourage what it calls radical states in the region to develop nuclear weapons as well.

The chief Israeli government spokesman, David bar Illan, says Israel has no problem with the concept of an Islamic country having a nuclear weapons capability. Rather, he says, the concern is that such technology might reach specific countries committed to Israel's destruction -- particularly Iran and Iraq.

"The main concern is that the regimes in Tehran and Baghdad might get their hands on nuclear weapons one way or another, and that would cause a tremendous earthquake here in the Middle East and would pose danger to us, but not only to us but to the whole world."

Israel is widely believed to also have a nuclear weapons capability, but that is not officially confirmed. Bar Illan says even if Israel does, it is not reasonable to compare the idea of democracies like Israel and Pakistan having nuclear weapons to the potential for countries like Iran and Iraq to get them.

"When you make comparisons between the danger posed by democratic countries and dictatorial regimes, these are invidious comparisons which have proven themselves to be totally wrong. Obviously, the danger posed by dictatorial regimes, particularly ones that do not seem to be guided by rational thinking, is much greater, is the only danger that is posed to the peace of the world."

Bar Illan says while Israel does not confirm or deny reports it has nuclear weapons, it has promised never to be the first to use them in any conflict.

In recent months, Israel has been particularly concerned about Iran's efforts to improve its missile capability -- which could enable it to deliver nuclear or other weapons into Israel. On Friday, the Israeli newspaper "Ha'aretz" reported China has recently sent 1,000 tons of special steel to Iran, which could be used in its missile program. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has returned from a week-long visit to China, during which he is believed to have urged Chinese leaders to limit their military cooperation with Iran.

Poll: Arafat's Popularity Drops 6 Percent Since January

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

A new Palestinian public opinion survey indicates support for both Yasir Arafat and the peace process is declining. Meanwhile support is growing for the best-known Palestinian militant leader. The survey director says the changes indicate growing frustration among Palestinians. But he says they are not signs of a major shift in Palestinian politics or any imminent violence -- something Palestinian leaders frequently predict.

Arafat was elected president of the Palestinian Authority two and a half years ago with more than 90 percent of the vote. Six months ago, his approval rating was down to 46 percent. Now, according to the "Jerusalem Media and Communication Center," it is down to just 39 percent.

At the same time, the number of Palestinians who say they support the peace process fell from 74 percent in November, to 64 percent now. Survey director Ghassan al-Khatib says the statistics for Arafat and the peace process are understandably linked. And also -- with the peace process deadlocked -- understandably down.

Al-Khatib says for fewer than two-thirds of Palestinians to say they have confidence in Arafat's leadership is striking. He says there is no competitor on the political horizon because Arafat's nearest challenger rates only an 8.5 percent confidence rating. But that challenger is Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the militant Palestinian group "Hamas." And although it is still quite low, his confidence rating rose in the last six months from just 5.8 percent.

Al-Khatib says the survey results clearly indicate some increase in frustration among Palestinians. But he says it's not as much as many Palestinian leaders and analysts often say there is, when they warn of imminent violence if the peace process deadlock is not broken soon.

Pollster and analyst Ghassan al-Khatib warns that with support declining for the moderate approach while growing for the militants, anything can happen -- even though polls show the moderate approach is still well ahead, at least for now.

Israeli Climbers Found Alive in Peruvian Andes

Israel Faxx Staff Report

Two Israeli climbers are in good physical condition after falling down a deep mountain crevice high above the snow line in the Peruvian Andes. Ben Rosenberg, 26, and his female companion, Einav Dar, 22, were found by specially trained mountain police and flown by helicopter to the nearby town of Huallanca.

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