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>Israel Faxx
>JN July 1, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 114

New Identity Cards to Include Fingerprints

By IsraelWire

The Ministry of the Interior is investigating technological advances allowing the manufacture of the next generation of Israeli identification cards, which are issued to all citizens over the age of 18. The ministry is looking at a computerized card that will include a person's signature and fingerprint of two fingers. The new cards will be the size of a credit card, and also contain a picture of the person. The picture and other data will also be stored on the master computer that monitors the entire population.

Conference to Discuss Nazi Confiscation of Jewish Art

>YX By Gil Butler (VOA-State Department)

A new effort was launched Tuesday to try to resolve one of the lingering injustices of the Nazi-era -- the confiscation of Jewish art and other assets. Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat calls it an effort to complete the great unfinished business of the 20th century.

Last year, a London conference helped focus world attention on looted Jewish gold. Now attention has also turned to other stolen Jewish assets, such as art treasures, insurance and other property. Later this year there is to be a major Washington conference on Holocaust-era assets.

Eizenstat told a State Department meeting of diplomats, scholars, religious figures and others interested in the Holocaust they are searching for historical truth about one of the darkest chapters in world history.

Eizenstat said the fact is that Holocaust survivors are dying out, and that gives urgency to the issue. He said it is essential that the studies move quickly, so that a historical record of the looting and the ultimate disposition of Holocaust assets can finally be completed.

In a related development, six tons of gold looted by the Germans during the Second World War from European central banks is to be returned to several countries. They are expected to use most of those funds to help needy Holocaust victims.

Arabs Ask U.N. to Condemn Israel

By Max Ruston (VOA-United Nations)

The United Nations Security Council is discussing Israel's controversial decision to extend municipal services from Jerusalem to settlements on the West Bank. Israel is defending the move, despite criticism that it represents a setback to the Middle East peace process.

Representatives from more than 40 countries took part in the day-long formal debate Tuesday on Israel's decision to create an umbrella municipality that broadens the boundaries of Jerusalem.

Palestinian representative to the U.N., Nasser al-Kidwa, opened the discussion with sharp criticism of the Israeli move. He said it sets back the peace process and fuels hatred and war in the region. Al-Kidwa, and representatives of many Arab states, described the move as a violation by Israel of its promise to deal with the political status of Jerusalem at a future time.

Israel's Ambassador to the U.N., Dore Gold, rejected that charge. He said the move is designed only to improve basic city services to all residents of Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

"This is not a new political program affecting the political status of Jerusalem. This is not a plan to gerrymander district lines, in order to affect political outcomes. It consists of a municipal blueprint for bolstering the city's economy and infrastructure."

The Israeli representative accused Palestinian authorities of intentionally misrepresenting the issue in order to undermine the peace process. U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson joined in criticizing the Israeli move, but said the U.S. welcomes Israel's statement that there will be no change in the political status of Jerusalem.

"The United States views Israel's decision as unhelpful at this delicate stage of negotiations. We reiterate that all parties should refrain from any unilateral action which would prejudge the outcome of the permanent status negotiation."

Several Arab nations are urging the Security Council to approve a resolution denouncing Israel for its plan to expand the boundaries of Jerusalem.

Yassin: No 'Palestine' Without End to 'Occupation'

By Arutz-7 News Service

Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin criticized plans by Yasir Arafat's self-rule government to declare a Palestinian state in May 1999, saying it would be worthless in the absence of complete Israeli withdrawal from "occupied" areas.

Arafat has threatened unilaterally to declare statehood in areas under his control by next May, the date by which the Oslo accords were expected to be finalized. Yassin repeated his recent predictions that Israel would cease to exist, only this time he said this would occur within 20 years, rather than "in the first quarter of the next century." He vowed the "jihad" would continue against Israel.

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