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THE MID-EAST DISPATCH

 

DAILY NEWS FROM ISRAEL - ISSUE 103 - 16th January 1997

HEADLINES:

** 1 Knesset Votes to Approve Hebron Accord

** 2 Has Likud Abandoned Nationalism?

** 3 Noam Arnon of Hebron Calls for Kriah

** 4 Annual Inflation Rate 10.6%

** 5 Burg Satisfied with Swiss Apology

** 6 Texaco May Open Gas Stations in Israel

** 7 Middle East Military Balance

** 8 Vichy Official Faces War Crimes Trial

** 9 Roman Infanticide Discovered in Ashkelon

** 10 Market Close

 

** 1. KNESSET VOTES TO APPROVE HEBRON ACCORD

The Knesset has voted by a large majority in favor of the Hebron accord.

In Jerusalem, the 120-member parliament voted 87-17, with one abstention, to approve the Hebron deal and three further troop redeployments from mainly rural areas of the West Bank.

The main opposition Labor party and left-wing and Arab factions joined with most members of the ruling coalition to ratify the accord after a 12-hour debate.

"I thank the members of the house, I hope in the future, during this government's term, to bring complete peace agreements with the Palestinians and perhaps with Arab nations, in addition to the ones we have signed,"

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu told parliament.

"Today, after the Knesset's decision, the redeployment will begin," Mordechai told Israel television, estimating that most of the pullback would be completed before the start of the Jewish Sabbath on Friday evening.

"All activity related to redeployment will stop when the Sabbath begins and if something still needs to be completed, it will be done Saturday night,"he said.

The opposition supported the Hebron agreement, despite sharp words for Netanyahu's handling of the negotiations with the Palestinians.

Today, however, there was no room for party politics. One was either for the Oslo peace process or against it. Opposition members appeared to give Prime Minister Netanyahu stronger backing than many of his own party.

In his speech this morning before the Knesset plenum, Ehud Barak congratulated the Prime Minister for following in the footsteps of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.

Yossi Sarid (Meretz) a longtime critic of Netanyahu said, "Mr Benyamin Netanyahu, our Prime Minister has been promoted today to the level of national leadership for the first time..."

(REUTERS, KOL ISRAEL 1/16)

 

** 2. HAS LIKUD ABANDONED NATIONALISM?

Finance Minister Dan Meridor rejected the claim heard around the Knesset today that the Likud is no longer the nationalistic party it once was.

"Menachem Begin was the first, in 1977 at Camp David, to have offered a very forthcoming compromise...we are now in the process of building a new relationship with the Palestinian Arabs. The risks are very high. I do not disagree with Benny Begin about the very heavy risk that we are taking...it's going to be a very difficult road. Nevertheless, at the same time I do believe there is a slight chance we will be able to create a different reality in the Middle East" he said.

Meridor added "It is up to us to try to shape the borders of Israel and the might of Israel, and the military defensibility of Israel in the coming year...and decide how Israel will look for future generations."

(KOL ISRAEL 1/16)

 

** 3. NOAM ARNON OF HEBRON CALLS FOR KRIAH

Noam Arnon, spokesman for the Hebron Jewish Community, said today that the emphasis of their efforts will now turn away from protests and towards the strengthening of the community.

He pointed out that the government has still not given the necessary permits for construction. "We are not despairing and are not weakened. We did not succeed in preventing the withdrawal, but on the other hand, we are now in the national and even international consciousness. Many people have called to say they would like to join us, and want to help us. Before everything, though, we will follow the dictates of the Halacha and mourn over the desolation of parts of the Holy Land. We will hold a public 'kriah' (ritual clothes-rending as a sign of mourning) ceremony this coming Monday, in accordance with the Shulkhan Arukh, O.C., 661. The public is invited to take part."

Arnon added, "I think our major psychological hurdle is that we must now start getting used to the idea that there is no longer a nationalist camp. We have no ideological father. We hope that soon a true nationalist body will be established."

(ARUTZ 7 1/16)

 

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** 4. ANNUAL INFLATION RATE 10.6%

Following the publication of an 0.8 percent price increase in December, inflation figures for 1996 finished at an annul rate of 10.6. The figure exceeds the target of 8 to 10 percent set for last year, as well the previous year's mark of 8. 1 percent.

In the second half of 1996, inflation slowed significantly. Bank of Israel Governor Prof. Jacob Frenkel attributed the decrease to the monetary policy of the central bank.

(ISRAEL LINE/HA'ARETZ 1/16)

 

** 5. BURG SATISFIED WITH SWISS APOLOGY

Jewish Agency Chairman Avraham Burg expressed satisfaction today with former Swiss President Jean-Pascal Delamuraz' public apology. Delamuraz had called those who are requesting the return of Jewish monies looted in the holocaust "blackmailers."

According to Burg, "After several weeks during which Delamuraz stubbornly refused to retract his statements, which were accompanied by the feel of anti-Semitism, his apology of yesterday must be welcomed."

The Jewish Agency Chairman added that after Delamuraz' statements were "removed for the record," the way is now open for the renewal of contacts with the Swiss authorities and Swiss banks in order to solve the issue of compensation for looted monies to the rightful heirs.

(ARUTZ 7 1/16)

 

** 6. TEXACO MAY OPEN GAS STATIONS IN ISRAEL

The US Texaco company is for the first time exploring the possibility of entering into Israel's fuel stations sector.

Texaco, one of the world's biggest fuel companies, has so far refrained from establishing business ties with Israel, evidently due to the Arab boycott.

Energy market sources note that the really significant turn of events will be when an international firm enters into the gas stations sector.

If Texaco does in fact become active in Israel, it wishes to do so via an existing company, and Dor Energy is its present partner in such contacts. This follows the entry of subsidiary company Caltex into the jet fuel field.

(GLOBES 1/16)

 

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** 7. MIDDLE EAST MILITARY BALANCE

Syria, Egypt and Iraq are working hard towards improving their weapons capability, according to a newly-released report on the military balance of power in the Middle East (1994-1995).

The report, compiled by Professor Ze'ev Maoz of the Jaffa Centre for Strategic Studies of the Tel-Aviv University, indicates that both Syria and Egypt have made significant advances in the manufacturing of weapons.

Syria is producing surface-to-surface Scud "C" missiles. Both Egypt and Syria are conducting more advanced military exercises, using sophisticated night viewing equipment.

Iraq is working diligently towards achieving independence in the manufacture of non-conventional weapons.

Israel's defense force comprises 604,000 soldiers, including reservists (177,000 in the standing army and 427,000 in the reserves). Of this total, 499,000 serve in the army, 86,000 in the Air Force and 19,000 in the Navy.

In the Egyptian Armed Forces there are 1,127 million soldiers, of whom 433,000 are in the standing army and 694,000 in the reserves.

Syrian forces number 532,000 soldiers of whom 390,000 are in the standing army and 142,000 are in the reserves.

The IDF has 3,845 tanks, 5,300 armored personnel carriers and 1,300 heavy artillery pieces. The Air Force has 677 warplanes, 269 helicopters and 83 cargo planes.

Syria has 4,800 tanks, 5,000 armored personnel carriers, 2,400 artillery pieces, 2,000 anti-aircraft missile launchers, 62 surface-to-surface missile launchers, 515 warplanes, 23 cargo planes and 285 helicopters.

Egypt has 2,800 tanks, 4,400 armored personnel carriers, 2,200 artillery pieces, 1,700 anti-aircraft missile launchers, 497 warplanes, 47 cargo planes, 211 helicopters, 47 surface-to-surface anti-aircraft missile launchers and 100 anti-aircraft missiles.

(ICEJ/MA'ARIV 1/16)

 

** 8. VICHY OFFICIAL FACES WAR CRIMES TRIAL

A former Vichy official accused of crimes against humanity over his role in deporting 1,690 Jews to Nazi death camps has his last chance today to avoid trial.

After 15 years of delay, the case against Maurice Papon, 84, will be considered by France's highest appeal court. Unless it decides in Papon's favour, he will go before the assizes in Bordeaux, where he served as secretary-general of the prefecture from 1942 to 1944.

His fate involves far more than the actions of a lone individual because it strikes at the heart of the fondly held French belief that France was a nation of Resistance fighters. If he goes on trial, Papon will be the first Vichy representative to be held to account for actions committed in Vichy's name.

Papon's lawyer, Jean-Marc Varaut, said: "Vichy was not a criminal organisation and it is not a crime to have been a Vichy official."

The rapidly approaching moment of truth, however, has left several of Papon's foes worried that he will try once more to evade a trial. Arno Klarsfeld, the lawyer for the descendants of the deported Jews, has called for Papon to be put under house arrest and for his passport to be withdrawn.

(WP/AP 1/16)

 

** 9. ROMAN INFANTICIDE DISCOVERED IN ASHKELON

Hebrew University researchers have found solid evidence of infanticide of newborn males and females by Romans living in Ashkelon 1,600 years ago.

A team, headed by Prof. Ariella Oppenheim of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, analyzed some 100 infant skeletons found in an ancient "gutter" under a bathhouse in an archeological dig in Ashkelon. The bathhouse was built over earlier Roman villas, where lamps decorated with erotic images had previously been found. The Greek inscription "Enter, enjoy and.." was discovered in the bathhouse, indicating that it could easily have served as a brothel, a common facility in the Roman Empire.

Oppenheim said that the ancient street on which the villa was located was apparently Ashkelon's "red light district." There is no evidence that Jews lived there at that time, said Oppenheim, "as there is no sign of synagogues from that era."

Since there were no signs of disease or malformation, the idea that the prostitutes wanted just to get rid of their healthy babies seems realistic.

Of the 19 left femoral bones successfully tested (only left femurs were examined to avoid the possibility of testing the same baby twice), 14 were males and five females - a very surprising finding.

The research, funded by the Israel National Science Foundation, proves the importance of DNA examination of human remains, Oppenheim said, adding: "It makes an important contribution to archeological and anthropological research by providing clear evidence to resolve questions that archeology alone cannot answer." (JP 1/16)

 

** 10. MARKET CLOSE

The Mishtanim Index rose 0.76% to 239.13. The Maof Options Index rose 1.27% to 248.14. Turnover was $48m.

Currencies per NIS:

USD 3.2630 -0.15%
DM 2.0510 +0.29%
Stg 5.4758 +0.15%
100Y 2.7865 +0.11%
Basket 3.6186 0.00%

(GLOBES 1/16)

****

Copyright (c) The MidEast Dispatch, 1996. The MidEast Dispatch is an independent news service, and is not affiliated with any political party or government agency.

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