NEWS BRIEFS

Unity Talk

Talk of the possibility of a national unity government has been on and off again in the past month. The opposition Labour party has been divided over whether or not to join a Likud-led government. Initially, Labour chairman Shimon Peres said he would take any step necessary to save "the peace". This drew sharp criticism from the man most likely to succeed him as party leader, Ehud Barak, who said he would never join a government led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whom he accuses of incompetence. As the "Bar-On Affair" came to a head, however, Peres quickly changed his tack, saying he was no longer interested in doing a coalition deal with Netanyahu. Some Likud members have made their support of a national unity government contingent on assurances Likud policies would continue to be implemented, especially with regard to talks with the Palestinians.

Israel swallowed whole in new map of 'Palestine'

A new official map of "Palestine State" issued by the Palestinian Authority includes all of Israel, Judea-Samaria, Gaza, and even a small slice of Jordan. In addition the map, drawn up by one Khalil Tufakji, excludes any reference to the Jewish population, listing holy sites of Christians and Muslims only. Tufakji has apparently also been commis- sioned by the PA to design and locate a proposed capital building, which he has drawn to be located on the Mount of Olives, atop an ancient Jewish cemetery. The map can be found on the Internet, at: http://www.palestine-net.com/geography/gifs/palmap.gif

Support for Suicide Attacks

Forty-nine per cent of adult Arabs participating in a recent Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion survey expressed their support for the March 21 bombing by the Hamas movement of a Tel Aviv restaurant, in which three Israeli women were killed.

Iran sends Syria new warplanes

In yet another step towards collaboration among the rogue states of the Middle East, Iran has transferred to the Syrians 25 advanced fighter planes. The two are also co-operating in the areas of oil, energy and financial loans. In another recent development, Russian President Boris Yeltsin called on Israel to make compensatory payments to Moscow if he agreed not to close a lucrative arms sale with Iran. The Russian deal is to include SS-4 surface-to-surface missiles, according to senior IDF officials. They have a much greater range than the Scud-C missiles Iran now possesses.

Arab Population Growth in Jerusalem

Since the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, the Arab population of the city had grown rapidly, both in real and relative terms. In a March statement, the Israeli government said that in 1967, 68,600 Arabs lived in Jerusalem, whereas in 1995, that number had grown to 174,400 a rise of 154 per cent. By contrast, the Jewish population rose by 111 per cent, from 197,700 in 1967 to 417,000 in 1995. In 1967, the city's population comprised 74,2 per cent Jews and 25,8 per cent Arabs. Currently, Jews comprise 70,5 per cent of the population, a drop of 3,7 per cent. Over the past 30 years, the Arab population of Jerusalem and its environs increased more rapidly than during any other period this century. When the city was under Jordanian control (1948-1967), the number of Arab residents substantially diminished.

Permit Confiscation Claims

Israel has denied Palestinian allegations, quoted in recent media reports, that it is confiscating the identity cards of Arabs living in Jerusalem and "expelling" them. In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said Israel had not revoked the residency of any Palestinian who was legally resident in Jerusalem. "These Palestinians, like any other individual who has lived in Israel continuously, can continue to do so without loss of any benefit to which he or she is entitled. Israel, like other countries, has both citizens and permanent residents ... when a person uproots the centre of his life from Israel and establishes it elsewhere, the right to permanent residency is lost." The statement said the provisions applied equally to all permanent residents of Israel. "The reason that this issue has recently arisen is that since the peace agreements have been signed, people who left Israel years ago are coming back ... those individuals who established the centre of their lives elsewhere for example by acquiring permanent residency or citizenship in another country are no longer entitled to permanent resident status in Israel."

Passing of a Great Israeli

Chaim Herzog, president of Israel from 1983 to 1993, died on April 17, aged 79. Herzog, the eldest son of Ireland's Chief Rabbi and Israel's first Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog, emigrated to British-mandated Palestine from Ireland in 1935. During World War II, he fought the Nazis as a member of the British armed forces. He became a high-ranking officer in the British Intelligence Corps. Later, Herzog was Israel's first head of military intelligence, a major-general in the army, and an ambassador to the United Nations. He was buried on Jerusalem's Mount Herzl on April 18.
(Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Independent Media Review & Analysis, Mideast Dispatch, Voice of Israel, Israeli GPO, Shomron News Service)
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