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Hebron Arabs ask IDF to stay
PALESTINIAN intellectuals in Hebron joined in signing a declaration organised by one of the larger Arab clans in Hebron and presented to the Israeli authorities, opposing the withdrawal of IDF forces from their neighborhood as part of the planned redeployment there.

Clinton Cover-up
US PRESIDENT Bill Clinton had ordered that the findings of an official investigation into the PLO Authority's assets remain "classified", David Bedein of Israel's Institute for Peace Education revealed recently. Bedein said US comptroler Joseph Kelly admitted as much during testimony before hearings on the subject last year. British intelligence has estimated Palestinian assets at some $8 billion.

Aid to PLO approved
ISRAEL will ask the US Congress to release $10 million to the PLO Authority. Congress had frozen the aid because of PLO violations of Oslo agreements. President Bill Clinton reportedly asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in September to send a message to Congress requesting it release the funds.

PLO: We'll get all of Palestine
THE PLO'S Faisal Husseini told Syrian television all Palestinians agree that the "just boundaries" of Palestine are the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Whatever territory could be obtained now should be accepted, and future events, perhaps in the next 15 or 20 years, would present opportunities to realise these "just boundaries".

Poll-rigging, Syrian-style
WHILE Palestinians who have lived in Lebanon for almost 50 years were not allowed to vote in that country's recent election, almost half a million Syrians working in Lebanon were granted citizenship to enable them to vote. Pro-Syrian candidates swept the boards.

China to sell arms to Iran
IRAN WILL sign a $4,5 billion deal this December with China for jets, missiles, rocket launchers, speed boats, auxiliary boats, half tracks and military transport vessels. The agreement also includes significant development of Iran's own military industries, with joint projects in the production of missiles, helicopters and guns. Iran hopes to purchase long rang missiles in the future. The US objected to previous similar deals, concerned some of the equipment might be used against its naval forces in the Gulf.

Arab population statistics
ACCORDING to Israel's 1996 national census, some 1,5 million Arabs live in Judea-Samaria and 942 000 in Gaza. The annual growth rate is 6,2 per cent; 47 per cent of the population is under 15-years-old. Fifty per cent of families contain at least seven members each. More than 80 per cent of the school-age population attend school, and 82 per cent own and occupy their own homes.

Is Ron Arad alive?
THE GERMAN publication Focus has reported that Israeli Airforce navigator Ron Arad, shot down over Lebanon in 1986, is believed to be alive and the captive of Iranian-backed groups in Lebanon. The magazine claims as it source a document sent by the Mossad to a Western intelligence agency. According to the document, Arad was held in the Lebanese village of Nabi Shet until April this year, at which time he was taken to an unknown location. On and around October 16, supporters and family members held vigils and protest demonstrations to mark the tenth anniversary of Arad's disappearance.

Slip of the tongue for PLO spokesman?
DURING an interview with media analyst Dr Aaron Lerner, Arafat spokesman Nabil Aburodeina said on October 9: "There is an agreement that the Jews living [in Hebron] now shall remain there during the interim period and abide by Palestinian law ... So far there is no problem with them staying in Hebron under our protection, just like there are Jews who stay in Joseph's Tomb in Nablus under Palestinian protection." (An Arab mob, which included PLO policemen, murdered six Israeli soldiers at Joseph's Tomb less than two weeks earlier. ( Ed)

Israel grows
THE JEWISH New Year 5757 began with Israel's population standing at 5,7 million. The breakdown is 80,8 per cent Jewish, 14,6 per cent Muslim, 2,9 per cent Christian and 1,7 per cent Druse. The population increased by 141,000 during the past year, of which 40 per cent comprised new immigrants.

Israel's economy scrutinised
THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund has released a report finding that Israel's former government's had seriously mismanaged the economy over the past two years, straining the country's resources by "boosting consumption rather than investment". The IMF said the new government's stated intention to reform the economy, through major public spending cuts and other measures, could steer the economy "onto a more balanced and sustainable growth path".

Between Israel and Europe
US SECRETARY of State Warren Christopher reportedly announced early October he could do little more to act as a buffer between Israel and European nations displeased at lack of progress in peace talks.

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