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NEWS BRIEFS:

PLO CHARTER DEADLINE PASSES
SIX months after the Palestinian National Council agreed to establish a legal panel to draft a new PLO charter, nothing has been done. The April 24 PNC vote set a six-month deadline to replace the covenant, which calls for Israel's destruction. The deadline passed with no panel having convened, according to media reports and officials in the Israeli prime minister's office. While some welcomed the April decision as the PLO's promised abolition of its covenant, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called it a "con job", nothing more than the authorisation of a panel to come up with new recommendations.

ISLAMIC VIOLENCE IN INDONESIA
MORE than 20 churches were destroyed in Muslim riots in the Indonesian city of Situbondo, CNN reported on October 28. Services were being held outdoors or in government premises, under armed guard. Only two per cent of Indonesians are Christian, and many form part of the country's ethnic Chinese minority. The minority is also a wealthy one, and some leaders blamed the violence of resentment among young, unemployed Muslims. East Java island has lost 200 churches this year.

SHARON: NO PEACE INFRASTRUCTURE
Minister Ariel Sharon has warned there would be no peace in the region unless the Arab states solved the problem of Arab refugees. Sharon said although Arabs' words and tactics had changed, their intentions had not. He stressed that Israel must strengthen its deterrent capabilities, which had been continuously eroded in recent years.

GSS: PA IGNORING TERRORISTS
GENERAL Security Services head Ami Ayalon told the Israeli cabinet recently that the PA security services were not acting as much as they had in the past to prevent terror and thwart attacks. He said there had been a noticeable decline in their cooperation with Israeli security services.

ARMS A POPULAR OPTION
EIGHTY-FIVE per cent of Palestinians surveyed by the PA Office of General Information in October said they were willing to take up arms and participate in clashes with Israeli forces if asked to do so. Eighty-two per cent were prepared to bear the outcome of violent clashes with Israel, even if this meant economic damage and increased security tensions. Ninety-three per cent believed the Palestinian response to the opening of the Hasmonean Tunnel (violence which cost 15 Israeli and 60 Arab rioters' lives) was legitimate.

AGENCY LICENCE FINALLY RENEWED
AFTER months of delays, an official ceremony was held in Moscow in mid-October renewing the Jewish Agency's licence to operate in Russia. Its previous licence had been cancelled after the Russian parliament passed new legislation outlawing activity by foreign non-governmental organisations which encourage emigration. The new law requires all such organisations to obtain special permits, and the Jewish Agency was the first to do so. Together with the local Jewish community, the Agency established "the Jewish Agency of Russia", which will not be considered a foreign body under the new law. Its stated goals are "granting aid for Jewish immigration to Israel, developing Jewish culture, strengthening Israel-Diaspora ties, and advancing relations between the people of Israel and the peoples of Russia."

TEMPLE MOUNT IS OURS - WAQF
ONCE a political settlement is reached over Jerusalem, Jews will probably not be allowed to disturb Muslim services at Al-Aqsa mosque by blowing shofars on Jewish holy days, according to Adnan Al Husseini, the executive director of the PLO-appointed Temple Mount Islamic authority. Asked whether such shofar blowing would be permitted, Husseini said: "I do not think so. I think that the governments will have to take care of the extreme people. The Jews should understand that the Muslims are there at Al Aqsa due to Allah's decision and this is written in the holy book ... The Muslims are there and it is a mosque and they must understand it."

IRAN'S NERVE GAS PLANS
WESTERN intelligence services believe Iran will succeed in manufacturing nerve gas within one year, threatening neighbouring states and the stability of the Middle East, according to a October 19 report in the Jordanian publication Al Hayat.

U.S. 'ALTERED MESSAGE TO ISRAEL'
SENIOR Syrian officials complained last month that, when President Hafez el-Assad sent a message via the US assuring Israel that Syrian military redeployments were merely defensive, Secretary of State Warren Christopher forwarded the message with the added words: "if the peace process continues to remain stuck, Assad reserves for himself all the option". Lebanese American reporter George Nadar, who quoted the official, added that when the Syrian ambassador to Washington asked US envoy Dennis Ross why the US had altered the message, Ross had replied: "What does it matter to you? We act as we see fit, it is for your benefit. Nothing will happen if Netanyahu sweats a little. There is no reason to calm him down now." The US government has denied the allegation.

Sources:
Arutz 7, Ha'aretz, Israel Line, Shomron News Service, The Jerusalem Post, Independent Media Review & Analysis

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