Israel in the News Apr/May 1996
Palestinians Give Arafat A Mandate
Despite calls for a boycott by fundamentalists, Palestinian voters turned out in record numbers to give long-time Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat a victory and a mandate for continuing the peace process with Israel.
More than 80% of 1 million registered voters cast ballots in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Arafat was elected head of the Palestinian Authority’s Council, the highest position in the new self-governing Palestinian entity, with 88% of the vote.
Also victorious were many members of Arafat’s political movement, Fatah, which captured most of the 88 seats for the Palestinian Authority Council among 672 candidates.
The biggest election losers were fundamentalists, led by Hamas, the opponents of the peace process, who gambled that their calls for a boycott would deny Arafat a mandate.
The election was a referendum on both peace and Arafat, but the greatest motivator may have been a chance to vote for a Palestinian nation-state.
“Palestinians see the elections as the first step in building a nation,” said Khalil Shikaki, political scientist at al-Najar University in Nablus.
(from USA Today)
Peres ready to ‘give up atom’ after peace
Prime Minister Shimon Peres said recently that Israel is willing to “give up the atom” if countries in the region achieve full peace.
“Can we discern in your new priorities a change in Israeli policy in the nuclear field, at least for peaceful purposes?” he was asked.
“Yes. Give me peace and we’ll give up the atom. That’s the whole story. If there’s regional peace, I think we can rid the Middle East of the nuclear threat,” Peres said.
But he added: “As long as the suspicion [that Israel has nuclear weapons] in itself can act as a deterrent, let them suspect. I don’t see any reason to allay their suspicions.”
PA intends to print own money in two years
The Palestinian Authority intends to establish its own currency within two years, Faud Beseiso, head of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, said recently.
Governmental sources in Jerusalem said they know of no such decision, despite stipulations in the 1994 Paris Agreement committing the Palestinian Authority to coordinate such a move with Israel.
“We are planning to have our own Palestinian pound currency in two years’ time,” Beseiso said prior to a ceremony in which control over banks in the autonomous areas was transferred to the Palestinian authorities.
Companies seek to store Gulf crude in Israel
Several European firms handling the shipment and storage of crude oil are negotiating with a government company concerning the possibility of storing here Bahraini, Kuwaiti and other crude oil reserves originating in the Gulf. The Gulf countries are looking to store some of their crude oil reserves outside the Gulf for both safety and financial reasons.
EU may bar states that don’t compensate survivors
Eastern European countries which have refused to compensate Jews for property confiscated by the Nazis are very angry over a European Parliament resolution hinting they may not be accepted into the European Union if they do not change their policy, diplomatic sources said recently.
(All other articles are taken from The Jerusalem Post.)