Israel in the News Apr/May 1997

For more Israel In The News, updated at least twice each week, visit our web site at foi.org/news

Settlements get top priority

The cabinet overwhelmingly voted [recently] to reinstate financial subsidies to all settlers by conferring “top national priority” status on the territories, amid warnings by security officials that a settlement drive could lead to confrontation and hurt the peace process.

The move came a day after the funerals of two settlers who were killed in a drive-by shooting near Beit El. The attack was claimed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, standing in the Beit El cemetery over the fresh graves of Etta Tzur and her 11-year-old son Efraim, pledged that the government would increase its efforts and resources to ensure the existence of the Jewish people in its historic land.

“Beit El is important to us,” Netanyahu said. “The roots of the people of Israel are in the land of Beit El, Shilo, Betar and Hebron. And not only will these roots not be torn out, they will be made deeper.”

Arafat: We must defend our land

Responding to Israel’s decision to restore special subsidies to the settlements, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and his cabinet [recently] urged Palestinians to take to the streets to defend the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian cabinet denounced the Israeli cabinet decision as a “declaration of war” on the peace process.

Arafat told the cabinet, according to a statement, that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision on settlements left the situation open to “all dangerous possibilities.” “We are at a very difficult moment for the Palestinian people, a moment of truth,” Arafat said.

“The Palestinian leadership calls on people everywhere to stand strongly to face the challenge of Netanyahu’s policies and to defend the land,” the cabinet statement said.

Israel links up to missile warning satellite

Israel linked up to the US missile warning satellite system [recently]. The link will provide Israel with real-time warning if a missile is launched against it. Israel is now developing an anti-missile missile, the Arrow, with US financial aid…The data will be sent in real time from the US early warning center in Colorado, which will receive it from satellites.

Kazakhstan children undergo plastic surgery at Soroka

Six children from Kazakhstan have arrived at Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital to undergo cosmetic surgery for congenital defects such as a cleft palate and lip. Due to lack of facilities and awareness in their own country, the children were not treated as babies, said Prof. Lior Rosenberg of Soroka’s maxillofacial surgery department. The cost of the treatment is being covered by a fund established by the president of Kazakhstan, the Kazakh Embassy in Israel, and others.

5.7 million residents in Israel

Israel’s population stood at some 5,764,000 as 1996 ended, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced [recently]. Of that total, there were 4,656,000 Jews (80.8%), 842,000 Moslems (14.6%), 170,000 Christians (2.9%) and 96,000 Druse (1.7%). The population grew by some 145,000 in 1996, up 2.6%, but less than the 2.7% in 1995. The drop was attributed by the CBS to a drop in immigration.

Survivors ask United States to suspend Swiss bank licenses

Holocaust survivors, already locked in a lawsuit against the three major Swiss banks, have called on the Federal Reserve to suspend the banks’ licenses in the US, saying they violated international law. The group of survivors asked the Federal Reserve to immediately suspend the banks’ American operations pending a full investigation of the banks’ “complicity with the Nazi regime and their continued delay and obfuscation” regarding dormant Holocaust-era accounts.

(All articles are from The Jerusalem Post.)

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