Israel in the News Feb/Mar 1995

Poll shows majority oppose any full withdrawal from Golan

Fifty-seven percent of Israelis would oppose a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights even in exchange for full peace with Syria, according to a Gallup poll conducted for The Jerusalem Post and the Independent Media Review and Analysis.

A total of 32.5% support such a deal, while 8.2% said they didn’t know and 2.3% refused to answer.

Olmert wants talks on future of Jerusalem to clear the air

In a surprise move, Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert recently called for talks with the Palestinians on the capital’s political future to begin immediately.

Olmert explained that starting negotiations now will reveal that the government is willing to make concessions on Jerusalem.

“After everything else is dealt with—the Golan and the other territories are returned—the issue of Jerusalem will be raised, and the government will then tell us that compromise must be made on Jerusalem, or the entire agreement will be destroyed,” Olmert told Israel TV.

“If the government is indeed firm in its stated position that Jerusalem must remain undivided, it is essential that this be made clear immediately.”

He said the government has already conceded too much by allowing Orient House, the PLO headquarters in Jerusalem, to operate freely and letting Palestinians set up their own education system in the city.

Gulf states start to dismantle boycott

The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) dealt a deathblow to the secondary and tertiary Arab economic boycotts against Israel when they announced recently that they would all stop adhering to the decades-old ban.

The GCC includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Under the secondary boycott, Arab countries blacklist companies which do business with Israel. Contacts with companies which deal with blacklisted companies are banned under the tertiary boycott.

Finance Minister Avraham Shohat said the move would provide a boost to the Israeli economy. The move is expected to allow many multinational firms to do business with Israel without fear of being blacklisted.

Argentina Jews afraid to get involved

The number of Jews participating in community activities in Argentina has dropped by 15% since the July bomb blast at the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Jewish Agency Acting Chairman Yehiel Leket said recently.

“The Jews in Buenos Aires are in a state of fear and confusion,” Leket told The Jerusalem Post. “Before the blast, there were severe economic problems and an underlying anxiety about security. These things were exposed in the wake of the tragedy.”

Vatican and PLO establish ties

In a move that had been expected for some time, the Vatican recently established ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“I don’t think there is any negative element,” said Avi Granot, counselor for church affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, noting that Israel, too, has ties with the PLO.

“If anything, I can see the positive aspect of the Vatican having relations with everyone in the region and working toward the promotion of peace and friendship,” said Granot.

Under terms agreed upon in Vatican City, the PLO will open an office at the Holy See, and the apostolic nuncio in Tunisia, longtime home of the PLO, will be responsible for contacts with leaders of the PLO.

Russia to establish presence in Jericho

Russia will soon establish a low-level liaison office in the autonomous Jericho region in the West Bank.

The decision to open an interest section in Jericho, which officially fell under Palestinian self-rule in May, was announced in Moscow during an official visit there by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

While he does not hold a ministerial portfolio in the Palestinian Authority, Abbas is perhaps best known for signing the Declaration of Principles on the White House lawn in September 1993, along with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

In late August, Germany became the first country to establish a mission in the Palestinian autonomous areas when it opened an office in Jericho to monitor the spending of German aid to the Palestinians.

(all articles are taken from The Jerusalem Post.)

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