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  Israel Faxx                                      \/ /  \/ /
  August 30, 1994 Volume 2, #162                   / /\__/_/\
  Electronic World Communications, Inc.           /__\ \_____\
  8916 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45215             \  /
  Internet: Phone: (513) 563-7424   \/

Many people have painted bridges, but few have done it quite like William Cochran. He has been painting a portion of a bridge in Frederick, Md. His section makes the modern bridge look like it was constructed in the 19th century. People in Frederick say it even looks like there are cobblestones there, with ivy growing on them.

Israel Says No to Pakistani's Gaza Visit

By Douglas Bakshian (Islamabad, Pakistan)

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry says Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has called off plans to visit the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip September 4 because of reported difficulties raised by the Israelis. This is the second time within a week that plans for the tour have been announced and then pulled back.

The Gaza tour has been the source of much reporting and speculation in recent days. Despite an invitation from PLO leader Yasir Arafat for Bhutto to visit, a Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman says the trip is off.

"Unfortunately it appears the Israelis have raised certain difficulties with regard to the visit and the Palestinians have conveyed to us their deepest regret that due to these difficulties the prime minister's visit has been placed in jeopardy and they have advised us to call it off. So we've called off the visit and the prime minister will not be going."

The spokesman said he is not certain of the exact nature of the difficulties. But he cited statements by Israeli officials about Israeli clearance being need to visits to Gaza. Pakistan has previously denied it would seek permission from Israel, saying the Palestinians are responsible. The issue is a sensitive one because Pakistan does not recognize Israel.

Confusion has surrounded the trip since last Wednesday when the Foreign Ministry originally announced the tour. But just hours later that same day, Bhutto said she was putting it off because Arafat had a scheduling conflict.

All the diplomatic maneuvering has left observers wondering why the government went through so much political pain and public reversal only to end up with nothing.

The visit would have been an historical marker if it had gone forward. Bhutto would have been the first foreign head of government to go to Gaza since it achieved limited self-rule from Israel in May. As one observer summarized things, the road to Gaza appears blocked at this time and lost in the fog of diplomacy.

Early Empowerment Signed

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli and Palestinian officials have signed an agreement to expand Palestinian autonomy in the occupied territories. The Palestinian official who signed the document, called the accord a small but important step in the peace process.

However, it was not a smooth event in this peace process being carried out by two still-antagonistic peoples.

The Palestinian representative, Nabil Shaath, arrived at the ceremony on the Israel-Gaza border an hour late to protest an Israeli diplomatic maneuver made Sunday. Shaath complained to reporters about Israel's refusal to allow a Pakistani diplomat into Gaza to prepare for a visit to the area by Pakistan's prime minister. But Pakistan announced on Monday there would be no such visit.

Shaath finally sat down with his Israeli counterpart, General Danny Rothschild, and the two signed the agreement, which Shaath called a "small step, but an important one" in implementing the peace accord. The document they signed gives Palestinians control over education, health care, taxation, tourism, and social welfare in the occupied territories -- except in East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements.

Control over education has already been handed over, in time for the start of the schoolyear this Thursday. The other powers will be transferred in coming weeks, depending on the Palestinian authority's ability to manage and finance them.

Rothschild said the two sides agreed to wait until after a conference of donor countries September 8, which will determine how much money the Palestinian authority has to work with.

"We want to be sure that there is sufficient budget to allow those systems to work and not to collapse after a month. That's why we agreed, jointly, to approach the donors and to see that money will be available to the five spheres which are going to be transferred."

Israel and Yasir Arafat's Palestine National Authority are eager to show progress in implementing their peace agreement, to thwart opponents on both sides. But Israel is not prepared to give the Palestinians full control of the occupied territories -- at least not yet.

That is why the two sides agreed to begin autonomy with social services, before moving on to control of law and order. That would involve expanding the borders of the Palestinian autonomous region, now limited to the city of Jericho and the Gaza Strip.

Brief Faxx

** An Israeli Health Ministry official has alleged that Palestinians are contaminating vegetables which they export from Gaza to Israel by dipping them in sewage water containing feces. (Yediot Aharonot)
** The Israeli Government approved a proposed 1995 budget of 128.7 billion NIS (approx.$42 billion). (Yediot Aharonot)

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