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  Israel Faxx                                      \/ /  \/ /
  Sept 28, 1994 Volume 2, #176                     / /\__/_/\
  Electronic World Communications, Inc.           /__\ \_____\
  8916 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45215             \  /
  Internet: Phone: (513) 563-7424   \/

Arab Shall Not Kill Arab; Only Israelis

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

The Radical Palestinian Group, Hamas, has issued a statement calling on its supporters not to kill other Palestinians and not to defy the Autonomy Authority by carrying weapons openly. The move is the latest in a series of indications that the potentially explosive rift in the Palestinian movement may be easing.

Ten days ago, Hamas fighters had a shootout with armed, uniformed men they considered their enemies. No, not the Israeli army, but members of the Palestinian police force of Yasir Arafat's Autonomy Authority.

The incident, which left a police captain dead, led to the most significant moves toward easing the internal Palestinian conflict since tempers flared a year ago over Arafat's decision to make peace with Israel. Four days after the shootout and the arrest of six Hamas men for being part of it, Arafat met with Hamas leaders. By the time the meeting was over, he had agreed to release three of the Hamas fighters and to consider several Hamas requests designed to reduce tensions.

One Hamas official said last week Arafat had "defused a bomb," and late Monday the group issued its new policy calling for an end to intra-Palestinian violence. The Hamas leaflet, distributed in Gaza, says no Palestinian blood should be shed, regardless of political views. And it says its relations with all Palestinians are based on dialogue and understanding. Hamas also vows to continue fighting Israel, and Israelis are not covered by the ban on bloodshed.

The group also orders its fighters not to openly violate the Autonomy Authority's order banning weapons, which was what caused the shootout earlier this month. Last week, it asked Arafat to exempt at least some of its members from the order, particularly those sought by Israel.

Hamas says it will continue fighting the peace process -- and there are other radical groups which also commit terrorism in the area. But the easing of tensions with Hamas is important to Arafat as he tries to convince Israel that he can control violence and that autonomy should be expanded beyond just Gaza and Jericho, perhaps by the end of this year.

Female Circumcision May Be Banned in Egypt

By Peyman Pejman (Cairo)

Egypt's population minister says his government wants to pass legislation banning female circumcision but he adds that violators would not be punished too severely in the beginning.

Population and Family Affairs Minister Maher Mehran says the Egyptian government plans to introduce legislation at the next session of parliament in November that would ban female circumcision.

Currently, female circumcision by government-approved midwives and health clinics is banned. But that does not stop the operation from being carried out in private.

There are no exact figures on how many cases of female circumcision there are in Egypt, but more than half of the country's women and post-puberty girls are believed to have been subjected to the practice.

Mehran outlined the government's plans in an interview with the semi-official newspaper Al Ahram. He said the proposal would make female circumcision a criminal offense, punishable by law. The minister said female circumcision is very dangerous to the country and added that the practice should be eradicated.

In the interview, Mehran said that although violators of the proposed law would be punished, the penalties might not be dealt with too severe initially because circumcision is, in his words, a deeply-rooted tradition.

Female circumcision came under intense criticism at the UN sponsored population conference, held in Cairo earlier this month. And the Egyptian government found itself in an embarrassing position after CNN News broadcast graphic pictures of a 10-year-old Egyptian girl being circumcised.

Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty May Be Near

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israel's Foreign Ministry has confirmed there are plans for a high-level Israel-Jordan meeting in Washington early next week. But a senior official is denying reports of a breakthrough and plans to sign a peace agreement within a few weeks.

The plan is for Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan to meet at the White House -- as they did last year to start the intensive stage of the Jordan-Israel peace effort. Several months later, the Israeli prime minister and Jordan's king signed a document ending the 46-year state of war between their countries and pledged to start negotiations on the full details of peace.

Now, some news reports predict the White House meeting next week will include announcement of full agreement on a comprehensive peace treaty and a signing date a few weeks later. But Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin told Israel Radio that is not likely.

"Every such meeting is promoting the peace process. And the ability of the leaders of the region to sit together and talk under the auspices of the American president is the best opportunity to deal with some of the hurdles on the way. But I don't believe we are expecting a breakthrough in this meeting. We still have some problems on the issues of the border and water between the Jordanians and ourselves and we will need, I presume, some months before these problems are being solved."

Israeli and Jordanian negotiators have announced a series of agreements on new border crossings, tourism and other subjects. Some aspects of the talks have been postponed until after the Washington meeting because the chief Jordanian negotiator is already in the United States.

Rabin Oks New West Bank Housing

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has approved the first new housing in a West Bank settlement outside the Jerusalem area since he took office two years ago.

The controversial move came just one day after Rabin met with the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, to try to move their joint peace effort forward. Rabin approved the construction of apartment buildings in a settlement just 1.2 miles inside the occupied territories, northeast of Tel Aviv.

The settlement, Alfei Menashe, is adjacent to the area where Israel is only about nine miles wide, according to its pre-1967 borders. Israel is expected to give control of all of the occupied territories to the Palestinians within a few months. But Palestinian autonomy will not include the Israeli settlements -- at least not at this stage.

Palestinian leaders immediately condemned the decision. They object consistently to Israeli construction in the occupied territories, although most of it has been limited to the area around Jerusalem since Rabin took office. At that time, he pledged not to approve any new construction outside the Jerusalem area as part of a deal in which the United States provided loan guarantees for other Israeli construction projects,

Jerusalem's Mayor Calls for Talks on City's Status

Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert has called for immediate talks between Israel and the PLO on Jerusalem's final status. Olmert reasons that immediate negotiations will reveal that the Labor-led government really is willing to make concessions regarding Jerusalem, despite claims to the contrary.

"After everything is dealt with - the Golan and the other territories are returned - the issues 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," said Olmert. "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 added.

New Immigrant Seeks To Enter Israeli Air Force

Citing sexual discrimination, a recent immigrant from South Africa has petitioned the High Court of Justice to force the Israeli air force to allow her to join a pilot training course.

Alice Miller, 22, brought the petition with the support of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel after the air force rejected her application to take the training course.

She claimed sexual discrimination alone was behind the rejection, since she had obtained a civilian air pilot license before emigrating to Israel and has since earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

The air force, which was given 45 days to prepare its response to Miller's petition, said its refusal to let her take the course was based on the Israel Defense Force's opposition to allowing women to serve in combat areas.

The IDF already employs women soldiers as instructors for tanks, artillery and other front-line equipment, but not in combat.

Miller claims that the IDF policy not only prevents her from becoming a fighter pilot but also bars her from most senior army positions, since even posts such as the chief education officer require experience in combat units.

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