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>Israel Faxx
>PD Dec. 5, 1994, V2, #217

West Bank/Gaza Jewish Population Increases

The number of Jews living in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District grew by 7,000 in 1993, despite a shift away from government support for settlements, the Central Bureau of Statistics has reported.

Journalists Kept Away From White House Rabbinical

Pro-Bosnia Demonstration
By John Pitman (Washington)

A group of American rabbis protesting US policy toward Bosnia-Herzegovina said more should be done to protect the Bosnian Muslims. About 30 people joined 16 rabbis Friday in front of the White House. They held posters that said "Never Again" and "Help Bosnia Now"; and chanted slogans calling on President Clinton to help end the United Nations arms embargo on the Muslim government in Sarajevo.

A strong contingent of Secret Service agents and US Park Police officers surrounded the demonstrators, keeping tourists and journalists away. By law, demonstrators are allowed 15 minutes in direct view of the White House, after which they must move on, or face arrest.

In an act of civil disobedience, the rabbis refused to move when their time was up. All 16 rabbis were arrested by the Park Police, and charged with demonstrating without a permit.

The rabbis say the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina -- in which more than 250,000 people have been reported killed -- is strikingly similar to the Holocaust of World War II, in which six million Jews were killed by the Nazis.

Norman Shore, a Hebrew teacher who marched with the rabbis, says the protest is not meant to compare the two events as identical. However, he says it is important that people be reminded of the promise made after World War II that genocide never be allowed to happen again.

"I don't think anyone is comfortable with saying one tragedy is exactly parallel to the other, that it is the second Holocaust. But, sure, it raises a lot of the same issues in some sense of genocide, of a people being destroyed. I think sort of, what is driving a lot of the people is what happened to the Jews in the Holocaust and then seeing parallel and similar things happening, and (they feel they are) just sort of standing by and watching."

Chasidic Teen's Killer Convicted

By Chris Simkins (New York)

A New York City jury convicted Rashad Baz, a Lebanese national, of murder and attempted murder in the shooting of four Jewish students last March. The jury found 28-year-old Baz, an immigrant from Lebanon, guilty of murder and attempted murder for the shooting attack on a van full of Chasidic students.

Sixteen-year-old Aaron Halberstam was killed and four of his classmates were wounded as their van crossed New York's Brooklyn Bridge. During the trial, several witnesses testified Baz repeatedly shot at the van using two semi-automatic pistols.

During the trial, Baz's lawyers claimed that at the time of the shooting he was insane. They argued Baz suffered from post traumatic stress, a disorder resulting from his childhood experiences in war-torn Beirut.

Baz will be sentenced on Jan. 18. He could be sentenced to life in prison without a chance for parole.

Palestinian Autonomy Talks Continue

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meet in Cairo today for talks on implementing the next stage of their peace agreement.

The Declaration of Principles signed in Washington 15 months ago attempts to work through a series of difficult issues by creating stages. The first stage -- full autonomy for Gaza and Jericho -- has already been implemented. Israeli and Palestinian officials also added what some call a mini-stage, known as "early empowerment," which has also been implemented. In that stage, Israel gave the Palestinian Autonomy Authority responsibility for education, welfare, health care, taxation and tourism in the West Bank, even though Israel still occupies the region.

Now the time has come for the next full stage of the peace accord -- negotiation of an interim agreement, under which the Palestinians will have full autonomy throughout the West Bank -- except in Israeli settlements. The idea of this interim stage of autonomy is to put off, for two more years, discussion of the most difficult issues, including the future of Jerusalem and of the Israeli settlements.

But more and more Israelis and Palestinians are suggesting that the interim stage be skipped and negotiations started now toward a final settlement. From the Israeli side, the argument, advanced most prominently by Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin, is that leaving Israeli settlements deep in Palestinian-controlled territory is too dangerous. Looking at the map, many senior Israeli military officers say some of the settlements are virtually indefensible.

Israel faces a dilemma. It is not required to remove any settlements in the interim stage, but it must remove its troops from Palestinian population centers, where some settlers live.

Officials say both the Israelis and the Palestinians who want to skip the interim stage are likely to be disappointed. Senior leaders on both sides are committed to follow the process they created, whatever the problems. And they point out that there is a reason they created this awkward, difficult interim stage -- the final settlement issues are even more difficult.

Talks on those issues could take years, and officials say they must deliver more political satisfaction and economic development to the Palestinians, and more security to the Israelis, as soon as possible. Only then, officials say, is there any chance there would be enough support for peace among both Israelis and Palestinians to deal effectively with the most sensitive issues which lie ahead.

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