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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      April 7, 1995, V3, #64
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Israeli Satellite Can Read Iraqi License Plates

Israel has launched a 495 pound spy satellite that will orbit the earth every 90 minutes. Israel Aircraft Industries officials said the satellite can transmit video signals of objects as small as license plates on cars in Baghdad. During its yearlong mission, the Ofek-3 satellite's path will also take it over Syria and Iran.

Soon the Gaza Strip will be Competing with Singapore Commentary by Gad Lior

This sounds like a city one dreams about: dozens of glass and stone buildings, surrounded by rings of green lawns, well-groomed hedges and fruit trees.

Between the expansive buildings, which will be built in a modern architectural style, there will be wide parking lots. In the center, a large building will be prominent -- it will have a bank, a post office, a restaurant, a cafe, performance and convention hall, and a mosque near it. There will be no chimneys, and no smoke. Everything is green and blooming. Even noise from the engines of the machines which will operate in the buildings will barely be heard.

This description is not fictitious. This is one of the industrial parks which the leadership of the Foreign, Industry and Finance Ministries is planning at this very moment, under total secrecy. The goal: to establish between eight to 11 such parks on the cease-fire line between Israel and the autonomous areas, which the Palestinian Authority will control within the next few months.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is the one who envisioned all this, and those close to him say with pride: We are getting closer to Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, in huge steps.

Each industrial park will be established for about 10,000 employees, and will sit on about 500 acres of land, with considerable financial assistance from foreign investors and also governmental subsidies. The Palestinians will run them, and be its workers, for the most part.

Workers from Gaza, Hebron and Jenin will no longer need to leave in the early morning hours to reach Tel Aviv, Netanya or Hadera. The building in which they will work will be on the Green Line -- only a few minutes drive from their homes. And this will be the same at the end of the work day: some of the workers will not be forced, as happens today, to look for a wretched storage room or abandoned roof to sleep the night within the borders of Israel.

The advantages to Israel are also quite clear: no longer will tens of thousands of workers from the territories make their way into the depths of the State of Israel. The chances that attacks will be carried out will decrease, the amount of traffic on the access roads from the Strip and Judea and Samaria into the heart of Israel will decrease considerably.

Our ministers are already selling this idea to foreign investors. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Industry and Trade Minister Micha Harish and Finance Minister Avraham Shohat are trying to tempt investors from the U.S., Europe and the Far East.

Yediot Ahronot has learned that among the goals are attracting giant companies like Reebok and Nike, some of the most well-known producers of shoes in the world. The Israelis are planning to explain to them simply that: Why are you building plants in Korea, Malaysia and Thailand, which are so far away from your European markets?

"In Israel," says Yossi Shohat, head of Autonomy Affairs in the Industry and Trade Ministry, "these company's owners would be able to find incredible efficiency. The Jewish mind will develop concepts for them, and they will be able to take advantage of the opportunity to get cheap labor from workers in the territories."

A senior official in the Foreign Ministry explains: "With the help of such parks, we will be able to really compete with Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, Hong-Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, which are the powers which stand out in the Far East. They have the advantage of speed, efficiency and cheap labor. We will have all of these -- as well as a geographical proximity to Europe. In addition, we have preferred trade agreements with the U.S. and with the Europe Community. There is no country in the world which can offer such conditions."

A senior Industry and Trade Ministry official, currently involved in preparing the plan at an economic ministry in Jerusalem, explained: "We will push for labor-intensive industry. It's not a comfortable situation for us, but it may be that we will take not a few factories from the Far East -- so we will do it in complete silence..."

Another reason that the Finance Ministry prefers to create the parks within the Palestinian Authority is so as not to impose a heavy burden on the State budget (now being cut). The Foreign Ministry is also convinced that investors will come in droves, but only if it is clear that we are really helping the Palestinians and that we are establishing these parks mainly for them.

But the Industry and Trade Ministry challenges this view, and hopes to implement this idea within the Green Line. According to Shohat, "a serious investor will be very hesitant to invest in the Autonomy. Who knows what will happen to Arafat or whether Hamas will behave? Will there be quiet in the territories? Investors will want political and economic insurance, which they will only get from an existing, flourishing state like Israel."

And meanwhile, those in Shimon Peres' office are already dreaming about the imminent realization of his vision. The man who, 20 years ago, dreamed of shaking the Omani foreign minister's hand -- which happened at the Casablanca Conference -- hopes to realize another dream: Economically independent Palestinians.

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