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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      May 16, 1995, V3, #90
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Israel Freezes Land Confiscation

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli officials have expressed the hope that Sunday's Cabinet decision to freeze future land confiscations in east Jerusalem will satisfy countries involved in the UN Security Council debate on the issue.

One Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, called the Cabinet decision a compromise which opens a new era of Israeli government attitudes toward Jerusalem. The official said the decision that this government will not confiscate any more land for housing in east Jerusalem is the first time any Israeli government has agreed to limit its activities in any part of the city.

The official also predicted that the controversy over the latest confiscation -- which the Cabinet decided not to change -- will lead to greater attention to the needs of east Jerusalem's 160,000 Arabs.

Palestinian officials said the cabinet decision was not enough and that Israel should reverse the confiscation of 134 acres, announced last month, which sparked the current debate in the Security Council. But Israeli officials say that will not happen, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Daniel Shek says the government hopes Sunday's decision will defuse the UN debate.

Some Israelis have criticized the Cabinet for limiting Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem, but Palestinian leaders say only a reversal of last month's confiscation would be a real show of good faith.

The spokesman for the Palestinian Authority's office in Jerusalem, Nabih Uweidah, says the Authority wants Israel to take more steps on land issues, and will wait to see exactly what the government does in the wake of its announcement on Sunday. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian state. The issues of statehood and Jerusalem's future status are to be part of negotiations scheduled to start next year.

United Nations May Denounce Israel

By Elaine Johanson (United Nations)

The United Nations Security Council is considering a draft resolution denouncing Israeli plans to confiscate Arab land in east Jerusalem -- which Israel seized in the 1967 war. A debate on the issue opened late Friday, continued Monday and is expected to resume later today.

A draft resolution submitted by Arab delegates would deplore Israeli intentions to expropriate some 134 acres of land in east Jerusalem. It would call on the government to rescind its decision and put a stop to any such actions in the future.

The United States has already said it will not support the resolution. It wants the issue resolved in bilateral talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

However, the Clinton administration has also expressed its frustration with the Israeli government, saying it is difficult to see how taking more Arab land can be beneficial to the peace process. Israel -- which considers all of Jerusalem its capital -- says the land is for housing and a new police headquarters.

Other friends of Israel, including Canada and Australia, have noted that the action would be contrary to the 1993 Palestinian/Israeli accord. Both sides agreed to start negotiating the future status of Jerusalem next year.

Palestinians Jails Hamas Editor

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

The Palestinian Authority in Gaza has closed a newspaper operated by the militant group, Hamas, a day after the new state security court in Gaza sentenced the newspaper's editor to two years in jail for writing seditious articles for the newspaper. A Palestinian official says the newspaper, Al-Watan, was closed in part for reprinting critical articles from the Western press.

One such article, from London's Daily Telegraph, compared the Palestinian Autonomy Authority to the former Israeli occupation force. Sources in Gaza say the Authority was also angered by an Al-Watan article accusing the Palestinian police of kidnapping an alleged witness to a bombing in Gaza City. The newspaper's publisher (Amad Faluji) says he will appeal the closure order.

On Sunday, the new security court in gaza sentenced the newspaper's chief editor, Sayid abu Musameh, to two years in prison for writing articles the court said amounted to "incitement against the Palestinian authority." Musameh had emerged recently as a senior spokesman for Hamas.

The Palestinian security court was established two months ago in part to address Israel's demand for a crackdown on violent Palestinian groups. Musameh is the most senior Hamas official the court has sentenced.

Human rights groups have criticized the court for ignoring the rights of defendants through quick trials with virtually no notice and no right of appeal.

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