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>Israel Faxx
>JN Dec. 9, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 224

Israel's Peres for Palestinian State, Golan Pullout

Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres has urged Israel to accept a Palestinian state and to give up the Golan Heights if it wants peace with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. Speaking to his Labor Party, Peres said: "A state or no state? It must be heard in a clear voice - a state, because we cannot take on our shoulders the economic and social responsibility of 3 million Arabs."

Islamic Summit Opens in Iran

By Douglas Roberts (VOA-Tehran)

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Sayed ali Khamenei, opens an Islamic summit conference in Tehran Tuesday -- the largest international event to be staged in the Iranian capital since the 1979 Islamic revolution. More than 20 heads of state and government arrived in Tehran on the eve of the meeting, and all 55 members of the "Islamic Conference Organization" are expected to take part.

The summit is due to get underway at 1:30 a.m. EST in a lavish new conference center, specially constructed for the occasion.

Hanging over the main hall is an ornate drapery from the door of the "Kaaba" -- Islam's most sacred shrine in the holy city of Mecca. It was presented to the summit by Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, and it seems an apt symbol of the emerging rapprochement between Iran and its Arab neighbors on the other side of the Persian Gulf.

Arab leaders -- once vilified by Iran's revolutionary government -- have now been welcomed to Tehran by the country's moderate new president, Mohammed Khattami.

Iranian officials say they want the meeting to help clear-up misunderstandings and misperceptions among Muslim states, and enhance the unity and solidarity of the Islamic world.

Turkey Ties to Israel No Threat to Syria

By Amberin Zaman (VOA-Ankara)

Israeli Defense Minister Yitzak Mordechai arrived in Ankara Monday for meetings with senior Turkish officials, including Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz. The visit marks deepening ties between Muslim Turkey and the Jewish state -- ties which have upset Ankara's Arab neighbors and Iran.

Speaking to reporters before meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ismet Sezgin, the Israeli Defense Minister stressed that cooperation with Turkey did not constitute a threat to third countries. Mordechai described ties between his nation and Turkey as a strategic partnership aimed at strengthening relations.

His visit coincides with Tuesday's summit of Islamic Conference Organization countries in Iran, during which Syria condemned Turkey's military links with Israel. Syria is especially worried by a military cooperation agreement signed last year between Israel and Turkey which allows Israeli air force pilots to train in Turkish skies. Damascus fears the agreement also allows Israel to use Turkish territory to spy on, and eventually launch an attack against, Syria -- claims that are vigorously denied by both Ankara and Israeli officials.

Israel is now set to become one of Turkey's largest arms suppliers. Unlike the United States and Europe, Israel does not make arms sales conditional on Turkey's human rights performance.

Israel's Mossad Spy Agency Suffers Blow

Israel's secret services have suffered a blow with the charge an Israeli Mossad agent fabricated spy reports on Syria, experts said. A judge lifted censorship Saturday, enabling newspapers to report on Yehuda Gil, 63, a veteran Mossad officer at the heart of the latest scandal.

Israeli media had published leaks for days about the case. An indictment alleges Gil had fed false information for years. News reports said it may have skewed Israeli assessments of Syria's leanings towards war or peace. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the value of the information had been "wildly exaggerated."

Swiss Threaten U.S. with Economic Retaliation

By Barbara Schoetzau (VOA-New York)

In New York Monday, representatives of Switzerland, the United States and the World Jewish Congress urged American state and local financial officials to give diplomacy more time before imposing any economic sanctions on Swiss banks. The private banks have been accused of delaying efforts to make restitution to survivors of the Nazi Holocaust from dormant accounts.

Representatives from 20 US states were among the 200 financial officers attending the day-long conference.

Israel Singer, secretary general of the WJC, recommended a 90-day moratorium on economic boycotts, saying he believes the issue may be settled by the end of March. As a condition to a final settlement, Singer said Swiss officials must condemn anti-Semitism unequivocally.

Thomas Borer, the head of the Swiss task force responsible for coordinating all Swiss efforts relating to the issue said the Swiss people are committed to cooperating. But warned that sanctions could go two ways, noting that Switzerland ranks among the top seven investors in the United States and Swiss companies provide jobs for some 300,000 Americans.

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