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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 30, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 113

Netanyahu Rejects Early Elections

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected a call by the country's president for early elections because of the deadlock in the peace process. Netanyahu says, as far as he is concerned the next Israeli elections will be held as scheduled in the year 2000, and not before.

Netanyahu says he knows Israelis are impatient for the next steps in the peace process, but he said he will not move forward until he is convinced the Palestinians are living up to their existing commitments, particularly on security issues.

The prime minister said "No pressure, no thing, no person" will push him to deviate from the goal of "secure peace for Israel."

He said there are still wide gaps between Israel and the Palestinians on issues in dispute -- mainly the extent of the next Israeli West Bank withdrawal and parallel Palestinian security measures. But he also said an agreement can be reached by the time the Israeli parliament begins its summer recess next month.

President Ezer Weizman called for Netanyahu to hold early elections to find out how the Israeli people want the peace process to proceed. The government had been planning a referendum, but officials now indicate that might not be possible. Weizman said the logical alternative is to hold elections.

Netanyahu is working under nearly permanent threats from various parties in his coalition to quit and force early elections over the peace process and other issues. But none of the parties has been willing to force early elections. They apparently fear they would emerge with fewer parliament seats than they have now.

Weizman wields some influence from his largely ceremonial position, but members of the coalition say his comments will not push them into elections they are not ready to hold. Many criticized the president for making such a political comment.

Rats with Damaged Spine Partially Recover

By IsraelWire

Innovative treatment enables paralyzed rats to regain partial use of their hind legs. Weizmann Institute scientists have managed to partially heal the damaged spinal cords of laboratory animals, according to a study reported in the July issue of Nature Medicine.

A team led by Professor Michal Schwartz of the Neurobiology Department used an innovative treatment which allowed rats to regain partial movement in their hind legs that had been paralyzed by damage to the spine.

"The results of our experiments are promising," says Schwartz. "However, for the moment they have only been achieved in rats, and much additional research still needs to be done before the new treatment is available to humans."

It has long been known that "lower" animals, such as fish, can repair damaged fibers in the central nervous system -- the spinal cord and the brain -- and restore lost function. In contrast, mammals, including humans, can only repair injuries to the peripheral nerves, while injuries to the brain or spine leave them permanently paralyzed or otherwise handicapped.

The new approach is based on Schwartz's theory, which states that the loss of this repair ability occurred in the course of evolution due to a unique relationship between the central nervous and the immune systems.

Schwartz believes this loss was probably dictated by the need to protect the mammalian brain from the effects of the immune system: While immune cells normally help to heal damaged tissue, their access to the brain would disrupt the complex and dynamic neuronal networks that build up during an individual's lifetime.

Dana International; "Hitler was a Hero and Brilliant"

By IsraelWire

The British Observer interviewed Dana International, the Israeli transsexual who gained fame after taking first place in this year's Eurovision Song festival. According to a report in Yediot Achronot, International told the Observer that Hitler was "brilliant, a hero, and a genius, even though I could strangle him barehanded."

She was answering a question, How were you affected by popular personalities in history?

International told interviewer Peter Conrad, "Not that I hate men. My man needs to be stern but also gentle, not a person that hits. Human beings need not strike one another. Even Hitler was a hero, a brilliant man. Yes, yes, I know he did terrible things and I would choke him with my bare hands. The devil is also a smart person. Why didn't Hitler use his intelligence to cure the world of sickness."

Conrad, startled from the response, asked how will the Israeli population accept these answers?

"That is not the problem, only the religious fanatics hate me. They call me 'worse than Sodom.' The secular popular admires me."

Senior Bezeq Official Accused of Stealing Phone Time

By IsraelWire

Raphael Peleg, 38, a senior Bezeq management official in northern Israel, was accused of stealing tens of thousands of message units by making calls to erotic phone services abroad. Peleg was charged with making NIS 97,000 in illegal calls in 1995. He used the Bezeq international exchange to connect to the international operator.

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