Newsletter : 9fax0315.txt
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>JN March 15, 1999, Vol. 7, No. 51
PLO To Decide on Statehood Next Month
The leadership of the PLO is planning to meet next month at which
time a final decision will be made vis-a-vis the planned unilateral
declaration of Palestinian statehood planned for May 4. Senior
aides to Yasir Arafat have indicated the decision is still under
consideration, with many senior PLO Authority officials fearing
that a declaration of statehood prior to Israel's national
elections May 17 would serve to strengthen the Likud's reelection
Is Syria Helping to Re-arm Iraq?
By Arutz-7 News Service
Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk visited Damascus Sunday,
amid new reports Syria was helping to rearm Iraq. The London Times
reported Middle East intelligence sources said Syria secretly
agreed to supply Baghdad with military equipment Since Saddam
Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Iraq has been isolated by
UN sanctions, and a strict arms embargo is in place.
But Syria -- which has been regarded as a semi-ally of the US since
joining the anti-Saddam coalition that ousted Iraq from Kuwait
during the 1991 Gulf War -- has improved relations with Baghdad in
Deals have been reached to develop political and economic
co-operation and now, according to the Times. Syrian and Iraqi
intelligence services have agreed that Damascus will send military
goods worth about $100 million to Iraq. The equipment will include
trucks, ammunition, spares for air defense systems, engines for
tanks and tracks for other armored vehicles.
Since the Gulf War, the Iraqi army has struggled to find spare
parts. Recent US and British bombing of anti-aircraft radar and
missile sites have also caused severe damage, reportedly destroying
more than 20 percent of Iraq's air defense capability.
In 1996, Syria began improving relations with Iraq after a
nine-year freeze, with Assad and Hussein meeting secretly --
according to a Congressional Taskforce on Terrorism and
Unconventional Warfare report -- to discuss military collaboration
against Israel. And in 1997, Syria opened the border between the
two countries for the first time in 10 years, and negotiated an oil
deal, in defiance of UN sanctions.
Jerusalem Will Remain Israeli
By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel's Cabinet insists Jerusalem will remain the undivided
capital of the Jewish state. The Cabinet issued a strong statement
at its Sunday meeting that under no circumstances would Israel ever
divide any part of Jerusalem or allow it to come under
The move came in response to the European Union's statement it
does not accept Israeli rule over the whole of the city. The
Cabinet said the EU apparently still relies on UN General Assembly
resolutions passed in 1947 -- before the establishment of Israel --
which classify Jerusalem as a separate entity from the Jewish
Israel also interpreted the EU description of Jerusalem as a
separate entity as a call for the city, holy to Muslims, Jews and
Christians, to come under international control.
The Israeli Cabinet said in its statement this position is both
incorrect from a factual and legal point of view and is totally
unacceptable to Israel. The issue came to the fore after the EU
rejected an Israeli request to stop diplomats from meeting
Palestinian officials at Orient House, the unofficial PLO
headquarters in east Jerusalem.
This part of the city came under Israeli rule after being captured
from Jordan during the 1967 Six Day war. The international
community has never accepted israel's annexation of east Jerusalem,
home to most of the city's Arab residents.
The EU position is also seen by Israel to favor the PLO in its
demand that east Jerusalem be declared the future capital of a
independent Palestinian state.
Arafat May Commute Death Sentence
By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)
In an effort to restore public order after two days of rioting in
the Gaza Strip, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat has promised a
review of a death sentence imposed by his judiciary. Arafat is also
releasing at least some of those jailed during the unrest.
Arafat has acted swiftly to restore calm to the Gaza Strip, which
has been engulfed in turmoil after a Palestinian man was given the
death penalty over the killing of a security officer.
Arafat has to ratify any death sentence passed by a Palestinian
court. He has the power to commute such a sentence and can also
order a retrial based on what he considers "the higher interests of
the Palestinian people."
His decision to consider a stay of execution follows two days of
clashes between rioters and police in Rafah, in the south of the
Gaza Strip. Two Palestinians were killed and at least 85 people
injured in the riots.
Mahmoud Hussein, a senior official of Fatah, the dominant faction
of the PLO, says Arafat also ordered the release of Palestinians
detained during the unrest.
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