Newsletter : 9fax0708.txt
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>JN July 8, 1999, Vol. 7, No. 123
Syrian Peace Talks on the Burner
By Scott Bobb (VOA-Jerusalem)
The government of Syria says it is ready to resume peace talks with
Israel as soon as possible. The remarks issued by the Syrian
Foreign Ministry Wednesday were in response to a call by Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Barak to end hostile relations between the two
Syria offered to resume peace negotiations with Israel at the point
they were ended, and said it would match every step toward peace
made by the Israeli government.
In his inaugural speech Tuesday night, Barak called on all Arab
leaders to join him in making peace in the region once and for all.
In remarks directed at Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, Barak said
they were tough and bitter enemies on the battlefield. But he said
the time has come to build a peace that will ensure the future and
security of their peoples, their children and their grandchildren.
Israeli government spokesman Moshe Vogel says despite the positive
response by the Syrian government, he expects talks between Israel
and Syria to be long and hard. "It's going to take both sides, both
the Syrians and the Israelis, to move this thing forward."
Hebrew University political scientist Avraham Diskin believes a
Syrian peace agreement will be more difficult than a Palestinian
one because, he says, of Syria's insistence on the return of all
the Golan Heights. "It all depends on territorial compromises and
also on the security arrangements to which the Syrians might, after
all, agree. But it will be more difficult."
No announcement has been made on formal contacts between the Syrian
and Israeli governments. These are expected to begin more quietly
and at lower levels than those with other Arab neighbors.
Rabin Memorial Foundation Money Used in Barak Campaign
According to a report in the daily Globes financial newspaper,
millions of dollars that were donated to the "Rabin Alliance"
non-profit organization, a registered charity in the United States,
were used in the campaign to elect Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The
transfer of funds according to the report took place about one-year
Despite being a member of the board of the Rabin Alliance, Yuval
Rabin, son of the late prime minister, was denied access to
financial records despite repeated requests. One of the board
members of the Rabin Alliance who played a key role in the prime
minister's election is attorney Doron Cohen, Barak's
brother-in-law. It was reported that Cohen refused to comply with
requests by Rabin to review financial records and other documents,
which provided a detailed accounting of the organization's
Bridegroom Runs & Brother Fills In
The bridegroom reportedly got cold feet and fled shortly before he
was scheduled to marry. His brother, not wishing to offend the
bride, filled in and married her. The incident took place recently
in an Arab village in northern Israel and is blamed for causing a
feud between two families.
The groom, who is a member of a prominent family, decided not to
tell his parents of his decision not to go through with the
wedding. The last minute, while final preparations for the wedding
feast were underway, the bridegroom fled, not wishing to offend the
honor of his family by announcing he was backing out.
The parents decided the younger brother would fill in. The older
brother, the original bridegroom, has still not returned home.
Arab Prisoner Complains: Tortured by Music
An Arab prisoner complained in court that his interrogators
torture him with music. Nasser al-Atrash, 43, was arrested June 24
on suspicion of conspiring with an enemy organization, and of
committing security offenses. Al-Atrash was held by the GSS
(General Security Service/Shin-Bet) for eight days and will be
held for an additional seven days by order of the Ashkelon
Al-Atrash's lawyer appealed to the Beersheva District Court to
order Al-Atrash released. He claimed that his client was brought to
interrogation with his eyes covered and his hands and feet cuffed,
and that between interrogation sessions he was not able to sleep
because of music played at high volume.
The GSS opposed the request for release, and denied Al-Atrash's
charges. They said that background music is played, by at normal
volume, in order to keep prisoners from exchanging messages.
In response to the appeal, the court ordered Al-Atrash released
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