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>Israel Faxx
>JN July 22, 1999, Vol. 7, No. 133

Madonna Heading to Safed for Kabala Event

By IsraelWire

According to Safed Mayor Yossi Ohz, pop star Madonna is planning a visit to the holy city, including the graves of righteous kabalists. Madonna, who is a student in the Center for Kabalistic Teaching in Los Angeles, told her rabbi of her planned trip to coincide with a large kabalistic event planned following the Clei Zemer festival in August.

Barak Reportedly Agrees to a Golan Withdrawal

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is reported to have reluctantly agreed to a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, captured from Syria during the 1967 war. Senior Israeli government officials say Barak recognizes there is no other way to achieve peace with Damascus. Barak is reported to have reconciled himself to sacrificing the whole of the Golan -- long considered as crucial to Israel's security.

The decision reflects Israel's recognition that Syrian President Hafez al-Assad is not prepared to allow the Jewish state to maintain sovereignty over any part of the territory.

The Hebrew newspaper Ma'ariv says Barak has recognized this reality, and is prepared to transfer the Golan in return for a series of security guarantees from Syria and the United States. Under the plan, Syria would be forced to reduce the size of its armed forces and the United States would supply Israel with a series of high-technology early-warning systems.

The whole area would also be under US satellite surveillance, and the information gathered would be available to Israel in the event of any threat of an attack.

Israeli diplomatic analyst David Makovsky says Syria has also agreed to allow Israel the right to man its own military warning stations at Mt. Hermon in the center of the Golan -- but under international supervision.

"We are talking about that the Israelis...manning the early-warning station on Mt. Hermon, under an American or French flag. There have been discrepancies over the question of whether [the arrangement] is for more than 10 years or if it is indefinite. This we don't know. But the principle that the Israelis would stay on Mt. Hermon is very important."

Israel's apparent readiness to sacrifice the Golan Heights in order to make peace with Syria has left thousands of Jewish settlers in the area feeling that their time there is running out. Some of them say they are not prepared to accept the loss of the territory.

The Shin Bet, Israel's secret police, confirms it has begun monitoring meetings of the Golan residents. The police say they are spying on the settlers to ensure they will not resort to violence against the government in their campaign to keep the area under Israeli control.

Clinton Telephones Arafat

By Deborah Tate (VOA-White House)

President Clinton has called Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, to brief him on his recent talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Clinton told Arafat that the Israeli leader is serious about breaking the deadlock in the stalled Middle East peace process.

White House spokesman P.J. Crowley says Clinton used his half-hour phone call to say Barak is serious and committed to moving the peace process forward, and with looking for ways to work with Arafat. The Palestinian leader responded he looked forward to meeting with the Israeli leader again.

Although Arafat earlier this week rejected the 15-month framework proposed by Barak to complete a comprehensive peace agreement, he did not reiterate his concerns in the conversation with Clinton.

PA Plans Tourist Resort in Gaza

By IsraelWire

According to a report by Arutz-7 Radio, the PLO Authority is planning a large tourist complex in Gaza, one that will place serious hardships on the lives of the area's Jewish residents. According to the report, Israeli officials indicated they were unaware of the planned hotel and resort, which was to include a casino.

The plans called for three hotel-complexes of 180 rooms each. What made these "hotels" noteworthy was that each room was to be 100 square meters in size (over 1000 sq. ft.), thus that they could easily turn into full-scale apartments and, in the end, a new Palestinian residential area. The IDF has not yet approved or rejected the plans.

Wakf Establishes Another Mosque Under Al Aksa

By IsraelWire

In total disregard for local building laws and codes, and the preservation of archeological artifacts, the Muslim Wakf in charge of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City has erected another new mosque which occupies approximately 10,000 square feet. The project was undertaken primarily by the Islamic Movement run by Israeli Arabs.

The destruction of walls, ancient ruins, removal of artifacts and the entire project was accomplished without any supervision of officials of the Israel Antiquities Society, a move which experts now admit may have disturbed or destroyed some of the most important archeological finds in the capital.

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