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>Israel Faxx
>JN July 28, 1999, Vol. 7, No. 137

Barak Suggests Leasing Golan Heights From Syria

By IsraelWire

According to an AFP News Agency report, a close "associate" of Prime Minister Ehud Barak stated that Israel should try to rent the Golan Heights back from Syria if it is given away by Israel in a peace deal with the Syrians. AFP quoted Labor Knesset member Shalom Simhon as saying, "We have to find creative solutions for the settlers, for example by trying to get Syria to lease back land to them."

Barak Meets With Arafat at Gaza/Israel Border

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat have begun what are expected to be difficult negotiations to try to revive the Middle East peace process. This is the second time in 16 days that Barak and Arafat have met at the Erez Crossing on the border of Israel and the Gaza Strip. The two men smiled and shook hands as they arrived for the talks.

The talks are expected to be dominated by Barak's proposal to combine requirements of the Wye River Peace Accords with negotiations on implementing a permanent peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Aides to Arafat say he will demand immediate implementation of the Wye Agreement that requires a partial hand-over of the occupied territories and the redeployment of Israeli soldiers.

Barak says his government is committed to the Wye Accords and will not make any changes without prior agreement with the Palestinians. The Israeli prime minister is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak later this week, and early next month he will travel to Russia, where he is expected to hold talks with President Boris Yeltsin.

Clinton Calls on Assad to Accept Israel's Peace Overture

By David Gollust (VOA-Washington)

President Clinton has written Syrian President Hafez al-Assad to urge him to accept Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's overture for renewed peace talks.

Officials in Washington say the Clinton letter, sent on Saturday before the President's trip to Morocco, urges the Syrian leader to "seize the opportunity" presented by the change of government in Israel to move forward on the Syria-Lebanon track of the peace process.

They say Clinton gave Assad a review of his Washington talks last week with Barak and stressed the Israeli leader's commitment to re-start peace talks with Syria that had broken off in 1996 with the two sides reportedly close to an agreement.

Barak has said Israel is ready for what he calls "painful compromise" over the occupied Golan Heights though he says the depth of withdrawal will depend on how far Syria is prepared to go in normalizing relations.

The officials say the administration is ready to assist the parties in any way and that Secretary of State Madaleine Albright intends to visit Damascus on her Middle East mission next month. Clinton met Barak and several Arab leaders Sunday on the sidelines of King Hassan's funeral, which Assad did not attend.

Israel's New $300 Dolphin Sub Arrives

By IsraelWire

The Israel navy's new Dolphin submarine arrived on Tuesday, the first of three $300 million submarines being manufactured in Germany.

En route to Israel, a memorial service was held by the crew of the new vessel over the site where the Dakar submarine sank in 1968. Wreaths were lowered into the sea, a poem was read, and 69 flowers were scattered in memory of the 69 lost crewmen. The ceremony concluded with a moment of silence.

The Dolphin was received in Israel Tuesday by President Ezer Weizman, Prime Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz, OC Israel navy, Rear Admiral Alex Tal and other senior officers. The submarine arrived in the Port of Haifa. In the future, the other two crafts, the "Levyatan" and "Tekumah" are also scheduled to arrive in Israel.

Consequences of Y2K for the Hebrew Sabbath

By Arutz-7 News Service

The halakhic [Jewish-legal] aspects of the Y2K computer bug will be among the topics to be researched by a ministerial committee. Prime Minister Ehud Barak instructed his top aide, Yossi Kucik, to convene a committee that will coordinate the various ministries' efforts on the Y2K matter.

"The committee should look into the Jewish-legal issue as well," Infrastructures Minister Eli Suissa (Shas) said, noting that Jan. 1, 2000 will fall on a Saturday, and the possible life-threatening dangers that may result may make it necessary to grant special permits for Sabbath work.

"I am not a halakhic authority," Suissa said, "but it is likely that the rabbis will rule it permissible to work in hospitals, security forces, the electric company, and the like specifically for this problem...I have consulted with Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef and with the Chief Rabbis, and they will have to decide if and to whom to issue work permits on that Shabbat."

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