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>Israel Faxx
>JN Aug. 6, 1999, Vol. 7, No. 144

15 People in One Car in Jerusalem

By IsraelWire

Jerusalem police were amazed Monday evening when they stopped a private car and discovered it carried 15 occupants. Traffic police noticed the overloaded car, which by law should carry no more than 5 passengers. They pulled the car over and discovered three ultra-Orthodox adults and 12 children of various ages. When the police asked the driver how he could fill the car in such a dangerous and irresponsible manner, he stated that he was sorry.

Barak Names Arab Israeli as Deputy Foreign Minister

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is naming an Arab Israeli, Nawaf Massalha, 55, to be deputy foreign minister - the first such appointment in the country's history and the highest position ever achieved by a member of Israel's Arab minority.

Massalha will serve under Foreign Minister David Levy. In a statement, Levy called the appointment "symbolic" and an example of the participation of all Israeli citizens in the institutions of state.

Massalha is a member of the Prime Minister's Labor Party, now known as One Israel. He has been a member of Parliament for more than 10 years. The new deputy foreign minister is from a village north of Tel Aviv and was deputy health minister in the previous Labor Party government from 1992 to 1996. The Parliament approved Massalha's appointment Thursday. Five new ministers were also approved including the second woman to be named to Barak's cabinet.

Holocaust Insurance Money Resolved

Israel Faxx Staff Report

A key dispute over today's value of insurance policies held by Jewish victims of the Nazis has been resolved by Lawrence Eagleburger, the chairman of a Holocaust-era insurance claims commission, and that resolution may lead to payment of claims beginning in October.

One participant said that Eagleburger placed a current value of about 10 times the prewar face value on policies that were issued by the German insurance company Allianz.

Eagleburger made that decision after the commission members could not agree on a formula to determined current values on 60-year-old policies by factoring in inflation and interest. His formula was linked in part to long-term German bonds.

The commission, which has representatives from five major European companies, Jewish groups and American regulators, will meet at the end of this month in London to adopt a process for compiling lists of policy holders and communicating with the families of the victims of Nazism.

Assad Assures Clinton That He's Interested in Peace

By David Gollust (VOA-White House)

Syrian President Hafez al-Assad has written President Clinton and assured him of his interest in reaching peace with Israel. Though they're pleased with the tone of the Assad letter, White House officials say it does not mark a breakthrough and that further diplomacy will be needed to re-start the Israel-Syria track of the peace process.

The message that arrived here Wednesday was a reply to Clinton's letter to Assad last month, in which he urged him to seize the opportunity of the change in government in Israel and negotiate with Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Though they give few details of the letter, the officials say the Syrian leader wants the United States to be involved in regional peace-making and that there will be further communication between the two presidents.

Barak told Clinton here last month that he is ready for a "painful compromise" with Syria over the Golan Heights. Clinton met the Israeli leader again last week in Morocco and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is expected to visit both Israel and Syria in a trip to the region in a few weeks.

Students: Cancel Appointment of Rabin's Granddaughter

By IsraelWire

Students at Bar Ilan University have called upon Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander to intervene in the appointment of Noah Ben-Artzi, the granddaughter of the late Yitzhak Rabin, in an official capacity for the 2000 Millennium events.

In their letter, the students wrote, "If one has connections, one need not study. What is the point of trying to excel in school when it is obvious that appointments are made in such a fashion?"

The students also question the decision to place a great deal of public responsibility in the hands of an inexperienced 22-year-old who has not even achieved any academic degree.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism stated that the organizers of the 2000 events are responsible directly to the tourism minister and to date, they were unaware of the details, which led to the appointment of Ben-Artzi.

Millennium officials indicated the director-general, Benny Badmi who made the decision that the 22-year-old was qualified for the position, appointed Ben-Artzi. She is scheduled to begin her new job Sunday and will coordinate between the 2000 committee and northern tourism centers.

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