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>Israel Faxx
>JN Sept. 27, 1999, Vol. 7, No. 178

Albright: Israel's Presence on Golan is Dangerous

Arutz-7 News Service

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright believes that Middle East stability is endangered by Israel's remaining in the Golan Heights. In a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy and Arab Foreign Ministers in New York this weekend, Albright said that contacts between Israel and Syria have entered "a critical phase," and that there would be no regional stability unless the Golan is transferred to Syria, and Lebanon regains its total independence.

Preparations Under Way for Oct. 1 Safe-Passage" Opening

By IsraelWire

The so-called southern 'safe-passage' route linking the autonomous areas of Gaza to Hebron, via the Tarkumia Checkpoint, is scheduled to open Oct. 1. In preparation for the opening, the Israel Defense Force conducted tests to evaluate the level of preparedness.

Buses carrying soldiers dressed in Arab garb were brought in to evaluate the level of security on the route that will pass through major Israeli cities on the way form Gaza to Hebron. Everything is to be checked, including luggage, passengers and the bus drivers.

Among the questions still to be ironed out by security and other agency officials by the planned opening are: 1) What happens when an Arab passenger gets out along the way and disappears in an Israeli city? 2) What happens when a motor vehicle from the autonomous area is involved in an accident with an Israeli vehicle and does not carry insurance? 3) What happens when the designated narrow route in the Bet Gubrine and Kiryat Gat area becomes congested and backed up with vehicles from the autonomous area?

Israel's Settlement Policy Criticized

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's government has come under fire from left-wing groups for approving the construction of thousands of new homes for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. The disclosures have angered many on the left, who say the move could endanger peace talks with the Palestinians.

Since coming to power in July, the government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak has issued tenders for some 2,600 new homes to be built in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The approval came from a member of Barak's coalition, Housing Minister Yitzhak Levy, of the National Religious Party, a political grouping which openly supports an expansion of Jewish settlements in the territories. The Palestinians claim that the whole of these areas, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, should be encompassed into a future Palestinian state.

But a Housing Ministry spokesman says most of the new homes are to be built in Jewish communities in the West Bank which are considered satellites of Jerusalem and, Israel insists, would remain under Israeli sovereignty, even after a final peace settlement with the Palestinians. The spokesman added that the building is necessary to accommodate natural population growth in these communities.

But Palestinian officials and Israel's Peace Now group have warned that such decisions threaten to torpedo the Middle East peace process. Leaders of Peace Now have protested that Levy is continuing the policies of the previous government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to expand settlements.

Peace Now says this flies in the face of pledges by Barak to reverse the trend by placing a freeze on any new construction.

At least one member of the Israeli Cabinet agrees. Agriculture Minister Haim Oron says it is intolerable that the Housing Ministry should act in defiance of Barak's commitment to halt settlement expansion.

Oron has called on Barak to convene a special meeting of the Cabinet committee on Jewish settlements to determine a clear policy.

Russian Pilot Almost Lands on Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway

By IsraelWire

The scene was one of panic when control tower personnel became aware of the realization that a Russian pilot coming in for a landing last Wednesday night was heading for the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway and not Ben-Gurion International Airport, a short distance away.

The flight controllers became aware that the pilot had confused the highway with the airport's runway, and was heading straight for traffic. At one point, the plane was only about 30 meters above the busy motor vehicular roadway. The pilot responded to emergency orders to abort the planned landing, and he was ordered to head towards the sea and then make another approach to the airport.

The BRZ Airline plane with 40 persons onboard was a Tupelov 134. Following a safe landing, the pilot was ordered to submit to a blood alcohol exam prior to being permitted to takeoff once again. He was determined to be sober and was granted permission to takeoff.

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