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>Israel Faxx
>JN Nov. 10, 1999, Vol. 7, No. 209

Arafat Blames Israeli Mafia for Netanya Bombing

By IsraelWire

PLO Authority Chairman Arafat has pointed the finger of blame for the Sunday morning bomb blast in Netanya on the Israeli mafia despite the fact that Israeli security agencies are looking in the direction of an Islamic terror attack, most likely intended to coincide with the anniversary of the assassination of the leader of the Islamic Jihad, Fatchi Shkaki.

Israel Won't Interfere in Christian Dispute

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

The Israeli government will not intervene in a dispute among Christian groups about opening a second doorway in one of the holiest Christian sites. Israel is insisting on an emergency exit in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is built on one of the traditional sites of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

For years, the Israeli government has warned that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a fire trap, where hundreds could die in an accidental blaze. The church has only one door. In the last century, dozens of worshipers died when fire broke out in the building.

A Roman Catholic priest and expert on Christian holy sites, Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, said he agrees there is a real danger of another fire, particularly during such events as the mass lighting of candles at the annual Greek Orthodox "Holy Fire" Easter ceremony.

"I think there is a real need for a second door because you have very crowded, very dangerous ceremonies such as the Orthodox Holy Fire, where the church is absolutely packed and people are waving candles. And if something should happen there, not everybody can get out the same entrance, the single entrance we have at the moment."

The Israeli government wants to avoid a possible tragedy next year, when millions of Christians are expected in the Holy Land to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus. It is still not clear if the six Christian groups which occupy the church can agree among themselves to make a decision. They are the Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Syrians, Copts and Ethiopians. Murphy-O'Connor says these sects all jealously guard their rights to different sections of the church.

Israel is currently embroiled in another dispute over holy sites, after granting permission for a mosque to be built in Nazareth next to the Basilica of the Annunciation. The Basilica marks the traditional site where the Angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to Jesus.

Some Christian leaders in Jerusalem, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they would not agree to open a second exit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, unless Israel rescinds its decision to allow the mosque to be built in Nazareth.

Arafat: No Peace Without Withdrawal

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian Chairman Yasir Arafat says the continued expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories is a breach of international law and is destructive to the peace process. Arafat says there can be no comprehensive peace in the Middle East unless Israel withdraws from occupied Palestinian territories.

In a major policy speech to Socialists and Social Democrats in Paris, Arafat strongly criticized the Israeli government for continuing to expand settlements in the territories. Arafat said settlement activities are hurting efforts to reach a permanent peace agreement in the Middle East.

"Nothing except the logic of injustice can legitimize the continued existence of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. It has become a crucial necessity to stop all settlement activities in the Palestinian territory, totally, and not selectively. For settlements are not only illegal and a breach of international law, they are destructive to the peace process itself."

Arafat also called on the Israeli government to abide by resolutions approved by the United Nations after the 1967 Middle East war. He said if Israel does not withdraw from the occupied territories there will be no peace in the region.

"The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the core of the Arab-Israeli confrontation. There will be no real and durable peace relations between Israel and the rest of this area unless an independent, sovereign Palestinian state, with holy Jerusalem as its capital, becomes a central element of regional stability."

Chemical Attack Was Foiled in Israel in May

By IsraelWire

Israeli and PLO Authority security forces in May of this year, on the eve of the national elections, foiled a planned Hamas terror attack involving chemical warfare.

Senior Hamas terrorist leader "A.E." reportedly received instructions in the preparation of the chemical weaponry from supervisors abroad. Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh stated he was "prevented from confirming all these details, but did not deny the report.

Knesset member Dr. Ahmed Tibi, a former senior advisor to PA Chairman Yasir Arafat acknowledged that in the months prior to the national elections in Israel, PA security forces foiled several planned serious terror attacks.

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