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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 23, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 108

Survey: Women Read More Books Than Men

By IsraelWire

Women, according to a recent survey, lead the list of leisure-time book reading in Israel. The survey was conducted for the "Arts for the People" association. 56% of the women asked said that they read books. Among Israeli men surveyed, 61.1% stated that they do not read books, and only 37.9% said that they are readers. The average age of book readers of both sexes is in the 45 to 54 range.


Annan to Pressure Israel to Withdraw

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told Palestinians he will press Israel to withdraw from land it captured during the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians want to claim these territories to found their future independent state.

Annan met for one-hour with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat in the West Bank town of Ramallah. At a joint news conference afterwards, the secretary general repeated the promise he had made during the discussions, that the world body will continue to demand that Israel adhere to Security Council resolutions.

Annan says it is imperative that Israel implements those resolutions that demand its withdrawal from areas seized during the 1967 Middle East war. The secretary general says the areas include the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

"We should not rest on our laurels and we should seek implementation of all Security Council Resolutions, in particular 242 and 338, and work to see progress in all tracks."

Israel has withdrawn from some parts of the occupied territories and transferred them to Palestinian self-rule. Arafat says his people are angry that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has not fulfilled obligations under existing peace accords to hand over more land.

"We are not asking for the moon. We are asking what has been signed. What has agreed upon, from Oslo agreement, from Taba agreement, from Cairo agreement, from Washington agreement, the last one between me and Mr. Barak in Sharm-El-Sheikh under the auspices of (Egyptian) President (Hosni) Mubarak. So we are not asking for the moon. We are asking what has been signed, what has been agreed upon to be implemented accurately and honestly."

Barak insists Israel will never withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, nor will it give up any part of Jerusalem. He says Jerusalem must remain, what he calls - the eternal undivided capital of the Jews. Barak is hoping that Arafat will agree to compromise over this and other difficult issues at the heart of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. They include Palestinian refugees, the borders of a Palestinian state and Jewish settlements.


Justice Minister Agrees to PLO Control of Temple Mount

By IsraelWire

Justice Minister Yossi Beilin has told Israel's Security Cabinet that he has no objections to seeing a Palestinian flag atop of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem if the result would be true peace. Deputy Minister of Defense Ephraim Sneh also spoke of the need for concessions regarding Jerusalem in order to achieve a peace agreement with the PA. The Temple Mount was liberated by IDF forces in the June 1967 Six Day War, bringing an end to the Jordanian occupation of Judaism's holiest site.


Shas Return's to Barak's Coalition

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Ministers belonging to a major coalition partner of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak have withdrawn their resignations - a move that allows Barak to keep his majority in parliament.

Ministers of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party withdrew their resignations just minutes before the deadline that would have made them final. The return of Shas, which has 17-seats in parliament, allows Barak to keep his majority in parliament and save his 11-month-old government. The move should also help Barak survive no-confidence votes, and win parliamentary approval for legislation related to the Middle East peace process.

The decision by Shas follows intense negotiations with the prime minister over funding for the party's private school system.

The Shas party, which represents poor and working class Israelis who immigrated from the Middle East and North Africa, demanded millions of dollars for the religious schools as part of the political deal to keep its members in the coalition.

The return of Shas is expected to help Barak in his efforts to negotiate a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The prime minister says he could have a more stable government by including right-wing parties, but that would make it more difficult to move the peace process forward.

"We could easily have a much wider, much more comfortable government in Israel. In a way much more stable, but without the opportunity to move so determinedly toward peace. So we are committed to the real mission that the people of Israel put upon us to change reality. To put an end to the conflict of 100-years to the extent that human beings are able to do that."


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