Newsletter : 0fax0626.txt
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>JN June 26, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 109
Verdict Expected This Week for Iran 13
Iranian officials announced that a verdict in the trial of the Iran
13 -- the Jews falsely accused of "spying for Israel" -- is
expected July 1. The Jews face prison sentences, or possibly death.
Assad's Nomination Assured
By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)
Syria's parliament is set to nominate Bashar al-Assad as its
presidential candidate and fix the date for a referendum that will
clinch his presidency.
The young eye doctor, known simply as Dr. Bashar in Syria, has been
moving quickly toward assuming the reins of power since his father,
President Hafez al-Assad, died June 10. Within days of the death,
Syria's constitution was amended to lower the age of eligibility to
allow the 34-year-old to become president.
The military then elevated Dr. Bashar to commander of the armed
forces, a post previously held by his father. He was later
nominated to head the Baath ruling party and endorsed as their
Already, the young Assad has assumed some presidential duties,
meeting with foreign dignitaries, such as UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan. Dr. Bashar will be the only candidate in the referendum.
The only unknown element will be the percentage of his victory.
President Hafez al-Assad regularly received more than 99-percent of
the vote. Bashar al-Assad's inauguration is expected to take
place shortly after the official results of the referendum are
The younger Assad will face several challenges on both domestic and
foreign policy. In a speech to the Baath party congress, he listed
economic reforms as a top priority. But he has also promised to
resume peace talks with Israel, based on the unwavering Syrian
position that demands the complete return of the strategic Golan
Heights that Israel seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Israeli Arabs Call SLA Fighters "Traitors"
By Jenny Badner (VOA-Israel-Lebanon Border)
Debel is a village in southern Lebanon just minutes away from
northern Israel. Nearly all of Debel's 2,000 residents have fled
and are refugees waiting in Israel for their new lives to begin.
They were members of the mostly Maronite-Christian South Lebanon
Army (SLA). Their lives were permanently altered when Israel
withdrew its forces from southern Lebanon last month.
More than 1,000 Maronite-Christian residents of Debel in south
Lebanon are gathered together near the Israeli-Lebanese border for
a memorial service. They are remembering Salim Sakal, a
19-year-old soldier killed just weeks before the end of the
fighting in southern Lebanon.
Bussed to the service from the holiday resorts, collective farms
and army bases housing the Lebanese refugees in northern Israel,
many of the residents of Debil are being reunited for the first
time since they fled to Israel May 24.
That is when Israel abruptly ended its more than 20-year occupation
of a strip of land in southern Lebanon. When Israel withdrew its
forces, it left its predominantly Christian allies in Lebanon, the
South Lebanon Army, with two choices. They could remain
unprotected in their villages, or flee south to become refugees in
A few-hundred members of the SLA surrendered to Lebanese forces or
to the Hizbullah, the Iranian-backed Muslim terrorists, which
fought a war of attrition against Israel. About 6,000 Lebanese
left their possessions behind and crossed the border to Israel.
While most Jewish Israelis see the SLA as friends, if not heroes,
who helped protect northern Israel from guerrillas, Palestinians
and Israeli Arabs view the refugees differently.
Kamel Owaie, 45, is a taxi driver from an Arab village near the
holiday resort where the refugees are staying. Owaie says the Arabs
in Israel will never live together with the members of the SLA.
"We think a big part of them are traitors. They betrayed their
country, and because of that we do not want to receive them in our
villages or in any place. It was not for the Lebanese to join the
Israeli army. The best thing for them is to return to Lebanon."
Members of the South Lebanon Army were paid for their work with the
Israeli Defense Forces. That is why many Arabs in Israel dismiss
them as little more than collaborators.
Health Ministry: No Need for Concern Over Meningitis Death
Health Ministry officials Saturday night emphasized that all
necessary steps were being taken to ensure there is no outbreak of
meningitis following the death of Joseph Ferraro of Rochester,
N.Y., shortly after he landed in the US on El Al.
Ferraro, 20, landed in Newark International Airport in New Jersey,
and died a short time later on Friday evening of bacterial
meningitis. Ferraro, who was complaining of head pain prior to the
flight, arrived from Tel Aviv on flight 017 from Tel Aviv. From the
airport, he was taken directly to Beth Israel Medical Center in
Newark where he died several hours later.
US health officials and their Israeli counterparts have begun
contacting persons on board the flight as well as persons who may
have had close contact with the deceased prior to his leaving
Israel. El Al Israel Airlines reports the flight to Newark carried
414 passengers and a crew of 17.
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