Newsletter : 0fax0703.txt
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>JN July 3, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 114
Egyptian Press Blames Mossad for Assad's Death
The Egyptian weekly "Aharam al-Aravi" claims that the Mossad
Intelligence Agency is responsible for the death of Syrian
President Hafez al-Assad. The paper claims that during Assad's
telephone call with Lebanese President Emil el-Hoss, at which time
he died, Israeli agents from atop Mount Hermon introduced deadly
radioactive rays into the phone, killing the Syrian leader.
World Protests Conviction of 10 Iranian Jews
By VOA's Ross Dunn, Jerusalem; Larry Freund, New York; and
Laurie Kassman, Cairo
Israel condemned Iran for convicting 10 Iranian Jews of spying for
the Jewish State. The Israeli government said its citizens will not
rest until their fellow Jews in Iran are set free.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry says it is shocked by an Iranian
Court's decision to sentence 10 Jews to prison terms ranging from
four to 13 years after they were convicted of taking part in a spy
The Foreign Ministry broke with protocol and issued a statement on
Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath -- normally a strict day of rest in
Israel for government authorities.
The statement describes the sentences as harsh and says the Iranian
Jews committed no wrongdoing. The statement adds that the sentences
issued by a court in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz will
deprive these innocent Jews of their freedom for many years.
The Ministry statement said: "Iran cannot be accepted as a member
of the international community as long as Jewish prisoners are
rotting away in prison when they have done no wrong. Israel will
not rest until all the prisoners are released."
Many Jewish leaders had feared the Iranian Jews would not receive
a fair trial and would face execution under Iran's system of
Islamic law. Lawyers for the convicted Jews in Iran say they are
confident the prison terms will be reduced following an appeal.
The coordinating organization for American Jewish groups says it is
outraged at what it calls the injustice of the verdicts. Malcolm
Hoenlein said it was Iran that was found guilty of "gross
violations of human rights and rejecting the
rule of law."
He said the verdicts put the lie to what he described as the
mythology of moderation in Iran. "Iran, we declare to you today
that the world is watching. You have seen the statements of world
leaders. They have declared that future relations with Iran will be
dependent upon the outcome of this trial. And we assure you we
will re-double our efforts and pursue every avenue to help bring an
end to this injustice."
Iranian newspapers and television stations rejected Western
criticism of the verdict. Iran's state-run news agency quoted its
foreign ministry spokesman as denouncing what he calls
"interfering remarks" by foreign officials.
Hamid Reza Asefi told Iran radio no country would have an impact on
the independent judicial process of Iran's courts. He calls for
other states to respect the right of sovereignty and refrain from
interfering in Iran's domestic affairs.
The conservative Persian-language daily Jomhouria Eslami and the
English-language Iran News dismiss the international criticism and
blame what they call - Zionist manipulation - of the world media.
Iran News complains that most of the foreign news reports have
focussed on the Iranian Jews on trial and neglected to mention the
Muslims who were also charged with spying for Israel.
Unilateral Declaration of Palestinian State in Works
By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)
Palestinian Liberation Organization leaders have convened a special
meeting in Gaza to discuss preparations for establishing an
independent Palestinian State. The conference comes amid threats by
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat to unilaterally declare
independence for his people later this year.
This is the first time in two-years that the PLO's Central Council,
its second-highest policy making body, has met to discuss strategy
for the founding of an independent state.
The 129-members of the council are being briefed by Arafat on his
promise to declare Palestinian statehood later this year. The
Palestinian leader says an independent Palestinian state will come
into being, even in the absence of an agreement with Israel.
Israeli officials have warned Arafat against making a unilateral
declaration, saying this could force Prime Minister Ehud Barak to
retaliate by annexing parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Barak is hoping for a trilateral meeting in the United States with
Arafat and President Clinton to negotiate a peace treaty which
would set out the mutually agreed borders of a future Palestinian
Israel and the Palestinians have set Sept. 13 as the deadline for
reaching a final peace agreement. Before that can happen, they must
resolve such key issues as what to do about Jewish settlements in
the West Bank, Palestinian refugees and the future of Jerusalem,
which both sides claim as their capital.
Israeli military officers are warning that violence could break out
in the Palestinian territories unless more progress is made in the
negotiations before the September deadline.
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