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>Israel Faxx
>JN July 14, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 121

What Should Jerusalem's Future Be?

20,625 Responses to a MSNBC Survey.

The city should be a self-governing Vatican-style state. 7% It should be divided between the Jews and the Palestinians. 7% Israel should have control over it. 55% A new Palestinian state should incorporate it. 31%

Camp David II: Day 3: "Vital Interests"

By VOA's Luis Ramirez (Thurmont, Md.) & Ross Dunn (Jerusalem)

Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations continued for a third day Thursday at Camp David in the absence of President Clinton.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat held their first bilateral meeting since the start of the summit.

"The Israeli and Palestinian sides have continued their meetings with each other. Negotiators have met, and yesterday (Wednesday) evening there was a meeting between Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat at chairman Arafat's cabin. The parties are grappling with the core issues of permanent status. These are tough issues for all of them. They involve their vital interests."

Jerusalem is emerging as the most potentially divisive issue. The future of the holy city is stirring debate in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their political and religious capital.

The Palestinians are demanding that it take control over east Jerusalem, captured by Israel from Jordan during the 1967 Middle East War. Israel officially rejects this position, saying it will never allow the city to be divided again.

But Israeli Justice Minister, Yossi Beilin believes it is possible to find a compromise. "Jerusalem may be seen as the most difficult problem. I don't think so. I see Jerusalem, not only as an impediment, but also as a potential opening model for the other issues on the agenda. Because if we solve Jerusalem, it will seem as if we can solve the other issues in an easier way. And Jerusalem is difficult only because of the perceptions, because of the emotions and because of the symbols."

Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, a member of the opposition Likud Party in Israel, does not share this view. He says the only solution is to leave the status of the city unchanged. Olmert warns that it is even dangerous to seek a compromise by offering full Palestinian control to Arab villages on the outskirts of the city.

Israeli Cabinet Minister, Haim Ramon, says that it is better to delay any resolution of the Jerusalem matter for at least five years, rather than to put the entire Camp David summit at risk of collapse.

But Faisal Husseini, the Palestinian official in charge of the Jerusalem issue, says a solution should be found now. Husseini says that Jerusalem is destined to become a shared city between Israelis and Palestinians, and a model of peaceful coexistence in the Middle East.

"This city will be an open city. Here (in east Jerusalem) will be a Palestinian capital and in the west side will be an Israeli capital. But the city in itself will be open."

Both sides are working to meet a self-imposed Sept. 13 deadline for a final peace agreement.

German Christian Churches Used Slave Labor

By Jonathan Braude (VOA-Berlin)

Germany's Evangelical Church is contributing nearly $5 million to victims of the Nazi slave labor programs -- after admitting that the churches, too, used forced labor.

Fifty-five years after the end of the Second World War, Germany's main protestant church has admitted a truth that the parishioners of Central Berlin probably knew all along. In the final years of the war, according to Evangelical Bishop Wolfgang Huber, 26-protestant and two Roman Catholic parishes banded together to build a forced labor camp in Berlin.

It was there that they housed the Central and Eastern European workers they needed for grave digging and other menial tasks. These were not necessarily the Jewish slave laborers, whom Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime attempted to work to death in the service of the German economy. But the churches' admission shows that they too were part of a system which drafted millions of unwilling laborers from all over Central and Eastern Europe and forced them to keep the wheels of industry, agriculture, and government going.

Now the German Evangelical Church has announced it will contribute towards the $5 billion compensation fund, which the lower house of the German parliament approved last week and which the upper house, the Bundesrat is to pass Friday.

Some Germans believe every citizen has a moral responsibility to apologize and compensate for past misdeeds. Nobel Prize winning novelist, Guenther Grass and historian Carola Stern have appealed to all Germans to make a small donation to the fund. They wrote in a newspaper article that if every adult paid -- about $10 -- it would raise more than $500 million -- yet the cost would be no more than a couple of visits to the movies.

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