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>Israel Faxx
>JN July 31, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 132

Ofra Chaza is Subject of Theatrical Melodrama

By IsraelWire

Singer Ofra Chaza, who died of AIDS in February, will be the subject of a melodrama that will be presented in September in Tel Aviv's HaBimah Theater. The play was written by Chaza's personal manager, Betzalel Aloni, and will be presented during the festival of single-actor plays. The actress to play Chaza is still to be determined, nor has a director been appointed.

Barak Faces No-Confidence Vote in Knesset

By Art Chimes (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy announced he plans to resign Wednesday, unless Prime Minister Ehud Barak moves to broaden his government. The foreign minister's announcement came just before a scheduled Monday no-confidence vote in parliament.

Levy's action follows his criticism of the government for concessions made by Barak at the Camp David summit, particularly on the issue of Jerusalem. The foreign minister told Israel Radio he would make every effort to create a national unity government, which would include the two biggest parties - Likud and Labor.

Analysts say Israel's ability to negotiate with the Palestinians could be hampered by the inclusion of Likud, which has taken a hard line on the peace process.

In any event, a period of uncertainty appears likely. Israel's parliament, the Knesset, is due to vote on a no-confidence motion Monday, and on a move to dissolve the parliament Wednesday. Levy says he will not oppose the government in the no-confidence vote, but indicated he would favor new elections as an alternative to a unity government.

Meanwhile, the Knesset is also voting Monday for a new Israeli president. Ha'aretz reported that the ultra-orthodox Shas party has reportedly agreed to allow its members a so-called free vote - instead of directing them to vote for a particular candidate for the largely-ceremonial post. Analysts say that is likely to mean a victory for former Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

Peres is the Polish-born statesman who shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.

Palestinian-Israeli Talks Resume in Jericho

By Art Chimes (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have met for their first talks since the collapse of the Camp David summit last week.

Israel's Oded Eran and the Palestinians' Saeb Erekat met for about an hour in Jericho to discuss so-called interim issues - including a further redeployment of Israeli forces in the territories and a request by the Palestinian Authority for the release of 250 security prisoners held by Israel.

The two men emerged from the meeting with a positive view of the talks. Eran said more meetings are planned in the coming days to advance the peace process. Erekat said both sides are determined to exert maximum effort toward a final agreement.

Despite the positive comments, there was no sign of specific progress on the issues. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has said he does not plan to release any more prisoners, and he wants to merge the troop withdrawal with the final status talks.

Clinton Inspired to Move Embassy

By Arutz-7 News

"I have always wanted to do it. I've always thought it was the right thing to do. But I didn't want to do anything to undermine the peace process. But it's something that I have taken under review now because of the recent events." So said President Clinton, in an interview commissioned by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and broadcast on Israel's Channel One television.

Clinton's declaration is a positive development, but late in coming, says Israel's former ambassador to the United States, Zalman Shoval. Speaking with Arutz-7, Shoval said: "We, as Israelis - and all Jews, for that matter - want the U.S. to rectify the injustice by finally moving the embassy to our capital. But we are not so naive to think that this initiative is unrelated to the latest political developments at Camp David.. All U.S. ambassadors always came to Jerusalem, but Clinton said that he was afraid that moving the embassy would have political ramifications in the Arab and Catholic world.

"Many people have forgotten that several years ago, Congress approved, by a huge majority, an act mandating that the U.S. embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The law, however, entitles the president to delay the move for reasons of 'national security.' He's been pushing it off for several years now..."

Palestinian officials reacted strongly to the Clinton's statement. Regarding this, Shoval said: "Though President Clinton has an interest that the talks with the Palestinians end successfully, he also has his eye on the senatorial race in New York.... Moreover, Clinton and his aides understand that the Palestinian threats on the matter are empty. The PA is financially dependent on the United States, and Arafat is the singularly most unpopular person in the Congress. In short, Clinton is not too fazed by the response."

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