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>Israel Faxx
>JN Sept. 20, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 162

Cell Phone Prices Drop

By IsraelWire

Minister of Communications Binyamin Ben-Eliezer signed an order reducing the rates for the Bezeq Telecommunications Company for cellular subscribers. The order will drop the rate per minute to Bezeq from 72 agorot (17 cents) to 54 agorot (13 cents). The price will continue to drop gradually to 42 agorot (10 cents) by 2003. Prices quoted do not include a 17 percent value added tax.

Lives of 7 Million Chernobyl Victims are Threatened

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

A new medical study says seven-million people, including three-million children, are at risk of life-threatening illnesses because of nuclear contamination from the Chernobyl nuclear-reactor in Ukraine. The results of the study were released in Jerusalem, where a charitable group has now airlifted more than 2,000 children from the contaminated area to Israel.

When the Chernobyl nuclear power plant's reactor number four exploded in 1986, a deadly cloud of radiation contaminated large areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

More than 14 years after the world's worst nuclear accident, a United Nations report refers to Chernobyl as "a continuing catastrophe."

While 250,000 people have been evacuated from the worst-affected areas, millions of people still live with dangerous levels of contamination.

More than 11,000 cases of thyroid cancer have been reported, and evidence suggests that lung, heart and kidney problems can also be traced to radiation released from Chernobyl.

Phyllis Lee is the United Nations official responsible for coordinating the international response to the Chernobyl disaster.

"At least 100 times as much radiation fell on Chernobyl that day in April in 1986 as by the two atomic bombs combined in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the catastrophe is far from over for more than seven-million people who still live in the affected areas, and this includes three-million children."

An Israeli-based charitable organization, Chabad's Children of Chernobyl, has airlifted more than 2,000 young people from the affected areas for treatment in Israel.
The organization released a new medical study (Tuesday) showing that children living there, including those born after the meltdown, remain at high risk of developing life-threatening health problems.

The organization's medical liaison, Jay Litvin, says the situation is getting worse, not better.

"We fear that nearly 15 years after the disaster, the only disaster in the world that seems to be getting worse with time rather than getting better, is threatened to be forgotten. This forgetfulness comes not by intent, but simply by human nature, which after 15 years and numerous disasters that come between Chernobyl and today, we have seen too much other tragedy in the world as well. As the world threatens to forget this disaster, it means that children will be forgotten -- children who are under the threat of becoming sicker as each year goes by."

The international community has pledged large sums of money for maintaining safety at the reactor site. However, the United Nations has had trouble raising funds for humanitarian needs.

Officials with Chabad's Children of Chernobyl say they hope to airlift another 1,000 young people to Israel in the next few years.

Barak: Peace is Depends on Jerusalem

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak says any peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will have to settle the difficult dispute over Jerusalem.

In remarks on Israel radio, Barak said there can not be a peace treaty with the Palestinians unless agreement is reached on the future status of Jerusalem.

Barak said a peace accord without settling the Jerusalem dispute would be a return to the policy of - the ostrich sticking its head in the sand - by pretending the issue does not exist.

The prime minister was reacting to suggestions by several Israeli officials to delay negotiations over Jerusalem and try to reach agreement on other issues dividing the two sides.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are stalled because of a sovereignty dispute over an important religious site in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary (Haram al-Sharif).

Negotiators have made little public progress since the U.S. sponsored Camp David summit ended last July without agreement.

Nationality to be Removed from ID Cards

By IsraelWire

Acting Minister of the Interior Haim Ramon announced plans for the elimination of the statement of one's nationality from the teudat zehut identification cards. Officials explain the change may be implemented with the approval of the Knesset Law Committee and does not demand a government or Knesset approval.

Melchior said 62 percent of new immigrants, who immigrated this year to Israel from the CIS, are non-Jews and therefore, have no connection with the State of Israel.

Melchior is seeking to eliminate the grandchild clause of the Law of Return, pointing out that although many of the immigrants may be fine people, they have no connection with the Jewish state.

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