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>Israel Faxx
>JN Oct. 25, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 183

Clashes Continue as Both Sides Dig In

By Sonja Pace (VOA Jerusalem)

Clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli security forces are now in their fourth week and show no signs of ending. Around 130 people have died in the violence thus far, almost all of them Palestinians. And both sides seem to be digging in for the long haul.

Israel's chief army spokesman says the violence is "no short-lived adventure," indicating the army is ready for a drawn out conflict. Palestinian officials also say they expect a lengthy confrontation. Each side continues to blame the other for having started the violence and for doing nothing to stop it.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is accusing Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat of having chosen the "path of conflict" to get further concessions from Israel. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says Barak is making life in the Palestinian areas sheer "hell."

Renewed clashes took place Tuesday in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in spite of cold weather and rainfall. Israel has also warned of a tougher response if Palestinian gunmen from the village of Beit Jalla continue to shoot at the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Barak Tries Forming a National Emergency Government

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

As Israeli soldiers and Palestinian protesters continue to clash in the streets, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has decided to temporarily turn away from the peace process and move toward the formation of a national emergency government.

Barak is negotiating with right-wing opposition leader Ariel Sharon, trying to form a ruling coalition to deal with the violence and defeat parliamentary motions calling for new elections.

After weeks of violent bloodshed, Barak's advisers say he has no alternative but to seek an emergency coalition with the opposition Likud party and its leader, Ariel Sharon.

Early next week, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, reconvenes and Barak currently does not have enough votes to defeat no-confidence motions and legislation calling for new elections.

The prime minister and many other politicians do not want to face a scenario where the country could be going through a highly-charged election campaign at a time when the West Bank and Gaza Strip are ablaze with violence.

Israeli government spokesman Nachman Shai says the bloodshed is forcing Barak to take a time out from the peace process and try to broaden his government.

"Currently, Ehud Barak, the prime minister of Israel, has like 35 Knesset members supporting him out of 120, which is obviously not a majority. He needs at least 61. Now in a crisis -- and we are in a crisis, we are in an emergency situation now -- 61 is not enough. You need a bigger government."

Barak lost his majority in Parliament last July, after Israeli lawmakers withdrew from the coalition just before the US sponsored peace summit at the Camp David presidential retreat outside Washington. Although no agreement was reached between Israel and the Palestinians, reports that Barak offered major concessions at the bargaining table got him into political trouble at home.

Sharon called the concessions "dangerous," but says while he supports the peace process, he wants a slow, step-by-step approach as relations develop with the Palestinians.

Arabs in general, and the Palestinians in particular, have detested Sharon for decades. As a soldier, Sharon dealt harshly with Arab guerrillas, and as a politician he led the drive to build Jewish settlements on lands occupied by Israel after the 1967 Middle East war.

The latest wave of violence was sparked late last month, when Sharon visited a sensitive site in Jerusalem's Old City that is sacred to Muslims and Jews.

Hadassah Helps Gilo Children Cope with Trauma

By IsraelWire

The Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of America has offered to pay membership fees at the Gilo Community Center for one year for every child in the Jerusalem neighborhood that has been directly affected by PLO Authority shooting. PA snipers have been firing into Israeli homes in Gilo for nine consecutive days.

"Our long experience with children at risk has shown the lingering effects of the sort of trauma the children on Anafa Street are suffering," Hadassah's national president Bonnie Lipton said.

The delegates received briefings from military and civilian experts so they can return to the United States and promote a grassroots campaign to combat anti-Israel propaganda. "I know we can win the battle on the ground, but I need your help for the battle in the media," Col. Gal Hirsch, commander of the Binyamin Brigade, told the delegation.
He added that each of Hadassah's 300,000 members needs to talk to 10 people about what is really happening. Hirsch described the peculiar situation where he is "talking and shooting." He said, "we'll be in a battle with the Palestinians, and they'll call me on my cell phone and ask if we can evacuate an injured person to Hadassah Hospital. Then, the ambulance we send in will be stoned."

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