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>Israel Faxx
>JN May 2, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 76

Arab Clerk Suspended for Not Standing During Memorial Day

Israel Faxx

Bank Hapoalim suspended an Arab clerk who refused to stand at attention during the siren marking Soldier's Memorial Day last week, Army Radio reported. Customers in the bank's Jerusalem branch said that the clerk continued to go about his work as the siren wailed. They told the bank manager, who then ordered the clerk to leave the premises immediately. The manager said although there was no obligation on the clerk to stand at attention, the proper response on the clerk's part would have been to leave his post for the duration of the siren.

Three Dead in Mideast Violence

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

A Jewish settler, a Palestinian policeman and an accused Palestinian collaborator are among the latest victims of Israeli-Palestinian violence that has taken more than 500 lives, most of them Palestinian, since late September.

The settler died in an ambush of his car near the West Bank town of Ramallah. The armed wing of the Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility and said it was retaliating for explosions Monday that killed three Palestinian activists and two children.

In the Ramallah blast three people, including two children, were killed in an explosion near Palestinian chief Yasir Arafat's headquarters. The Palestinians blamed Israel for the blast; the Israeli army denied the allegations.

Palestinians blame Israeli forces for the blasts in Ramallah and Gaza City. Israel's defense minister flatly denied any Israeli involvement. The young Palestinian man killed in the Ramallah blast was suspected by Israel of killing an Israeli teenager earlier in the year.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, masked men killed a Palestinian accused of collaborating with Israel and an Israeli motorist was wounded in a shooting attack near Nablus.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian policeman and critically wounded a woman during a gunbattle near the Rafah crossing point. Witnesses say the shooting started when an Israeli bulldozer cleared land near a border fence.

Despite the violence, Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer ordered the military to begin easing internal travel restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank, although an army spokeswoman says no blockades have been lifted so far.

Mideast Peres Wants to 'Facilitate Life' in the West Bank

By Breck Ardery (VOA-United Nations)

As violence flared in the Palestinian-controlled territories, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, on a trip to the United States, said his nation would take unconditional steps that could improve the lives of average Palestinians.

After meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Peres outlined several steps that he said could "facilitate life" in the West Bank and Gaza. Among them is a doubling, from 20,000 to 40,000, the number of Palestinians legally allowed to work in Israel. He also says restrictions on many exports and imports into the territories will be lifted.

"I told the secretary-general that the government of Israel has decided unilaterally and unconditionally to change the situation in the territories," he said. "We do not want the Palestinian people to suffer; We do not believe in collective punishment."

Peres says recent peace proposals offered by Egypt and Jordan represent a "serious and supportive" mood by those nations. However, the Israeli government has some reservations about them, especially as they apply to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Peres said that, although his government has pledged no new settlements would be established, it would "clearly answer" the needs of existing settlements.

Regarding United States involvement in the peace process, the Israeli foreign minister says he appreciates U.S. support, but it should not get directly involved at this time. "When it comes to negotiations, we would prefer to start face-to-face (with the Palestinians). We think this is the most promising technique, as was proven in the past," said Peres.

"We appreciate the American support, occasionally the American bridging can help, but we do not suggest that America should become the chief negotiator." On Tuesday, Peres will meet with President Bush at the White House.

Munich Olympics Families Scorn German Offer of DM 6 Million

By Yossi Melman (Courtesy of Ha'aretz)

The 11 families that lost loved ones in the Munich Olympics massacre of 1972 have rejected an offer made by Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber that Berlin, Bavaria and Munich pay a total of DM 6 million in compensation to the families.

"The connotation of 6 million is horrible and I'm furious,' said Ilana Romano, whose husband Yosef, a wrestler, was one of the 11 Israeli athletes killed in a Black September terrorist attack during the Olympic Games.

Stoiber made the offer to President Moshe Katsav yesterday during a meeting in Jerusalem. Katsav's predecessor, Ezer Weizman, had sought a DM 1 million compensation for each of the 11 families.

Representatives of the 11 families noted that the Germans paid $9 million to a group of Palestinian terrorists who hijacked a Lufthansa plane demanding the release of the three surviving members of the Black September group that conducted the original hijacking.

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