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>Israel Faxx
>JN May 17, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 85

Israel to Beef Up Arabic Language Broadcasting

By VOA News

Israel is planning to beef up its Arabic language broadcasting in attempt to counter what officials call Arab and Palestinian propaganda.

Israeli media officials say Israel wants to target Arab viewers and listeners who cannot or do not hear the Israeli point of view in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli Helicopters Attack in Gaza and West Bank

By VOA News

Israeli helicopter gunships fired rockets at security buildings in a Palestinian refugee camp near Gaza City Wednesday. Helicopters also attacked buildings in the Palestinian-ruled town of Jenin in the West Bank.

At least 14 people were injured in the attack in the Jabaliyah camp. The Israeli army said the strike against the camp was carried out following many Palestinian attacks and shootings from that area.

Earlier in Gaza, Palestinians said Israeli forces made five raids into Palestinian-ruled areas. They said troops seized a dairy factory in central Gaza, destroyed orange groves and farmland, and searched homes in the south. Israeli officials say they targeted areas that were the source of mortar fire at Jewish settlements.

Also Wednesday, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian schoolboy following a stone-throwing incident near a Jewish settlement.

EU Rules Out Sanctions Against Israel

By Douglas Bakshian (VOA-Luxembourg)

The European Union has ruled out suggestions that it impose economic sanctions on Israel for its policies in the Middle East. But it has again called for the Jewish state to resume peace talks with the Palestinians.

Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, whose country holds the EU rotating presidency, said sanctions against Israel would not be helpful at this time. "I do not think that is the right way forward, to try to discuss a different kind of economic sanctions or anything like that. That would not improve our possibilities to get Israel back to the negotiation table."

Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Lindh said the main responsibility for going back to the negotiation table rests with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. She said Israel has to make it clear that it wants to go back to the talks. The Swedish diplomat said there is no-long term military solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The 15-nation European Union is a strong economic force in the Middle East, where it is the biggest trade partner and provider of aid. Goods exported under the Israeli label have preferential access to EU markets.

Mitchell Report, Foundation for Mideast Peace?

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Top Israeli and Palestinian officials have said the Mitchell commission's draft report on the bloodshed in the Middle East could serve as a foundation for reducing violence and resuming peace negotiations.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said the preliminary report by the international fact-finding commission led by former Senator George Mitchell could pave the way for Israel and the Palestinians to renew the peace process.

"The Mitchell report is a highly balanced analysis and it proposes how to go ahead," Peres said. " Even if one of us, or the two of us, have remarks to make we can bridge over the remaining differences. There is enough of a heavy base and a wide space to go ahead and renew the peace process."

Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, speaking to reporters in the West Bank town of Ramallah, also praised the Mitchell commission's report. He said it could serve as a basis for ending nearly eight months of Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed.

"The committee's findings and recommendations offer both Palestinians and Israelis a sensible and coherent foundation for resolving the current crisis and preparing a path back to meaningful negotiations."

The Mitchell commission's report proposes that Israel and the Palestinians agree to an immediate cease-fire, resume security cooperation, implement confidence building measures and renew peace talks.

The Palestinians have made public their response to the commission's preliminary findings, but so far Israel has not released its official reply. Foreign Ministry sources say Israel's main reservation is the recommendation for a complete freeze on construction of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says no new settlements will be built, but says expansion of existing settlements will be allowed to accommodate what he calls - natural growth. The commission is expected to release its final report later this month.

Protests Against CNN


A protest demonstration against CNN's allegedly biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was held in Jerusalem Wednesday, and another one is scheduled for New York on Thursday.

Several dozen people gathered outside the Jerusalem studios of CNN and presented a list of "grievances and demands" to Jerusalem bureau chief Mike Hanna. Hanna agreed to meet with the protestors' representatives in a more formal setting.

Thursday morning, in Harlem in New York City, a protest will be held outside the annual CNN shareholders meeting. The protestors plan to ask, "How did the respected news network become Arafat's propaganda tool?"

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