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>Israel Faxx
>JN May 22, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 88

Celebrating Jerusalem Day


Thousands of supporters of all ages marched to the Western Wall in Jerusalem early Monday to celebrate Jerusalem Day. Several dozen walked all the way from the Ashdod-area Kibbutz Yavneh; the walk, which has become a Yavneh tradition, took some 18 hours. Monday, the 28th of Iyar, marks the 34th anniversary of the liberation and reunification of Israel's capital during the Six Day War.

Mitchell Commission Releases Report on Violence

By VOA News

An international commission, headed by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, released its report on eight months of Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed. It urged the two sides to end violence immediately and listed recommendations aimed at building confidence and restoring trust after a spiral of violence that has claimed more than 500 lives.

It recommended that the two sides resume security cooperation, that the Palestinians jail terrorists, and that Israel freeze all building in Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

Both sides had a chance to review the document before its formal release. Israel has rejected the report's call for a total freeze on Jewish settlements. Palestinians said the report should be accepted in full, despite their disappointment that it does not recommend an international force to protect Palestinians.

Meanwhile, there has been no let-up in the violence. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinians near the Bureij refugee camp. The Israeli army said the men were seen planting a bomb near the border fence.

Earlier, Israeli helicopter gunships destroyed a Gaza factory that Israel said was making mortar bombs for attacks on Jewish settlements. Palestinians say the raid hit civilian factories and shops and wounded four people. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres defended the missile strikes as an attack on terrorism, not civilians.

Powell Urges Implementation of Mitchell Recommendations

By VOA News

Secretary of State Colin Powell has endorsed the just-released Mitchell report on the Middle East and says now is the time for the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to move forward on the basis of its findings.

Powell spoke with both Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat after the report was released Monday in New York.

The report calls for an immediate ceasefire, a freeze on Israeli settlement activity in Palestinian areas and more determined action from Palestinian authorities against terrorism.

Peres Defends Israeli Attack

By Larry James (VOA-Moscow)

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres defended Israel's attack on Palestinian targets Monday, saying it was aimed at terrorists not civilians. Peres is in Moscow, meeting with Russian officials on the violence in the Middle East.

Peres said an attack by helicopter gunships in the Gaza strip Monday morning targeted a factory where Palestinians were making mortar shells. The raid was aimed at destroying the alleged mortar factory and was justified, he said, adding that Israel would never bomb a civilian target.

The Palestinians say an auto workshop was hit Monday. They charge Israel with conducting a war against the Palestinian people.

Israel's Foreign Minister says he welcomes proposals to end the fighting from an international commission headed by former Sen. George Mitchell. Peres said his country wants to "talk not shoot," and that the commission's proposals suggest that now is a good time to restart peace negotiations.

Peres is urging Russia and the United States, as co-sponsors of the peace process, to work together to encourage a resumption of face-to-face talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Red Cross Urged to Pressure Israel

By Lisa Schlein (VOA-Geneva)

A senior Palestinian official has urged the International Committee of the Red Cross to use its moral weight to put pressure on Israel to end its attacks against the Palestinian people and go back to the peace table.

The minister of planning of the Palestinian Authority, Nabil Shaath, had a long meeting with the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Shaath said he asked the ICRC president, Jakob Kellenberger, to use his organization's influence to get Israel to abide by the Geneva Conventions. These Conventions oblige states and other parties involved in a conflict to respect international humanitarian law.

Shaath said Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people, its assassination of political figures and use of collective punishment violate the Geneva Conventions. The Palestinian official said ICRC workers can see first hand Israeli actions against the Palestinians.

"The ICRC is there on the ground to report that and to protest that and to try to do what is best to persuade the Israelis to cease and desist from doing that. The ICRC does not have armies, but the weight of the ICRC's opinion and that of the parties of the Geneva Convention is very important. Israel will shiver if really it faces international isolation on that question."

Shaath warned that if Israel continued "its dirty war against the Palestinian people," it will become isolated under the weight of moral opinion.

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