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>Israel Faxx
>JN May 23, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 89

Tensions High on Israel-Lebanon Border

By VOA News

Tensions are high in the Lebanon-Israel border region on the anniversary of the Israeli troop pull-out from Lebanon.

The Israeli army says it is on alert for an expected attack by Lebanon's Hizbullah guerrillas, while the Lebanese have been bracing for an Israeli attack. Israel has given repeated warnings to Syria about the consequences of any Hizbullah attack.

Taleban: Non-Muslims Must Wear ID Tags on Clothing

By VOA News

A senior Taleban official in Afghanistan said Hindus, Christians and Jews living in that nation will be required to wear distinctive tags to identify themselves as non-Muslims.

The Associated Press previously reported that most Jews in the capital city of Kabul have emigrated, however one rabbi still resides in the city.

The head of the Taleban Ministry for Promoting Virtue and Suppressing Vice, Mohammad Wali, says Islamic scholars plan to enforce an edict on the matter soon, but no exact date was given.

The AP reported at least 5,000 Hindus live in Kabul and thousands of others live in other Afghan cities. Most are shopkeepers. Many Hindus fled in the mid-1990s, when their property was looted during the country's civil war.

The Taleban official said Sikhs, another sizeable minority, will not have to identify themselves because they can already be distinguished by the turbans they wear.

However, he said non-Muslim women, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews and Christians will have to cover their faces in public like other Afghan women. He said these new rules will be implemented for religious reasons.

Ariel Sharon Calls On Palestinians To Accept a Ceasefire

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has called on Palestinians to accept a ceasefire to end months of violence between Israelis and Palestinians and pledged not to expropriate any more land for Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Sharon's statement was his first in response to a report on the violence, issued Monday by a fact-finding commission led by former Sen. George Mitchell.

Sharon called for a total truce, saying if the Palestinians accept his proposal to stop fighting, then Israel will stop retaliating.

The prime minister said he accepts the Mitchell commission formula of a ceasefire, followed by a cooling-off period and confidence-building measures leading to a resumption of peace talks.

Israel's army said it has ordered its soldiers not to open fire on Palestinians except if their life is in danger.

The order issued Tuesday by Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer closely followed Sharon's statement.

A spokesman for President Bush said the president welcomes Sharon's call for an end to the violence and would welcome a similar statement from Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.

German Industry Ready to Begin Slave Labor Payments

By VOA News

German industrial leaders say that in the wake of recent court rulings they are ready to begin making payments to Nazi-era forced and slave laborers.

In a statement, the industry group says they now feel able to support government action to begin the payment of about $4.5 billion.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, in a statement, welcomed industry acceptance of the program. He said parliament can now endorse the plan, allowing the payments to proceed. Lawmakers are expected to act by July.

Earlier, Germany's chief negotiator on compensation for Nazi-era forced and slave laborers, Otto Lambsdorff, said he also believes conditions are in place for payments to begin. He was referring to an American court decision Monday dismissing a key claims case.

German industry has been waiting for American courts to dismiss outstanding class action suits before paying several billion dollars to an estimated 1 million former forced and slave laborers.

In another development, the government of Lichtenstein has established a commission to investigate the principality's role in hiding or transferring to third countries assets stolen by the Nazis during World II.

Turkish Water


It appears that Israelis will soon be drinking Turkish water.

The Finance Ministry has publicized a five-year tender for ships that can carry some 50 million cubic meters of water from Turkey.

Water shortages are expected to be felt in Israel as early as this summer. Desalinated water will not be ready for at least 15-18 months.

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