Newsletter : 1fax0530.txt
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>May 30, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 93
Israeli-Palestinian Violence Overshadows Security Talks
By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)
Palestinian officials say renewed security talks with Israel have
failed to make any progress towards peace in the wake of new
violence that left six people dead Tuesday.
Palestinian and Israeli security officials met in Ramallah Tuesday
for the first time in a month. But the meeting ended with
Palestinian officials rejecting an Israeli cease-fire offer, saying
they must defend themselves against Israeli aggression. The two
sides, which agreed to the meeting at the urging of the U.S. envoy
William Burns, are set to hold more talks in the Gaza Strip
One Israeli woman died when her car was fired upon by Palestinian
gunmen, The meetings Tuesday were overshadowed by new violence that
left three Palestinians and three Israelis dead, as well as by an
announcement that Israel approved plans to build more than 700
units of new housing in West Bank settlements. Palestinian
officials immediately condemned the plans.
Israeli Housing Minister Natan Sharansky says the housing units are
scheduled to be built in settlements near Jerusalem and in the
northern West Bank.
Palestinian official Ahmed Abdel Rahman says the move could destroy
efforts by envoy William Burns to broker a cease-fire.
An international commission headed by former Sen. George
Mitchell called on both sides to immediately end violence and said
Israel should freeze settlement activity as part of a series of
Also Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the situation
in the Middle East is spiraling out of control. He made the comment
in Moscow during talks with visiting Palestinian leader Yasir
The Russian leader also spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon. Putin said Russia will send a special envoy
to the region next week.
Journalists Free After Gaza Kidnapping
By VOA News
Palestinian militants seized two western journalists in the Gaza
Strip Tuesday but released them unharmed a few hours later. The
captives were an American correspondent Joshua Hammer and a British
photographer Gary Knight for Newsweek.
The two men were detained with a Palestinian driver and translator
in Rafah while interviewing members of the Fatah Hawks, an armed
militia of the mainstream Fatah faction. The journalists were told
their five-hour detention was a symbolic kidnapping aimed at
protesting American and British support of Israel.
A statement issued in the name of the Fatah Hawks declared that the
American and British people must bear the results of the positions
taken by what it called their biased governments.
Officials from the Fatah faction denied any link to the kidnapping
and denounced it. A Fatah statement said the group would never
treat journalists that way or make them pay for their governments'
Palestinian preventive security chief Mohammad Dahlan said the
kidnapping was carried out by irresponsible people unconnected with
Fatah and that the security services would bring them to justice.
Lebanese President Slams Israel
By VOA News
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud has criticized what he calls the
extremist and aggressive policies of the Israeli government. At a
state dinner at the beginning of an official visit to France,
Lahoud said the policies of the Sharon government put the entire
Middle East peace process in jeopardy.
Lahoud also defended attacks made by the Lebanese resistance
movement Hizbullah against Israel. The Lebanese leader told
reporters in Paris that had it not been for Hizbullah, Israel would
still occupy south Lebanon. French officials are concerned about
Lebanon's failure to stop the Hizbullah militia from carrying out
attacks on Israel.
Jews Can't Enter Or Pray There - But They Can Protest
The Jerusalem Magistrates Court has ruled against a police request
to distance Kach protestors from the Temple Mount gates. Justice
Michal Agmon-Gonen ruled that the Kach protest against allowing
Jewish entry to the Mount is legitimate, and that the arrest of
Kach activist Itamar Ben-Gvir for allegedly attempting to fight his
way onto the Mount.
The judge ordered the immediate release of Ben-Gvir and said,
"The police must find the appropriate way to deal with the
protest." Ben-Gvir said he would file a civilian suit against the
police for false arrest.
In a related item, Temple Mount Faithful leader Yehuda Etzion was
recently acquitted - for the third and final time - of charges
relating to his attempts to protest against the refusal to allow
Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.
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