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>JN Aug. 17, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 140

International Tehillim Campaign


On Rosh Chodesh Elul (Aug 19) at 8 p.m. in Israel (1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time), the entire world Jewish community is encouraged to participate in a worldwide Tehillim (Psalms) recitation on behalf of Israel. Psalms to be recited included chapters 79, 83 and 142.

U.S., Russia Call For Resumption of Israeli-Palestinian Talks

By VOA News

Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov have called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume direct talks as soon as possible.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Powell and Ivanov had a telephone conversation Wednesday. A ministry statement said the two leaders reaffirmed their support for the Mitchell Commission proposals.

The commission, headed by former Sen. George Mitchell, has called for an end to violence, to be followed by a six-week "cooling-off" period, before moves toward peace can resume.

Israeli Military Report: Conflict Could Last Years, Escalate

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli military planners said the current conflict with the Palestinians could last for years and might escalate into a regional war.

The Israeli army believes the violent confrontation with the Palestinians could last until 2006, the full period covered by the five-year strategic assessment being prepared by military planners.

The report, quoted by the daily Ha'aretz newspaper, said the best Israel could expect was to negotiate a temporary reduction in the violence with the Palestinians, but said even that was unlikely.

The assessment said the conflict could deteriorate into a regional war, either because of an escalation with the Palestinians or a confrontation along the Lebanese border with Hizbullah guerrillas and Syria. Israeli military planners predicted that the Palestinian Authority would not collapse.

They said Palestinian chief Yasir Arafat was likely to remain in control, but that his ability to implement decisions would weaken because of the growing power of more radical Palestinian groups.
Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said he does not believe there would be a regional war, but acknowledged the conflict with the Palestinians "is a problem that does not seem to have a solution in the foreseeable future."

Ben-Eliezer said the buildup of Israeli tanks and troops this week on the outskirts of the West Bank town of Beit Jala, is designed to stop Palestinian gunmen from firing into the nearby Jewish community of Gilo. "We consider the shooting through Gilo as something that Israel can not live with," Ben-Eliezer said.

"What we have done is just trying to consider the promise given by Mr. Yasir Arafat that he is trying to guarantee that no one will shoot from there. As long as this will exist, we will keep quiet there. Our presence there is only to guarantee our security, and that everyone will know that there is a line that no one can cross."

Ben-Eliezer confirmed that he called off a military incursion into Beit Jala earlier this week, after receiving assurances from Palestinians that the shooting at Gilo would stop.

Israelis regard Gilo as a neighborhood of Jerusalem, although the community was built on disputed land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Peres: Israel Will Revise Offer


Foreign Minister Shimon Peres feels that Israel did not offer the Palestinians enough at Camp David last year.

Although the Barak government proposed the transfer of some 96 percent of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, as well as most of the Old City of Jerusalem, Peres told NBC that "Israel will surely make revisions in the offers it made in Camp David." Peres represents the furthest-left wing of the national unity government.

Also during the interview, the minister expressed satisfaction that the Palestinians had stopped their firing from Beit Jala at the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo without being forced to do so by the Israeli army. He said that Israel would continue to "strike at terrorist enclaves" within the PA when necessary and would then withdraw.

Fifth Class of Enlistees in Haredi IDF Unit


Eighty-five new recruits have been inducted into the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) combat unit known as "the Haredi Nachal." They are the fifth class to be inducted into the unit, which has been considered a tremendous success.
Thus far, two companies of soldiers have enlisted in the unit and, according to Israel Radio, it has just had a regimental commander assigned to it. Several of the Ultra-Orthodox soldiers are currently participating in officer courses.

The "Haredi Nachal" was meant to solve the problem of ultra-Orthodox youth who could not find their place in the yeshiva world, with its full-time regimen of Torah learning. The unique unit allows for the strictest of religious observances and traditions, time for some Torah studies and lectures and Rabbinical advisors in constant contact with the recruits.

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