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>Israel Faxx
>JN Aug. 20, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 141

Zionism Remains On Racism Conference Agenda

By VOA News

South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says a draft declaration equating Zionism with racism remains on the agenda of the United Nations conference on racism that opens in Durban at the end of this month.

The United States has threatened to boycott or severely limit its participation at the World Conference Against Racism because of the proposed description of Zionism and because of African demands for slavery reparations.

Israel Retaliates with Attack on Palestinian Post

By VOA's Ross Dunn in Jerusalem & Paula Wolfson in Washington

Israeli helicopters have fired missiles at a Palestinian Force 17 security post in the Gaza Strip. Israel said Sunday's attack was in retaliation for Palestinian mortar fire on a Jewish settlement in the area, which wounded one Israeli. Earlier Sunday, Israeli troops killed two Palestinians in separate attacks in Gaza and the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said his government is engaged in covert commando operations to protect Israelis against the threat of Palestinian bombers.

In other comments Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said on U.S. television he wants a new round of peace talks, but repeated the Israeli position that fighting must first stop.

Peres said that he expects to meet soon with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat in the hope that the two sides can negotiate an end to the violence. But Palestinian cabinet ministers said that talks are unlikely to produce a diplomatic breakthrough.

Peres said he wants to see a new round of peace talks, but for now the focus must be on ending the violence. "The Palestinians are suffering. They are tired. We are paying a very high cost and we want to bring an end to it."

A few minutes later, on the same broadcast, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat seized on that theme. He called for immediate negotiations without conditions - an idea already rejected by the Israelis. "I invite Mr. Peres to come and to resume the negotiations on all the political issues. Because I trust that Mr. Peres believes that it is cheaper for Palestinians and Israelis to negotiate for five years than to exchange bullets for five minutes."
Also on U.S. television, leading Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi accused the United States of taking what she called a "hands-off" approach to solving the Mideast crisis. Ashrawi said she believes U.S. influence in the region is being diminished as a result of this approach.

Ashrawi was critical of the Bush administration, saying the President is not sufficiently engaged in the Middle East. "It seems to me on the one hand you have moral and political bankruptcy in Israel, and on the other hand you have a moral and political lack of will in the U.S."

President Bush has been asked several times in recent days about the situation in the Middle East. His response was always the same: the United States wants to help, but the Israelis and the Palestinians must display the will to make peace.

Sharon: U.S. to Launch Israeli Satellites for Free

By Israel's Business Arena

NASA has agreed to launch Israeli satellites from space shuttles without payment. Satellite launches cost tens of millions of dollars.

The agreement to use the NASA space shuttle fleet to launch Israeli satellites was reached at a meeting last week among Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin. The Prime Minister's Office did not state what satellites would be launched, but was believed to be only non-civilian satellites.

Until now, Israel used only its own launch vehicles to launch its military satellites. The heavy launch cost is one of the factors in the delay of the defense establishment's space program. All launches are directed westward, in contrast to the usual eastward launch direction used by the global space market, because Israel cannot launch military satellites over Arab states.

Israel Offers to Rent Apartments for Homeless

By Israel's Business Arena

Yediot Ahronot has reported that the Ministries of Finance, Immigrant Absorption, and Housing and Construction will begin carrying out a plan to rent apartments for homeless people this week. Under the plan, the State will rent thousands of apartments on the private market under long-term leases of up to 10 years, mostly in desirable central region areas.

The new plan is designed to provide a solution for 55,000 new immigrants aged 60 and over, who are waiting for hostels. The State will publish advertisements in the coming days offering to rent apartments from the public in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Ramat Gan, Holon, Bat Yam, Petah Tikva, Rishon LeZion and Rehovot. Seven thousand elderly immigrants have been waiting several years for housing in these cities.

New immigrants renting the apartments for long periods will receive a grant covering 95 percent of the rent. The government will choose a private firm to manage its apartment inventory, contact apartment owners, and create an inventory of apartments for rent. If successful, the plan will be expanded to the entire country.

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