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>JN Nov. 29, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 198

Belgium May Try Sharon for War Crimes

By VOA News

A Belgian court has put off until early next year a decision on whether Belgium has jurisdiction in a war crimes case filed by Palestinians against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The suit accuses Sharon of responsibility for the 1982 massacre of hundreds of Palestinians by Israeli-allied Lebanese militiamen in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. Sharon was Israel's defense minister at the time.

In Wednesday's hearing, Belgium's public prosecutor argued the court has jurisdiction, despite objections from Israel. Lawyers for the Palestinians and for Sharon will present their arguments at hearings during the next two months. A ruling on Belgium's jurisdiction in the case could come in late January.

Belgian law allows the prosecution of foreigners, including heads of state, for alleged abuses of human rights and war crimes committed in other countries.

Under that law, a group of Israelis and Belgians filed a war crimes law suit in Brussels Tuesday against Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. They accuse him of responsibility for a number of attacks against Israelis and other Jews since the 1970s.


US Envoy Urges End to Israeli-Palestinian Fighting

By VOA News

U.S. Mideast Envoy Anthony Zinni said it is a time for Israel and the Palestinians to end their months of fighting. He and Undersecretary of State William Burns, Wednesday, met with Palestinian officials in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Zinni said that the Israeli-Palestinian violence needs to be brought to a halt and the parties have to get back to peace negotiations. The U.S. envoy said both sides have suffered far too much and it is, "time for a change."

Zinni, a retired Marine Corps general, said his mission is to get the parties in the conflict to lay down their arms and observe a ceasefire agreement negotiated earlier this year by CIA chief George Tenet.

The ceasefire, which has failed to hold, is meant to lay the groundwork for implementing the recommendations of the international inquiry into the violence. Former Senator George Mitchell led the inquiry.
Arafat said he is "exerting 100-percent effort" to reach a comprehensive and lasting peace. The Palestinian leader called for Zinni to draw up a "mechanism and timeline" to implement the Tenet and Mitchell plans. One of the recommendations of the Mitchell plan is for a freeze on the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, Zinni and Burns told Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that the expansion of settlements in the territories must cease. Zinni also flew with Sharon in a helicopter over Israel and the West Bank to see first-hand the country's security problems.

The Palestinians took the two U.S. officials on a car tour of Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank to illustrate the impact of Israeli military raids, blockades, and Jewish settlements on Palestinian communities.

Fourteen months of Israel-Palestinian violence has claimed nearly 1,000 lives, most of them Palestinians.


Pope Convenes Meeting of Middle Eastern Prelates

By VOA News

Pope John Paul II has called a meeting next month of leading Roman Catholic prelates from the Middle East to discuss the future of Christians in the Holy Land.

A spokesman says the meeting will take place in Vatican City December 13. The Vatican spokesman says the pope invited leaders of various Catholic rites from the Holy Land for what was termed a "purely pastoral" meeting that would not involve politics. The spokesman said the purpose of the meeting is to show commitment to a continued Christian presence in the Holy Land.

Vatican sources say the Pope is concerned about increased violence and discrimination in the Middle East.


Israeli Scientists Halt Diabetes

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Research published in the November 24th issue of the Lancet journal has shown that a unique approach developed by a team of Israeli scientists, led by Weizmann Institute Professor Irun Cohen, can halt the progression of juvenile, or insulin-dependent, diabetes.

The approach involves treating the newly-diagnosed diabetes patient with a small peptide fragment known as p277, which shuts down the misdirected immune response that causes the destruction of pancreatic cells in diabetes patients. "The peptide essentially acts to reeducate the immune cells, switching off their destructive activity," Cohen said.
The peptide fragment has been commercialized by the Peptor biopharmaceutical company from Rehovot into an experimental drug, DiaPep277.

According to a Weizmann Institute press release, the research using DiaPep277 proved that patients receiving the drug "showed a halt or delay in the attack upon, or destruction of their pancreatic insulin-producing cells by the immune system. These results were evident in the level of the body's own insulin production and in a decreased need for insulin injections." The researchers reported no significant side effects stemming from the use of DiaPep277.






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