Newsletter : 2fax0227.txt
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>JN Vol. 10, No. 36, Feb. 27, 2002
Bush Welcomes Saudi Peace Initiative
By VOA News
President George W. Bush has welcomed a Saudi initiative for Middle
East peace. Bush phoned Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah
Tuesday to discuss the initiative. A White House spokesman said
Bush praised the ideas regarding full Arab-Israeli normalization
once a comprehensive peace agreement is reached.
But the spokesman also said Bush believes the step towards
Palestinian-Israeli peace should be the implementation of proposals
already on the table to end the violence.
The Saudi crown prince, who is his nation's de-facto ruler, floated
a proposal in The New York Times last week offering Arab diplomatic
recognition of Israel and normal relations if it withdraws from all
land it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, including the Old
City of Jerusalem. The crown prince said he was withholding formal
presentation of the plan because of recent Israeli actions in the
West Bank and Gaza.
Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said the Saudi plan contained
positive elements and should be encouraged. Foreign Minister Shimon
Peres, during talks in France, hailed the Saudi initiative as a
positive development. He said Saudi Arabia, for the first time, is
openly taking the side of the peace process in the Middle East.
Secretary of State Colin Powell described the Saudi proposal as an
important step and expressed hope the proposal will be fleshed
out in greater detail in the weeks ahead.
But a Saudi newspaper editorial has dismissed Israel's invitation
to the crown prince to present his peace initiative in Jerusalem.
The Al-Watan editorial marked the first Saudi reaction to an
Israeli offer for official visits.
On Monday, Israeli President Moshe Katsav invited Crown Prince
Abdullah to Jerusalem to give details about his proposal for
Arab-Israeli peace. Katsav also said he would visit Saudi Arabia
if invited. Al-Watan called the Israeli suggestion a "maneuver."
The Saudi newspaper said an exchange of visits would occur only to
solidify agreements that had been signed, not at the start of an
initiative. The editorial said an Arab League leaders summit in
Beirut slated for March 27-29 would decide the fate of the
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's Fatah rejected the peace
proposal, revealing much about its own true intentions in the
process. Fatah questioned Saudi Arabia's right to "propose
initiatives that give up the territories occupied since 1948...at
a time when Palestinian Intifada and resistance are increasing and
the 'enemy' suffers a deep strategic crisis." It also complained
that the plan "ignores the right of return for more than five
million Palestinian refugees."
Arafat Agrees to Resume Security Talks with Israel
By VOA News
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat said he is ready to resume security
talks with Israel, as continuing violence claims more lives. Arafat
spoke to reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after a
meeting with the European Union foreign policy chief, Javier
Palestinians suspended security talks after Israel announced Sunday
that it will continue to keep Arafat confined in Ramallah. Israeli
tanks pulled out of Palestinian-ruled areas of Ramallah, but remain
deployed around the city's perimeter.
Meanwhile, in violence Monday, Palestinian gunmen killed two
Israelis near a West Bank Jewish settlement, not far from
Bethlehem. And at least 10 Israelis were wounded when Palestinian
gunmen opened fire near a bus stop in East Jerusalem. One of the
gunmen was killed by Israeli police.
Elsewhere, in separate incidents in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers
shot and killed two Palestinians, including a 16-year-old girl.
Peres Denies France is Anti-Semitic
By Lisa Bryant (VOA-Paris)
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, during a joint press
conference in Paris with French President Jacques Chirac, denied
that the official position of Israel does not view France as an
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has expressed concern about a wave of
attacks on Jewish schools and institutions in France. Last month,
an Israeli official called France Europe's most anti-Semitic
country, and there are new Israeli efforts to get French Jews to
French officials have strongly denied the Israeli charges. And
Chirac said Tuesday he was shocked and hurt by the accusations.
and that French authorities were quick to crack down on any
acts against the Jewish community.
Terrorist's Body Wrapped In Pigskin
Residents of Gush Katif recently took matters into their own hands.
Rabbi Yosef Al-Nekaveh said as the residents were evacuating the
bodies of three murdered Israelis, they placed pig fat and pigskin
on the body of the dead terrorist.
The rabbi said that a "right-wing kibbutznik" had supplied them
with the swinish tissues. Arab Knesset members responded with
outrage. Ahmed Tibi said, "This is a pig-like act of a man who is
not worthy of being a rabbi."
Knesset member Tzvi Hendel said, "If these primitive murderers
stuff their brains with nonsense about Paradise and
who-knows-how-many virgins waiting only for them, then they
certainly believe in the other nonsense that being buried with
pigskin blocks their way to Paradise."
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