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IDF Plans to Rent Out Training Facility


The IDF plans to rent out a training facility in Tzeelim to foreign troops.

The urban-warfare training facility includes hundreds of buildings and an audio system simulating the sounds of urban life and of battle. IDF officials have offered foreign armies package deals that include housing and classes.

Officials say that several groups have expressed interest, some in order to learn more about urban warfare and others to improve crime-fighting techniques.

Is Israel Planning to Allow 'Palestinian Refugees' to 'Return'?


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly has agreed in principle to allow a number of Palestinian Arabs living in what the United Nations terms refugee camps to enter Israel as part of an Israeli-Palestinian accord, according to a senior Palestinian negotiator speaking to WND.

Palestinians have long demanded the "right of return" for millions of "refugees," a formula Israeli officials across the political spectrum warn is code for Israel's destruction by flooding the Jewish state with millions of Arabs, thereby changing its demographics.

Allowing any number of so-called Palestinian refugees to enter Israel would serve as an admission on Israel's part that millions of Palestinians living in U.N.-maintained camps are indeed refugees and have a legitimate right to live in Israel.

The Palestinian negotiator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Olmert's team agreed in principle let a select number of Palestinians living in U.N.-maintained refugee camps into Israel in a series of phases that could take up to 15 years.

Though the negotiator said an exact number had not yet been determined, he indicated there could be as many as 20,000 Palestinians living in U.N. camps, with an initial phase of several hundred entering Israel with one year of an agreement. He said the first batch of entering Palestinian Arabs would consist of a sampling from the oldest residents of various U.N. camps.

David Baker, a spokesperson for Olmert, had no comment on the report Olmert agreed to allow a number of declared refugees to enter Israel.

The Palestinian negotiator said the Israeli and Palestinians teams have been hammering out the exact language to be used at a U.S.-sponsored summit slated for Annapolis later this month at which Olmert is widely expected to outline a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank in a joint agreement of principles signed by the Israeli leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Various media reports – denied by Olmert – claimed in recent weeks Israel would also evacuate sections of Jerusalem and would negotiate what are considered core Israeli-Palestinian issues – primarily the status of Jerusalem and the so-called return of refugees.

When Arab countries attacked the Jewish state after its creation in 1948, some 725,000 Arabs living within Israel's borders fled from the area that became Israel. Also at that time, about 820,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries or fled following rampant persecution.

While most Jewish refugees were absorbed by Israel and other countries, the majority of Palestinian Arabs have been maintained in 59 U.N.-run camps that do not seek to settle those Arabs elsewhere.

There are currently about 4 million Arabs who claim Palestinian refugee status with the U.N., including children and grandchildren of the original fleeing Arabs; Arabs living full-time in Jordan; and Arabs who long ago dispersed throughout the Middle East and to the West.

Other cases of worldwide refugees aided by the U.N. are handled through the international body's High Commission for Refugees, which seeks to settle the refugees quickly, usually in countries other than those from which they fled.

The U.N. created a special agency – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA – specifically to handle registered Palestinian refugees. It's the only refugee case handled by the U.N. in which the declared refugees are housed and maintained in camps for generations instead of facilitating the refugees' resettlement elsewhere.

The U.N. officially restricts the definition of refugee status worldwide for nationalities outside the Palestinian arena to those who fled a country of nationality or habitual residence due to persecution, who are unable to return to their place of residence and who have not yet been resettled. Future generations of original refugees are not included in the U.N.'s definition of refugees.

But the U.N. uses a different set of criteria only when defining a Palestinian refugee – allowing future generations to be considered refugees; terming as refugees those Arabs who have been resettled in other countries, such as hundreds of thousands in Jordan; removing the clause requiring persecution; and removing the clause requiring a refugee to be fleeing his or her "country of nationality or habitual residence" – allowing for transient Arabs who didn't normally reside within Israel to be defined as Palestinian refugees.

Palestinian leaders including Abbas routinely refer to the "right of return," claiming the declared right is mandated by the U.N. But the two U.N. resolutions dealing with the refugee issue recommend that Israel "achieve a just settlement" for the "refugee problem." The resolutions, which are not binding, do not speak of any "right of return," and leave open the possibility of monetary compensation or other kinds of settlements.

The Effect on the Real Estate Market of a Divided Jerusalem

By Baruch Finkelstein

Sellers who will sell cheap now out of fear that the market will decline, or buyers who will refrain from buying, will probably regret their decisions.

When taking into account the causes that influence the real estate market, one usually considers factors such as current trends in real estate purchases, the economy, stock market, mortgage rates, employment resources, the area's crime rate, transportation services, and a slew of other causes - including the threat of war. National suicide has yet to be considered. I have been asked by a number of citizens, what will happen to real estate prices if the government divides the city?

If the north-eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem fall into the hands of the Arabs, real estate prices will not be our main concern, we will have much bigger problems to worry about. However, the real estate market will reflect the national mood in the aftermath of a divided capital.

In the past, political events in Israel have affected the real estate market. In the early to mid-1990s, for instance, the citizens of Israel were intoxicated with the hope that Yitzchak Rabin would bring genuine and lasting peace. Real Estate prices skyrocketed, and developers profited almost wherever they put down their money. Fifty thousand units annually were built in those days, as opposed to about 25,000 annually in previous years.

But the political climate back then was not the only dynamic affecting the market. Mass immigration from the Soviet Union, and the sudden growth of the high-tech industry also played a role. In other words, the combination of national optimism, a housing shortage and a new upper middle class caused the real estate market to climb. It is therefore doubtful that the peace initiative alone ushered in the surge in real estate prices. In the late nineties, everything came to a halt as all three factors disintegrated. Immigration from the former Soviet Union slowed down, the high-tech bubble burst and the disastrous results of the Oslo agreement shattered the peace frenzy.

In 2000, when the Arab uprising struck, Jerusalem was the city that bore the brunt of Islamic terrorism and the prices of properties indicated the pessimistic and fearful attitude of the city's residents.

Based on this analysis, we would think that if the proposal to divide Jerusalem enjoys wide spread public support, and if there would be a real and lasting peace, than prices in the nation's capital will escalate. If however, the opposite is true, then prices will either decline or stand still.

However, life in Israel is unpredictable. Trends cannot always be explained rationally. One would have thought that the 2006 Lebanon war would have caused a decline in sales of homes up north. In actuality, the war triggered no change on the real estate market at all. Although Haifa is experiencing a real estate slump, this is due more to internal problems of that city rather than fear of scud missiles. In Kiryat Shimona the real estate market is strong as the city is enjoying an increase in sales.

We also must bear in mind that Jerusalem will not be the only city affected. The division of Jerusalem is slated to take place within the framework of a disengagement of Judea and Samaria – the heartland of Israel. It is likely that this will lead to the same disastrous result as the Disengagement from Gaza, with every city from Hadera to Be'er Sheva being in the range of Kassam rockets. What will happen to real estate prices in Kfar Saba, Ra'anana, Kochav Yair and Netanya if those cities are bombed as frequently as Sderot?

The neighborhoods that will see a certain and sudden drop in real estate value will be those Arab neighborhoods that will be annexed to Hamastan. Today in Shuafat, a standard four room apartment runs about $220,000, as Shuafat is one of the more expensive Arab neighborhoods. Once it is cut off from Israel, it will be under the control of terrorists and the violent atmosphere of Gaza will likely spread like poison gas to Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem. Prices of homes will plummet. What East Jerusalem resident is going to want to buy a house under Hamastanian rule instead of Israeli rule?

The proposal to divide Jerusalem will or will not come to pass. If the plan doesn't go through, the status quo will remain, and prices will be subject to ordinary market trends. If Jerusalem is divided, then the market will be shaped by the attitudes and events that will shape that period. We should therefore continue to conduct business as if the plan was not even a consideration.

Sellers who will sell cheap now out of fear that the market will decline, or buyers who will refrain from buying, will probably regret their decisions. People who are afraid to buy or sell anyway, will use this as an excuse to support their procrastination. As a resident of Binyamin, I am proud that the Jewish community here has never ceased to build and invest. Had we stopped development every time the settlement movement was threatened we would all still be living in trailers. I expect that same faith will be expressed in Jerusalem. From Joshua's time throughout modern times, Israel was built with faith, and will continue to be built with faith.

Baruch Finkelstein is an owner/broker of Remax Center in Jerusalem. Cell: 0545-251-219, e-mail

Israelis Remember Sadat visit

By Israel Faxx News Services

Israelis marked 30 years since Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's landmark visit.

Sadat flew to Israel on Nov. 19, 1977 to meet Prime Minister Menachem Begin and address the Knesset -- a visit that laid the groundwork for the Camp David peace accord the following year. Israeli media carried extensive retrospective reports Monday in honor of the 30th anniversary, though the tone was often rueful.

Ties between the Jewish state and the first Arab state to recognize it have been lackluster for years, and many Israelis fear new disappointments at the upcoming peace conference with the Palestinians in Annapolis, Md.

"This is the healthiest and best sign of the health of relations between the countries," Shalom Cohen, Israel's ambassador to Egypt, told Israel Radio. "I think that the dialogue between Israel and Egypt over the years has proved itself and passed the test."

Israel is Nearing 60: Will she Reach 61?

By Don Canaan

The modern-day chariot carrying Egyptian President Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat hugged the intermittently green coastline of Sinai on its historic mission to Jerusalem. Israelis glancing upward into the clear night sky saw merely a jet banking gently to the northwest.

Sadat wanted peace with Israel, but its price, Sadat insisted, had to include the removal of Israelis from Sinai's sands. That gift of peace silently glided overhead as the Sabbath disappeared and the stars appeared. At 8:01 p.m. Sadat's jetliner landed at Ben-Gurion Airport and the first minutes of a then potential peace came to the Middle East.

Old enemies became new friends. The crowds roared its approval when Sadat shook hands with Moshe Dayan. A person standing nearby, according to the Jerusalem Post, said Sadat told Dayan, "Don't worry Moshe, it will be all right."

The peace treaty between the two nations was signed on March 26, 1979 and on April 25, 1982, the events that had started on a November day at Camp David came to fruition. But Anwar Sadat did not live to see that day. He had been assassinated seven months before.

Amidst the rubbage and wreckage of destroyed dreams, the sun sets each night on paradise gone astray. As you remember this article, remember the youngsters who suddenly grew up--and who, even more suddenly, died.

Chestnut from Anne Frank Tree Goes on Sale on eBay

By Reuters

An Amsterdam resident has put for sale on eBay a chestnut that he says came from the tree that Anne Frank gazed upon while hiding from the Nazis, as activists fight to save the diseased tree from being felled.

"I had this idea for a few years, and then I saw that the tree was in the news and I decided to put the chestnut up for auction," said 34-year-old Charles Kuijpers, who lives next door to the garden where the tree stands.

City officials recently decided that the 27-ton tree was so diseased that the risk that the trunk could break was too great, and said that it would be removed on Wednesday.

At press time, bids for the chestnut reached $2,425 in the auction, which is titled "Grow your own Anne Frank tree with a chestnut."

The Jewish teenager described gazing longingly at the tree in the diary she kept during her two years in hiding. Anne and her family hid until they were betrayed and arrested in August 1944. The towering horse chestnut was one of the few examples of nature and normal life she could see.

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