The ink was barely dry on the Gaza and West Bank evacuation orders Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon signed Sunday when speculation began about difficulties after the withdrawal is completed.
There are serious concerns that the entire process might collapse and Palestinian violence return. Should that happen, Sharon said this week, Israel’s military would respond.
The chairman of a committee of Israeli banks insisted last week at a press conference here that the banks never hoarded the deposits of Holocaust victims, but said they were willing to pay more to the heirs of survivors who were found to be shortchanged by the system when their money was returned.
“We acted in good faith and did everything required,” said the official, Eitan Raff, who is also chairman of the Leumi Group, on Feb. 3. “For us it is not an issue of money. It’s one of normative behavior and conscience.”
Even as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas raised expectations with their almost identical pledges for an end to violence, Sharon’s own political fortunes at home were not as bright.
He faces a fight with his own foreign minister and other members of his party who are supporting calls for a referendum on the Gaza withdrawal plan. And Sharon does not yet have enough votes in the Knesset to win passage of the 2005 budget. If it does not pass by March 31, his government would collapse and new elections would be held.
Haifa — The scientific race to build smaller and smaller electronic circuits, medical equipment and other devices took a giant leap forward this week with the announcement that the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology here has established a new $88 million nanotechnology institute.
Jerusalem — Opponents of the Gaza disengagement plan are focusing their efforts now on more street demonstrations to force either a referendum on the issue or the collapse of the Sharon government. But they acknowledge that their chances of success are slim.“I think this [turnout] is very good,” said Mordechai Afargan, 23, a yeshiva student from Ashdod, as he scanned the estimated 150,000 who gathered Sunday night in front of the Knesset. “This is the biggest rally we have had here and they say it is going to be the turning point.”
by Stewart Ain and Joshua Mitnick |
Jerusalem — In a move that strikes at the heart of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, the Jewish National Fund would sever all legal ties to the state to prevent anyone but Jews from building on the land it owns, according to a proposal under consideration by the Sharon government.
The proposal stems from a statement last week by Israel’s attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, that JNF cannot prevent Israeli Arabs from applying for building plots on land it owns.