Although it is too early to call it a breakthrough, the upbeat assessment of Wednesday’s summit in the Gaza Strip between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Yasir Arafat sets the stage for talks next week in Washington between the two leaders and President Bill Clinton.
There were a number of signals early this week that a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Yasir Arafat may take place while both men are here to address the United Nations General Assembly. It would be their first in 11 months.
Calling it a “real victory for the community,” the chief operating officer of UJA-Federation of New York announced that the 1998 annual campaign that ended June 30 had raised $123 million, a record $6 million more than the previous year.
“The record campaign, while certainly helped by a strong economy, also reflects a renewed commitment to the importance of the annual campaign and to federated giving,” said the official, John Ruskay. The $123 million figure represents a gain of 5 percent over last year.
In a major move to strengthen waning Israeli-diaspora relations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans for the first time to include a separate line in next year’s budget to help foster Jewish education overseas.
Netanyahu revealed his intentions in a June 23 meeting with leaders of the Jewish Agency, Trade Minister Natan Sharansky and Charles Goodman, former president of the Council of Jewish Federations, according to his diaspora affairs adviser, Bobby Brown.
Jerusalem — Alice, a 15-year-old with a blue kerchief around her head and a cigarette dangling from her fingers, was clearly upset to be living in a supervised home for troubled girls in Jerusalem.
She was displeased, too, about speaking with visitors on a UJA-Federation mission from New York.
“She has a real in-your-face attitude,” observed one of the visitors, Jane Grauer of White Plains.
Joyce Silver smiled broadly as her companion, Jess Koch of Manhattan, joked with an elderly woman making puppets at Lifeline for the Old in Jerusalem.
“This is what we need in our country,” said Silver. “We have to make these people feel wanted; it makes their eyes sparkle.”
Minutes later, the elderly woman motioned for Silver to sit beside her. Although they did not share a common language, the two women were quickly laughing and embracing.
Israel’s inner cabinet made official what its prime minister and defense minister have been proposing in recent weeks — Israel’s army will conditionally withdraw from southern Lebanon in accordance with a 20-year-old United Nations resolution.
But Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Dore Gold, said the UN has not been asked to play a role in the withdrawal.
The peace process moved fitfully along this week as Israel prepared for another round of Palestinian prisoner releases, the opening of a bypass road connecting the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, and the dismantling of 15 West Bank settlements.
A Hebrew version of Microsoft’s home page is expected to be up and running in early December as a result of a joint effort by the Microsoft Corp. and Internet Gold, Israel’s leading Internet service provider.
After meeting with Israeli, Syrian and Lebanese leaders, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he believed all were interested in advancing peace in the region, according to Israel’s UN ambassador, Dore Gold.
In an interview from Jerusalem, Gold said Annan made the comment after expressing appreciation for Israel’s pledge to withdraw from the 9-mile-wide buffer zone it maintains in southern Lebanon.