Israel Resource Review 22nd February, 2000


Basic Agreement Between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israeli Reaction


The Holy See, the Sovereign Authority of the Catholic Church, and the Palestine Liberation Organization (hereinafter: PLO), the Representative of the Palestinian People working for the benefit and on behalf of the Palestinian Authority:

Deeply aware of the special significance of the Holy Land, which is inter alia a privileged space for inter-religious dialogue between the followers of the three monotheistic religions;

Having reviewed the history and development of the relations between the Holy See and the Palestinian People, including the working contacts and the subsequent establishment - on October 26, 1994 - of official relations between the Holy See and the PLO;

Recalling and confirming the establishment of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission to identify, study and address issues of common interest between the two Parties;

Reaffirming the need to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, so that all its nations live as good neighbours and work together to achieve development and prosperity for the entire region and all its inhabitants;

Calling for a peaceful solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which would realize the inalienable national legitimate rights and aspirations of the Palestinian People, to be reached through negotiation and agreement, in order to ensure peace and security for all peoples of the region on the basis of international law, relevant United Nations and its Security Council resolutions, justice and equity;

Declaring that an equitable solution for the issue of Jerusalem, based on international resolutions, is fundamental for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, and that unilateral decisions and actions altering the specific character and status of Jerusalem are morally and legally unacceptable;

Calling, therefore, for a special statute for Jerusalem, internationally guaranteed, which should safeguard the following:

a. Freedom of religion and conscience for all.

b. The equality before the law of the three monotheistic religions and their institutions and followers in the City.

c. The proper identity and sacred character of the City and its universally significant, religious and cultural heritage.

d. The Holy Places, the freedom of access to them and of worship in them.

e. The Regime of "Status Quo" in those Holy Places where it applies;

Recognizing that Palestinians, irrespective of their religious affiliation, are equal members of Palestinian society;

Concluding that the achievements of the aforementioned Bilateral Permanent Working Commission now amount to appropriate matter for a first and Basic-Agreement, which should provide a solid and lasting foundation for the continued development of their present and future relations, and for the furtherance of the Commission' s on-going task,

Agree on the following Articles:

Article 1

Paragraph 1:

The PLO affirms its permanent commitment to uphold and observe the human right to freedom of religion and conscience, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other international instruments relative to its application.

Paragraph 2:

The Holy See affirms the commitment of the Catholic Church to support this right and states once more the respect that the Catholic Church has for the followers of other religions.

Article 2

Paragraph 1:

The Parties are committed to appropriate cooperation in promoting respect for human rights, individual and collective, in combating all forms of discrimination and threats to human life and dignity, as well as to the promotion of understanding and harmony between nations and communities.

Paragraph 2:

The Parties will continue to encourage inter-religious dialogue for the prom otion of better understanding between people of different religions.

Article 3

The PLO will ensure and protect in Palestinian Law the equality of human and civil rights of all citizens, including specifically, inter alia, their freedom from discrimination, individually or collectively, on the ground of religious affiliation, belief or practice.

Article 4

The regime of the "Status Quo" will be maintained and observed in those Christian Holy Places where it applies.

Article 5

The PLO recognizes the freedom of the Catholic Church to exercise her rights to carry out, through the necessary means, her functions and traditions, such as those that are spiritual, religious, moral, charitable, educational and cultural.

Article 6

The PLO recognizes the rights of the Catholic Church in economic, legal and fiscal matters: these rights being exercised in harmony with the rights of the Palestinian authorities in these fields.

Article 7

Full effect will be given in Palestinian Law to the legal personality of the Catholic Church and of the canonical legal persons.

Article 8

The provisions of this Agreement are without prejudice to any agreement hitherto in force between either Party and any other party.

Article 9

The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission, in accordance with such instructions as may be given by the respective Authorities of the two Parties, may propose further ways to address items of this Agreement.

Article 10

Should any controversy arise regarding the interpretation or the application of provisions of the present Agreement, the Parties will resolve it by way of mutual consultation.

Article 11

Done in two original copies in the English and Arabic languages, both texts being equally authentic. In case of divergency, the English text shall prevail.

Article 12

This Agreement shall enter into force from the moment of its signature by the two Parties.

Signed in the Vatican, fifteenth of February, 2000

Israel Expresses Displeasure Over Vatican-PLO Agreement
Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman

Israel expresses its great displeasure with the declaration made today in Rome by the Holy See and the PLO, which includes the issue of Jerusalem, and other issues which are subjects of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on permanent status. The agreement signed by these two parties constitutes a regretful intervention in the talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

There is no denying that Israel safeguards freedom of conscience and freedom of worship for all, and provides free access to the holy places of all faiths. Similarly, there is no question that the religious and cultural character of Jerusalem is being preserved as are the rights of all the religious communities and their institutions in the city.

Consequently, Israel flatly rejects the reference to Jerusalem in the aforementioned document. Jerusalem was, is, and shall remain the capital of the State of Israel, and no agreement or declaration by these or any other parties will change this fact.

The apostolic nuncio, the representative of the Holy See in Israel, has been called to an urgent meeting tomorrow at the Foreign Ministry with the ministry's Director-General Eytan Bentsur.

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Letter From MK Uzi Landau To President Clinton Protesting US Activities Inside Israel

The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton
President of the United States of America
The White House
Washington, DC

February 14, 2000

Dear President Clinton,

I would like to draw your attention to a matter of grave concern that threatens to cast a shadow over the special relationship between Israel and the United States, which we all hold so dear.

The following headline appeared in Yediot Aharonot, Israel's most widely-read newspaper, on February 11: "U.S Embassy Tries to mobilize Arab support in the Referendum".

According to the article, senior U.S. Embassy officials have of late conducted a series of meetings with Israeli Arab leaders. The express aim of these meetings, according to the report, is to pressure Arab leaders to produce a large turnout among their constituency in the event that a referendum is held regarding the future of the Golan Heights, as the Arab vote could prove decisive.

In addition, the report states that the U.S. diplomats promised to arrange financial assistance to back information campaigns that will be undertaken by Israeli Arab groups for this purpose. In response, the U.S. Embassy spokesman did not deny this information.

If the information in the article is accurate, this would constitute an unprecedented an intolerable act of gross interference in Israel's internal affairs. I can not emphasize enough the severity of this act, which demonstrates blatant disregard for the most elementary norms of accepted international behavior between states and nations. For over fifty years, the U.S.-lsrael relationship has been based on intimate ties of friendship and mutual trust.

There can be no greater blow to a friendship, be it between two people or two nations, than a breach of faith. I pray this is not the case.

Accordingly, I request that you immediately instruct the American Ambassador to Israel and the U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem, as well as all American diplomats posted to Israel, to investigate this matter, and if it turns out to be true, to refrain forthwith from any and all such activity. I would also like to request that the Secretary of State reiterate publicly America's commitment to refrain from interfering in Israel's internal decision-making process.

The people of Israel may have to face troubling and fateful decisions in the months and years ahead. We have the right to expect that our closest friends and allies will allow us to make such decisions by ourselves.


Uzi Landau
Member of Knesset
Knesset Controller Committee

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Israel's Double Standard of Antisemitsm:
"Say No to Haider" and Say Nothing About Assad and Arafat
by David Bedein

The World Zionist Organization this week hired a major public relations firm to mobilize world opinion against the inclusion of the rightist Jorgen Haider in the new Austrian government coalition.

The slogan adopted by the WZO campaign: SAY NO TO HAIDER

Haider had gained notoriety over the past few years, praising his parents for their service in the SS, issuing a slew of statements that rationalized almost every action used by the Nazi regime before and during World War II, and,to make matters worse, when Haider finally issued a "conciliatory" statement to acknowledge Austrian responsibilty for Jewish slave labor during the war, he qualified compensation for these slave laborers with compensation for the families of Austrian prisoners of war on the Russian front.

Quite an equation, no?

Haider does not only look towards the past - he proclaims, over and over, that Austria should close its doors to "foreign elements", and openly speaks of using methods that the SS were famous for in order to rid Austria of any unwelcome foreigners . . .

Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, and Israel's foreign minister David Levy joined the chorus of European condemnation of Haider and called back Israel's ambassador to Austria, while ordering the cancellation of any and all Israeli cultural and educational activities and exchange programs with Austria.

Yet the swift response of the Israeli government and the WZO to Haider's ascension to the Austrian gov't stands in stark contrast to their lack of reaction to the official antisemitism of the Syrian government and the Palestinian Authority.

A case in point: When Tishrin, the official newspaper of the Syrian government, ran a January 26th front page editorial that compared Israel to a Nazi regime, Prime Minister Barak refused to issue any statement in this regard. When our news agency called his office to ask why, his spokesman said, on the record, that "there is no reason to issue a statement in this regard". This reaction from Barak is nothing new. Since entering office, Barak's office has yet to respond to any instance of Palestinian Authority or Syrian incitement against Israel. Even the new curriculum that was recently adopted by the Palestinian Authority, which prepares a new generation to make war to liberate all of Palestine, has elicited no response from the Barak governmemt.

However, the reaction of the Israeli government and the World Zionist Organization against the inclusion of of an antisemite in the regime of a government in the twenty first century has created a precedent. The question is whether Israel will apply it to the Moslem world with whom it is currently pursuing a peace process. Otherwise, we will witness a double standard for tolerance Jew hatred - one for the west and one for Israel's Arab neighbors.

Israel has taken its step against Haider, in close coordination with the European Union and with the US and Canada. While the western world was condemning Haider, PA chairman Yassir arafat dispatched a letter of praise to the Austrian government for inclding Haider, and Assad's official Tishrin newspaper wrote on January 26, 2000: "Israel enjoys playing the game of interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries under the guise of what it calls anti-Semitism . . . . This Israeli anti-Semitism, which reached the level of material blackmail, as happened in Germany and then in Switzerland, under the slogan of the Nazi crematoria, continues today in regard to Austria . . . . This is not the first time Austria suffers from such Israeli blackmail. In the past, this blackmail was launched at Austrian President Kurt Waldheim on the basis of the same false allegations. However, the Austrian people were on guard, supported Waldheim, and foiled the Zionists' interference . . ." (article located and translated by MEMRI, the Middle East Media and Research Institute in Washington, DC)

Our news agency asked for reaction from the Israeli prime minister's office and from the World Zionist Organization to the sanction of Jorgen Haider accorded by the official media of Syria and the Palestinian Authority. None was forthcoming, except for a telephone call from the spokesman of the World Zionist Organization to say that the chairman of the WZO was "shocked" to hear of the Syrian government media embrace of Haider.

Yes, a double standard is in force.

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The Barak Campaign Investigation:
Not a Question of Donors - a Matter of Integrity
by David Bedein

The evolving scandal concerning Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's election campaign has little to do with foreign contributions, as emphasized in the recent "spin" that has appeared in most of the foreign media. Instead, the scandal has much to do with Barak's handling of phony non-profit organizations that were founded overnight to help the Barak campaign.

Israeli political campaigns had previously witnessed foreign campaign contributions, not all of which had been entirely legal. That is nothing new.

What is new is that the Registrar of Israel's Non-Profit Organization Authority in the Israel Ministry of Interior and the Israel State Comptroller have both issued unprecedented scathing reports concerning another subject entirely -- that twenty three fictitious health, education and welfare organizations were spawned by the Barak campaign overnight, all of which laundered funds to the Barak campaign.

There had been an unwritten rule in the Israeli public sector, which is that no one should use non-profit organizations as a conduit to funnel money for Israeli political candidates, let alone create them for that purpose. Non-profit organizations have literally built the infrastructure of the state of Israel, chanelling generos contributions to the Jewish state from Jews and non-Jews who have wanted to make the young state of Israel flourish, so that it could fulfill its national purpose, which is to gather in Jews from the four corners of the globe.

Barak broke that cardinal rule. The chances are that Barak and his supporters, both in Israel and abroad, will pay for that breach of trust.

In Israel, foreign campaign contributions remains a misdemeanor, for which many Israeli political parties have been fined. However, fraud in the transfer of funds through fictitious non-profit organizations remains a felony, both in the US and in Israel.

Israel had never before witnessed such a violation of the public trust during a political campaign - and that is what is now being investigated by the Israeli police and by the FBI.

Herein lies the scandal of the Israeli 1999 political campaign.

The question that the American administration will ask itself is the same question that the Israeli electorate now asks: Is Ehud Barak a man of integrity?

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Faulty Peripheral Vision of Goliath May Have Aided David in his Historic Battle in the Elah Valley
by Tom Gross
Media Consultant to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Beer-Sheva, Israel

Beer-Sheva, February 16, 2000 - Goliath, the giant and fearsome Philistine warrior of the Bible, may have suffered from visual field impairment, a condition working in favor of David in his historic battle with the renowned soldier, according to Prof. Vladimir Berginer, of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Berginer is a neurologist who has treated patients with acromegaly - a disease of the pituitary gland associated with gigantism, restricted fields of vision and other pathological symptoms.

Prof. Berginer points out that giants of staggering proportions generally suffer from acromegaly, a condition that was only recognized as a disease in the 19th century. In acromegaly, a tumor of the pituitary gland (known in medical parlance as a macroadenoma) releases large amounts of growth hormone, causing abnormal growth of the skeleton and other tissues.

According to Berginer, acromegaly patients can also suffer from impaired eyesight, caused by pressure of the tumor on the cross-over point of the optic nerves (the optic hiasma). If Goliath did indeed have acromegaly and his vision was impaired, young David could have approached Goliath from the side without being observed.

Gigantism affects people who develop acromegaly before the normal growth spurts of childhood and adolescence. When not treated, patients with such pituatary tumors can eventually reach towering height. According to the Bible, Goliath was 6 cubits, approximately three meters, or 9 ft. 10 in. The famous pituitary giant at the Ringling Brothers Circus in the U.S., Robert Wadlow, was 8 ft. 11.1 in. tall.

Project to build memorial to David's victory

While examining the neurological aspects of the David and Goliath battle, Berginer went to the site of the event in the Elah Valley, south of Beit-Shemesh in Israel, and was surprised to find no sign or monument to mark the event.

"I found it curious," says Berginer, "that although the heroic story of the Jewish mass suicide on Masada is at the focus of Israeli culture, David's victory over Goliath in the Elah Valley has been largely overlooked." According to Berginer, David's victory has become a symbol of the triumph of good over evil and of spiritual faith over physical power that ought to be recognized.

Berginer founded "David's Victory," a voluntary, nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a memorial to this historic battle, in coordination with Kibbutz Netiv-Halamedhei and the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council. They hope the memorial will become a central educational and tourist attraction for Israelis and foreigners alike.

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