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20 May 1999 Edition

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Elections results bring hope for Palestine

The landslide election of Labour candidate Ehud Barak to the Israeli presidency has held out some hope of new life for the nearly defunct peace process in the autonomous territories of Palestine and the state of Israel. As pointed out by Shimon Peres, former minister with assassinated Yitznak Rabin's Labour government and second on the Labour Coalition's electoral list, the general election on Monday 17 May- was ``a referendum on the peace process''. The same position was adopted by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who tried to evade any questions on the election during the long electoral campaign and who called to the Israeli people to vote for peace.

But there were another factors that brought about the election of the Labour candidate. Obviously something has changed among the people of Israel, with more that 50% of the population accepting the creation of a Palestinian state. ``The desire for peace has grown'', said Peres. ``No one wants another war.'' And it seems that the majority of Israelis are looking forward to the rebuilding of relations with the Palestinian Authority and the neighbouring countries of Lebanon and Syria, as one of the compromises of new elected president Barak is the devolution of part of the Golan Heights to the Syrians as part of a peace agreement in the next twelve months.

The personality of the former Israeli president Netanyahu also played a part in his defeat. Netanyahu has shown the international community he is not a man to be trusted. As Peres pointed out: ``Netanyahu has destroyed the peace process and his credibility in front of our interlocutors. No one believes his promises or his words... I think that Netanyahu has diminished the value of words''.

There was also the religious issue. Secular Jews were not happy with the increasing influence of the Orthodoxy in the State's establishment as Netanyahu relied in the support of the religious class for the ruling of the country, as he did for his reelection.

Having obtained more than 50% of the votes, Barak became prime minister of the country without going to a second round, but at the same time, the composition of the parliament after the elections does not give the Labour Coalition a majority. Barak will have to look for partners.


A group of 25 Basque youths arrived in Dublin on Tuesday 18 May as part of a tour to highlight the Basque struggle for independence in different European countries. Dublin was the first stop on the Basque Youth's tour, where they met representatives from Ogra Shinn Féin and demonstrated at the gates of the Spanish and French embassies. Part of the delegation travelled to Belfast to meet with representatives of SDLP and Sinn Féin.

In other news from the Basque Country, in an interview published by the Basque newspapers Gara and Egunkaria, the Basque organisation ETA (Basque Homeland and freedom) said that it would be ready to talk to the Spanish government if the government respects the political process opened with the Lizarra Garazi Agreement. During the interview, ETA volunteers disclosed that there has been a first contact between the parties when ETA made ``an official statement'' of their position in relation to the Basque conflict and its resolution.

The rich get richer


Are you a ``high net worth individual''? In layman's terms are you rich? The investment bank Merrill Lynch and Gemini Consultants have just concluded a survey on the six million people in the world who are dollar millionaires. Their World Wealth Report found that the collective wealth of the millionaire club grew by 12% last year to $21,600 billion.

This was in a year when many of the world's economies were ravaged by financial crises and collapsing financial markets. None of this was a problem for the world's rich as they just moved their wealth ``offshore'' from the economies in recession.

Once the crisis was over, the millionaries in South America and Asia brought their wealth back to their domestic economies. It seems that there is a global village but only for the rich. The world's super-wealthy are truly international citizens, untrammeled by national boundaries. They follow the profits and the wealth, leaving the rest us ``onshore'' doing the work.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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