Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel has handed over to the Palestinians seven spheres of civil responsibility in the West Bank.

The transfer of authority, which took place Sunday of last week, covers the following areas: local government, statistics, fuel, labor, agriculture, trade and insurance.

An eighth sphere, postal responsibility, was not transferred because of remaining differences between the two sides over how it should be implemented.

Under the terms of a so-called "early empowerment" agreement between the two sides, Israel transferred to the Palestinians between August and December 1994 five other areas of civil responsibility in the West Bank — education, welfare, tourism, health and taxation.

The deputy head of the Israeli Civil Administration, David Bar-El, said Israel would provide some $4 million in the coming weeks to help the Palestinians launch its administration of these new areas of control.

Palestinians refuse to extradite 2 men

JERUSALEM (JTA) — For the second time in two months, the Palestinian Authority has refused an Israeli request to extradite two men suspected of killing Jews.

In the latest incident, a Palestinian court in the West Bank self-rule enclave of Jericho sentenced two men to jail on Tuesday who are wanted in Israel for the July killings of two Israelis, Ohad Bachrach and Uri Shahor, in Wadi Kelt, a popular hiking spot in the Judean desert.

Israel suspects that the men, cousins Shaher Ali Al-Ra'i and Yousef Muhammad Al-Ra'i, were involved in the Wadi Kelt murders. Both are members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Palestinian group that opposes the peace process.

According to Khaled Al-Kidra, the self-rule authority's general prosecutor, a Palestinian military tribunal sentenced each of the men to 12 years in prison. The convictions effectively blocked their extradition to Israel.

They were convicted of disturbing the public order and of incitement against the peace process. But the charge sheet made no mention of the murders.

Israel is holding a third suspect in the murders.

This week's incident raised anew questions over whether the Palestinian Authority has allowed Jericho to be turned into a safe haven for terrorists.

"We cannot tolerate areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority becoming a sanctuary for murderers," Justice Minister David Libai told Israel Radio.

IDF kills 3 gunmen in Lebanon clashes

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Three gunmen from the fundamentalist Hezbollah movement were killed Monday in clashes with Israel Defense Force troops in Israel's southern Lebanon security zone.

The gunmen were on their way to carry out an attack against IDF and South Lebanon Army soldiers, the newspaper Yediot Achronot reported.

The clash reportedly occurred when the IDF troops came upon a squad trying to enter the security zone.

Two gunmen were killed in the exchange of fire, and the third after a chase, Israeli sources said.

The incident was part of a series of encounters in recent weeks in which IDF troops killed some 20 gunmen in southern Lebanon during operations and clashes.

83 Israelis killed in attacks in 5755

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Eighty-three Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks over the past year, while one Palestinian was killed by Israeli civilians, Peace Watch says.

The list was released last week to mark the second anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords and the exchange of letters between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on Sept. 9, 1993.

According to Peace Watch figures, the number of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks has risen by 73 percent since the letters were signed, compared with the previous two years.

There have been 149 Israelis killed in terror attacks since the agreement — 66 the first year and 83 the second, compared to 86 in the two years before.

The report shows a sharp drop in the number of Palestinians killed in clashes with the Israeli security forces. From October 1993 to August 1995, 159 Palestinians were killed in clashes, while from October 1991 to October 1993, the number stood at 264.

Photo exhibit backs Israel-Jordan peace

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The peace between Israel and Jordan has been given visual voice in an exhibit that opened recently in Tel Aviv, featuring the work of Jordanian and Israeli photographers.

The exhibit at the Eretz Yisrael Museum, "Camera With No Boundaries," displayed the work of five photographers, two Jordanian and three Israeli, who captured on film their impressions of each other's countries.

One of the Jordanian photographers told Israel Radio that he had focused on the agricultural settlements along the Jordan River, "because I have always wanted to see the region from the other side of the border."

Jordanian Mihiran Kizirian focused on the Mediterranean coast.

"I wanted to come take pictures of people in Tel Aviv," Kizirian said.