Mideast Report

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JERUSALEM (JPS) — The Golan Residents Committee announced Tuesday that it is renewing its public campaign against any withdrawal from the region.

The group is proceeding with its plans despite having intended to postpone any activities at least until the end of the 30-day mourning period for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Committee chairman Eli Malka said the decision had been taken in light of the apparent willingness of Prime Minister Shimon Peres to contemplate full withdrawal in return for a peace treaty with Syria.

A statement issued by the committee Tuesday said Golan residents were deeply concerned over Peres's intention to withdraw from the Golan.

The group's statement said Peres, who had previously announced his intention to follow the same path as Rabin, was breaking all the "red lines" to which his predecessor was obligated.

The committee is also pressing for an urgent meeting with Peres before his scheduled meeting with President Bill Clinton on Dec. 11.

"We had intended not to make any comments or take any action at least until the end of the shloshim for Yitzhak Rabin, but the politicians haven't let us mourn in peace," Malka said.

"There is a feeling that Peres might try to take advantage of the shock that is still being felt throughout the country over the assassination to carry out a maneuver," he said.

Malka warned that the committee would not sit idly by if any steps were taken that were likely to lead to a withdrawal from the Golan.

Leah Rabin to meet with pope in Rome

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The widow of slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin will reportedly have an audience with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican next month.

The pontiff requested the meeting after learning that Leah Rabin planned to attend a memorial service for her late husband in Rome, Israel Radio reported.

Israel devalues shekel by 1.5%

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel devalued the shekel by 1.5 percent Monday, amid heavy demand for foreign currency in the business sector.

The devaluation resulted in a new rate of 3.1 shekels to the dollar.

The strong demand for foreign currency came amid concerns about possible cuts in the state budget by the new government being formed by Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

The cuts could lead to a drop in interest rates and a consequent shekel devaluation of 3 percent to 4 percent against the dollar.

Excavators uncover cache of old coins

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hundreds of gold and silver coins dating from the end of the Bar Kochba revolt have been found near an archaeological site in the Modi'in area, where last week road workers discovered a tomb linked to the Maccabees.

The remains of a Second Temple-period village was also found nearby, as were ruins of a building similar to synagogues found at the Masada and Gamla archaeological sites, Israel Radio reported.

IDF, Jordan merge efforts on manhunt

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli and Jordanian security forces Tuesday coordinated the hunt for a gunman who opened fire on an Israel Defense Force patrol in the Beit She'an Valley, lightly wounding an Israeli soldier.

A four-hour search for the gunman took place.

He was shot dead after he pointed a gun at Israeli soldiers, who found him hiding in an overgrown area near the site of the first shooting.