SQUEEZING THE PALESTINIANS
Following a rash of terrorist attacks from Hamas, the Israeli government is taking steps likely to inflict deep economic pain on Palestinian areas for years to come. They could also threaten the peace process just as President Bill Clinton visits the Middle East.
Until the attacks, about half of the Palestinian workforce, or about 30,000 people, labored in Israel's construction industry. But in an attempt to thwart the terrorists, Israel has sealed off the West Bank and Gaza, keeping the laborers out. And now Israel is signaling that it wants to shift away from depending on Palestinian workers.
Following the suicide-bomber bus attack that killed more than 20 people in Tel Aviv, the government approved work permits for an additional 15,000 Asian workers for the construction industry. The government also extended the work permits of the 26,000 Polish, Turkish, Bulgarian, and Thai workers already employed in construction. So even if the current crisis eases, Palestinian workers are likely to find that their jobs are gone--permanently.
NO SCANDAL, PLEASE
Recent allegations of Tory corruption have left Prime Minister John Major's Conservative Party in chaos. The latest: Two ministers are accused of taking cash from lobbyists. Both have resigned. The scandal comes after a Gallup Poll showed that 61% of those questioned viewed the Tories as "sleazy and disreputable." To limit the damage, Major has taken the drastic step of creating a permanent panel to monitor the conduct of public officials.