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>PD OCTOBER 14, 1994, V2, #188


Heather Whitestone, the new Miss America, who is deaf, received an Israeli-made hearing aid for her left ear three months ago, enabling her to hear some music accompanying her dancing, and the voices of interviewers. The device was developed and produced in Israel by the I.V.R. Co.

Kidnapping Not Affecting Syrian Negotiations

By Ron Pemstein (Tel Aviv)

Secretary of State Warren Christopher has flown to Damascus, the next stop on his Middle East peace shuttle. The Israel-Syria negotiation will remain unaffected by the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin says the breakoff of Israeli-Palestinian talks because of the kidnaping of an Israeli soldier will not affect progress with Jordan and hope for progress with Syria.

Christopher told reporters in Tel Aviv, the kidnaping by the Hamas organization is a desperate action carried out because of progress in the peace process. "The area is changing, things are improving and in a sense Hamas is fighting a desperate rear-guard action. Things are changing, things are improving and Hamas will not be permitted to kill these hopes, to kill the prospects for peace."

Christopher says he understands Rabin's concentration on recovering the soldier and the decision will be up to the Israeli prime minister on when to restart talks with the Palestinians.

Palestinians Search Gaza for Kidnappers

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Police of the Palestinian Autonomy Authority rounded up hundreds of suspected radicals in Gaza overnight, in an effort to learn the whereabouts of a kidnapped Israeli soldier.

The Authority spent Wednesday trying to convince leaders of the radical group, Hamas, to release the captured soldier, Nachshon Waxman. When that approach did not work, the authority ordered its forces to move against Hamas activists. In addition, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat made a speech Thursday in which he vowed to crack down on his opponents and he indirectly criticized Iran for meddling in Palestinian affairs through its support for groups such as Hamas.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin says he made another telephone call to Arafat, demanding that he find Corporal Waxman and have him released. "I described the severe consequences if this will not happen to the continuation of the implementation of the Declaration of Principles between the Palestinians and Israel."

Israel has already suspended talks on the expansion of Palestinian autonomy, although both Rabin and Arafat say they want their peace accord to succeed in the long term.

US Secretary of State Warren Christopher met with Rabin in Tel Aviv on Thursday, and is scheduled to meet with Arafat in Cairo today. The secretary says the Hamas kidnapping is an act of desperation, and, like Rabin, he placed the responsibility for finding the soldier on Arafat and the Palestinian Autonomy Authority.

"It seems to be common ground now that Corporal Waxman is probably in the Gaza Strip. That's an area under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and therefore they bear a heavy responsibility in that territory. And that is why both the prime minister, who, of course, is the primary actor here, but also the United States, for all the emphasis that we can bring, have emphasized to Chairman Arafat his responsibility for the resolution of this matter."

The group, Hamas, which is holding the Israeli soldier, opposes the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord signed last year, and some Palestinian Autonomy officials say it is not reasonable for Israel to threaten to stop the peace process or to expect Arafat to arrange Corporal Waxman's release. Israel says the Palestinian Authority must control terrorism, or its territory will not be expanded.

Hamas says it will kill the 20-year-old Israeli soldier tonight (Israel time) unless Israel releases 200 of its members and supporters now in prison.

One of them, the elderly and ailing Hamas founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, apparently called for Waxman's safe release in an Israeli television broadcast Wednesday night. But the tape appeared to be heavily edited, and similar appeals by detained radicals have not stopped their comrades from killing Israeli hostages in the past.

Clinton to Arafat: Use Your Influence

By Deborah Tate (White House)

President Clinton is strongly condemning the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Nachshon Waxman by Hamas. Clinton is calling on Yasir Arafat, to use his influence to seek the release of Waxman.

According to White House Spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers, Clinton is condemning the abduction as cruel and cowardly. Myers said the president is urging Arafat to help seek the release of Corporal Waxman -- who holds dual US and Israeli citizenship -- and she says Clinton is pledging US support for the effort.

"The president expects Chairman Arafat to do all in his power to ensure that Corporal Waxman is returned safely to his family. The United States government will continue to work closely with the Israeli government and the Palestine authorities until Corporal Waxman is returned unharmed."

The Dichotomy of a Peace Prize and a Kidnapping

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

The winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are expected to be officially announced today. News reports say the recipients will be Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat. With more than a little irony, today is also the day Palestinian radicals say they will kill an Israeli soldier they are holding hostage -- a situation Rabin has called on Arafat to resolve. Meanwhile, talks on further implementing the peace accord they reached last year have been suspended. A variety of factors are coming together in today's events.

It is ironic to begin with that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders could become Nobel Peace Prize winners on a day when the talks aimed at implementing their historic peace accord are suspended. It would be still more ironic, indeed tragic, if Palestinian radicals kill a kidnapped Israeli on that same day, as they have threatened to do.

That is what it appears could happen, as reports from Oslo say the Nobel jury has decided to give the Peace Prize to Rabin and Arafat, and the radical group Hamas has set tonight as the time it will kill 20-year-old soldier Nachshon Waxman if Israel refuses to release some 200 of its members.

The two prospective events draw attention to several forces at work in the Middle East today. Rabin and Arafat are determined that their peace accord will succeed, and they have worked hard to make sure earlier terrorist attacks, from both sides, have not stopped its implementation. Indeed, to allow that would give the terrorists exactly what they want. Hamas disagrees with Arafat's decision that a Palestinian entity will live side-by-side with Israel. Hamas still wants to destroy Israel and take all its land for a Palestinian state.

Arafat is in a delicate political position. He does not want to start a Palestinian civil war, so he has not cracked down too hard on Hamas and other groups which oppose him. In addition, Arafat is planning to hold Palestinian elections, and a tough move against the radicals, if it succeeds, could alienate many Palestinian voters.

The radicals' adherence to the old Palestinian goals, and their willingness to risk their lives for them, gives them a certain romantic appeal among some Palestinians. That, combined with frustration over continuing economic problems under autonomy, have left Arafat somewhat weakened. But if he gives his opponents free rein, they could destroy the Palestinian state he is trying to build in Gaza and on the occupied West Bank.

Rabin is also in a delicate political position. He knows Arafat cannot control every move Hamas and similar groups make. And he knows implementation of the peace accord must continue in spite of some violence. But he is under intense political pressure not to continue giving land to the Palestinians if he would be, in effect, enlarging the terrorists' base of operations. That is why he has suspended talks on expanding autonomy pending the outcome of the kidnapping.

The Israeli prime minister must also worry about his talks with other Arab leaders -- particularly those in Jordan and Syria. But those talks do not appear to be threatened by the Hamas terrorism. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher is continuing his Israel-Syria shuttle, and Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres made their first official visit to the Jordanian capital, Amman, on Wednesday for talks with King Hussein. Rabin said those talks helped better define the key remaining issues of borders and water rights.

So as the day progresses in the Middle East today, many people will be thinking about Gaza and about Oslo -- Gaza, the headquarters of the Palestinian Autonomy Authority and of Hamas, and possibly the place where Nachshon Waxman will be killed, and Oslo, where Israeli and Palestinian officials held the secret talks which led to their peace agreement and where their leaders could be given the Nobel Peace Prize.

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