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>Israel Faxx
>PD Dec. 27, 1994, V2, #232

Clinton Names Indyk as Ambassador to Israel

Senior White House official Martin Indyk will be the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel. The new ambassador currently advises Clinton on Middle East affairs and has been heavily involved in U.S. Middle East peace efforts. Indyk will be the first American Jew to serve in the post.

Suicide Bomber Kills Self, Wounds 12 in Jerusalem

By Susan Sappir (Jerusalem) and Israel Faxx News Services

On Sunday, a 25-year-old Palestinian policeman who was said to have felt guilty about putting down riots in the Gaza Strip killed himself and wounded 12 Israelis as he attempted to blow up a bus filled with 35 soldiers outside the Binyenei Ha'ouma convention center. Glass and metal littered the main road leading into Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

The driver had just picked up the soldiers and airmen at 6:10 a.m., when the bomb went off. Ayman Radi, 25, was either carrying the explosives in a suitcase or strapped to his body. Hamas claimed responsibility for the 22-pound TNT attack.

Jerusalem's police chief says the bomb may have gone off earlier than planned as the streets got more crowded with commuters. He said if the charge had been detonated inside a bus, there would have been more casualties. In October a Hamas bomber blew himself up in a Tel Aviv bus, killing 22-other people.

Israel Army Radio quoted Radi's brother Talal, 21, as saying: "My brother proved that Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state and no one can prevent us from entering Jerusalem."

Before leaving for the Israeli capital, Radi left his family in Khan Younis a note saying the bombing would allow him "to go to heaven" as part of a Holy War against Israel.

Radi's body lay on the sidewalk next to the bus stop, his legs and one arm blown off.

One witness told Israel Radio: "Everybody got on the transport and the terrorist stayed in the bus stop. After we got on we saw him flying in the air."

"Suddenly I heard an explosion and glass hit me in the back," said Sara Greenberg, a 20-year-old tourist from Pittsburgh. She was treated at Hadassah Hospital.

At press time, it was unknown when and how Radi crossed the tightly controlled border between Israel and Gaza.

"Roadblocks and checkpoints are not a foolproof system," Police Commissioner Assaf Hefetz told the Associated Press. "Apparently (the bomber) had a mishap .. but there is no doubt that the assailant came ready with very strong explosives and I think we had a lot of luck."

PLO leader Yasir Arafat condemned the Jerusalem blast as a criminal attack against innocent civilians.

Ma'ariv editorialized Monday that the attack "is a reminder that the threat of Hamas suicide attacks is strong and present, and only the terrorists' difficulties in organizing are preventing deadlier and more frequent attacks." The newspaper calls on the security forces "to devote most of their energies and resourcefulness to Jerusalem," given the city's special situation and needs. The editors believe that "the danger of attacks in the city will further increase, as the decision over its future draws near," and urges the government to "bring uncompromising pressure to bear on the PLO so that it will help prevent terrorist attacks. Arafat must understand that continued terrorism is liable to put an end to the peace process."

Syria Says Talks Off; Israel Says No

By Peyman Pejman (Cairo)

The official Syrian news agency, Sana, says last week's meeting in Washington between Syrian and Israeli military officials was inconclusive and no further direct meetings are scheduled.

The press agency said Damascus has decided not to pursue direct contacts with Israel for the time being, because of "impossible Israeli demands."

The two countries' military chiefs met in Washington last week. It was their first face-to-face meeting in 10-months. Syria broke off talks with Israel in February to protest the killings of Palestinians in a mosque by a Jewish settler in the West Bank town of Hebron.

Sana's report was in contrast to reports coming from the Israeli side. Israeli officials attending the Washington talks told reporters Syrian and Israeli ambassadors will meet again after the New Year.

The Sana dispatch did not explain what the alleged impossible Israeli demands might be. But Saturday, the government-operated newspaper, Tishrin, said Syria objects to Israel's demands to maintain observation post on the Golan Heights.

Israel captured the Heights from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Will There Be a 1995 Syrian Peace?

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

1994 appears to be ending without a hoped-for peace agreement between Israel and Syria, in spite of a series of low-level direct contacts and high-level US mediation missions.

1994 began with much hope for peace between Israel and Syria. Syrian President Hafez al-Assad met with President Clinton in Geneva in January and declared he had made a strategic decision to seek peace with Israel. That statement sparked a new round of US shuttle diplomacy, some of it by Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and one round by Clinton.

There were bits of progress as the year went on, including conciliatory statements from both sides. But there continued to be disagreement on several key basic issues, including the pace and extent of an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and the pace and extent of the normalization of Israel-Syria relations. The two sides also disagree on how to solve those issues. Israel calls for direct, high-level talks and Syria insists on first receiving an Israeli promise of full, rapid withdrawal.

With the two sides at loggerheads, and harsh rhetoric flowing once again from Damascus and Jerusalem, Christopher made one last visit to the region in early December. He was only able to come away with an agreement to ease the rhetoric and diplomatic language about hope for the future.

"I feel that there are real opportunities here to reach a peace agreement between Israel and Syria. What is going on here are serious discussions on both sides by leaders who are, I think, determined to pursue peace, but very conscious of the needs and interests of both of their countries. Our work, I believe, is narrowing the gaps, but much hard work remains to be done."

That last line, about much work remaining, is what US and Israeli diplomats had been saying all year.

The talk of possible progress in the future appears to indicate that the two sides are not yet sufficiently motivated to depart from their current positions. With Israeli elections scheduled for 1996, officials say any major progress must come by the middle of 1995. Otherwise, they say, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin will not be able to take the politically unpopular steps of withdrawing from the Golan and removing the Israeli settlements there.

Among Israelis, peace with Jordan is generally popular, and most Israelis want some kind of peaceful accommodation with the Palestinians.

But peace with Syria is more controversial. Many Israelis question why Israel should return the Golan Heights to a potentially threatening Syrian government when the current standoff is peaceful and returning the territory would give Syria a tactical advantage.

But Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin says the ruling Labor Party is strongly motivated because even without the Golan Heights Syria is a strategic threat, and it holds the key to peace with Lebanon and to the development of Israel's relations with other countries in the region.

Beilin says that with the Palestinians, Israel has agreed on a process for achieving peace but is still arguing about the details. But with Syria, he says, the details of an eventual Israeli withdrawal from all or most of the Golan Heights, and full Israel-Syria relations, are well known. The problem is that there is no process to enable the two countries to take the preliminary steps necessary to reach those conclusions. That makes Beilin believe that when the time is right, and the political pressures are right, Israel and Syria will reach a peace accord. He believes that will be sometime in the middle of the coming year. And he and other analysts agree that if it doesn't happen by September or so, there is not likely to be an Israel-Syria peace treaty for a long time to come.

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