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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      June 6, 1995, V3, #104
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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This month American Express issues credit cards in Israel. In their market research, American Express found that Israelis are frequent credit card users, especially for travel and shopping services. The company believes the peace process is providing great potential for economic growth. The American Express cards will be issued through Bank Hapoalim.

Arafat Confers with Mubarak

By Kim Reid (Cairo)

PLO Chief Yasir Arafat has flown to Cairo for another surprise meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The PLO leader has come to Cairo for his sixth visit in recent months to get advice on how to keep the peace talks with the Israelis moving.

The Egyptian President has expressed his concern that peace talks are nearing another breakdown over the issue of Palestinian elections, and Israeli troop withdrawal from Palestinian territory.

One Egyptian diplomat says his government thinks Israel is moving too slowly to meet the July 1 negotiating deadline for these two issues. The official blames what he described as Israel's slow movement as Israel's way of appeasing its own population, which is unhappy about how little peace the Palestinian peace deal has produced thus far. But the official says the slow pace is making it harder for Arafat to maintain support among his people, and continue negotiating.

The Egyptians and Palestinians say they hope US Secretary of State Warren Christopher will press Israel to pick up the negotiating pace, and even grant a few concessions to the Palestinians.

One Western diplomat says Christopher does realize the importance of meeting the July 1 deadline on elections and Israeli troop withdrawal, a point Christopher will emphasize in his meetings with Israelis. But the official says the main thrust of Christopher's visit will be to keep up the momentum on the Syrian-Israeli talks.

The Egyptian official warns, however, unless there is more movement on the Palestinian front, his government believes it will be difficult for Syria's President Hafez al Assad to speed up his talks with Israel.

Hamas Jerusalem Cell Crushed; Planned Terrorist Attacks

By Patricia Golan (Jerusalem)

Israeli security forces say they have uncovered a wide-scale organization of Palestinians belonging to the outlawed Islamic resistance movement Hamas in the Jerusalem area. Hamas opposes the peace accord between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel.

Some 45 members of cells belonging to the military wing of Hamas are said to have been arrested over the weekend. According to Israeli security sources the men had been planning serious terrorist attacks, including planting car bombs in Jerusalem and carrying out other attacks on soldiers and civilians. All 45 suspects are said to come from Jerusalem or villages near Jerusalem and to have received training in the Gaza Strip.

Military sources say the man behind the Jerusalem area network was a resident of the Gaza Strip, and was responsible for planning the kidnaping and killing of an Israeli soldier last year.

This is the second Israeli round-up of Hamas activists in less than a week. On Friday, in a rocket attack on a house in the West Bank town of Hebron, Israeli troops killed a senior Hamas leader held responsible for killing at least six Israelis in a series of attacks.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army has announced it will start work on infrastructure for its redeployment in the West Bank. Under the accord with the PLO, the Israeli army is to withdraw from population centers so the Palestinians can hold elections. Israelis seem determined to crack down on militant Islamic groups in the period before the elections.

Israelis, Germans and Jordanians Meet on an Island

By Al Pessin (Baqoura, Jordan)

The leaders of Germany, Jordan and Israel joined in symbolic salute to the Middle East peace process Monday, meeting on a small island, Baqoura Island, where the Jordan and Yarmouk rivers come together. Israel returned the island to Jordan as part of their peace accord.

Baqoura Island is no prize. It is little more than a sandy hill between two narrow streams, less than .62 mile in size. But for decades it has been a focal point of the Israel-Jordan conflict and of efforts to solve it.

Israel's control of the island was long an irritant to Jordan. That problem was solved in peace negotiations last year, when the island was returned to Jordanian sovereignty and Israelis were given the right to cultivate part of it. But the island was also the site of secret talks between Jordanian and Israeli officials during past years. Those talks, mainly about water-sharing issues, served as a point of contact for the two countries through the long years of conflict.

Monday, the Israeli and Jordanian leaders met in an air-conditioned tent on the island, along with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Any substantive issues discussed in their half-hour meeting were kept secret. But they emerged praising each other's efforts for peace, and pledging to continue the process.

Israel's Ambassador to Jordan Shimon Shamir acknowledged the event was mainly symbolic, but he said such symbolism can be important. The Israeli, Jordanian and German leaders are working on
projects designed to increase the fresh water output of the Jordan and Yarmouk rivers, and the nearby Sea of Galilee. Kohl pledged to continue supporting European Union funding for the projects.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin called for Arab countries to respect the peace which has been made along these rivers and to support it. King Hussein said the region's water should be shared by all its people, and it is his dream the Jordan River valley will become truly a valley of peace.

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