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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      June 23, 1995, V3, #115
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Palestinian Poll Reveals Dichotomy

A survey of Palestinian public opinion indicates a majority supports the peace process and Yasir Arafat, but one-third support continued suicide attacks against Israel. The survey indicates most Palestinians want peace, but not necessarily on the terms being offered, and they support Arafat, but they are not necessarily satisfied with the job he is doing. The seemingly self-contradictory results are in part a reflection of the transition palestinian society is going through, and of the newness of its year-old Autonomy Authority.

Muslim 'Apostate' Couple Not Afraid of Death

By Peyman Pejman (Cairo)

The wife of an Egyptian professor who was declared to be an apostate by an Egyptian court says a Muslim fundamentalist death threat against her husband is not likely to change their lifestyle.

The wife of Nasr abu Zeid, a professor of Arabic literature, said that she and her husband are aware of the death threat by the Islamic lawyers group but have not seen the group's statement.

The Islamic Lawyers Group, which is a part of the militant group Islamic Jihad, said Thursday that abu Zeid's blood, in its words, should be wasted. The statement was sent from Switzerland to the London--based Arabic daily Al-Hayat.

An appeals court has ruled that abu Zeid's writings made him an infidel and as such he could not remain married to his Muslim wife. Both abu Zeids say they consider themselves to be good Muslims and reject the idea that they must get divorced.

Asked whether her life might change because of the death threat, she replied: "We will do nothing new."

Islamic Jihad Leader Killed in Gaza by al pessin (jerusalem)

A senior leader of the militant Palestinian group Islamic Jihad has been killed in the Gaza Strip. The man was killed by masked gunmen on a street near his home in a Gaza refugee camp Thursday morning. Thirty-four year-old Mahmoud Khawaja was believed to be a leader of Islamic Jihad and a key planner of the group's attacks on Israelis. He had spent more than 10 years in Israeli prisons, and has been detained twice in the last year by the new Palestinian Security Services.

Islamic Jihad blamed Israeli agents for the killing, and vowed revenge. Another leader of the group, Hani Abed, was killed in Gaza in November. Islamic Jihad carried out three attacks to avenge his death, including a suicide bombing near Tel Aviv in January which killed 21 people.

The spokesman for Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, called Thursday's killing "a terrorist and criminal act" and said Arafat has ordered a full investigation.

Syria Toughens Bargaining Stance

By Laurie Kassman (Damascus)

Syria's bargaining position with Israel remains hardline. Less than one week before Syrian and Israel military chiefs are due to meet in Washington to talk about security arrangements for an eventual peace treaty, Vice-President Abd Halim Khaddam told a group of visiting journalists the gap between the two sides is still very wide.

The Syrian official insists Israel must pull out from all of the Golan Heights before there is any talk of a normalization in relations.

Khaddam does not mince words when talking about what it will take to have peace with Israel. "We want peace and we see that and we understand that if Israel does not withdraw to the 4th of June line 1967, peace is impossible."

Israel seized the strategic Golan Heights in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and later annexed it. Syria wants it all back. But Israel wants Syria's commitment to normalized relations first and has talked about a phased pullout coinciding with a test period for normalization.

Khaddam says a phased pullout is not acceptable. He calls that political maneuvering and says normalization cannot be discussed as long as there is even one Israeli soldier remaining on the Golan Heights. "They want peace and the land together and this is not possible. Peace and keeping of any inch of Syrian land do not go together. And peace and occupation is not possible."

The vice-president's tough language contradicts a mood of optimism in US and Israeli circles just before Syrian and Israeli military chiefs meet in Washington to discuss security arrangements for an eventual peace treaty.

Khaddam insists that security arrangements, including the size of a demilitarized zone on both sides of the border, must be based on parity. Israel has suggested that could be amended to accommodate its security concerns.
The Syrian official says differences remain on all aspects of their peace talks and nothing specific has been resolved yet. He denies recent reports of secret negotiations. Syria refuses direct talks with Israel and relies instead on US mediation. Khaddam still questions Israel's commitment to peace and says Israel's actions contradict that message. He cites Israel's bombing attacks in southern Lebanon and its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as examples.

The vice-president says there is no room for partial accords. In his words, any peace agreement with Israel must be complete and balanced. He points to the continuing problems in the Palestinian-Israeli deal and warns that unbalanced agreements are doomed to failure.

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