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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      June 26, 1995, V3, #116
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Peres Meets with Arafat About Saturday's Deadline

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met for more than three-hours Sunday in Gaza and came away saying they made some progress, but no breakthroughs, toward meeting their July 1 target for agreement on the next phase of Palestinian autonomy. The talks came on a day marked by violence in autonomous Gaza and in the West Bank.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres emerged from the meeting saying he and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat are -- very much...Narrowing the gaps -- between their positions. He said both sides came into Sunday's talks with ideas about how to bridge the gaps, and if talks this week go smoothly there could be an agreement by Saturday's deadline.

Arafat said the two men discussed Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, and he expressed the hope they will be released. Hundreds of the more than 5,000 prisoners have been on hunger strike for the past week to press for their release. There have been several demonstrations on their behalf which have turned violent.

Arafat's spokesman, Marwan Kanafani, says Peres agreed some prisoners will be released, but did not say how many or when. The two men agreed there will be a working-level meeting on the issue soon. Kanafani says the goal is to reach what he called a tentative agreement by Saturday, indicating detailed talks might continue beyond the target date.

Meanwhile, the prisoner issue sparked a second day of violence between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators on the West Bank.

In the West Bank town of Nablus Israeli troops clashed with several-hundred Palestinian demonstrators. Reports from the city say the demonstrators tried to approach an Israeli prison in the town and threw stones at troops guarding it. The soldiers opened fire, killing one man and wounding several dozen. Israel is reluctant to release prisoners convicted of attacking Israelis, or of supporting groups which do.

There was one such attack early Sunday in Gaza. A donkey cart laden with explosives was detonated as an Israeli patrol passed. Three soldiers were slightly wounded. The cart's driver, a suicide bomber, was killed. The militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

A report Sunday says an Islamic leader in Sudan has invited the Authority and the militant organizations to Khartoum to try to work out a permanent agreement.

The approach of the July 1 target date and mounting frustration about the prisoner issue have broken the calm of the last few months. Even the Palestinian Authority's own radio station played militant music Sunday, apparently for the first time since it went on the air a year ago.

A song, written during the Palestinian uprising, the intifada, says "Revolt, revolt, revolt with stones. The young and old are marching, and we will not return home until we end our shame through blood and stones."

Megaphonic Communication Links Summit and Valley

By Laurie Kassman (on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights)

Syrian and Israeli military chiefs are meeting in Washington this week to talk about security arrangements for an eventual peace agreement that will return the Golan Heights to Syria. Negotiations are still snagged on which comes first -- the return of the Heights to Syria or normalized relations with Israel. Correspondent Laurie Kassman recently visited the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, to see how Syrians divided by war find ways to communicate with each other.

In the morning, when the wind is right, villagers gather on a hillside under the watchful eye of a UN observation post. They use battery-powered megaphones to chat with friends and relatives standing on a grassy ledge 600 feet away across a no-man's land in the Israeli village of Majdel Chams.

As the wind lifts their voices across the divide, they shout greetings and family news, rumors about peace and other gossip.

Hamed al-Batish, 56, has been coming to Shouting Hill, as it is known, for more than two decades. His parents, his brothers and sisters all live on the other side.

Saqer, 23, is a medical student at Damascus University. He comes from Massada village on the other side of the barbed wire barriers. He says it is strange to stand in Syria look across at his village. Saqer says he is waiting for peace to break down the barriers and let him move freely. He is homesick and wants to see his family and his girlfriend more often.

Israel seized the Golan in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and 150,000 Syrian villagers left. Syria's attempt to retake the 775 square-mile area in the 1973 war ended in defeat.

The high peaks of Golan give military superiority over the wide open plains below. The Jordan River has its source here. Israel is worried about its security and its future water rights once the area is returned. Syrian and Israeli military chiefs are meeting to work out security arrangements for an eventual peace treaty, but water rights probably will not be negotiated until peace is achieved.

For now, the Syrian villagers, divided by war and waiting for peace, have to resort to their binoculars and megaphones to bridge the gap.

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