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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      July 20, 1995, V3, #131
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Peres, Arafat and Mubarak Meet in Alexandria

By Laurie Kassman (Cairo)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met with PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres (Wednesday) at the presidential palace in Alexandria. They are trying to speed up negotiations for an agreement about expanding Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank. Both sides are suggesting a self-imposed target date may be missed.

After several hours of discussions and talk of some progress, there are few signs Palestinian and Israeli negotiators will meet their next target date, only six days away. Mubarak has suggested it could slide a few days. He says negotiations underway in northern Israel will probably return to Cairo next week.

The two sides are already a year behind schedule for extending Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and organizing Palestinian elections. Key stumbling blocks include sharing water rights and the logistics of re-deploying Israeli troops in the West Bank.

The meeting at Mubarak's summer palace in the Mediterranean port of Alexandria marks his return to the peace process after escaping an assassination attempt last month. Security around the meeting site was unusually tight.

On the eve of the Egyptian meeting, a PLO spokesman had cautioned the Alexandria talks would not put any finishing touches on an agreement because serious differences still need to be resolved.

One Year Since Argentine JCC Bombing

By George Meek (Rio de Janeiro)

Argentina has marked the first anniversary of the bombing of a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires that killed 86 people. The search for the terrorists responsible for the act continues. Relatives lit one candle for each of the victims and observed a moment of silence in front of the ruined hulk of the JCC. Thousands of people -- Jews and non-Jews -- attended the somber observance.

The relatives of the victims say they are impatient for justice. The only person under arrest is a man accused of selling the van that was loaded with 660 pounds of explosive for the attack. Argentina is awaiting extradition from Paraguay of six Lebanese and a Brazilian who are suspected of having some link to the 1994 attack, and to one two years earlier that killed 28 people at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.

Argentina, Israel and the US have repeatedly blamed the two attacks on Islamic fundamentalists linked to Iran. Argentina's supreme court has ruled that there was no proof of Iran's involvement, but Judge Juan Jose Galeano, who is in charge of the investigation, said this week there is fresh evidence of an Iranian connection. He did not give details.

A US rabbi who has been following the case, Avi Weiss, has accused the Argentine government of not pursuing the case vigorously because it might discover -- in his words -- involvement of persons at the highest level of government.

This assertion is vehemently rejected by President Carlos Menem and leaders of Argentina's Jewish community. Menem pledged to do whatever it takes to punish what he calls the cowardly assassins who are living in the shadows.

French President Admits Nation's Guilt

By Julian Nundy (Paris)

French Jewish leaders have expressed their gratitude for a weekend statement by President Jacques Chirac that for the first time acknowledged the role of the French state in the persecution of Jews during World War 2.

Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Wiesel congratulated Chirac for having -- what he called -- the courage of his convictions. Grand Rabbi Joseph Sitruk said the president was clear and precise in blaming the French state for the deportations of Jews during World War 2.

Chirac made the statement during a ceremony at the site of Paris' former Veld'hiv stadium. About 12,000 Jews were taken there by French police in July 1942. It was in French state-owned trucks, Chirac said, they then left for the Nazi death camps. Several times, the president spoke of the role of the French state or the role of France.

French Jews have long campaigned for the French Republic to recognize it was the state and not an illegal regime that sent Jews to their death.

For the past 14-years, Francois Mitterrand, Chirac's socialist predecessor, refused to do so. He described the Vichy regime that collaborated with the Nazis as an aberration. In fact, Vichy was ushered in by a legal vote in the French parliament.

Three-years ago, Mitterrand was jeered when he attended a similar ceremony at the Veld'hiv. His relations with French Jews worsened last year because of new disclosures about his own record. Mitterrand was a civil servant under Vichy before he joined the anti-Nazi resistance. After the war, Mitterrand befriended Rene Bousquet, the Vichy police chief who organized the roundup of Paris Jews.

Mitterrand said he did not at first know of Bousquet's participation and ended the friendship when legal proceedings were started against Bousquet in 1983. A gunman killed Bousquet two-years ago as he awaited trial for crimes against humanity.

Chirac said 450 French police officers rounded up thousands of Jews in July 1942, and handed them over to their executioners.

A French historian who has tracked down several Nazi war criminals, Serge Klarsfeld, was among Jewish leaders to thank the president. He said Chirac had the courage to condemn Vichy in terms never heard from his predecessor.

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