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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Aug. 14, 1995, V3, #147
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Partial Accord Reached with PLO

By Patricia Golan (Jerusalem)

The Israeli government has approved a partial accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization on implementation of the expansion of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank. The approval came as protests by Israeli settlers against the plan turned violent.

The Cabinet vote followed a day-long debate on the agreement reached Friday between Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat. The two men worked out details on a series of issues they had already agreed on in principle, including release of Palestinian prisoners, tax collection and Israeli troop withdrawal from major Arab cities in the West Bank. The agreement specifies that troops will also withdraw from Palestine towns and villages no later than July 1997.

Newly appointed Interior Minister Ehud Barak, the former chief of staff, has complained publicly that Israel has agreed to pull back too quickly. Israeli army generals are also known to be unhappy with the accord.

But the one dissenting vote at the Cabinet meeting was from Energy Minister Gohen Segev. He is worried that Israel is already establishing new borders for the permanent settlement that are too close to the lines before the 1967 Six Day War and he worries that the Jewish settlers in the West Bank will not have sufficient protection.

But the Police Minister Moshe Shahal says the critics' fears are unfounded, that under the agreement Israel will have the overriding responsibility for security in the West Bank.

Before Sunday's Cabinet vote, a 22-year-old Palestinian man was killed apparently by Jewish settlers occupying a West Bank hilltop together with about 100 Palestinians from a nearby village. The Palestinians tore down and burned the settlers makeshift camp. Palestinians say settlers opened fire, which the settlers deny.

The agreement reached last week made progress on the issue of security. But it left huge gaps to be bridged between the two sides before a full agreement can be reached, particularly the issue of water-sharing on the West Bank and the question of how to provide security for the city of Hebron, where 450 Israeli settlers live among 800,000 Palestinians. Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams are going ahead with their talks on these difficult issues in the Israel Red Sea town of Eilat. They begin two weeks of formal talks this week.

Two IAF Airmen Killed in F-15 Crash

The funerals for Air Force Navigator Yaron Viyontah, 22, of Givat Olga and Pilot Ronen Lev were held Sunday. The IAF pilot and navigator were killed late last week when their F-15 crashed during training exercises in the Negev. According to the findings of an initial investigation, it appears that a bird either collided with the aircraft or was sucked into an engine, leading to a loss of control and the subsequent crash of the F-15.

Israel and Vatican Establish Committee for the Year 2000

A joint Israel-Vatican committee composed of experts on pilgrimage will be established in Jerusalem in preparation for the upcoming 2000-year anniversary of the birth of Jesus.

The pope believes the occasion will be an appropriate time to promote talks between religions, and invited Jews and Muslims to participate.

Last November, the pope announced that he would examine the possibility of visiting holy sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Mt. Sinai in order to encourage a dialogue between Jews and Muslims.

Time According to Assad by Zvi Barel, Ha'aretz

Lately, the giant portraits of Assad that hang everywhere in Syria have a new caption: "Hero in war, hero in peace." There has indeed been war, but what is heroism in peace? Syrian publicists explain that the fundamental turning point came when Assad declared that he had made a strategic decision to give up the military option, and proceed on the path of dialogue with Israel.

"This was not a concession, but a change of worldview. The difference is that a concession is a sign of weakness. Jordan made concessions, the Palestinians made concessions, even Egypt made concessions. But Syria does not make concessions. It has made a decision that will allow the other side to make concessions, while the entire Arab world benefits in exchange..."

The danger to his rule does not come from outside. It is to be found inside Syria, and draws its power from the fact that Assad represents the minority Alawite community that rules over the majority Sunni. This is not merely a question of Syrian honor, but of the regime's survival.

Sadat spoke in the name of the Egyptian people. King Hussein signed a peace agreement only after the Palestinians took the first step, and thus neutralized the Palestinian opposition which resides in Jordan. Can the Alawite Assad speak for the Sunni population? The answer to this is subjective, and therefore, cannot be given by outside analysts.

Assad continues to speak in the name of the entire Syrian nation, but in the meantime, he has not done anything which would meet the scrutiny of the country, even though he has granted himself the title of "hero of peace."

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