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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Oct. 12, 1995, V3, #184
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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200,000 March in Jerusalem Parade

Jerusalem 3000 celebrations reached a peak Wednesday as hundreds of thousands of people participated in the Priestly Blessings at the Western Wall and the Jerusalem parade. Approximately 200,000 marchers from 69 countries took part in the Jerusalem parade that started at Teddy Kollek Stadium. The parade concluded in a ceremony outside the Israel Museum which was attended by President Ezer Weizman, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert.

Pull-out Continues; Prisoners Released

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel closed three more occupation authority offices in the West Bank Wednesday, continuing the first steps of its extensive withdrawal from the West Bank under the new peace agreement. But disputes continued over Israel's release of Palestinian prisoners.

Mobile cranes lifted concrete barriers and portable guard houses onto trucks in a field near the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday, and soldiers drove away what had been a regional office of Israel's occupation authority. The land was returned to the Palestinian farmer from whom it was taken when the office was established.

Israel also closed two other occupation offices Wednesday, turning over the buildings to the Palestinian Autonomy Authority. Israel began this process on Tuesday, and it is to continue next month when the larger-scale troop withdrawals begin.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials announced they had freed 882 Palestinian prisoners Tuesday, in spite of a series of delays. About 500 had been jailed for activities against the occupation and the rest for ordinary criminal offenses. Officials say the release of 84 others has been postponed by a dispute with the Palestinian Authority.

In addition, 21 women are still refusing to leave prison to protest Israel's decision not to release four women convicted of murder. The prisoner releases are mandated by the peace agreement. They are designed as a symbol that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is ending and as a concrete step to spur Palestinian public support for the peace process. The problems in the releases have somewhat muted those effects.

Also on Wednesday, israel announced Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had granted permission for three former Palestinian terrorist leaders to return from abroad to become the governors of West Bank cities which are to become autonomous during the next two months. The three men are believed to have been among the main PLO military commanders and to have masterminded many attacks on Israel and Israelis before the first peace accord was signed in 1993.

The decision to allow them to join the Autonomy Administration sparked angry responses from right wing Israeli groups which fear the Palestinian Authority could turn to terrorism at any moment. But Palestinian officials say the men have the stature to control the various Palestinian factions, and to fight effectively against groups which have not ended their armed struggles against Israel.

One of those groups, Hamas, issued a statement Wednesday saying it has not given up its right to conduct attacks against Israelis, even though it is discussing terms for possible participation in next year's Palestinian elections.

Officials of the Autonomy Authority say that to do so, Hamas would have to accept the peace accords and stop launching attacks from autonomous territory. An official close to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat said Hamas was close to doing that last week.

But on Wednesday, Israel Radio quoted Israel's military governor of the territories as saying there is no feeling in the government that Hamas is ready to give up violence for politics.

Skeletons May Not be the Romanovs' by Peter Heinlein (VOA-Moscow)

The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed doubts about the findings of a commission that announced it had conclusively identified the remains of the last czar. The church's doubts could upset plans to stage a grand reburial ceremony for the slain monarch.

When a government commission announced last month that bones found in 1991 were definitely those of Czar Nicholas II, it seemed one of the most painful chapters in Russian history might finally come to a close. The czar and his family were killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918, but the whereabouts of their remains had been a mystery that troubled the national conscience for more than 70 years.

Commission members said their conclusion that the remains were authentic was based on independent studies by four separate groups of experts. The studies included genetic tests on relatives of the czar's family, including Britain's Prince Philip.

But skeptics got a boost this week when none other than the ruling synod of the Russian Orthodox Church postponed a decision on whether to recognize the government commission's conclusions. Church leaders called for the formation of another international group of experts to re-examine the evidence.

The government commission is scheduled to meet again this month to consider its options. But with church leaders demanding another study, the clock appears to be working against the hoped for February ceremony that would lay to rest the haunting ghost of Russia's last czar.

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