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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                     Oct. 16, 1995, V3, #186
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Hizbullah Massacres Six Israelis in Lebanon

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy Authority have set an early date for Palestinian elections, and advanced the timetable for Israeli redeployment from Palestinian cities on the West Bank. But Sunday's progress toward peace on that front was somewhat overshadowed by the most deadly attack against Israeli forces in southern Lebanon this year, which left six Israeli soldiers dead.

An Israeli patrol was driving in southern Lebanon when a roadside bomb exploded and guerrillas opened fire. The attack occurred near the spot where three soldiers were killed Thursday. The Iranian-backed group Hizbullah claimed responsibility.

Israel responded with heavy artillery barrages on suspected Hizbullah bases and escape routes.

The fighting represents an escalation of the ongoing, usually low-level fighting in southern Lebanon, where Israel occupies a swatch of territory in an effort to prevent such attacks inside Israeli borders.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin met with top military commanders and called an emergency Cabinet meeting for tomorrow, following today's Jewish holiday.

There were calls for a large-scale Israeli strike in Lebanon, and government spokesman Uri Dromi said Hizbullah will, in his words, have to learn a very painful lesson. But Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Syria and Lebanon should rein in Hizbullah. Syria controls the part of Lebanon which is home to the group's bases.

Israeli officials and analysts believe these last two deadly attacks by Hizbullah are part of an effort by Syria to put pressure on Israel to make concessions in stalled peace talks. Many Israelis do not see any reason to make such concessions, because the Israel-Syria border is quiet. Officials say the attacks are designed as a reminder Syria has another avenue through which to hurt Israel. The Israeli deaths in Lebanon in the past few days are more than one-third of this year's total of 22, which is more than all of last year.

The fighting in Lebanon nearly overshadowed progress toward peace on another front Sunday. Peres met with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, and announced plans for a faster Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities, and earlier Palestinian elections than had been expected. The new plan is designed, in part, to accommodate two holidays -- Christmas and Ramadan.

After meeting on the Israel-Gaza border, the two men announced Israel will complete its withdrawal from the historically Christian city of Bethlehem in time for Christmas. They also said the Palestinian elections will be held throughout the West Bank and Gaza by Jan. 22, when the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin. The change, made at Arafat's request, means the elections will be held three-months earlier than had been scheduled, and before Israel's partial withdrawal from the large and tense West Bank city of Hebron.

Under the new plan, Israel's withdrawal from West Bank cities will begin with a pullout from the northern town of Jenin Oct. 25, nearly a month earlier than expected. The withdrawals are to proceed at one city every week or so, until six cities are fully autonomous and 450 villages are partly autonomous by the end of the year, when the Palestinian election campaign is to begin.

Speeding up the Israeli redeployment plan appears to be an effort to convince skeptical Palestinians the new peace agreement is going to be implemented, despite problems over prisoner releases in the accord's first few weeks. That positive message about the peace process was both well timed and somewhat ironic, considering Sunday's death toll in Lebanon.

Senate Expected to Vote to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

By Jim Malone (VOA-Washington)

Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole has introduced new legislation which would require the U.S to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Senate action on the proposal could come within the next few weeks.

Dole introduced a slightly altered version of legislation which he first presented in May. The original bill required groundbreaking to begin on a new embassy in Jerusalem by the end of next year. In the new version, this provision has been deleted.

The measure has bipartisan support in the Senate but the Clinton administration opposes Congress forcing a relocation of the embassy, fearing it could undermine the Middle East peace process. Dole disagrees:

"While always subject to disruption and always under attack from extremists, the peace process is working. The toughest issues are yet to be resolved in final status talks including Jerusalem. In my view, the United States should not have to wait for the end of final status talks to begin the process of moving the U.S Embassy to Jerusalem."

Secretary of State Warren Christopher has said that bringing the issue of Jerusalem to the forefront is ill-advised and could damage Middle East peace efforts. A Senate vote on the proposal could come in the next few weeks.

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