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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Oct. 31, 1995, V3, #197
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Peres Defends Israeli Conception of Jerusalem

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Amman)

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and most of the Israeli team at the Amman Economic Conference on the Middle East and North Africa are spending much of their time trying to dispel what Peres calls Arab misperceptions that Israel wants to dominate a peacetime Middle East market. The Israeli official also spent time arguing about the politics of peace and the thorny issue of Jerusalem.

Peres wanted to talk about the economics of peace, the subject of the three-day meeting, but his news conference dominated by Arab journalists kept returning to politics and the tug-of-war over Jerusalem.

Peres conceded that all religions should have access to Jerusalem. But he says its political future is not open for discussion. "Politically, Jerusalem was never an Arab capital and never a Palestinian capital. And I don't see the Palestinian claim on Jerusalem. On the other hand, the Jewish people have never had any capital but Jerusalem. I don't see any reason to divide Jerusalem into two parts like Berlin. So Jerusalem is religiously open, politically closed from our point of view."

The future status of Jerusalem will be negotiated in the final stage of the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel claims Jerusalem as its undivided capital. The Palestinians say they want east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

While Peres was dismissing the Palestinian claim, PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat was hosting a lunch for prospective investors and showing them a film about the potentials of developing east Jerusalem.

The shadow of past hostilities still clouds the Amman meeting. While businessmen talk about the future, politicians are still wrangling over how to bury all the mistrust and misperception of the past.

Once again the Israeli minister tried to ease concerns that Israel might dominate a peacetime market. "And this is again one of the prejudices -- that Israel wants to dominate the Arab world economically. Why? Why are we leaving the domination of territory to dominate poverty. Why should we do it? We are interested in seeing the Arab World and the Middle East to reach a higher standard of living for their own sake, for the sake of stability, prosperity and peace in the Middle East."

Israeli businessmen were advised before the conference to keep a low profile and tone down their marketing style. Their aggressive approach in the first economic conference held last year in Casablanca annoyed most Arab delegations there.

Killing of Terrorist May Bring Retaliation

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has placed travel restrictions on Palestinians in an effort to prevent attacks by angry members of the militant group Islamic Jihad, whose leader was killed last week.

Israel stopped issuing permits for Palestinians from the West Bank to visit Gaza, and raised the minimum age for Gaza workers entering Israel from 30 to 35. In the past, Israel has completely sealed the Palestinian areas in retaliation for a terrorist attack or if it had information about a possible attack. Israel also increased security at its diplomatic missions abroad.

About 1,000 Palestinian students at the West Bank's Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, demonstrated against Israel on Monday, and there were small protests in Hebron and Nablus. In Gaza, a crowd of several hundred marched on an Israeli guard post, but dispersed without incident.

Two Israeli newspapers published detailed accounts of last Thursday's killing of Islamic Jihad leader Fathi Shqaqi in Malta. They say he was killed by a man of Middle Eastern appearance who shot him several times outside his hotel and then jumped on a waiting motorcycle.

The motorcycle was found nearby at a marina, and police believe the assailant and his driver escaped the island by boat. The newspapers report police found no fingerprints or other information to help them solve the case.

Islamic Jihad blames Israel for the killing. Israeli leaders have said they do not know anything about the attack. But, as they have in the past when militant leaders have been killed, they stopped short of fully denying Israel was involved.

In January, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin declared war on violent Palestinian groups. After a bus bombing by Islamic Jihad killed 21 Israelis near Tel Aviv, Rabin said Israel would pursue and eliminate the leaders of such groups.

That bus bombing was itself part of Islamic Jihad's retaliation for the killing of another of its leaders the previous November, which the group blamed on Israel and Israeli leaders disavowed without completely denying.

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