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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       Feb. 16, 1996 V4, #30
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Iran May Reach Nuclear Capability Within Eight Years

Foreign Minister Ehud Barak told members of the U.N. Security Council that Iran will possess the ability and the knowledge to produce nuclear weapons within eight years.

The Foreign Minister emphasized the danger that Iran poses to the world and to the Middle East. He expressed hope that the Security Council would move to monitor the development of non-conventional weapons in Iran, as it has in Iraq.

The meeting was also attended by Arab and Muslim Ambassadors from Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Qatar, Indonesia, Djibouti, Mauritania, and the Palestinian observer.

Labor Debates New Platform

Foreign Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday he opposes any amendment in the Labor platform regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state, adding that he supports the party's current stance opposing a Palestinian state.

Barak said it is preferable to establish a connection between Jordan and a Palestinian entity and that the Labor platform should include the following positions: a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty; the retention of the vast majority of Israeli settlements, including those in greater Jerusalem; and maintaining Israeli settlement as well as an IDF security presence in the Jordan Valley north of Jericho.

An internal party debate occurred Wednesday regarding the issue of canceling the section of the party's platform opposing a Palestinian state. Minister without Portfolio Yossi Beilin said Israel will not dismantle settlements that do not remain under Israeli control under the permanent agreement.

Beilin believes that under the permanent arrangement, most of the settlers will remain under Israeli sovereignty.

Israel, Jordan, Palestinians Sign First Regional Agreement on Water

Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority in Oslo signed the first regional agreement on water, with Norway and the U.S. serving as witnesses.

Negotiations over the accord took place over the past two years in the framework of the multilateral talks on water. The negotiations were led by Avraham Katz-Oz and Ram Aviram of the Foreign Ministry.

The agreement constitutes a joint declaration on regional cooperation in developing new water sources and coordinating water infrastructure in the Middle East. The accord does not deal with water rights or division of water resources. At the signing of the agreement, the sides called on Lebanon and Syria to join the declaration.

Intelligence Chief Briefs Knesset on Possible Terrorist Activity

IDF Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon said at a meeting of the Knesset Committee for Foreign Affairs and Defense that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad had set two dates for terrorist acts aimed at large crowds inside Israel.

One of the dates was this past Tuesday, which marked the 40-day anniversary of the death of Yihye Ayash, known as "The Engineer." The second date is Feb. 19, the Islamic Id el-Fitr holiday.

Ya'alon said terror organizations had been having difficulties recently in the execution of attacks. Ya'alon said that whenever the Palestinian Authority knows about a planned attack, it does everything in its power to prevent it.

Following the meeting, Barak told reporters that Iraq has not lost its resolve to bypass international oversight on the development of non-conventional weapons. "Iraq's dictator has not lost his vision and hopes to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of defeat as a leading regional power with non-conventional ability," Barak said.

Israeli Editorial Opinion

Ma'ariv believes that Labor MK Ra'anan Cohen's bill -- which recently passed its first Knesset reading -- will "improve the quality of life for thousands of reservists" and rectify the situation in which "one-third of the reserve soldiers serve almost two-thirds of the total reserve duty, while almost half of the reserve soldiers do not serve at all."

The editors believe that "the new law will compel the IDF to apportion reserve duty in a more equitable manner -- or give up thousands of days of reserve duty."

Yediot Ahronot reminds its readers that "hundreds of tons of tomatoes -- which ripened early due to the hot weather -- were destroyed in the Negev and the Arava" while, "at the same time, permission was given to import hundreds of tons of tomatoes from the territories; the IDF has also been feeding its troops with tomatoes from the same source."

The editors fear that "this stupidity will not end with the destruction of one harvest only," and add that "the growers who were damaged this time, will not plant tomatoes next season, their price will then go up, and the Finance Minister (whoever it is) will pull out his few hairs in light of the jumping consumer price index."

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