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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 15, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 102

Clinton to Meet Arafat Thursday

By Deborah Tate (VOA-White House)

President Clinton meets with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat at the White House Thursday - a day after Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in the Washington area were abruptly suspended.

Clinton had hoped the current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would make enough progress to allow him to schedule a three-way meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Arafat.

But just as the Palestinian delegation decided to suspend the talks over disputes about the Israeli handover of more West Bank land and the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, Clinton told reporters at the White House that the time is not yet right for a three-way summit.

"Obviously, I have never ruled that out. But I think we need to get the parties a little closer before we can go there. We do not have a lot of time, we are down to all the hard issues now, and we are working on it. I am hopeful, but I do not want to hold out false hopes. I do not think I can tell you anything other than that I think that we are making steady progress. We have seen the narrowing of some of the gaps, but I do not think we are ready to have the final meeting yet."

Palestinian negotiators say they want to consult with Arafat during his visit to Washington before they proceed. Clinton - who met with Barak earlier this month in Lisbon - hopes to use his meeting with Arafat to accelerate the talks.

The two parties have committed themselves to a self-imposed deadline of mid-September for completing a final peace accord. They are working on a framework agreement on so-called `final status issues,' including the status of Jerusalem, borders, and Jewish settlements on occupied lands.

Bashar Assad Expected to Maintain Father's Policies

By Scott Bobb (VOA-Damascus)

Hundreds of people in Syria on Wednesday offered their condolences to the son and designated heir of the late President Hafez al-Assad. One day after the late president was buried near his family home in northwestern Syria, the country continues to mourn its leader of nearly 30 years, and begins to ponder the future with his likely successor.

The sounds of Koran verses emanated from mosques and radios across Syria, as the country continued to mourn the late Hafez al-Assad. Streets were virtually deserted. Attention is increasingly focusing on the late president's son, Bashar al-Assad, who is expected to be Syria's next president.

Dr. Bashar -- as he is known here -- was named commander of the armed forces on Sunday, one day after his father died. And he is expected to be named head of the sole legal political party on Saturday. He is due to be nominated for the presidency by parliament in 10 days, after which a popular referendum is to be held to confirm him as Syria's next president.

Syrian political commentators agree Dr. Bashar is well on his way to grasping the main levers of political power in Syria. In foreign policy, Syrian observers say the main challenge will be the peace negotiations with Israel, which currently are deadlocked over a small strip of the Golan Heights bordering the Galilee Sea, or Lake Tiberius.

A former advisor to President Assad, Georges Jabbour, said he does not believe Dr. Bashar has the intention or the liberty to give up any part of the Golan.

Jabbour says until there is peace with Israel, it will be difficult to modernize the economy or to fully participate in the technology revolution and the movement toward globalization.

Although most observers do not expect rapid change under Syria's new leadership, they acknowledge that there are expectations of some change -- especially from the younger generation. They are waiting to see how Syria's new leadership will address these competing pressures.

Suffering From Modesty

By IsraelWire

Women who dress in clothing that covers their entire bodies are liable to suffer from a lack of vitamin D, which effects bone density, and could lead to breaks of the hip bone.

In a study made of Saudi Arabian women, whose dress covers up their bodies, it was discovered that even the younger women suffer a lack of vitamin D, which is created in the skin through exposure to the sun. Researchers believe the lack of vitamin D is due to the modest dress.

Dr. Tzofia Ish-Shalom, director of the department of the metabolism of the bone and calcium in the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, recommends that Hareidi (ultra-Orthodox) women and others who avoid exposure to the sun check their vitamin D levels.

"I recommend to continue being careful about exposure to the sun, but also to examine young women who cover their bodies in order to catch and treat vitamin D deficiency at an early stage." She also stated that there is no danger in receiving treatment levels of vitamin D, since the body knows how to modulate use of the vitamin, and there is no danger of vitamin D poisoning.

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