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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 16, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 103

Jordanians Complete Hebrew Course

By IsraelWire

Twenty Jordanian academics and intellectuals completed a Hebrew course last week in the Jordanian capital, HaTzofe reported. The course, consisting of 40 academic hours of basic Hebrew instruction, was initiated by the Israeli embassy in Jordan and was designed to ease psychological barriers between Jordanians and Israelis. Course participants expressed the desire to continue their study of Hebrew at more advanced levels.

Arafat and Clinton Schmooze for 3+ hours

By David Gollust (VOA-White House)

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat met President Clinton Thursday to urge a more forceful U.S. role in troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, though the Clinton administration says it is not in a position to pressure either side.

The meeting lasted more than three hours, twice as long as expected. And Arafat emerged to appeal publicly for a stronger American role in the negotiating process, accusing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak of lacking the desire to move toward a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.

Expert-level negotiations between the sides resumed this week at two Washington-area airbases but have made no apparent headway, and were marked Wednesday by a Palestinian walkout over alleged Israeli bad-faith on prisoner releases.

Arafat has been calling for U.S. intervention to advance the talks and -- heard through an interpreter -- he made the point again in a session with reporters after meeting Clinton: "At this difficult time, and in the face of the obstacles, we are facing in the negotiations, we really do need the assistance and help of President Clinton."

White House spokesman P.J. Crowley, who briefed reporters on what he called a "very serious" meeting with Arafat, said the administration stands ready, as always, to help the sides narrow the gaps on the final status issues, which include Palestinian statehood and the status of Jerusalem. However, he insisted there will be no U.S. pressure tactics against either side.

"We are not in a position to pressure them. We are actually in a position to help one as always understand the needs of the other, to help them define where the real issues are, and in many cases act at the right time to provide a bridge that can help them toward a resolution. So this is not about pressure that we are putting on either the Palestinians or Israel."

Crowley said Clinton, who spoke by telephone with Barak late Wednesday, believes the sides need to make more progress on the issues before it would be advisable to convene a Camp David-style three-way summit to try to nail down an agreement.

Israel Radio says the Barak government, once resistant to the summit idea, is now the one pushing hardest for it -- believing that at least a framework of the final accord should be concluded though a summit before Israel undertakes a new phase of troop pullbacks in the West Bank.

Arafat, in his talk with reporters here, said he is duty-bound to declare Palestinian statehood Sept. 13th, with or without a final status deal with the Israelis -- his comment drawing a renewed White House admonition against unilateral actions.

Israel Fires on United Nations Mapmakers

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli soldiers have fired warning shots near a United Nations team trying to map the tense border with southern Lebanon. The incident forced the suspension of UN efforts to establish the border.

Israeli soldiers manning an observation post on the Lebanese border fired warning shots at the ground and over the heads of members of a United Nations team mapping the international border.

The incident occurred near the Lebanese border village of Abbassiyeh, when the UN peacekeepers, Lebanese army officers and a group of journalists approached a gate facing the Israeli village of Misgav-Am. There were no reports of injuries, and the Israeli army is investigating the incident.

The mapping team suspended efforts to inspect the border, and UN officials say they will seek security guarantees before resuming their work. The UN mapmakers have almost completed drawing the international border to determine whether Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon last month complies with UN resolutions.

The United Nations is planning to deploy more soldiers along the border, but only after UN inspectors verify the withdrawal is complete.

Handicapped Man Kills Self: Places Wheelchair on Train Tracks

By IsraelWire

A 41-year-old Netanya resident took his own life on Monday by placing himself in his wheelchair on train tracks. The train arrived at the crossing at the entrance to Hadera early in the morning, on schedule, striking Nathan Manshrov.

According to a taxi driver who was passing the area, he saw Manshrov move himself onto the tracks and then sit there, waiting for the train to arrive.

The train's motorman saw the man in his wheelchair as the train headed northbound and immediately sounded the horn while trying to stop but it was too late. Police did not indicate if a note was left by the deceased but based on the eyewitness report; they do believe the death was a suicide.

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