Newsletter : 0fax0710.txt
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>JN July 10, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 118
Assad is Expected to be Elected
By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)
Syrians go to the polls Monday to vote yes or no for Bashar al
Assad to succeed his father as president. Hafez el-Assad passed
away June 10 after more than 30-years in power. Bashar al-Assad, or
Dr. Bashar as he is known in Syria, is the only candidate in the
vote. The question is not whether he will be elected president
but by what percentage of the vote. His father, who ruled Syria
for three decades, traditionally received more than 90 percent.
Camp David Summit Starts Tuesday
By David Gollust (VOA-White House)
Senior Clinton administration officials say the splintering of
Israel's coalition government need not prevent Prime Minister Ehud
Barak from negotiating a final-status peace deal with the
Palestinians at this week's three-way summit with Palestinian
leader Yasir Arafat and President Clinton. The leaders convene
Tuesday at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
Officials here say the defection of some of Barak's coalition
partners is hardly an ideal way to begin the summit. But they
insist that Barak got a mandate to seek peace with his big win in
last year's Israeli election, and will have the political clout to
get any agreement through the parliament and a promised national
The coalition crisis in Israel complicates what U.S. officials say
is an already risky diplomatic attempt by Clinton to broker a
final-status peace deal after lower-level negotiations reached a
Appearing Sunday on CBS' "Face-the-Nation," White House National
Security Adviser Sandy Berger said both Barak and Arafat want to
complete a deal and are aware of what could happen in the region if
their self-imposed Sept. 13 deadline is not reached.
"I believe that Prime Minister Barak is committed -- deeply
committed -- to trying to reach a peace agreement. I believe
Chairman Arafat would like to reach a peace agreement. This is not
easy. There is no guarantee of success. But one thing I'm certain
of: if we don't make this effort to reach an agreement, there will
be a slide to turmoil."
Hanging over the summit is a pledge by Arafat to unilaterally
declare Palestinian statehood Sept. 13 regardless of the outcome of
the negotiations -- and threats by Israel to respond by annexing
parts of the West Bank and Gaza strip if that happened.
On the CNN program "Late Edition," Palestinian negotiator Sa'eb
Erekat said the statehood date has been set because the peace talks
can't be open-ended. But he stressed there is no desire on the
Palestinian side for a September confrontation or a return to
"We don't plan violence. We don't want violence. We don't need
violence. We need to seek a win-win situation between Palestinians
and Israelis. And irrespective of how fragile this peace process
is, this is the only vehicle."
Appearing on the same program, Israeli peace negotiator and deputy
defense minister Ephriam Sheh said Israel has contingency plans to
deal with any worst-case scenario in the Palestinian areas but that
all its efforts now are aimed at making Camp David a success.
"A collapse of this summit may lead to despair in both sides and
despair leads to violence and violence leads to terrible crisis
that would put an end to the dialogue. That's why I think it's
so important. The alternative is so horrible that failure of Camp
David is inconceivable."
While the Israeli negotiator cast the Camp David meeting as a last
chance for peace, Erekat said it need not be seen as a "one-shot"
proposition. He said if an agreement is not finalized, the sides
can keep on working.
Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, also interviewed on CNN, said
despite the difficulty of the agenda the summit work can be
completed by July 19, when Clinton is scheduled to leave on a trip
The summit will deal with the most intractable issues of the peace
process, including the status of Jerusalem, the rights of
Palestinian refugees, and the borders of a Palestinian state.
Mother of 11 Learns to be an Auto Mechanic
Irit Ben-Yehuda, 40, the mother of 11 with number 12 on the way,
explains that her obligations at home will not prevent her from
fulfilling her life's dream, to become an auto mechanic.
Ben-Yehuda, a resident of Afula, is currently a student in a WIZO
training program. Upon completion, she will be a certified auto
"If women can be combatants in Lebanon, there is no reason in the
world they cannot be mechanics," stated Yossi Goshen, the director
of the training program.
Ben-Yehuda added that she dreams of opening her own garage one day
and provide employment for all her children.
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