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>JN July 21, 2000, Vol. 8. No. 126

Convicted Iranian Spies Appeal Verdict

By IsraelWire

Seven of the 10 defendants in the Iran 13 trial have filed appeals. The original 13 defendants were tried for spying against Iran for the governments of the United States and Israel. Ten were found guilty and sentenced to prison sentences. The seven have filed appeals and the remaining three are expected to follow suit in the coming days.


Camp David Talks Continue Over Muslim and Jewish Sabbaths

By VOA's Nick Simeone (Washington) & Ross Dunn (Jerusalem)

Middle East peace talks are into their 10th day at Camp David, Md., even though President Clinton has left for the G-8 summit in Japan. But with no sign of a breakthrough, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat have decided to continue negotiating -- at least until Clinton returns.

This summit was declared ended late Wednesday - but it seems the risk of both sides walking away without any sort of agreement has led Barak and Arafat to keep on talking, with or without the president.

Clinton is expected to be in Japan until at least Sunday, leaving the Camp David talks to continue on a less formal basis, according to State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher.

"The determination is there, the effort has certainly not slackened in any way, and I think the parties would not be here - we would not be here - if we did not think there was some potential."

Both sides are now dealing with the most difficult issues at the heart of the 50-year Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including incompatible claims over Jerusalem and the fate of several million Palestinian refugees scattered throughout the Middle East.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is expected to hold separate meetings with both leaders in the next several days, during Clinton's absence. "She will continue to try to close the gaps and move forward on the issues so that when the president returns he can assess the status of our efforts."

The negotiations were on the verge of failure Wednesday as an exhausted Clinton prepared to board Air Force One, having already delayed his departure to Japan by a day.

After nine-long days of talks, the gaps between both sides are said to be substantial, and it is far from certain that any new ground will be broken before Clinton's return.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders are receiving both praise and criticism at home for their decision to extend the marathon peace summit at Camp David. But there is a mixture of fear and hope surrounding the possible outcome of the meeting.

Israel's opposition Likud Party says Barak should have left the Camp David summit because he has no mandate to make concessions on such key issues as the status of Jerusalem.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim the city as their religious and political capital and are engaged in active discussions to reach a compromise.

But Likud member Silvan Shalom says the prime minister does not have a majority in the parliament for his proposal to transfer Arab neighborhoods to some form of Palestinian municipal authority.

Such, a move, he says will transform Jerusalem into a city like Belfast, torn by sectarian violence. "If he will do such kind of thing, he will bring Israel to a situation - - or Jerusalem - - that it will be exactly like Belfast, and we know what Belfast means. Belfast means war. Belfast means all the time terrorism attacks, shooting in the streets, bombs, something that we don't want to see here within Jerusalem, within our capital, within our heart."

But other members of the Israeli parliament, including Ran Cohen of the Left-wing Meretz Party, say Barak should go even further. He says there are more than 200,000 Arab residents in Jerusalem who have the right to live in a Palestinian state, and his party will fully support any move in this direction.

But Israeli Arab member of parliament Ahmed Tibi, a former advisor to Arafat, says he is pessimistic about the prospects that this issue will be resolved at Camp David -- despite the decision to extend the negotiations.

"The situation is a real crisis. There are contacts. There are talks. But Jerusalem, the real dispute was the issue that sparked this crisis in the talks. And the last appeal of President Clinton for both leaders to remain in Camp David and to try and bridge the gap was positively answered. But I am skeptical if there will be any possibility of having an agreement or understanding over Jerusalem, if Barak will not accept the Palestinian, the absolute Palestinian demand of sovereignty over east Jerusalem."

But just as there are divisions on the Israeli side, not all Palestinians want an agreement. Dissident groups within the Palestine Liberation Organization and militant Muslim groups such as Hamas are urging Arafat to abandon the negotiations and return to armed struggle.






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