Newsletter : 0fax0721.txt
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>JN July 21, 2000, Vol. 8. No. 126
Convicted Iranian Spies Appeal Verdict
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
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
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
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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