Newsletter : 2fax0430.txt
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Arafat Backing Down from Agreement with U.S.
PA leader Yasir Arafat has already begun backing out of the
agreement with the United States by which six persons are be handed
over to the custody of U.S. and UK agents to ensure they serve
Arafat is required to turn over four PFLP terrorists involved in
the assassination of Rechavam Ze'evi, as well as Fuad Shubaki and
PFLP leader Ahmed Sadat, responsible for the Karin-A weapons
freighter. Arafat has already announced the Karin-A suspects would
not be turned over to American custody.
Palestinian Prisoners to be Guarded by Americans, Britons
By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)
Preparations are underway to implement a U.S.-brokered deal to end
the Israeli military siege of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's
West Bank compound. Under the plan, six Palestinian prisoners are
to be placed under the guard of American and British personnel.
Under the American plan, accepted by both Israel and the
Palestinian Authority, British and American guards are to be
dispatched to the West Bank. The guards will monitor six
Palestinian prisoners to ensure they stay behind bars.
Four of the prisoners have been convicted by a makeshift
Palestinian military court of assassinating Israeli Tourism
Minister Rehavam Ze'evi; the fifth is the leader of the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Saadat. His group has
claimed responsibility for the murder. The sixth is one of Arafat's
top financial advisers, Fuad Shobaki, who has been linked to a
failed attempt to smuggle weapons from Iran to the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said that the
six will be moved soon from Arafat's Ramallah compound to a jail in
Jericho in the West Bank.
Israel's defense minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, said that Israeli
troops will withdraw soon from Arafat's Ramallah offices, and that,
in fact, the Palestinian leader is now free to travel wherever he
Arafat has been a virtual prisoner in Ramallah since December, when
Israeli tanks blockaded his headquarters, demanding the extradition
of the wanted Palestinians.
Annan, Israel Still Discussing U.N. Jenin Team
By VOA News
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is trying to persuade Israel to
cooperate with the U.N. fact-finding team awaiting word that it can
go to the Jenin refugee camp.
Annan told reporters in New York Monday that he thinks it is urgent
for the team go in and find out what happened during Israel's
offensive in the camp last month.
Palestinians said Israeli forces massacred hundreds of civilians.
But Israel said about 50 Palestinians were killed as its soldiers
battled Palestinian gunmen.
The U.N. team, now in Geneva, was scheduled to go to Jenin Sunday
but canceled their flight after the Israeli cabinet voted not to
cooperate with the mission.
Israel and U.N. officials differ on several ground rules for the
mission, including whether the United Nations or Israel itself
chooses the Israeli witnesses to be interviewed.
The U.N. Security Council has said it expects a "positive answer"
from Israel on whether it will cooperate with the fact-finding
mission. The council held an emergency session late Sunday to
debate a resolution demanding Israel work with the team. They later
gave Annan another 24 hours to try to work things out. The
three-man team, led by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari,
has been waiting in Geneva to head to Jenin. Other members include
former International Red Cross President Cornelio Sommaruga, and
the former U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata.
Retired U.S. Maj. Gen. William Nash is the team's top military
advisor. Military advisers from France and Britain arrived in
Geneva Monday to join the group, as did Inspector Patrick Leahy of
the Irish police, who has worked with U.N. operations in Bosnia and
Israel originally welcomed the mission when the Security Council
voted to send it earlier this month. But last week, Israeli
officials expressed concern the team will focus on the destruction
at Jenin and ignore Israel's contention that the camp was a haven
Nine Palestinians Killed In Israeli Hebron Raid
By VOA News
At least nine Palestinians have been killed and another 17 arrested
in an Israeli raid on the West Bank city of Hebron. Israeli troops,
backed by attack helicopters and tanks, seized control of more than
half of the divided city's Palestinian-ruled area and remained
there at nightfall Monday.
Palestinian witnesses said a missile fired from an Israeli combat
helicopter hit a house, killing a gunman and four others. Witnesses
say two others were killed by helicopter gunfire while rushing to
Israel said the military push was triggered by Saturday's
Palestinian attack on a Jewish settlement that killed four
Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said the raid is temporary
and aimed at the terrorist infrastructure in the city, and not at
the Palestinian Authority. He said troops have conducted house-to
house-searches for militants, and have seized explosive materials,
weapons and missiles.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Israel should
"finish its withdrawal" from Palestinian areas and refrain from
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that "all elements
are in place" for reaching an agreement to end the stand-off at
Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. But Palestinian negotiators
said talks are on hold until Israel allows food into the church.
Some 200 Palestinians, including 30 armed gunmen, have been holed
up in the church for 27 days. Monday, an Israeli sniper killed a
militant who stepped outside the church.
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