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>PD OCTOBER 19, 1994, V2, #191
PERES: JERUSALEM NOT IMPORTANT MILITARILY
In Knesset debate this week, Foreign Minister Shimon
Peres said that Jerusalem has no military or strategic
significance. "Jerusalem is important to us as part of our
Clinton Will Witness Peace Signing
By David Borgida (White House)
The Clinton White House is scrambling to arrange all the
details for next week's presidential visit to the Middle East, a
visit that will begin with the signing of the historic peace
agreement between Israel and Jordan but will include stops in
Israel and Kuwait, possibly even Syria. It was an invitation
Clinton simply could not turn down.
In July, he brokered the agreement ending decades of hostility
between Israel and Jordan at a White House ceremony. But his
commitment to a comprehensive Middle East peace, said Clinton
spokesperson Dee Dee Myers Tuesday, dates back to the beginning
of his presidency. Despite some planned political trips for
Democrats next week, she explained why the decision to accept the
invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and Jordan's King
Hussein took just hours to accept.
"The president made the decision based on his commitment to peace
in the Middle East -- it is something that as you know he has been
working very hard on over the course of the last 20 months."
Witnessing the signing ceremony is, in her words, "a unique
"This is something he feels very strongly about, he's very
committed to, and is going to the signing ceremony in an attempt to
underscore his commitment and the commitment of the United States
to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. And I think the
president will continue to do everything he can in the future to
help facilitate progress on all those tracks."
The White House Tuesday sent a first wave of logistical and
security personnel to the region to begin making preparations for
the visit -- the president's first to the region since becoming
Hebron Cave to Reopen to Jews and Muslims
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israel plans to reopen the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron -- site
of the massacre of Muslim worshipers this past March by a radical
Jewish settler. Israel's deputy defense minister inspected
security arrangements at the cave on Tuesday.
The cave -- which houses a mosque and a synagogue -- is sacred to
Jews and Muslims as the burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
and their wives. It has been closed since March, when radical
settler Baruch Goldstein killed at least 29 Arabs as they prayed
The Israeli army has been working on new security arrangements
for the cave, which is also a popular tourist attraction. A
special force has been trained for security duty at the cave, and
some new equipment has been installed.
The government has worked out a plan for sharing the space in the
cave, and for turning it over entirely to Jews or Muslims at
certain times and on certain days.
After his visit on Tuesday, Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Gur
acknowledged that there are both Muslims and Jews who are not
entirely satisfied with the plan. But he said it will be
mplemented anyway around the end of this month.
"There are people that are not happy with any agreement. And
it's right that in any agreement you will find, let's say,
difficulties. But I believe that the majority of the population
will realize that all the arrangements that we have established
here are positive to both sides, to Muslims and Jews, and that
after a very short while they will get used to it and that's the
main thing, and it will be quiet."
PLO-Israel Talks Resume in Cairo
By Peyman Pejman (Cairo)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have resumed talks on a
timetable for holding elections in Palestinian-held areas of the
West Bank and Gaza Strip.
This is the third round of negotiations between the Palestinian and
Israeli teams about an election timetable. Israel cancelled a third
day of talks last week after the fundamentalist Hamas group
kidnapped and later killed an Israeli soldier.
Hamas wanted to exchange the soldier for hundreds of Palestinian
prisoners being held in Israeli jails. The soldier died when
Israeli commandos raided the house where he was being held.
The Cairo talks between the Palestinians and Israelis have one
main goal -- devising a timetable for the Palestinians to hold
local elections in the areas they now control in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip.
But within that framework, they also are debating several smaller
issues, topics they have been debating for weeks and have had
little success in resolving.
The Palestinians want Israel to complete its troop pullout from
the West Bank before they hold their elections. Israel says it
will complete the withdrawal, but not by November 1st, the date
the Palestinians want the elections held.
Israel says it will take more time because there are many Jewish
settlements in the West Bank which will continue to need
protection by Israeli security forces.
Another issue is the question of who will be allowed to run for
the legislative council that the Palestinians will elect, and how
many members the council will have.
The Palestinians say all Palestinians, regardless of political
alliance, should be eligible to run as candidates. Israel says
member of Hamas, the extremist group opposed to the
Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, can vote but should be barred
as candidates in the election.
Israel also wants the Palestinian council to be a small one,
while Palestinians want it to include about 100 members.
Assad Visits Mubarak in Cairo
By Peyman Pejman (Cairo)
Syrian President Hafez al-Assad made a short visit to
Egypt Tuesday to discuss the Middle East peace process with
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Assad met for more than three
hours. Afterwards, the two leaders said their discussions focused
on progress in the Middle East peace talks and the security
situation in the Gulf.
Assad's short trip to Egypt comes one day after Israel and Jordan
initialled a peace treaty, formally putting an end to the state of
war between their two countries. The document is to be signed on
Assad did not directly criticize Jordan for having agreed to a
separate peace treaty with Israel, but Syria has long argued that
Arab states should negotiate collectively with Israel.
Details of the talks between the two presidents have not been
released. But, in view of the Israeli/Jordanian accord, Syria is
under increasing pressure to reach a similar agreement with Israel.
Those bilateral negotiations, however, have been stalled for
Egypt, the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel,
has been mediating between Israel and Syria. Egypt's Foreign
Minister Amr Moussa said Monday there had been progress in the
Syrian-Israeli talks but he did not elaborate.
Judge Believes Iranians Bombed JCC
By Roger Wilkison (Rio de Janeiro)
The Argentine judge who is investigating the bombing three months
ago of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires says he still
believes Iranian officials were involved in the crime. Judge Juan
Jose Galeano told a Buenos Aires newspaper that the evidence he has
gathered so far indicates that four Iranians who were once assigned
to their country's embassy in Argentina masterminded the bombing.
The July 18th bombing killed at least 95 people. But as in the
case of a previous terrorist blast at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos
Aires that killed 20 people, the investigation into the crime has
bogged down, and most Argentines believe the culprits will never be
However, Galeano seems convinced that Iran was behind the attack.
In an interview that appeared in Tuesday's edition of the newspaper
"La Nacion," the judge reiterated his accusation that the four
Iranians he indicted in August were involved in the attack.
The Argentine Supreme Court rejected the judge's charges against
the Iranians, saying he did not offer enough proof of their
involvement. The judge based his indictments on the testimony of
one man -- a mysterious Iranian defector named Manoucher Motamer,
who, at last report, was living in Ecuador.
Iran reacted furiously to the indictments, and Argentine-Iranian
relations entered a tense phase. Iran accused Israel and the
United States of inspiring the judge's denunciations. The
mysterious Motamer claimed he was a former official of Iran's
Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance, but the Iranian
government said he was a former shopkeeper in the city of Isfahan.
Judge Galeano told La Nacion he wants to interview Motamer again.
But, according to a poll published Tuesday in the newspaper "Pagina
Doce," seven out of 10 Argentines believe the crime will never be
More than 20 people, including some Arabs and Iranians, were
detained during the investigation, but most have been released
for lack of evidence. An Argentine man suspected of having sold
the vehicle used in the car bombing is still under detention, as
are two Arabs who were recently found to be in possession of
explosives. But police do not believe the Arabs were involved
in the attack on the Jewish community center.
Meanwhile, most Argentines cited by the Pagina Doce poll said
they fear another terrorist attack. They mentioned weak security
measures, the presence in Buenos Aires of a large Jewish community,
and the inconclusive investigation of the Israeli Embassy bombing
as factors that make the Argentine capital a target for
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