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>PD NOVEMBER 17, 1994, V2, #206

Austrian President Apologizes for Holocaust

Austrian President Thomas Klestil, during his address to the Knesset, asked the Jewish people for forgiveness for the part that Austrian Nazis played in the Holocaust, calling them "the worst executioners" of the Nazis. "No forgiveness can ever erase the pain caused by the Holocaust. On behalf of the Austrian Republic, I lower my head in honor of the victims of those days."

Rabin: Syria Not Serious About Peace

By Alan Silverman (Los Angeles)

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin says Syria's president has not shown he is serious about seeking peace. Speaking to Jewish organization leaders Wednesday in Los Angeles, Rabin also blasted what he called Iranian support for international terror.

Rabin says Israel and Syria remain far apart on significant issues. According to the Israeli leader, Syrian President Hafez Assad wants what Egyptian President Anwar Sadat received in return for peace, especially total Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory. But Rabin maintains Syria's president is not willing to go as far as the late Egyptian leader did to achieve peace: "President Assad has not done one percent of what President Sadat did to convince the people of Israel that he interested in peace. We are a democracy. In a democracy, government has to lead, has to decide, sometimes, to take very unpopular decisions. But on vital issues that call for sacrifices, for taking calculated risks, there is a need for a partner who plays his role not only vis-a-vis government, but vis-a-vis people. This is the problem with Syria."

While generally optimistic about eventual accords with Israel's neighbors and coexistence with Palestinians, Rabin says Middle East peace is threatened by the current wave of terror attacks which he blames squarely on Islamic extremists supported by Iran: "These today are the enemies of peace, not Syria, Lebanon, Jordan or the PLO. It is the extreme Islamic terror groups. Iran is behind them. This is the source of inspiration and assistance to most of these movements some more, some less. What they want is to stop the peace process. It is not easy for me when I am asked by the People of Israel: 'You promised us peace and you bring terror.' But terror by whom? Not by our partners for peace, but by the enemies of peace: the extreme, Islamic radical terror groups."

Rabin pledges his government will fight these terror groups "by all means within the limits of the law."The Israeli prime minister's one-day California agenda also included talks with entertainment industry leaders and a Beverly Hills ceremony to receive the third annual Ronald Reagan Freedom Foundation Award, an honor he shares with Jordan's King Hussein and PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat. Today Rabin travels to Denver for a national General Assembly of American Jewish organizations before heading to Washington to meet with administration officials and congressional leaders. The prime minister says he doubts the Republican takeover of Capitol Hill will jeopardize Israel's $1.2 billion in foreign aid from the United States.

King Hussein Warns Fundamentalists

By Mohamed Ghuneim (Amman)

King Hussein of Jordan warned groups opposed to the Jordan-Israel peace treaty he will not tolerate the use of Jordanian territory as a springboard for attacks against Israel. He says he will not allow disruption of what he calls a peace won with honor. The Jordanian monarch has strongly criticized Arab countries for their negative attitude.

Marking his birthday late Tuesday, King Hussein delivered a hard-hitting speech against fundamentalists, radical groups and Arab countries opposed to the peace treaty.

The king, who turned 59, delivered a clear warning against terrorism. He says Islam cannot side with darkness and against peace or with death against life. He also made it clear he will no longer allow the use of mosques for what he calls irresponsible expression and mental terrorism in the name of Islam.

King Hussein's warning is understood to target the Muslim Brotherhood movement, whose members occupy 16 seats in the parliament, Hamas movement and radical Palestinian groups. He reiterated Jordan's commitment to peace and hinted for the third time in as many weeks he will quell any attempt against his policy by force, as he did against the Palestinians in 1970.

Palestinians Celebrate Independence

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Tuesday, Palestinians marked their first official Independence Day since gaining autonomy in Gaza and Jericho, with a celebration in Gaza; clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank; and an unsuccessful attempt to convene the PLO's Executive Committee.

Thousands of people marched through Gaza and attended a rally where Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat vowed to continue working to make Jerusalem the Palestinian capital. Arafat blames Israel and donor countries for the continuing widespread poverty in Gaza, which he says drives people to radical groups.

Tuesday evening, Arafat was not able to convene a planned meeting of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Half of its 18 members did not attend, to protest his policies.

Elsewhere, celebrations were low key to mark the sixth anniversary of the PLO's declaration of Palestinian statehood. At a small celebration in the West Bank town, Nablus, Israeli troops fired on stone-throwing Palestinians -- wounding two of them. In autonomous Jericho, Palestinian policemen joined residents in a street celebration.

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