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>PD November 22, 1994, V2, #209

Hizbullah Attacks Israel Patrol in Lebanon

An IDF soldier was moderately wounded Sunday when the Hizbullah ambushed an Israeli unit in the Security Zone in southern Lebanon. IDF forces responded with artillery and helicopter fire at suspected Hizbullah targets.

Clinton Expects Continued Israel Foreign Aid

By David Borgida (White House) & Paula Wolfson (Congress)

President Clinton is pledging to visiting Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin continued US aid at current levels, a reassurance the prime minister wanted to hear given Republican control of the next US Congress. And following their meeting at the White House Monday, Clinton said he expects to speed up multilateral aid to the Palestinians to try to quell recent Gaza violence.

With Republicans expected to review the $3 billion in annual US economic and security aid to Israel, the president offered a direct message of reassurance: "We are going to have a very robust security relationship with Israel and I believe the aid levels will be maintained."

After his meeting with Rabin, the president also dodged a direct response to the matter of direct US involvement in any monitoring force at the Golan Heights. Rabin was expected to discuss this directly with President Clinton. But in this response to a reporter's question after their meeting, Clinton would not rule out the idea.

"We in the United States must await an agreement of peace between Israel and Syria. If a peace agreement is reached, regarding the Golan, in which we were asked to participate, obviously that is something that I would consider. We have been in the Sinai as a result of the agreement between Egypt and Israel for quite a long time now without incident. I'm very proud of the role the United States has been asked to play there as a monitor, not as a defender of Israel's security, but as a monitor. But that has not been discussed now. We're a good ways from that, and that is something for Israel and for Syria to resolve."

With continued violence in the Gaza, there were reports Rabin would ask the president for what was described as a quick infusion of US aid to the Palestinians in an effort to quell the bloodshed. Senior officials told reporters such a request was not directly made.

Later, Rabin went to Capitol Hill for the first in a series of meetings with key members of Congress. He got some reassuring news from Senate Republican leader Robert Dole.

The election of a new Congress has raised concerns among the largest recipients of American foreign aid. The man expected to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ,Jesse Helms of North Carolina, wants to slash assistance programs around the world. That could mean a big cut for Israel -- which currently gets about $3 billion a year.

There is sympathy for Helms' views among lawmakers anxious to balance the budget and bring America's national debt under control. But it now appears that aid to Israel, Egypt, and other participants in the Middle East peace process will have strong allies in the new Congress.

Senate Republican leader Robert Dole -- in a clear split with Helms -- says these aid programs are essential if the push for peace is to survive and thrive. "I would hope and I would guess that at this time of great tension in the Middle East, when we are trying to achieve peace, there wouldn't be any effort to reduce the level of aid. I think that will be not just the Republican view, but the bipartisan view of the Congress."

Dole says balancing the United States budget is important -- but so, too, is ending decades of bloodshed in a part of the world that has known too much war and suffering. "We have to establish our priorities. And certainly peace in the Middle East is one that we have been searching for, yearning for, and trying to help to bring about through a number of presidents -- Democratic and Republican, as well as Republicans and Democrats in Congress. And I think at this point we don't want to give any indication that we've lessened our efforts."

As he sat down to talk to Rabin in his office at the Capitol building, Dole also indicated he might be willing to support the notion of sending American troops to the Golan Heights as part of an international peacekeeping force. But Dole warned that so far, there is no agreement between Israel and Syria on the Golan -- and he warned any discussion of US peacekeepers is premature.

Arafat and Hamas Agree to End Fighting

By Al Pessin (Gaza) & Susan Sappir (Jerusalem)

PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat has reached an agreement with a rival Muslim group to end fighting in Gaza that claimed at least 13 lives, Friday.

A negotiator for the agreement between Arafat and the Islamic resistance movement Hamas says the agreement puts an end to the bloodshed. He says it means relations will be conducted on the basis of dialogue and not on the basis of confrontation and violence.

The clashes between Palestinian police and Hamas supporters were the worst internal violence in Gaza since Palestinians established self-rule last May.
The PLO and Hamas still bitterly accuse each other of starting the fighting. The parties agreed to a 20-member investigation team to look into Friday's events. Arafat -- under pressure from Israel to curb Muslim guerrillas -- has not disarmed the Muslim groups. Several thousand Arafat supporters staged an angry rally in Gaza on Monday, complete with automatic weapons being fired into the air and a speech by Arafat harshly criticizing his radical opponents. Radical leaders responded angrily. But there was also conciliatory talk from both sides.

The Arafat supporters, marching 12-abreast, had swept through the streets to a rally in a central square on Monday where they shouted their loyalty to Arafat and said they would strike back at any radicals who threaten him. At the rally, Arafat said he will not allow any group to create disorder and threaten the autonomy he and his supporters have built.

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