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>PD Jan. 20, 1995, V3, #14

PLO Says Israel Discusses Secret Evacuation Plan

Palestinian spokesman Nabil Shaath says that Israel and the PLO are already holding negotiations on the IDF withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. In an interview on an Arab radio station, Shaath said that Peres promised Arafat that Israel would not renege on its obligations to the PLO as defined in the Oslo and Cairo agreements.

Rabin and Arafat Admit Differences

By Al Pessin (Israeli/Gaza Border)

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, have discussed sensitive issues which have threatened to disrupt their peace process. And they declared they will not allow that to happen. The two men met at the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip for almost two hours Thursday.

The two leaders discussed the sensitive issues -- Israeli settlements, Palestinian prisoners, and terrorism -- and came out of their talks admitting there are differences. But Rabin said they agreed not to let those issues derail their effort to move on to the next stage of their peace accord -- Israeli withdrawal from much of the West Bank and Palestinian elections.

"There are difficulties. The Israelis are bothered by the terror, the Palestinians by the settlements and land. We have to focus on the continuation of negotiations to implement what we are committed to, the Declaration of Principles, to bring about elections, to bring about the transfer of authority, to make sure that security will prevail."

The leaders did not announce any decisions related to those goals. But they did agree to establish a joint committee to work on the issue of Palestinian prisoners still held by Israel.

Rabin said he also explained Israel's settlements policy to Arafat, particularly the part which promises only limited government spending for housing projects in settlements and its policy of not confiscating Arab land for such housing. Rabin said that recently, land has been confiscated only for bypass roads around Palestinian towns, which he says are needed in order to expand autonomy while maintaining security.

Asked whether he was satisfied with Rabin's assurances, Arafat said "Somewhere in-between." And he also expressed some desire for the peace process to move forward more quickly.

"We can understand, as I have mentioned before, your needs for security and definitely, at the same time, our needs to have very soon what has been agreed upon to be implemented."

Arafat also said the working-level Israeli-Palestinian talks will resume early next week in Cairo to work on the issues of the next stage of the peace plan. Many Palestinian officials and community leaders had called for those talks to be suspended until Israel stopped all construction in the settlements -- something Israeli leaders have said they will not do.

Cabinet to Consider New Building Regulations in the Territories

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is expected to present four new proposals regarding building in the territories to the Cabinet on Sunday.

The proposals include; continued suspension of construction in the territories, the establishment of a ministerial committee to oversee private construction, building fences closer to housing at settlements, and only expropriating land for road construction and/or security purposes - for which the Palestinians with be provided with notification.

Peres: Egypt Ties Strong, Though There are Some 'Clouds'

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak reportedly blamed Israel for both problems in the peace process and difficulties in Israeli- Egyptian relations.

At the end of a visit to France, Mubarak said Israel must take steps to allow the peace process to continue. He added that he hopes the situation would not develop into a crisis. The Egyptian President said ties with Israel are not improving, and encouraged Europe to increase its involvement in Middle East events.

French sources say that the foreign ministers of the European troika - France, Germany and Spain - will visit the Middle East in the next two to three weeks.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Wednesday during a discussion in the Knesset that Israeli-Egyptian ties are strong. Nevertheless, added Peres, sometimes there are "clouds" over the relationship. "The last 16 years of Israeli-Egyptian relations have been a very important chapter in the region's history."

Tel Aviv Computer School Trains Africans

Visiting Africans have found a place to prepare for their future back home. The Yeda School of Business and Technology in Tel Aviv is a small college which offers a range of computer and business courses. It began two and a half years ago with a course in technical writing which today remains one of its main programs.

The young Africans are anxious to learn useful business skills to take back with them to Africa. They are mostly from Ghana. Other students come from Nigeria, Liberia and other places. Already over 30 African students have received certificates of completion of Yeda School's computer program.

It all started when 23-year-old Sheridan Adagy of Ghana happened upon the Yeda School and was impressed by their computer studies program. An excellent student, Sheridan was asked to stay on at the school by its owner and director, Mati Schwartz. Sheridan has attracted many other African students who like him see computing as an essential for developing modern businesses in their African homelands.

Schwartz emigrated from the US in 1985, is married to an Israeli and has six children. He is delighted that his school has become a success for these Africans. "Yeda has become a place where these African students share information and prepare for their future."

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