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>Israel Faxx
>PD Jan. 31, 1995, V3, #21

Islamic Jihad Says Bus Stop Attack Was Only the Beginning

By Laurie Kassman (Cairo)

The leader of the radical Palestinian group Islamic Jihad told a British newspaper in an exclusive interview that last week's suicide bombing attack in Israel was its biggest military attack ever inside the country -- and it will not be the last.

Fathi Shukaki said he did not order the attack but offered the interviewer details of the logistical planning that went into it. The British daily, The Independent, quotes Shukaki as saying "The Islamic Jihad's operations are not against Jews or Israelis outside" what he refers to as Palestine, but against military and settlement targets inside.

He says the number of young boys willing to take on suicide missions for the group has increased since the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and even more since the shaky start last year of the PLO's self-rule deal with Israel.

Islamic Jihad was formed in the late 1970s by Shukaki and other activists who split from the ranks of PLO leader Yasir Arafat's mainstream Fatah faction. Islamic Jihad leaders were inspired by the 1979 revolution in Iran that set up an Islamic state there.

Islamic Jihad figures on President Bill Clinton's list of 12 radical Middle East groups whose US assets will be frozen. The US administration is adding its weight to efforts to curb terrorist actions that threaten the Middle East peace process.

But Shukaki told The Independent his group has no assets in the United States. The Jihad leader insists his group has no official ties with Syria either.

Rabin: Peace Talks Depend on How Arafat Handles Terrorists

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin says he will base future peace talks with the Palestinians more directly on what the Palestinian leadership does to stop terrorism.

The prime minister told high school students and their parents on Monday that he will continue peace talks with the Palestinians, because, he said, stopping the talks would only increase terrorism. But he also said he will base his decisions in the talks more directly on what the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, does to stop terrorism.

Arafat has frequently expressed understanding of Israel's security concerns, and even said he would make it one of his top priorities. But Israeli leaders say he has not actually done very much. An Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity on Monday said Israel wants the Palestinian police to conduct more intelligence operations against the radicals and make arrests where appropriate. The official says the decision not to do that comes from the top Palestinian leadership, and that is what Israel wants changed.

Speaking in Gaza Monday Morning, Arafat criticized Israel's decision Sunday to extend the closure of Palestinian territories. Arafat called the extended closure a violation of the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. Israel imposed the latest closure a week ago, after Palestinian terrorists set off two bombs at a bus stop north of Tel Aviv, killing 21 Israelis, most of them young soldiers. Senior Israeli officials said at the time the closure would last only for a few days, but the Cabinet extended it.

Rabin says he will lift the closure only when Arafat's Autonomy Authority proves it will stand behind its commitment to fight terrorism. Rabin spoke at a school in Jerusalem from which several of last week's bombing victims had graduated. He said the closure will continue, and when it is eased, fewer workers will be allowed to cross from Gaza into Israel.

Syria is Stumbling Block to Continuing Talks

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israel's top negotiator with Syria says peace talks are in recess because Syria has decided not to pursue them for now. The Israeli negotiator, Itamar Rabinovich, had been expected to meet with his Syrian counterpart in Washington last week, but the meeting never happened.

The Syrian negotiator is reported to still be in Damascus. Rabinovich told Israel Radio on Monday the talks are in what he called a "timeout," by Syria's choice. And he says if the Syrians expected Israel to respond by "courting" them with new offers, they will be disappointed.

Another Israeli official, who requested anonymity, said negotiations are being "paralyzed" by Syria. The official accused Syria of trying to create a crisis in the talks in order to force concessions from Israel.

The Israel-Syria talks have been deadlocked over Syria's demand that Israel agree in advance to surrender all of the Golan Heights seized in the 1967 war, and Israel's demand that Syria outline the full scope of future peaceful relations.

Asked Monday whether those relations would have to include Syrian agreement to stop harboring terrorist groups, Rabinovich said Israel is not making such a demand. He indicated Syria would likely not agree and he said Israel does not want to get into diplomatic corners it can not get out of. But Rabinovich said he will protest to the Syrians that the claim of responsibility for last week's double suicide bombing near Tel Aviv came from the Damascus office of the radical Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad.

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