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>Israel Faxx
>PD Feb. 14, 1995, V3, #31

IDF Examines Plan Expanding Role of Women

The IDF has begun preliminary work on a plan that would allow female personnel and medical officers to serve in combat units. IDF Brig. General Yisraela Oron, head of the Women's Army Corps, announced the efforts during a speech Monday at Tel Aviv University.

According to the report, the IDF will examine the possibility of women serving as security guards for certain units and military installations, drivers for combat vehicles and in other technical positions.

Partial Agreement Reached with Palestinians on Second Phase

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

After months of talks, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have reached agreement on one aspect of planned Palestinian elections. The agreement comes in the midst of a crisis in other areas of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and still leaves many issues to be decided.

The negotiators -- meeting in autonomous Jericho Monday -- agreed that Palestinians will vote separately for their top leader and members of a council. Israel had wanted the council to elect the chief executive. The move grants a request from the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, who apparently is more confident of election by the people.

The talks on election procedures are to resume next week in Cairo, with issues including the size and powers of the council still to be decided. Also in dispute are questions about who can vote and who can run for office.

The progress on election issues was welcomed by officials on both sides, but larger questions still loom which will determine when the Palestinian elections will be held -- if ever. Arafat is to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Thursday to try again to make progress on such issues as Israeli troop withdrawals from more of the West Bank, the future borders of the Palestinian zone, and the Autonomy Authority's efforts to fight terrorism. Their meeting last Thursday broke up amid sharp differences.

Clinton: Redouble Your Renegotiation Efforts

By Ron Pemstein (State Department)

President Clinton has told Israeli and Arab ministers meeting across the street from the White House, the peace process is now at a critical moment and called on them to redouble efforts at reviving the Middle East peace process.

The meeting at Blair House, across from the White House, did not resolve the stand-off between Israel's security needs and the Palestinian desire for free movement across borders. A preliminary meeting between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian adviser Nabil Sha'ath did however improve the atmospherics for another meeting between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat in the coming week.

Secretary of State Warren Christopher mediated the meeting and told reporters there was agreement to continue working toward expanded Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and better security for Israel.

"Both parties made clear that application of these measures would enhance the conditions for security and a normalized economic situation based upon free movement of people and goods. The Israelis for their part reaffirmed their commitment to full implementation of the second phase of the Declaration of Principles. Both sides agreed to promptly negotiate all aspects of this phase including transfer authority, re-deployment and elections. Finally, both parties agreed these understandings can help build trust and confidence and they expressed their determination to use them to ensure a successful Israeli-Palestinian meeting when they meet sometime later this week."

Christopher calls the Israeli-Palestinian understanding here, a significant step, that should help break the stalemate that existed when Arafat and Rabin met last week. The understanding was endorsed by the general meeting that also included the Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers.

On the economic side, the ministers agreed to establish duty free industrial zones in the region. Clinton told them he will ask Congress for authority to allow goods from those zones to enter the United States duty-free.

The secretary of state says Peres reassured the Palestinians that Israel will not build new settlements in the West Bank, confiscate new land or use government funds to assist Jewish settlers. Missing is any promise not to expand existing settlements.

Syria and Lebanon did not take part in this Middle East ministerial, but Christopher says they will be briefed on the outcome so they do not feel isolated.

Israeli Seriously Wounded in Attack Near Jerusalem

An Israeli taxi driver is in serious condition with multiple stab wounds after he was attacked Monday while driving on the road between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim. Police and security forces are conducting a wide search for the attacker, who officials believe had nationalist motives.

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