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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                     March 7, 1995, V3, #44
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Christopher Leaves for Mideast

By Ron Pemstein (State Department)

Secretary of State Warren Christopher leaves Washington this afternoon for his first Middle East peace mission of 1995. Israel and Syria have not talked directly since December, the last time Christopher visited the area. Israel and the Palestinians are talking directly but not resolving their differences about security and troop withdrawal. Egypt is concerned about Israel's refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Jordan is concerned about moves in the US Congress to cancel forgiveness of its debt. Gulf countries are concerned about the military threat of Iraq.

These problems face Christopher on his first trip of the year to the Middle East. He made seven to the region last year which resulted in a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, direct military talks between Israel and Syria and the establishment of a Palestinian authority in the West Bank and Gaza.

Now strains are apparent in many areas. A senior administration official says it is also important for Christopher to travel when his presence and authority can be used to push hard for solutions to problems.

The secretary of state will stop first in Cairo where Egypt has angered Israel and the US by refusing to support indefinite extension of the non-proliferation treaty. The Egyptians want Israel to commit itself to the treaty first. Unlike Israel, US officials do not view Egypt as being in a hostile posture.

The US officials say Egypt has been a positive influence in the peace process and Christopher will try to put the nuclear problem in the background. The secretary of state will then tackle the Israeli-Palestinian issue with talks with Israeli leaders and later in gaza with Yasir Arafat. He will be seeking to get more security commitments for Israel and more Israeli commitments to re-deploy troops in the West Bank to permit elections.

In the Israel-Syrian negotiation, both sides are pushing the other to make the next move. Their military chiefs of staff met in Washington last December but no talks have taken place since then. A senior official says the secretary of state will try to build on the security arrangements discussed in Washington when he visits Jerusalem and Damascus.

In Jordan, Christopher is expected to reassure King Hussein that President Clinton will continue to press for accelerated forgiveness of Jordan's debt to the US despite moves in the Congress to eliminate the gesture. A senior administration official says Christopher will tell King Hussein, President Clinton will push hard in the Senate to follow on his commitment to Jordan.

Syrian Peace May Result from Christopher's Trip

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israel's deputy foreign minister says a breakthrough is needed to advance Israel-Syria negotiations, or there will be no agreement at least for the next two years. And the official says this week's Middle East trip by US Secretary of State Warren Christopher could be crucial in determining whether there will be such a breakthrough.

Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin says the visit comes at what he calls a moment of truth for the Israel-Syria peace process. He told a news conference Monday Israeli leaders have made clear they are ready to make territorial concessions for peace, and it will soon be clear whether Syrian leaders are ready to make peace on anything other than their own terms.

"I do believe that we went a very, very long way, a very long way, in what was said by the prime minister, by the foreign minister in the last two years, and not only by them. The indications were quite clear. And if despite all these indications nothing happened, I believe it is now the Syrians who will have to move."

Beilin says if Syria is not willing to hold high-level talks and make serious progress soon, it will become impossible for Israeli leaders to make unpopular concessions because of next year's election campaign. The deputy foreign minister also says Israel will not be able to make peace with Syria unless it agrees to end its support for terrorist organizations.

Christians Blast Israel West Bank Settlements

By Victor Beattie (Washington)

Eight of the top Christian leaders in the United States have appealed to President Clinton to press Israel to stop expanding its presence in Jerusalem. The clergy group deplores what it calls the taking of land out of the hands of Palestinians and the resulting negative impact it has on the Christian minority:

The eight which includes the president of the National Council of Catholic Bishops appealed to Clinton to place the issue of Jerusalem's status higher on his agenda. They have appealed for a meeting with the president on the issue.

Group spokesman Tom Getman says in contravention to international law -- Israel is taking more land out of Palestinian control through annexation, expropriation and private purchase often of questionable legality. He says this impacts the city's Christian community as well and calls the persecution of Christian people there quite severe. He says Jerusalem must remain an open city despite Israel's contention that it has become its capital.

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