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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                     March 20, 1995, V3, #50
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Arabs Attack Hebron Israeli Bus

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

At least two Israeli settlers were killed and five more injured Sunday evening near the West Bank town of Hebron when the bus on which they were riding was fired upon.

Officials say the bus was near an intersection just outside of Hebron when the gunfire started. Most Israelis consider the area too dangerous even to drive through. But settlers who live there travel the roads daily by car and by public buses, such as the one hit on Sunday, which runs between Jerusalem and the large Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, which borders Hebron.

Kiryat Arba is home to many extremist Jews who consider themselves to be at war with all Palestinians for control of the Holy Land. Hebron is home to a large number of extremist Palestinians, who are determined to oust the settlers and to take over all of Israel.

This is the first serious attack on Israelis since a bombing near Tel Aviv in January. Since then, the government has re-doubled its efforts to provide security inside Israel's pre-1967 borders by preventing most Palestinians from crossing army checkpoints. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is committed to also provide security for the approximately 120,000 settlers who live among nearly 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. But he has made clear that protecting what he calls "sovereign Israel" is his main priority.

The government is now working on a plan to further strengthen separation between predominantly-Jewish and predominantly Palestinian areas. But that would not prevent attacks such as Sunday's near Hebron. In fact, settlers say, the government's policy puts them significantly more at risk.

Still, Sunday's attack did not have the hallmarks of the well-planned, generally successful suicide attacks in the heart of Israel that have plagued the country in recent months. This incident is more in the pattern of other drive-by shootings in Gaza and the West Bank. Such shootings usually involve settlers in their cars, but this time the attackers chose a larger target.

Rabin Government Receives Plan to Prevent Terrorism

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israel's police minister has presented a plan to the prime minister for security arrangements designed to separate Israelis and Palestinians and prevent terrorism. This controversial plan is related to the next phase of Palestinian autonomy now under discussion.

When Israel first captured the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 war, many Israelis looked forward to absorbing the new territory and its Palestinian inhabitants. Some Israelis still hold such dreams, but the current government believes that view has become a minority opinion and it is committed to giving up most of the occupied territory to the Palestinian autonomy authority, in return for an end to terrorism.

Violent extremists on both sides oppose the decision, and the result has been a wave of terrorism -- mostly carried out by Palestinians.

So to stop the terror, and to prepare for the expansion of Palestinian autonomy, Israeli officials developed a policy called "separation." The prime minister asked the minister of the police, the chief of the "secret police" and other officials to draw up a plan to create a secure dividing line between Israel and the Palestinian areas. There is already a series of checkpoints, but officials admit that in addition to tens of thousands of permit-holders legally crossing into Israel every day, thousands of Palestinians sneak through illegally on back roads and footpaths.

The plan presented to the prime minister is aimed at stopping that. He approved it, and a final version is expected to be ready for debate by the full Cabinet within two weeks.

This approach to controlling terrorism and preparing for Palestinian autonomy has drawn criticism from both Israelis and Palestinians. Some Israelis believe that the price of a network of fences, electronic monitoring devices and more checkpoints is too high, at about $400 million. Other Israelis are angry because they believe such a secure line would prevent them from fulfilling their dream for Jewish control of all of biblical Palestine.

For exactly that reason, some Palestinians welcome the plan. But others are concerned that by building the secure line Israel would be unilaterally determining the future border of the Palestinian area.

The final border and the final status of the Palestinian entity are to be determined in talks scheduled to start next year. An interim stage of Palestinian autonomy is to be determined in talks now under way, with a July 1 deadline. In addition, Palestinians are concerned that such a secure line would make it even easier for Israel to seal off the Palestinian areas for security or other reasons, which has a devastating effect on their economy.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has called the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord something like a marriage. He says they have had the ceremony, and now they have the daily life, which is not so easy. Asked how this separation plan fits in with his marriage analogy, Peres says maybe it is a "modern marriage," with political separation and economic cooperation. Not all Palestinians, or Israelis, would likely agree with that benign description of the separation policy, but after last week's meeting it appears separation is on the way, perhaps within the next several months.

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