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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      June 16, 1995, V3, #110
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Yehiel Leiter--A settler in the West Bank

"We have made a promise that we will not allow our lives and the lives of our families, men, women and children, to be placed in jeopardy in the good graces of Yasir Arafat. And along with Arafat, of course, comes the company -- Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, DFLP -- a whole host of terror organizations that have been professionals at killing innocent Jews for 30 years.

Palestinians Say Progress Made

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli and Palestinian leaders met in Gaza on Thursday and emerged saying they had made progress on some issues, but not saying anything about the most important and difficult issues on their agenda.

The chief Palestinian negotiator, Nabil Shaath, says the two sides reached agreement on a further release of Palestinian prisoners. He says the Palestinian Authority wants a large number of prisoners released by the end of this month.

The release of prisoners has been a key Palestinian demand, but it has not been at the forefront of attention in recent months as negotiators have wrestled with issues related to the pace and extent of an Israeli troop withdrawal from parts of the West Bank, and the structure of Palestinian elections.

On those issues, officials only said negotiations are continuing actively and seriously. The key participants in the meeting, Israeli Environment Minister Yossi Sarid and the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, both expressed the hope that the July 1 target date for reaching agreement will be met, but Sarid said an extra week might be needed. Sarid also said once Palestinian elections are held, there will be an inevitable evolution toward creating a Palestinian state. But Israel's top leaders say that will not necessarily happen.

West Bank Settlers Await Confrontation

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli settlers in the West Bank are organizing a protest campaign to try to block the government's plan give control of much of the West Bank to the Palestinian Autonomy Authority.

While Israeli and Palestinian negotiators work against a July 1 deadline for agreeing on which West Bank cities Israel will withdraw from, and when, Israeli settlers in the area still want to prevent any withdrawal. The Israeli government is not planning to force any settlers to move at this stage, and says it will remain responsible for their safety.

But the settlers say even removing Israeli troops from the Palestinian cities would put them in danger. And they argue it would inevitably be the first step toward putting them in even more danger as Palestinian autonomy is expanded further and the troops leave more areas.

Yehiel Leiter is one of the leaders of the main organization of West Bank and Gaza settlers. Leiter's organization has announced that it will stage a series of protests and acts of civil disobedience to try to prevent the planned withdrawal, or to improve security once the Israeli troops have left. The campaign began early this week when settlers moved into 13 abandoned homes on a hillside near an existing settlement. The government has a policy against expanding settlements, or establishing new ones. But this group was allowed to stay because the Jewish owners of the apartments approved.

Such convenient setups will not always be available to the settlers, but Leiter says they will find other things to do, ranging from traditional protest demonstrations to moving into abandoned military posts to other things he won't specify. "The purpose really is twofold. On the one hand it is an expression of our right, as Jews, to live in the heartland of Israel. And number two, and more specifically, it has been timed so that we will voice, manifest our protest at the intentions of the Rabin government to turn the center of our country over to the PLO."

Other right-wing Israeli groups are also engaging in various activities to try to prevent the government's planned troop withdrawal.

A religious organization has been taking pictures of Palestinian homes and offices in east Jerusalem. Local residents call it harassment, and they confronted one carload of religious students outside the home of the senior Palestinian official in Jerusalem on Wednesday. They broke the car's windshield and the students fired an automatic weapon into the air to disperse the crowd.

Also on Wednesday, another group of Israelis tried to march through the West Bank city of Ramallah, adjacent to Jerusalem. They wanted to demonstrate in front of a Palestinian Authority office in the still-occupied town. Israeli troops stopped them. The leader of that march threatened that if Palestinian police come to take the place of Israeli soldiers in Ramallah there would be more than a protest. He said there would be a fight.

Yehiel Leiter of the Settlers Council says most settlers will not resort to violence, but he says they will try to make their protests difficult to ignore. "Our opposition is going to be intense. It's going to be uncompromising; it's going to ultimately, we hope and pray, be successful as well."

That last seems unlikely, with Israel expected to withdraw its troops from at least four West Bank cities, and perhaps six of them, by the end of the year.

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