Newsletter : 5fax0626.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
June 26, 1995, V3, #116
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Peres Meets with Arafat About Saturday's Deadline
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met for more than
three-hours Sunday in Gaza and came away saying they made some
progress, but no breakthroughs, toward meeting their July 1
target for agreement on the next phase of Palestinian autonomy.
The talks came on a day marked by violence in autonomous Gaza and
in the West Bank.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres emerged from the meeting
saying he and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat are -- very
much...Narrowing the gaps -- between their positions. He said both
sides came into Sunday's talks with ideas about how to bridge the
gaps, and if talks this week go smoothly there could be an
agreement by Saturday's deadline.
Arafat said the two men discussed Palestinian prisoners held by
Israel, and he expressed the hope they will be released.
Hundreds of the more than 5,000 prisoners have been on hunger
strike for the past week to press for their release. There have
been several demonstrations on their behalf which have turned
Arafat's spokesman, Marwan Kanafani, says Peres agreed some
prisoners will be released, but did not say how many or when. The
two men agreed there will be a working-level meeting on the issue
soon. Kanafani says the goal is to reach what he called a tentative
agreement by Saturday, indicating detailed talks might continue
beyond the target date.
Meanwhile, the prisoner issue sparked a second day of violence
between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators on the
In the West Bank town of Nablus Israeli troops clashed with
several-hundred Palestinian demonstrators. Reports from the city
say the demonstrators tried to approach an Israeli prison in the
town and threw stones at troops guarding it. The soldiers opened
fire, killing one man and wounding several dozen. Israel is
reluctant to release prisoners convicted of attacking Israelis, or
of supporting groups which do.
There was one such attack early Sunday in Gaza. A donkey cart
laden with explosives was detonated as an Israeli patrol passed.
Three soldiers were slightly wounded. The cart's driver, a
suicide bomber, was killed. The militant group Islamic Jihad
A report Sunday says an Islamic leader in Sudan has invited the
Authority and the militant organizations to Khartoum to try to work
out a permanent agreement.
The approach of the July 1 target date and mounting frustration
about the prisoner issue have broken the calm of the last few
months. Even the Palestinian Authority's own radio station played
militant music Sunday, apparently for the first time since it went
on the air a year ago.
A song, written during the Palestinian uprising, the intifada,
says "Revolt, revolt, revolt with stones. The young and old are
marching, and we will not return home until we end our shame
through blood and stones."
Megaphonic Communication Links Summit and Valley
By Laurie Kassman (on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights)
Syrian and Israeli military chiefs are meeting in Washington this
week to talk about security arrangements for an eventual peace
agreement that will return the Golan Heights to Syria.
Negotiations are still snagged on which comes first -- the return
of the Heights to Syria or normalized relations with Israel.
Correspondent Laurie Kassman recently visited the Syrian side of
the Golan Heights, to see how Syrians divided by war find ways to
communicate with each other.
In the morning, when the wind is right, villagers gather on a
hillside under the watchful eye of a UN observation post. They use
battery-powered megaphones to chat with friends and relatives
standing on a grassy ledge 600 feet away across a no-man's land in
the Israeli village of Majdel Chams.
As the wind lifts their voices across the divide, they shout
greetings and family news, rumors about peace and other gossip.
Hamed al-Batish, 56, has been coming to Shouting Hill, as it is
known, for more than two decades. His parents, his brothers and
sisters all live on the other side.
Saqer, 23, is a medical student at Damascus University. He comes
from Massada village on the other side of the barbed wire barriers.
He says it is strange to stand in Syria look across at his village.
Saqer says he is waiting for peace to break down the barriers and
let him move freely. He is homesick and wants to see his family
and his girlfriend more often.
Israel seized the Golan in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and 150,000
Syrian villagers left. Syria's attempt to retake the 775
square-mile area in the 1973 war ended in defeat.
The high peaks of Golan give military superiority over the wide
open plains below. The Jordan River has its source here. Israel
is worried about its security and its future water rights once the
area is returned. Syrian and Israeli military chiefs are meeting
to work out security arrangements for an eventual peace treaty, but
water rights probably will not be negotiated until peace is
For now, the Syrian villagers, divided by war and waiting for
peace, have to resort to their binoculars and megaphones to
bridge the gap.
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