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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      July 3, 1995, V3, #121
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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"We conducted a long discussion. We didn't reach yet an agreement. As long as we don't have an agreement, we don't have an agreement. We shall have to continue and to work. It's a very serious negotiation. It's very complicated from the Palestinian side and it's very complicated from the Israeli side. We tried to do our best, but the night was not long enough." Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres

Some Palestinians are Ready to Fight Israelis

By Patricia Golan (Jerusalem)

The Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have been trying unsuccessfully to agree on the second phase of the 1993 peace accord that calls for Israeli troop withdrawal from Arab cities, to be followed by Palestinian elections. Under the agreement Jewish settlements are allowed to remain in place, their fate to be determined later. Scenes in Nablus this past week were reminiscent of the Palestinian uprising or intifada which faded after the 1993 Israel-PLO peace agreement.

Nablus has always been the industrial center of the West Bank, with thriving businesses in cement, stone, shoes and medicines. But, the closure imposed on the West Bank by Israel following a series of terror attacks has meant they can not export or import materials. Factories are grinding to a halt, and unemployment in the city is more than 50-percent.

The streets in the city center are strewn with rocks and overturned garbage dumpsters from the week's riots. On another side of town, the streets are tree-lined and tidy. The An-Najah University campus has attractive, white buildings, and well-kept flower beds. Classes have been suspended in protest. All three men killed in last week's confrontation were students here.

This student says the protest demonstrations show how angry people are. Israel should have started the next phase of the peace process long ago, he says, but they are just dragging their feet.

Yousef Gheneim, head of the business administration department, doesn't believe the Israelis will withdraw from Nablus or any other Arab city. "I think this is just gossip, that is all. Rabin and his government they do not believe in dates, that is why we do not trust Rabin and Peres' government."

All the students here worry when the Israeli troops re-deploy, they will just set up camps and roadblocks outside the city limits. In effect turning Nablus -- a city of 150,000 -- and other West Bank towns into a series of cages.

Khalil Shikaki directs the Nablus-based think tank, The Center for Palestine Research and Studies. Shikaki fears if an acceptable agreement on troop redeployment is not reached soon, there will be an eruption of violence. "Resort to violence at this stage, for example, would find more support, there would much more support for such a thing because people would think the Israelis were never really serious to begin with, Israelis were delaying and they never really intended to withdraw."

David Romem, is a teacher at Eilon Morei, one of the oldest Israeli settlements on the West Bank. Perched on a mountain top, it looks down on the city of Nablus, which lies at one end of a long valley.

Romem points to places in the valley where, he believes, events recorded in the Bible took place. He says along this way the Patriarch Abraham entered the Land of Israel; here Joshua led his people to this hill.

While many Israelis moved to West Bank settlements attracted by affordable housing and clean air, most were driven by religious nationalism. Despite the dangers and uncertainties, Romem's wife, Ruthie, has no doubts about why she has chosen to live here. "Why live anywhere in Israel? We base our way of life and our belief on what is written in the Bible, and God gave us the Land of Israel in the Bible. That is why we live here. Why we do not feel there is a difference in living between Judea and Samaria and Tel Aviv? This is part of the biblical homeland that God gave us as well as any part of Israel."

Ruthie Romem is genuinely bewildered not all Jews share her beliefs, that others do not feel the same spiritual connection to the land. As in most other settlements, most of the residents of Eilon Morei who work, commute to jobs in Israeli cities.

As a result of deadly Arab attacks on settlers traveling the roads, new highways have been built which criss-cross the West Bank, by-passing major Arab cities. Children from the settlements must travel to schools in other communities in armored cars and with military escorts.

Workers are laying water pipes for 100 new houses. Even today, in this uncertain political climate, new people are moving in. When the Labor Party won the last elections, it declared a freeze on building in the territories. In Eilon Morei, as in other settlements, this freeze has obviously not been enforced.

Settlers are afraid their security will be compromised once there are armed Palestinian police.

Activists in the settler movement say they will do anything in their power to stop the withdrawal of Israeli troops, and have been protesting by attempting to expand existing settlements. At this site, settlers scuffled with Palestinian villagers who said they owned the land next to the settlement.

The settlers of Eilon Morei know the countdown has begun towards implementation of the second stage; but as in other Israeli settlements, they are determined their communities will continue to grow.

Because of the Fourth of July holiday, Israel Faxx will not be published tomorrow.

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