Newsletter : 5fax0918.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Sept. 18, 1995, V3, #171
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Libya, under intense pressure from other Arab states, has
apparently stopped its expulsions of Palestinian workers. Libya now
claims that those who have left the country over the last two weeks
did so voluntarily. Four busloads of Palestinians about to cross
into Egypt were ordered to turn back by Libyan authorities --
apparently signaling an end to the Libyan government's
widely-condemned expulsion campaign.
Arafat-Peres Negotiations Continue
By David Gollust (VOA-Cairo)
In Egypt, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO leader
Yasir Arafat are engaged in marathon negotiations on the expansion
of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank. They have been hoping
to be able to initial an agreement that could be signed at White
House ceremonies Thursday -- but serious disagreements remain.
The two sides have been engaged in virtually non-stop negotiations
since early Sunday at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Taba. But
there has been no breakthrough on the issue blocking the way to the
next stage of Palestinian autonomy -- security arrangements for
With about 450 Jewish settlers living among more than 100,000
Palestinians, Hebron has long been a flashpoint for
Israeli-Palestinian violence. It is the site of the tomb of the
biblical Patriarch Abraham -- holy to both Muslims and Jews --
where a settler gunned down 29 Arab worshippers last year.
While Israel is committed under a second stage of Palestinian
self-rule to pull its forces out of Arab population centers in
the West Bank, it has been insisting on a continuing security
presence in Hebron because of the settlers.
Israel is reported to have presented new proposals at Taba
providing for a phased force withdrawal from most areas of the
city -- but calling for an indefinite presence around the
settlements and on access routes to them.
Reaction from the Palestinian side has been unenthusiastic. The
mayor of Hebron, Mustafa Natche, says Palestinians will reject
any formula that will not allow Hebron to be treated like other
Arab towns. Arafat spokesman Marwan Kanafani said the PLO
delegation will not be pressured into accepting a bad agreement
merely to keep a Thursday date at the White House.
Israeli officials have said if the remaining points in the 300-page
draft agreement cannot be resolved quickly and the Thursday target
is missed, further negotiations will have to be put off until
mid-October because of a series of Jewish holidays.
That could in turn force the postponement of Palestinian elections
that officials have hoped could be held before the end of the year.
Agreement on phase-two of the autonomy process is already more than
one-year behind schedule.
Hebron: The Who, What and Why
By Al Pessin (VOA-Hebron)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are focusing on arrangements
for the West Bank town of Hebron as they try to clear the way for
the expansion of Palestinian autonomy. The situation in Hebron is
particularly complex because some 450 Israeli settlers live in the
middle of town, and the city is a center for militants on both
sides of the conflict.
Most of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are on hilltops,
some in rural areas and some adjacent to Palestinian cities. But
the Hebron settlement is in four buildings in the center of the
city. Jewish teenagers swagger through town wearing kipot on their
heads and automatic rifles over their shoulders, protected by
hundreds of Israeli soldiers.
Arab residents resent the inconveniences, the economic costs and
the humiliation they feel, being unable to expel the settlers or
end the military occupation. And many Hebron Palestinians are, in
any case, politically militant -- opposing the decision by the
Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, to live alongside Israelis.
They want to retake all of the land for a Palestinian state.
The Israeli settlers are equally militant, claiming all of the
West Bank is Jewish land and the Palestinians can live there only
as second-class citizens. The 450 Jewish settlers in Hebron are
barely willing to accept the right of the city's 120-thousand
Palestinians to live there, the Palestinians are equally insistent
that the settlers move out.
Hebron's Palestinian mayor, Mustafa Natshe, wants the Israeli army
out of Hebron and the remaining settlers disarmed so the
Palestinian police can maintain order. Israel will not accept
that, and a series of proposed compromises -- including a partial
withdrawal -- have so far been rejected by one side or the other.
He says further delays could have dangerous consequences.
The only compromise he is willing to offer is an international
force of some sort so the settlers do not have to be protected
directly by the Palestinian police. But the settlers will not even
hear of such arrangements on what they consider Jewish territory,
and some have threatened to form their own defense force and even
to attack the Palestinian police if they appear in Hebron.
With these two diametrically-opposed viewpoints living side-by-side
in Hebron, it is little wonder the issue has been difficult to
solve. An Israeli newspaper quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon
Peres as saying it is like trying to make eggs from an omelette.
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