Newsletter : 5fax1030.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Oct. 30, 1995, V3, #196
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Christopher Visiting Assad
By Ron Pemstein (VOA-Amman)
Secretary of State Warren Christopher flies from Amman to Damascus
today for his first visit with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad
since mid-June. Christopher is dampening hopes of a breakthrough in
the stalled Israeli-Syrian negotiations.
When Christopher left Damascus in June, he felt he had started a
process of military talks between Israel and Syria that would last
for months. Instead, the process stalled in late June after a
meeting of their military chiefs of staff.
This morning, four months later, Christopher flies back to Damascus
with little prospect of resuming direct negotiations between Israel
and Syria. Speaking to reporters last night in Amman, the
Secretary ruled out breakthroughs in Syria.
"I think the parties are still serious about peace and as one of
the co-sponsors of the Madrid process, I'm going to go there to see
if we can't find some way to break out of the stalemate and to
resume the peace process because the United States has long felt,
President Clinton feels, that a comprehensive peace is very
important for this region."
One example of that is here in Amman at the economic summit
meeting. Syria and Lebanon continue to boycott the economic
dimension of peace. The Arab Gulf states continue to refrain from
involvement with the Middle East Development Bank until Syria and
Lebanon are brought into the peace process.
Christopher appealed to delegates to the conference to drop their
remaining boycott of Israel. "The boycott against Israel maintains
high walls at a time when negotiations are bringing them down. It
impedes regional economic growth. The boycott serves no one and
should be brought to a final conclusion."
The problem in the Israeli-Syrian talks remains suspicion on both
sides. The Israelis fear the Syrians do not want a full peace
treaty because they insist on a complete Israeli troop withdrawal
from the Golan Heights. The Syrians fear Israel wants to maintain
a presence on the Heights when the Israelis call for establishment
of an early warning station on the ground there. The US is trying
to break the deadlock in both procedure and substance.
Most of all, Christopher will be passing on Israel's assurance that
peace is still possible in spite of elections scheduled in Israel
for next year. The question is whether Assad feels under any time
pressure to resume direct negotiations with Israel.
Islamic Jihad Vows Worldwide Revenge
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
The Palestinian Autonomy Authority has urged restraint, but the
militant Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad, has vowed to take
revenge on Israel for the killing last Thursday of its leader,
Fathi Shqaqi. Israel has denied any involvement in the shooting,
and placed its security forces on alert.
The Secretary General of the Palestinian Autonomy Authority, Tayeb
Abdel-Rahim, urged Islamic Jihad not to carry out attacks against
Israel, so as not to slow down the expansion of autonomy in the
West Bank, which has just begun. A Palestinian security official
said the authority is prepared to take tough action to prevent or
respond to any attack on Israelis.
Those statements followed a pledge by Islamic Jihad to make Israeli
institutions worldwide the targets for its revenge.
The Islamic Jihad founder and leader, Fathi Shqaqi, was gunned down
in Malta on Thursday, but his identity was not confirmed until
Saturday night. The 43-year-old militant was on his way from Libya
to his base in Syria.
At a rally in Gaza on Sunday, 1,000 demonstrators chanted "Down
with the olive branch, take up arms." In a leaflet, Islamic Jihad
announced that its new leader would be Ramadan Abdullah, whose
brother Omar was recently sentenced to 25 years in jail by the
Palestinian Authority for membership in Islamic Jihad.
The group opposes the Israeli/Palestinian peace deal and has
carried out a series of attacks to try to block it.
Israeli officials deny any involvement in the Shqaqi killing, but
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said he is not sorry it happened.
Foreign Minister Shimon peres said having one less murderer in
the world should not affect the peace process.
But similar incidents in the past have done just that. Islamic
Jihad blamed Israel for the killing of another of its leaders, Hani
Abed, in Gaza a year ago. Israel denied it, but the incident
triggered a series of revenge attacks including a bus bombing near
Tel Aviv in January, which killed more than 20 people, and a
bombing in the Gaza Strip in April which killed eight.
Israeli security forces were on heightened alert Sunday to try to
prevent Islamic Jihad from striking again.
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