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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                     Dec. 15, 1995, V3, #228
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Will Syria Agree to Peace?

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Secretary of State Warren Christopher is spending the weekend in the Middle East, trying to take advantage of renewed hope for progress toward peace between Israel and Syria. Christopher's shuttle mission is being approached with optimism, tempered with memories of past disappointments.

Six weeks ago, before the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the Israel-Syria talks were deadlocked, with no apparent prospects for a breakthrough. Now, conciliatory words are being exchanged between Jerusalem and Damascus, via the international media, and analysts are speaking about the best chance for achieving Israel-Syria peace in a long time.

There is much speculation about exactly why this is true. One reason, from the Israeli side, is the apparently greater willingness by the new Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to seek new ways to move the talks forward, through a clearer statement of Israel's readiness to withdraw from the Golan Heights and a proposal to broaden negotiations beyond Israel's key demands for security arrangements.

Israel Foreign Minister Ehud Barak says Peres laid out his approach during his visit to Washington earlier this week. "Peres presented to them a major initiative. He opened almost every possible approach from procedure, and he suggested a much wider spectrum of problems and aspects of an overall peace to be dealt with simultaneously with the other problems vis a vis the Syrians. We expect now the Syrian response. It takes two to tango. We are ready, but we cannot perform the role of both sides."

Campaigning for Office in 'Palestine'

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian candidates began registering Thursday for elections set for Jan. 20, Even though full details of how the election will work have not yet been made public. Business executives, activists and other Palestinians went to special offices in the West Bank and Gaza Thursday to present at least 500 signatures and $1,000 in order to get on the ballot for the Palestinian Council.

Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat is expected to register as a candidate for president, the job he now holds, during a visit today to the newly-autonomous West Bank city of Nablus. Several people have said they will challenge Arafat, but he is expected to win easily.

The election law has not been fully published, but it appears Arafat has chosen a system which gives opposition members some chance of being elected.

Palestinian sources say Arafat rejected a "winner-take-all" system, in which the leading party in each district would have won all that district's seats. The opposition, and even some officials within Fatah, warned that would give Arafat's party too big a majority.

Arafat appears to have chosen a system which will allow the opposition to win something less than that, but still a respectable percentage. Sources say voters will choose individual candidates, with the top vote getters in each district taking its seats on the council. Analysts say this will allow popular oppositionists and independents to win some seats. The election campaign is to begin Dec. 30, The day after Israel is to complete its withdrawal from West Bank cities.

Chanukah 101

(Anglit Ka'lah--Easy English)

By Nancy Steinbach (VOA-Washington)

The Jewish family, the Maccabees, led a rebellion for religious freedom more than 2,000 years ago. Jews everywhere still celebrate their story at this time of the year. It is the holiday of Chanukah.

More than 2,000 years ago, a Greek-Syrian king ruled the area that is now Israel. He attempted to suppress the Jewish religion. He placed statues of Greek gods in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. He also tried to force the Jews to accept his religion.

Judah Maccabee led a small group of Jews against the Greek-Syrian ruler. The Jews won the battle. They also won the freedom to follow their own religion. They began to remove Greek influence from the Temple in Jerusalem.

Old books say that the Maccabees found only enough oil to light the Holy Temple lamp for one day. Yet that one-day supply burned for eight days -- until the Jews could get more oil. This is why Chanukah is celebrated for eight days.

This year, Chanukah begins Sunday night. Jews all over the world will say Hebrew prayers. They will light a lamp called a menorah. A menorah holds nine candles. One candle is called the shamus. It is used to light the other candles.

On the first night, the shamus lights only one candle. On each of the following nights, it lights one more. On the last night of Chanukah, all eight candles and the shamus will burn brightly. On each night of the holiday, parents tell the Chanukah story to children and guests. Everyone sings songs of joy. They play games and eat special foods. And everyone exchanges gifts. It is a happy time.

Jews do not consider Chanukah a major religious holiday. But Jewish leaders say it is important. It is a time for Jews to give thanks for the freedom to worship God in their own way.

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