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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       Jan. 24, 1996 V4, #13
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Rabin Assassin Wanted to Paralyze Him

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

The confessed assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, said in court Tuesday he carried out the shooting for the glory of God, and claimed he intended only to wound Rabin to force him from office. The defendant, Yigal Amir, stood calmly in the courtroom, responding to each charge read by a judge.

Amir admitted shooting the prime minister Nov. 4, but said his goal was to end Rabin's tenure in office by disabling him. He said his intent was to kill Rabin only if he had to.

He told the court he shot Rabin "for the glory of God and said he has no regrets." Amir, a religious Jew, earlier said he wanted to put an end to Rabin's policy of expanding Palestinian autonomy.

It was not clear whether the court would consider his statements a plea of guilty or not guilty to charges of murder and conspiracy. If he is found guilty of premeditated murder, Amir faces life in prison. The maximum sentence for murder without intent is 20-years.

A videotape made by a spectator and broadcast last month clearly shows Amir thrusting a gun into Rabin's side and firing three times. The defendant said Tuesday if he had intended to kill Rabin he would have aimed for his head.

After testimony by two police officers, the trial was recessed until Sunday.

Syrian/Israeli Peace Talks Resume in Maryland

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli and Syrian negotiators resume peace talks today at a secluded conference center near Washington, with security issues high on the agenda. Israel is looking for some progress, as officials decide whether to call early elections. The Israel-Syria peace talks have had many ups and downs during the past several years. At the moment, things appear to be going relatively well -- with praise from both sides for the talks and optimistic statements about the potential to reach a peace agreement this year.

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres is reluctant to do anything to stall the peace process with Syria, which a call for early elections would be expected to do. But Israeli commentators speculate if the government believes the talks are not fruitful anyway, particularly on the security issue, Peres might not mind disrupting them with elections.

Peres said again Tuesday the Syria talks and the election issue are not linked, but many followers of the Israeli political scene do not believe him. The prime minister is caught in a political crunch. His party's popularity is slowly declining since sharp rise after the November assassination of his predecessor, Yitzhak Rabin. Many members are pressing for early elections, and while Peres has said he prefers to have the voting as scheduled in October, he has not ruled out moving up the date.

So this round of the Israel-Syria meetings has taken on added significance in Israel, as reflected in comments Tuesday by Israeli government Minister Yossi Beilin, who is very close to Peres. Beilin said the key issues of borders, security arrangements, and the extent of peaceful relations must be addressed.

"If in that round which begins (today), there is no breakthrough, if President Assad is not ready to compromise on these three or four issues which I referred to, I do not believe that we are going to have peace with Syria in '96."

Israel wants to maintain early warning stations on the Golan Heights after a withdrawal, or to station a peacekeeping force of foreigners there to ensure the high ground is never again used to launch an attack. Israel also wants extensive peacetime relations in an effort to give Syria an economic stake in maintaining the peace, as well as an end to Syrian support for violent anti-Israel groups. Syria has not yet agreed to any of those conditions. Syria wants Israel to withdraw to the line of control which existed when the 1967 war broke out, but Israel is only willing to withdraw to the official international border, which is to its advantage in several areas.

The first round of the talks near Washington, which ended early this month, was devoted mainly to improving the atmosphere and building trust. Israel's chief negotiator, Uri Savir, says Israel wants to see some progress on substance this time. "I hope a deeper understanding, mainly in the field of security. We need security arrangements so both sides will have a sense of security, will have objective security, and actually there will be more security between us and in the region, following a possible Syrian-Israeli accord."

If the Israeli government is not satisfied with the results of these talks, analysts believe Peres could well launch an election campaign. Although Peres says the talks could continue, many officials say a campaign would actually put them on hold, and could bring to power a conservative government which would not be willing to talk about giving up the Golan Heights.

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