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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       Feb. 1, 1996 V4, #19
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Iranian Spy Arrested in Israel

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has arrested a Palestinian accused of spying for Iran. Israel's Security Service says it arrested a man from Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, while he was on assignment from Iranian intelligence to take pictures of secret Israeli installations. The man was identified as a Ph.D graduate of Beirut University, 44-year-old Mohammed Ragib Salameh Mohammed.

The Security Service says the man confessed to having been recruited a year ago by someone from the Iranian Embassy in Amman, and his job included spying on Jordan as well as Israel. The Security Service says he had already delivered to Iran some maps marked with the locations of Israeli government ministries and secret institutions.

Iran is one of Israel's fiercest enemies, supporting militant organizations which carry out attacks against the Jewish State, including the Hizbullah terrorists in southern Lebanon.

Should Ma'alot Planner be Permitted in Israel?

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's decision last week to allow leading members of militant Palestinian groups to enter the autonomous areas sparked an emotional response from many Israelis who remember the bloody attacks staged by such groups. Dozens of militants are expected to reject the agreements between Israel and more moderate Palestinians, led by Yasir Arafat.

Israeli opposition leaders called it capitulation, newspaper editorials called it a mistake, and many Israelis asked whether it was really necessary. But the government went ahead with its decision to allow the militants to return. The reason is political, but the response has been largely emotional.

The government wants to remove all possible reasons for the newly-elected Palestinian president to claim he was not able to fulfill a key obligation he took on in the latest peace agreement -- the amendment of the Palestinian National Charter to remove its clauses calling for Israel's destruction.

To do that, Arafat must convene the more than 400 members of the Palestinian National Council, many of whom represent groups which reject the peace process. Israel says if the charter is not changed it will suspend the peace process. But while some Israelis worry the return of the militants could set off a new wave of violence, an Israeli expert on the militants -- Prof. Hillel Frisch of Jerusalem's Hebrew University -- says the move could instead be boost for the peace process.

The first rule the militants are accepting is gaining Israeli approval to enter the autonomous Palestinian areas. Israel still controls their borders. But Frisch says the militants are accepting that because they are finding their support base eroding and time running short for any hope they have of being part of the emerging Palestinian entity.

Frisch also says the militants will not be able to renew their violent struggle against Israel because their organizations are weak and Arafat has a clear interest in preventing them from doing anything to hurt the implementation of his agreements with Israel -- which include gradually expanding his autonomous areas during the next year-and-one-half.

Other Israelis call that wishful thinking. For many Israelis, the idea of the masterminds of terrorist attacks crossing Israeli checkpoints unimpeded is hard to take.

The one most talked about is Nayef Hawatme, leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He was behind the notorious attack on a school in the northern Israel community of Ma'alot in 1974, in which 24 school children died. Last week, Hawatme told an Israeli newspaper in a telephone interview he wants to continue his struggle against Israel, but now through political means rather than violence.

Many Israelis are not convinced. But Frisch says they must accept such things, as they had to accept Arafat as a legitimate leader, if they want to make peace.

"It is going to be a very difficult thing to swallow, and of course there is going to be a lot of pent up emotion, and they are going to give vent to it on television and other media. But I think that most of the public will grudgingly accept it because they realize that it is an important step."

The return of Hawatme and other leading Palestinian militants is expected in the next several weeks, and the venting of emotion is expected to peak at that time. Israeli politicians hope the anxiety and criticism will be worth it when the PNC convenes, with a quorum, and the militants are defeated on a vote to change the charter, enabling the peace process to continue.

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