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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       Feb. 5, 1996 V4, #21
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Christopher and Peres Meet This Afternoon

By Ron Pemstein (VOA-Jerusalem)

Secretary of State Warren Christopher meets today with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. The Israeli-Syrian talks are on the agenda.

Following the second round of American-mediated talks between Israel and Syria at a secluded site near Washington, the time has come to determine whether the forum should continue or instead, be postponed until after Israel conducts early elections.

The American position is that negotiations should continue whether or not elections are held here in May. Christopher will meet Peres here this afternoon to determine the next step.

Syria has given negative reports about the latest round of peace talks with Israel. Christopher meets President Hafez al-Assad in Damascus tomorrow. He will convey the Syrian leader's views back here Wednesday.

U.S. Won't Buy Israeli Drones

By David Gollust (VOA-Washington)

The US Defense Department says it has scrapped plans to buy more unmanned spy planes jointly developed by the US and Israel. The program would have been worth more than $4 billion to US and Israeli firms. Defense officials say the administration is ending production of the "Hunter" reconnaissance drone because of poor performance.

The Pentagon had spent nearly $700 million on the first 72 of the aircraft and ground equipment, produced jointly by Israel Aircraft Industries and the American aerospace firm TRW.

Had the program continued, the armed forces would have deployed about 400 of the planes at a cost of over $4 billion. But Defense Secretary William Perry says the Hunter was simply not competitive to a rival drone -- called the Predator -- which the US has used in gathering intelligence over Bosnia.

Pentagon officials say the cancellation was not a major setback to US/Israeli defense cooperation, and that the the decision does not reflect diminished US expectations for unmanned planes. A report earlier last week said pilotless aircraft will have a much greater role in both spy missions and combat in the US Air Force of the future.

Germany Cracks Down on Cyber Anti-Semitism

By Kyle King (VOA-Bonn)

German authorities have moved to block computer users from getting access to some information on the global computer Internet. In the latest effort, authorities forced a German computer network to cut service to parts of the Internet that are allegedly being used to spread anti-Semitic literature.

Last week, authorities forced T-Online to block its users from accessing parts of the Internet they say contain anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi literature.

German officials say they are trying to determine if they can hold computer service companies responsible for allowing the spread of banned neo-nazi writings.

Water May Cause Middle East War

By Francis Ronalds (VOA-Washington)

In electing Yasir Arafat as their president Jan. 21, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank took a major step toward full independence. But many specialists believe that sharing the water of the Jordan River basin will be every bit as important for the countries concerned.

Ismail Serageldin, the World Bank's vice president for environmentally sustainable development, has said "Many of the wars in this century were about oil, but wars of the next century will be over water."

Professor Tony Allan, of London University's School of Oriental and African Studies, believes that water should, wherever possible, be traded as a commodity, to prevent wasting it. Professor Franklin Fisher, director of the Institute for Social and Economic Policy in the Middle East at Harvard University, agrees. His institute, where specialists from Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Autonomous Areas work together, has developed a computer model for a projected Jordan River Basin Water Authority:

"The principle recommendation is that the parties...Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian entity...should set what we call a system of trade in water permits. A water permit is the permission to use somebody else's water for some limited amount of time. Those permits would be traded at prices which are generated and at quantities which are generated by an agreed-upon version of our project's computer model. And there are very substantial gains from that kind of trade."

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