Newsletter : 6fax0206.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Feb. 6, 1996 V4, #22
All the News the Big Guys Missed
A poll conducted by the Dahaf Institute found that 66 percent of
Golan residents said they were prepared to relocate in return for
compensation if a peace agreement with Syria requires Israeli
territorial concessions. Nearly half of those polled would support
a referendum on peace with Syria that required full withdrawal.
Christopher Flies to Damascus
By Ron Pemstein (VOA-Jerusalem)
Secretary of State Warren Christopher met with Israeli Prime
Minister Shimon Peres yesterday before flying to Damascus today on
his 17th Middle East peace mission. Israel's plans for an early
election and its effects on negotiations with Syria were on the
No one can predict what will happen to the Israel-Syria
negotiations if Israel decides to hold elections in May instead
of October. In any case, Israel and the US have decided to put a
brave face on the prospect by saying negotiations will continue
throughout the campaign period.
Christopher says he is prepared to remain the principal mediator in
the talks no matter what scenario is decided here. Next week,
Peres is expected to announce an election date, probably in May.
However, he gave reporters a hint of his plans by saying he needs
a mandate from the Israeli people to continue negotiations with
Syria. Those negotiations have been taking place at a secluded
conference center called Wye Plantation near Washington. Although
no breakthroughs have been reported from those talks, Peres says
serious discussions have started on normalization of relations
between Israel and Syria as well as on economic relations. As for
security arrangements following an Israeli withdrawal from the
Golan Heights, Peres says discussion has begun.
Christopher says he is trying to determine whether the discussions
should continue at the Wye Plantation or whether another formula
should be found. Peres says negotiations will continue at Wye, or
A lot will depend on the attitude of Syrian President Hafez
al-Assad. Syria's government-controlled press turned negative
after the second round of the Wye talks, blaming Israel for the
setback. It is one thing for the US and Israel to say negotiations
will continue despite the early election. It will be another thing
for Syria to reach the same conclusion.
If Peres maintains his lead in opinion surveys, an election in May
could strengthen his hand in making a deal with Syria. If his lead
fades, and the right-wing Likud party takes power, Syria may
conclude a peace treaty is not possible. Likud has pledged never to
give up the Golan Heights, Syria's price for peace.
Likud and Tsomet Combine Lists; Tsomet will Back Netanyahu
Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu and Tsomet Chairman Rafael Eitan
have agreed to combine their lists of candidates for the upcoming
Knesset elections, and that Eitan will give up his run for prime
minister to accept the number two position behind Netanyahu.
Eitan said surveys commissioned by both parties show the public
wants them to unite. A poll conducted by the Gallup Organization
found a combined list would win more Knesset seats than if the two
parties competed separately.
Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said the decision was good
news. "Members of the two parties will work with greater excitement
now," he said. David Levy also praised the agreement, but said he
would continue to run for prime minister.
PLO Exec Committee Meets in the Sinai
By Peyman Pejman (VOA-Cairo)
Top officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization met late
Monday in Egypt to discuss, among other things, changing the
organization's charter. The 15-members of the PLO's Executive
Committee met in the town of Al Arish, near the abandoned Israeli
City of Yamit. There are various topics on the agenda, but there
is one that matters most to the Palestinians' immediate neighbors
-- the Israelis.
Israel has been asking the PLO to amend a clause in its decades-old
Charter that calls for Israel's Destruction. PLO leader Yasir
Arafat promised last September he would change the Charter within
two months after the Palestinians convene their legislative
Members of the Council were elected last month, but Arafat now says
he does not have the authority to change the Charter. Instead he
promised to bring up the issue in yesterday's executive meeting
The Executive Committee met to prepare for an upcoming session
of the Palestinians' parliament in-exile, or the Palestine
National Council. It is that council which has the authority to
change the PLO's Charter.
What remains to be seen is when the Palestinian parliament will
hold its session. The body's Acting President Salim al-Zanoun
said last week he prefers to see the meeting held after April --
to see if Israel completes its withdrawal from the West Bank.
Under a peace treaty signed by the PLO and Israel last September,
Israel is scheduled to finish withdrawing its troops from the West
Bank city of Hebron by the end of March.
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