Newsletter : 6fax0209.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Feb. 9, 1996 V4, #25
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Syria: We are the Key to Peace
By Edward Yeranian (VOA-Beirut)
Following a visit with Lebanese President Elias Hrawi in Beirut
Thursday, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Chareh said the US must
establish normal relations with Syria before global peace can be
achieved in the Middle East.
Al-Chareh's declaration was Syria's first official reaction
following the conclusion of Secretary of State Warren Christopher's
latest trip to the Middle East. Speaking to journalists after a
two-hour meeting with Lebanon's president, al-Chareh declared
emphatically global peace is an impossible task without Syria.
Syria remains on the State Department list of countries that
sponsor terrorism, and its economic ties with Washington are nearly
non-existent. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Toni Verstandig
met with Syrian officials earlier this week to discuss the renewal
of economic links between Washington and Damascus.
The Syrian foreign minister also repeated with some insistence the
Syrian and Lebanese -- and the peace process with Israel are
inseparable. Syria, which has 35,000 troops stationed in Lebanon,
exerts considerable influence over its smaller neighbor.
Peres Favors May 28 Election
Prime Minister Shimon Peres has decided to hold early elections for
the 14th Knesset on May 28, Ha'Aretz reports. According to the
newspaper, the Prime Minister has already told both a group of
Labor cabinet ministers and Secretary of State Warren Christopher
of his preferred date for elections. Peres added that he would
make an official announcement regarding the date of elections next
Absorption Committee Decides on Ethiopian Jewish Action
The ministerial Committee on Immigration and Absorption, headed by
Prime Minister Shimon Peres, convened Wednesday to discuss the
absorption of Ethiopian Jews. The committee decided to establish
five Ethiopian Jewish synagogues in cities with large Ethiopian
populations. Ethiopian rabbis and religious leaders -- known as
Keisim -- are to be included on local religious councils.
In the sphere of health care, the Health Ministry will add
Ethiopians to professional teams formulating health plans for
Ethiopian Jews. In addition, the Absorption Ministry will reform
financial aid plans for Ethiopian university students. The
Education Ministry will also allocate a special budget to identify
students with learning difficulties.
The Turkish Aspect
Commentary by Ze'ev Schiff, "Ha'aretz"
Turkey is monitoring, with suspicion, negotiations being conducted
between Israel and Syria. They fear that the results of these
negotiations -- and primarily, what is perhaps being cooked-up
behind the scenes -- are likely to have a negative impact on
Turkey. There are a number of serious issues between Turkey and
Syria, from terrorism to the water question.
What are the Turks telling us? It is inconceivable that your
discussions with Syria on terrorism should concentrate only on
Palestinian groups like Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad, whose leaders
have found refuge in Damascus. The entire terrorism issue --
including terror's many other regional aspects -- should be
addressed in such negotiations...
It is also doubtful whether we have paid attention to another
matter troubling the Turks -- the deployment of the Syrian military
in the future. IDF representatives have told their Syrian
negotiating partners that, within the framework of the security
arrangements, they will have to deploy their army far from their
border with Israel. In one instance, they were told that, if Syria
positions some of its armored divisions near its borders with
Turkey or Iraq, Israel's demand for a permanent, ground-based
early warning station on Mt. Hermon will be assessed differently.
Turkish generals are asking whether they should conclude from
Israel's position that, in order to make it easier for ourselves,
we are calling on Syria to deploy its divisions under their nose,
where they will pressure Turkey. Ankara obviously has no reason to
be concerned about the Syrian army; Turkey's military strength is
far greater, but it fears the problems that might result from
Syrian military support for Kurdish terrorist groups infiltrating
into Turkish territory.
Turkish representatives have reacted by saying... that we (and
others) would do better to stop thinking about getting water from
Turkey while simultaneously ignoring its vital security interests.
The message to Israel is that we cannot speak in lofty terms of
peace with Syria, leading to a regional settlement, by only looking
south to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. It would be better to
look north as well, in the direction of Turkey. Israel should have
a strong interest in ensuring that Turkey not be harmed, even
indirectly, by any agreement with Syria -- and in Turkey's
interests being guaranteed in any future accord with Damascus.
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