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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       Feb. 18, 1996 V4, #31
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Assassination Plot Revealed Against Peres

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's public security minister told the country's Cabinet Sunday Jewish militants are planning attacks on Prime Minister Shimon Peres and other officials. Peres' daughter also spoke publicly about a threat against her father which she received.

Israel Radio reports Public Security Minister Moshe Shahal told the Cabinet, in a closed meeting, the atmosphere among right-wing groups is similar to the one which prevailed 3-1/2 months ago, when a militant Jew assassinated then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Shahal is quoted as telling his fellow ministers he has intelligence reports about plans for such an attack against Peres and other Cabinet members.

Peres has been under much tighter security since the assassination. But he and other officials are expected to make many potentially dangerous public appearances during the next few months, campaigning for the early elections he has called. Peres leads his conservative opponent by as much as 20 percentage points in public opinion polls.

Also Sunday, Peres' daughter Zvia Valden, told Israel Radio she received an anonymous telephone call warning her father would be assassinated. She said some in the opposition are "losing their minds." She said the Israeli political debate has degenerated into something "wild, violent, dark and chilling."

Likud Accuses Peres of Planning to Give Part of Jerusalem to Arabs

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's main opposition party launched its campaign for the coming elections Sunday, saying it will make the future of Jerusalem its central issue. The party is accusing Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres of being willing to see part of the city come under Palestinian rule.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu told a news conference if Peres wins re-election, Israelis can forget about maintaining a united Jerusalem.

He said Peres will agree to give part of the city to Palestinian control, and will make other concessions Netanyahu views as excessive and potentially dangerous.

"Jerusalem is not only the heart of the Jewish people. It is not only the heart of the current debate. It is not only the heart of all our aspirations. But Jerusalem also happens to encapsulate the myriad concessions that this government is prepared to make in other fronts. We will discuss those concessions and our alternatives for it. But we will discuss above all the issue of Jerusalem because it represents everything else."

Israel captured east Jerusalem and surrounding villages from Jordan in the 1967 war, and annexed them. Jordan has given up its claims to the area, but the Palestinians want east Jerusalem, including the religiously important Old City, to be their capital. Israeli-Palestinian negotiations about the city's future, and other remaining issues, are to begin May 4, just a few weeks before Israeli elections that have been called five-months ahead of schedule.

Jerusalem is an emotional issue for both sides, and Netanyahu is seizing on concerns among many Israelis about where the peace process is leading. Netanyahu trails Peres in public opinion polls by as much as 20 percent.

Peres responded to the opposition charge Sunday, even before the news conference, saying it borders on incitement to say he would give up control of any part of the city. He told the weekly Cabinet meeting there will be no dividing Jerusalem. But Netanyahu is not convinced.

"I wish I could believe him, because all the Jewish people and all the people of Israel want Jerusalem to remain united. But I have a hard time believing him."

Netanyahu accused Peres of signing secret deals with the Palestinians about their operations in Jerusalem in the past, and of conducting secret negotiations with them about the city's future.

Officials of the ruling Labor party deny secret talks are under way. Two professors who helped Labor begin contacts with the Palestinians several-years ago have held informal meetings with Palestinian academics in recent months to discuss Jerusalem and other issues. But the professors and government officials on both sides say those contacts are academic in nature and are not official negotiations.

Cabinet members said Sunday their position in the coming talks will be to keep Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel, and Israel only. But many Israeli academics and other experts believe some change in status, at least in part of the city, will be needed in order to reach a final agreement which the Palestinians will accept.

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