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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       March 7, 1996 V4, #43
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Iran: Don't Blame Us for Bombing

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Tehran)

Iranian officials are rejecting US and Israeli accusations of links to the bombings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif calls the Israeli accusations of Iranian links to the suicide bombings absurd. He also denies charges of Iranian financial and military support for the radical Palestinian group and calls the US allegations irresponsible.

The US government has urged its allies to isolate Iran because of its support for terrorist groups fighting to sabotage the Middle East peace process.

An Iranian Foreign ministry spokesman calls the American comments hasty and irresponsible accusations that follow every terrorist incident in the world. He suggests Iran has become a scapegoat.

However, the official denials come a day after the official Iranian news agency praised what it called divine punishment for the occupiers of Palestine. It described the suicide bombers as young heros. That commentary was the first in the Iranian media on the attacks inside Israel. It brought swift and strong condemnation from France.

The US and Israeli governments have long accused Iran of financial and military support for Hamas and the pro-Iranian Hizbullah which operates in southern Lebanon. Some diplomats and analysts in Tehran say that charge may be slightly exaggerated now, given Iran's poor financial situation. But they say money to support the terrorist groups is still provided by radical factions outside government circles.

Analysts point to official Iranian political support for anti-peace movements. They cite Vice President Hassan Habibi's visit last week to Syria, where he met openly with leaders of Hizbullah, Hamas, and several of the radical Palestinian groups opposed to the Palestinian self-rule deal. Hamas also maintains an office in the Iranian capital.

Suicide Bomber was Smuggled into Israel for $1,000

By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli security sources say the Islamic suicide bomber who killed 13 people Monday in Tel Aviv was smuggled into Israel by an Israeli-Arab truck driver. Israeli troops and Palestinian police are continuing their crackdown on Hamas and other militant organizations in the wake of the recent series of deadly bombings.

According to Israel Radio, the unidentified Arab who is according to the report, the driver dropped off the bomber in Tel Aviv's commercial center, just before the bomb was detonated. Israeli Arabs have protested the report as defaming their entire community. Arabs make up 20-percent of Israel's population.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers and Yasir Arafat's Palestinian police are continuing their crackdown on suspected Hamas activists. In the West Bank city of Hebron, Israeli solders arrested dozens of Palestinians. In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian police raided the Islamic university, searching for weapons and questioning teachers and students. The university is a center of radicalism in Gaza.

Israeli-American Professor says Negotiate with Hamas

By Daud Majlis (VOA-Washington)

An American expert on conflict resolution says a small splinter group within Hamas is responsible for recent terrorist acts in Israel and the group's purpose is push its views in the global community as well as the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.

Professor Simona Sharoni, an Israeli scholar who teaches international relations and conflict resolution at the American University in Washington, said the world community seems not to be listening to this small group. Instead, she said, harsher measures are threatened and she argued that a full-scale war may only provoke more violence.

Sharoni said once Hamas qualifies and is recognized as a legitimate political actor by having a constituency of its own it would be prudent to listen to its leaders.

"As difficult as it may be for me as an Israeli, Jewish feminist that has a very different vision of what I would like to see in the Middle East than Hamas does, I have to listen to their vision. Because I feel that there are enough forces in the Palestinian society that had struggled for different visions in the region."

Sharoni emphasized that cracking down on them and not recognizing that they do have a constituency and support in even a small section of the Palestinian society will only make them more powerful and in a way create the situation for the next violence.

However, she cautioned that opening negotiations with the political wing of Hamas will not immediately bring an end to violence but she strongly felt that it would be better than an all out war.

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