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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       March 12, 1996 V4, #46
All the News the Big Guys Missed

'Summit of the Peacemakers' Wednesday

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

Nearly 30 countries have confirmed their participation in the "Summit of the Peacemakers," which takes place tomorrow in a Egyptian (formerly Israeli) Red Sea resort at Sharm el Sheik. The leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Britain will attend, as well as top officials from the Middle East. The hastily arranged summit will be co-chaired by President Clinton and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and will discuss the Middle East peace process, security and how to deal with terrorism.

The brief meeting may not even produce a definitive final declaration. But officials say the very presence of so many leaders will shore up support for Israel and the Palestinian Authority after the wave of terrorist attacks aimed at sabotaging the peace process.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are sending foreign ministers to the summit. Even though they have no diplomatic ties with israel, they have backed the peace process.

Syria and Lebanon were invited but are not expected to attend. It comes as no surprise since they have always refused to join meetings where Israel is also present. Iran, Iraq and Libya were not invited. They are accused of sponsoring terrorism in the region.

Clinton is likely to use the summit to again urge the isolation of Iran, which he accuses of supporting terrorists trying to derail the peace process. In Tehran, President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani says the summit is a propaganda tool of the US and Israeli governments.

Rafsanjani says he is not optimistic about the results of the summit, which he says was organized by President Clinton for his own political purposes.

Rafsanjani also denied charges Iran supports Palestinians fighting against Israeli occupation, especially Hamas. He says Hamas has not asked for Iran's support. Rafsanjani says Iran's support is moral, not financial or military. If you say we support violence, he told a news conference in Tehran, that is not true.

The United States and Israeli governments disagree. The United States has called on its allies to isolate Iran, which it accuses of providing financial and tactical support to terrorists in the region.

The Iranian leader says he is not sending any message to the summit leaders. But he said he does agree with a proposal by Russian president Boris Yeltsin to hold an international conference on terrorism, preferably under the auspices of the United Nations.

Clinton Consoles Parents of Dead Teens

By Deborah Tate (VOA-Hackensack, N.J.)

President Clinton, on a campaign-style stop in New Jersey, took a moment to console the families of two Americans who lost their lives in bombings in Israel and the formerly occupied Gaza Strip over the past year.

Alisa Flatow died in an attack in Gaza last April 9, and Sara Duker lost her life in a bombing in Jerusalem Feb. 25. In a speech in Hackensack, Clinton recalled their lives, and the life of the late Israeli leader who was assassinated last November.

"Yitzhak Rabin was a good friend of mine. He always took issue with those who characterized the creation of Israel and its continuousness as some sort of miracle. He did not think there was anything miraculous about it. He thought it was a direct result of thousands and thousands of people being able to devote a lifetime of hard work and effort and courage, and ultimate sacrifice to a common cause. Tomorrow I will go to Egypt to try to advance that cause, and beat back the terrorism that threatens it today."

Closure is Temporarily Lifted

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel eased its village-by-village closure of the West Bank for 12 hours Monday to enable Palestinians to stock up on food and receive medical treatment.

Israel removed some of its checkpoints and opened others on the West Bank, allowing relatively free movement between towns and cities for only the second time since the unprecedented crackdown began eight days ago.

Israel has been confining Palestinians to their hometowns and villages as part of an extensive security sweep in the wake of the four suicide bombings during a nine-day period, ending a week ago.

Food shortages are reported, particularly in Gaza, and on the West Bank a baby boy died after his ambulance was delayed at an Israeli checkpoint. The Palestinian police have also been conducting a crackdown, but Palestinian leaders warn the Israeli blockade is creating anger which could result in more violence.

Meanwhile, a communique issued over the weekend by Hamas threatened more bombings, and a report in "Time" says as many as five suicide bombers are armed and ready to strike. The report heightened the already high level of concern among Israelis, even as 31 world leaders are preparing to meet in Egypt for a peace and anti-terrorism summit.

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