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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       April 22, 1996 V4, #72
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Arafat Promises Palestinian covenant Will be Amended Today:

Yasir Arafat told Prime Minister Shimon Peres the Palestinian Covenant will be changed today. According to press reports, a draft of the proposed changes in the covenant was transferred to Israel several days ago.

No Lebanese Ceasefire in Sight

By Ron Pemstein (VOA-Damascus)

Secretary of State Warren Christopher shuttled between Damascus and Jerusalem Sunday, ending the day back in Damascus where he started, however, hope has disappeared for an immediate ceasefire on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Christopher started his shuttle mission with the hope of achieving an immediate ceasefire in the first stage and later negotiating a written understanding of the 1993 verbal agreement that prevented attacks on civilians on both sides of the border.

After Christopher's first set of talks with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, that view has changed. A senior American official says everyone calls for a ceasefire but there is no ceasefire. Therefore, the United States has to deal with what it does have, a mutual desire for a written understanding among Syria, Lebanon and Israel that will make a truce on the border permanent.

Christopher did not meet Assad when he returned from Jerusalem Sunday night but he will meet the Syrian leader again early this morning.

The Secretary told reporters in Jerusalem about his changed approach to a quick ceasefire on the border. "I think we should try to not only get a ceasefire but an enduring set of understandings which permits the parties in the region to prevent a recurrence of this kind of event. That's what we're working for, not just a ceasefire but an enduring set of understandings that prevents a recurrence of this."

A senior American official says the written understandings will be more precise than the verbal agreement of 1993 but they will not be a substitute for a comprehensive peace agreement. That means no agreement now about the Israeli army's presence in south Lebanon or about Syria's responsibility in providing the Hizbullah fighters with Katyusha rockets from Iran.

U.S. Cautions Against Travel to Israel

By Victor Beattie (VOA-Washington)

US officials are looking into reports that an American citizen in Israel has been abducted by an Islamic group and taken to Palestinian-controlled territory. The US Embassy is seeking to verify the kidnapping while cautioning Americans traveling abroad about new threats because of current Mideast tensions.

US State Department spokesman Glyn Davies says the US Embassy in Tel Aviv received a telephone call indicating that the American had been abducted. He declined to name the source of that telephone call.

Davies also says another report indicates the American was to be killed unless Israel announced its immediate withdrawal from south Lebanon. He says the appropriate Israeli and Palestinian law enforcement authorities have been contacted.

The effort comes as the State Department issues new cautions to Americans travelling abroad. Spokeswoman Julie Reside says renewed threats against American interests have been made by Hizbullah and other extremist groups: "We cannot discount the possibility of random acts of anti-American violence."

The Iranian-backed Hizbullah, the object of more than one week of Israeli reprisals for its rocket attacks on northern Israel, has renewed its long-standing threat against Israeli and American targets.

Farrakhan Reveals Possible Jewish Roots

Minister Louis Farrakhan, the controversial Nation of Islam leader who has often been accused of anti-Semitism, says he may be part Jewish.

In an interview in the New Yorker today, Farrakhan revealed that he thinks his father's ancestors may have been Portuguese Jews.

Farrakhan was born Louis Eugene Walcott, the son of immigrants from Barbados and Jamaica. His father was light-skinned and had straight hair. Farrakhan's mother told him that his father's father was a white Portuguese.

"I'm going to tell you something," Farrakhan said. "You really want to know what I think? I think they were members of the Jewish community."

Orlando Patterson, a historical sociologist at Harvard who has studied West Indian migration patterns, told the New Yorker that nearly all persons of Iberian origin in Barbados and Jamaica are of Sephardic Jewish ancestry.

Farrakhan professes to admire Jews, but, also said he believed there was a group of Jews who plan the nation's course. "I believe that there are very, very wise Jews who plan good, and there are very wise Jews who plan evil."

He adds, "I am not hateful. I am deeply respectful of the Jewish people, man. I know they are great but I also know some scoundrels among them. And those scoundrels have to be condemned by them, And if they don't condemn the scoundrels, that's all right, I will."

In the interview, Farrakhan admits, "I would prefer that this whole conflict would go away, in truth. But it's like I'm locked now in a struggle."

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