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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       April 30, 1996 V4, #78
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Arafat and Peres Will Meet Clinton

By Christopher Gollust (VOA-State Department)

Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat will be in Washington this week for a meeting with President Clinton as the pace of Middle East diplomacy picks up speed. Arafat and Israel leaders open a critical round of peace negotiations early next month.

Arafat will meet Clinton, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and other senior officials in what will be his first visit to Washington since his election in January as president of the Palestinian Authority.

The visit comes in advance of the opening May 5 of the so-called "final status" negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. They are to tackle the most intractable issues of the peace process including the future of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the rights of Palestinian refugees.

US diplomats are pleased with Arafat's role in the landmark decision last week by the Palestinian National Council last week to revoke language in its covenant calling for Israel's destruction.

The Labor Party of Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres has since dropped its opposition to Palestinian statehood. But in response to a reporter's question here, Christopher said the United States is not ready to change its long-held policy opposing an independent Palestinian state.

Arafat is expected to arrive late today as Peres continues his Washington visit. Palestinian sources say the two leaders may meet here, and diplomats say there have been consultations about a possible three-way meeting with Clinton, though no decisions have been made.

Peres is due to meet Clinton at the White House today and sign an anti-terrorism agreement. In Washington appearances, Peres has praised Arafat and the Palestinian Authority for making increased efforts to preempt anti-Israel attacks by Islamic militants from the West Bank and Gaza.

Clinton Assures Israel That Terrorists Won't Succeed

By David Borgida (VOA-White House)

Here in Washington, President Clinton and visiting Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres offered American supporters of Israel twin messages of optimism late Sunday in separate speeches to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee -- an influential pro-Israel lobbying group. Both vowed that terrorists would not succeed in derailing the drive for a comprehensive Middle East peace.

With the US brokered ceasefire along the Israel-Lebanon border holding, Clinton told his Washington audience the United States would not let those who promote violence undermine peace.

The president paid tribute to the innocent Lebanese children killed in the recent Israeli attack on the United Nations compound in southern Lebanon, and placed some of the blame on what he called the "deliberate tactics" of Hizbullah. Israeli officials said Hizbullah fired rockets into Israel from around that compound.

In his remarks, Peres said he thought the new ceasefire, having been approved by Syria, raised prospects for a comprehensive peace. "Once we have achieved peace with Syria and Lebanon, I'm convinced that the other Arab countries will follow. Mr. President, I believe that the lawns of the White House can withstand another great occasion."

He was referring to the historic peace signing ceremony between Israel and the Palestinians, which took place on the White House South Lawn.

Members of the pro-Israel lobby were delighted to hear Clinton underscore his commitment to the US-Israel security relationship. "Let me say to you what I hope you already know: The breakthroughs of the past were possible because we built together a bond of trust, and I pledge to you today that this relationship will remain strong and vital, so strong and vital that no one will ever drive a wedge between us."

Hizbullah May be Training in South Africa

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has expressed concern to the South African government about the possible existence in South Africa of training camps operated by the Hizbullah. A senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official says Israel received some information about the possible existence of Hizbullah training camps in South Africa, and asked the South African government to investigate the matter during a meeting earlier this month in Pretoria.

The Israeli official, Zvi Mazel, who heads the Africa Department of the Foreign Ministry, says Israel is concerned about a range of activities in South Africa by militant Islamic groups, including Hizbullah.

South Africa's ambassador to Israel, Malcolm Ferguson, issued a statement Monday, after a meeting with Israeli officials, calling the reports of Hizbullah training camps "rumors."

Mazel would not give any details about Israel's information on possible Hizbullah activities in South Africa. But he says Israel is also concerned about protests by South African Islamic groups directed at the Israeli Embassy and at Jewish institutions in South Africa.

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