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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       May 2, 1996 V4, #80
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Clinton and Arafat Meet Privately

By David Borgida (VOA-White House)

President Clinton and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat held a private meeting at the White House Wednesday to discuss the Middle East peace process. Their meeting comes in advance of the final phase of talks scheduled for Sunday between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the future of the West Bank and Gaza.

On Arafat's first trip to Washington since his election in January as president of the Palestinian Authority, it was clear the Clinton administration chose to reward him for his helpful role in promoting peace. For the first time, he met for one-on-one talks with Clinton in the White House Oval Office.

The session lasted 45 minutes. It was a warm meeting, according to Clinton spokesman David Johnson, a sharp contrast in tone and character when compared to the US view of Arafat not too long ago. Clinton praised a clean-shaven Arafat for the Palestinian National Council vote April 24 to renounce its traditional call for the destruction of Israel.

He said before the meeting the United States will let the parties in the Middle East make their own decisions. But the president said there will be US support to those who take risks for peace.

"I do not believe the United States can serve any useful purpose by getting in the middle of decisions which have to be resolved by the parties themselves. Our purpose is to try to speed the peace process along, and to help those, like Chairman Arafat, who take risks for peace. When people take risks for peace we want to minimize those risks and we want to do what we can to help improve life for ordinary people in the region."

The two leaders discussed what the United States can do to continue to promote more economic progress for Palestinians. The Clinton administration has already provided them $156 million in economic aid and $500 million has been committed over five years.

Arafat Pleads for Foreign Aid

By Art Chimes (VOA-Washington)

Palestinian President Yasir Arafat has appealed for aid which has been promised to his new self-rule authority but has not yet been paid. He told journalists at the National Press Club in Washington the money is needed to help rebuild an economy devastated by years of Israeli occupation.
After meeting President Clinton at the White House, Arafat told reporters the Palestinians continue to suffer economically at the hands of Israel. He said Israel's closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, is costing the Palestinian economy $6 million a day, and has resulted in the loss of 120,000 jobs. Speaking through an interpreter, he said the problems of the closure come on top of Israel's recently ended quarter-century long occupation of Palestinian lands.

"Israeli prolonged military occupation destroyed the infrastructure of Palestine. And we are starting from below zero. Every aspect of our life is affected: water that we drink, schools, hospitals, roads, telecommunications -- everything."

Arafat says the Palestinian Authority has not received most of the aid payments he is supposed to have gotten, including more than $400 million so far this year.

Arafat's meeting with Clinton came soon after the Palestinian National Council changed provisions in the PLO Charter that had for years called for the destruction of the State of Israel. He said convincing the members of the new parliament was difficult and took 200-hours of negotiations. He refused to answer questions about how the Israeli elections later this month will affect the peace process, or about whether his people have ended their dream of someday controlling all of Palestine -- that one he called an "unfair question."

One question he did answer was, "Do you miss Yitzhak Rabin." About the slain Israeli leader Arafat said: "I lost a friend... and I lost my partner."

Hebron Rabbi Stabbed in Shouk

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

An elderly rabbi was stabbed in the West Bank city of Hebron Wednesday, as the Israeli parliament was convening to debate the planned withdrawal of the Israeli army from most of the town this month.

The rabbi was in Hebron's vegetable market when he was stabbed in the back. Israeli military medics treated him on the scene and rushed him to a hospital in Jerusalem. Angry Jews overturned vegetable stands in the market and pelted Palestinians with tomatoes.

This type of incident happens from time to time in Hebron, which is home to 95,000 Palestinians and 450 Jews, with many militants on both sides. It is the only West Bank city still occupied by Israel.

Mail Bomb Explodes at JNF's Calgary Office

A mail bomb partially detonated Monday at the Jewish National Fund's offices in Calgary, Canada. An employee of the Calgary Jewish Federation, the location of the JNF's office, said the package partially exploded when a secretary tried to open it. The secretary was not physically injured but was brought to the hospital for shock.

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