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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       May 10, 1996 V4, #86
All the News the Big Guys Missed

USA 'Fair and Honest' to Israelis and Arabs

By David Borgida (VOA-White House)

President Clinton says his Middle East policy remains "fair and honest" to both Arabs and Israelis. At a joint news conference with visiting Greek President Constantinos Stephanopoulos, Clinton responded to Arab concern his policy is tilting toward Israel.

In the aftermath of last month's Israeli bombardment of south Lebanon, prompted by Hizbullah rocket attacks into Israel, Arab concern about US objectivity has increased. Such sentiment has been heard in Syria, but also in Arab countries considered more friendly to the United States -- Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Arab concern was heightened dramatically by the Israeli shelling of a UN refugee camp in south Lebanon. About 100 Lebanese civilians died in the attack.

Clinton Thursday tried to allay this mounting Arab concern, noting what he has done in the search for peace in the past, as well as the US brokered peace agreement ending the violence between Israel and Hizbullah terrorists in south Lebanon.

"As we move away from the understandable passions that were inflamed by the violence along the border, as time passes and the agreement is implemented, the people in the Arab world will look at what we have done with the Palestinians, with the Jordanians, with the Egyptians, with the brokering of this agreement and what its terms are. And I think they will see that the United States has been fair and honest."

Clinton spoke in firm defense of Israel on the April 18 shelling of the Qana refugee camp. "People make mistakes in wartime. There's no such thing as perfect weapons. Everybody thinks just because we're living in a high-technology age if you think we can have sort of surgical battles in which there are never any unintended consequences -- that just doesn't happen. It just doesn't happen."

A United Nations report found it unlikely the Israeli attack was an accident or a technical failure. In response, the Israeli army released a video indicating that a pilotless drone reconnaissance plane was used to target the UN camp. Initially, Israel denied the drone flew over south Lebanon the day of the shelling. But an amateur video broadcast Monday showed a drone was present.

Americans Abroad Warned of Attack

By Ron Pemstein (VOA-State Department)
The State Department has warned American embassies to go on special alert against protests over the possible extradition of a Palestinian wanted by Israel.

The State Department has not issued a surrender warrant for the extradition of Mousa abu Marzook who is wanted in Israel on charges the Palestinian is a leader of Hamas, responsible for suicide bombings there.

Despite a New York judge's ruling that the US resident can be extradited, the State Department says he can still file legal appeals. That will forestall any decision by Secretary of State Warren Christopher on Marzook's extradition to Israel.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns says in any case, American diplomats and citizens are being advised to take security precautions. "The Department of State has no specific information regarding a threat to American citizens or American interests overseas but we can't discount the possibility of random acts of anti-American violence."

Marzook has not denied that he is a leader of the political wing of Hamas but he insists the branch is opposed to the wave of suicide bombings that struck Israel earlier this year.

Survey Shows Slight Gain in Support for Peace Process

A poll conducted by a Tel Aviv University institute found that support for the Oslo peace process rose from 50.5 to 56 points during April.

The "General Peace Index," which is a less specific index of support for peace negotiations and also administered by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Studies, registered a gain of 0.8 points to reach an approval rating of 63.3 percent. According to the findings, April saw the emergence of a general trend of increased support for the peace process.

The survey, which has a 4 point margin of error, is comprised of 503 telephone interviews of a representative model of the adult Jewish population in Israel, including residents of kibbutzes and the territories.

Regarding the public's reaction to Operation Grapes of Wrath, researchers found considerable sensitivity among Jewish Israelis toward the complicated situation of Israeli Arabs. Of the 64 percent who replied they knew the reaction of Israeli Arabs to the operation, 22 percent claimed it was not understandable and justified, 12 percent said it was both understandable and justified, and 63 percent said it was understandable but not justified.

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