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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       May 22, 1996 V4, #94
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Election Campaign Web Sites

Campaign commercials of both Labor and the Likud can now be seen on internet-web sites, prior to their screening on television. A Raanana company has supplied technology to the parties that enables their clips to be seen in real-time without the need for the viewers to spend several minutes loading the video spots into their computers. Labor's web-site is <>, while Likud's is <>.

Arafat Arrests Human Rights Activist

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

A Palestinian court in Gaza has extended the detention of a human rights activist arrested Saturday for making comments Palestinian officials see as slanderous. According to the lawyer for human rights activist Eyad Sarraj, he was taken before a judge of Gaza's Security Court Tuesday without warning and, after a brief hearing, the judge ordered him held for another 15 days, at the prosecutor's request.

The lawyer says Sarraj was told he is accused of "libel and defamation." The charges apparently stem from an article in the New York Times which quoted Sarraj as calling the Palestinian Authority "corrupt, dictatorial and oppressive."

Many human rights activists in the Palestinian areas and elsewhere have criticized the Palestinian Authority for ignoring defendants' rights in the security courts and for trying to limit freedom of the press. Palestinian officials say such steps are necessary to prevent violent militant groups from operating, but critics charge the methods are used to put down legitimate dissent.

Several international human rights groups have called for Sarraj's release. A member of the newly elected Palestinian Council also criticized the arrest in an article published Tuesday in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida. Council member Nabil Amr disagreed with some of what Sarraj was quoted as saying, but he argued that nothing that was said justifies putting him in jail.

This is the second time in six months Sarraj has been arrested for criticizing the Palestinian Authority. He is the head of the Palestine Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights, and also runs the Gaza Mental Health Center.

In addition to Sarraj, the Palestinian Authority has also cracked down on others whose views it opposes. Recent incidents include the suspension of the host of a program on Palestinian radio for failing to argue with a caller who criticized the authority, and the arrest and beating of a photographer who took a picture of children in Gaza bathing a donkey in the Mediterranean. Officials said the picture tarnished the image of the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian press law, instituted last year, says all Palestinians have the freedom to express their opinions, but it also forbids publication of anything which might harm "national unity" or contradict what it calls "national responsibilities."

Turkey: Israel Pact Shouldn't Alarm Arabs

By Paul Francuch (VOA-Washington)

Turkish foreign minister Emre Gonensay says a recently-concluded military agreement between his country and Israel should not cause continuing alarm to neighboring Arab governments in the Middle East. The Turkish minister told reporters at a briefing in Washington Tuesday the agreement with Israel focuses on "military training."

In response to a question, Gonensay told reporters that his government's agreement with Israel is not an "offensive" agreement, to use his word, but "simply a training agreement." The Turkish minister says reaction to the agreement by some Arab governments was based partly on what he termed "misunderstanding, misinformation or disinformation."

Gonensay says he met personally with the foreign ministers of Egypt and Iran, and by telephone with the foreign minister of Lebanon, to reassure them on the nature of the agreement with Israel. He says it is his opinion they were satisfied with his explanations.

"The nature of the agreement is that it is a "blueprint" agreement for military training which increases the defense capacity of the Turkish military forces. It is not a defense agreement -- it is a training agreement involving visits of ships to each other country's ports, delegations to war academies, using of airspace of the respective countries for pilot training. And we have such "blueprint" agreements with about 18 other countries, including many Arab Muslim countries in the region."

The Turkish foreign minister did not mention Syria among the list of foreign ministers he briefed regarding the recent agreement with Israel. Syria is clearly annoyed by the pact. Syria's government daily newspaper "Tishreen" Tuesday carried a page-one commentary calling the Turkish-Israeli agreement "an uncordial action by the Turkish government toward Arabs" which is escalating tension in the region. Another official Syrian daily newspaper, "Al-Baath," carried a report saying that while Syria would not allow its territory to be used for launching attacks against Turkey, Syria reiterates its right to confront any military alliance threatening its security.

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