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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       May 28, 1996 V4, #97
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Tomorrow is Peres or Netanyahu

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's two candidates for prime minister campaigned across the country Monday, seeking votes in Wednesday's election. Experts say the race is too close to call, and possibly getting closer.

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres spent much of the day in his office, appearing prime ministerial. He then headed for working-class suburbs of Tel Aviv, which are home to many voters who are traditionally conservative but voted for his Labor Party in the last election.

His rival, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, was in northern Israel campaigning in front of religious Jews, most of whom support him; and in Israeli Arab areas, which are expected to go heavily for Peres.

The televised debate the two men had on Sunday appeared not to have dramatically affected either's level of support. A public opinion poll in one Israeli newspaper gave victory in the debate to Peres by four percentage points, but a poll in a competing newspaper gave the debate to Netanyahu by the same margin.

Other polls taken before the debate but published on Monday show Peres' roughly five point lead narrowing slightly. The large-circulation newspaper Yediot Aharonot tantalized its readers with a poll showing Peres' lead at just two-and-one-half percent.

Pollsters say any pre-election lead of less than five percentage points cannot be relied upon on election day.

Israeli Strike Slows Outward Flights

JERUSALEM--Several flights leaving Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport have been delayed due to an aircraft maintenance workers' strike, a spokesman for the Israel Airport Authority said Monday.

The striking workers are employees of Aviation Services, the company that has the aircraft fueling concession at the airport.

At least five flights have been delayed since Sunday night because they cannot refuel, and several airlines are refueling abroad so their planes can leave the country.

Hundreds of stranded passengers were being put up in local hotels, Israel Radio reported.

The strike is the second in the past week to affect traffic at the airport and was one of a number of strikes in the public and private sectors, seen as a pressure tactic in advance of Israeli elections on May 29.

Arrested Palestinian Activist Released

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

A Palestinian human rights activist held by the Palestinian Authority for nine days for allegedly slandering it, was released late Sunday. By Monday he was promising to continue speaking out, but perhaps in a more sensitive way.

Dr. Eyad Sarraj says his comments published in The New York Times -- saying the Israelis did a better job protecting Palestinian human rights than the Palestinian Authority has done -- personally offended the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat. He says that is what landed him in jail for the second time in six months.

Sarraj says he will continue to speak out against the Palestinian Authority when necessary, but he might moderate his tone. "But at the same time I would not take up any of my positions or stands on the question of human rights."

Sarraj was back to expressing those views Monday. Just hours after being released from jail, he was accusing the Palestinian Authority of abusing its power, not respecting laws, using torture and intimidation, and limiting freedom of speech, among other things.

Religious Hareidi Block Endorses Netanyahu

The Council of Torah Sages, associated with the United Torah Judaism party, in a long-awaited decision, has endorsed Binyamin Netanyahu for Prime Minister. The Council published its decision in Ha'Modia calling upon the public to vote for "the candidate whose party is closer to the ideals of Jewish tradition."

Egypt-Israel Relations Remain Cold

Foreign Minister Ehud Barak is worried about anti-Semitic broadcasts and articles in the Egyptian press, and has promised that the topic would be raised in his upcoming discussions with his counterpart Egyptian Foreign Minister Amru Mussa and with President Mubarak.

A Tel Aviv lawyer, Shlomo Cohen-Tsidon, informed the Israeli Foreign Ministry of the anti-Semitism within the Egyptian press, and a Ministry investigation found that Cairo Radio had broadcast live a speech full of incitement given at a Cairo mosque. The speaker called the Jews, "sons of pigs and monkeys," and said that they bake dough with the blood of Christian children. The speaker said that Jewish values are based on "betrayal, aggressiveness, and killing."

Arab Party Reveals Peres' Promise

The leaders of the Arab party Mada called a press conference in which they announced that Shimon Peres had expressly promised that Sheikh Ahmad Yassin would be released from prison next month. Yassin, head of Hamas, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Israeli soldiers and civilians.

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