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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       June 3, 1996 V4, #100
All the News the Big Guys Missed

King Hussein Happy About Netanyahu

Jordan has reacted positively to the election of Benjamin Netanyahu. King Hussein expressed happiness at the election results, and observers feel that he was wary of Peres' plan to establish a Palestinian state. The king called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory.

Christopher: U.S. May Adapt Mideast Position

By Jane Berger (VOA-Washington)

Secretary of State Warren Christopher says the United States expects to maintain close relations with the new Israeli government headed by Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Christopher and others discussed the change of government in Israel in a series of television interviews.

Christopher said he telephoned Netanyahu and received assurances that Israel will honor the terms of peace agreements with its Arab neighbors. He said the United States does not want to rush to judgment on the new Israeli government until Netanyahu puts together his Cabinet and meets in Washington with President Clinton.

"We have a very strong interest in maintaining a relationship with Israel. It's served us very well. It's brought us several agreements in the Middle East -- the Jordan/Israel agreement, the three agreements between Palestinians and Israel, the several economic summits there. So much has been gained and I think we ought to try to preserve the continuity of that peace process. And I was reassured by Mr. Netanyahu's statement to me this morning that he fully supports the peace process."

Christopher said the United States remains opposed to new settlements, but he said the Clinton administration may have to adapt its position to changing developments in Israel.

In a separate interview, Likud Party member Dan Meridor said the new government intends to proceed with peace while maintaining a high level of security. Meridor said one of the first issues the new Cabinet will discuss is the scheduled withdrawal of Israeli forces from Hebron in mid-June.

"Above ideology and above the ambitions of both parties, if you have an unsafe situation, if you have no security there, the whole thing may explode into chaos. And we need to see that there is security even after the Israeli re-deployment, if there is one, in Hebron as the agreement calls for."

Meridor also indicated that Israel's position on the return of the Golan Heights to Syria could be changed by the new government. "Mr. Assad says he's ready for peace and he wants the whole of the Golan. It sounds reasonable to people. Let me say that we want peace very much. And we want the whole of the Golan. As there is a gap, let's start talking."

Peres: Honor the Peace Accords

By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres has called on Israel's new government to honor peace accords with the Palestinians. But he says his government will not pull Israeli soldiers out of parts of the West Bank city of Hebron as promised, and will instead leave that decision to the new prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Speaking in his first pubic appearance since losing Israel's election May 29, Peres said the new Israeli government must respect the agreements he made with the Palestinians, even if Israelis do not like the dreams its partners may have. Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat's dreams, declared Peres, are no different than those of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who made peace with Israel in 1979.

He was apparently referring to the goal of creating a Palestinian state and regaining control of east Jerusalem. Peres said it was a good thing that Israel chose to focus on Sadat's actions rather than his words. He said Israel must Press ahead with peace talks with its other Arab neighbors.

Israel's Arab Neighbors Worried

By Laurie Kassman (VOA Cairo)

Benjamin Netanyahu's victory in Israel has Arab neighbors worried, but their attitude for now is wait and see the new prime minister's attitude toward the peace process now that he is in control of the government. Netanyahu has already called the leaders of Jordan and Egypt to emphasize his commitment to peace.

After the phone conversation, King Hussein of Jordan expressed optimism the peace process will continue to move forward. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has invited Netanyahu to Cairo to discuss the peace talks and clarify Israel's position.

But in Syria, the official radio says Israel needs to change its attitude toward compliance with UN resolutions that demand it return all occupied Arab lands. On Saturday, the state-run Al Thawra newspaper called on Washington to get the bilateral negotiations back on track.

Syria wants all of the strategic Golan Heights returned. Netanyahu has rejected that idea. Analysts suggest that without some compromise, the Syrian track of the peace process will be frozen.

Egypt's foreign minister flew to Syria for consultations. The leaders of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority will meet in Aqaba Wednesday.

Palestinian leader Arafat was said to be shocked by Peres' defeat but his top aides emphasize that their peace deal is with the Israeli government and not with one person.

In Morocco, King Hassan said he would pray day and night for the Likud government in Israel to fulfill its commitment to a comprehensive peace. Netanyahu's slim margin of victory has underlined the deep split in Israel's attitude toward peace and security.

Who is Benjamin Netanyahu?

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

He will soon be known as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but everyone in Israel will continue to call him by his popular nickname "Bibi." He will be the youngest prime minister in Israel's history, at age 46.

His meteoric rise in Israeli politics began just eight years ago, when he was first elected to the parliament. He was deputy foreign minister during the Gulf War and became familiar to millions of people around the world as Israel's main spokesman on foreign television networks during that period -- sometimes appearing with a gas mask on during Iraqi missile attacks on Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu was also a member of Israel's delegation to the 1991 Madrid peace conference, which started the Middle East peace process. That experience appears to have been crucial in forming his ideas on how to negotiate with Arabs.

Netanyahu is the leader of the political movement representing, according to the election results, the slightly more than one-half of Israelis who believe the peace process has been moving too fast, giving away too much, and bringing more terrorism.

In an interview with Israel Radio shortly before the election, he said he plans to change that. "I think the question now is how do we move forward. The first thing that I will do is to change the path towards peace, to change it to a different direction that I believe can bring us a secure peace. I think this is a different path, a new path, one that will give us the security we crave and the peace we deserve."

Netanyahu comes from a well-known family in Israel. His father was a famous historian. His brother Jonathan was the leader of, and the only one to die in, the famous Israeli commando raid on Entebbe airport in Uganda in 1976, which freed hostages from a French airliner held by Palestinian terrorists. Netanyahu himself led a less famous commando raid on a hijacked Belgian airliner in 1972, and was seriously wounded. Fifteen years later, he was a diplomat in Israel's Embassy in Washington, and then its ambassador to the United Nations.

He studied architecture and business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and received some criticism in Israel for changing his name to something more American-sounding during that period. He was also criticized during the election campaign for holding a US passport for many years, but he said he had it canceled years ago.

The other scandal which has dogged Netanyahu is an extramarital affair to which he made a public confession in 1993. He patched things up with his third wife, Sarah, who he is still with. They have two small children, and Netanyahu also has an older daughter from his first wife. The stocky, gray haired, handsome Netanyahu was once voted Israel's sexiest politician in a public opinion poll.

Netanyahu was elected to the leadership of the Likud after its defeat in the 1992 parliamentary elections. Commentators credit him with rebuilding the party, and shepherding its political image as a bastion of concern for security during the last four years of peacemaking by the Labor Party government and terrorism by militant Palestinians who oppose the peace.

Many Palestinians and Israelis are concerned that all the peace gains of recent years will now be lost, and there could be a return to conflict. But Netanyahu's supporters say Israel's Arab neighbors will get used to his tougher line and will continue to make peace in spite of it.


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