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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       June 5, 1996 V4, #102
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Bibi and Shimon Discuss Transition

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu met Tuesday with Prime Minister Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. It was their first get-together since last Wednesday's elections, in which Netanyahu defeated Peres by less than one percentage point.

The two men emerged from the office -- which now belongs to Peres but will soon be Netanyahu's -- smiling and shaking hands. Peres said the main issue of their one-hour meeting was security, particularly questions of how to prevent terrorist attacks. He said they will continue to discuss the issue, and Netanyahu said they agreed to consult if specific steps need to be taken during this transitional period.

Netanyahu could take office as early as June 17. But he has until mid-July to present a coalition government to the new parliament. After the meeting with Netanyahu, Peres promised a smooth transition and said they had agreed on which procedures and officials will be involved in making sure that happens. Officials say they did not discuss the possibility of forming a national unity government.

Netanyahu declined to be specific when asked about what will be one of his first important decisions related to the peace process -- whether to carry out the promised withdrawal of Israeli forces from most of the West Bank city of Hebron.

During the campaign, Netanyahu opposed the withdrawal, but on Tuesday he said he would study the subject, with the help of responsible officials from the current government, and would make a decision afterwards.

Muslims Discuss Israeli Elections

By Al Pessin (VOA-Eilat)

The leaders of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians are meeting Wednesday at King Hussein's waterside palace near the southern Jordanian town of Aqaba to discuss the implications of Israel's change of government on the Middle East peace process.

King Hussein, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, are expected to discuss how to respond to promises by Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu to move more slowly and make fewer concessions in future peace talks.

The Syrian leader, Hafez al-Assad, has already declared his track of the peace process frozen until he hears more conciliatory statements from the new Israeli government.

But the three leaders meeting today have reacted more cautiously, emphasizing Netanyahu's commitment to continue the peace process, and downplaying his very different interpretation of what that means. Arafat is most concerned, with talks on the next stage of peace having just started, and Netanyahu opposing several aspects of the previous accord which is still in the process of implementation.

Some Arab analysts are already saying the leaders will soon be appealing for help from the West to pressure the new Israeli prime minister to be more flexible. But for now, they can do little more than plan general strategy for how to respond to the tougher line they expect from Jerusalem.

What Will Netanyahu Bring to Arabs?

By Ed Warner (VOA-Washington)

The impact of the Israeli election on the peace process was debated by Palestinians and other Muslims at a meeting in Washington this week. Most were pessimistic, but the featured speaker -- a prominent Palestinian author and journalist -- cautioned against jumping to conclusions because Israel's newly elected prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, could prove more moderate in office.

Neither Arabs nor Jews were very enthusiastic about Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, said Fouzi el-Asmar at a meeting of the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine.

El-Asmar said that despite good intentions, Peres never rose to the occasion. He was too cautious on the peace process, too harsh in the attack on Lebanon.

Palestinians remarked that Netanyahu pounds the table and says "no," while Peres smiles and says "no." El-Asmar thought Netanyahu's policies could differ from his campaign rhetoric:

"Netanyahu and the Likud in general want less money from the United States: We should release ourselves from this $3 billion a year. And he said that within the coming two years, he wants to reduce the aid that he is getting from the United States. Now he is building this on what -- relationship with the Arab world, opening borders, more economic relations with the Arab world. Can he do it?"

He can, said el-Asmar, if he continues negotiations with Syria. In fact, Netanyahu may have been in secret communication with Syria:

"The Arabs said they are not going to reach a comprehensive agreement with Israel unless they will solve the problem with Syria. Now Netanyahu is saying "no" to the Golan Heights. Can he continue saying "no"? Is he going to destroy everything like

that?  Is he going to destroy the relationship with Egypt and with
Jordan and with Qatar and with Oman?  I do  not  think so.  I
really do  not  know how he is going to go from here to there, but
he will find a formula."

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