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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       June 19, 1996 V4, #109
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Bibi Takes Office as Peres Lashes Out.

Palestinians Call Policies 'Declaration of War'

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's new government took office Tuesday, after a delay of several hours caused by a rift in the ruling Likud Party. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 46, presented his Cabinet and his basic policies to the parliament in the afternoon, received a vote of confidence five hours later, and took the oath of office.

Opposition leader Shimon Peres delivered an emotional and angry speech. After three weeks of post-election civility and cooperation, Peres lashed out at his rival, saying his policies will not bring the peace he has promised. Peres said Netanyahu's government program is full of mistakes and he should not try to avoid the legal requirement his government live up to commitments made by the previous one.

Peres became angry when defending peacemaking efforts with the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat. Angrily shaking his finger at Netanyahu, Peres said he has no regrets about working with Arafat. He told the prime minister he would have to do the same thing if he really wants peace.

But this triumphant day in Netanyahu's career was marred by a dispute within his own party, during which his chosen Foreign Minister, David Levy, refused to allow his name to be submitted to the parliament. Levy insisted that Netanyahu first settle his differences with former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.

After several hours of tense negotiations, Levy agreed to join the government. Netanyahu reportedly offered Sharon a newly-created post, Minister of Infrastructure, the details of which are still to be worked out.

The basic policy Netanyahu presented to the parliament includes tough positions on the Middle East peace process, prompting Palestinian officials to call the policy "a declaration of war" and to express fears of a crisis in the peace process.

After hearing the official policy guidelines of the new Israeli government, Palestinian officials Tuesday expressed concern about a possible crisis in the peace process.

The speaker of the Palestinian Council, Ahmed Qureia, says the new Israeli government seems to want to start negotiations from the beginning -- something he says the Palestinian side will never accept. And he says several of Netanyahu's specific policies are also unacceptable, including his stands against sharing Jerusalem, creating a Palestinian state and the return of Palestinian refugees. Most objectionable, Qureia says, is Netanyahu's commitment to expand Jewish settlements in the territories.

"The settlements are the most dangerous issue for the peace process. If they will start any kind of activities or expanding the activities in the settlements, it means clearly, no doubt, that it is a declaration of war. It's a war, it's a statement of war. Therefore, this will not be acceptable."

Arabs Will Meet This Weekend

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

Arab foreign ministers are intensifying their consultations to map out the agenda and draft documents for the Arab summit, which takes place this weekend in Cairo. The Arab leaders are seeking a unified stance toward the peace process and the new right-wing government in Israel.

At a mini-summit in Damascus, the leaders of Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia called on Turkey to reconsider its military training agreement with Israel. Turkish officials have expressed surprise over negative Arab reaction to the deal.

Now Turkey's state news agency says the foreign minister has sent a letter to urge the Arab leaders not to use the summit to protest against Turkey for its dispute with Syria over sharing the water flow of the Euphrates River.

Syria Masses Troops on Turkish Border

By Amberin Zaman (VOA-Ankara)

Reports of bomb blasts, gunfire and massing troops are emerging from the border area between Turkey and Syria. Syria's Vice President, Abdul Khalim Khaddam, denied Tuesday that his country was massing troops. In turn, he accused Ankara of a military build up at the frontier. The focus of the quarrel concerns water and security.

In this predominantly Arab province bordering the Syrian plains, fears of a military confrontation grow by the day. It is here the animosity between Turkey and Syria is rooted.

Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the early 1920s, Hatay was made part of Syria by French mandate. Hatay would have remained part of Syria had the French not allowed the province to join Turkey in 1939 in exchange for Turkish support in World War 2 against Nazi Germany.

Syrian officials deny any territorial claims over the province. They say their main problem with Turkey is over the sharing water from the Euphrates River -- water for which Syrian agriculture heavily depends.

Syrian officials say a multi-billion dollar irrigation and electric power program, which involves the building of several dams along the Euphrates, threatens Syria's share of the river's waters.

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