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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       June 25, 1996 V4, #113
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Netanyahu will Address Congress in July

Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet President Clinton at the White House July 9, and will address a joint session of Congress the following day. The official congressional invitation reads: "Your election showed again the vitality of Israeli democracy, and of the democratic principles shared by both countries. Now that you are the new prime minister of Israel, we send you our wishes, and express our friendship and sincere support."

Israeli and Arab Words Said May Not be What is Heard

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

The new Israeli government and the Arab countries meeting in Cairo over the weekend have staked out seemingly very different views on the Middle East peace process -- and each side has sharply criticized the other. With that initial disagreement, mistrust and even hostility as a backdrop, Secretary of State Warren Christopher arrives in the region today to try to get a constructive dialogue going.

The Arab states say that to achieve peace, Israel must withdraw from all occupied territory and allow the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Israel's new government opposes the creation of a Palestinian state, describes Jerusalem as "The Eternal Capital of the Jewish people" and says Israeli settlements will stay under Israeli control in the territories. The government has also said it is reluctant to give up more land than the previous government did, and that Israeli security will be the guiding principle behind its decisions in that regard.

The Arab states say Israel must return the Golan Heights to Syria. The new Israeli government says the Heights are essential to the country's security.

Those points of disagreement are substantial. But each side magnifies them further, with the Arab states assuming Israel will not compromise and Israel treating the Arab positions as preconditions to starting talks.

Zalman Shoval is one of the senior foreign affairs advisers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He acknowledges that the Arab positions are not so bad, if examined one-by-one, and he says the Arab countries should also understand that Israel's positions are not as bad as they think.

"They don't always realize that in a democracy, a government has published certain views, has made certain promises in an election campaign, which it will try to live up to. But these are not preconditions on Israel's part. These were guidelines, this is not necessarily each and every item as, in effect, they will be discussed or perhaps agreed upon once we reach the negotiating stage."

That indication of flexibility might not reflect the views of all the diverse factions in the new Israeli government. But Shoval says the basic Israeli government policy endorses the peace process, and the agreements already signed, which provides some initial common ground with the Arab summit communique.

Indeed, both the Arab communique and the Israeli government guidelines express a commitment to the peace process, in spite of their very different ideas about where that process should lead.

It is that kind of common ground Christopher will try to build on during his talks with Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian leaders today and tomorrow. Analysts say the future of Israel's talks with Syria is difficult to discern. Those talks were not moving very rapidly, even under the previous Israeli government and its offer to return most of the Golan Heights. But Shoval believes in spite of the sharply different views, talks with the Palestinians will be renewed soon -- as soon as the new government finishes putting its foreign policy team in place and examining the issues on the agenda.

"Let's go on with the peace process. It's irreversible. Let's stick to the formula of Madrid. Let's stick to the agreements which have already been made."

That is already a much different approach than Israeli and Arab leaders were taking toward each other on Sunday, when the Arab communique threatened a return to violence, if Israel slows the peace process and Israeli officials accused the Arab leaders of issuing "dictates" and "threats." Any improvement in the tone of Israeli or Arab public statements is good news for Christopher, but officials say his job will be to try to get beyond whatever the prevailing atmosphere is at a given moment, and on to the actual policies which will determine the future of the peace process.

Huge Roman Mosaic Discovered at Lod

The largest and one of the finest mosaics ever discovered in Israel has been found at Lod, in central Israel. It is a Roman antiquity, dating from the 3rd century CE and measures 10 meters by 18 meters. It is made of small colored stones which have retained their freshness for 1,700 years, and is almost undamaged. It was apparently the floor of a large hall in the house of a Roman official.

It depicts a variety of animals -- lions, a giraffe, a hippopotamus, an elephant and a tiger. Its central medallion shows a lion and a lioness, each on a mountain, separated by a lake, with a mythical monster between them. Birds and fish decorate the borders, and dolphins are portrayed in the corners. One section shows two ships. Coins found nearby date the mosaic to the late third or early fourth century. It is one of few mosaics from this period and is the most complete and best preserved.


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