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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       June 27, 1996 V4, #115
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Three Israeli Soldiers Killed by Terrorists

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Gunmen early Wednesday ambushed an Israeli border patrol, killing three Israeli soldiers, before fleeing into Jordan. The Israelis were on a routine patrol in a usually quiet area of the West Bank, along the Jordan River about nine miles north of the Palestinian enclave of Jericho.

The Israeli army says the attackers had apparently crossed the river during the night and were waiting for a patrol to pass. The gunmen opened fire, killing three members of the patrol and wounding a fourth. The army says the attackers then worked for some time to remove a heavy machine gun from the Israeli jeep.

When contact was lost with the first patrol, another was sent out. Those soldiers encountered the attackers, there was an exchange of fire, in which another Israeli soldier was injured, and the gunmen fled back across the river into Jordan, apparently taking the heavy machine gun with them.

The Jordanian and Israeli armies cooperated throughout the day in a search for the attackers. Jordan gave permission for an Israeli search helicopter to operate in its airspace.

Israel's Defense Minister, Yitzhak Mordechai, says Jordan makes a serious effort to prevent such cross-border attacks. But still, he says, such an infiltration is the responsibility of the Jordanian army and government.

"Of course, any accident or any terror attack against our population or our soldiers, the other side has high responsibility about the situation that a terrorist is crossing the area and coming to attack our soldiers. We know that the Jordanian government and the Jordanian army are doing all their best. But even (with) that, the responsibility is responsibility and we must coordinate and cooperate and do all our best against all the terrorists."

This was the first such infiltration from Jordan into Israeli controlled territory in more than a year. The two countries signed a peace treaty nearly two years ago. Jordan's King Hussein telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the attack and they discussed the joint search effort.

Netanyahu later said it is not yet clear who carried out the attack. But speaking on army radio, he said the main sources of terrorism are Iran and Syria, which he said is acting, in his words, more and more like a terror state in every way. He charged that Syrian-backed terror is aimed at Israel, Jordan and Turkey.

Wednesday's attack came shortly before the departure of Secretary of State Warren Christopher, but information was withheld by the Israeli military censor for eight hours. Christopher was in Israel to explore the possibilities for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and Syria.

One of Netanyahu's comments at their joint news conference was that his new government will not allow Israel's Arab negotiating partners to pursue peace and terrorism at the same time.

Christopher Meets Mubarak and Arafat

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

Secretary of State Warren Christopher met with both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat in Cairo Wednesday morning. He briefed them on his first meeting with Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. But Egyptian officials say they fear the peace process is taking a negative term.

Christopher says his message to Egypt and the Palestinians is that the new Israeli leader is willing to pursue peace negotiations and agreements already signed. "I told both President Mubarak and Chairman Arafat that Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it clear to me that he understands his obligation to honor all these agreements. He wants to develop good working relations with the Palestinians, and I know he intends to take proper steps in that direction."

Christopher also stressed that it is important to work to implement agreements already reached between Israel and the Palestinians. Arafat says he is committed to peace, and hopes Israel is, too.

"And we hope that the Israelis will follow that same line and (in particular), implementing what had been agreed upon and signed -- there are many important points we are waiting for the Israelis to carry on, like the withdrawal from Hebron, the problem of the settlements, the release of our detainees and prisoners and many other items."

Arab leaders have expressed their fears that Netanyahu wants to change the terms of reference of the peace process, especially the principle of land for peace. The words were not mentioned when Netanyahu and Christopher met the media after their first meeting Tuesday in Israel. The Arabs insist on that approach to negotiations, and Washington had also favored territorial compromise when Israel's Labor government was in power.

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