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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       July 10, 1996 V4, #124
All the News the Big Guys Missed

New Find on Massada

For the first time, a find from the Herodian period has been made on Massada. A wine vessel, inscribed in Latin with the words, "Herod, King of Judea," was found recently on the Judean Desert mountain. The vessel was apparently brought to Herod from Italy. Until now, all of the finds on Massada were from the time of the destruction of the Temple, some 70 years after Herod, or later.

Clinton and Netanyahu Share a Non-Combustible Chemistry

By David Borgida (VOA-White House)

President Clinton and visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose to highlight their shared agenda for peace in the Middle East not their specific differences on achieving it as they concluded a day of talks at the White House.

After a joint news conference, the two leaders walked away from reporters each with one arm wrapped around the other - - underscoring for all to see that their first meeting since Netanyahu's election went about as well as could be expected.

There were some high expectations, fueled by news reports, that the two could narrow differences over the US backed land for peace approach that has been accepted by previous Israeli governments but not embraced by Netanyahu.

And there were equally high expectations that Netanyahu might tell the president he was ready to meet with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.

But neither happened, and it was the president who said in careful diplomatic language, that the two agreed to disagree. "I believe that the process will go forward and I think we're going to have necessarily a period of adjustment and those of us who care about it need to try to minimize the negative and maximize the positive and get through it as well as possible."

In fact, Netanyahu brought with him twin hard-line messages -- to the Palestinian Authority and to Syria. He urged the Palestinian Authority to end what he alleges are violations of peace accords. "We expect the Palestinian Authority to desist, cease and desist, from these activities in order to conform with their obligations."

At the same time, the US educated prime minister said he would keep the lines of communication with the Palestinian Authority open -- but that he has no immediate plans to meet Arafat. "We will expand these contacts both in frequency and in the level of the personnel involved. I said that if I deem it necessary for peace or for the interest of Israel to meet Arafat I wouldn't rule it out and I have not changed my position."

As for resuming the Israeli-Syrian peace track, the prime minister said he is prepared to meet with Syrian President Hafez al Assad - - but "I can tell you that the first item on my agenda would be the cessation of all terrorist attacks from Syrian-controlled areas in Lebanon via Hizbullah, or for that matter, other terrorist attacks from groups based in Syria. I think it's only right. I think it's peculiar to have peace talks that are progressing while you have a terror campaign parallel to it."

For his part, Clinton said he encourages talks between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and the Syrians, but he said his role is not to impose solutions on either track.

So he stuck to the US role as mediator, encouraging and prodding for peace, just as Netanyahu stuck to his firm position--on which he was elected May 29 -- on maintaining Israel's security while searching for peace.

Yet some progress was made. On a personal level, Clinton spokesman Mike McCurry said Clinton had what he called a "very enjoyable" encounter with Netanyahu, whom he did not support in Israel's election.

Their talks went longer than expected, forcing the two to actually miss the first two courses of a working lunch. And there was some substantive progress. The president announced the two nations would soon convene what officials here say will be a sub-ministerial meeting in Washington on terrorism. And he announced the US would give Israel constant access to US intelligence on any missile launches.

The bottom line for both leaders was that despite differences, the overall bilateral relationship remains unshakable. "The relationship between our two countries transcends personalities and politics and parties. It is a bond between two peoples, and a bond which I think has few equals in the international arena. And I think and I know that our relationship today is as solid as ever," Netanyahu said.

"Those who would try to drive a wedge between us will not succeed," Clinton said.

In response to an Israeli journalist's question about the personal chemistry between the two leaders, Netanyahu joked he and Clinton have a good chemistry, not the kind that sparks combustion.

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