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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       July 22, 1996 V4, #132
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Israel Swaps Dead With Hizbullah

By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)

The remains of two Israeli soldiers captured a decade ago in Lebanon have been repatriated following an agreement arranged by German mediators with the Shiite-Muslim Hizbullah organization. In exchange, Israel returned the bodies of Hizbullah terrorists and freed prisoners held in south Lebanon.

Israeli soldiers Rahamim al-Sheikh and Yossi Fink were captured in an ambush by the Iranian-backed Hizbullah in 1986. Wounded in the clash, the men later died in captivity. They were among six Israeli servicemen missing in south Lebanon between 1982 and 1986. Only one of them, Airman Ron Arad, is believed to be alive. Until now, Israel had always linked the return of the soldiers with information about Arad.

The soldiers' remains were returned in a German military plane. As soon as the plane touched down in Tel Aviv, the International Red Cross transferred to the Hizbullah the bodies of more than 100 of its men killed in clashes along the Lebanon-Israel border and buried in northern Israel.

The exchange deal was the product of months of secret negotiations conducted by German mediators headed by top security official Bernd Schmidbauer. Schmidbauer has hinted more exchanges could follow in the coming days.

This was Israel's largest prisoner swap with Hizbullah. It has sparked hopes of a possible future agreement between Lebanon and Israel's Likud-led government. In an official statement of thanks to Germany, the Israeli government said it hopes the exchange is the first step towards the return of other missing soldiers.

Weizman Pardons 2 Palestinian Prisoners Convicted of Murder

President Ezer Weizman decided to pardon two female Palestinian prisoners to whom he had previously refused to grant clemency, Ma'ariv reports. The decision paves the way for the release of 28 other female Palestinian prisoners slated for release under the Interim Agreement, but who had refused until all female prisoners were released.

Weizman also decided to lighten the sentences of four Jewish prisoners -- Elan Goodman, Nachshon Wals, Nir Efroni, and Danny Eizenman -- who were convicted of murdering Arabs. Some of them are expected to be released shortly.
The two Palestinian prisoners pardoned by Weizman will be released today or tomorrow. They will be released along with three additional prisoners convicted of murdering Jews, who were pardoned under an order of IDF Central Command Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan. This will be followed by a release of remaining Palestinian female prisoners.

Right-wing figures criticized the President's decision. "Even the Peres government did not dare to release prisoners with blood on their hands," said Rechavam Ze'evi.

Two Israelis Among TWA dead

Although TWA has not clarified the nationality of all the victims in the explosion of Flight 800, it is known that two Israeli citizens -- Gadi Notes of Ra'anana and Avishai Meshulam of Arad -- were on the flight.

Peace May be Possible...But Business is Forever

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

Egypt and Israel signed a $1.2 billion deal Sunday for an oil refinery that will provide both countries 30 percent each of the end products, with the rest for sale in Europe and the Middle East. The joint venture took nearly four-years to work out. But the deal is done. The oil refinery will be built in the Egyptian Mediterranean port of Alexandria.

Egypt's state oil company will provide the crude oil for refining. Capacity at the facility is expected to total 100,000 barrels a day. Israel and Egypt will each get 30 percent of the end products. The remaining 40 percent will be sold to markets in Europe and the Middle East.

Egyptian businessman Hussein Salem signed the deal with the Israel Merhav group, which is owned by Yosef Maiman. Egypt's state oil company will hold 20 percent of the equity. Several Arab states have urged a slowdown in the normalization of relations with Israel.

Israel Editorial

Ma'ariv protests that, at Friday's opening ceremony for the Atlanta Olympics, "the Palestinians succeeded in sneaking onto the list of countries participating in the Olympics -- in contravention of the Olympic charter -- not because they have sporting achievements, but because they know how to appreciate a propaganda achievement."

The editors add that "the memory of the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics was not raised at the opening ceremony."

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