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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       July 25, 1996 V4, #135
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Amnesty Int'l Chastises Israel

By Christine Furnell (VOA-London)

The human rights group, Amnesty International, says Israel deliberately shelled a United Nations base in southern Lebanon. More than 100 civilians who had taken shelter in the compound were killed in the attack last April. Israel maintains the civilian deaths were unintentional.

In the strongly worded report, Amnesty says the killings at Cana during Israel's "Grapes of Wrath" operation against the Hizbullah in Lebanon last April were in clear breach of the rules of war.

Amnesty also accuses Hizbullah of breaking international law with its cross border rocket attacks on civilian populations, but saves its main criticism for Israel.

In conjunction with military experts, Amnesty has conducted field investigations in Israel and southern Lebanon. Spokeswoman Anita Tiessen says all the available information indicates that Israeli forces intentionally attacked the UN compound at Cana.

The Amnesty report also accuses Israel of unlawfully killing six civilians when an Israeli helicopter attacked a marked ambulance which was taking civilians out of the war zone. In another incident, Amnesty says nine civilians were killed when their house was deliberately destroyed by Israeli war planes.

Last May, a UN report into the shelling concluded it was unlikely the attack had been a mistake, but the findings were rejected by Israel.

Egypt Optimistic About Peace

By Alan Silverman (VOA-Los Angeles)

Today, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will arrive for talks in Washington, and his foreign minister is expressing optimism about Middle East peace prospects. Minister of Foreign Affairs Amr Moussa warns that Arab nations expect the new Israeli government to back its reassurances with action. The Egyptian official spoke Wednesday to southern California business leaders at the Town Hall-Los Angeles Public Issues Forum.

Moussa came to Los Angeles by way of Damascus, where he briefed Syrian officials on the first Cairo visit of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israeli prime minister. Noting the offer, Wednesday, by Israel's Foreign Minister David Levy to meet with his Syrian counterpart, Moussa believes a resumption of ambassador-level talks would be more productive.

"As a result of my visit to Syria, I wish to tell you that Syria is committed to the peace process. They are ready to resume negotiations with Israel provided that the principles ... land for peace and other principles ... agreed upon in the Madrid formula are accepted by Israel."

Moussa remains optimistic about the prospects for resuming peace talks, but he expects Israel to match its words with actions.

"When Netanyahu visited Egypt, he assured us that he will play according to the rules of the game. Fine, but he has yet to prove show us what he withdrawing from Hebron, by lifting the closure of Palestinian borders, by resuming the final status talks with the Palestinians, by making a new, valid offer to the Syrians. So there are certain steps that are being expected and needed; that is what we are waiting for."

The veteran Egyptian diplomat insists that all issues must be "on the table" -- from the status of Jerusalem to Egyptian and Jordanian demands that Israeli nuclear facilities submit to international inspection.

Moussa says Mubarak will make that clear in Washington. "It is about peace, mainly: about how to move it on all the tracks -- Syria, Palestinian and Lebanese -- and in this it is very important to work for a balanced peace. The question is not to promote the ideas of one side at the expense of the other because the other will never accept. Even if he keeps silent for a month or two or a year, it will never hold. There has to be a balanced peace for peace to hold. This is our message. How to do it? To cooperate with the United States, with Europe, with others ... but everybody has to play his role, including Netanyahu."

Ross Rides the Middle East Shuttle

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

US Middle East peace envoy Dennis Ross has met with Syrian President Hafez al Assad to look at ways to revive peace talks with Israel. Ross is also meeting this week with leaders in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian self-rule area. The visit comes amid a series of steps aimed at getting the peace process back on track.

Ross met with Assad Wednesday after consultations Tuesday night with Foreign Minister Farouk al Sharaa. Syria has been reluctant to resume talks after hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu was elected Israel's prime minister. He has rejected giving back land for peace. Syria says there will be no peace until all of the Golan Heights area is returned.

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