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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       July 26, 1996 V4, #136
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Ultra-Orthodox to Hold Demonstration Over Bar-Ilan Road Saturday

Jerusalem's Bar-Ilan Road will be closed to vehicles on Saturday between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. when demonstrators will protest Sabbath traffic on the road. The demonstration, sponsored by the ultra-Orthodox community's supreme religious panel, is expected to draw large numbers of participants who will march from Sabbath Square to Bar-Ilan Road.

Arafat Meets Assad in Syria

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat is in the northern town of Kardahah for talks with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. The thaw in relations between Assad and the Palestinian leader comes amid heightened Arab concern about the new Israeli prime minister's approach to the peace process.

Arafat and Assad held their first reconciliation talks last month in Cairo. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak brought them together on the fringe of the Arab summit that discussed Arab solidarity and the peace process.

Relations between the two men have not been comfortable. Syria has allowed 10 radical Palestinian groups opposed to Arafat to maintain offices in Damascus.

But Assad was especially angered by Arafat's decision in 1993 to break ranks and sign a self-rule deal with Israel before a comprehensive peace agreement was worked out. The Syrian leader was also upset when Jordan's King Hussein followed Arafat's lead and signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

The Syrian leader complained Jordan and the Palestinians were undermining Arab coordination. He also criticized them for rushing to sign a peace deal with Israel without first clarifying all the details.

Syria's negotiations with Israel have been stalled for nearly six-months after a wave of suicide bombings in Israel. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross met Wednesday with Assad as part of the US effort to prod both sides to resume talks.

Arafat may pass on a message from Israel's new foreign minister he is ready to meet Syria's ministers any time, any place, to talk about peace.

Syria says there will be no peace without the return of all the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. So far, the Israeli prime minister has rejected the idea of giving back land for peace.

China Denies Sending Missile Components to Syria

By Stephanie Ho (VOA-Beijing)

China has dismissed a US newspaper report it sold ballistic missile components to Syria, a sale that could be in violation of an international non-proliferation agreement.

In a statement Thursday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the report of sales of M-11 missiles is entirely groundless and irresponsible.

The denial comes one day after Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen made similar comments to Secretary of State Warren Christopher. The two were attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Jakarta.

According to a report in the Washington Times Tuesday, the state-owned Chinese manufacturer of M-11 missiles sent a shipment of military cargo to Syria last month. The report says the CIA suspects the shipment may have contained missile-related components. US officials say they are looking into the report.

In 1994, China signed an agreement with the United States to abide by the international agreement known as the Missile Technology Control Regime -- which seeks to curb the proliferation of missile technology.

Israelis Arrested for Trying to Pray on Temple Mount

By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Police have arrested several Jewish religious activists who trying to force their way onto the biblical Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount has long been forbidden by Israeli law.

Every year on the Jewish fast day of Tisha b'Av, which commemorates the destruction of the Jewish Temple in the year 70 CE, the group calling itself the Temple Faithful attempts to pray on the Temple Mount.

Known in Arabic as Haram as-Sharif, the raised compound is holy to Jews and Muslims, and is one of the most sensitive spots of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The site is also the location of the Al-Aksa and Dome of the Rock mosques where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.

Under Israeli law, Jews may visit the Temple Mount which is administered by Muslim authorities, but they are forbidden to pray there on the grounds it would incite unrest. The Temple Mount Faithful group appealed to the Supreme Court to allow prayers on Tisha b'Av, but the court upheld the right of the police to prevent this if deemed a provocation.

On Thursday, police allowed Jewish religious activists to enter the Temple Mount complex in pairs, after confiscating their prayer books. Police began carrying out arrests when dozens of activists tried to force their way onto the compound by breaking through a gate.

Activists are pushing for a change in government policy that would permit Jewish prayers on the Mount.

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