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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       August 7, 1996 V4, #144
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Netanyahu Working on "Lebanon First"

Arab newspapers reported Tuesday a likely result of Monday's visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jordan will be another meeting between King Hussein of Jordan and Syrian President Assad in the coming days.

Hussein will report to Assad what Netanyahu told him regarding the Syrian-Israeli peace process. A senior Israeli diplomatic source refused to confirm or deny reports that a third person, apparently a Syrian representative, was present at the secret meeting between Hussein and Netanyahu in London 11 days ago.

A Syrian paper reported that Netanyahu proposed that Syria reach a quick agreement with Israel on the issue of Lebanon, in the framework of which the IDF would withdraw from the Security Belt.

Syrian Media Rejects "Lebanon First"

By Laurie Kassman (VOA Cairo)

Syria's official media is already rejecting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's offer to resume peace talks. The state-run Tishreen newspaper warns that Israel only wants to talk about south Lebanon and not about withdrawal from the Golan Heights. On Monday, Netanyahu told a news conference in Jordan he is ready to discuss all subjects with Syria, but his first concern is security along Israel's border with Lebanon.

While he was talking with Jordan's King Hussein about the peace process, Lebanon's president rushed to Damascus to discuss the situation with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.

On Tuesday, Syria's official media repeated the Lebanese-Syrian position that rejects the notion of "Lebanon First." That plan calls for negotiating an Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in return for security guarantees there from both Lebanon and Syria.

Southern Lebanon is Syria's key bargaining chip in its pursuit of an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan. Syria insists there will be no peace until Israel returns all of the strategic border territory, but Netanyahu has opposed giving it all back.

Syrian analysts see Israel's emphasis on "Lebanon First" as an effort to press Syria for flexibility in negotiations.

Two Islamic Jihad Prisoners Escape Ashmoret Jail Two Islamic Jihad prisoners have escaped from the Ashmoret jail by digging a 38-foot-long tunnel from their cells to a point beyond the prison wall.

The two escapees, Rassan Mahmoud and Tauffik Ahmad, had been convicted, respectively, of stabbing an IDF soldier and murdering a collaborator. The escape was discovered the morning after it occurred, and authorities believe Mahmoud and Ahmad had enough time to find shelter in self-rule areas six miles away from the prison.

Senior officials in the police, the Prison Service and the Public Security Ministry view the incident as one of the most serious failures of the Prison Service in recent years.

Public Security Minister Avigdor Kahalani instructed Prison Commissioner Ariye Bibi to immediately suspend eight officers and prison guards at the Ashmoret jail.

No More Free Lunch for Golan Wolves

The farmers of the Golan have a new worry -- wolves. In the past year, wolves have devoured 200 sheep and cattle. Golan regional heads have finalized a comprehensive program to reduce the wolf population in the area, with the cooperation of the Ministry of the Environment. The Society for the Preservation of Nature and the Nature Preserves Authority are against the destruction of the wolves, claiming that the wolf species that lives in the Golan is unique and must be preserved.

Negev Plant Resembling Sugar Successfully Grown

A team of researchers from the Organic Chemistry Department of the Hebrew University has succeeded in raising, in the Sha'ar Hanegev area, in Israel's southern desert, in field conditions, a rare wild plant called "Satvia Rabaodiana."

A naturally sweet substance was produced from the plant. It is 300 times lower in calories than regular sugar. The researchers hope to turn the plant into a commercially viable product. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the use in the U.S. of the new sweetener, called "staviocid." Professor Rafael Ikon, who headed the experiment, said the advantage of the plan's product is its great sweetness and low calorie count, and its benefits for diabetes patients.

Burial Caves of 3rd and 4th Century Discovered.

In the Beit Shearim National Park, the entrances to the underground burial sites from the third and fourth centuries of the Common Era have been opened to the public. Earlier the cave believed to be the burial site of Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi was opened for viewing.

Orthodox viewers are flocking to the site. One of the newly opened caves is called the Cave of Curses, and Syrian Jews are buried there. Beit Shearim was a Jewish town during the era of the Mishna and Talmud, and the Sanhedrin (Council of Sages) sat there, as did Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi, who completed the writing of the Mishnaic statutes.

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