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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       Aug. 13, 1996 V4, #148
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Black Gold Discovered

Careful examinations of oil discovered south of Arad (west of the Dead Sea) will continue today. Experts will attempt to evaluate the quality and quantity of the new discovery. Yaron Ran, Chairman of the National Petroleum Company, told Arutz-7 that the signs are "encouraging," and that we may be "cautiously optimistic."

Netanyahu Proposes Routine Negotiations

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his government is ready to resume routine negotiations with the Palestinians, which were suspended during Israel's recent political transition. Netanyahu made the comments Monday during a news conference with Palestinian reporters and other Arab journalists.

Netanyahu said he is committed to implementing the latest peace agreement, even though he opposed it. But he also indicated further progress depends on solving existing disputes, including Israeli claims the Palestinian Authority is not living up to its commitments on security and other issues.

"What I would like to do is reconvene the steering committees and the subcommittees, and alongside ministerial contacts, to get those unresolved issues resolved, all of them. Once we do that, we can move forward to the other issues, we have the further redeployment issues and we have the final status negotiations."

Israel's 'further re-deployment' is to begin with its promised and long-delayed withdrawal from the West Bank city of Hebron. Netanyahu said he will propose special security measures to accompany any such withdrawal, to try to ensure it is not followed by a new outbreak of terrorist attacks.

Arafat: Some Palestinians "Facing Starvation"

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

The Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, says Israeli policies are pushing some Palestinians to the brink of starvation and could result in a renewal of the Intifada, which ended three years ago.

Arafat told Israel television he might have to ask for international arbitration if Israel's new government does not continue the peace process. In an interview with a Palestinian newspaper, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is willing to continue that process, but not to compromise on some key issues.

In the Palestinian leader's first interview on Israeli television, he said he is committed to the peace process, and opposed to renewing large-scale armed conflict. But Arafat acknowledged many Palestinians feel differently, a situation he blamed on Israel's continuing closure of the Palestinian territories and its confiscation of West Bank land to build roads for Israelis to take around Palestinian cities.

"What do you expect from those who are facing confiscation of land every day? They are eating from this land. We are not rich like you. Can you imagine that the closure is causing a tragedy for our people. Can you imagine that more than 60 percent unemployed here in Gaza and more than 45 percent unemployed in the West Bank. I would like to ask any, any Israeli how he can face himself while his neighbor is facing starvation. We have to be very careful. We have arrived here in Gaza to the red line of starvation from the closure."

The current closure was imposed in February by Israel's previous government, after a series of bombings in Israel by Palestinian militants. It has been eased several times by both the previous and current government, but the closure still prevents tens of thousands of Palestinians from working in Israel, and slows the flow of goods, particularly into and out of the Gaza Strip.

Arafat did not criticize the new Israeli government specifically, and repeated that he is willing to work with any government the Israeli people elect. But many Palestinians feel particularly frustrated because Netanyahu has ruled out the kind of progress they had expected if talks had continued with his predecessor, Shimon Peres.

In an interview published Sunday in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, Netanyahu again ruled out the creation of a Palestinian state and said he sees no possibility of reaching an agreement on the future of Jerusalem. He has said Israel will never surrender any part of the city or share control of it with the Palestinians, who want east Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian state.

Arafat responded by declaring that the Palestinians will reach their goals, and saying he will turn to the international community for help if Netanyahu refuses to negotiate on statehood and Jerusalem, as required by existing agreements.

"Arbitration. We have the United Nations. We have The Hague. We have the co-sponsors. We have the Security Council. We have the Europeans. We'll have to go to arbitration. Because, I would say that, this is what we have agreed upon and everybody has to respect it."

Arafat also predicted Netanyahu will overcome his reluctance to meet with him because, Arafat said, he himself is the most important figure in the Middle East equation.

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