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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Aug. 30, 1996 V4, #161
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Arab Terrorists Attack Bus

Two people were lightly injured in a terrorist bus shooting outside Jerusalem Wednesday night, when a bus traveling from Jerusalem to Kiryat Arba in the area of Har Gilo was shaken by a burst of automatic gun fire. Major casualties were avoided because of bullet-proof windows on the bus.

Palestinians Strike

By Al Pessin (VOA-Ramallah)

Palestinians Thursday staged a half-day strike in Jerusalem and throughout the territories to protest policies of Israel's new government. The strike was called by Yasir Arafat and was the first such action since the start of autonomy two years ago.

It was like a holiday in Ramallah and other West Bank and Gaza towns -- there was plenty of traffic, but the stores were all closed and shuttered. People on the streets seemed to take some pride from their show of solidarity, although some questioned just what impact it can have on the new Israeli government and its policy of expanding settlements and consolidating control over Jerusalem.

Ramallah factory owner Adnan Faramand said that by closing their doors Thursday morning, he and his neighbors were sending a message to the new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Well, mainly it's a message to Netanyahu and to those who were supervising the whole peace process, especially the United States of America, that Palestinians are fed up waiting for peace and we are giving all our sacrifices to make the peace process succeed, but the other partners are not willing to give anything to make it succeed."

Shops also closed in east Jerusalem, which Israel re-captured in the 1967 war and later annexed. The Palestinians want to make east Jerusalem the capital of their future state. The destruction of a Palestinian building in east Jerusalem's Old City by municipal officials Tuesday was the main factor in the decision by Arafat to call Thursday's strike. Israel said the building did not have a permit, but Palestinians took the destruction as a political move.

East Jerusalem pharmacist Ismail Tasis says Palestinian strikes such as the one Thursday are a small gesture, and might not have much impact. But he hopes the Israeli people take note.

"Israelis, wake up before it's too late. It's for their own good, more than our good. So I think if the Israelis want ... peace, which is 99 percent for their interest, I think they should wake up before it's too late, let's put it this way."

No one expects Thursday's strike to change the Israeli government's positions. Indeed, the strike call drew an angry response from Netanyahu, who said he would take a serious view of any rhetoric which increased tensions or led to violence.

Sharon Authorizes Ashdod-Gaza Railway. Is It a Precursor That Cedes Ashdod for Palestinians' Jerusalem Claims?

National Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon decided to establish a railway line between the Port of Ashdod and the Erez Crossing. The decision was made during a meeting with Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Oren Shachor, representatives of the Israel Railway Authority, and the Finance Ministry. Shachor will reportedly work in conjunction with the Palestinians to continue construction of the railway line within the Gaza Strip.

Sharon said the railway is intended to simplify the movement of goods between the port of Ashdod and the Gaza Strip, thus easing Palestinian traffic leaving Gaza while maintaining security. He said the transport of individuals by train will also contribute to overall security.

Arab Knesset Member Participates in Defense Hearing

Member of the Knesset Ahmed Sa'ad (Hadash Arab Party) participated at a meeting on the defense budget held in the Ministry of Defense. In attendance were members of the Knesset Finance Committee, of which Sa'ad is a member, and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Though he will be barred from the subcommittee meetings on classified defense issues, in compliance with a long-standing policy of the Israeli government barring Arab MKs from participation in matters of state security or defense, it was decided to allow him to participate in Wednesday's session.

Arutz-7's Haggai Segal spoke with Sa'ad about a possible conflict of interest:

MK Sa'ad: I believe in and identify with the Palestinians' just struggle, and in the need for a just peace in the area. I see no contradiction between [my beliefs] and my serving on this committee. No one wants peace and security more than I do - but it must be a just peace.

Segal: Let's say that tomorrow you meet with Arafat, which is a likely scenario, and he says to you, "Ahmed, what did you talk about yesterday during the Knesset Defense Committee meeting?" Will you tell him?

MK Sa'ad: I behave quite responsibly in these matters. Segal: Will you tell him?
MK Sa'ad: I behave responsibly in this matter. Segal: Responsible to who? That's the question. MK Sa'ad: Responsible towards true security, towards true peace. I am not a spy or anything.

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