Newsletter : 6fax0906.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Sept. 6, 1996 V4, #165
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Israel and the Palestinians
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appealed for support
from the Israeli people to continue peace talks with the
Palestinians, which he says will be long and difficult. Netanyahu
was speaking after his first meeting with Palestinian leader Yasir
Arafat. The meeting Wednesday may signal a resumption of the peace
process. But Netanyahu now faces criticism from his own
During the Israeli election campaign in May, the Likud Party
ridiculed the way former Prime Minister Shimon Peres had been led by
the hand by Arafat at a joint appearance. Netanyahu had long
vowed never to meet with Arafat, whom he regarded as a terrorist.
But Wednesday, the two men shook hands coolly across the table
at the beginning of their meeting. Pictures of the handshake were
splashed across front pages of Israeli and Palestinian newspapers
Hand-shaking aside, the brief meeting did not address key
outstanding issues, such as Israel's desire to change terms of
its promised pullout from Hebron and the Palestinians' demand
that Israel ease the six-month closure of their territories.
The word "implementation" of the existing peace agreements was
key to the Palestinians, who do not want to reopen negotiations
on the Hebron redeployment, or on any other issue already signed
with Israel's previous Labor-led government.
Although Netanyahu used the word in his comments at the news
conference, he appears to have agreed to deal with the agreement
rather than promise to actually carry out all its provisions.
The meeting with Arafat could mean an internal political earthquake
for Netanyahu who faces a stormy meeting of the Likud Central
Committee. Several key hardliners in his Likud Party are livid
that Netanyahu committed himself publicly to the existing peace
process. They accuse him of breaking campaign promises and
buckling under to US pressure.
Veteran Likud lawmaker, Usi Landau, called the meeting with
Arafat a grave mistake. "Now, with this high-level meeting, Israel
has legitimized this kind of a process in which we continue our
negotiations, but Arafat has gotten off the hook, of being totally
obliged to fulfill his past obligations."
Political scientist Avraham Diskin says most Israelis are in
favor of the overall peace process, including the agreements with
the Palestinians, although at the same time, the majority of
Jewish Israelis are suspicious of the Palestinian side. Diskin says
Netanyahu has not really deviated from Israeli public opinion.
"He definitely reflects, I think, the model position of the Israeli
voter, that is to say, continuation of the peace process but in a
cautious way, without any free meals and with continuing deep
suspicion of Arafat."
In Hebron, Palestinians warn that talk must be translated into
facts on the ground. Former PLO official Nabil abu-Zneid says
the meeting may have broken the ice but was not much more than
a photo session.
"I think, it worries me, smiling on cameras, doing this. Then
people say he did, what do you expect you Palestinians, he met your
chairman. For me as a Palestinian I want to see the Israelis
leaving Hebron. I want to see the settlements stopped. I want to
see more discussions on serious issues, which I don't think is
going to happen soon."
Wednesday's historic meeting did not answer the long list of
Palestinian complaints about Israel's non-compliance with the
Israel - PLO accords, nor with Netanyahu's complaints about
Still, a taboo has been broken. The meeting and handshakes are
seen as vital symbols of both sides commitment to the agreement
signed by the previous Labor government. Peace talks are to
resume next week. Beyond what was said Wednesday, the meeting
itself was the message.
Investigation into Death of Yemenite Baby Requested
A claim was submitted in the Petah Tikva Regional Court, requesting
an investigation into the death of Leah Sharabi in 1949. She was
the baby daughter of Yemenite immigrants.
Lawyer Rami Tsuberi, representing the Sharabi family, requested
that the investigation be carried out as fast as possible, in light
of the advanced age of Leah's mother, who is "very anxious to know
the true fate of her daughter." This is the first claim of its
Arutz-7 notes that the Special Investigative Commission into the
Disappearance of the Yemenite Children has been operating for two
years, but it is still not known when it will release its findings.
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