Newsletter : 6fax0920.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Sept. 20, 1996 V4, #175
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Differing Attitudes Toward Syrian Threat
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem) and Arutz-7
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he remains concerned
about recent Syrian troop movements. But he says tension with
Syria is under control, at least for the moment. Netanyahu spoke
Thursday at a meeting with the senior US Middle East mediator,
Netanyahu said that what he called 'important messages' were
exchanged between Israel and Syria in recent days. And he said he
believes the situation is under control. "I think there are real
concerns, and I think it's important that calming messages were
sent by one side to the other. And I think it is important in this
case that the United States also assisted in this."
Still, Netanyahu says, Israel remains on alert against any
possibility that recent Syrian troop movements could turn hostile.
In recent weeks, Syria has moved 12,000 troops into an area near
the Golan Heights cease-fire line. Netanyahu has accused Syria of
using "psychological warfare" to try to get Israel to resume peace
talks on Syria's terms.
An assessment by Israeli intelligence has concluded that the
likelihood of war with Syria is no longer low, Ha'aretz reported.
The assessment was submitted to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
following Syrian troop movements in Lebanon.
Still, the assessment states that there are no signs from Syria
indicating that a war will break out in the immediate future. In
recent years, the IDF Intelligence Branch has determined that the
likelihood of a war with Syria was low.
The IDF deployed troops in defensive positions on Israel's northern
border this week. On Tuesday, Israeli tanks and armored vehicles
carried out joint exercises with infantry units. The exercises
included taking up unmanned positions and emergency drills close to
the Syrian border. Military sources emphasized that the exercises
have been planned for several months and denied any connection to
the current tension with Syria.
The newspaper reported that senior analysts have said in closed
meetings that they are finding it difficult to explain both the
Syrian troop movements and Syrian President Hafez el-Assad's
intentions. Intelligence experts said the maximal advantage that
Syria could gain from its concentration of forces in Lebanon is
reducing the amount of time needed to switch from a defensive to an
offensive position. The experts said their main concern is that
Israeli-held portions of Mount Hermon could be captured quickly.
The conclusion is based on an analysis of the structure and the
character of Syrian units currently on alert, which are mainly
composed of commandos capable of carrying out a rapid attack.
The US mediator, Dennis Ross, indicated that, so far, there is
no formula for resuming Israeli-Syrian talks. But he said the
United States will continue working toward that goal.
Peres Retires from Public Life
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres has announced his
retirement from politics, but he will not be leaving immediately.
Peres told Israel Television he will not run for prime minister in
the next elections, scheduled for the year 2000. He also said he
will step down from the Labor Party leadership when its next
internal election is held next year.
The 73-year-old Peres has been active in Israeli and Zionist
affairs since before the country was created in 1948. He held
many Cabinet posts and played key roles in building Israel's air
force and its nuclear program. Peres served as prime minister
twice, but lost in five attempts to win the office at the polls.
He shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with the Palestinian leader,
Yasir Arafat, and then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Peres
succeeded to the prime ministership when Rabin was assassinated
last year, and lost the post to Benjamin Netanyahu in elections
three months ago by less than 1 percent of the vote.
The internal Labor Party battle to succeed Peres has already begun.
Former Chief of Staff and Foreign Minister Ehud Barak has declared
his candidacy and he is expected to be challenged by several other
Etrog Exports on the Rise
The exports of etrogim - lemon-like fruits used on the upcoming
holiday of Sukkot - from Israel has increased by 230%. Doron
Shmueli, chairman of the Citrus Fruit Export Council, announced
this morning that Israel would export 360,000 etrogim this year.
Thirty licensed exporters will send the fruits to 31 countries in
Europe, the Americas, and Hong Kong.
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