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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Oct. 15, 1996 V4, #187
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Netanyahu May Meet With Arafat Within 24 Hours

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Jordan's King Hussein has telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and offered his help in the current Israel-Palestinian negotiations aimed at avoiding another outbreak of violence. The king made the call after meeting in Amman with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.

According to a statement from Netanyahu's office, during the phone call King Hussein described the Israeli-Palestinian talks as "serious." The statement says the prime minister did not take the king up on his offer of help, but instead predicted Israel and the Palestinians will reach an agreement, if there is good will on both sides.

Speaking before the king's call, Netanyahu said Israel is under pressure to make concessions in the talks with the Palestinians, but he declared that his government will stand firm in its positions, particularly on security issues. He said he might meet with Arafat when an agreement is near, but he said there is so far no plan for such a meeting.

[CNN reports Netanyahu and Arafat are expected to possibly meet within the next 24 hours to announce an agreement on the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Hebron, Israeli television said.

In a 1995 agreement signed in Washington, Israel agreed to begin the withdrawal in March. The deployment was delayed by former Prime Minister Shimon Peres because of security concerns after Hamas suicide terrorist bombings that killed 59 people in Israel in March and February.

King Hussein will meet with Arafat in Jericho Tuesday, his first trip to Palestinian territory.

The king will arrive in Jericho by helicopter for a continuation of the talks held Monday in Amman between Arafat and the king.]

In Amman, Arafat said Monday he had visited the king to explain to him that there is no agreement on any of the issues in the talks, which he blamed on what he called Israeli "intransigence," "procrastination" and lack of readiness to overcome difficulties. But speaking in the Israeli parliament Monday, Foreign Minister David Levy said an agreement is only days away.

The key issue is the long-delayed Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank town of Hebron. One Palestinian official, and some Israeli news reports, say agreement is close on security issues. But Israel is also reported to be asking for changes in the plan to give full administrative control of Hebron to the Palestinians.

Israeli newspapers say the new government wants to retain control of construction permits, and several other powers. Israel Radio says Israeli and Palestinian officials toured the city Monday in an effort to better understand the issues before them.

Israeli government spokesman Moshe Fogel acknowledges there are significant differences in the peace talks, but he believes there will be an agreement. "I understand that there is some pessimism, but I think if you look carefully at the entire process, there is hope and sufficient mutual interest on all sides I believe to make it work in the end."

Mubarak Warns of Violence and Disaster

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

Israeli President Ezer Weizman met Monday in Cairo with President Hosni Mubarak in an effort to ease tensions and smooth soured relations between Israel and Egypt. Arab leaders are warning of disaster if Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not quickly implement interim agreements already signed between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mubarak has complained Netanyahu is not honoring Israel's agreements with the Palestinians. Weizman says he assured Mubarak that Israel is committed to the peace process. "Therefore the government is not going back. The government perhaps has slowed down to some people's liking. But I'm sure, as I've said to President Mubarak, that the Government of Israel will continue to do all its best to achieve peace between us and the Palestinians."

But Mubarak says he is not willing to meet Netanyahu again before Israeli troops are redeployed from Hebron as required by the interim agreement. "The problem is the redeployment of Hebron. Whenever they reach a solution for that, I am ready to meet with him, and I told him that in my last contact with him by phone."

Mubarak has been critical of Israel's slowdown of the peace process. Now Jordan's King Hussein is, too. Both leaders echo Arab warnings of disaster and more violence, if Netanyahu and Arafat do not work out their differences.

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