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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Oct. 23, 1996 V4, #193
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Palestinans Stranded on Egyptian-Libyan Border

About 200 Palestinians remained stranded along the Egyptian-Libyan border with health and living conditions deteriorating rapidly. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is warning of a medical disaster and is launching an appeal to get urgent medical care for 21 of the refugees who need hospitalization. The Palestinians were among thousands expelled from Libya 14-months ago, but are still not able to be relocated.

USA and Israel Issue Joint Chanukah Stamp

By Rosanne Skirble (VOA-Washington)

In dual ceremonies Tuesday in Washington and Jerusalem, the US Postal Service and the Israeli Postal Authority dedicated a new postage stamp commemorating Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. This is the first-ever joint issue between the two countries -- and the first US stamp celebrating a Jewish holiday.

The Chanukah stamp was a long time in coming. First, there were objections from the US Postal Service to sponsoring anything of a religious nature. But commemorative Christmas stamps have been available since 1962, and America's Jewish community lobbied strongly for a stamp of its own. Now after nearly a decade -- and several design changes -- the joint-issue in the United States and Israel was dedicated at a Washington synagogue by Postmaster General Marvin Runyon and Amos bar-Haim, chairman of the Israel Postal Authority.

"It's really my privilege and pleasure to dedicate today the Israeli stamp for Chanukah. The lights of Chanukah symbolize the fight against darkness, symbolize friendship, independence, freedom, cooperation and -- most of all -- the desire for peace."

Runyon added: "The festival candles warm our hearts and lift our spirits. They serve to remind all people in midst of our diversity that we are united by many common needs and values. The Postal Service is proud to share this message with the people of the United States of America. Let the candles of Chanukah brighten our hearts as they brighten America's cards and letters this holiday season."

The design is the same on both stamps. The nine candles of Chanukah -- each a different color -- are awash in festive colors. Supporters of Israel and stamp lovers joined to celebrate the first day of issue.

Hebron Pact Near as Chirac is Harassed

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Senior Middle East mediator Dennis Ross is continuing meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials, after delaying his planned departure from the region, amid what he says is promising progress. An Israeli official says half the accord on an Israeli withdrawal from most of Hebron is ready, and other officials say the rest of the agreement is almost finished.

The top Israeli negotiator on the future structure of civil powers in Hebron, Gen. Oren Shahor, says the two sides reached a draft agreement during a dramatic late night meeting which lasted past 3:00 a.m. Tuesday.

Ross was summoned to the meeting Monday while on his way to the airport to return to the United States. The mediator had indicated lack of progress on the civil affairs issues was the main reason for his departure.

The developments in the peace process came on a day when Israel was hosting a stormy visit by the president of France. At a Tuesday news conference with visiting French President Jacques Chirac, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Hebron agreement is nearly complete. Netanyahu said he will likely meet with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat to finish the negotiations when the time is right.

In addition, he reported Chirac brought a positive message from Damascus, which he visited during the weekend. But Netanyahu would not give details.

The prime minister also apologized to Chirac for an incident Tuesday in which Israeli Security officers guarding him during a visit to Jerusalem's Old City pushed photographers, reporters and local residents out of the way as the president walked.

The president became angry, at one point pushing one of the Israeli security men. Then, Chirac stopped a senior police officer and publicly scolded him.

"What do you want, me to go back to my plane and go back to France, is that what you want? This is not a method, this is a provocation, that is provocation. Please you stop now."

The French president's visit to Israel has been fraught with controversy because he disagrees with Israel's policies on several key issues. He favors the creation of a Palestinian state, the return of the Golan Heights to Syria, and the appointment of a special European envoy for the peace process. Israel opposes all those ideas.

Chirac is to visit the autonomous Palestinian city of Ramallah today to meet with Arafat, and become the first foreign head of state to address the Palestinian Council.

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