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>Israel Faxx
>JN March 3, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 36

Saddam Stockpiling Deadly Nerve Gas

UN investigators are warning of an Iraqi missile and nerve gas program much more extensive than previously assumed. The UN investigators are also concerned about Iraq's efforts to extend the strike range of its SCUD missiles to 1,800 miles, giving them the capability of reaching Moscow, Paris or London.

Arafat Meeting with Clinton

By Deborah Tate (VOA-White House)

President Clinton later today holds talks with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, one of a series of meetings Clinton has planned with Middle East leaders. An Israeli plan to build a new Jewish neighborhood in Arab east Jerusalem is expected to be an issue on the agenda.

The Israeli plans to build the neighborhood have been denounced by Arafat and have prompted careful, diplomatic language from White House spokesman Mike McCurry. "Clearly, there are aspects of this recent decision that tend not to be helpful in building confidence. We will certainly explore those issues, I am sure, with Chairman Arafat, hear his views, and then comment appropriately, if comment is warranted."

The spokesman says Clinton and Arafat are also expected to discuss the implementation of the Hebron accord -- which calls for redeployment of Israeli soldiers from the West Bank town, as well as negotiations on the final status of the territories.

Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month. He is scheduled to hold separate meetings later this month with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Hussein.

West Bank Withdrawals May be Delayed

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel is hinting its promised withdrawal from more areas of the West Bank this week could be delayed. The withdrawal is supposed to occur by Friday, and a tough debate in the Israeli Cabinet is expected.

Right wingers and religious parties are likely to oppose almost any withdrawal plan. A party led by former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky is demanding to know the scope of all withdrawals planned during the next 18 months, before it will support the first step.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's senior spokesman, David bar Illan, says the result could be a delay in the first phase of the withdrawal for what he calls logistical reasons.

The prime minister made the commitment to the withdrawal schedule in January's Hebron accord, and there have been indications the first phase might be larger than originally planned. That expectation has grown in recent days as Palestinians have responded only peacefully to Israel's decision to build a new neighborhood for Jews in east Jerusalem.

If the withdrawal is delayed, it will surely spark further Palestinian anger, and also displeasure among US mediators. The subject will likely figure prominently in Arafat's talks with President Clinton.

Jewish Graves in Hebron Desecrated

The ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron was desecrated over the weekend. Several tombstones were destroyed including that of Rabbanit Menucha Rachel Schneerson Slonim, from the family of the Lubavitcher Rebbes.

Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs Yigal Bibi visited the cemetery Sunday and said, "This is a shocking criminal act. I am appalled at what I see."

Hebron community leaders issued the following statement: "The Arabs of Hebron are not content with terrorist attacks against the living, but also see a need to eradicate Jewish past in Hebron, by desecrating the graves of our holy ancestors. Our leaders should not be blind and continue to ignore the obvious -- The Arabs are simply not interested in peace."

Russian-Syrian-Iranian Cooperation

Russia has decided to continue arming the Syrian army. A report in Sunday's Ha'aretz reveals Russia will extend military aid to Syria in three distinct areas: aerial defense and land and air forces. In a related item, upon his visit next week to Moscow, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to express Israel's concern over ongoing cooperation between Teheran and the Russian government in the field of nuclear weaponry.

PA Calls for Strike Against Jewish Housing

PA Chairman Yasir Arafat has threatened to declare a Palestinian state, in response to Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to build Jewish housing in the Har Homa neighborhood of the nation's capital. The Palestinian Legislative Council met in Ramallah and decided to call a general strike throughout Judea and Samaria today to protest the Israeli Cabinet decision. Cabinet Secretary Danny Naveh said Israel will respond vigorously to any attempt on the part of Arafat to declare Palestinian statehood.

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