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>Israel Faxx
>JN April 3, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 59

Molotov Cocktail Injures Several Israelis

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

A firebomb hit an Israeli military bus on the West Bank Wednesday, causing it to swerve off the road into a ravine, roll over, and burst into flames, with several soldiers injured.

The bus was near a Palestinian refugee camp near Ramallah when the firebomb hit it. Witnesses say the bus came to rest on its side, burning, at the bottom of a ditch. Several ambulances rushed to the scene to take away wounded soldiers, and the driver, who was among the most seriously injured.

Earlier, in another part of the West Bank, an Israeli baby was injured when a stone thrown by Palestinian protesters hit a window of the car in which she was riding.

The continuing protests follow two abortive suicide bombings in Gaza Tuesday, and nearly two weeks of stone and firebomb throwing, and sometimes fatal clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers. Palestinians are angry about Israel's decision to build a new neighborhood for Jews in east Jerusalem.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders blame each other for the violence, and for the accompanying breakdown in the peace process. But there are also efforts underway to end the crisis, including plans for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with President Clinton in Washington Monday.

Netanyahu will Meet with Clinton

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to explain his positions when he meets with President Clinton in Washington Monday. But an Israeli government spokesman says Netanyahu will not make any concessions under the threat of violence from angry Palestinians.

Israeli government spokesman Moshe Fogel says Netanyahu decided to make a quick trip to the United States in spite of the continuing violence in Gaza and the West Bank. He says Netanyahu wants to make his views clear to Clinton and to the American people. But the prime minister has also made clear he will not change the decision to build a new Jewish neighborhood in east Jerusalem, which sparked the violence.

And Fogel says no one should expect any other dramatic

concessions from  Netanyahu at this stage. "What we're  not  going
to do -- we're  not  going to reward terror.  We're  not  going to
reward violence, and we're  not  going to allow Chairman Arafat or
the Palestinian Authority to blackmail us into concessions. We're
not  going to buckle under pressure."

Fogel says Israel is ready to move forward in the peace process. But he says the Palestinian Authority must renounce violence.

King Hussein Meets with Albright

By Nick Simeone (VOA-State Department)

Jordan's King Hussein has met with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to discuss how to get the Middle East peace process back on track. The king says he would like to see the United States take a more active role in mediating stalled talks between Israel and the Palestinians. And Albright is stepping up contacts with the parties in the region.

With the Clinton administration silent on when Albright might make her first trip to the Middle East, key leaders in the region are instead coming to Washington to try to repair a peace process that the State Department now says is in dire straits.

Albright met with Jordan's King Hussein Wednesday, a day after the visiting monarch discussed with Clinton how to get Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks. Just hours before her visit with the king, the secretary spoke twice by phone with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat -- as well as with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is due in Washington next week.

With violence in the region continuing, the Clinton administration is not willing to specify how it believes this current impasse in the Middle East peace process can be overcome, other than to say it has some ideas of its own.

Albright has said she is ready to make her first trip to the Middle East when the time is right. But for the moment it appears the United States wants to see concrete signs of interest in a resumption of talks by both sides before it would be willing to commit to such a high level visit.

In the meantime, the administration has been careful to spread blame for the breakdown in the peace process -- saying the Palestinian Authority needs to do more to stop violence and terrorism, while calling Israel's decision to break ground for Jewish homes on the southern edge of east Jerusalem regretful.

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