Wednesday, March 1, 2000

The Knesset, including much of Barak's governing coalition, approves (60-53) a draft bill designed to block a Golan withdrawal by requiring a referendum on a peace agmt. with Syria win support of 61 of the 120 MKs and 62.5% of all eligible voters, whether or not they actually vote. Justice M Yossi Beilin denounces the bill as racist, because it would neutralize the votes of Israeli Arabs, who make up just over 10% of the electorate. The draft is sent to comm., is unlikely to become law soon. (MM 3/1; MM, NYT, WP 3/2; al-Quds 3/2 in WNC 3/6; JP, MEI 3/10)

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdallah arrives in Damascus for a 2-day visit to discuss with Syrian pres. Hafiz al-Asad the peace process, convening an Arab summit. Rumors hint that Abdallah may deliver a message conveying guarantees from Washington, proposing a Clinton-Asad mtg. in Geneva. (MM 3/1, 3/3; NYT 3/4; MENA 3/4 in WNC 3/6)

In s. Lebanon, Hizballah attacks an SLA patrol, killing 5 SLA mbrs. 3 SLA mbrs. are injured in a separate Hizballah mortar attack. An exchange of shelling btwn. the 2 groups afterward kills a Druze cleric, injures 2 civilians. (MM 3/1; ANSA [Rome] 3/1 in WNC 3/2; NYT 3/2; JP, MEI 3/10)