Tuesday, December 31, 1996

PA, Israel continue negotiations on Hebron. PA wants Israel to commit to completing further redeployment by next fall, as set out in the Oslo II agmt. U.S. special envoy Ross meets separately with Arafat, Netanyahu. (NYT, WP, WT 1/1; PR 1/3)

For 2d time in 1 wk., Jewish settlers break into Palestinian market area in Hebron, claim it as Jewish property. Israeli police arrest 15 settlers, eject them fr. the site. (WP, WT 1/1)

Bomb explodes on Damascus bus, killing 11, wounding 44. Citing Lubrani's statements 12/23, Syria accuses Israel of planting the device. U.S. calls charge "wild and irresponsible," demands proof of Israel's complicity. (RMC 1/2 in WNC 1/3; MBC, RJ, SATN 1/2, RMC 1/3 in WNC 1/6; MM, NYT, WT 1/3; ITV, RMC 1/4, al-Dustur 1/5, JT, QPAR, RJ, SATN 1/6 in WNC 1/7; al-Urdun 1/6 in WNC 1/16; MM 1/7; SANA 1/8 in WNC 1/9; MM, WJW 1/9; MEI 1/10; JP 1/11; NYT 1/28) (see 12/19)

The mandate for Operation Provide Comfort, set up by the U.S. and its allies after the Gulf War to protect the Kurds in n. Iraq, expires. Turkish parliament passes an extension of the mandate, though the title "Operation Provide Comfort" will no longer be used in order to stress that the project now is largely American, rather than international. France ceases participation, stating that the UN oil-for-food deal provides adequately for aid distribution in n. Iraq. (MEI 1/10)