Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Members of the centrist Knesset party the Third Way claim there is a secret agreement between President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Shimon Peres on the fate of the Golan Heights.

Third Way MKs said Monday they have evidence that Clinton agreed to postpone peace negotiations with Syria until after Israel's May 29 elections, and in return Peres agreed to provide a major breakthrough before U.S. elections in November.

The Third Way's Yehuda Harel told a press conference the party had received this information from various sources in the U.S. Congress and had verified it elsewhere. He did not name names.

The agreement means that Peres could delay the controversial Golan issue until after Israeli elections, Harel said, but by November declare the Golan to be Syrian territory and agree to withdraw to the pre-1967 border "10 meters from the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee]."

Peres was unavailable Monday for comment.

Peres, Netanyahu joust on Israeli TV

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Prime Minister Shimon Peres said Labor would bring the Palestinian issue to a national vote, while his rival, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, said Likud would force Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to meet his commitments to peace.

Their comments came Monday in separate interviews on Israel TV's popular "Popolitika" program on Channel 1. It was the closest the two candidates for prime minister have come to a debate. They will face off directly May 26.

Peres said that "unlike the Likud, we do not regard autonomy as an end goal, but as a way station," and will bring the Palestinian issue to a national "referendum."

Netanyahu said, "Labor is already engaged in negotiations that will lead to the division of Jerusalem" between Israel and the Palestinians.

A Likud government, he said, would "first of all insist that Arafat live up to all of his undertakings, which he is not at all doing now."

Israeli motivation to join army lagging

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Increas-ingly fewer Israeli youths are willing to serve in the Israel Defense Force and the motivation to volunteer for combat units is decreasing, according to a survey conducted by a Bar-Ilan University professor.

Col. Elazar Stern, head of the IDF's officer school, blamed falling motivation on the changing goals of a more affluent society.

Also, "the peace process is confusing youths and causing them to think, mistakenly, that there is no need to serve in the army anymore," Stern said.

Dr. Ya'acov Katz, head of the education science department at Bar-Ilan, said that in 1986, he found that 93 percent of secular Israelis in 12th grade were planning on being drafted. In 1990, this dropped to 90 percent, and in 1995 to only 75 percent.

"When it comes to the link between Zionism and service, there is a great and significant decline," Katz said.

IDF fires to control W. Bank protesters

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse some 600 Palestinians who tried to halt bulldozers from clearing land for a fence around the West Bank town of Kalkilya on Monday.

Palestinian reports said at least a dozen people were hospitalized. Israel's Army Radio said 18 Palestinians were hurt.

Reuters reported that, according to hospital officials, nine Palestinians were shot. They said two men were moderately wounded by live bullets and seven by rubber bullets.

The clash came when Palestinians protesting Israeli land confiscation started stoning Israeli tractors working along the 1967 border to build a nearly 8-mile fence between the village and Israel towns.

"Why don't they build the fence on their land and not ours?" Kalkilya Mayor Marouf Zahran told the Associated Press.

1 million expected for Jerusalem Day

JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 1 million Israelis and tourists are expected in Jerusalem next week for the holy city's celebration of Jerusalem Day.

This year's festivities will span an entire week beginning Sunday, with Jerusalem Day itself starting Thursday at sundown. They are part of the 20-monthlong Jerusalem 3000 celebrations marking the third millennium since the founding of King David's capital.

Jerusalem Week will begin with the inauguration of a Peruvian pre-Columbian ceramic exhibition at the International Convention Center.

The exhibit, a special tribute to Jerusalem from the people of Peru, will include many rare pieces, some dating back to the time of King David.

The week's festivities will include two musical extravaganzas, a huge street carnival, and a Jerusalem Solidarity March to the Western Wall.

Because of the large number of people expected and the potential for terrorist attacks, security is expected to be tighter than usual during the weeklong festival.