Israel Captures Leader Of Radical Settler Group

ISRAEL yesterday captured the leader of the outlawed Kach movement, the radical organization formed by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane to push for expulsion of all Arabs from Israel and the occupied territories. Baruch Marzel was hiding in the West Bank house of a Jewish settler suspected of the cold-blooded killing of a Palestinian last year.

Police said they detained Mr. Marzel after he evaded police pursuit for three weeks. He was one of about a dozen activists of the radical Kach and Kahane Lives groups ordered detained three weeks ago in a crackdown following the Hebron mosque massacre by Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein, a former Kach member.

Marzel did not resist arrest in the early morning raid at the house of Yoram Skolnick, a friend suspected of shooting and killing a bound Arab at close range in March 1993. Marzel was ordered held without trial for three months.

In Cairo, the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel resumed talks yesterday on moving Palestinian police into the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank town of Jericho even before Israeli soldiers withdraw from those areas.

Negotiators are trying to complete an agreement for implementing their Sept. 13 accord to give Palestinians limited autonomy in Gaza and Jericho. The decision to restart peace talks was made last week after Israel agreed to allow 160 foreign observers to move into Hebron. The PLO had refused to return to talks until a plan to protect Hebron's Palestinians was worked out.

Israel also will allow 46 Palestinian deportees to return home starting today as part of an agreement reached with the PLO last week, PLO officials said yesterday.

A kind of milestone for Iraq

INTERNATIONAL forces have intercepted their 20,000th ship in enforcing United Nations sanctions against Iraq, the US Navy announced yesterday.

A United States Navy squadron of a frigate and a destroyer intercepted the Singapore-flagged container vessel MW Kota Wirawan in the northern Red Sea, boarding it after it left the Saudi port of Jiddah and then allowing it to proceed to Jordan.

Fourteen Western nations plus Saudi Arabia have taken part in the interception operations, put in place in August 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Current guidelines permit food, medicine, and UN-approved cargo to go to Iraq, but much trade with the country is banned.

Of the 20,000 ships intercepted, about 8,900 have actually been boarded. Less than 2.5 percent of all ships intercepted have required diversions, mandated when enforcement teams discover inaccessible cargo or faulty paperwork. Seven ships were discovered with contraband.

Syria denies US drug charges

SYRIA denied US accusations that it helps drug traffickers and warned on Saturday that such charges would damage the Middle East peace process.

Earlier Saturday, President Clinton accepted the State Department's recommendation that Syria remain on the list of countries involved in the international drug trade. The US says Syria does too little to combat the opium trade in Lebanon's Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley. The 26 nations on the US's list may not receive US aid or US support for World Bank loans.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the US's accusation was part of pressure by some elements in the US administration to force Damascus to make concessions in peace talks with Israel.

Peace negotiations between Syria and Israel, held in the framework of US-led Middle East peace talks, have stalled over the issues of the return of the Golan Heights to Syria and Syria's future ties with the Jewish state.

Mr. Clinton and Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, meeting in Geneva in January, set up a framework for dealing with bilateral disputes, including Syria's inclusion on a US list of countries alleged to sponsor terrorism.

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