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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Syria Rejects Offer, Arafat Faces Revolt


DAMASCUS -- Syria rejected on Tuesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's offer to resume peace talks on a "Lebanon first" basis, saying his proposal was only sweet talk that has nothing to do with peace making.

The official daily newspaper Tishreen said that Netanyahu wanted the negotiations to discuss mainly Israel's security problem in south Lebanon but not the withdrawal from the Golan Heights, captured from Syria by Israel in 1967.

"This talk does not mean anything for the making of peace," Tishreen said. "It is mere nice words which are baseless. The issue is not the resumption of the negotiations but the essence of what the negotiations would deal with.

"What kind of negotiations Netanyahu wants to resume while he still rejects withdrawal from the Golan and couples this rejection with the expansion of settlements and bringing more Jews to settle in the occupied Syrian lands?" it added.

There was no immediate comment from Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem on Tishreen's editorial.

Netanyahu said in Amman on Monday his government had submitted a peace proposal for Syria via the United States and was awaiting an answer.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, thousands of Palestinian university students staged a one-day strike Tuesday to protest against excessive use of force by Yasser Arafat's security forces who were blamed for two deaths last week.

"Anger is boiling in our chests and the people are fed up with these oppressive and tyrannical measures," said a leaflet calling for the strike that was observed in four universities and colleges.

The protest illustrated the eroding support for Arafat's rule among the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. University students have been among Arafat's most outspoken critics.

The Palestinian legislative council was to debate the allegations of police brutality Tuesday, with Arafat attending the session.

Legislators were to hear a report by a committee of inquiry into the case of Mahmoud Jemayel who died last week after being severely beaten by agents from the Bahriyeh, or Marines, one of several competing security services.

In the wake of Jemayel's death, protests erupted in the West Bank towns of Nablus and Tulkarem last week. In one incident, Palestinian police fired on hundreds of demonstrators who stormed a Tulkarem jail, killing one man. ()