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British Press


Monday, November 1st, 1999

The crash of Egyptair Flight 990 features prominently in the British press, which examines the conflicting theories as to the cause of the catastrophe. Most papers point out that there is no evidence that the plane was brought down by sabotage. But James Bone in the Times says:

New York has been considered a possible target for Egyptian radicals ever since the imprisonment of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric convicted of plotting a "Day of Terror" with simultaneous bomb attacks on the city's landmarks.

Mr Bone notes that a month ago, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an alert after receiving a warning that a bomb would "soon be used" on a flight from Los Angeles or New York. Ben Fenton and Philip Delves Broughton in the Daily Telegraph add to the speculation, by noting that.

Experts agreed that an explosion was the most likely cause of the disaster and that sabotage was a clear possibility.

In The Guardian, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Audrey Gillan say the reasons for the crash may never be known.

Flying, every airline will tell you, is the safest way to travel. Yet, after each plane crash, once the dead have been buried and the accident investigators have sifted through the debris, the cause can often remain unresolved - with everything from terrorism to faulty electrical wiring and pilot error blamed

In the Financial Times, Judy Dempsey comments on today's meeting in Oslo in which the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will try to establish a framework for a final peace settlement. US officials say President Clinton will hold separate and joint meetings with both leaders to give the negotiations a push, says Ms Dempsey, who asks:

But why the need for a push? What happened to the optimism of September's Sharm al-Sheikh accord in which Mr Barak and Mr Arafat pledged to reach a final settlement by next October?

One reason is the secretive, media-shy style of Mr Barak, whose cautious approach has taken its toll on the peace process, suggests Dempsey

The other reason for the slow progress is that Israelis and Palestinians both recognize that tomorrow marks the start of the end-game.

Focusing on the key issue of land for peace, Ms Dempsey says unless Israel concedes land, it will be extremely hard for Mr Arafat to sell any deal to his people.

Their hatred of the corruption and thuggishness of the Palestinian Authority is almost as great as their loathing for Israel, judging from the recent riots in a refugee camp near the Palestinian city of Nablus.

In the Independent, Robert Fisk comments on the death sentence handed down by a Lebanese military tribunal on Yasser Arafat's man in Lebanon, Sultan Aboul Aynain.

Already, PLO officials in Gaza are accusing the Lebanese of a "political" sentence against their representative in southern Lebanon, prompted by Mr Arafat's decision to re-exert his power in the Palestinian camps there.

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