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Copyright 1993 The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post

December 1, 1993


BYLINE: Greer Fay Cashman

The PLO knows who held missing soldier Zecharia Baumel and comrades Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman, "and they know who's holding them today," Baumel's father Yona charged yesterday.

Noting that PLO chairman Yasser Arafat has admitted the PLO has his son's dog-tags in Tunis, Baumel said it may be uncomfortable for the PLO to disclose who is holding him, but in line with confidence-building measures, "they have to deliver the goods."

Meanwhile, Baumel's mother Miriam yesterday appealed to Palestinian mothers to aid Israeli families in locating their loved ones and bringing them home.

"If you want your sons home, help us with our sons" said Baumel at a news conference in Jerusalem.

Saying she sympathized with Arab mothers and wives whose husbands and sons are languishing in Israeli prisons, Baumel said she would like them to understand "that we haven't had the privilege of a visit or a letter."

Baumel made it clear that she is not opposed to the release of Palestinian prisoners, but that she and all the families of Israeli MIAs wanted a letter confirming that their boys are alright.

Rallies held yesterday at universities throughout the country were addressed by relatives of the MIAs. The Baumels, who spoke to students on Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus, were encouraged by their interest and support.

Unlike some of the other families, the Baumels do not think that the peace process should be halted over the issue of the MIAs, "but we want a quid pro quo" said Yona Baumel.

Katz's sister, Pirchia Heiman, disagreed, saying the continuation of the peace process should be conditional on the release of the MIAs. "The government of Israel is obligated to set this condition," she said, adding that it is more than just a humanitarian concern.

Heiman expressed appreciation to the National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS) and to the International Association for Missing Israeli Soldiers (IAMIS) for joining the families in launching a worldwide campaign to bring the MIAs home.

NUIS chairman Guy Eliav and Ron Samurai, head of IAMIS's Jerusalem branch, said too much time had elapsed without any concrete results.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assurance on Monday that the release of Palestinian prisoners would be linked with receipt of information on the MiAs was accepted with a mixture of joy and sorrow, said Eliav.

"We learned in the army that you don't leave a soldier in the field. But we feel that they have been left in the field," he said.

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