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Copyright 1998 Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem Post

May 3, 1998

HEADLINE: Arafat 'Disappoints' Dutch Group Tracking MIA's

BYLINE: Margot Dudkevitch

Two Dutch women working for the International Coalition for Missing Israeli Soldiers met with Palestinian authority chairman Yasser Arafat in Ramallah Wednesday, hoping to elicit information about the three MIA's captured on June 11, 1982 in the battle of Sultan Ya'acov.

Christa Rhodius, 49, and Jeannet Van Duuren, 48, met with Arafat for 40 minutes but 'came away disappointed,' according to Rhodius. She said the two had hoped for some new information as a gesture for Israel's 50th anniversary.

The two have traveled all over the world meeting with dignitaries in many countries, seeking information on the whereabouts of Zecharya Baumel, Ya'akov [sic] Katz and Tzvi Feldman, who were captured 16 years ago.

The two women hoped Arafat would hand over some of the soldier's personal belongings they believe to be stored in a safe that was originally held by Abu Jihad (Khalil al-Wazir) in Tripoli, Lebanon and transferred over to Gaza.

In 1993 Arafat handed over half of Baumel's dog tag to former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and told him that more information regarding the MIA's would be forthcoming.

This, however, did not happen, said Duuren. The two woman asked Arafat where the other half was.

The Coalition's spokesman, Daniel Grisaro, said that unknown to Arafat, Princess Dina, the former wife of Jordan's King Hussein, obtained a wax inprint of Baumel's dog tag that was held in a second safe in one of Hussein's palaces. It is now being held by the Defense Ministry, he said.

The two woman asked Arafat about the second safe but they said the chairmen often strayed from the questions.

"He said that the battle was a long time ago and could not remember details," said Rhodius. He promised to check in to the matter, she said.

Arafat's aids could not be reached for comment on the meeting.

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