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Copyright 1998 Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem Post

December 16, 1998

HEADLINE: MIA Families Discuss Plight With First Lady

BYLINE: Elli Wohlgelernter

Hillary Rodham Clinton said the issue of three Israeli MIAs was raised again by President Bill Clinton in his meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, according to Yona Baumel, father of one of the soldiers, following a meeting yesterday morning between Hillary Clinton and the families of the three soldiers.

"She said she knows that the case was raised during the president's trip, but she didn't know any results," said Baumel, father of Zachary Baumel, who with Yehuda Katz and Tzvi Feldman has been missing since the battle of Sultan Yakoub in Lebanon in June 1982.

Baumel said his wife, Miriam, asked Clinton "to help facilitate our efforts to gain more information in the States under the Freedom of Information Acts, to know what information they have." Clinton told the group- which included representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the IDF, which organized the 15-minute meeting in the Hilton Hotel-that she would contact Sen.Arlen Specter (R-PA), who is on his way to Syria, to ask him to take up the case, and that she would see what she could do to obtain more information under the Freedom of Information Act.

"She's an extremely competent, well versed person, she knew exactly where it was at," said Baumel. "She indicated her desire and willingness to help so I hope that in some way she will carry this forward." The topic of what information Arafat might have was also brought up, Baumel said, and that they told Clinton "that so far all the information that Arafat has given has proven to be false. She listened." This was the third meeting Clinton has had with the families, including one on a previous visit here and another that took place at the White House.

"We've been to a lot of these meetings, and frankly, we're waiting to see some progress," Baumel said. "We've received many promises, and certainly it was better to receive promises than to have her shrug it off. But we'll have to see."

Pnina Feldman, the mother of Tzvi, said after the meeting: "I hope that this will be the last meeting, and that soon we'll be able to see our sons alive."

Batya Arad, the mother of missing navigator Ron Arad, held a separate meeting with Clinton, but refused to talk to reporters afterwards.

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