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HOSTAGE PLIGHT HINGES ON REACTION OF U.S. AND ISRAEL TO INCREASED VIOLENCE, WEIR SAYS

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How the United States and Israel react to increasing violence in Israeli-occupied territories could be critical to the fate of American hostages held in Lebanon, a former hostage said Saturday.

The Rev. Benjamin Weir, who is in Utah for more than a week for the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Salt Lake City, beginning Monday and graduation exercises at Wasatch Academy on Sunday, said the driving cause of hostage-takers is to diminish U.S. support of Israel, which occupies Palestinian territory on the West Bank of the Jordan River and Gaza Strip on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea."It would be a very important move" to have some kind of dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian representatives toward eventual elections in the occupied territories and release of Lebanese Shiites held in Israel, Weir told the Deseret News.

Indeed, recent reports from Beirut bear out Weir's concerns that the hostage situation hinges on events in Israel. Iranian-backed Moslems holding two Americans hostage in Lebanon vowed Saturday to make the U.S. and Israel pay for the recent killing of seven Arab workers in Israel.

In a written statement, the group did not say how it would retaliate for the attack near Tel Aviv by a deranged Israeli last Sunday but added:

"The effective deterrent is force. America is directly responsible for the bloodshed . . . America is trying to keep its Middle East base, Israel, at any price."

Weir explained that hostage-takers are determined in their cause and refusals to deal with them won't accomplish anything. He recommends a sustained and continuous effort to negotiate with captors.

"In the Middle East you get everything done by negotiation. You bargain for what you want," he said. "There can be some give and take. The attitude of having nothing to do with them (hostage-takers) is not at all helpful to the hostages."

Sixteen Western hostages are being held by pro-Iranian Shiite Moslem zealots in Lebanon. The captives are six Americans, four Britons, two West Germans, two Swiss, an Italian and an Irishman.

Asked if the capture of negotiator Terry Waite contradicts the assessment that hostage-takers will negotiate in good faith, Weir said Waite's capture could have been result of in-fighting among different Moslem factions.

"It's wild," he said, referring to the challenge negotiators face in determining who to deal with. "But that's the nature of Lebanon."

Weir said his captors told him his release after 16 months was a show of good faith for the release of two Moslem hostages.

Weir was taken hostage in 1984. At the time he had been living in Lebanon for more than 30 years as a missionary, representative and coordinator for the Presbyterian Church's mission in Lebanon and Syria.

He said it was risky living there, but Americans had reasonable expectations to believe they were safe. He said the American University was walled-in and had security forces. The two American hostages taken from that campus were abducted by gunmen posing as Lebanese riot police.

As a hostage held in isolation for 16 months and secretly moved to different locations in Lebanon, Weir said he learned to call on all his resources at a time of crisis _ his primary resource being God.

He also said he became keenly aware of the danger people live in outside of the United States. "You can't assume most people in the world are as comfortable as we are here."