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BBC News (May 1994 - )
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ANNOUNCER: This is the BBC Six O' clock news, with Michael Buerk 
July 1994

Israeli Embassy Bombed

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A car bomb has exploded outside the Israeli embassy in London injuring at least 14 people. The Israel Ambassador and British intelligence experts are blaming pro-Iranian extremists most likely linked to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group. Police are looking for a middle aged woman of Mediterranean appearance who parked a grey Audi 100 next door to the embassy in Kensington.

A police officer and security officer guarding the embassy approached the woman as she left the vehicle. Both were caught in the blast. As well as destroying the front of the embassy building, the windows were blown out of nearby shops and offices and at Kensington Palace, where Princess Margaret, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent were in residence. Scotland Yard has released a detailed description of the woman they want to question in connection with today's assault and may have security camera footage of her. The attack comes the day after King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin met in Washington to declare an end to 46 years of war.

Extremist Islamic resistance to the peace process led to the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, killing 96, on 18 July. Since then Jewish groups in London have been in consultation with the police and security has been stepped up round Jewish buildings.
Deputy Prime Minister pushing radical NHS policy

According to a policy document obtained by the BBC, Deputy Prime Minister James Whitelaw is pushing for a radical new proposal for the NHS. 

The proposal would see National Health Service institutions divided into self-governing Trusts, abolishing GP Fundholding and transferring responsibility for their own budgets to new financially independent “Clinical Commissioning Groups,” “Foundation Hospitals” and “NHS Trusts.” These organisations would compete for patients with patients having free choice of GP, hospital and CCG services, with a letter of referral acting as a voucher to be used wherever the patient wished. Private for-profit and not-for-profit firms would also be able to offer CCG, GP and NHS services on an equal footing, with patients opting into their preferred service - potentially paying voluntary deductibles in exchange for a rebate. Payments to healthcare Trusts would be on an activity basis only. The reform would, according to a Cabinet Office source, "mark the end of the NHS as a single monolith and create a pluralistic, open and competitive market in healthcare." 

The source emphasized that healthcare would remain free at the point of use and publicly-funded by default, but said that the reform would mean the beginning of the end for the NHS as a single institution.

A different Cabinet source noted that Whitelaw, who withdrew from the Conservative leadership race and endorsed Dr. Dylan Macmillan, is widely seen as a token appointment with no actual power as Deputy Prime Minister, and that in terms of the policy agenda, he is "struggling to achieve relevance, even against other Macmillan-leaning Tories and this proposal is just another attempt."

In a joint comment from the British Medical Association's Dr. Sandy MacAra and the Royal College of Nursing's Professor Betty Kershaw, "Our organizations are strongly against this plan. While we do not oppose NHS reform outright, we believe that the Deputy Prime Minister's proposal are too radical and will destabilize the healthcare system of our nation should they be enacted."

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Liberal Democrat Leader Paddy Ashdown in coma following train crash

The Leader of the Liberal Democrats Paddy Ashdown, is in a medically induced coma tonight following a train derailment in Oxford.

Paddy Ashdown was aboard the rail service from Oxford to London when the train derailed, emergency services attended the scene and attended to those injured. No casualties have been reported but 11 people have been injured and were admitted to Hospital, including the Liberal Democrat Leader. Those who were admitted have been released but Paddy Ashdown remains in hospital tonight.

A statement from the Ashdown family confirmed the tragic accident today and thanked well-wishers for the supportive messages. They have also asked for privacy at this time.

A statement from the Liberal Democrats this evening stated “We all hope that Paddy will fight through this, everyone in the Liberal Democrats sends our thoughts and prayers to Paddy and his family at this difficult time.” The Liberal Democrats have also confirmed that as their leader is currently incapacitated, Paddy Ashdown’s duties as Lib Dem leader will now be discharged and the party will begin to look for a successor. Nominations are expected to be opened tomorrow.

Rebecca Flair elected Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Rebecca Flair has been elected Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Rebecca Flair was unopposed in the Liberal Democrat leadership contest which was triggered following a train accident which has left her predecessor Paddy Ashdown in a coma.

Not much is known about Rebecca Flair, who is a former teacher who went to a State Comprehensive and later Oxford University where she obtained an Bscin Economics.  Liberal Democrat supporters will be hoping that Ms Flair can continue the direction set by Paddy Ashdown who saw a good election performance two years ago and an impressive run at the local elections in May. 
MI5 officers killed in helicopter crash

An RAF Chinook helicopter carrying more than 20 of Britain's top intelligence experts has crashed on the Mull of Kintyre, killing everyone on board. The helicopter came down during a routine flight from Belfast to Inverness, killing 29 people.

The deaths of 25 senior police, army and MI5 officers - some of the most experienced intelligence experts in the country - have been described by the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland as a "catastrophic loss in the fight against terrorism”. 4 RAF personnel were also killed in the crash. 

The Chinook crashed into a hillside near the Mull of Kintyre lighthouse in thick fog.

The explosion scorched surrounding heather and gorse as the helicopter was turned into a huge fireball.

The bodies of the dead are being taken to a temporary mortuary in Machrihanish air base. The full identification process is likely to continue until early next week.
September 1994

Israel and Jordan sign peace treaty as Clinton declares a "new era in world peace"

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Israel and Jordan have signed a peace treaty ending 46 years of war. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein of Jordan formally made peace at a ceremony in desert area of Sadi Araba on the Israeli-Jordanian border. US President Bill Clinton was a witness to the treaty also watched by 5,000 guests and relayed to the world on TV.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was conspicuous by his absence - he had not been invited. Jordan is now the second Arab state to establish close relations with Israel since Egypt made peace in 1979.

In an emotional speech King Hussein said: "This is peace with dignity. This is peace with commitment. This is our gift to our peoples and the generations to come." Mr Rabin spoke of his joy at establishing peace among soldiers and friends. He said: "'It is not only our states that are making peace with each other today, not only our nations that are shaking hands in peace here in the Wadi Araba. You and I, your majesty, are making peace here, our own peace, the peace of soldiers and the peace of friends."

The US president praised Mr Rabin and King Hussein for their efforts to end hostilities over recent years. In a barely veiled attack on Islamic extremists, President Clinton said opponents of peace "who cloak themselves in the rhetoric of religion and nationalism" would not succeed. 

All Israelis except the extreme right-wing welcome the agreement. The Israeli Knesset (parliament) ratified it by 105 to three.  The mood amongst Palestinians is a different story, who make up 60% of Jordan's population, are angered and shocked by the peace deal which they believe fails to address their grievances.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation has condemned the role accorded to Jordan in protecting Islamic shrines in East Jerusalem. In Jerusalem and throughout the occupied West Bank, Palestinians held a general strike and demonstrations.

In Hebron, they burned pictures of King Hussein and there were clashes with Israeli troops in Nablus. Hamas, which just eight days ago carried out a devastating suicide bomb in Tel Aviv killing 22 people, has accused President Clinton of double-standards and vowed to continue its campaign of violence "anywhere in the world".

Under the agreement, Israel and Jordan agreed to exchange territory and make the border conform to geographical landmarks. The treaty opens the way for co-operation in trade, tourism, transport links, water resources and environmental protection. It also secures the Israel's longest land border.
IRA declares 'complete' ceasefire

The IRA has announced a ceasefire after a quarter of a century of what it called its "armed struggle" to get the British out of Northern Ireland.

The statement came just after 1100 BST and said there would be a "complete cessation of military operations" from midnight tonight and that the terrorist organisation was willing to enter into inclusive talks on the political future of the Province.

The statement has raised hopes for peace and an end to 25 years of bombing and shooting that has led to the deaths of more than 3,000 people.

There is scepticism from the loyalist community and celebration in the Catholic areas of Belfast and Londonderry.

The Irish Foreign Minister, Dick Spring, said the statement was historic and met his government's demand for an unconditional end to IRA violence.

The Irish Prime Minister, Albert Reynolds, called on loyalist paramilitaries to follow suit.
But loyalists are suspicious of the declaration and fear it may lead to a sell-out in which Northern Ireland's position within the United Kingdom is under threat.

The Ulster Unionist MP James Molyneaux said no moves towards talks should begin until the IRA had added the word "permanent" to the ceasefire declaration.

The announcement comes after secret talks between the British Government and republicans. The BBC understands an agreement was struck under the Major Government.

It led to the Anglo-Irish Downing Street Declaration in December 1993 which stated that any change in the partition of Ireland could only come with the consent of those living north of the border. It also challenged republicans to renounce violence.

SDLP leader John Hume MP, who has been negotiating with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, was "very pleased".

Ian Paisley, leader of the hard-line Democratic Unionists, rejected the wording of the declaration and said it was an "insult to the people [the IRA] has slaughtered because there was no expression of regret".

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