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>PD October 25, 1994 V2,#195
Clinton About to Leave for Middle East
By Deborah Tate (Cleveland)
President Clinton, on the eve of his trip to the Middle East,
cautioned Americans not to expect any breakthrough in peace talks
between Israel and Syria during his visit. But Clinton, speaking
in Cleveland, says he remains optimistic about the peace process.
His trip comes in the wake of a bomb blast in Tel Aviv that killed
22 people, and the abduction and killing of an Israeli soldier.
Palestinian extremists have claimed responsibility for both
incidents. Clinton said the parties to the peace process should not
be deterred by the violence.
"If the people of Israel could keep their courage up, and the
people of the Middle East could keep their courage up, and we
won't be intimidated by these terrorists and enemies of peace, I
think we'll get there in a reasonable time."
American Goals for Middle East Peace
By Ron Pemstein (State Department)
As President Clinton leaves for his first trip to the Middle East
as president, Secretary of State Warren Christopher has laid out
American goals for the Middle East in a speech to students at
Washington's Georgetown University. Christopher calls for more
intensive negotiations involving Israel and Syria and a cutoff of
funding for Middle East terrorists.
Clinton will be the first American president to visit syria in 20
years as part of his Middle East trip that begins today.
Christopher has made six trips to Syria this year since Clinton
met President Hafez al-Assad last January in Geneva.
The secretary of state told his Georgetown University audience he
has succeeded in narrowing differences between Israel and Syria
but important gaps on a peace settlement remain. Christopher
says a bolder approach is needed. "In my view, the time is fast
approaching when some very difficult decisions must be made. If
these talks are to succeed, if they are to produce the peace of the
brave of which President Assad speaks, then the deliberate pace of
the current negotiations must give way to a broader approach."
Christopher says the requirements for a real peace are clear to
all, an agreed upon Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights,
full diplomatic relations, borders that facilitate movement of
people and goods and a commitment for Israel and Syria never to
threaten each other again. The secretary of state repeats the
president's commitment to have the United States participate, if
requested, in security arrangements negotiated between Israel and
In other words, American troops patrolling the Golan Heights much
as American troops monitor the Sinai area that Israel returned to
Egypt as part of the Israeli/Egyptian peace treaty.
The secretary of state says terrorism remains the main threat to
Middle East peace. Christopher says Arab countries must go beyond
condemning terrorism, they have to stop funding groups such as
Hamas and Hizbullah.
"But condemnation alone is not enough. A real penalty must be
imposed. We must join together to turn off all foreign sources of
funding for terrorism, both private sources and public sources.
Front organizations based abroad that are linked to terrorism must
be shut down. And the perpetrators and organizers of terror must be
punished. That is the course we are urging upon governments in the
Middle East and around the world. And that is the course we will
pursue here at home."
The secretary of state says the Clinton Administration will seek
legislation where necessary to make sure Hamas and other terrorists
will not get support from inside the United States. He blames
Iran and Iraq as what he calls the most dangerous actors and
supporters of Middle East terrorism. Iran is the most significant
state sponsor, Christopher says and arms sales and preferential
economic treatment for Iran should be terminated.
How Does Israel See Jordanian Peace?
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israel is hoping President Clinton's visit to the Middle East is
more than just ceremonial, and really results in some new progress
in the Middle East peace process -- particularly with Syria.
The president's trip started out as mainly ceremonial, with the
Israel-Jordan peace treaty as the centerpiece and congratulatory
visits to the two countries. There was also a visit to US troops
in Kuwait, but that was not directly related to the Middle East
Now Clinton has added stops in Cairo and Damascus, leading to
hopes in Israel that the visit will really result in some progress
on two key issues -- terrorism and peace with Syria. The president
will meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, and
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. Clinton will likely seek more help
from Mubarak, as well as his suggestions on both terrorism and
Clinton will have a chance to personally press Arafat to work
harder to reduce terrorism. But in such a meeting, the president
will also hear a long list of complaints from Arafat regarding
Israel's behavior, particularly the current closure of the Gaza
Strip and the West Bank. Arafat says the closure hurts his
autonomous area economically and creates more support for his
radical opponents, who carry out terrorist attacks such as last
week's bus bombing in Tel Aviv.
But by far the most eagerly awaited of President Clinton's stops,
from Israel's perspective, will be his meeting with Syrian
President Hafez al-Assad in Damascus, at the end of which Clinton
will fly to Jerusalem. The Israeli press is speculating that
Clinton will try to convince the Syrian leader to meet with
Israel's prime minister. Israel wants such a meeting, believing it
is necessary to move talks forward, to build some mutual
confidence, and to begin to build support among Israelis for
Israel also wants Clinton to press Assad to reduce his support
for terrorism. A reduction in terrorism is another key factor in
generating support among Israelis for making peace with Syria and
for expanding Palestinian autonomy. Analysts believe one of
Syria's main motivations in the peace process is to improve
relations with the United states, and there would be no better
way to do that than to take some visible steps to stop supporting
and start discouraging terrorism.
Israeli officials know getting Assad to move on either peace or
terrorism will not be easy. But they also know it was the
Clinton-Assad meeting in Geneva in January which resulted in
the Syrian leader's public declaration that he would pursue peace
with Israel. The process launched then, through US mediators,
appears to be stalled over the issue of territory. Israeli
officials say a creative solution is needed, but Assad has rejected
the rent-back solution used in the treaty with Jordan. Now, Israel
hopes another Clinton-Assad meeting will break the impasse and move
the process forward. If not, some officials worry, it could
remain stalled for some time to come.
Syria Readies Clinton Welcome
By Laurie Kassman (Damascus)
Syria's official media is welcoming President Bill Clinton's
scheduled visit on Thursday as a needed push for the peace process.
It is the first US presidential visit to Damascus in 20 years.
Syria is one of seven nations listed by the US State Department as
a terrorist sponsoring government. But Syria holds the key to a
comprehensive Middle East peace.
Syria's media is hailing Clinton's visit as proof of the country's
crucial role in the search for a comprehensive peace in the region.
The state-run daily Tishreen says Syria is ready to make all
international efforts for peace based on restoring all usurped land
But the official newspaper of the ruling Baath Party warns that
full peace requires Israeli withdrawal from all the Golan Heights
and from its self-declared security zone in southern Lebanon.
Israel seized the nearly 1,200 square miles of the Golan Heights in
the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and drove out some 30,000 Syrian
villagers. Israel later annexed the area in 1981.
Now Syria wants it all back. Israel wants Syria to agree to a
full peace and normalized relations. The state-run newspaper
Al-Thawra has blamed Israel for in its words maneuvering and
procrastinating to undermine the US peace initiative.
Syrian/Israeli peace talks have been stalled since February,
just one month after President Clinton and Syrian President Hafez
al-Assad first met in Geneva. At that time Assad talked about the
prospects of normal peace relations with Israel but five US
diplomatic shuttles have not produced the long-awaited
breakthrough. The talks have remained deadlocked on the question of
withdrawal from the Golan Heights and security arrangements in the
border area. Clinton's trip is aimed at pushing the talks forward.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is also looking for a
positive sign from the Clinton-Assad meeting. Movement on
the Syrian track will help Lebanon's negotiations too. Lebanon
wants Israel to withdraw troops it has stationed for more than a
decade in its self-declared security zone in southern Lebanon.
Syria is the key power broker in Lebanon. Progress in the Lebanese
track is linked to Syria's peace negotiations.
Assad has always insisted on a comprehensive peace based on the UN
principle of land-for-peace. Jordan's decision to sign a separate
peace treaty now with Israel has annoyed Damascus. Assad has
criticized Jordan's decision to lease back to Israel a disputed
border area which the peace treaty returns to Jordanian
The state-run Tishreen newspaper warns that Israel cannot get away
with replacing the land-for-peace principle with one of
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