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>JN
>ISRAEL FAXX
>PD October 26, 1994 V2, #196

Israel and Jordan Make Peace in Desert

By Peyman Pejman (Cairo)

President Bill Clinton started his six-nation Middle East tour last night with his first stop in Egypt. The president's first meeting during his four-day tour was with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak has been a main ally of Washington in the Middle East and Clinton reviewed a range of regional issues with his Egyptian counterpart.

One of the major topics the two leaders discussed is progress in the Syrian/Israeli peace talks. Clinton will travel to Damascus Thursday for a meeting with Syrian President Hafez Assad, hoping his visit will break the ice in the stalled Israeli/Syrian peace talks.

Before leaving Egypt this morning, Clinton will meet with Yasir Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

President Clinton is likely to emphasize to the Palestinian leader the need to press ahead with the Israeli/Palestinian peace negotiations and for the Palestinian Authority to bring under control radical Islamic movements opposed to the peace agreement.

Clinton will then board Air Force One and leave for Aqaba Jordan, near a border crossing where he will attend the 1 p.m. (Israel time) signing ceremony of the Jordanian-Israeli peace accord with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein.

Knesset Approves Treaty 105-3

By Susan Sappir (Jerusalem)

Israel's parliament gave overwhelming support to a historic peace treaty with Jordan hours before the signing ceremony. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin went to this morning's signing of a peace treaty with Jordan with broad support from his people. Parliament approved the treaty after a 12-hour debate with a sweeping majority of 105 to 3.

Rabin told the Knesset the peace treaty with Jordan opened a new era and would change the lives of the Israelis. He foresaw new opportunities for business and travel. He voiced the hope that after Jordan, Syria would follow in ending decades of hostilities with the Jewish state.

Some objections to the treaty came from rightist opposition parties. They focused on the status of Jerusalem. In the peace treaty Israel recognizes Jordan's historic role as custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.
This also angered Palestinians who see Jerusalem as the capital of future Palestinian state. PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat lashed out at the agreement, saying Jerusalem was the eternal capital of Palestine, no matter what anybody said.

Jordan will become only the second Arab state to make peace with Israel. Egypt was the first in 1979. Jordan and Israel have fought three wars.

Some 5,000 guests are expected at today's signing ceremony on the Israel-Jordan border, in the arava desert north of Eilat and Aqaba. Prominent among them is President Clinton. At the ceremony, Israeli and Jordanian generals, who once were enemies, will exchange gifts. And in Israel, soldiers will mark the day by laying wreaths on the graves of their fallen comrades.

Why Did Clinton Come to the Desert?

By Lauri Neff (White House)

President Clinton embarked on a six-nation Middle East tour Tuesday -- the highlight of which is this morning's signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. President Clinton says the event brings the United States closer to fulfilling its mission to bring peace to the entire region. The aim of his Middle East tour is to celebrate the Israeli/Jordanian peace treaty -- and to encourage other such accords in the region.

"Above all else, I go to the Middle East to deliver one, clear

message: the United States stands by those, who, in the words of
the Psalms, "seek peace and pursue it". And we stand up to those
who threaten to destroy the dream that has brought us to this
historic moment."

Clinton, speaking before his departure from the White House, said that progress in Middle East peace efforts has sparked a new wave of violence in the region, but he urged the parties involved to press forward. He said the people of the Middle East were at a crossroads.

"In one direction lies the dark past of violence, terrorism and insecurity the desperate enemies of peace seek to prolong. In the other lies a brighter future -- a brighter future that Israel and all her Arab neighbors can achieve if they have the courage to stand up to violence, to terrorism, to mistrust, to build that future."

Clinton Hopes to Unlock Syrian/Israeli Stalemate

By Laurie Kassman (Damascus)

President Bill Clinton's planned four and a half hour visit to Syria on Thursday is aimed at unlocking the stalemate in Syrian/Israeli peace negotiations. The signing of a separate peace treaty between Jordan and Israel is an added push to that effort. Syria still holds the key to a comprehensive Middle East peace.

Clinton's visit to Damascus is the first by a US president in two decades. It is viewed in Syria as underlining the critical role of Syria in the Middle East peace process.

For the population at large, it also makes the prospect of peace more tangible. Most citizens here express an overwhelming fatigue after decades of Arab/Israeli conflict and hatred. They are not yet ready for warm relations with Israel but most say they are ready for peace.

Diplomats here say President Hafez al-Assad is ready too. The signals have been multiplying since Assad's first meeting with Clinton in Geneva last January. Syria's foreign minister recently appeared in an interview on Israeli television and met with Jewish leaders in the United States to talk about the peace process. On the eve of the signing of a peace treaty with Jordan, Israel's prime minister repeated his hopes for a peace soon with Syria.

Clinton's main goal during the visit is to nudge Assad to resume peace negotiations. Both sides will be looking for a signal, a gesture that will break the current deadlock.

Some observers here suggest Jordan's peace treaty and the Palestinian Autonomy deal have isolated the Syrian leader and increased the pressure. But one analyst here suggests that Assad's patience is his strength and lets him analyze the maneuverings and mistakes of others before making his final moves.

Syria says it will settle for nothing less than Israel's complete withdrawal from the Golan Heights, which it seized in the 1967 Arab/Israeli war. But first Israel wants Syria to promise full, normalized relations.

Talks have bogged down in disputes about the timing of an Israeli withdrawal from the border area and international security arrangements once it is completed. So far, Israeli leaders talk of a pullout on the Golan Heights, not from it.

Another issue of US concern is Syrian support for terrorism, which still clouds relations between Damascus and Washington. Syria is one of seven governments listed by the State Department as a terrorist-sponsoring nation. As many as 10 radical Palestinian groups have their offices here. So do Kurdish rebels. Syria also has facilitated the delivery of supplies to Iranian-backed guerrilla groups in southern Lebanon.

Some Syrian officials argue that keeping Syria on the State Department list is just another form of pressure. Since 1979, the US Government has restricted financial aid and trade, including the sale or transfer of hi-tech products. Last year Kuwait's gift of three US made planes to Syria was delayed for months until a waiver was granted.
Businessmen here say the sanctions, especially in technology, have made it more difficult to diversify the economy and prepare it for the competition of a peacetime Middle East market. They are looking at the Clinton-Assad meeting as a needed push for peace and a signal of better times to come.

KLM Hub Relocates to Ben-Gurion Airport

The Royal Dutch K.L.M. Airlines, now celebrating its 75th anniversary, is planning to move its Middle East hub-center of operations to Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. A company spokesman said Israel is the most natural site for this, in the era of peace, handling flights from Europe to Africa, Asia, the Far East and the Middle East. The company is waiting for approval from the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority to use freight planes and not just dual-purpose aircraft on the line to Israel.

2700 lbs. of Grapes Poisoned

About 2700 lbs. of Hebron grapes (owned by Arabs) sprayed with poisonous pesticide and about 700 eggs which had been dipped in a poisonous material were seized by agriculture ministry inspectors last week. The poisoned foods were brought into "Israel proper" by Arabs in the Judea area.

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