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>PD OCTOBER 31, 1994 V2,#199

Clinton Touts U.S. Commitment to Mideast Peace

By Deborah Tate and Chris Middleton (Washington)

President Clinton has returned from a six-country tour of the Middle East -- late Saturday he recalled his impressions of the visit for a special audience at the White House. The president told guests at a dinner honoring Italian-Americans, he is proud of the US commitment to peace in the region.

Clinton said he was inspired by the reception he got at each of his stops. He spoke of the people of Israel who went into the streets, and those in Damascus who "poured out of their apartments to see the first US president there in 20 years." He said he was caught up in the moment.

"It just made me so proud of our country, and so grateful to be the representative of 250-million-plus people, who are setting a standard, with all of our difficulties, that others want to strive for."

Clinton said he believes the strength of the United States is its capacity for renewal and its desire to spread goodwill -- as evidenced during his journey. He said the experience allowed him to briefly forget the nation's problems and bask in what has been accomplished. He urged Americans to continue working to uphold these achievements.

Clinton says the United States will continue to play a key role in the effort to secure a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

Speaking to reporters on the lawn of the White House shortly after his return, Clinton said the historic signing of a Jordanian/Israeli peace treaty was a crucial step on the road to a comprehensive peace in the region. He vowed the United States would continue to support the search for peace in the Middle East.

"The United States will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who seek the peace, with those who take risks for peace, with those who stand up for change, in the face of terrorists and

extremists who seek to destroy the peace by killing the innocent.
They can  not,  they must  not,  they will  not  succeed. They are
the past.  The peacemakers are the future."

Israel Meets with Arabs in Economic Summit

Palestinian Border Reopens Tuesday
By Laurie Kassman (Casablanca)

The Casablanca economic summit brings together political leaders and businessmen from 60 countries in an effort to expand the Middle East peace process beyond its political framework. A likely result of the conference is the launching of a regional development bank to spur investments. The forum also marks Israel's first major encounter with a wide range of Arab politicians and investors.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres says the best way to end hatred and despair is to build a prosperous Middle East. He sees the Casablanca summit as the first step in forging a much-needed partnership between governments and private business. Israel is proposing 150 projects worth $25 billion to deal with regional issues like water, transport, energy, tourism and infrastructure. Egypt and Morocco are suggesting dozens more.

The Casablanca meeting takes place in an elaborately designed room of King Hassan's palace, which blends centuries-old inlaid decorative wood and gold brocade chairs with hi-tech TV monitors and a retractable ceiling. There are separate sessions on banking and investment, capital markets, water sharing, tourism and transport, as well as a series of networking lunches so hundreds of businessmen and politicians at the conference can get acquainted.

The US and Russian governments are sponsoring the summit as a follow up to the Madrid conference that launched the peace process three years ago. It has attracted delegations from Europe, Asia and Latin America. Representatives from most of the Middle East and North Africa are here too. But Syria and Lebanon are boycotting the summit. Iran, Iraq and Libya were not invited.

While ministers and businessmen gathered for the economic summit, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat met to talk about their own problems. The Israeli leader has agreed to gradually reopen Israel's borders with the occupied territories. They were closed after the extremist Islamic group Hamas carried out a bloody terrorist attack in Tel Aviv.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres says the closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be gradually lifted starting Tuesday. "I think this was the most pressing issue facing the Palestinians and ourselves and I was very glad we could bring a little bit of good news at the outset of the meeting."

Peres says the Israeli and Palestinian delegations also discussed the status of current negotiations on Palestinian elections and extending self-rule to the rest of the West Bank. The high-level talks will resume in a week at the Erez border crossing.

Rabin and Arafat also talked about coordinating efforts to boost economic development of the self-rule area -- including the role of a future regional development bank, which is likely to be launched at the Casablanca economic summit.

Christopher Representing American Interests

By Ron Pemstein (Casablanca)

US Secretary of State Warren Christopher is in Casablanca representing the United States at the Middle East-North African economic summit meeting. The secretary insists progress was made during President Clinton's visit to the Middle East last week.

Since Clinton left the Middle East, Israeli officials have downplayed any progress the president might have made during his stop in Damascus last week.

American officials -- including Christopher -- maintain progress has been made on more than one of the substantive issues blocking agreement between Israel and Syria. Christopher tells reporters, it is not surprising that either party tends to downplay concessions they might have received.

Both Israel and Syria, Christopher says, posture in public to maximize their positions and minimize any progress made. The Secretary of State says work will continue to narrow the gaps between Israel and Syria before he returns to the Middle East in late November.

Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev will be going to Damascus following then economic summit meeting here. Christopher is urging Kozyrev to encourage Syrian President Hafez-al Assad to make prompt progress in the negotiation with Israel.

So What Did Hillary Do During Bill's Israeli Visit?

By Susan Sappir

The First Lady arrived in Jerusalem hours before President Clinton, who stopped in Damascus before returning from Amman. Hillary Rodham Clinton avoided a possible diplomatic controversy by visiting a Jewish holy site in Jerusalem without her husband. She went to the Western Wall with Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert.

Palestinians had threatened to boycott the president's visit if he went to Jerusalem's Old City with the Israeli Mayor. The Palestinians do not recognize Israeli control over the east part of the city where the Jewish, Moslem and Christian holy sites are located.

The first lady touched the Wall's ancient stones, closed her eyes for a moment of silence and slipped a note into a crack between the stones, following a Jewish tradition.

The president canceled a planned visit to holy sites in the Old City after objections were raised by Israelis and Arabs. Clinton had expressed a wish to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher -- the traditional site of Jesus' burial which is also in the eastern part of the city. A White House aide said the visit was canceled because the president was exhausted.

A Voice of Reason: Hanan Ashrawi in the Middle East"

By Sarah Williams (Washington, D.C.)
Hanan Ashrawi has been a key figure in the Palestinian movement. A new book explores the role of Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi in the Middle East peace negotiations.

"A Voice of Reason: Hanan Ashrawi and Peace in the Middle East," by journalist Barbara Victor examines the life of this important Palestinian woman.

A committed feminist, Ashrawi taught English at Bir Zeit University on the West Bank and became involved in the political life of the institution. Victor first became aware of Hanan Ashrawi while working as a journalist in the Middle East in 1988.

"This voice of reason, which is the title of my book, kept coming from Bir Zeit University, this intellectual, this Christian woman in a male-dominated society, in a Muslim society, was confronting the army, was leading demonstrations and marches. And I just sort of focused in on her, and I thought isn't this something because it's so rare to see that."

Ashrawi became the spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid peace talks in 1991. According to Barbara Victor, Ashrawi should be credited with transforming the international perception of the Palestinian movement.

"What she did was sell the Palestinians, the PLO, to the American people and to the world. What she did was change our image of a Palestinian from a terrorist wearing a kaffiyeh to an intellectual wearing a designer scarf. She gave us the difference between a terrorist organization and a heart-wrenching political cause."

Ashrawi has resigned as spokesperson for the PLO, but continues to work for the Palestinian movement. It's expected that she will continue to play an important role in the development of a Palestinian state. The new book about her is written by Barbara Victor.

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