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>PD NOVEMBER 2, 1004, V2, #201
Economic Summit Calls for 'Contacts and Contracts'
By Laurie Kassman (Casablanca)
The three-day Casablanca economic summit has ended with a
Declaration of Intentions to foster economic development in a
peacetime Middle East economy.The conference Declaration calls for
progress in peace talks between Israel and Syria and Lebanon to
complete the peace process. The participants urged efforts to
overcome obstacles to peace, including the Arab Boycott against
At the same time the Declaration stresses the need to keep the
borders open between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza and to
urgently promote development in the Palestinian self-rule areas.
Political leaders from Jordan, Israel and Egypt all reassured
PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat that the Palestinian problem is at
the heart of the peace process and must be resolved.
The economic summit also has set the framework for a new
partnership between government and private business to give the
Middle East peace process an economic dimension.
Klaus Schwab, who heads the World Economic Forum, calls the meeting
a crucial step toward building investor confidence in a peaceful
Middle East. "Confidence has been created. The network has been put
in place. Now let's act in a businesslike manner. Let's turn
contacts into contracts."
To make that easier, the conference calls for establishing a
regional tourist board and business council to foster investment
and a Middle East Economic Community to promote the free flow of
goods and people. A study group will also work on the creation of
a regional development bank. The conference secretariat will be
set up in Casablanca. A follow-up conference will be held next
year in Jordan.
Another sign of the new Middle East was underscored by Israel's
official opening of a liaison office in Morocco's capital, marking
another step in the normalization of relations between the Jewish
nation and Arab countries. It also opens the way for full
diplomatic relations, once a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace is
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres presided over the opening of
the liaison office in Rabat and described it as the start of a new
More than 200 guests attended the modest ceremony in a residential
section of Morocco's capital. The guest list included
representatives from Morocco's Jewish community, which numbers
about 8,000. More than half a million Moroccan Jews live in
Beilin Says Israel will Seriously Consider Lebanon's Offer
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
A senior Israeli official says the government will seriously
consider a negotiation proposal made by Lebanon's president. The
comments Tuesday by Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin seem to
show somewhat more interest than those offered Monday by the
Israeli prime minister.
The deputy foreign minister says it is not yet clear whether the
proposal Sunday by Lebanese President Elias Hrawi contains what
Israel considers the essential elements to proceed. But he says
Israel will consider the suggestion seriously.
"We have no demands for any inch, as you know, in Lebanon and we
would be happier than any other country to leave this security zone
once we are sure there is a better way to protect the northern part
Beilin says Israel is willing to establish a working-level
committee with the Lebanese Government. But he says Israel will
accept the committee only if it does not have to set a date for
withdrawal in advance and if such talks are accompanied by a
trial ceasefire to prove Lebanon's ability to control the mainly
Iran-backed forces fighting Israel and its allies in southern
Gaza/West Bank Border Reopens
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israel began Tuesday gradually ending the closure of the West Bank
and Gaza Strip, which it had imposed after a bus bombing in Tel
Aviv two weeks ago. Israel opened its checkpoints for only about
8,000 Palestinian workers, but promises to increase the number
Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin says the closure was an
emergency measure designed to calm the situation. He says that,
over time, the Israeli and Palestinian economies should end their
mutual dependence. Beilin says Palestinian areas must begin to
build their own economies, partly through investment in Gaza and
the West Bank by Israeli and foreign businesses.
But he says Israeli officials understand that for now, closures
hurt Palestinian areas and damage the credibility of the moderate
Palestinian leadership with whom they are negotiating peace.
Jordan to Have Temporary Authority Over Muslim Holy Sites
By Laurie Kassman (Casablanca)
One of the most contentious issues of the Palestinian-Israeli peace
negotiations is the future status of Jerusalem. During the
Casablanca Economic Summit, Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan clarified
his country's position on the question.
Hassan says the peace treaty between his country and Israel gives
Jordan temporary authority over the city's Muslim holy sites.
He told reporters at the summit that the situation will change once
the final political authority is established over Jerusalem.
Later, Palestinian official Faisal Husseini welcomed the
The Israeli gesture to Jordan had angered PLO Chairman Yasir
Arafat, who feared the move undermined his claim to Jerusalem as
the capital of the state of Palestine. He rejects the idea of
splitting political and religious authority there. The status of
Jerusalem is not due to be discussed until the final phase of
the peace process.
During his final remarks to the Casablanca Summit, Arafat talked of
Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state which would
tolerate and respect all religions. Israel has always insisted
that Jerusalem remain the undivided capital of Israel.
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