Google Search

Newsletter : 4fax1102.txt

Directory | Previous file | Next file

>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 Israel.

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 established.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres presided over the opening of the liaison office in Rabat and described it as the start of a new era.

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 Israel.

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 of Israel."

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 Lebanon.

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 gradually.

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 clarification.

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.

Home Search

(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)

Read today's issue
Who is Don Canaan?
IsraelNewsFaxx's Zionism and the Middle East Resource Directory