Newsletter : 4fax1206.txt
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>PD Dec. 6, 1994 V2, #218
Muslims and Jews Meet in Budapest
Foreign Ministers from Israel, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and
Morocco met Monday in Budapest. The meeting, under the framework
of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, is a
major step in a long process of establishing a Mediterranean
security body similar to the CSCE. The new organization, an
initiative of Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, would be known as
the Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Middle East.
Christopher's Shuttle Lands in Damascus
By Laurie Kassman (Cairo)
US Secretary of State Warren Christopher landed in Damascus today
for another peace shuttle aimed at speeding up the Israeli-Syrian
negotiations. But both sides are playing down the possibility of
For the past week, Syrian newspapers have been lashing out at
Israel, blaming leaders there of putting obstacles in the way of
progress in the peace negotiations. One day before Christopher
visited Damascus, the official media still pointed the finger at
Last week, President Hafez al-Assad told reporters he would rather
keep things as they are than yield to what he called Israel's
Syria insists on a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan
Heights as a condition for peace. Israel first wants a Syrian
commitment to normalized relations. Negotiations have been at an
impasse for more than eight months despite half a dozen visits by
the Secretary of State.
After President Bill Clinton's unprecedented visit to Syria in
October, US officials hinted that some progress was made to narrow
the gap. But Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres says he does
not expect a breakthrough during this trip.
Christopher meets Syrian leaders today, then heads to Jerusalem to
confer with Israeli officials, and is expected to return to
Damascus on Thursday.
The issue of long-term security on the strategic Golan Heights is
also under consideration, amid some suggestions that US
peacekeepers could be stationed there. It is a likely topic of
discussion during the current visit to Israel of the US Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Palestinians and Jordan have now made peace deals with Israel
under the umbrella of the three-year-old US-Russian sponsored peace
process. But all agree that Syria still holds the key to a
comprehensive peace in the region.
World Bank Cries Out for a Clean Mideast
By Laurie Kassman (Cairo)
The World Bank has told a meeting of Arab League environment
ministers it is ready to double its lending to $1 billion a year
for environmental projects aimed at dealing with urgent issues like
water scarcity and industrial pollution. World Bank Vice President
for the Middle East Caio Koch-Weser presented the World Bank
Koch-Weser sounds the environmental alarm for the
Middle East and North Africa and warns that urgent action must be
taken now before it is too late. "We are at the point of crisis in
this region. When you have one in every four people in the Arab
World lacking access to safe water -- 60 million people, when you
have one in every five living in cities with unacceptable levels
of air pollution -- 45 million people, we are talking about a
looming water and air pollution crisis."
Koch-Weser called on the Arab League to expand national and
regional environment strategies to deal with the problems now.
He says the bank is ready to boost lending to $3 billion during the
next three years for projects in the areas of water, energy,
transport, agriculture and pollution control. He says donor states
and regional funds are also ready to help. Koch-Weser says
prospects of peace in the region make it easier to consider
"Take the Jordan River basin for example. If all the countries of
that basin -- Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian
authorities cooperate, they can come to a lasting solution that can
manage the scarce water resources of that basin most prudently."
The World Bank estimates that efforts to save the region's
environment will cost as much as $85 billion over the next decade.
The bank warns that if governments do not spend the money now, it
will cost more later in terms of money and lives.
Mediterranean Countries Seek New Security Framework
On Sept. 25, 1994, Yaacov Fisher, 16, was stabbed in the back
and the neck by a young Arab from Khan Yunis who crawled under the
fence at Neve Dekelim in Gush Katif. "According to Palestinian
sources, a few days earlier the attacker had told his friends that
he was going to attack a Jew in order to reach heaven as a holy
martyr." Israeli soldiers who were nearby shot and killed the
attacker. One year after the Arafat-Rabin agreement, thousands of
Arabs in Gaza still believe that the quickest way to heaven is to
find a Jew to kill.
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