Newsletter : 5fax0109.txt
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>PD Jan. 9, 1995, V3, #5
Top Syrian Muslim Leader: Peace with Israel is Permissible
A senior Syrian Muslim leader, Mohammed Said Ramadan el-Bouthi,
says a future peace agreement between Syria and Israel is
permissible. El-Bouthi was quoted in the London-based Arab
Senior officials in Jerusalem said last week that the statement is
important, adding that it is undoubtedly part of Damascus' effort
to prepare the Syrian public for a possible peace treaty with
U.S. Defense Secretary Arrives
By Patricia Golan (Jerusalem)
US Secretary of Defense William Perry has arrived in Israel for top
level talks, particularly on the issue of nuclear proliferation in
the region. Perry flew to Israel from Egypt, where he warned that
if countries in the Middle East do not curb the spread of atomic
weapons, they will face blackmail by what he termed rogue nations
The renewal of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty is due to be
signed in April. Several Arab countries, led by Egypt, say they
will not sign again unless Israel also signs. Israel -- widely
assumed to have nuclear arms -- has refused to sign the treaty as
long as it faces a potential nuclear threat from enemies such as
Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Israel maintains that many countries
that signed the treaty have developed nuclear weapons anyway.
Perry is expected to discuss the possibility of deploying American
troops on the Golan Heights as an observer force if there is an
agreement between Israel and Syria on the contested territory.
Today, Perry flies to northern Israel where he'll view the Golan
Heights from a helicopter, and be briefed at a landing site
opposite the Heights. US policy prohibits American officials
from visiting politically disputed areas.
Secret Peres-Arafat Meeting this Morning
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasir
Arafat have held a hastily arranged 5 a.m. (EST) meeting at the
The next high-level Israeli-Palestinian meeting was supposed to be
a summit between Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin,
perhaps next week. But this additional Peres-Arafat meeting has
been added to the schedule.
Talks on expanding Palestinian autonomy and withdrawing Israeli
troops from more of the West Bank have been bogged down. Peres
met with senior Arafat aide Nabil Shaath last week, with little
apparent progress, amid continuing Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Daniel Shek says today's meeting
was scheduled because Peres is leaving the region for a 10-day trip
and he wanted to go over some issues with Arafat before he leaves.
"I really can't tell you what specifically will be on the
agenda...except in general terms that this is still about the
second stage of the implementation of the agreement with the
Shek also disputes reports that the talks are deadlocked. He
says the substance is being closely held by the officials
involved, and he says that is a good sign.
Israel Denies It Sold U.S. Technology to China
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israel categorically denied news reports that it transferred US
military technology to China to help with a new Chinese jet
fighter. IDF spokesman Oded Ben Ami says any technology or
equipment which required US approval was not transferred to China.
Ben Ami was responding to US news reports that Israel had included
US technology in a package of assistance given or sold to China for
use in development of a new jet fighter. The technology is
believed to be at least seven years old, but under US aid rules,
transferring it to another country would require US approval.
"What I'm saying is that, number one, we did not transfer any
American technology or American components to China. Number two,
in the past, and we are ready to do it in the future as well, we
are going to answer all US Administration questions in regard to
transfer of technology to a third party."
Israel receives almost $2 billion worth of US military aid every
year and it is very sensitive to suggestions that it violates the
terms of that aid. There have been several such allegations in the
past. All were denied by Israel, and after investigations, the
United States has never imposed any punishment.
Time Says If Election Were Held Now, Labor Would Lose
A poll secretly commissioned by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin's ruling Labor Party has found that his government would be
trounced were general elections held now, Labor and other
government sources have told Time Magazine.
According to the poll, Labor's share of the 120-seat Knesset would
shrink from 44 seats to only 27. The opposition Likud Party, on the
other hand, would leap from 32 seats to 47. "There is a great deal
of alarm in the party," one Labor official admits.
The clandestine poll, unlike far more optimistic recent public
surveys, had an unusually large sample size of 10,000 respondents.
Time's Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer says Laborites expected a
popularity bubble after Israel's new peace treaty with Jordan, the
granting of the Nobel Peace Prize to Rabin and Foreign Minister
Shimon Peres and an optimistic economic outlook. Instead, she says,
public opinion is dwelling on drawn-out negotiations with Syria,
growing tension with an old ally, Egypt, and failures of the peace
process with the PLO While there is still time for Labor to recover
before the scheduled 1996 elections.
Beyer says "party members fear the polls reflect a to-the-dogs
reality about the current regime."
Rabin Reacts Sharply to Time Poll
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
A controversial report of a sharp decline in their popularity has
Israeli leaders promising changes, but also renewing their
commitment to the peace process.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin says he does not pay much attention
to public opinion polls. Like many politicians in power throughout
the world, he says the only poll that counts is the one taken on
Election Day. And he says he must be free to make unpopular
decisions between elections, and then try to convince voters he was
right when the time comes.
But a particularly unfavorable public opinion poll prompted the
prime minister to summon Israeli political reporters to his office
last Thursday. The poll reportedly was conducted by the prime
minister's Labor Party and its alleged results were published by
Time magazine. The magazine says the poll indicates that if an
election were held now, Labor would lose by 10 percentage points to
its conservative rival, the Likud.
The Jerusalem Post quotes Rabin as calling the report "an outright
lie," and saying his party conducted no such poll and has no
such statistics. But he acknowledged support for his party is
declining. On Friday, a newspaper affiliated with the Labor Party
(Davar) published a poll which also showed Labor losing if
elections were held now, but by a smaller margin.
Rabin says changes are needed -- but not in policies, only in the
functioning of the party and the government. Rabin pledged he
will continue to pursue what he called "peace, security and
changing national priorities." That statement appeared to be aimed
at easing any concern that a decline in public support might affect
the government's commitment to the peace process.
Many Israelis are worried about continuing Palestinian terrorism
as the government makes plans to expand the autonomous areas, and
therefore, many fear, the potential operations base for the
terrorists. But the government says expanding autonomy will ease
Palestinian dissatisfaction and reduce terrorism.
Labor's other top leader, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, also
renewed his commitment to the peace process, speaking before the
report of the poll results was widely known. He said the
government will continue to do what it believes is right,
even if it stands alone.
But Peres also acknowledged that political realities will soon
begin to play a larger role in the formation of the government's
policies. Elections are scheduled for November of 1996, and a year
from now Israeli politicians will already be enmeshed in a
full-fledged campaign. Peres says that will not be a good time for
making unpopular decisions.
But he and other Israeli officials say that does not mean they
want to slow down the peace process. On the contrary, they say
the political calendar calls for speeding up the process now,
while they can afford to endure some public dissatisfaction.
Davar's editorial said that "there is a large measure of
parochialism in kowtowing to the American media, as if what is
whispered on Hayarkon Street is not so worrisome." The paper notes
that "Rabin is promising 'difficult decisions' this week," but adds
that "up until now, he has only partially carried out such
The editors believe that "Rabin cannot overlook the increasing
expressions of rebelliousness from within the Labor Knesset faction
and the government, because his restraint will encourage constant
blackmail, and will be of no benefit on crucial votes."
The paper declares that "Rabin does not need to fight against Time,
but against the time that is slipping between his fingers. He must
clearly strive for a secure peace with Syria, Lebanon, and the
Palestinians, lest the political infrastructure -- that has enabled
him to take the partial and hesitant steps that he has taken up
until now -- crumble beneath his feet."
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