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>Israel Faxx
>PD Feb. 2, 1995, V3, #23

Cairo Summit Today Brings Israelis and Arabs Together

By Laurie Kassman (Cairo)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is hosting a four-way summit today with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Jordan's King Hussein and PLO leader Yasir Arafat. The stated aim of the meeting is to get the stalled Middle East peace process back on track. Egypt is concerned that violence could derail peace efforts in part prompted the unprecedented get-together.

Egypt was the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel back in 1979. It was a daring act that left Egypt in a lonely position in the Arab world for many years.

Now Egypt's experience is bringing weight to the peace process. Mubarak is actively mediating between the Arab partners of the peace process and Israel, nudging both sides to show more flexibility.

For now, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks about expanding self-rule in the West Bank are snagged over security issues, the pullout of Israeli troops from Palestinian communities and the framework for Palestinian elections.

Arafat wants Israel to follow through with its promise to release thousands of Palestinian prisoners still detained in Israeli jails.

Arafat is also furious with Israeli plans for new settlements there. The Palestinians insist the decision defies the principles of the autonomy deal signed a year and a half ago.

The surge of violence on both sides has also marred the peace talks and fueled criticism of the whole deal. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops since the 1993 signing on the White House lawn. Scores of Israelis have also died. The most recent suicide bombing by a radical Muslim two weeks ago killed 21 Israelis.

Israel has sealed off the West Bank and Gaza since the tragedy, keeping tens of thousands of Palestinians from their jobs in Israel. Arafat wants that ban lifted, a gesture PLO officials suggest Rabin could make during the Cairo summit.

Both Arafat and Rabin need some confidence-building measures to boost their support at home. Rabin's popularity has dropped in the polls. Palestinian opponents of the peace deal are gaining ground as frustrated residents of Gaza and Jericho still wait for the elusive benefits of peace.

Syria's leader Hafez al-Assad will  not  attend the Cairo summit.
He was  not  invited because Egypt does  not  want to put him in
an embarrassing position.  Syria has refused direct negotiations
with Israel and prefers to deal with their problems through US mediators and shuttle diplomacy. Negotiations there are stuck on the timing and extent of an Israeli withdrawal from the strategic Golan Heights. Only Jordan seems to have had relatively trouble-free dealings with Israel that produced a peace treaty last October. But there are still a few problems to be worked out with some aspects of the agreement. Last week, King Hussein patched up strained relations with Mubarak and then with Arafat. King Hussein's participation in the Cairo summit will involve him more directly in collective efforts to cut through the problems that are stalling the other tracks of the peace process. Officials in Cairo, Jerusalem and Gaza are playing down prospects of any major breakthrough in the summit meeting. But Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres says it is the meeting itself that is a milestone, putting Israelis and Arabs on the same side to forge what he calls a real coalition for peace.

Anti-Hate U.S. Campaign Launched

By Bryn Olafsdottir (New York) An international human rights organization launched an anti-hate campaign in the United States Wednesday to fight what it calls an alarming increase in hate crimes, racism and anti-Semitism. Officials with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an organization dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust when Six Million Jews died during World War 2, say the campaign is aimed at promoting racial, ethnic and religious tolerance. Rhonda Barad, the person behind the campaign, says intolerance of racial and religious differences is rising. She says 250 to 300 organized hate groups are currently operating in the United States. Some of them are even using the computer information highway, the internet, to distribute their messages. In 1993, the FBI reported more than 7,600 hate-motivated crimes, including 20 murders. Officials with the Wiesenthal Center say bigotry and prejudice have been spreading during the past 10 years. They are specifically worried that college campuses seem to have turned into a battleground, dividing students along racial and religious lines. The message on the new anti-hate campaign posters, the Wiesenthal Center unveiled, reads: "Hate, Racism, Anti-Semitism. They survive when good people look the other way." "By daring people not to look the other way, we hope to raise awareness across the country about hate, racism and anti-Semitism. Only by confronting all forms of intolerance, can we begin to foster understanding and respect." This is the second year that the Wiesenthal Center is organizing a campaign against indifference to bigotry. The anti-hate posters will appear for two months in trains and buses in major cities across the US.
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