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>PD Feb. 3, 1995, V3, #24

Summit Leaders Meet in Cairo

By Laurie Kassman (Cairo)

After five hours of talks, the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jordan's King Hussein, PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin issued a three-page statement underlining their commitment to the peace process, affirming their intentions to end the violence that threatens to derail that process and to promote economic development. The leaders have set up a series of meetings to break the deadlock in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and agree to meet again as needed.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa says the five hours of high-level talks could not solve all the problems but they did salvage the faltering peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. "I believe that the talks and the process, especially the Israeli Palestinian process, is back on track."

To push the process forward, the leaders agreed the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations will resume Monday in Cairo to deal with the framework for Palestinian elections. Rabin and Arafat are to meet next Thursday at the Erez Crossing to discuss problems still blocking their negotiations. The foreign ministers of the four summit leaders will continue their work in Washington on Feb.12 and again in Amman, where they will also talk about the Palestinian refugee issue.

Moussa says the summit leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Israel and PLO also spent a lot of time on the thorny issue of expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

"It was the subject of a long discussion this evening. We insist that the issue of settlements be dealt with in accordance with the letter and the spirit, not only of the peace process and peace documents but international law."

He says negotiations will have to continue on this and other issues that have become stumbling blocks on the road to peace.

"But at least we opened the door to discuss all the problems that have been mentioned, that have been enumerated, that have been discussed, including settlements, the violence, the implementation or non-implementation of the accords, all those things."

In their joint declaration, the summit leaders pledged to put an end to violence that has marred the peace process. They also supported Mubarak's call for a mutually-verifiable weapons-free zone in the Middle East. And they promised to increase economic cooperation, promote investment and improve education levels in the area.

Israel Ambassadorial Confirmation Hearing Starts

By David Gollust (Washington, D.C.)

The US Senate has begun consideration of the nomination of Martin Indyk to be the next ambassador to Israel. Confirmation appears certain despite the nominee's unusual background.

If confirmed, Indyk would become the first Jewish US ambassador to Israel -- the newest US citizen ever to hold an ambassadorial post -- and quite likely the first envoy ever to have served in another country's intelligence service.

The 43-year-old Australian-born academic served as a Middle East analyst for that country's intelligence arm before moving to the United States in 1982.

He held senior positions with AIPAC -- the most influential pro-Israel lobbying group -- before setting up his own Middle East policy institute in 1985. And he became an American citizen in early 1993 -- only days before being named by President Clinton as director for Middle East issues on the National Security Council.

Indyk's nomination is the first to be considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since the new Congress convened, and committee members promise to act quickly to fill the Israel post which has been vacant since August.

In his testimony, Indyk said he would be going to Tel Aviv at a critical time when Israelis -- reeling from terrorist attacks -- are beginning to question the value of the accord with the PLO.

He said both Israel and the Palestinian Authority face an uphill struggle against extremists operating from their respective territory -- but that PLO leader Yasir Arafat, especially, must be seen as making a maximum effort to curb terror:

"It is very important, I think, that we see a 100 per cent effort. And it's very important at this particular moment when Israelis are beginning to question the viability of their partnership with the PLO, that Chairman Arafat demonstrate, clearly, consistently, vigorously that he is doing all he can to control the terrorist activities in areas under his control."

Indyk voiced strong opposition to the sentiment widely held among majority Republicans in Congress that the US Embassy in Israel be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Noting that Israel and the PLO themselves agreed to defer the sensitive Jerusalem question, Indyk said a US move on the embassy now would "explode" the peace process and put the United States "out of business" with regard to Mideast diplomacy.

The Indyk nomination has drawn some criticism from American-Arab groups. And one former US ambassador to Israel -- William Harrop -- says it is a "profound mistake" to name someone so closely-associated with the Israeli lobby to the post.

However, no visible opposition has emerged among senators, and confirmation could come within the next two weeks.

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