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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
March 9, 1995, V3, #46
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Secretary of State Re-starts Mideast Diplomacy
Christopher Arrives in Egypt
By Ron Pemstein (Cairo)
US Secretary of State Warren Christopher is in Egypt, the first
stop on his five-country Middle East tour. Christopher is hoping to
narrow differences with Egypt over the peace process and the
nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa insists his country can
remain an honest broker between Israel and the Arabs despite
differences with Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians
and Israel's refusal to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Christopher wants to narrow those differences, especially on the
NPT treaty where the United States is pushing for unlimited
extension at the review conference next month. Egypt's position is
that it will not agree to an indefinite extension of the treaty if
Israel refuses to sign it and to put its nuclear program under
Moussa tells reporters after meeting Christopher, Egypt is willing
to talk about the issue but not to change its position.
"From the standpoint that the NPT is a treaty for everybody, not
for one side and the other side will be exempt from it;
(therefore) we shall continue to talk to the Israelis and we shall
continue to discuss the matter with the Americans and the
Europeans, and other countries. But our position remains the same
-- we cannot commit ourselves to accepting a condition while Israel
is exempted from it."
US officials say they have a better understanding of the Egyptian
position before the morning meeting with President Mubarek.
Christopher moves on to Tel-Aviv in the afternoon to meet Israeli
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The Israeli-Palestinian issue will be getting attention from
Christopher when he meets Yasir Arafat in Gaza on Friday and again
when Arafat meets Mubarek on Saturday.
Israel refuses to give the Palestinians more authority in the
West Bank and to redeploy its army there until Arafat gives
more guarantees about security.
Israel and Palestinians Await Secretary
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israeli and Palestinian leaders are at odds over several key
issues, as senior officials prepare to meet today and US
Secretary of State Warren Christopher flies in to meet with
leaders on both sides later today and on Friday.
The Palestinian leaders want to move more quickly toward expanding
autonomy. The Israeli leaders are concerned about security,
particularly in an expanded Palestinian zone. The Palestinian
leaders say further delays could destroy the peace process.
The Israeli leaders say they are willing to move ahead, but
moving too quickly or in the wrong way could also destroy the
peace process. The tensions came out during a meeting in Amman
Tuesday between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and a senior
member of the Palestinian Autonomy Authority, Nabil Shaath.
Officials say the two men clashed in private talks over the pace
and scope of a planned repatriation program for Palestinians who
were displaced from Gaza and the West Bank by the 1967 war.
Afterwards, their disagreement became public in
uncharacteristically undiplomatic comments in separate meetings
First, Peres was told Shaath had said there is no question about
the right of the displaced persons to return to Gaza and the West
"Well, Mr. Shaath has the right to say whatever he wants." (Pessin
asks:) So, you think there is a question about their right to
return to the West Bank and Gaza? (Peres answers:) There is clearly
a question, and no decision was taken, and there is no answer to
Told about that, Shaath had this sharp reply. "Mr. Peres responds
to key words in his political dictionary. Some Israelis shiver
when they hear the words "right of return." So? (chuckle)."
It is that kind of atmosphere which awaits Christopher. Israeli
and Palestinian officials do not even agree on whether he should
play a role in helping to solve their dispute. A senior adviser to
the Palestinian leadership, Nabil abu Irdeineh, says the
Christopher visit is important because a way must be found to break
the stalemate which began six weeks ago, when 21 Israelis were
killed in a terrorist attack by an extremist Palestinian group. He
says the peace process "needs a push" and he is depending on
Christopher to provide it.
"Definitely, the Palestinians are looking forward to the visit of
Secretary of State Christopher because the peace process has been
delayed, the peace process is almost in a stalemate, the peace
process is facing a very sensitive and dangerous situation. It's
very important that the Americans get involved, otherwise we
are all facing a big crisis in the area."
In contrast, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Yossi Beilin, says
the Christopher visit is mainly about the deadlocked Israel-Syria
talks, and will not be important for the Israeli-Palestinian
issues. "Well, that has nothing to do with Christopher's visit.
I think that we are proceeding with the Palestinians. We meet them
quite often on the highest level."
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