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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                     Oct. 25, 1995, V3, #193
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Arafat Meets Jewish Community Leaders in New York

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat was warmly welcomed at a meeting in New York Monday by 120 leaders of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council. During the meeting, Arafat declared his commitment to the "historic compromise between the two peoples."

Senate Votes to Move Embassy

By David Swan (VOA-Washington)

The US Senate has voted to move the US Embassy in Israel out of Tel Aviv, where nearly all foreign missions are based, and open a new facility in Jerusalem. The Senate passed the bill 93-5 -- far more than the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. But the plan's supporters are hopeful a veto will not be forthcoming.

The measure declares Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel's capital and a new US embassy should open for business there by May 31, 1999. In a compromise, it allows the president to put off the move for months or even years, if he finds it would harm America's national security interests.

This is an effort to ease concerns the bill could jeopardize Middle East peace talks, where Jerusalem's status is a delicate, unresolved issue. Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who voted for the proposal, says he also supports the peace process.

"I feel particularly that this is the moment as trust grows and honesty is at the core of our relations with the Israelis and the Palestinians and the Arab world, that we do what is honest here and say clearly our embassy belongs in Jerusalem, the city that has been denoted by the Israelis as their capital."

The bill has strong backing in Congress and from Israel's politically active, well-organized American supporters. It also has strong opposition from Israel's neighbors. Arab and Palestinian officials are condemning the plan as a violation of UN resolutions and Arab rights -- and a threat to the peace process.

Israelis View the Embassy Decision

By Art Chimes (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has declared Jerusalem its eternal and undivided capital. The prime minister and president have their offices in Jerusalem. The Israeli legislature, the Knesset, meets there, as does the Supreme Court. All major ministries, with the exception of Defense, are headquartered in Jerusalem. But virtually every country with an embassy in Israel, including the United States, has that embassy in Tel Aviv -- not Jerusalem.

The American rationale has been that the embassy should remain in Tel Aviv until the final status of Jerusalem is determined.


Until 1967, Jerusalem was divided, with the western portion of the city under Israeli control. Jordan controlled the rest of Jerusalem -- including the historic Old City and most of the main religious sites. Israel captured eastern Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and has claimed sovereignty over the entire city ever since.

Relocating the American Embassy to Jerusalem is strongly opposed by the Palestinians, and opponents of the move say it would undermine US credibility in the peace process. But US Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn, says with the peace process on track, this is a perfect time to act.

"Because we have a growing level of trust, because we have a growing level of mutual interest, of common purpose among the parties in the Middle East. And the United States has played a leadership role in bringing those changes about. But at the heart of those changes, at the heart of the peace process, must be an honest relationship between the parties involved. And I don't think the United States should be at all unclear about this: We are committed to doing in Israel what we do in every other country that we know about in the world: Putting the embassy in its capital."

Khalil Jahshan disagrees. He heads the National Association of Arab-Americans. He believes that moving the embassy would hurt the US position as a peacemaker. His group says moving the embassy would undercut the agreement between Israeli and the Palestinians to negotiate on the final status of Jerusalem starting next year. And Jahshan suggests that the overwhelming support for the move in Congress reflects not a considered foreign policy judgment, but a response to political pressure by Jewish-American groups.

"This is a farce. ... It undermines US credibility, and it undermines the peace process, which we've been working very, very hard at least two administrations with extensive groundwork by, you know, previous administrations ... And to come now, because of domestic shenanigans and selfish attempts by members of Congress to win votes and financial contributions from a certain sector of American society at this time is the ultimate in irresponsibility."

The bill says the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem by May, 1999. But a last-minute amendment gives the president some flexibility to delay the move for national security reasons.

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