Newsletter : 5fax1025.txt
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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
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
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
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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