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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
March 18, 1996 V4, #50
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Was the Summit of the Peacemakers Successful?
By Ed Warner (VOA-Washington)
The leaders of 27 nations gathered in Egypt last week to condemn
terrorism and devise ways to deal with it. But can they stop it?
Here are two differing views of the conference and its
This is a first, says Alan Makovsky, a senior fellow at the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy: "It is extraordinary and
unprecedented for the president of the United States to make a
condolence call at another nation for the death of its citizens.
That is effectively what this was. This was a condolence call on
the State of Israel because of the recent losses from the bombing.
I think that has made a strong impression on all of the Israeli
Makovsky says even former Likud Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir
praised the conference and Clinton's participation. Just as
important was the Muslim contribution: "You had senior officials
from 13 Arab countries linking arms in effect, metaphorically, with
an Israeli leader, with Shimon Peres, in support of the peace
process. And that is extraordinary. Will it increase support for
the peace process in Israel? That is unclear.
"Will it increase support for Shimon Peres? That was the unstated
goal of this gathering. We will not find that out until May 29 when
Israelis go to the polls. And will it help somehow in curtailing
terrorism? That, I think, is the big question, and we will have to
Yvonne Haddad has her doubts. A professor of Islamic studies at
the University of Massachusetts, she says terrorism has been too
narrowly defined. Palestinians, too, have been victims of
She believes issues were avoided at the conference that will
continue to lead to terrorist acts: "The fact that the issue of the
Palestinian refugees has not been solved, the fact that not enough
land has been given back, the fact that the issue of the
settlements is still pending, but it does not look as if Israel is
about to give up any of it because they do not have to, because
they are so powerful. So basically, it is an enforced
pacification. That is the way the Arabs and Muslims are talking
about it rather than peace."
Haddad says it was a mistake for the conference to put so much
blame on the members of Hamas, who are understandably skeptical of
the peace process: "They see it as more oppression rather than any
amelioration of their condition. It is the condition that creates
the terrorists. One of the things we have done with this conference
is we have empowered the Palestinians to destroy the infrastructure
of Hamas, which meant taking care of the poor, feeding the hungry,
educating the children, and also taking away their ability to take
care of their sick."
But the conference had wider implications than terrorism, according
to Jason Isaacson, director of government and international affairs
at the American Jewish Committee in New York. There were varying
degrees of enthusiasm, he says, but the Arab leaders who
participated took another step toward an accommodation in the
Middle East that will benefit everybody.
US Anti-Terrorism Legislation Criticized
By Deborah Tate (VOA-White House)
President Clinton is criticizing anti-terrorism legislation passed by
the House of Representatives last week. The House dropped key
provisions of the bill -- provisions left intact in the
Senate-passed version. Clinton used his weekly radio address
Saturday to demand that those provisions be restored in the
legislation that is sent to him for his signature. Clinton, who
just returned from a trip to the Middle East where he pledged
assistance to fight terrorism, says the anti-terrorism bill passed by
the House would weaken proposals to fight terrorism here at
"The House took the teeth out of our efforts to fight terrorism.
Unbelievably, the House voted to give law enforcement officials
fewer tools to fight terrorism than they have to fight far less
horrible crimes here at home."
Clinton says the bill would cripple the ability of law enforcement
to use high-tech surveillance to track terrorists. He also
criticized lawmakers' decisions to drop provisions giving
authorities the power to stop terrorist groups from raising money
in the United States and to quickly deport foreign nationals who
support terrorist activities.
The House passed the bill after a coalition of conservative
Republicans and anti-gun control Democrats voted to remove the
provisions on grounds they would give law enforcement too much
power, and would endanger individual liberties.
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