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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 consequences.

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 people."

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 see."

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 terrorism.

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 home.

"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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