Newsletter : 6fax0529.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
May 29, 1996 V4, #98
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Clinton Isn't Endorsing Anybody, But...
By Deborah Tate (VOA-White House)
As Israelis go to the polls to choose a new prime minister today,
President Clinton pledges to support Israel if it continues to
pursue the peace process. Clinton is not publicly endorsing
either Prime Minister Shimon Peres or his challenger, Likud
candidate Benjamin Netanyahu.
But he is expressing support for the peace process -- an effort
begun by Peres and his predecessor, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak
"The United States supports the peace process, and we have made it
clear that if further steps are taken that entail risks for peace,
we will stand with the government and the people of Israel, the
leaders of Israel, in minimizing those risks. We will do
everything we possibly can to do it.
Netanyahu has said he would not turn back what has been
accomplished. But his focus on security and his stated intention
to renew expansion of settlements on occupied Arab lands have
promised to at least to slow the process.
It's Neck and Neck Down the Election Stretch
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
The race for prime minister of Israel keeps getting closer,
according to public-opinion polls. Two polls published Tuesday
show Prime Minister Shimon Peres with a lead of just three percent
over his challenger, Benjamin Netanyahu. And, the polls have a
three percent margin of error.
The outcome of the prime minister's race will determine the future
course of Middle East peacemaking and pollsters say they cannot
reliably predict who will win.
The two final pre-election surveys -- taken after Sunday's debate
between the candidates -- both give Peres 51.5 percent to
Netanyahu's 48.5 percent. Pollsters say that makes the race too
close to call. Peres is offering a plan for rapid peacemaking,
while Netanyahu says he will move more cautiously and provide more
As the polls were published Tuesday, Israeli soldiers began voting
at their bases throughout the country and in occupied areas in
Lebanon, the West Bank and on the Golan Heights. Many of the
soldiers will be on security duty when the rest of the population
votes. As part of the security plan, Israel has imposed a tight
closure on the Palestinian areas -- stopping the flow of goods and
workers in both directions and barring Palestinians from Israeli
Business Leaders Supporting Labor Party's Peres
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
Business leaders in Israel have broken a long tradition of
political impartiality and have come out in favor of Shimon
Peres, the Labor Party candidate. They say they fear the policies
of his opponent, Benjamin Netanyahu, could lead to the collapse of
the peace process, a renewal of conflict between Israel and its
Arab neighbors, and an end to the economic benefits the peace
process has brought.
Israeli business leaders are wary of Netanyahu's conservative Likud
Party. In a recent full-page advertisement in Israel's Hebrew
newspapers, the country's leading industrialists proclaim their
support for Peres and for the Arab-Israeli peace process he has
Netanyahu and the Likud oppose the plan to give the Palestinians
self-rule in wide areas of the West Bank, in addition to the Gaza
Strip. Netanyahu prefers a more limited version of West Bank
autonomy, has vowed to increase Jewish settlement activity in the
area, and has ruled out the return of the Golan Heights to Syria.
Israel is booming. Since 1992 the economy has grown by an average
7 percent a year. For many of Israel's biggest companies, the
peace process has opened up trade and investment with countries,
particularly in east Asia, that used to fear offending Arab oil
suppliers. The Israelis are also beginning to develop economic
relations with many Arab countries.
In remarks to reporters this week, Peres said Netanyahu's hardline
policies would isolate Israel once again. Those polices, Peres
warned, would stop foreign investment and reverse the opening of
Economics editor of the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, Nehemia Strassler
says businessmen are making more money now they never did before
as a result of the peace process with the PLO. Strassler says that
-- whether or not it's true -- the perception in the Israeli
business community is that this boom will go down the drain if
Netanyahu wins. Israeli business analysts say there would be at
least a short-term downturn following a Likud victory, if only
because of the uncertainty caused by a change of government.
But Likud officials say their plans for more privatization and
other economic reforms would be good for business and that since
they would continue the peace process in their own way, Israel's
new economic opportunities abroad should not be affected.
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