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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       July 11, 1996 V4, #125
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Netanyahu Addresses Congress and Press Club

By Paula Wolfson & Don Henry (VOA-Washington)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined his approach to the Mideast peace process in his first address to the United States Congress. "I recognize, Mr. Speaker, that the great honor you have bestowed on me is not personal. It is a tribute to the unshakable fact that the unique relationship between Israel and the United States transcends politics and parties, governments and diplomacy."

Security was unusually tight during his speech to a joint meeting of Congress. But the reception was warm. Lawmakers rose to their feet to welcome the new israeli prime minister, prompting him to open his remarks with a smile.

Putting his text aside for a moment, he looked at the members of the legislature. "If only I could get the Knesset to vote like this."

But the tone of his speech was serious. He spoke of a yearning for peace....A yearning tied to a desire to live free from fear. "Peace means the absence of violence. Peace means not fearing for your children every time they board a bus. Peace means walking the streets of your town without the fearful shriek of Katyusha rockets overhead."

He touched a responsive chord with US lawmakers when he spoke of the recent terrorist bombing in Dharan, Saudi Arabia. Just imagine, he told the Congress, what it would be like to live in a place where such attacks occur time and time again.

"Neither Israel nor any other democracy, and certainly not the United States, must ever bend to terrorism. We must fight it resolutely, endlessly, tirelessly. We must fight it together until we remove this malignancy from the face of the earth."

The prime minister said security must be one of the pillars of the peace process. He said both sides must live up to their treaty obligations. And he said while Israel is willing to negotiate with non-democratic neighbors, there can not be a lasting peace until freedom and human rights become the norm throughout the region.

"We don't want merely peace in our time. We want peace for all time."

The speech was carefully targeted to its audience. Netanyahu assured Congress there will never be a redivision of Jerusalem. And the Republican-controlled legislature cheered when, sounding a bit like an American politician, Netanyahu talked about economic reforms in Israel. He said Israel does not have a phrase in Hebrew for government deregulation. But as the Republicans applauded, he quickly added "No word yet...but we will find one."

Netanyahu said Israel believes its differences with its neighbors can be resolved without bloodshed. And he stressed the Israeli government has no quarrel with Islam.

In a speech before the National Press Club, Netanyahu pledged to do everything possible to help strengthen the economies of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu told the reporters contemporary history clearly teaches that there are two kinds of peace. One is peace with democratic neighbors; the other is peace with totalitarian, nondemocratic neighbors. "With democratic neighbors, you need do nothing, the peace is inherent. How do we resolve problems in a democracy? We debate, we argue, sometimes we shout, but we don't shoot. Democracies tend towards peace."

But he said dictatorships settle internal differences by bullets, not ballots, and this behavior is reflected in their dealings with other countries.

"If the Middle East were democratized, then the issue of defense and security and territories as defense assets would be irrelevant. But Israel is facing, in fact around a 360 degree periphery, we're facing non-democratic regimes. Some of them are becoming more pluralized, like Jordan, the most advanced Arab society moving towards greater pluralism.... but on balance we have an undemocratic neighborhood. And opposite non-democracies, the only way you can maintain peace is by maintaining your strength to deter future aggression."

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