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>Israel Faxx
>JN April 28, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 79

Broad U.S. Support for Israel


> By Arutz-7 News Service

A New York Times poll shows 57% of Americans have a generally favorable opinion of Israel. Even more significantly, 58% - the highest rate ever in a poll of this sort, and up 10% from last year - said that they sympathized with Israel over the Palestinians. 13% of the American public supported the Palestinians. Almost half - 49% - of the Americans polled said that they see Israel as a "special place."

On the issue of personalities in the Middle East, 77% had "no opinion" of Benjamin Netanyahu, while the remaining 23% were evenly divided between "favorable" and "unfavorable" opinions of him; 10% viewed Yasir Arafat favorably, and 42% unfavorably. The New York Times writes that its poll proves that support for Israel does not stem only from the American Jewish population.


Israel Will Turn Over More Land -- Later

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he expects to turn over more territory to the Palestinians in a final peace settlement, but at this stage it is not safe for Israel to go much beyond the further 9 percent of West Bank land he has already offered. Netanyahu says he is being tough on territorial issues at this stage on the advice of Israeli military commanders.

"They (military commanders) say up to 6 percent, we don't see a problem. When we cross 7-or 8-percent, it becomes very, very difficult. If you cross 9 percent, there are serious problems in protecting, under the present arrangements, to protect the lives of Israelis."

The Palestinians had wanted at least 30 percent more of the West bank at this stage, and have rejected Israel's 9 percent interim offer as an insult. A US compromise proposal is reported to be 13.1 percent. The Palestinians have accepted it, but Israel has not.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders are meeting with the senior Middle East mediator, Dennis Ross, this week, and will meet with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in London Monday to try to find a solution. With that perhaps in mind, Netanyahu told foreign reporters that although 9 percent is his limit now, Israel could give more land in a final peace agreement.

"What can be done in a final settlement is different. You can give more land in a final settlement because you have the time and the ability to invest billions of shekels -- that's hundreds of millions of dollars -- and perhaps more in all sorts of defensive arrangements in the relocation if (those kinds of) military installations that we have -- in bypass roads, in bridges and tunnels -- make the problem of security less acute. We don't have that possibility now in an interim settlement."

Mediators are eager for a breakthrough on the interim arrangement so talks on the next stage can begin. A final peace accord is supposed to be finished by next May, a timeframe Netanyahu calls "cramped, but possible."

In the midst of this delicate stage in the peace process, Israel marks its 50th anniversary Thursday. On Monday, Netanyahu indicated some willingness to acknowledge Israeli abuses against Arabs during its War of Independence, as the Palestinians want, if Arab countries will examine their attitude and behavior toward Israel over the last 50 years.

"If the purpose is a healing process, then that should take place across the board. Terrible wrongs were done not only to Jews but to Arabs as well. The Palestinians in particular have suffered. Our focus nevertheless should be on the present and on the future and how to make the present developments give a better future and heal the wounds for both Arabs and Jews. And I believe it's possible."

Netanyahu called Israel "one of the miracles of the 20th century," and said the fact that the Jewish people went from near-extermination in Europe to having a modern, prosperous, democratic state should give hope to all people facing adversity.


President Clinton Now President/Doctor Clinton

By Deborah Tate (VOA-White House)

President Clinton Monday marked the 50th anniversary of the State of israel with an appeal for further progress in the Middle East peace process. Although Israel formally observes its independence Thursday, Clinton chose to mark the observance three days early.

At a White House ceremony during which he received an honorary degree from Hebrew University for efforts to promote Middle East peace, Clinton said the US had one of its proudest moments when it became the first country to recognize Israel. The president paid tribute to the thriving democracy and advanced economy created during the Jewish state's first half-century.

But he said the dream of Israel's founders would not be complete without a just, secure and lasting peace in the Middle East, and he issued this appeal: "Israel can fulfill its full promise by drawing on the courage and vision of its founders to achieve peace with security. Never has the opportunity been more real, and it must not be lost."

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