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February 19, 1988 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-02-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

BANKRUPTCY GARAGE SALE

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Jewelry
Accessories

i64 '40

'U.S. Proposal Could
Lead To Peace Talks'

GARY ROSENBLATT

Editor

F

rom his office at Foggy
Bottom, the Depart-
ment of State in
Washing-ton, Dr. Daniel Kurt-
zer has a unique perspective
on the Mideast conflict. An
Orthodox Jew and graduate
of Yeshiva University, the
38-year-old career diplomat
has served at the American
Embassy in Cairo as well as
Tel Aviv, and is now deputy
director of the State Depart-
ment's office of Egyptian
affairs.
He was with Assistant
Secretary of State Richard
Murphy during his whirlwind
visit to Israel, Egypt, Syria
and Saudi Arabia last week,
and he will be part of
Secretary of State Shultz's
contingent visiting the
Mideast next week as part of
the American effort to in-
itiate peace negotiations. He
described the U.S. effort as
"major," and personally in-
volving President Reagan
and Secretary Shultz.
He stressed that the U.S.
proposal has received a
careful hearing from Israel
and key Arab states, and that
the results will only be
known in the coming weeks,
whether real progress
towards peace will be made or
the parties will return to past
positions. From talks with
Arab and Israeli leaders last
week, he suggested that "at-
titudes have changed, though
they can be measured in cen-
timeters rather than miles."
The irony, of course, is that
the violence in Israel may
have changed the situation so
radically that it could result
in the parties coming to the
peace table. Kurtzer stressed,
though, that "in the end,
Israel will do what it wants to
do, what it feels is best, no
matter what this Administra-
tion or others say. It's Israel's
decision whether she can
weather this storm."
Kurtzer believes that the
Palestinian uprisings were
spontaneous, but he sees an
increasing effort by the PLO
to control the situation.
He noted that the Arab-
Israeli conflict has "returned
to its roots," with the dispute
once again over the control of
pre-1948 Palestine. The views
of Arab states may take a
back seat to those of the
Palestinians themselves, who
may be reasserting
themselves after having ab-
dicated control over their

destiny to others for many
years.
Kurtzer also discussed the
key issue of illusion vs. reali-
ty when it comes to the
Mideast, stressing that
founders of the Zionist state
like Chaim Weizmann,
Israel's first president, were
dreamers and idealists
tempered by pragmatism.
When faced with choices, they
held on to their dreams but
took what reality they could.
The Palestinians, by contrast,
have consistently refused to
let go of their dreams, or to
compromise, and as a result
have little to show for their
troubles. Kurtzer said the
PLO's unrealistic demands
have prevented the Palesti-
nians from having a say in
their own destiny and kept
the refugees living in pitiful
conditions for decades. On the
Israeli side, he said, there has
been a refusal to confront the
demographic reality of an
Arab population growth that
could surpass the Jewish
population in the future.
Kurtzer said Israeli officials
indicated a realization that
there may be no return to the
status quo, but he
underscored that Israel will
not be forced into making con-
cessions it does not choose to
make. "If in the next two
weeks, the violence continues,
we may see Israel take a
harder look at our proposals,"
he said.
As he prepared to return to
the region, he noted that he
will continue doing his job,
which he said he described to
his young children as "grab-
bing an Israeli and grabbing
an Arab and bringing them
together — and then holding
them there until they talk to
each other." The negotiation
process can be painstaking
and frustrating, he said, "but
it works.
"I'd rather have Israelis and
Arabs fighting over peace pro-
posals than on a battlefield."

"mimmil NEWS I

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New York — The Hebrew
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