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June 17, 1988 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-06-17

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FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 1988

President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev embrace during the
recent Moscow summit. Will the two force a solution to the Arab-Israeli

Superpowers Planning
A Mideast Surprise?


Israel Correspondent

erusalem — Secretary
of State George Shultz
left a tantalizing ques-
tion hanging in the air after
his latest Middle East peace
President Reagan, he told
members of the Knesset
Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee in Jerusalem, is
an old actor and he retains
the instincts of a seasoned
trouper. As such, said Shultz,
he likes to end his perform-
ances with a flourish.
With the curtain about to
fall on Reagan's long-running
White House engagement,
Middle East observers have
been left wondering exactly
what Shultz was talking
about; what Reagan might be
planning for his grand finale.
The United States peace in-
itiative, as Shultz himself
acknowledges, cannot be
translated into reality simp-
ly because he wills it so.
Moreover, the initiative is
clearly heading for the over-
crowded graveyard of Middle
East Peace Plans.
True, no Middle East leader
has actually said no to the
plan; equally, none has said
yes. And while Arab leaders
backed away from a total re-
jection of the U.S. plan at
their summit in Algiers late
last week, Shultz cannot be
laboring under the illusion
that any of the current crop of
Middle East leaders — Arab
or Israeli — is about to en-
dorse his plan.
So what was behind the
"Big Bang" teaser he dropped
on the clutch of powerful and
influential legislators in


Jerusalem last week?
According to some Israeli
analysts. the glitzy exit that
Reagan might be contemplat-
ing — and that Shultz might
actually be engineering — is
a joint superpower accord on
the Middle East which will
impel the parties, willingly or
not. to some form of peace
A settlement of the conflict
might not be tied up before
Reagan leaves office, say the
analysts, but the framework
will be established and the
groundwork laid for the in-
coming administration.
Shultz, regarded as a true
friend of Israel, delivered his
message loud and clear when
he stopped off in Jerusalem
for a seven-hour visit last
week: If the region's leaders
do not pursue peace, he said,
they should prepare for war —
war on a scale unprecedented
in the violent history of the
Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israeli analysts believe that
the conciliatory tone adopted
by top Soviet officials toward
Israel in recent months may
have been motivated by simi-
lar fears.
The new-style Soviet lead-
ers, they say, are anxious to
win the confidence of Jeru-
salem and effect a reconcilia-
tion that will end more than
20 years of diplomatic sterili-
ty and enable Moscow to play
an active role in Middle East
After all, neither Washing-
ton nor Moscow will quickly
forget how close they came to
an actual confrontation dur-
ing the last full-scale Arab-
Israeli conflict in 1973. The
analysts point to a range of
Soviet initiatives which ap-

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