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November 18, 1988 - Image 50

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-11-18

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Gorbachev And Bush
Will Squeeze Israel

A Soviet-American approach to the
Mideast conflict seems more likely than
ever, but Israel has never been in a less
accommodating mood


Israel Correspondent


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hen George Bush
enters the White
House in January,
he will find that Moscow is
ready, willing and able to en-
gage in an aggressive Middle
East peace initiative with the
United States.
He will also find that outgo-
ing Secretary of State George
Shultz has bequeathed him a
comprehensive timetable for
a settlement of the two cen-
tral issues in the Arab-Israeli
conflict: releasing the ad-
ministered territories from
Israel and ending the pro-
blem of Palestinian home-
While the United States
has been consumed by its
election campaign in recent
months, the Soviet Union has
not been idle.
Over the past few weeks, it
has engineered a rapproche-
ment between Jordan's King
Hussein and PLO chief Yassir
Arafat. At the same time, it
has carefully maneuvered the
Palestinian leader fractional-
ly closer to the negotiating
table, a critical prelude to last
weekend's meeting of the
Palestine National Council,
the Palestinian "parliament,"
in Algiers.
Soviet leader Mikhail Gor-
bachev has made no secret of
his determination to join the
United States in reducing
regional conflicts — and the
Arab-Israeli dispute, which
carries the seeds of a super-
power confrontation, remains
one of the most persistent and
dangerous of these conflicts.
Moreover, Gorbachev re-
gards the mechanism de-
signed to end the dispute
— an international peace con-
ference — as the prime vehi-
cle for restoring Moscow's
influence in the region and
returning the Soviet Union to
the center stage of Middle
East diplomacy, a position it
lost when it severed relations
with Israel following the 1967
Six-Day War.
In an effort to accelerate the
process, the Soviet leader has
been working assiduously to
forge a united Arab front
which could challenge Israel's
claim to the diplomatic high
ground and provide a formid-
able negotiating team at any

future peace conference,
where the Soviet Union and
the United States would par-
ticipate on equal terms.
Late last month, on the
very eve of the Israeli elec-
tion, the Soviets played a
crucial role in persuading
Arafat to attend two mini-
summits orchestrated by
Egypt's President Hosni
Mubarak. The first resulted
in the reconciliation between
the PLO leader and his old
rival, King Hussein; the se-
cond cemented his ties with
Iraq's President Saddam
If this potent Arab peace
coalition — Egypt, Iraq, Jor-
dan and the PLO, supported
by most of the moderate Gulf
states — holds together,
Moscow calculates that it can

In addition to
building a joint
Arab front for
peace talks,
Gorbachev has
been meticulously,
mending his
fences with Israel.

wait for the most obdurate of
its regional clients, Syria's
President Hafez Assad, to fall
into line — or risk missing the
bus altogether.
In addition to building a
joint Arab front for peace
talks, Gorbachev has been
meticulously, almost imper-
ceptibly, mending his fences
with Israel.
He has opened the door to
a significant increase in
Jewish emigration (1,140
were allowed to leave in all of
1985, while 2,587 left last
month alone), and he has
taken the first tentative steps
to restoring diplomatic rela-
tions with Israel by despatch-
ing a consular delegation to
ml Aviv and, earlier this year,
allowing a reciprocal Israeli
delegation to visit Moscow.
Both missions are still in
Just in case the Soviet
message was lost on the West,
Gorbachev preceded his
moves by publicly administer-
ing a very bitter pill to both
Assad and Arafat.

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