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February 24, 1989 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-02-24

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

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Baker In No Hurry
On Mideast Progress

WOLF BLITZER

Capitol Correspondent

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or the time being, the
Bush administration
has made a concerted
decision to go slow in the
Arab-Israeli peace process.
Top officials, especially
President George' Bush and
Secretary of State James
Baker, want to meet with
Arab and Israeli leaders
before they commit
themselves to a specific
course of action.
State Department officials
said that the United States
wants to take stock of exact-
ly where everyone stands
before pushing ahead. They
note that there has been
movement in recent weeks
but they are not certain that
there has been much
progress.
No one here anticipates any
early breakthrough in the
U.S.-PLO dialogue. As far as
Washington is concerned, this
is still a period of testing for
the PLO.
In addition, the Americans
are most anxious to find out
exactly where Israel stands.
How much real flexibility is
there in Jerusalem?
Israeli officials say they are
prepared to deal with West
Bank and Gaza Palestinians
who are not formal members
of the PLO. The Americans
want to know what — if
anything — it will take for
Israel actually to start deal-
ing with the PLO?
Americans
The
acknowledge that they don't
know the answer to that key
question. But finding credible
non-PLO Palestinians, the
Americans are now convinc-
ed, is no longer a realistic op-
tion; there simply aren't any
left.
And administration of-
ficials, while continuing to
pay lip service to an impor-
tant role for Jordan in the
peace process, believe that the
so-called Jordanian option is
history as well.
Bush, Baker and company
will have a chance in the corn-
ing weeks to hear from promi-
nent Arab and Israeli leaders.
According to U.S. officials, the
President and his aides want
to do most of the listening.
At the funeral of Emperor
Hirohito in Tokyo later this
month, Bush is due to meet
separately with Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak
and Jordan's Hussein. He
may also meet with President
Chaim Herzog who will repre-
sent Israel.

Baker: no hurry on Mideast
progress.

Later in March, Foreign
Minister Moshe Arens is
scheduled to come to
Washington for talks with
Baker. Whether Arens will be
received by Bush is still
unclear but it is likely that
Vice President Dan Quayle,
an Arens admirer, will see
him.
In early April, before
Passover, Prime Minister
Yitzhak Shamir is slated to
come to the White House. The
Americans already have
made clear their expectation
that Shamir will arrive with
some clearcut and creative
proposals that go beyond the
1978 Camp David Accords. So
far, U.S. officials have been
moderately impressed by
some of Shamir's public
statements. They sense a new
flexibility in Jerusalem on
the matter of an interna-
tional conference involving
the Soviet Union and possibly
even the United Nations
itself.
The Americans are en-
couraging the Soviet Union to
formally re-establish
diplomatic relations with
Israel in the hope that this
would encourage Shamir to
go even further in accepting
some limited international
opening to direct Arab-Israeli
negotiations.
U.S. officials are by no
means upset by the slow pace
of the peace process. From the
start, they suspected that it
would take some time for
Israel to come to terms with
the opening of an American
dialogue with the PLO.
"Israel has to digest that fact
of life," one well-placed U.S. of-
ficial commented. "We know
it's not easy for Israel to
swallow and we know it won't
come overnight." The

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